Blueberry Muffins

It’s blueberry season so I am always looking for ways to use them! I actually like blueberries cooked more than I like them raw. I love making blueberry pies that remind me of Summers in Maine along with crumbles, pancakes and these delicious muffins.  I’m not one for complicated recipes or ingredients so I especially love how easy this is.  Buttermilk adds great moistness to the muffins and the lemon zest amps up the blueberries.  Lemon and blueberries are great together and even if a blueberry recipe doesn’t call for adding juice or the zest, I do and I think it makes a difference.  

One of the things I try to avoid when I bake with blueberries is having purple batter.  When fresh blueberries are added to a batter the blueberries tend to fall apart which makes a messy, purple batter.  I like to see the blueberries in the muffins so I freeze the fresh blueberries (after they are washed and picked over for stems) and keep them in the freezer till I am ready to mix them into the batter.  I also prep the muffin tin so the blueberry batter doesn’t sit on the counter for too long.

If you are hosting a brunch or want fresh blueberry muffins in the morning, make the batter the night before and simply combine the batter and blueberries before you pop the muffins in the oven. Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 c        Flour

4 tsp     Baking powder

½ tsp   Salt

1 c        White sugar

½ c      Milk

¼ c      Buttermilk

2 c        Frozen blueberries

2/3 c     Vegetable oil    

2          eggs

1 tsp     Lemon zest

            Raw sugar for muffin tops

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and white sugar together in a large bowl. Stir together milk, buttermilk, oil, eggs and lemon zest in a separate bowl. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until everything is mixed.  Fold in frozen blueberries (the batter will be thick) but be careful not to over mix or your blueberries will start to defrost and pop.   

With an ice cream scoop, place the batter into a muffin pan (about 3/4s full).  If you aren’t using muffin liners, spray the pan with canola spray.  Sprinkle each muffin generously with the raw sugar.

Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad at a BBQ or picnic (maybe a little too much) and this is the one that I get the most requests for.  Nothing complicated and simple ingredients but the combination is a winner.  I especially like the bacon in this because everything is better with bacon, but you could easily omit it and make this vegetarian.  

I find that making the pasta the day before and tossing it with a little mayo and ranch is the best approach.  If you toss the pasta with the dressing right after you cook the pasta, the dressing will be absorbed and the pasta will need more than I’ve listed.  Tossing the pasta and putting it in the fridge overnight is best but a few hours in the fridge is fine too.  I’m a fan of saving steps where it makes sense and since you need to blanch the broccoli for a few minutes, I use the same pot and water I cooked the pasta in and instead of pouring the pasta and water into a colander, I use a spider (hand held strainer) or a small strainer to remove the pasta.  I highly recommend using fresh broccoli.  Frozen broccoli will be soggy and turn to mush in your salad.  By blanching the fresh broccoli and then shocking it in a bowl of ice water, it will stay bright green and firm.

Personally, I don’t love tons of dressing on my salads or on pasta.  I found the perfect balance of flavor and dressing by adding some ranch seasoning to the pasta salad rather than more ranch dressing or mayo. I always have ranch powder (specifically Hidden Valley Ranch) on hand for salads, dressings, rubs, etc. But you can add a little more mayo or ranch if you like – there are no rules!

Ingredients

1 lb.                  Short pasta (I like fusilli, gemelli, bow ties or large elbows)

3 c                    Broccoli florets, blanched

½ lb.                Thick cut bacon, thinly sliced

1 ¼ c               Mayonnaise (I love Hellman’s)

¼ c                  Ranch dressing (homemade or your favorite brand, mine is Hidden Valley Ranch)

3 tbs                 Ranch powder (Hidden Valley Ranch is my favorite)

1/3 c                 Milk (low fat or whole)

Preparation

Cook the pasta until it is al dente (you don’t want mushy pasta or it will break when you mix it).  Remove the pasta (reserve the water in the pot if you are blanching the broccoli) and rinse under cold water.  Toss with ¼ cup each of mayo and ranch dressing and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

Blanch the broccoli florets for about 2 minutes in boiling water.  Remove the broccoli and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process (aka shocking).  Drain well and pat dry.  I make the broccoli when I make the pasta so if you make the pasta the day before you are going to serve it, just put the blanched broccoli in the refrigerator till you are ready to assemble the pasta salad.

