Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad

I have been so obsessed with the show Young and Hungry lately. It’s on “real TV” but I only discovered it when it came on Netflix. It is the dumbest, cutest show ever, and I just cannot get enough! I will say, it can get annoying to watch all the purposefully orchestrated mishaps and miscommunications, but that’s why we come back and watch each week, right? Well, for me it is more like binge-watching the entire season in a week. 😉 😉

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In any case, while you are binge-watching whatever your favourite show is, you can prep and/or make this Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad by Tasty! I don’t usually make recipes I find on Facebook, but I saw this one and it looked delicious!! It also looked like the perfect make-ahead dish for work lunches. I used to eat Smart Ones on a regular basis, and while they feel way less processed (and are healthier) than the other frozen meal options, I just get tired of frozen meals, but at the same time, I don’t want to spend a ton of money and time making lunches.

Let’s just say – this dish takes a LOT of prep time. There is SO MUCH CHOPPING involved. I made this on a weekend and kept it in a huge bowl and everyday portioned it out into a small tupperware for lunch. It was actually pretty perfect for me, because my husband hates peppers and is also not a fan of Thai food, so I got to have it all to myself. I will admit, it got a little tiring after eating it 5 days in a row, but it was still tasty and a great meal to share with a large group if you don’t want to have it for lunches.

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Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad

serves 5-6

Ingredients:
-1/2cu creamy peanut butter
-1/4cu soy sauce
-1/4cu rice vinegar
-1tbsp sesame oil
-2tbsp Sriracha
-1/4cu water
-1tbsp minced ginger
-3 cloves minced garlic
-2tbsp brown sugar
-1 Box Whole Grain Linguine (or any pasta will do)
-1cu carrots, finely cut into matchsticks
-2 cucumbers, shaved using vegetable peeler
-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
-1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
-1/2 cup green onion, sliced
-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Directions:
-Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain and run cooked pasta under cold water to cool.
-Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, water, minced ginger, minced garlic, and brown sugar.
-Combine pasta with sliced vegetables, then pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and mix well. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving. -Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts.

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Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

Let me start by saying my life was completed yesterday. I got to see my favourite musician in the world, Andrew McMahon, in concert (not for the first time) and he played such an amazing mix of old and new music. After the show, I got to meet him, hug him, get my picture taken with him, and have his new CD signed! An even better bonus is that I took the day off work today and am just at home enjoying my free time!

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In almost equally exciting news, I made this uh-mazing avocado macaroni and cheese the other week, by Two Peas and Their Pod. Seriously. Creamy and cheesy pasta plus creamy and smashed avocado…all mixed together? How does it really get any better than that? I was a bit perplexed at first, since it is definitely a little different, but the outcome was so, so, so amazing. There was plenty for leftovers the next day…which I must admit was a bit odd, given that avocado browns over time, however the browned part is still edible, but also it only browned on the very top, so if you prefer, you can scrape off the browned part and then chomp away!

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One of the best parts also was the chopped chunks of avocado that the recipe calls for you to throw in the finished product. Once again I say…SERIOUSLY. Creamy. Cheesy. Smooth. Avocado. Pasta. What else is there in life? Ok ok, a lot of things. But food wise, this basically takes the cake for sure.

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Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-10oz dry elbow macaroni
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 avocados, peeled and pitted
-2tbsp fresh lime juice
-1/3cu chopped fresh cilantro
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp all-purpose flour
-1cu milk
-2cu shredded Pepper Jack cheese
-salt and pepper, to taste
-fresh avocado chunks, for garnish, if desired

Directions:
-Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Salt the water and add in macaroni. Stir and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
-While the pasta is cooking, make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
-Make the cheese sauce by placing the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour to create a paste, then whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken, then add in Pepper Jack cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.
-Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl and pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is covered and becomes creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot and garnish with fresh avocado chunks.

Mini Football Pizzas

I had a fun baseball-filled weekend watching the Everett Aquasox, a minor league team, play on both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday’s game was not very eventful, until the bottom of the 10th when they won 3-2, but Saturday’s game was full of fun, including my little niece catching a foul ball!

