Friday, March 22, 2013

Hello, Weekend

Happy Friday, y'all. Is there anything better than a weekend? I hope you're planning for good times and relaxation. This weekend J and I will be busy packing. We are moving. Not far, but into another, bigger, new house. It is exciting and overwhelming all at the same time, and involves lots of hard work packing, planning and cleaning.

Thankfully we have a break planned for a family dinner at the new Union restaurant downtown. I must admit I have read mixed reviews, but am trying to keep an open mind! Looking forward to getting downtown and trying a new place.  

On the cooking front, things have been a bit sparse around my house (see above re: moving). Thankfully I've been able to tap into some pantry reserves and scrounge together some homemade grub, supplemented by birthday take-out earlier this week (a.mazing.bbq, by the way). Last night I made a riff on these sweet potato mole tacos, which definitely did the trick. Next time I'd add a bit of salt into the mole spice mix. Here's to the weekend! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Easy Sesame Noodles

This past Saturday, I went to my regular mid-morning yoga class, then headed home for a little lunch. I love the luxury of being home to make lunch on the weekends. So, I pulled out what has become an old standard recipe for me - though I haven't made it since the warmer months last summer. It's quick, easy, and very adaptable. The ingredients and directions are more guidelines than anything. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your taste and whatever ingredients you have on hand. 

First, prepare your vegetables. I peeled a couple of carrots before slicing into matchsticks. 
Gather some bell peppers - mine ended up equaling about a half a pepper. 

Whisk together a quick sauce.

Boil your noodles, add the veggies in the last couple of minutes of boiling, drain, rinse, and toss it all together!

Easy Sesame Noodles

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side. Keeps well for leftovers. 


4-5 oz. buckwheat soba noodles
2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks
variety of bell peppers, cut similar in size to the carrot matchsticks
2 green onions, sliced
sesame seeds, to taste

2 Tbsp neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or grapeseed
2-3 tsp soy sauce
a splash of fish sauce, to taste
dash ground ginger
juice of 1/2 lime
honey or sugar, to taste


Boil the noodles according to the package directions - this ended up being about 8 minutes for me. In the last 2 minutes, add the vegetables (minus the green onion). I actually forgot this step, so instead, just stir-fried the veggies in the same pot after the noodles were done. 
Drain the noodles and veggies, rinse with cold water.

While the noodles are boiling, whisk the sauce ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. 

Toss the the noodles and veggies with the sauce. Add the green onion and sprinkle sesame seeds throughout. Mix together and add more sesame seeds to garnish, as desired. 

This salad can be enjoyed warm, room temperature, or cold. I think this would also be great with some edamame thrown in, or with your choice of protein (chicken, tofu, shrimp, etc.). Enjoy!

Inspired by this recipe, and the Otsu recipes in Heidi Swanson's cookbooks.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Stuffed Shells

I got it in my head the other day that I wanted to make stuffed shells. I have vague memories of my mother making pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and covered in tomato sauce when I was young, but hadn't eaten them probably since that time. After a little Pinterest fun, I found a number of vegetarian stuffed shells recipes and got to work. 

I'm now inspired to create a version stuffed with squash (since I seem to have a never-ending supply of it!), but this time around I was happy with the spinach/artichoke classic recipe I made, courtesy of Pink Basil. You (ahem, my husband) might think this recipe is complicated, what with it's multiple steps of boiling, mixing, stuffing, and baking, but I assure you, it's actually quite simple. You can mix together the filling while the shells are boiling, and stuffing the shells is easy if you squeeze them open gently like one of those old-school rubber coin purses. I love that this recipe required only a few pantry staples: pasta, jarred sauce, ricotta, parm, spinach and artichoke hearts - weeknight win! You could really speed up this recipe by pre-boiling the shells - then all you'd have to do is stir together the filling and stuff them. Recommended beverage: boxed red wine. A real Italian feast, I tell you!

The only changes I would make next time around would be to add a bit more "zip." I didn't notice any addition of salt and pepper or other spices in the recipe, so I didn't think to add them. (I was trying to follow the recipe closely, which I don't often do!) I would probably salt and pepper the filling mixture, and maybe even stir in some lemon zest or Italian seasoning. I would also probably sprinkle red pepper flakes over the top before baking. I definitely think I'll be trying this again! Recipe here