Practical tips, reliable recipes, & family-friendly food ideas

Homemade Mac n Cheese Recipe

mac n cheese recipeA good deal of getting our kiddos to eat what we eat involves compromise.  If I’m going to introduce something new during dinner, I try to make sure it’s accompanied by something familiar, something I know my kids will enjoy.  Mac n cheese is one of our “go to” side dishes.  If my daughter could choose just one thing to eat for the rest of her life, macaroni and cheese would be it.  It’s a safe bet for almost every family I know.

Now, you can go with the brand-name or even generic boxed standbys and be just fine.  If you do go this route, please try doctoring up your boxed macaroni and cheese by following the last 2 steps in the recipe below.  This basically involves adding a handful of small cubes of cheddar cheese and a heaping spoonful or two of sour cream.  These 2 small steps take ordinary mac n cheese and elevate it into something flavorful that the grownups will enjoy as much as the kids.

If you’re like us and prefer the taste and peace of mind that comes from the wholesome, made-from-scratch variety, give this homemade mac n cheese recipe a try.  It’s not as hard (or as heavy) as you might think.

macaroni cheese recipeJust like I mentioned in the post on how to make the best grilled cheese sandwich, making delicious Macaroni and Cheese from scratch involves using more than just one kind of cheese.  The variety of cheese (in my opinion) can differ, so long as all the cheese you use is flavorful.  Think about it this way: the more flavor the cheese has, the less you have to use.  The less cheese you use, the healthier this dish becomes!  In this recipe, I used extra sharp cheddar, parmesan, and gruyere.  I almost always shred the cheese on a box grater just before using it.  I can’t help but feeling that pre-shredded cheese is dry and inferior.  If that’s all you have, by all means, give it a try. Please be adventurous and try a variety of cheeses to find the combination your family likes best.  I would love for you to share your favorites in the comments below!

Homemade Mac n Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse/kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 slices extra sharp cheddar, cut into cubes and set aside until just before serving
  • 1/2 cup gruyere, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 heaping tbsp. light sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium low to medium heat. Also, in a medium sauce pan, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil (I usually add about 2 tsp. salt to my water).
  2. Once the butter is nearly all melted, add garlic powder, onion powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and a couple of cracks of fresh black pepper. Cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour to make the "roux". A roux is basically flour and fat cooked together to form a thickening agent. Cook the roux, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes longer. It's okay if it goes longer than 3-4 minutes, just keep an eye on and stir occasionally so it doesn't burn.
  4. Just before you add your milk to your roux, make sure your water is at a rolling boil and add your elbow macaroni. Cook for 1 minute less than the time noted on the box label.
  5. Back to the roux. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of skim milk into your small sauce pan. You should notice that the mixture is fairly thick. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth (not lumpy).
  6. Whisk in the remaining milk. The mixture will be considerably thinner. Cook over medium heat until the mixture just starts to thicken up again, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. As soon as you notice that the sauce is thickening, turn the heat off.
  7. Whisk the shredded cheeses in, a small handful at a time. Take care, not to add more cheese until the previous handful has been fully incorporated. This will ensure a smoother sauce.
  8. Once all the shredded cheese is whisked in, remove the sauce pan from the burner completely.
  9. Strain or drain your elbow macaroni and quickly bring your noodles back to the pan.
  10. Continuing to work quickly, add your cheese sauce. The goal is to have the cheese sauce ready by the time you strain/drain your macaroni.
  11. Once the macaroni and cheese sauce are combined, cook on low heat for another 1-2 minutes. During this time, you are essentially finishing the noodle cook time in cheese sauce rather than water (YUM).
  12. Turn the heat off. Stir in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you salted your water and roux properly, no additional season should be necessary here.
  13. Just before serving, add the final bits of cubed cheddar cheese and mix into the macaroni so you have little melty bits of cheesy surprises throughout.
  14. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

Any time you reheat mac n cheese, be sure to add a tbsp. or two of milk to prevent the leftovers drying out!

https://www.menubility.com/homemade-mac-n-cheese-recipe/

Summer Vegetable Recipe: Simple Veggie Salad

summer vegetable recipe simple veggie saladDuring the hot summer months, the last thing I want to do is make my house even hotter by turning on the stove and oven.  When there’s a chance to serve a dish that involves no cooking at all, I jump on it! Thank God the Summer season is so bountiful with fresh produce, or these opportunities would be few and far between.  Lucky for us, no cook side dishes frequent our weekly dinner menus during this time of the year.

