Peanut noodles with chicken

This entire post is already a lie. I didn’t make peanut noodles. I used natural almond butter instead of peanut butter. But almond nut butter noodles just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way. And peanut noodles are a common dish and I think most people would raise an eyebrow to “almond noodles”.

Here is goes, anyway. I had been wanting peanut noodles for weeks. I didn’t want to order in because I knew they would be really greasy and unhealthy, but incredibly delicious. So, I set out to make a healthier version at home. A common theme with me.

Ingredients(makes 2 huge or 3 smaller servings):

  • 6 oz of brown rice noodles(or noodle of choice)
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces and steamed
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 8 oz of chicken, cooked and diced
  • 3 tablespoons natural almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • salt and pepper

Measure out your noodles. You know, if you are concerned about serving size at all.

Cook your noodles according to directions.

In a separate bowl, mix almond butter, water, tamari, garlic, ginger, sriracha and a little salt and pepper until smooth.

In a separate pan cook or heat chicken. When noodles are about 3 minutes from being done cooking, toss in steamed broccoli and spinach to wilt spinach.

Drain noodles and put in pan with chicken and veggies.

Pour sauce over the top and mix until combined.

Serve in bowls.

In the future, I will add more flavor(sriracha, garlic and ginger) to the sauce. We must like a lot of flavor because the original recipe I was going off of only called for the nut butter, water and soy sauce. That would have been super-duper bland. I really liked all the greens add in. Or maybe they just made me feel a little better about eating a meal of fat on carbs!

Sesame kale macrobiotic bowl

One of my favorite things to order at Native Foods Cafe is the sesame kale macrobiotic bowl. It is so flavorful and healthy.

Their version is Chef Tanya’s Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds(taken straight from their website).

I made a few tweaks and tried to recreate it at home. My first attempt was extremely close and so delicious that I ate it everday for a week. Now I can’t wait to make it again.

Ingredients(makes 4 servings):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into bite size pieces(whatever variety you prefer)
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari(or soy sauce)
  • 1 package of plain tempeh
  • 1 jar of sauerkraut, preferably raw
  • fresh ginger
  • minced garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • apple cider vinegar

Start by heating the sesame oil and soy sauce over medium  in non stick pan. While that is heating, cut package of tempeh into 16 triangles. When hot, add tempeh to the oil, soy mix. I bought a package of tempeh with flax from Whole Foods. Why not get the benefits of flax, too? Cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side.

When cooked and flavor absorbed, pull out of pan and set to the side.

Throw your chopped kale in the pan while it is still hot and use any remaining oil,soy mixture in the bottom to flavor the kale. Why waste? Cook kale, stirring intermittently until slightly wilted.

In a separate bowl combine tahini with 3 tablepoons water. Add in freshly grated ginger and and some minced garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also added a few drops of Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavor. You could also use a little lemon juice. I may have added a little more water to thin it out more. You want it to be a fairly runny consistency.

To assemble: Place 1/4 of the hot, cooked quinoa in to 4 separate bowls. Top with 1/4 of kale. Add two nice size fork fulls of the sauerkraut. Then top with 4 triangles of tempeh. Drizzle with 1/4 of tahini dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. DIG IN!

Ok, I know that the sauerkraut sounds like a weird addition, but it adds a really great dimension to this dish. When you are eating it, you kind of mix it all up together and get a little of everything in each bite. It brings the acidity that the dish needs so it isn’t just a big bland bowl. If you are storing some to reheat it later, I would recommend keeping the sauerkraut separate and adding it in after reheating.

Ready to go to work with me:

A very farmer’s market breakfast

I hit up a total of 3 different farmers markets this week, leaving me an abundance of fresh and tasty produce to craft meals from.

My favorite table at the farmer’s market is the mushroom guy. They grow tons of mushrooms and they are 10 million times more flavorful than any mushroom that you buy in the grocery store. He had fresh garlic this week, as well. He told me that most of the garlic sold in the US is grown in China. What? Did anyone else know this? His garlic is insanely garlicy. But in a mellow, wonderful way. And it is crazy huge. Take a look at it:

Just one clove:

I knew I had to use some in my breakfast on Saturday morning. I sauteed some mushrooms and garlic. Some of that wonderful garlic. While that was cooking these were waiting in the wings:

I tossed the spinach and the tomatoes in at the last second to wilt and warm them.

Then I cooked two farm fresh and local eggs to top off these veggies.

Now that is the perfect way to start off the day and pack a punch of antioxidants while eating better food and supporting the local economy.

The economics of iced coffee

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People that buy their coffee/specialty drink at Starbucks(or any other coffee shop) everyday make me cringe. It’s such a waste of money. Admittedly, I do it more then I should, but putting the numbers on paper will curtail my behavior even more.

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Let’s take a look at the numbers. This can also be applied to hot coffee. But I’m going to focus on the iced variety because it’s summer and I drink way more iced than hot in this weather.

When I make a batch of cold brew iced coffee, it will usually last me on average 2 weeks. One glass a day. Maybe a day in there with two a day or a few days when Brian has some too.

