Sandra Lee’s Semi Pad Thai

This recipe from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Meals is actually called Spicy Peanut Noodles, but it’s basically a variation on Pad Thai.

As usual, Sandra’s recipes are a breeze to make. I failed miserably at trying to make a custard pudding recently and writing about this recipe renews my self-confidence in the world of cooking.

My custard still tasted ok, but it would have been delicious if the consistency was right.

Sandra, thankfully, gives you little room to fail. She gently holds your hand through every recipe in this book. I haven’t failed a recipe of hers yet.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed though. You never know.

What you’ll need

  • 8 ounces of soba noodles
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Thai seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts, chopped
  • 1 scallion, sliced diagonally

The first step is to boil the soba noodles. This isn’t hard. Just boil some water and cook the noodles for 4-5 minutes. Drain the water when it’s ready, cool the noodles, and set aside.

The next step is to prepare your peanut butter sauce by whisking the peanut butter with the chicken broth, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, Thai seasoning, and the red pepper flakes.

When everything is whisked together, just pour on top of the noodles, sprinkle some peanuts and scallions and you’re good to go!

This was so much easier to make than my custard pudding dish, let me tell you! I feel slightly redeemed. Don’t feel sorry for me though. I’m not down for the count. I’m gonna get right back up and knock that pudding senseless.

When I do, you’ll all hear about it.

For now though, look at this deliciousness.

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Peanut Butter and Noodles

 

Hamburger of the Chilies

My next recipe comes from I Love Spice, which if you don’t know, I do love spice. I want to marry spice, but I also love cheese and it’s been a real struggle figuring out who I want to settle down with.

Spice can be intense sometimes, but I like the intensity and cheese is nice and comforting, but sometimes I get bored with cheese because all we do is lay around and talk about how much we like pizza.

For this recipe I did manage to get spice and cheese together. So maybe we can all work things out and move to Utah or start a commune somewhere. I have faith in our relationships.

What you’ll need

  • 1 lb 7 oz/650 grams of ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 small fresh red chilies, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil, plus extra sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • hamburger buns, of course, unless you’re gluten-free, then maybe not.

The first step is to make your burger patties by combining all the ingredients except the salt, pepper, and the hamburger buns. That would be awkward.

Mix those ingredients so that they are dispersed in the meat evenly and then season with salt and pepper.

The next step is to form burger patties and you do this by invoking your child hood self’s love of play-dough. Don’t get too carried away though.

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You can’t compete with Meatwad anyway

Instead of Abraham Lincoln, you should be making four roundish patties, like so.

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Once you’ve formed your patties, pre-heat a broiler or grill and then cook those puppies for 5-8 minutes on each side or until they have reached the level of doneness you prefer.

Once they are cooked to your liking, you can garnish with basil sprigs and serve on your hamburger bun with all the fixings you like.

You can also add cheese, which I did. I added pepperjack, because obviously it’s my two loves together and why wouldn’t I?

My final result turned out well. I feel like it’s hard to mess up a burger patty. As long as you don’t over or undercook it, it should turn out well.

I loved the kick of the spices and it was juicy and delicious. So, if you love spice or want to try something new for your Labor Day Cookout, go ahead and give this guy a try. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Warm Oysters or How My Theory that I Prefer Hot Food was Validated

Warm Oysters with Balsamic Vinegar or as the French say, Les Huitres Tiedes au Vinaigre Balsamique is my final oyster recipe in French Farmhouse Cookbook.

Susan, the author, took a tour on the Breton shore and wined and dined with many an oyster farmer. One in particular suggested Susan try this method which has warmed me up to oysters and I think will be enjoyed by others as well.

There’s something about warm butter and seafood that is extremely comforting for me. The addition of balsamic adds to the warmth in taste without overshadowing the oysters.

I’m actually excited about eating oysters more and look forward to trying out different methods. I admittedly probably won’t make my own anymore. Making your own tends to require some forethought and a special shucking knife that I do not own.

This is a recipe that relies on your own good judgement as far as portions go. I have a feeling some of you might panic when you read that, but rest assured that even I didn’t screw it up.

The cookbook does have the following measurements for those who can’t handle that. I only got 6 oysters and eyed the rest myself.

  • 2 dozen small to medium oysters, scrubbed in the shell
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup best-quality balsamic vinegar

The first step is to pre-heat your oven. Yes you read that right. These oyster pups are gonna get baked.

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Don’t get excited, it’s not the kind of baked

Susan suggests that the best way to get the oysters baked is to arranged them on a baking sheet with the cup side down. Spreading salt on the sheet will help stabilize them if you have trouble keeping them balanced.

Once you place the oysters in the oven, you will bake for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and then pry them open as carefully as possible. Once you’ve pried them open, you can remove the outer shell.

The proper consumption method is as follows, drizzle a touch of butter. (When I say touch, I truly mean a miniscule amount. It won’t take much.) The final step is to add 2 to 3 drops of vinegar. You are now prepared for slurping! Enjoy!