To make the bacon, cut ½ pound of bacon into ¼ inch wide strips and cook till just done.  Drain the pasta and cool till you are ready to assemble the whole dish.

To pull the pasta salad together, place the pasta in a large bowl.  In a measuring cup, combine 1 cup mayo, 3 tablespoons ranch powder and 1/3 cup of milk and mix well.  Pour over the pasta and combine.  Add the broccoli and bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste (I find the ranch powder has more than enough salt but feel free to customize according to your own taste).  

You can serve immediately or place in the refrigerator until you’re ready but I recommend assembling this the day you plan to serve it. 

Chicken Parmigiana Meatballs

This may be my new favorite recipe I’ve created.  I’m all for eating heathier but I don’t want to give up great flavors and I know my family isn’t willing to go without their favorites.  That’s exactly how this recipe was born.  It has the delicious flavors of cheese and marinara sauce that make chicken parmigiana so fabulous but without the added breading and oil.  Instead of frying chicken cutlets, these juicy meatballs cook in the oven.  Less calories, no mess but tons of flavor are the perfect combination when I’m creating a recipe.  I didn’t this time but moving forward I will double or triple this recipe and pack the freezer for sure.  Like my traditional meatball recipe (also on eyummykitchen.com), these are great as a snack, on pizza, mixed with pasta and vegetables so make a batch and keep them on hand.  These make a quick, no stress weeknight meal especially if you use your favorite jar of marinara.

Ingredients

1 lb                   Ground Chicken

1                      Egg, lightly beaten

1/4 c                 Italian bread crumbs

1/4 c                 Panko bread crumbs

1/2 c                 Parmesan, grated

1/4 c                 Warm water

1 tbs                 Dried parsley

1 tsp                 Salt

½ tsp               Pepper

1 – 2 tbs           Olive oil

3 cups    Marinara sauce (I like Rao’s or Patsy’s)

1 pkg                Fresh mozzarella, sliced to top each meatball

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the ground chicken, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the water a little at a time.  The mixture should be wet but still hold its shape. 

Use a small ice cream scoop to form the meatballs.  You can roll them in your hands to shape them but if you do, be sure to wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick. Place the meatballs on a plate and put the into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to let them firm up. This recipe should yield about 22 – 25 meatballs.

To cook the meatballs, line a cookie sheet with foil and parchment paper and coat the parchment with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the meatballs on the pan and bake until they start to brown, approximately 20 minutes (the internal temperature should register 165 degrees). 

Once you remove the meatballs from the oven, set it to broil.  In an ovenproof dish (pan or casserole) place two cups of marinara sauce.  Place the meatballs on top of the marinara in the dish and spoon about a teaspoon of the remaining marinara over each one.  Top each with a slice of mozzarella (about ½ oz each) and place in the oven.

Cook until the cheese and sauce are bubbling, about 5 – 8 minutes depending on your oven.  Serve with pasta.  

 

Split Pea and Ham Soup

When I host Easter brunch or dinner for family and friends, I love to serve a ham.  It’s perfect for brunch and goes well with eggs and biscuits served at room temperature.  For dinner, macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes along with lots of veggies is ideal.  I glaze the bone-in ham (usually spiral cut) with a mixture of apricot jam and mustard and baste it regularly so the edges get crispy.  As good as a well-cooked ham is for Easter, what I really like are the leftovers. 

I hate wasting food so I save as much of the ham as possible.  Some gets frozen for eggs, casseroles and quiches while some ends up in grilled ham and swiss sandwiches.  Even the smallest ham produces lots and lots of meat! But the best part is the large bone – the shank – that remains after most of the meat is removed.  It is a flavor bomb (a good thing!) and I think the perfect way to use it is to make split pea soup.  It’s one of the easiest soups to make and adding the shank to the simmering soup gives it a deeper flavor beyond the stock and vegetables.  If you’ve never used dried split peas, you can find them in any supermarket and normal they come in one-pound bags.  No prep needed – they go right from the bag to the pot.

This recipe will net at least three quarts of soup and it freezes very well.  I use an immersion blender to create a smooth texture although I like to actually taste and see the vegetables so I usually remove a couple of cups of the soup before I blend it and then add them back in.  Once the soup is done, I remove the shank bone and add some diced ham.  Ham can be salty so I wait till the soup is almost done before I see about seasoning with salt and pepper.  A drizzle of olive oil and a dash of Tabasco (for me) is the perfect finish.  Some croutons wouldn’t be bad either!

