Garlic Noodles with Chicken

I love a good noodle dish, and garlic noodles are at the top of the pile. The best part is, these can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes with ingredients from a well stocked pantry. I was inspired by the Garlic Noodles on Budget Bytes, and while I love most of the recipes on that site, Beth’s version wasn’t quite garlic-y enough for me. So I set out to amp up the flavor a bit, and add in my own secret weapon for Asian style sauces – wine. Yes, it’s in no way authentic, but it’s just the ingredient to give brown sauces “that taste” of great takeout. I usually just whip these up when I’m dining solo after the kiddo has gone to bed and husband is working, but I’ve scaled this recipe up to serve two.

– 2 chicken breasts

– half a box of spaghetti, cooked according to package directions in well salted water

– 4 tablespoons oyster sauce

– 4 teaspoons soy sauce

– 2 teaspoons sesame oil

– 1 tablespoon garlic powder

– 8-10 garlic cloves, minced

– 4 tablespoons brown sugar

– 1/2 cup chardonnay

– 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons cold water

– Saute the chicken until well browned on both sides and cooked through. Slice into thin pieces and set aside with the cooked spaghetti.

– Combine the remaining ingredients (except for the cornstarch slurry) and bring to a boil. Mix in the slurry and let boil for a minute or two until thickened.

– Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and chicken and mix well to evenly coat the spaghetti. Serve hot and enjoy!

To increase the nutritional value and flavor, you can add in some lightly steamed or sauteed veggies – green onions, broccoli and sweet peppers would all be delicious.

Bean & Bacon Pasta

I love bean and bacon soup, and grew up eating the Campbell’s condensed variety. I love pasta just as much, so I thought – why not combine two great things into one easy dish?

6-8 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 onion, minced

1 carrot, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked white beans

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the bacon until starting to crisp, then add the onion and carrot and cook until lightly golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer.

2. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the brown bits.

3. Add the chicken stock and white beans.

4. Season with the thyme, salt and pepper.

5. Cook for 20-30 minutes until all of the flavors have melded and the sauce is slightly thickened (though it will be fairly loose).

Serve over penne or your favorite pasta. Another great feature of this dish is the leftovers – it makes a lot, and you can certainly have pasta again the next day, but if you’d like something different just thin the sauce with a few more cups of chicken stock and you’re back to bean and bacon soup!

Sausage & Pepper Pasta

Pasta is one of my favorite things to eat. I love pasta. So I’m always looking for and thinking up new recipes to try. I saw a recipe online awhile back for sausages and peppers in alfredo sauce, which we don’t eat because of the dairy, but that got me to thinking – how about sausages and peppers in some kind of white sauce? So I just threw something together, and it’s been so good that it’s now in our regular rotation. Good thing I wrote it down! I figured I’d share it with all of you too, since who doesn’t like a filling pasta dish in the winter?

1 pound Italian sausage

1 sweet pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 pint of mushrooms, sliced

1 cup soy milk (or milk)

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water to form a slurry

salt and pepper

1. Saute the peppers and mushrooms until the mushrooms are slightly browned, then set aside.

2. Brown the Italian sausages on all sides. Add the vermouth to deglaze the pan, put the lid on, and simmer on low heat to cook through.

3. While the sausages are browning, cook your pasta and make the sauce. For the sauce, combine the soy milk, chicken stock, onion powder and garlic pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then whisk in the corn starch slurry, stirring constantly until thickened. Put on the lowest flame to keep warm while the sausages and pasta finish cooking.

4. When the sausage is nearly done, add the peppers and mushrooms back to the pan. If you like, slice the sausages (I always find it’s easier to slice cooked sausage than raw) and return them to the pan. Stir in the sauce and simmer for a few minutes to meld all the flavors.

5. Stir the completed sauce into the pasta, and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the flavors really lock into the pasta.

It’s so delicious – and perfect with a nice glass of your favorite white wine.

Make Ready – Thanksgiving is Coming!

Okay folks, it’s one week until the Big Feast. Where are you with your pre-holiday preparations? I’ve got the lists all made and ready to go. Three lists are key to getting your big dinner on the table without a hitch – the menu, the shopping list and your prep outline. Here are mine for this year – not so simple that I’ll be bored getting it together, but not so complicated (as in previous years) that I won’t be able to pull it off with a baby on the scene.

The Menu

Roasted turkey (still trying to convince husband we should also apple smoke it)

Honey glazed ham

Mashed potatoes

Bread stuffing (with white and rye breads)

Stuffed sweet potatoes

Braised greens (whatever’s on sale – Swiss chard, kale, collards…)

Home made cranberry sauce

Turkey gravy

Pumpkin crescent rolls

Pumpkin pie

Chocolate icebox pie

Shopping List

12-15 pound turkey

8-10 pound ham

5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

celery

carrots

onions

chicken stock

4 sweet potatoes

3 large bunches greens

cranberries

flour

sugar

eggs

soymilk

mini marshmallows

Prep Itinerary

Monday – Bake white bread and rye bread for stuffing.