This simple veggie salad is such a simple and refreshing summer vegetable recipe.  I encourage you to try this basic dressing on a variety of summer vegetables.Even if all you have in the fridge is a cucumber, give it a shot with this light and healthy dressing and you’ll open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Simple Summer Vegetable Salad Recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small english cucumber, deseeded and cut into semi-circle slices
  • 1 small yellow squash, diced into 1/4" pcs.
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced into the same size as the squash
  • 2 Tbsp. White Vinegar (red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar is okay)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Coarse Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Season to taste with salt pepper.
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes @ room temperature or 20 minutes in the fridge before serving.
https://www.menubility.com/summer-vegetable-recipe-simple-veggie-salad/

How to make the BEST Grilled Cheese Sandwich

how-to-make-the-best-grilled-cheese-sandwich-recipeIt’s no secret that my family enjoys cheese.  I’m not talking about the ooey gooey cheese that you find on restaurant nachos or pizza, although, those aren’t half bad.  I’m talking about hard cheese, soft cheese, fresh cheese, stinky cheese, aged cheese, never-pre-grated cheese.  You see, we’re kind of cheese snobs.  Even our kids can sniff out the difference between processed cheese and the real deal cheeses (proud mama moment).

What makes these grilled cheese sandwiches the best grilled cheese sandwiches isn’t just the cheese, though.  Here are the 3 key components to making the best grilled cheese:

1. delicious bread (I prefer sourdough)
2. multiple cheese types combined into the same sandwich
3. crispy, crunchy, salty exterior

The first component is pretty simple: start with good bread.  I like to buy the La Brea Sourdough loaf (sliced) from Harris Teeter’s bakery.  It’s got a great tang, full flavor, and toasts up beautifully.

The second component has some wiggle room.  By that, I mean it doesn’t have to be the same every time you make a sandwich.  I usually just combine 2 or 3 different types of cheese based on what is available in the fridge.  This is a great way to use up odds and ends of random cheeses you may have from special recipes.  Here are a few of my favorite cheese combos:

cheddar • gruyere
cheddar • mont. jack (or pepperjack) • parmesan
parmesan • gruyere
parmesan • gruyere • cheddar
cheddar • mozzarella
mozzarella • parmesan
and my new favorite…
cheddar • parmesan • goat cheese

And the third and final component is the crispy, crunchy, salty exterior.  A couple of years ago, I uncovered a recipe for an Heirloom Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Chunky Tomato Bacon Soup from the Food Network’s Rick Massa.  The tomato soup is to-die-for.  And, while I don’t make my sandwiches exactly the same, it was Rick’s recipe that taught me the secret to making the best grilled cheese sandwich: it’s in the crust. Rather than spreading one side of the bread with plain ol’ butter or dousing a hot pan with oil to grill up your sandwiches, this recipe called for making a flavored butter with which you spread onto the sides of the bread that will meet the pan.  And, one of the best parts is that the things you need to make this savory compound butter should be pantry staples, so there are no excuses to ever make grilled cheese sandwiches any other way!

The BEST Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened or at room temp)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan (shredded on a microplane, preferrably)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Coarse Salt & Pepper
  • 8 slices of sourdough bread
  • 8+ slices of parmesan (# of slices should be enough to put one layer of each cheese on each sandwich)
  • 8-12 slices of cheddar (# of slices should be enough to put one layer of each cheese on each sandwich)
  • 3-4 oz. goat cheese (flavored goat cheese is okay!)

Instructions

  1. Using a fork, mash together the first 4 ingredients in a ramekin or small bowl.
  2. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Evenly divide the butter mixture onto a single side of each of the 8 pieces of bread.
  4. Place 1 piece of bread, buttered side down into a warm skillet.
  5. Spread about a tbsp. of goat cheese onto the piece of bread in the pan, trying your best to reach the edges.
  6. Add a layer of parmesan, then a layer of cheddar.
  7. Top with a 2nd piece of bread, buttered side up.
  8. Repeat for the other 3 sandwiches.
  9. When the bottom side of the sandwich is golden to dark brown, and the cheese has started to melt, carefully flip the sandwich to brown the other side. If your sandwich is browning too much before you see any cheese melting, turn your heat down slightly.
  10. Remove the sandwiches from the pan and cool slightly on a cooling rack (to prevent them from getting soggy).
  11. After about 3-4 minutes, slice sandwiches in half and serve.
https://www.menubility.com/how-to-make-the-best-grilled-cheese-sandwich/

Our family enjoys these grilled cheese sandwiches pretty much all year.  In the winter, we pair them with the tomato soup referenced above.  And in the warmer months, add a simple spring green or summer vegetable salad, and you can enjoy this (dare I say) ooey-gooey goodness all year round.

