Meal #24: Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken

If it were just me running the show, we’d be having pasta every week. Lucky for our diets, it’s not just me. But, lucky for me, we do wind up having pasta pretty often. So it’s a win-win.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
    • Chunky or not is up to you – you can tell what we chose
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hot tap water
    • This is meant to help adjust the consistency of the sauce, use at your discretion

We wound up doubling all these ingredients (and double doubling the hot sauce) in order to get enough sauce to really coat all the noodles.

Chicken Noodles

  • 8 ounces of chicken breast
    • Chicken tenderloin, as always
  • 8 ounces Chinese noodles
    • I don’t know what noodles the book had in mind, but we used less than 8 ounces of them and wound up with a lot of extra noodles, hence the doubled sauce recipe
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Finished Product

This was a real tasty pasta dish – not too intense on any particular ingredient or flavor, just filling and wholesome.  I did have to power through eating the raw veggies, but I’m told they’re good for you. I think this recipe is actually supposed to be completely cold, but we couldn’t resist heating up at least the sauce and noodles to make it a little more familiar.

Tasty Wontons for the Lunar New Year

In order to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and since we were in the mood to fry some food, we threw together a couple plates of fried wontons. They’re stuffed with pork and celery, and sprinkled with sugar. A great snack which can easily turn into a meal if you eat too many.

Meal #23: Lentil Soup

This was actually my first time trying lentils, and it was a great first experience. And I have the recipe book with me today, so you’ll know exactly what went into it too.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bacon
    • Let’s be realistic, I used 4
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
    • If you don’t see a carrot in the picture above, well, let’s just say it won’t be in the picture below either
  • 1 tomato
    • This book is obsessed with coring tomatoes. I didn’t really think tomatoes had a core, but I obediently cut the sides of the tomato away and threw out the center column. I’m not foolish enough to try to use an apple core-er on a tomato (or at least, not again)
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Finished Product

One of the alternate recipes in the book for this begins with the instruction “Omit bacon.” Luckily there is no need for such a senseless variation, because this turned out great. One of the best soups we’ve made, and we had some leftover lentils so we may wind up making it again.

Meal #22: Orange Chicken Stir-Fry

No, I mean really, it uses an orange for flavor

Ingredients

  • Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • As little broccoli as possible
  • Red bell pepper
  • Orange
  • Corn starch
  • Chicken tenderloins
  • “Scallions”
  • Some seed oil and chili-soy sauce that I forgot to use in the actual recipe

Finished Product

It’s a pretty westernized version of stir fry – not bad, but not the kind of homemade stir fry that we know and love. It’s better served with rice, which the book neglects to mention. There’s probably someone out there who just made the veggies and chicken and was left with a rice-shaped void in their life.

Meal #21: Strip Steak with Parsley Sauce

We’re coming to learn that there are a lot of chicken and steak recipes in this book. The main differences between them seem to be the sauces and sides, the core meat is pretty consistently the same.

Ingredients

  • Two strip steaks of whatever size you can comfortably manage
  • 3 potatoes
  • An onion
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil

Finished Product

So it looks nice. But I really did not understand this recipe at all. It basically boiled down to 3 parts:

  • Pat steak dry, cook with salt and pepper
  • Make potatoes however you like them
  • Create an intricate blend of parsley, oil, and the other ingredients in a blender

It’s step 3 there that took us for a ride – “other ingredients” included a whole onion and a half cup of parsley leaves. And a quarter cup of oil. This wound up creating an enormous amount of sauce (like a whole soup bowl full) which wasn’t even that pleasant to taste (raw onion suspended in oil, anyone?). I’m just not sure where this recipe was going, but we wound up trying to avoid getting big globs of the sauce on our forks while eating.

The steak was great as usual – but like I mentioned, that has nothing to do with the recipe itself.

Meal #20: Chicken Vesuvio

Can you believe we made it to meal #20? This is definitely the longest I’ve kept up with blogging. Knocking on wood that we can continue our streak. We’ll need some brain fuel for that though, and what could be better than another chicken dish?

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces or so of chicken tenderloins
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Flour to coat the chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Italian herbs and spices
  • Lemon juice
  • Parsley
  • Sampler bottle of dry white wine

Finished Product

I think we probably could have used more chicken here, but it turned out good nonetheless. Half the fun is in the plating, so I made some intricate sriracha sauce art.

Meal #19: Sauteed Cod and Bok Choy

For this next batch of posts, I don’t have the recipe book in front of me so you’ll have to bear with me with my approximations of the ingredient lists, which will be mostly based on the pictures. Sadly that does mean no snarky commentary about the suggested ingredients, but I’m sure life will find a way.