Ingredients

1 c                    Diced onion (I use sweet onions)

1 c                    Diced carrots

1 c                    Diced celery (I like to use some of the leaves for extra flavor)

1 clove            Garlic, whole

2 tbs                 Olive oil

1                      Ham bone (most of the meat removed but some is fine)

1 lb                   Dried split green peas

6 c                    Chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium if not homemade)

1/3 c                 Whole milk (optional)

1 ½ c               Diced ham

                        Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation

In a large Dutch oven or pot, add the ham shank and the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and olive oil. Cook for about 5 – 8 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.  Add the split peas and stir until the peas are coated and mixed with the vegetables. 

Add the stock and simmer until the peas are falling apart, about an hour.  Stir frequently as the peas like to clump together on the bottom of the pot.

Remove about two cups of the soup (give or take) and blend the remaining soup till smooth with an immersion blender right it the pot.  Add the two cups of soup back to the soup along with the diced ham and milk. 

Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently, and salt and pepper to taste.

Salt

If there is one product I can’t cook without it’s salt.  It is definitely the hero of my kitchen and you won’t find a single recipe on my blog – even desserts – that doesn’t include salt.  From salting pasta water to topping brownies, salt is critical in every kitchen no matter what you are cooking but it’s also an ingredient that many may not think about.  All salts are not created equal. They look different and they taste different.   I reference different kinds of salt in my recipes and I’ve received lots of questions about which salt to use when, so I thought a blog post specifically on what salts I use and why might help answer your questions.  (If you’re salt IQ is already high, feel free to move on!)

When I travel internationally (I hope to again soon) I am always bringing new salts home.  Food markets, grocery stores, restaurants…I’m always on the hunt. Rather than go through every type of salt out there, I thought I would share the kinds I use regularly. 

The best way to understand the difference is to buy some and try them.  Feel them between your fingers to get a sense of how big the crystals are and if you crush them, how they change.  Then taste them – plain and maybe on a raw vegetable – so you can taste how different they can be. 

First, the salt we all know is regular table salt.  It’s on every restaurant table and it’s a safe bet that we all have it in our cabinets.  It pours quickly which sometimes means before you realize it, you’ve poured too much (I pour it into my hand so I can see exactly how much I am using). It dissolves evenly and I like to use it for salting pasta water. I don’t love the taste (some have iodine and it tastes like chemicals to me) so it’s not what I reach for to cook.

If I had to choose only one salt to use, it would be Kosher salt. It’s in most professional kitchens partly because you can see exactly how much you are using since the crystals are larger than grains of table salt.  The taste is clean and it’s what is used to remove impurities from meat and poultry as part of the “koshering” process, thus the name.  I buy Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt two boxes at a time since I never want to be without it. I use it so often, every day, that it sits in a “salt” container on my counter next to the stove for easy access.

My next favorite is flake salt.  It’s a large crystal salt, harvested from evaporated sea water. You can find this salt with varying sizes of flakes or crystals and I frequently use as a finishing salt or in dishes where you want a crunch and extra flavor kick of salt.  You can, but I wouldn’t use flake salt in a sauce or added to pasta water.  It holds its shape and flavor which is why is it’s the perfect choice if you like brownies or cookies with a little salty crunch on top.  My choice is Maldon Salt, harvested from the shores of England. I love this salt so much I’ve sent it as a gift on more than one occasion.  I use it on cooked vegetables, steaks, in salads and dozens of other ways to finish a dish.  It was a game changer for me when I discovered it.

https://maldonsalt.com/us/

Fleur de Sel is also a sea salt but a more delicate, smaller flake and harvested from France.  I don’t use this as often as Maldon Salt since I like the larger flake but I always have it on hand. It can be a little expensive by comparison to other salts. If I’m serving something like raw vegetables or a composed salad, fleur de sel is ideal.  It’s also my go-to on caramels or in caramel sauce.

These are my favorites and the ones I use on a regular basis but there are at least a dozen other salts in my cabinet and countless others you can try.   Keep in mind that salts are different sizes and dissolve (or don’t) differently, and measure differently so check the conversion when cooking.   Which one is the best? Whichever salt works for how you cook and how you eat is the best for you but try some salts you may not have known about.  You might have a new favorite!

Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

I’ve been wanting to make Panna Cotta for a while and now that I know how easy it is, I’m not sure why it took me so long!  In Italian, Panna Cotta means “Cooked Cream” and is basically a firm vanilla pudding.  It takes only a few ingredients and one of the keys to the silky, firm texture is unflavored gelatin.  (Gelatin isn’t something I’ve used very often but I’ve been trying to bake more and delve more into desserts for eyummykitchen.com and I’m liking the results so far). After a few minutes to dissolve the gelatin and sugar in warm milk, it’s done.  Panna Cotta is wonderful on its own (and standing in front of the fridge eating it at 11 pm) but I made a simple berry sauce since I like the contrast of a topping with a little tartness to go with the Panna Cotta.

I love the idea of serving it in a small glass or jar so you can see the layers with the berry sauce but you can also put it in ramekins and then unmold it.  If you go the ramekin route, I would spray the ramekins well with cooking spray and then run a warm pairing knife around the edges to get a clean release.    

Ingredients

1 ½ c               Whole milk

3 tsp                 Unflavored, powdered gelatin (I use Knox Gelatin)

1/3 c                 Sugar

1 ½ c               Heavy whipping cream

1 tsp                 Vanilla extract (Pure – don’t use imitation)

Preparation

Place the milk in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top (no heat).  Let the gelatin soften for about five minutes.  The gelatin will look like wrinkles on top of the milk.  Set the pan over low heat and stir to dissolve the gelatin.  Be sure to keep the heat on low as to not boil the milk.  The milk doesn’t need to be hot, just warm, to dissolve.  This should take about three – five minutes. Add the sugar to the milk and cook for another three – five minutes to ensure the sugar is dissolved, keeping the heat on a low and making sure not to boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream and vanilla.  Place the mixture in individual containers (glasses, small jars, ramekins, etc. – about a cup of the liquid) and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours to set, or overnight.

Berry Sauce

Ingredients

3 c                    Raspberries (I had some lonely strawberries in the fridge which I also included)

½ c                  Sugar

2 tsp                Corn starch, dissolved in 2 tsp water

Preparation

Bring the berries and sugar to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes until thick. 

Drain the sauce in a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds, making sure to push as much of the sauce through the strainer as possible to extract the sauce.  (My husband actually likes the seeds so I left a couple in this time). Return the sauce to the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the corn starch and mix until the sauce is thickened, about one minute.  Place in the refrigerator until cool.

Meatballs

A bowl of pasta and meatballs makes just about everyone happy, including me.   Believe it or not, it’s an easy meal to pull together during the week and I’m always on the hunt for easy meals the entire family will like.  I often double this recipe and make a big batch so I always have some on hand.  I let them cool after they come out of the oven (I don’t put them in the sauce) and then put them in a zip top bag for an extra dinner in the future.  They are great sliced on pizza, in a hero, for a snack or even an appetizer. 

The meatballs are baked in the oven rather than on the stove so clean up is easy since there won’t be any oil splattering all over the kitchen – a major selling point for me.  I also like using less oil to cut down on calories.  You can certainly slave over the stove making your own sauce but for a great shortcut I go with my favorite jar sauce, Patsy’s.  Good food with good shortcuts is the name of the game for weeknights.

One of the keys to delicious meatballs – or any recipe – is great ingredients.  For these I always use ground beef with a high enough fat/meat ratio so they don’t dry out.  80/20 is my go-to and I balance the extra fat with the cooking in the oven vs. the stove.  Sometimes I will do 1 pound of beef and then add 1 pound of pork which adds great flavor.

Ingredients

2 lbs                Ground beef (80/20)

2                      Eggs, lightly beaten

1 c                    Bread crumbs (I mix Italian and plain panko)

1 c                    Parmesan, grated

1 c                   Warm water

2 tbs                 Dried parsley

1 tsp                 Salt

½ tsp               Pepper

                        Olive oil

Preparation

Preheat the oven on to 400.

Combine the meat, eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl.  Add the water a little at a time.  The meat mixture should be wet but still hold its shape. 

Use a small ice cream scoop to form the meatballs.  You can roll them in your hands to shape them. Be sure to wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick.

Place the meatballs on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake till they are browned and sizzling, approximately 20 minutes. 

Meatballs aren't just for pasta and one batch goes a long way!

