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.

Easy Plastic Wrap Poached Eggs

We’ve tried a few ways of poaching eggs, including using an egg poacher and the swirling method, but I personally like the plastic wrap method the best—it offers consistent results and pretty perfectly poached eggs (the homemade kind, anyway).

Instructions

  1. Line a ramekin or small bowl with a small sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Brush a few drops of oil (I used olive oil) onto the cling wrap and add any herbs or spices.
  3. Crack an egg onto the plastic wrap.
  4. Bundle the egg in a little package, tying the top with twine (I didn’t have any, so I improvised with our silicone food ties).
  5. Put the bundles into boiling water, and boil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Pull the bundles out, unwrap the eggs, and serve!
Notes:
  • The oil prevents the egg from sticking to the plastic wrap; it should slide off easily when you unwrap the packages.
  • When bundling the egg, try to minimize the amount of air inside because it’ll make part of the package stay afloat, which causes it to cook unevenly. This happened to me, so I used a spoon to submerge the package and to turn it over.

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4 Easy Herbalicious Recipes!

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Now that the weather has finally been getting better, I’ve finally started a little herb “garden” at home. My awesome coworker V gifted me some sweet Thai basil, and we’ve recently added regular basil to the mix. Mint is next on the list! Matt and I have been making the most of basil and mint lately, so I thought I’d share 4 easy recipes:

freezies

1. Mint-Watermelon Tequila Freezies: Inspired by this Buzzfeed list (I literally want to make everything on there), which cited this recipe from Hungry Girl por Vida. Mint? Gooood. Watermelon? Gooood. Tequila? Even better! This was SO easy to do and perfect for our weekend at the cottage.

gin-tonic

2. Mint-Cucumber Gin & Tonic: I am very much a gin and tonic girl. While I usually just have it with a bit of lime, muddling some mint and cucumber makes for an awesome and super easy-to-make refreshing summer drink!

caprese-salad

3. Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad): Matt made this salad with his homemade spinach burger patties and steamed sweet potatoes. We didn’t follow a recipe, but it’s pretty simple: layer sliced tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, and basil, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (we didn’t, but you can add salt and pepper to taste). Perfect for summer!

thai-basil-chicken

4. Thai Basil Chicken: Of the 4 recipes I’ve posted here, this one was probably the most involved, but it definitely isn’t as hard to make as it might seem! We adapted this Foodie Crush recipe, and the dish turned out really well—we’ll definitely be making it again!

So there are my 4 easy recipes… How do you use herbs in your cooking?

Easy Meal: Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Over the weekend, I was reading this Buzzfeed article, which sparked a craving for stuffed veggies. We had a lot of ingredients kicking around that were perfect for quinoa-stuffed bell peppers, so I decided to do it!

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 small cocktail tomatoes, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Before Baking

Directions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package (we actually use the quick-cooking setting on our Zojirushi rice cooker)
  2. Sautée onions and celery until soft, season with salt and pepper, and mix them in with the quinoa and tomatoes
  3. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds
  4. Spoon veggie-quinoa mixture into the bell peppers and top with cheese
  5. Bake in an oven-safe dish or tray for 15 minutes at 350°F

You can swap in whatever veggies you like (if I had corn or jalepeños, I would have used them), and I added cheese throughout :). The peppers can also be baked for another 5 to 10 minutes longer if you want them to be softer.

We had our stuffed bell peppers with butter-lemon pan-fried fish—Matt got the perfect fry with our new fish spatula—and steamed asparagus, which is a perfect way to cap off a Monday night! Stuffed Peppers with Pan-Fried Fish

Next on my stuffed veggie making wishlist: this falafel-stuffed eggplant recipe!

2 Easy Meals: Curry Coconut-Crusted Fish + Roma Tomato Sauce Pasta

Over the past couple of days, Matt and I cooked two meals that we consider staples in our list of home-cooked dinner options. It’s driving me nuts that my photos are not the same sizes, but it’ll have to do for today!

Curry Coconut-Crusted Fish

This has become one of our favourites ever since my friend A shared this recipe with me! Instead of fish tacos, we sometimes pair it with veggies or quinoa, and we’ve tweaked the recipe a little bit.

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Ingredients
  • 1 lb white fish (any type you prefer), cut into 4  pieces
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1½ tbsp curry powder
  • Salt to taste

Optional marinating time (30 min): Soak the fish fillets in the coconut milk about 30 min to an hour before cooking. This is not a must, but marinating the fish in the coconut milk gives it a sweeter flavour and keeps it moist.

Prep time (10 min): Mix the shredded coconut, curry powder, and salt in a dish or bowl. Take the fish fillets out of the coconut milk and coat them with the shredded coconut mixture.

Cook time (25 min): While you can pan fry the fish as per the recipe, we opted for baking it until it was golden brown. The fish was baked at 350ºF for 25 minutes (may need to be adjusted depending on the size of your fish).

Roma Tomato Sauce Pasta

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This is my dad’s recipe, and the day we learned how to make this pretty much marked the end of our store-bought pasta sauce days! We now have two go-to “sauces” for pasta nights: homemade Roma tomato sauce or lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

The recipe below is more so for the sauce than the entire dish. Matt and I used minced meat with spinach this week, but we often switch it up and use shrimp, mushrooms, and/or bell peppers. A protein or seafood obviously isn’t necessary either—all-veggie works too!

Ingredients
  • 8 to 10 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 156 mL (5.5 oz) can of tomato paste
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Basil, chopped
  • Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Directions: 

  1. In a pan, saucepan, or wok, cook down the diced onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add in the minced garlic, some of the basil, and the chunks of Roma tomatoes. Cook down until the tomatoes have softened.
  3. Stir in the can of tomato paste (you can use ketchup instead, but we opt for tomato paste because it has a little less sodium), salt, pepper, and oregano.
  4. Cook for a few more minutes, adding vegetables or meat/seafood if desired (we opted for spinach with minced meat today).
  5. Serve over al dente pasta, garnish with fresh basil and chili flakes.

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!