Cheeseburger Pizza Recipe

Cheeseburger-pizza-recipeGet ready, this Cheeseburger Pizza recipe makes a pizza that tastes just like… you guessed it… a cheeseburger!  It kind of is a cheeseburger, really.  I mean, nearly all the ingredients that you would put on a cheeseburger are on this pizza, so why would it taste like anything else?

Ultimately, this recipe will be one of many creative pizza ideas you’ll see featured on MENUbility.  If you follow our menus or know me personally, you may know that I’m a big fan of Naan as a pizza base.  If you ask Google “What is Naan?”, you’ll get back:

Naan – a type of leavened bread, typically of teardrop shape and traditionally cooked in a clay oven.

I like Naan for its taste, texture and size.  Usually, I find it in the bakery section of my grocery store and it’s sold in packs of 2.  So, for my family of 4, I buy 2 packages of Naan, giving me 4 individual-sized pizza crusts.  A friend of mine calls Naan Pizzas “Naanzas”, and we’ve adopted that term in our house, too.

On a typical night, my husband and I each have one naanza (1 per adult). My kids are still pretty small, so they usually consume 1/2 naanza each, leaving one whole naanza as leftovers for lunch the next day.  Pair it with salad, and you’ve got a lovely fast, easy weeknight pizza that everyone in the family will love.

A quick note on kids who don’t like cheeseburgers: my kids… they aren’t so crazy about them either. They would never order a cheeseburger out at a restaurant, ever.  I think it’s the format of a cheeseburger that is a little intimidating for them.  BUT, they do like cheeseburger pizzas.  And that’s just it.  It’s not always the ingredients that our kids protest.  Sometimes, it’s the format, the vehicle for those ingredients that they just can’t wrap their little heads around.  Before you count a dish out, I encourage you to try changing it up a bit.  Get creative! Deconstruct those sandwiches into salads, or that burrito into a rice bowl. Once we get them tasting things in a variety of ways, we can hope that their palates will become more adventurous and that one day, they’ll come to enjoy many of the same things we do as grown ups.

I’d love to hear about the creative ways you get your kids to eat a variety of food. Please also share your thoughts on this Cheeseburger Pizza recipe, too!

cheeseburger-pizza-recipe-step-by-step

Cheeseburger Pizza Recipe

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (I typically use ground sirloin, 90% lean)
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 4 pcs. naan (or pizza crust)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3-4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about a whole 8 oz. block)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato (about 2 roma tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • coarse salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • yellow mustard (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine ground beef with Worcestershire sauce in a saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper (about 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper). Brown until cooked through. Set beef aside to cool slightly (can be done 1 day in advance and kept in fridge until ready to assemble pizzas).
  2. Assemble Pizzas
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Combine mayonnaise and ketchup. This will be your pizza sauce.
  5. Spoon 3 tbsp. of ketchup-mayo sauce on each piece of naan, spreading evenly to the edges for consistent coverage over the top of the each naan.
  6. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 cup cheddar over each naan (this should be sparse as we'll add more cheese in a bit).
  7. Layer about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of ground beef mixture over the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese over the beef.
  9. Add about 2 tbsp. chopped tomatoes to each pizza (using up all your tomatoes here).
  10. Add 1 tbsp. chopped red onion to each pizza.
  11. Add 1 tbsp. sliced green onion to each pizza.
  12. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  13. Bake directly on the oven rack for 8 minutes.
  14. Lightly drizzle with yellow mustard.
  15. Cut each naan in half both ways (4 pcs each) and serve!
https://www.menubility.com/cheeseburger-pizza-recipe/

cheeseburger-pizza-recipe-2

Weekly Dinner Menu for Summer No. 1

Confession: I’m pretty sure I gain a few pounds in the summer time and lose them in the winter time. It’s the opposite of the expected holiday weight gain that most people experience.  The same people who tend to put on the pounds over Thanksgiving and Christmas are the same people who tirelessly work to lose them before bathing suit season.  Not me.  My girlish figure goes by the wayside while I stuff my face with all the amazing produce that is harvested in our summer months.  Who can eat their weight in watermelon and peaches? Me! Tomatoes, Peppers, Corn, Herbs, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Sweet Potatoes, and Zucchini? Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, and Me. Is it possible to eat too much fresh produce? I’ll let you decide.