So, if I were to buy an iced coffee on my way to work every day for two weeks, the numbers would look something like this:

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I’ve been buying a bag of grounds for between $5-$8, depending the brand and sales. So I chose a middle-ish number, which happens to be the amount I spent the last time on a bag of Papa Nichols hazelnut creme grounds.

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So take the amount I would have spent on 10 days of coffee minus the amount I spent making it myself. Keep in mind that my iced coffee lasts me 14 days, not 10, so this is factoring in 4 free cups of homemade coffee.

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So, I’m saving about $15.00 every two weeks; about $30 a month. Which means:

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That’s a lot of money a year. That’s your choice of 10 mani/pedis, 3 concerts, a plane ticket, 2 new pair of running shoes, or a subscription to a CSA. And all without giving up your daily coffee. I’ll drink to that.

Honey sriracha broccoli

This is my  new favorite way to eat broccoli. I will be making it again this weekend. Spicy with just the tiniest bit sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli(cut into bite-size pieces)

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a small bowl add oil, tamari, honey, sriracha and black pepper.

Whisk until oil is emulsified. Pour over broccoli. Toss so broccoli is well coated.

Spread on a baking sheet.

Bake for 7-10 minutes. Stir pieces once and put back in oven for another 3-5 minutes.

The original recipe called for fresh broccoli, but I only had a bag of frozen on had, so I thawed it then roasted. It wasn’t as firm as it would have been fresh, but the flavor was still delicious. This sauce would be a great stir fry sauce and maybe even a little better with fresh ginger and/or garlic. Oh, the possibilities.

Lunch of the week

I’ve eaten this combination for lunch more than once this week. I’ve fallen in love with the gluten-free veggies patties at Costco.

I’ve been making wraps out them with hummus, avocado,spring mix and cucumber. Side of seasoned steamed kale with tomato and a few salt and vinegar pop chips. Yumm.

Just look at that steamed kale….Mmmmm….

Weekend warrior and the garden monster

It’s already Thursday and I’m just getting to my weekend wrap up post? Where has the week gone?

It was a low-key weekend. On Saturday I went to the local farmer’s market and bought nothing. It was a sad turnout of 6 tents and only one had fresh produce and not much of it. Bummer. I did try a new local coffee place. It might be my favorite for iced coffee. It’s the only one that I know of in the area that makes the extra effort to make iced coffee cubes to put in your iced coffee so it doesn’t become diluted as they melt. Their name is well deserved. Happy with iced coffee in my hand, I accidentally wandered into Anthropologie. It was a good day…for my bank account. I left with only a silicone whisk that was on sale for $4.99. The coral dress was very tempting but I had to remind myself that I own more than enough dresses. The woes of a logical adult.

Later Saturday, we had a birthday party that was full of fun, BBQ, beers and some very delicious homemade pies.

We really took advantage of the cooler temperatures on Sunday and went for two long bike rides and spent some time up at the garden.

I finally got my beverage holder, named Norman, attached to Lynn Abbey. It’s a hollowed out coconut shell.

After getting an email from the head of the community garden plots last week in regards to my excessively large plant that was taking over 2 of my neighbors plots, I decided it was time to trim the monstrosity back. Armed with Betty Crocker kitchen scissors and gloves, the beast was trimmed back to half of its size, sacrificing some of the squash that had started forming. It had also grown through the fence and was growing onto the tennis court in two different places.

The good news is that now the plant has started producing, we think we finally know what it is. We originally thought it was a zucchini, but then it got too big. We decided it must be a pumpkin. Well, the initial fruit resemble acorn squash. If that’s true, we are going to have a lot of them. Even after we cut the plant back. Hopefully trimming it back won’t encourage it to grow even more. Brian was a real trooper in helping me out in taming the beast.

Bikes, garden and crafting

Brian and I had a fun filled and relaxing day. We rode our bikes to The Daily for lunch where we had some of our favorite iced tea.

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We stopped by my coworker’s yard sale and had a beer on her porch. We bought Monopoly. It rode home in my basket.

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On the way home, we stopped by my garden. My pumpkin plant has officially taken over. I was able to pick tomatoes and peppers and my Brussies are really coming along.

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Tonight we had a wild night at home experimenting with a Pinterest project. We are currently baking the mugs to see if it makes the marker permanent.

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Capresedillanini

A what? It’s a cross between the caprese salad, a quesadilla and a panini. And it’s AWESOME!

Do you know what else is awesome? Going to a White Sox game with your coworkers:

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • fresh mozzarella
  • 1 home-grown tomato
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

I essentially make a caprese salad down the center of a tortilla.

Just layer slices of tomato with slices of fresh mozzarella. Add basil and salt and pepper.

Then I folded the rest of the tortilla over it. I put it in a hot skillet with a little oil to make it hot and crispy and melty. I put a heavy plate on top of it in the pan to help press it down.

After a few minutes, I flipped it over(be careful, the plate will be hot) and put the plate back on top of it for a few more minutes.

Slice and eat. I had it with a side of berries.

It was the ultimate summer meal. The tomato was from my garden and the basil was out of my living room. Yum.