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However, football is upon us, so it is time for some football-themed snacks, like these yummy mini football pizzas from The Daring Gourmet that I made last year during football season. They are a fun snack for any football party.

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I also had Seattle Seahawk themed Jamberry nail wraps for the occasion!

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Since there were some vegetarians in the crowd, I used meatball crumbles, which were actually pretty good. Feel free to use whatever meat you’d like.

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Mini Football Pizzas

serves

Ingredients:
-1 (11oz) can refrigerated Pillsbury thin pizza crust
-1 (14.5oz) can pizza sauce
-4oz bulk Italian sausage
-1 green bell pepper, diced
-3 mozzarella cheese sticks

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Lightly flour a surface and unroll the pizza dough. Use a football-shaped cookie cutter, or cut the dough into football shapes by hand, according to your desired size.
-Cook the sausage and peppers on medium in a skillet until cooked through, and set aside.
-Spoon pizza sauce onto each pizza crust and top with the sausage and pepper mixture, then bake for about 4 minutes.
-Cut out the mozzarella cheese sticks into long and short strands and lay them on top of the pizzas (check out the pictures). Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is cooked through.

Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash

In the summertime, a lot of times people don’t want to turn on their ovens. I am one of those people. Also in the summertime, a lot of people don’t think to cook with spaghetti squash. However, this Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash by Leelicious, which my good friend Alysha turned me on to, is an exception!

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I love basically everything Thai-related, and this dish is no exception! The peanut sauce is so delicious and really pairs well with the noodle-like consistency of spaghetti squash is just perfect. It is not too sweet and it is not too spicy. In the words of the 3 bears, it is just right! 😉

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I ended up not being able to find the coconut sugar, however I has googled how to use regular sugar or brown sugar and it still worked out well, though perhaps would have had a different flavour if I’d found the Asian-esque coconut variety.

I hope you like it, and that it’s worth turning on your oven for, in this summer heat!

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Thai Peanut Sauce Spaghetti Squash

serves 2

Ingredients:
-1 medium spaghetti squash
-olive oil
-salt
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1/4cu chopped parsley or cilantro
-2tbsp crushed peanuts
For the peanut sauce

-1 can (14oz) coconut milk
-2/3cu natural, unsweetened peanut butter
-1/4cu coconut sugar
-1/4cu water
-2tbsp soy sauce
-2tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
-2tsp sesame oil
-2tsp red curry paste

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
-Drizzle the inside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.
For the peanut sauce
-Place all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then turn down to low and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring almost constantly, then take off the heat to let cool.
-When spaghetti squash is done roasting, take it out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, using a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash strands. If your squash is very moist, you might have to place the strands in a colander and pat with paper towel.
-Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, chopped parsley and 1/4 cup of the peanut sauce pan and combine. Add spaghetti squash, rest of the sauce, and crushed peanuts, stir to combine and cook until heated through (about 2 minutes).
Plate and garnish with a little more crushed peanuts and chopped parsley. Serve right away.

Spicy Chipotle White Bean Dip

I recently made this spicy chipotle white bean dip from Damn Delicious for the NFC Championship game a few months back – when the Seattle Seahawks won!! Yeah!! Ok, that’s over now.

But I gotta admit: I omitted or substituted almost everything in this recipe, so it basically turned into a “Super Spicy Sriracha White Bean Dip” instead of the former. I omitted the 3 things that give the dish its name and spiciness (chili peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, and chili powder). However, I added in some red pepper flakes and lots of sriracha. So basically I made something entirely different. But whatever.

I’ll post the recipe as the original blogger created it – let me know if you make it and what you think of it!image

Spicy Chipotle White Bean Dip

serves a lot

Ingredients:
-1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
-1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or more, to taste
-2 cloves garlic
-2tbsp lemon juice
-1tsp cumin
-1tsp chili powder
-1/4cu plus 2tbsp olive oil

Directions:
-In the bowl of a food processor, combine cannellini beans, chipotle peppers, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and chili powder.
-Add olive oil and process until blended.
-Serve with pita bread, tortilla chips, veggies, etc.