So it is with great excitement that I share with you our first weekly dinner menu of the summer. This week, you’ll see a few unconventional twists on some old standbys and a lot of fresh produce.  Just remember to make extra if you want leftovers for lunch the next day!

Weekly Dinner Menu for Summer #1

 


weekly-dinner-menu-printable-menu-grocery-list-summer-1

Dinner 1: 3 Cheese Grilled Cheese, Summer Veggie Salad & Watermelon

I guarantee you’ll never make a grilled cheese sandwich the ordinary way again!

 

Dinner 2: Zucchini Fritters w/cucumber yogurt sauce, Roasted Corn & Avocado Salad

The last time I made these fritters, even the kids who won’t touch zucchini gobbled them up!

 

Dinner 3: Cheeseburger Pizzas, Tomato & Cucumber Medley, Oven Fries

You’ll be surprised this pizza tastes just like a burger!

 

Dinner 4: Tomato Ricotta Tart, Grilled Green Bean Salad

For the tart, I plan on adding chopped pepperoni to the ricotta mixture, and for the green bean salad, I’ll be substituting roasted red peppers for the roma tomatoes and also adding some “massaged” kale.

 

Dinner 5: BBQ Chicken Sliders, Kale + Mango Slaw, Macaroni & Cheese

 

 

As you may know, Naan is my go-to for easy weeknight pizza crust.  Our bonus this week… Naan is on sale (BOGO) at Harris Teeter, one of the best grocery stores in NC!

I hope there’s something on this first summer weekly dinner menu that sounds tempting enough to make!  And, in the event that you want to try it all, download the printable 2-in-1 menu and grocery list to make all 5 family meals.  Cross out the items you don’t need (b/c you already have them) and use the extra lines to add in the items you’ll need for breakfast and lunch this week. I’ll be posting and linking recipes later today.

Happy Summer & Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful Dad’s I know!

Easy Beef Stroganoff the Whole Family Will Love

Easy Beef Stroganoff
In a previous life, I traveled from time to time for my job, which required “daddy” to cook dinner for the kiddos while I was away. These occasions called for something easy, tasty, and not too intimidating or complicated. A recipe for ground beef stroganoff found its way onto the “while I’m away” menu. My husband told me it was a hit with the kids, but to him, it tasted sort of, um, bland. The original recipe was insanely simple and used cream of mushroom soup as the base. After a few weeks, I decided to give this recipe a try myself, but we didn’t have any cream of mushroom soup on hand. It was a blessing in disguise as my improvisations resulted in a new and improved easy beef stroganoff sauce and it used ingredients I’m likely to have on hand at any given time. Score!

We regularly serve this with a side of green beans and either dinner rolls or roasted potatoes. The green beans are whole green beans of the generic variety, found in your grocer’s freezer section. I saute 2 slices of chopped bacon until crispy. To that, I add a half of a red onion (sliced), then add the green beans and salt and pepper to taste. This can simmer in a pan at low or low-medium heat while you’re making the stroganoff. Easy peasy.