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The butter can’t compete with the oyster’s sexiness

 

 

 

Cheesy Beefees of Potency

Balls. Potency. The symbol of manhood. The patriarch’s second favorite shape, the other one being an eggplant emojii.

Was it a man who first thought to take a chunk of meat and form it into a ball for consumption? Was it a woman? A woman who wanted to show how she could take a man’s power from him. His pride and joy? Maybe it was just a psychopath who wanted to eat balls for real and was suppressing his or her desires by pretending with animal meat.

We will never know who decided to form meat into balls just like we will never know who invented the wheel. Another spherical shape of power.

Hahaha…..Rachel likes balls!!! – My friend’s kid Lana

I’m talking about meatballs Lana! You’re only six! What’s wrong with you?!

Serious talk everyone. This next recipe comes from Portlandia and is meatballs with cheese stuffed inside. Lana really did say that once, while I was at an Italian restaurant with her mom. She overheard me telling her mother about how some “men” I used to work with would tease me whenever I ordered meatballs for my lunch. They would say “Oh you want balls today? Do you like balls Rachel? Would you say that you love them”

It was dumb. Lana thought we were talking about actual meatballs and she was eating meatballs when she said that. It took everything in me to not say, “So do you kid. You got your mouth all up in them right now.”

I don’t remember what I ended up saying. I just remember my friend giving me this wide-eyed surprised look of slight embarrassment and then laughing.

If you love balls, especially meatballs, this is what you’ll need.

  • 2 slices of white bread, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of half and half or milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound of ground sirloin
  • 3/4 pound of ground chuck
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 ounces of pepper jack cheese, cut into 24 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup pus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

My favorite first step!! Pre-heat the oven!! Pre-heat it to 425 degrees and position rack on the upper shelf!

The next step is to combine the bread, half and half, and egg in a large bowl. Mix this into a paste texture then add the scallions, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt. Stir until well mixed.

Next add the meat and massage with your hands until it has melded with the rest of the ingredients. Once the meat has become one with everything, form that meat into balls. 24 to be exact.

When your balls are ready, prepare them for cooking by coating a pan with vegetable oil. Moisten your hands with a touch of oil and then gently tuck a cube of cheese inside each ball.

Now put your balls into the oven and cook until they are nice and firm. This should take around 12 minutes.

Once the 12 minutes are up, remove the balls from the oven and set the oven to broil.

Get another large bowl out and place a 1/4 of a cup of the grated cheese inside. Then put the balls in there and lightly toss them. Return the balls to the baking sheet, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese and then broil for 2-3 minutes. Be careful though, you don’t want to emasculate them. Balls need gentle handling and cooking.

Once the 2-3 minutes are up, after some cooling they will be ready for consumption.

You can serve them as an appetizer, with toothpicks on their own or dip them in tomato sauce. The best part about these balls is the cheese I have to say. They are your standard balls otherwise, but the cheese puts them ahead.

I can safely say that I do like these balls. I hope you do too. Just don’t tell Lana, she’s kind of a gossip.

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The Scent of Harira

Déjà vu, synchronicity, or coincidence? I’m not sure what word would best describe this situation. All I can tell you is that I did not plan nor did I realize that my next recipe was going to be another Harira soup.

This version doesn’t have lamb meat, but it does come from The Scent of Orange Blossoms which is a traditional cookbook of Jewish-Moroccan recipes. So, we can gather that this version is more traditional than Isa’s.

The authors of this cookbook say that this dish “typifies the cross-cultural exchanges between Morocco’s Arab and Jewish communities.”

Both cultures have a tradition where they break each day’s fast with this soup. Muslims in the month of Ramadan and Jews at the end of Yom Kippur.

The lesson I get from this is that food is the answer for peace! I declare open borders for food!

Getting back to tradition. Isa, in the last entry seemed surprised one would use angel hair pasta in this soup, but the two ladies who wrote this cookbook mention that angel hair is one of many variations. Should I let Isa know?

You can also use leavened bread as well as various types of grains.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup of brown lentils, cleaned and picked over
  • 7 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 20 sprigs of cilantro
  • 15 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of raw long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • Wedges of lemon

The first step is to heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. By the way, when in doubt, use medium heat. Moderation is a friend of the doubtful.

Add the onions to the pot and stir in a moderate intervals of time for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the celery, lentils, and 6 1/2 cups of stock. Cover your pot and bring this to the max boil, aka rolling boil. Cook this under the max boil for 10-15 minutes and then decrease to moderate medium.

While this is happening, you can prepare your tomatoes via the scoring method. Scoring involves marking your tomatoes with the x of death on the stem and then boiling in max heat boil for 30 seconds. Drain and cool the tomatoes after that and by then you can skin them alive and chop them to bits.

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Cooking is brutal

When you have brutally murdered and dismembered your tomatoes, you will add them into a blender with 1/2 cup of stock, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, and ginger. Your goal is to have a fairly smooth consistency. When you’ve reached that goal, add it to your pot along with rice and garbanzo beans. Cook this for 30-35 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

5 minutes before your soup is ready, bring it to a simmer. While it is simmering, in a bowl, mix flour with the remaining stock to create a paste. Add this to the soup and stir until it thickens.

