Weekly Winner: Bowled Over Big-Time with the Ideal Warm Weather Bowl

It’s summer.  It’s hot. I don’t want anything heavy and some nights, I don’t even want anything hot to eat. Cool, healthy, light and easy…that’s what I’m talking about. However I have to admit that salads do seem to get a bit old.  They work fine for a summer lunch but come dinner I just want something more than another salad. Enter: Chicken Noodle Bowl with Peanut-Ginger Sauce from Southern Living Magazine.  Ding-ding-ding!!!  We have a winner!  This hits the spot on so many levels for me.  First and most importantly they had me at peanut sauce.  Honestly, I can spread a good peanut sauce on cardboard and be happy.  Then comes noodles — I’ve yet to meet a noodle I didn’t like.  Last but not least, my good old friend and dependable standby, the chicken.  Honestly, there is not a thing to dislike about this dish. It’s incredibly quick, easy to make and very satisfying to dive into.  Also, there is no need to turn on a stove or oven as the noodles are cooked with the microwave.  Yay!

This takes the new “bowl” craze and tweaks it just enough to ensure that it will be in very steady rotation in my household. Another great thing about this type of dish is that it is infinitely changeable and customizable to whatever you have in the fridge.  You can substitute any kind of noodle or pasta and mix and match whatever veggies you have on hand.  The only thing I won’t be messing with is the peanut-ginger sauce.  It is and will remain perfect, regardless of what it is drizzled on.

Chicken Noodle Bowl with Peanut-Ginger Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

PEANUT-GINGER SAUCE

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

4 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL

8 cups water

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

6 ounces rice noodles

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

3 cups shredded napa cabbage

1 1/2 cups halved and thinly sliced seedless cucumber

1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper

6 tablespoons chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts

Procedure:

1. Prepare the Sauce: Process all 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

2. Prepare the Chicken Noodle Bowl: Microwave water in a large bowl on HIGH 10 minutes. Stir vinegar and salt into boiling water. Add noodles and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain noodles.

3. Divide noodles, chicken, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, and bell pepper among 6 bowls. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon peanuts and 2 tablespoons Peanut-Ginger Sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Weekly Winner:  Super Simple, Speedy, Sumptuous Satay – Noodles

I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that I dearly love anything with a good peanut sauce.  I’m also a complete sucker for noodles of any variety or nationality.  If there’s a noodle dish on the menu, I’ll probably order it. And if that noodle dish happens to include a peanut sauce. Ding-Ding-Ding!   We have a winner.

Beef Satay Noodles is a super easy, totally delicious recipe that can be whipped up anytime.  I tried it out at home first a little over a week ago and then made it for a client and both responses were the same — “keep this in short rotation”.  The thing that makes it so quick and simple is the use of pre-packaged broccoli slaw.  It can be adapted to various heat tolerances by adding more or not so much Sriracha and, if you’re like me, you can completely omit the cilantro. I didn’t miss it and I doubt you will either.  The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine.  Find it or copy it here because trust me: you need this recipe.

Beef Satay Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz stir-fry rice noodles

1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp grated peeled ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb ground beef sirloin

2 Tbsp roasted peanut oil (or 1 Tbsp each sesame oil and vegetable oil)

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 9-oz package broccoli slaw

1 tsp Sriracha, plus more for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges, for serving

Procedure:

Put the noodles in a bowl; cover with warm water and soak at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef and mix with a spoon to combine.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli slaw and cook, stirring, until it starts wilting, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in the skillet, then add the beef mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently stir the noodles to separate. Reserve 1/2 cup soaking water, then drain the noodles. Return the vegetables to the skillet with the beef and stir to combine. Add the noodles, the reserved soaking water and the Sriracha. Cook, gently tossing, until warmed through, about 4 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and more Sriracha.