Quick note: if you don’t eat red meat, need a break from it, or prefer something different, try this with ground chicken or turkey. Just be sure to use a little extra olive oil as these lean meats may turn out dry otherwise. You can even omit the meat and use extra mushrooms.  Just do a rough chop on them instead of a dice and it’ll be just a delicious.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion (medium) - chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef, 90% lean preferred (sirloin)
  • 2 garlic cloves - chopped
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce (divided 2 to 1)
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped Cremini mushrooms (other varieties okay)
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (salted is okay, but reduce salt above to 1 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup of light sour cream (full fat and fat-free are okay!)
  • 1 package of egg noodles
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet (12"), saute onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat, seasoned with a pinch of coarse salt and pepper, until the onions just begin to turn translucent.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add your ground beef. Cook until nearly all brown.
  3. Add chopped garlic, 2 tbsp. Worcestershire, and paprika. Reduce heat to medium and cook until beef has no visible pink spots.
  4. Stir in chopped mushrooms, 1 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add 1 tbsp. butter. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour evenly over the mixture in the pan, stirring gently and cooking for another minute or two.
  6. Stir in milk, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.
  7. Add the additional garlic powder and the last tbsp. of Worcestershire Sauce and remove from heat.
  8. Stir in sour cream to finish the sauce.
  9. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles in a salted pot of boiling water according to package directions.
  10. Plate a bed of noodles and spoon desired amount of Stroganoff sauce over the top.
  11. Garnish with a small dollop of sour cream, chopped parsley and a sprinkle of paprika for color (all completely optional!).
https://www.menubility.com/easy-beef-stroganoff-recipe-for-the-family/

Once upon a time, my family did not care for mushrooms at all (myself included).  If you’re in the same boat – or even if you don’t have mushrooms on hand, but you’ve got everything else – try this without the mushrooms.  I’m sure it’ll still taste great!

Let me know how this recipe goes for you!

5 Family Meal Ideas for late Spring (#5)

The strawberries have come and gone in North Carolina, indicating that the end of Spring is near, but the green tomatoes popping up on my backyard tomato plants tell me that a bountiful summer is just around the corner. I can practically smell the basil from my office!

I am getting pretty pumped about the upcoming Summer menus that I’ll be sharing with all of you.  Every couple of months, we usher in a whole new season of delicious ideas, many of which are inspired by and include a variety of locally available food sources.  So say hello to the final 5 delicious family meal ideas of Spring 2015.

  • 5-family-meal-ideas-for-JuneMeal #1Turkish Pizzas* (also known as PIDE) with Cucumber & Dill Salad – *notes: I use Naan instead of Turkish bread as my base for this pizza.  Also ground beef or chicken is a perfectly fine substitute for lamb in this dish. Want it vegetarian? Just omit the meat altogether.
  • Meal #2: Sautéed Perogies with Avocado Cream Sauce, Roasted Zucchini and Mango Slices

Don’t forget to download this week’s free printable 2-in-1 Menu & Grocery List, and, see below for super quick assembly instructions on the Balsamic BBQ Chicken Wraps!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 How to assemble your Balsamic BBQ Chicken Wraps:

For the wraps in meal #5, cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grilled using the marinade in the recipe link.  When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the grill and give it about 5-10 minutes to rest. Thinly slice the chicken breast against the grain and combine it in a tortilla in the following order:

  • A generous spoonful of Balsamic BBQ Mayo (2 tablespoons of mayo mixed with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic bbq sauce from the recipe)
  • Baby Arugula – lightly tossed in olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
  • Thinly sliced tomato – sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • Fresh Mozzarella slices and shaved Parmesan
  • Sliced Balsamic BBQ Chicken
  • Squeeze of lemon juice.

Wrap up with one side open and one closed or enjoy taco style!

 

 

Quick Healthy Asian Dinner: Sesame Noodles with Grilled Ponzu Chicken

Healthy Sesame Noodles and Ponzu Chicken RecipeThis delightfully quick and healthy Asian dinner packs a lot of flavor and nutrients into a quick and easy weeknight meal.  I’ve slightly modified and brought together two recipes from a couple of different sources: Chicken Sate with Ponzu Sauce from Cooking Light served with Lighter Sesame Noodles from an old publication of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (circa 2008). You can make the recipes as they appear in the originals, or you can go along with my version, which I think tastes better and is even easier to make.

 

 

Kitchen-Notebook-Healthy-Sesame-Noodle-Recipe-and-Ponzu-Chicken-flareWhen a recipe deems itself worthy of making again (and again), it gets printed and put into my beloved Kitchen Notebook (pictured left).  My Kitchen Notebook is a collection of recipes and old menus that were big hits with the family. They are on everything from recipe cards to printed 8.5 x 11″ sheets to torn out magazine pages – all compiled into one 3-ring binder.  I digress… more on the Kitchen Notebook later. Let’s get our Sesame Noodles and Ponzu Chicken cooking!