You are now ready to serve your soup with a fresh slice of lemon!

I liked this version of Harira better than Isa’s. It wasn’t as hearty, but I preferred that. The lemon slices are a nice touch that I enjoyed as well. It gave the soup a refreshing citrus taste that wasn’t present in Isa’s version.

I can see why both are popular to end a fasting period too. They are hearty, comforting, and relatively healthy at the same time.

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Oatmeal Cookies

I’m not a butcher, I’m not candlestick maker, nor am I’m a baker. I’m not a crook, but I am a cook.

Thank you. I call that poem, Nixon’s Cooking Blog.

On a more serious tone, I do not consider myself a baker. My experience in baking cookies is almost nil. In other words, these are the second cookies I’ve ever made that didn’t come from a Pillsbury tube.

I get nervous when I have to bake, but these cookies from Taste of Home Cooking for Two were not difficult at all to make and I think even Nixon would get great results if he had ever tried making them.

What you’ll need

  • 1/3 cup of shortening
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats
  • 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

The first step is to mix the shortening with the sugar. If you didn’t know, I didn’t anyway, shortening is basically butter. You can also use margarine. Whatever you use, make sure it’s been melted. When this process is finished, you add the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt until evenly mixed. Then slowly add this mixture to the butter, vanilla, and egg one. The walnuts will be the final touch to this mixture.

Once everything has been added, grease a cookie pan and spoon in the mixture, leaving 3 inches in between. It is recommended that each spooned in mixture be circular, but feel free to experiment. I wasn’t feeling creative, so I stuck with circles.

Whatever shape you choose, bake those shapes at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Once those minutes are up, allow them to cool for about two minutes and then you can turn into the cookie monster and dream about the moon being a cookie so you could eat it.

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I’ve never seen the cookie monster eat anything but chocolate chip cookies. Isn’t that strange? You’d think a cookie monster wouldn’t be so picky.

Like the cookie monster I prefer chocolate chip and am not a big fan of oatmeal cookies, but these were quite good. They were sweeter than any of the oatmeal cookies I’ve had. They were more like sugar cookies with oatmeal and a hint of vanilla than the crunchy granola bar like oatmeal cookies I’ve had in the past.

I brought these cookies to one of my temp offices and everyone seemed to be surprised by how good they were. Like me, they weren’t big fans of regular oatmeal cookies and were pleasantly surprised by this version.

I would make this again and I would add chocolate chips, mostly to please the cookie monster.

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Oatmeal cookies!!!

 

Somen Noodles and Sugar Snap Peas

Sandra Lee does it again with her so not meh noodles. This chicken teriyaki goodness with a side of snap peas is getting  a favorite recipe mark for sure. A previous owner agrees with me. I know this because they wrote good on the recipe.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Meals is a cookbook sent from heaven, wrapped neatly with a bow and hand delivered for those of you who struggle in the culinary arts.

In other words, she makes recipes that are idiot-proof as well as scrumptious.

This is mostly due to the fact that she finds shortcuts. I’m ok with this, because in this day in age people are either too busy and let’s get real with ourselves, lazy, to make food completely from scratch.

I’m pleased to have another successful recipe, but I’m also sad. I have no more puns or rambling stories to add and that does make me sad. So, let’s get to it then.

For the Chicken Noodles

  • 6 ounces of somen noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, but into bite sized pieces
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of carrot slices
  • 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 cup of reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of bottled crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of bottled minced ginger

The first step in making the noodles is to prepare for the ceremony known as The Boiling of the Noodles. Tradition states that you place the noodles in water that has been blessed with salt for three minutes. Drain the noodles afterwards and then set aside

While this ceremony is taking place, you may heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and stir for about 7 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked, add the spinach, carrots, sauce, chicken broth, garlic, and ginger. Stir this mixture until well combined and then allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the noodles right before you are ready to serve. When you do, toss and cook until the they are hot.

For the Sugar Snap Peas with Red Pepper

  • 14 ounces of sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon of dark sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Get a microwave safe bowl, unless you want to add melted chemicals to your meal. I’m not going to judge. It’s your body, your choice.

Anyway, get a bowl and add all the ingredients except the sesame seeds. Mix them all up and then heat for 6-7 minutes. Stir halfway through to ensure the mixing has been properly done. If you are a classy classical person like myself and don’t own a microwave I suggest you heat your oven to 350 and cook for 10-15 minutes.

When this mixture has been properly heated you may add the sesame seeds. I added black ones because they were left over from a previous recipe.

They taste the same to me, so I believe it doesn’t matter what color you get.

As I said before, this meal was a success. It was easy to make and satisfying.

I love you Sandra Lee. Why are you so perfect? You’re probably a real blonde too.

Nevermind, I hate you.

Just kidding. I hate myself.

Just kidding. I’m trying to be funny and this is the only way I know how.

….now I’ve confused myself.

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Somen noodles of goodness

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Snap peas!