Ingredients

  • Handful of Bok Choy, whatever you’re comfortable with eating
  • Some cod fillets, 8 ounces each, and some garnishes from the fish department
    • Fish department also known as the “now which one is thyme?” department
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chili-soy sauce
  • Actual soy sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn starch
  • Ginger

Finished Product

I’m always happy with how our fish turns out. This both looked good and tasted good. We’re used to stir-frying bok choy, so the slightly different take on it kept things interesting.

Meal #18: Shrimp and Grits

Haven’t had many southern-style meals on here yet, so we’re whipping up a classic one. Tasty seafood in a warm, comforting bed of grits.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces shrimp
    • Still unsure why things like shrimp are measured in ounces – we used a bag-full of shrimp, which was certainly more than 8 ounces, and cooked the ones that didn’t fit in the pan the first time around to use as leftovers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch” of cayenne pepper
    • No one is getting away with just a “pinch” of cayenne pepper in this house. We put at least 2 teaspoons in
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • There’s a variation on this recipe listed in the book that integrates bacon into the grits mix. That sounded delicious, so we decided to do that and substitute the rendered bacon fat for the butter
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 1/2 cups water
    • We had two jars of chicken broth in the fridge so we used the broth instead to give the dish a little extra flavor
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • I don’t think we’ll ever buy cream just by itself unless we’re making whipped cream, so 2% milk it is
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
    • For some, the lack of direction might be intimidating or confusing. Which hot sauce, what type? We looked to our rock-star sauce, sriracha, to quell our existential dread
  • 1/2 cup quick grits
    • As much as we can, we try to avoid foods containing words like “quick”, “instant”, “easy”, “just add water”, and “plutonium.” But we’ll make an exception here for no particular reason
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
    • Half of us like cheese, so this is exclusive to my plate
    • Note that the ingredient amount has not been halved
  • 1 scallion
    • Never got closure on whether this is the same thing as a green onion. I’ll pretend

Finished Product

This was one of the better dishes we’ve made so far – very satisfying mouthfeel and taste. It also filled us up and there was plenty of extras for tomorrow, which is always a nice bonus.

Meal #17: Chicken Tikka Masala

It was time for a spicy dish, so we decided to try this one. We’ve found that usually when the book says something is spicy, multiply the spice ingredients by 5 or 6 times to actually achieve a decent level of spice. But maybe our tastebuds are just burnt off by now.

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    • Garam masala strikes again, and we’re substituting a tikka masala paste instead, like before. Interestingly the title of the recipe is “chicken tikka masala” from the book. I might not be cultured enough to understand if that’s actually the same thing, or a typo in our favor. For the purposes of our recipe though, we’ll call them equivalent
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
    • Tenderloin any day of the week
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
    • Let’s take a moment to appreciate that we did actually buy some yogurt for this instead of switching it out for milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
    • Another rule-of-thumb is to multiply the amount of garlic by 2 or 3 times as well
  • 2 teaspoons ginger

Sauce

  • 1 can whole tomatoes
    • Alright, this just isn’t efficient. The recipe calls for canned whole tomatoes and proceeds to have us blend them up and turn them into tomato sauce. So we just skipped the will-it-blend portion of the show and used a can of the good stuff. The only reason to start with whole tomatoes is if they were fresh, and we all know canned tomatoes don’t check that box.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 serrano chile
    • Half a habanero was a good replacement for this – brought the spice up to acceptable levels and we had some leftover from the five-alarm chili recipe
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
    • Tikka masala again. I think the book is calling for dry amounts and our tikka masala came in a jar, so there was a lot of guesswork involved for these amounts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro

Finished Product

Surprisingly this recipe didn’t call for any sides for the chicken. I guess they wanted us to just eat the chicken and sauce by itself. That wasn’t going to fly, so we also prepared a bed of rice for it to rest in. That said, this was delicious and we had plenty left over for the next day’s lunch.

Meal #16: Sirloin Steak with Mashed Potatoes

We’re back to our regularly-scheduled programming: cooking by the book. Kicking off this week is a familiar combo of meat and potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces russet potatoes
    • Idaho potatoes are tastier, so we went with those instead
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • You should probably know by now that we don’t actually measure out a tablespoon of oil, we just eyeball it so it covers the pan. Yes, it will be just fine.
  • 1 top sirloin steak
    • No substitute for a nice cut of beef
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
    • 2%, like Wendy’s phone battery 🙂
  • 1/2 package of some brand-name garlic, cheese, and herb mixture
    • Also known as “a bunch of stuff from the spice rack”
  • Salt and pepper

Finished Product

Can’t complain! A hearty steak with soft potatoes to accompany it on its journey to the center of the gut. It’s nice to start cooking again with something not too adventurous.