Weekly Winner:  Pasta + Pork + Peanuts = Pure Perfection

Here I go again – declaring my ardent and undying love for a good peanut sauce.  Heck, in most cases I’ll settle for an average peanut sauce!  It’s one of those things that I simply cannot ignore –If I see a recipe for it, I’ll tear it out. If I see it on a menu, chances are good I’ll order it – regardless of what it is on or comes with.  But, you combine a good peanut sauce with pasta and a pork product of any variety and I am in…. all in!

I have featured a bunch of variations on this peanut theme here — Dan Dan Noodles, Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef & Broccoli, Grilled Asian Chicken with Peanut Noodles, Hoisin Peanut SauceThai Peanut Curry Noodles with Edamame and Kohlrabi.   This week’s however, just might be the best.  At least its my new current favorite.  Its Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce.  It packs a punch heat wise, but the lime is a nice counterbalance to the heat and well, then you have pork and pasta!  A word of warning; however … this is one of those dishes that you just keep eating, and eating, and eating.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking and as usual, the only change I made was deleting the cilantro.  Including that would disqualify it immediately from the title of perfection.  Besides, the recipe clearly stated that the cilantro was optional!

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

12 oz. rotini

1-1/2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

5 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated

2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground pork

3 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste

1 Tbs. granulated sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural

2/3 cup lower-salt chicken broth

1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Procedure:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Stir in the pork mixture and scallion greens. Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro, if using.

Weekly winner:  Cool, Crunchy, Curried, Kohlrabi … Noodles

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for a good peanut sauce. I love it on anything, but particularly on noodles.  And these are cold noodles which made them the perfect side dish to grilled pork chops – no added heat in the kitchen!

I’ve only recently discovered kohlrabi and I’m definitely hooked!  I’m not even sure if there are any recipes that call for it cooked as I’ve only tried it raw and love it.   Crunchy and clean tasting – like broccoli’s sweeter sister.  Add to that the creaminess of the edamame and the crispness of the red pepper which all just mixes beautifully with the heat of the green curry paste and luscious-ness of the peanut butter.  Have I waxed poetically enough about this dish???  Probably.  The only thing I’ve changed in this recipe is that it called for whole wheat spaghetti. Yeah, that’s not going to happen…. not in this kitchen.

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and if you make this, you will definitely be eating well. Very Well.

Thai Peanut Curry Noodles

Ingredients:

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons Thai green, red or yellow curry paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 cup matchstick-cut peeled kohlrabi

Preparation:

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water.

Whisk the reserved pasta water, peanut butter, shallot, curry paste, ginger, soy sauce, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the pasta, edamame, bell pepper and kohlrabi; toss well to coat.

Weekly Winner: Perfectly Picante Peanutty Pork Chops

peanut porkYou know how I love alliteration!  I also love a good peanut sauce as well as pork chops from my favorite butcher shop, Paulina Meat Market.  Therefore, this recipe is a total trifecta of tastiness!  Oops, I did it again.  Sorry.

Anyway, this recipe comes from Redbook Magazine (no really, I do get every magazine known to man!) and it is actually a recipe just for the Hoisin-peanut sauce but the article was on grilling and they showed the sauce with grilled pork chops.  Who was I to argue?  A nice benefit of this sauce is that it is applied after the meat is grilled, so you don’t have to worry about any of it burning on the grill.  The other good thing about serving this on grilled pork chops (if you’re me, that is) is that your husband perfectly grills the chops so all you have to do is make the sauce!

This sauce is spectacular but beware … it is hot.  But its a good hot.  I actually used half of the Sriracha the recipe called for and it was about as spicy as I would want it.  But you do what you want … I am not the boss of you or your taste buds.  Just know that I personally think it was perfect the way I made it … perfectly picante, that is!

Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

1/3 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts

1 Tbsp minced ginger

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1-2 Tbsp Sriracha (this is the amount called for — I halved it)

Mix everything together and brush on the pork chops a minute after taking them off the grill.  This makes 1-1/2 cups, enough for 4 bone-in rib or center-cut pork chops.