Tuesday – Parbake and freeze crescent rolls; make chocolate pie; make cranberry sauce.

Wednesday – Bake pumpkin pie; prep all veggies and keep in fridge.

Thanksgiving – Get turkey and ham in oven by 9:00; cook bread stuffing in crockpot; cook mashed potatoes; bake sweet potatoes; braise greens; finish baking rolls.

 

Of course the Thanksgiving work list needs expanding and refining. I like to have times listed out so I know when to start each item so that everything is ready to eat at the same time. It takes a little maneuvering. That’s why I’ve decided to sacrifice the crisp crust on the bread stuffing this year and do it in the crockpot. I can just set it and forget it. Actually, I suppose I could throw it under the broiler for a few minutes if I’m so inclined, but personally I like a softer stuffing anyhow. So we’ll see. And juggling the turkey and ham in the oven will be tricky. Another pro to apple smoking it, as it can be done on the grill. But if we go that route, I’ll have to take the turkey down into pieces so it will fit on our grill. Not a big deal, since we don’t make a big thing of presenting the whole bird at the table anyway. But if we don’t smoke it, I may have to cook the ham through on Wednesday night so I can just heat it up on Thursday when the turkey is out and resting. So, I’ve got the master plan all set to go but we’ve still got some planning to do in the next week. And we’ve got to do the grocery shopping this weekend for sure!

This Week’s Baking

I am on a serious baking kick these days. On Sunday, I tried a new recipe and made three plain pain d’epi and three bacon pain d’epi loaves. I wish I could tell you that putting slices of bacon into my favorite type of bread was my own idea, but one must give credit where credit is due. And credit is very due to Diamonds for Dessert for posting this incredible recipe for bacon pain d’epi.

My only deviation from her recipe was to use bread flour instead of regular white, and instead of doing all six loaves with bacon, I only did three. Not only are these loaves gorgeous (insert photo of gorgeous bread [here] – if I waited to upload any of the photos I take, sadly I’d never find the time to post…), the dough was gorgeous too. It was a dream to work with – like silk to knead. So smooth and elastic. It’s easily the best bread dough I’ve worked with thus far.

This bread was absolutely delicious with the potato soup I made for Sunday dinner. I didn’t have any leeks on hand, so I made the soup with a couple of big red onions instead. Bacon and onions; soup and bread – I can’t think of a better Sunday night dinner for an overcast, windy fall evening. And of course I’m already dreaming up variations on it – I could add green onions and sun dried tomatoes. My home made bacon would be even more awesome than the store bought stuff I had to use in Sunday’s loaf. We ate a little with leftovers for yesterday’s lunch, then had the very last plain loaf this morning with our eggs and bacon for breakfast. Of course, it wasn’t as good as when it was fresh, but it held up pretty good for three days. It still had a nice crust and chewy interior, and was just starting to show signs of staling. This dough recipe is a definite keeper.

I’ve got another batch in it’s first rise now. Instead of doing six small loaves, I’m going to do two larger ones. And we ate the rest of the bacon today sadly – the last four slices are in tonight’s dinner (crockpot balsamic chicken with potatoes). So I’m going to do a plain loaf for one and a sun dried tomato and olive loaf for the other. I’m pretty excited to try this new variation tonight. Now if only I had gotten the bread rising in time to have it with dinner… sigh.

Of course, Sunday baking isn’t complete without sweets. We’ve had a real sweet tooth lately. Must be the change of the seasons. I’m going through flour like nobody’s business. I’ve made tons of double batches of snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies (half with added walnuts for husband), and I can’t keep them in the house. Naturally I made a batch of snickerdoodles, but only a single batch this time because I also decided to make some soft ginger cookies. They will now be a repeat at our house too – so good! They’re basically a soft, chewy gingerbread. They actually had a touch too much ginger for my taste (too much ginger actually gives me a bit of a stomach ache, interestingly) so next time I’m going to just use a teaspoon instead of the two the recipe calls for. Other than that, it’s perfect. I love having three, solid go to cookie recipes. And so you can get in the cookie goodness, I’ll share where I found all three. 🙂 Another case of wishing I came up with these myself; that’s how good they are!

Snickerdoodles from Slow Like Honey

Soft Ginger Cookies from Allrecipes

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Apple a Day

Seriously – make all three. And I found all of these on Pinterest, proving yet again that Pinterest is the coolest thing in the world. I’ve got a couple more cookie recipe pinned – I ought to try them since I’m three for three with the successes.

And in non-cookie, non-bread related business, I’ve been really tempted to make a chocolate lava cake… but it’s quite possible that we have enough sweets in the house for two people at the moment. Possibly.