 

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

I had a fun and food-filled weekend (more on that in coming posts!)…and also discovered the British comedy Coupling (which is a far raunchier version of Friends, if you will). My husband, our good friend, and I watched the first two episodes on Saturday night, and I think we are hooked! Well, our friend was already hooked, but now my husband and I are, too.
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It has also been raining a lot here (welcome to the Pacific Northwest, amirite?). Dreary weather really does call for delicious comfort food, and who doesn’t love homemade mac’n’cheese? Seriously, if you don’t, then we can’t be friends. ;);)

I made this skillet creamy macaroni and cheese by Life as a Lofthouse last month and it DID turn out so creamy and yummy! Mac’n’cheese can be difficult sometimes, but this actually worked pretty well. I decided I didn’t want to overload too much on carbs (please ingore the hotdog bun…at least it’s whole wheat!), so I turned this into a side dish and made our favourite Aidell’s chicken sausages as the main dish. I also got to use the pretty bowls my mom got me! Win-win.
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Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

serves about 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:
-3.5cu water
-1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
-12oz elbow macaroni
-1/2tsp salt
-1tsp cornstarch
-1/2tsp dry mustard
-3cu shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-2tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
-Bring 3.5 cups of water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a simmer in a large skillet over high heat. Continue to cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, about 12 minutes.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch and dry mustard. Stir that mixture into the skillet, then continue to simmer for another minute or so, until it begins to thicken.
-Remove the skillet from the heat and gradually stir in the 3 cups of cheddar cheese, just a handful at a time. Stir well until the cheese is melted, then stir in the pieces of butter and season with black pepper. Serve immediately.

Baked Potato Soup

It is definitely that wintery, blustery season of hot cocoa, fuzzy socks or slippers, steaming mugs of soup, and…well, I could just go on and on! It is also the season of decorated trees! As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I got our tree over the weekend and it’s mostly all decorated (“mostly” because my husband hasn’t added his tinsel yet, though he insisted we have it). I love coming home to the smell of a fresh (albeit dead) tree in my living room. I love it even more when I come home after my husband, cuz then the lights are already on. =)

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But let’s go back to the topic of steaming mugs of soup. I love soup. Soup is amazing. I found this loaded baked potato soup from How Sweet It Is, and it is AMAZING. I used to make a lot of recipes from this blogger, however her recipes (especially the more recent ones), can be pretty complex, with tons of ingredients, and, well, I just don’t have time for that. But this…was heavenly. Seriously. I can’t remember what kind of potatoes I used – I think it was my reds that I had to get used up, and what better way to do that, than with potato soup?

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I’ve made potato soup before (or at least soup including potatoes), but I think this was the first time I baked the potatoes first. So yummy! Also, I severely increased the amount of liquid ingredients – as the original blogger stated that it served 6, but according to her amounts, it would barely serve 3 or 4! I basically doubled most of the liquid ingredients and it was MUCH better (we like leftovers in this house!).

The only thing I was worried about was flavour! The original ingredients don’t include much in the way of flavouring. However, I baked the potatoes with a dash of garlic salt, which I think helped A LOT. Also, I have been using the chicken bouillon cubes (instead of traditional broth) lately, which I think packs more flavour than the regular broth. Because of those additions/changes, it was so good!! One more thing is that I did not use smoked cheddar. I didn’t want to trouble myself with that, so I just got regular sharp cheddar. Yum.image

Baked Potato Soup

serves 5-6

Ingredients:
-6-8 yukon gold potatoes, baked with skin on and chopped (you can use any kind of potato – and I recommend using a dash of garlic salt or another spice while baking)
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp flour
-1-2cu heavy cream
-2cu (or more) skim milk
-1/2-1cu chicken broth
-1cu grated smoked cheddar cheese
-2+ green onions, chopped
-4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Directions:
-Heat a large pot on medium heat.
-Once hot, add butter and flour, and whisk into a roux. Then add heavy cream, potatoes and skim milk, continuously stirring until thickened.
-Stir in cheese, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
-Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
-Depending on desired consistency, add chicken stock, then stir in 2 slices of crumbled bacon and green onions. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
-Serve and garnish with remaining bacon