Guest Post: Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

Mattster Chef is back on the blog! Tonight, Matt will be writing about one of our easy weeknight meals.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for Our Happy Jar, and April wanted me to post this recipe because it’s one of our favourite cold noodle dishes and also super easy to make.

Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

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It tastes better than it looks!

 Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
  • 1 package of spaghetti or noodles
  • 2 pieces of chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 English cucumber (julienned)
  • 4 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (crunchy)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce + ½ tablespoon to marinate chicken
  • ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (split into halves)
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Water (varies)
Directions
  1. The first thing to do is cut up your chicken into small pieces. I try to cut mine into long, narrow pieces to give it a shredded chicken feel.
  2. Once your chicken has been cut up, marinate it with the minced garlic, ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, and ½ of the sesame oil, and mix it up. Once mixed, let the chicken marinate for as long or as little as you would like. Obvious rules apply: the longer you marinate, the more taste the chicken will have.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, start to julienne the cucumber and make the peanut sauce.
  4. For the peanut sauce: in a large bowl, add the peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce, ½ sesame oil, and chili oil. Once all the ingredients are added, stir them together. The mixture will be thick, which is where the water comes in; slowly add water little-by-little and stir it into the peanut sauce.  This will gradually reduce its thickness, and you can stop adding water when it has enough of a saucy consistency (basically, you need it to be able to easily coat your noodles).
  5. When the chicken is done marinating, boil the water for the pasta and heat a pan for the chicken. The chicken can be cooked and set aside while you’re making the pasta. Once the pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool (if you have time, you can also let it cool naturally).
  6. After the pasta is cooled, get a large mixing bowl, and throw the pasta, cucumbers, and chicken together. Pour the peanut sauce over everything and toss thoroughly so everything is mixed well.

And then you’re done! This is a quick and easy meal that practically anyone can to make during the week, which is a requirement for us because we both work all day.

Guest Post: Cooking Time with Mattster Chef

Matt wanted to showcase another side of our eating lives: the food we cook! Today, he documented one of our go-to fast and easy weeknight meals.

It may seem like April and I eat out quite a bit but, but we do cook a lot as well. We love food!  Most of the time, we eat at home during the week, and since we work during the day, we plan our meals so that they’re relatively easy to make. And though we want something easy, we like fresh, home-cooked meals and not frozen foods.

So what’s for dinner tonight?

Soy Cumin Chicken with Balsamic Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • Chicken Breast
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Veggies

  • 1 lbs of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 small/medium carrot
  • 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (you can use less if you want)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • ½ tbsp of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the prep (15 mins): I usually get home well before April does, so I do all the prep work while she is still at work. For the chicken breast, my suggestion would be to use a meat mallet to flatten out the chicken breast for even cooking time.  This will make it easier for you to predict when your chicken is cooked.

Once you have flattened the chicken, place it into a bowl large enough for you to marinate the chicken.  Add all the ingredients and rub it into the chicken, then set aside. The longer you let it sit, the more flavour the chicken will have. Usually I try to have it marinate for about an hour.

After you have the chicken marinating, peel the carrot and slice it into chunks. Then slice the bottom of the brussel sprouts and halve them. Set all this aside until you are ready to cook.

Cook time (35 min): The toughest part of saving time to eat a soon as possible after a long day at work is the preheating the oven.  This is what I hate the most! I usually start preheating the oven once April gets home so that we aren’t waiting forever.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  While you are waiting, toss the carrots and Brussels sprouts in the roasting pan with all the ingredients. Once everything is tossed, make sure as many of the flat sides of the Brussels sprouts are face down in the pan. Once the oven is done preheating, bake for 35 mins.

The chicken will take approximate 4-5 mins on each side to cook.  If you can cook all the chicken in one pan all at once, then start heating your pan when there is 12 mins left on the Brussels sprouts and carrots. Make sure the pan is hot, add a little bit of oil, and fry the chicken at medium-high heat.  Once you see the juice in the chicken is clear, everything is good to go.

After that, it’s time to plate and dig in! I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do!

Guest Post: The 2 to 4% Rule

Today I actually also have a guest post from Matt, who has been an absolutely amazing positive influence on me in terms of new commitment to healthy living! While we’ve both taken steps to eat healthy and shed the pounds, he has really dedicated himself to exercising almost daily, and the results have been awesome! I’ll let him speak a bit about it himself:

With my wife now blogging, I might have caught a little bit of the writing bug myself.

So my wife has hypertension. When she first told me that her doctor said that her blood pressure was abnormally high, I really thought nothing of it. This is because I thought, “Hey, she’s a young gal—I’m sure this is just a blip on the radar, and it’ll go away later.” If you don’t know April, she is a worry wart at times, so I was just brushing it off as another case of her worrying over something that will go away quickly. Luckily, her doctor suggested that she go to a pharmacy another day to do another reading on her own in case her elevated blood pressure was due to her being anxious at the doctor’s office.  As you might have seen from her post, we know what happened. I was definitely worried.

Since then, we have changed the way we eat and the way we live, including more sleep, cleaner food, and exercising when we can. As you see from her posts, we have been eating better—not always cleaner, but the off days when she doesn’t post about food, it’s because we are eating our weekly “staple meals” to keep it healthy. I’m sure she will eventually post about some of the everyday meals we eat.

Being in shape for our honeymoon in Thailand

So we’ve booked our honeymoon this year, and we’re going to Asia!  While we’re there, we’re going to a wedding for one of the bridesmaids from our wedding.  It’s going to be in Phuket, Thailand, and I’m super excited to go! When we knew we were going to go for sure, I told April that I wanted to be in shape since we will be beach-bound when we in Phuket.  At first, I really wasn’t taking exercise seriously and to be honest, I wasn’t sure myself if I would be able to lose the weight. I’m not blessed with the “eat anything I want and not gain weight” gene, which is bad since I love food so much. Then one day while on Instagram, I saw a fitness post that has really given me the motivation to keep going. And now, with less than a month to go, I’m the lightest I’ve ever been since I can remember.

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Losing 15 lbs following the 2 to 4% Plan

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So what’s my secret? Eat clean as much as possible, learn to portion control, get rest, and exercise. All of these are things that have been told to us all the time, but we never listen. But back to that Instagram post… If I told you that you just need 2 to 4% of the 24 hours you have each day and 3 to 5 days a week of exercise, would you do it? That’s been my motivation and what I’ve been trying to do each day, which has been working so far. The 2 to 4% I’m asking for is only half an hour to an hour of the 24 hours you have each day. I have no trainer, no gym membership. Everything I do is at home, and all I have are my running shoes and resistance tubes, so cost is not an issue. And all I’ve been doing is running 3 to 5 km, and then doing burpees, crunches, and resistance tube exercises to help work out most of my major muscles. I have been exercising this way since July 15 till now, and in 3 months, I have lost about 15 pounds—and that’s with me still drinking beer on the weekends! If you’re in a similar situation, just make the time to do the 2 to 4%, and don’t make any excuses! It really works if you willing to try.

As you can see, this has been working well for Matt, but we’re always open to hearing about new ideas, especially now that it’s getting cold and we’re not outside as much! If anyone has any other tips or stories to share, Matt and I would love to hear them!