Meg’s Cooking Corner

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thai Peanut Noodles

This pasta dish has been a family favorite for a few years now. This recipe comes from my friend Anjanette and it is great because a) I love cilantro, b) I love peanut sauce, c) I love Thai dishes, d) I love how simple it is to throw together, and e) well, you don't need any more reasons, do you? My stepmother Onn is Thai and makes incredible food, so we always think fondly of her when we eat this and wish we were in her kitchen, eating spring rolls and spicy Thai food. Find more family favorite recipes today at Friday Favorite Ingredient.

Thai Peanut Noodles

1 lb chicken, cut into small, thin strips
8 oz thin spaghetti (to make gluten-free, use GF pasta)
4 green onions, chopped
4-6 baby carrots, sliced thin
cilantro, chopped finely
peanuts and fresh lime (I like to serve with lime wedges and squirt on some lime juice)

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup oil
3/8 cup (1/2 of a 3/4 cup) rice vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (adjust for how hot you want it)

Mix sauce together and set aside. Toss the chicken strips into the sauce to marinate. While cooking your noodles, chop the green onions, baby carrots, and cilantro.

Right before your noodles are done, take the chicken out and brown it. Bring the peanut sauce to a boil for a couple of minutes. (Be careful not to overboil or sauce will caramelize). Strain noodles and put into a large bowl. Place veggies and chicken on top of pasta and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with peanuts and fresh lime. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Homemade Pizza Night

My family loves pizza. But with four hungry boys, pizza night is really getting expensive! This is where my bread machine comes to the rescue. It can whip up fresh dough for pizza crusts in a flash. It's easy to personalize the pizzas, we always make one plain pepperoni for the kids, and one "fun" pizza for my husband and me. My bread machine was faithfully mixing pizza dough last weekend when it met a terrible fate. Apparently I placed it too close to the counter edge, and with one energetic mix it toppled over and crashed all over my kitchen floor. Yes, it was a sad, sad day. Hopefully it can be replaced quickly.

Tips: This is a great crust because it uses both white and whole wheat flour and sea salt. If you have never tried sea salt, I recommend it highly. If you have a pizza stone, use it! Preheat it in the oven to get it nice and hot. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on your stone before rolling the dough out on it to prevent sticking. Also, it's worth it to take the time to shred your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese from the store has a coating on it to avoid clumping that prevents it from melting as nice as cheese you shred yourself. I'll also include the recipe for one kind of pizza we enjoy, a BBQ chicken pizza.

Find this recipe and others at Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, and Kitchen Tip Tuesday. Enjoy!

Bread Machine Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups water (80-90 degrees F)
1 tsp honey
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast (instant or bread machine yeast)

Place ingredients in order listed in bread machine pan. Select dough cycle and press start. Bread machine times will vary, mine takes about 1 1/2 hours. When cycle is complete, roll out dough on pizza pans. Will make enough for two crusts.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1/2 cup (approx.) favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (sometimes I caramelize it first)
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 -2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven and pizza stone at 400. Sprinkle pizza stone with cornmeal. Roll dough out on stone. Spread barbecue sauce over dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over sauce. Arrange onion slices and chicken over cheese and then top with remaining cheese. Bake 15-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. (Watch oven, if using cookie sheet, it may be a shorter time). Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and slice into wedges.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cook up some love: Part 3

The final part of our special valentine's dinner is a tomato bisque soup to begin your meal with. This is a fantastic soup that can be served hot or cold, may be refrigerated several days or frozen, and it's even pink for Valentine's Day! It goes perfect with the Chicken Wellington but can also stand alone, just serve with a salad and crusty rolls for a complete dinner. My children prefer to have canned tomato soup, which I secretly think is great, it leaves more tomato bisque for my husband and I! This recipe also comes from a church cookbook. Go to the Grocery Cart Challenge to find a recipe swap today.

Tip: When you go to puree the mixture in the blender, make sure you cool the soup first and then puree it in small batches. If you try to puree a large batch of hot soup it will explode all over your kitchen! And then you will not be feeling the love.

Creamy Tomato Bisque

1/4 cup butter
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 (1 pound 12 oz) cans whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp basil
1 tsp marjoram
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1 pint whipping cream
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
3/4 of a 7-oz container pesto sauce
Parmesan cheese to taste (approx 1/2 cup)

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Saute celery, onion, and carrots until tender. Stir in flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, marjoram, bay leaves and broth. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Cool slightly.

Carefully puree 1/3 of the mixture at a time in a blender. Add cream, paprika, curry powder and pepper. Stir to blend. Add pesto and parmesan to taste. Add salt and adjust seasonings. Serve hot or cold. Makes 8-10 servings.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cook up some love: Part 2

Ah, Valentine's Day. While visions of a romantic candlelight dinner for two dance in my head, reality is usually it falls on a hectic school night with homework and activities. You can still share the love with your spouse (and children) with a special dinner planned. Our tradition is to set the table nice, put valentines and treats out on the table, and even add that romantic candlelight! Since I'm working backwards, next week I'll share the recipe for a tomato bisque soup to start your meal.
I have been playing around with a recipe for Chicken Wellington I got from a church cookbook. I added a Dill sauce and prosciutto ham and we all loved it. It is not difficult to make but is more time-consuming. It took me a little over an hour to prepare, with numerous interruptions from the dog, toddler, preschooler and two older boys doing homework. It is an elegant meal for that special occasion or dinner party. Enjoy!
And check out 11th's Heaven Homemaking Mondays for more fun recipes, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, and Kitchen Tip Tuesday for lots more tips and recipes. Tuesday is a fun day!

Chicken Wellington

1 pkg puff pastry sheets (find in freezer section)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
8 boneless chicken breast halves
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 pound mushrooms, diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
8 slices prosciutto
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Egg wash (1 egg and 2 Tbsp water mixed together)
Thaw pastry for 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle chicken with seasonings. In a medium skillet, brown chicken in 3 Tbsp butter; set aside. Add remaining butter to skillet. Add onion and mushrooms, saute until tender and liquid has evaporated. Sir in parsley.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet out to (approx) 14-inch square. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with mustard; spread over pastry sheets. Cut each pastry sheet into four squares. Sprinkle each pastry square with 2 Tbsp mushroom mixture. Top each square with chicken breast.

Brush edges of pastry with egg wash; wrap pastry around chicken, pressing edges to seal. Place seam side down on ungreased baking sheets. Score tops of pastry with knife. Brush tops of pastry with egg wash. Bake 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Makes 8 servings.

(While Chicken Wellington is baking, make the dill sauce)

Dill Sauce for Chicken Wellington

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp each garlic and shallots
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp fresh dill and salt and pepper

Heat olive oil. Add garlic and shallots and cook until tender. Add broth/wine. If using wine, cook until most of wine has evaporated and add heavy cream. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Toss in dill and salt and pepper generously to taste. Spoon sauce onto plates and place Chicken Wellington on top of sauce.