Weekly Winner: Beef + Broccoli + Buckwheat = Booyah!

Beef, Broccoli, SobaI’ve made this week’s winner before — I’m certain I have.  Thing is, I just don’t remember it being so good!  Usually you think of stir-fried beef and broccoli as being served over rice.  It would have been fine over rice — quite tasty actually.  But add one of my favorite things in the world — peanut sauce — and then put that on soba noodles…..Ding, ding, ding … we have a winner!

The other surprise about this dish is that I’ve always had peanut soba noodles cold.  Having them hot with the beef and the broccoli made it a yummy, comforting dish for a chilly, dreary evening.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It just goes to show you should make recipes you like more than once … obviously you get better at it as you go!  Practice may not make perfect … but it makes it pretty dang good!

Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. flank steak, cut across the grain into thin strips
  • 3 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • One 1-1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 8 oz. soba noodles
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs. canola or peanut oil
  • 10 oz. broccoli crowns, cut into 1-inch florets (about 4-1/2 cups)

Procedure:

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Toss the beef with 2 tsp. soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Finely grate the orange zest and then juice the orange. Put the ginger and garlic in a food processor and pulse until minced. Transfer all but 1 tsp. of the mixture to a small ramekin. Add the peanut butter, zest, 2 Tbs. of the juice, and 2 Tbs. of the soy sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, adding 1 to 2 Tbs. water so the mixture loosens a bit.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbs. of the remaining orange juice with the oyster sauce, the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, and 2 Tbs. water.

Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss with the peanut butter mixture and half of the mint.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil with the minced garlic and ginger over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until it just loses its raw color, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil to the skillet, and then the broccoli. Cook, stirring, until browned in places, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture, cover, and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Return the beef and its juices to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Portion the noodles among 4 plates and top with the beef and broccoli. Sprinkle with the remaining mint and serve.

Weekly Winner: Noodles so nice, they named them twice

It seems simply impossible to me that this dish has not yet been featured in my Weekly Winner posts.  I have been making this dish for six years and it is one of my all-time favorite dinners. How is it possible that this has not made the cut before now?  I literally sat down and went through each Weekly Winner post just to make sure, and nope…not there. So, without further adieu, I give you Dan Dan Noodles with Pickled Cucumbers.

DanDan noodlesI am a sucker for a good peanut sauce, and this one is spectacular.  Just the right amount of heat, tang, and sweetness.  My husband adores anything pickled — jalepenos, onions, giardiniera you name it.  Generally neither one of us is a fan of ground turkey.  It just always seems incredibly bland and insipid.  But it works here.  I think the greatest testament to this recipe is that, in the six years I’ve been making it, I haven’t changed a thing!  The recipe is from Cuisine at Home Magazine.  Make room in your regular recipe rotation…you’re gonna need it!

Dan Dan Noodles with Pickled Cucumbers

Serves 4

For the Cucumbers:
2 cups cucumbers, julienned
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste
For the Noodles and Sauce:
1/2 pound long-life noodles or dry spaghetti
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs chunky peanut butter
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
3 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbs garlic, minced
12 ounces ground turkey breast

Garnish and serve with:
Chopped fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced scallions
Pickled cucumbers

1. Combine all ingredients for the cucumbers in a bowl; cover and chill
until ready to serve.

2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain; keep warm.

3. Whisk sherry, broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce,
and sesame oil together in a bowl; set aside.

4. Stir-fry bell pepper, ginger, and garlic in peanut oil in a large skillet
over medium-high heat, 30 seconds. Add turkey in large chunks and reduce
heat to medium. cook until it begins to brown, 3 minutes. Turn meat over and
brown on other side.

5. Stir in prepared peanut sauce and break up the turkey. Simmer until
turkey is cooked through and sauce thickens, 4-5 minutes. Serve meat sauce
over the cooked noodles.

6. Garnish with cilantro and scallions; serve with cucumbers.