This recipe usually yields about 40 – 45 meatballs. 

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi makes an appearance on many, many restaurant menus and is recreated in homes regularly for good reason.  It’s indulgent, luxurious and delicious and brings together some of the most popular ingredients for cooks and chefs – garlic, butter, olive oil, lemon and of course, shrimp.   If you look up most recipes for shrimp scampi in cookbooks and online, it is prepared in a pan on the stove.  Not sure about you but I would like to reduce the recipes I fry or sauté to cut down on the mess as oil splatters everywhere, which is inevitable.  This version builds all the flavors into one dish, at the same time, and they cook together in the oven.  One dish, easy clean up and also a beautiful presentation from the oven right to the table.

I frequently make this for dinner during the week because it doesn’t take much to pull it together.  But it also is an impressive dish for a dinner party.  I put the large casserole dish in the middle of the table along side a big bowl or pasta and a crisp salad and we’ve got a great meal.  Some red pepper flakes and a little (or a lot!) grated parmesan cheese on top and it’s perfect.

Shrimp scampi is delicious on its own but I like a little texture so I started adding a topping of panko breadcrumbs which gives it great crunch, especially when it’s mixed in with the pasta.  Your call on the adding the topping but if you do, be careful to get the topping on the shrimp as much as possible.  Breadcrumbs are sponges and will soak up the sauce you worked to create at the bottom of the pan.  I protect that delicious sauce but pushing the shrimp together so there aren’t too many gaps between them and when I put the dish on the table, I prop up the end with the breadcrumbs so the sauce pools at the other end.     

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs.           Raw shrimp, deveined, tails removed (I use Jumbo which nets 21 – 25 per pound)

2 tbs                 Garlic, finely diced

¼ c                  Olive oil

3 tbs                 Butter, diced into small pieces

1 tbs                 Dried parsley

2 tbs                 Dry white wine (I’m partial to Pinot Grigio)

1 tbs                 Fresh lemon juice  

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

Topping

½ c                  Panko breadcrumbs

1 ½ tbs            Butter

¼ tsp               Dried parsley

¼ tsp               Seasoned salt

Preparation

Preheat your oven to broil.

In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and seasoned salt.

In a single layer, place the shrimp in a large casserole dish.  Cut up the butter into small pieces and place around the shrimp.  Sprinkle with parsley and place in the oven on a low rack (not directly under the broiler) for about 8 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and butter and microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter melts.  Mix together.

Panko topping

Once the shrimp is pink and the sauce is bubbling, remove the pan from the oven carefully. The shrimp will be slightly smaller so push them together so there are limited spaces between them.  If you skip this step, the topping will absorb all the sauce.  Sprinkle the topping over the shrimp and return the pan to the oven to toast the topping which will take about 1 – 2 minutes.  DO NOT WALK AWAY – THE TOPPING CAN BURN IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE.  Not everyone in my house likes the topping so I usually only do half of the shrimp.

Remove the pan from the oven and serve.  If I put the pan on the table, I put a towel under the side with the topping to tilt the pan so the sauce pools on the other side which makes it easier to get to the sauce.

Serve over pasta and an extra squeeze of lemon.

No-Guilt Sesame Chicken

We love Chinese food (as you can probably tell from my blog) but sometimes the dishes we love aren’t exactly the healthiest.  Try as we might, the not-so-healthy dishes are delish and it’s hard to resist.  Not to mention ordering in adds up so I am always looking to recreate dishes at home whenever possible.  Sesame Chicken is traditionally fried and then tossed in a sauce and served with broccoli.  This version isn’t fried to save the calories and mess because who wants to get oil splatters all over their kitchen?

For any stir-fry I make, I velvetize the chicken which is one of the things Chinese chefs do to keep the chicken moist and tender.  If you are like me, then you’ve made chicken at some point only to have it be dry and tough. This secret step combats that with a simple marinade of corn startch, oil and water.

Stir-frying the chicken, then the broccoli and finally tossing with the simple sauce makes this a great, quick weeknight meal.  I serve this over rice (white or fried) or noodles (Chinese egg or rice).  If you make noodles, be sure after you cook and drain them, to toss them with a little sesame oil so you don’t get one big glob of noodles.

Ingredients

1 lb.                  Chicken breasts, sliced into 1 – 2 inch pieces about ½ inch thick

2 heads           Broccoli, cut into florets (about 6 – 7 cups)

3 tbs                 Corn starch

4 tbs                 Canola oil

1 ½ tbs            Sesame oil

1 cup                Chicken stock

¼ cup               Oyster sauce

1 tsp                 Ginger, grated (I use a microplane to grate the ginger and garlic)

1 clove              Garlic, grated

1 tbs                 Toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

In a bowl, velvetize the chicken by mixing it with 1 tbs canola oil, 1 tbs sesame oil, 2 tbs corn starch and 3 tbs water.  Mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes. (I usually prep the rest of the recipe and have everything ready to go once the chicken is done). 

Cook the chicken in a large pan over medium heat with the remaining canola oil, adding more if needed.  Cook the chicken a single layer or you will crowd the pan and steam the chicken so you may need to do more than one batch.  Set the chicken aside once it’s cooked.

For the sauce, combine the oyster sauce, remaining sesame oil, remaining corn starch and ¾ cup of water in a bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape all the little bits off the bottom which should take less than a minute.  Add the broccoli and cover for two or three minutes until the broccoli is tender but not mushy (you should be able to slide a knife easily through a stalk).  Add the garlic and ginger and toss till fragrant, about one minute.

Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices on the plate.  Toss with the broccoli and then add the sauce, mixing well to coat the chicken and broccoli.  Cook for about two minutes till the sauce thickens and coats the broccoli and chicken.  If your sauce is on the thick side, you can simply add some water or chicken stock to thin it out. Mix in sesame seeds and serve.

Sesame Noodle Bowls

I never met a pasta I didn’t like and if you ask me what food I cannot live without is, I would say Asian. Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. – I love them all.   So, perfecting a recipe for sesame noodles was critical when I started eyummykitchen.com.  I love how savory, sweet and peanut-y these silky noodles are.  I’ve made this countless times but finally landed on the right ingredients and ratios so I’m thrilled to get this on paper (cooking with recipes has been a big part of starting the blog!)

The sauce has all the iconic Asian flavors along with peanut butter and the ingredients for the sauce go into a blender so it couldn’t be easier to make.  And, if you don’t use it all up it stays in the fridge for a few days and would be great mixed with napa cabbage, toasted ramen noodles, veggies and chicken.  (Might have to write that one up too!).

Normally I use spaghetti for the noodles – or Chinese egg noodles which you can get at an Asian market – but I had only thin linguini on hand so that’s what I used.  Once the noodles are dressed, they sky is the limit for how you build your noodle bowl.  I go heavy on thinly sliced cucumber and have added everything from shredded carrots, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and grilled chicken.  I always finish them with scallions and toasted sesame seeds on top and lots of chili sauce or chili crunch (my new obsession) since I like them spicy.  I like to prep everything and put out the toppings so everyone can make their own individual bowl with goodies.  I’m partial to eating these noodles cold and the longer they sit in the fridge, the better they get.  

Once the noodles are cooked, I drain it, rinse it to stop the cooking and then toss it with a little bit of the dressing so when I go to serve them later, they won’t be one big mess of stuck together noodles. 

Ingredients

1 box (16oz)     Spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles

1 tbs                 Scallions, sliced on a bias for garnish

1 tbs                 Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Sauce

1 c                    Canola oil

¾ c                  Smooth peanut butter (I like smooth Skippy)

¼ c                  Apple cider vinegar

1/4 c Soy sauce (I use low sodium)

3 tbs                 Sesame oil

2 tbs                 Honey

1 tsp                 Ginger, grated

2 cloves           Garlic, minced

3 tsp                 Kosher salt

1 tsp                 Black pepper

Preparation

In a blender or food processor, combine all the sauce ingredients till smooth.  Store in an airtight container – minus a ½ cup – in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  When it is done, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Toss with the ½ cup of the sauce and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour in an airtight container.

When you are ready to serve, toss the noodles with 1 cup of sauce at a time and add more according to your preference.

The sauced noodles are great plain with some scallions and toasted sesame seeds on top but we usually add some protein and veggies, including:

  • Chicken (I like to grill thin breasts but a rotisserie chicken diced or shredded is great here)
  • Steak. Thinly sliced and cooked.
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Red, orange or yellow peppers, thinly sliced
  • Napa cabbage
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced water chestnuts
  • Blanched broccoli
  • Chili sauce or crunch