 
 

Quick & Healthy Sesame Noodles with Grilled Ponzu Chicken

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

    For the Sesame Noodles:
  • Kosher Salt
  • 12 ounces Thin Spaghetti (whole wheat or white fiber okay)
  • 1 bunch of broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced with seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 table spoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil (olive oil is okay if you don't have it or don't want to buy it)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • Dry Roasted Peanuts or Cashews (optional)
  • For the Grilled Ponzu Chicken
  • 1 lb. Chicken Tenderloins (boneless, skinless breasts sliced into tenderloin strips okay)
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (light is okay)
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice from about 2-3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (olive oil is okay)
  • 2 garlic cloves, zested on a microplane
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. First, marinate your chicken for about 30 minutes in the Ponzu Marinade. Mix all the ingredients (except chicken) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside about 3-4 tablespoons of marinade so that it's not contaminated with raw meat, then add the chicken to the bowl and cover for 30 minutes at room temperature. The chicken will only take about 5-7 minutes to grill since the pieces are relatively small. You can heat up your grill when you start cooking the vegetables (below) and put the chicken on when you start cooking the noodles.
  2. For the Noodles:
  3. In a large skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper slices to onions, season with a little more salt and pepper, and saute for 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup, mix together your peanut butter, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic with a small whisk. Set aside.
  6. In a large boiling pot of salted water (3 tsp. of kosher salt in the water is what I use to properly season my pasta while it cooks), cook spaghetti 3 minutes less than the box instructions for al dente. Add the broccoli to the pasta water and cook for 3 more minutes. DO NOT DRAIN!
  7. Turn off the heat to your pasta/broccoli and using a handled strainer or slotted spoon, work in batches to remove your spaghetti and broccoli from the hot water and transfer directly into the skillet with your onions and peppers.
  8. Add the peanut butter sauce + 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water to your pasta and veggies and toss in the skillet until evenly coated. Add cilantro, optional red pepper flakes and extra nuts. Top with Grilled Ponzu Chicken (instructions follow).
  9. For the Ponzu Chicken
  10. After marinating, use tongs to remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a heated grill rack, coated with cooking spray (we like Coconut Oil in a spray can). Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until done. Slice or serve whole on top of a bed of Sesame Noodles. Use reserved ponzu sauce for dipping or drizzling on top of the dish.

Notes

You can easily make this a delicious vegetarian meal by omitting the chicken or substituting tofu in its place! For families with both omnivores and vegetarians, try serving the chicken on the side.

https://www.menubility.com/quick-healthy-asian-dinner-sesame-noodles-with-grilled-ponzu-chicken-recipe/

stainless steel strainer spoonIf you don’t already have a stainless steel handled strainer, I’m happy to recommend this affordable little tool from Amazon.  I rarely dump my pasta in a colander these days. Instead, I use this handled strainer to transfer my hot pasta directly from the water into the sauce.  The 7″ version tends to be a little difficult to get in and out of most pots, so I’d suggest going with the 5″ strainer spoon.  You can thank me for better tasting pasta later.  🙂

Easy Crispy Asian Chicken with Soyaki Sauce

Have you wondered how the chicken (like General Tso’s or Crispy Honey) at Chinese takeout establishments could achieve such crispy chicken texture without deep frying it?  A while back, I heard the secret was cornstarch. I decided to give it a try on my own, making my best guesses on recreating the texture.  This recipe doesn’t have quite the buildup of batter on the outside, but the chicken gets nice and crispy.  The inside stays moist and juicy. If you like your entrees extra saucy, just spoon more soyaki sauce over your rice. Careful, though! Soy-based sauces are very salty, so you can go overboard! A couple of spoonfuls of extra sauce should be plenty.

 

Organic Basmati Rice on Amazon.comtrader joes island soyaki sauceServe this Crispy Asian Chicken with Soyaki Sauce over Basmati Rice (cooked according to the package).  I prefer the Island Soyaki Sauce from Trader Joe’s. Roasted Carrots are a natural side dish and can cook in the oven while you’re preparing the chicken and rice on the stovetop.  Try using chopped cilantro (instead of parsley or dill) on the carrots. Cilantro would also taste incredible on top of the Chicken and Rice.

 

 

 

 

Easy Crispy Asian Chicken with Soyaki Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 lb. of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Green Onions - chopped, white and green parts divided
  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • Soyaki Sauce or Island Soyaki Sauce

Instructions

  1. In a gallon-sized plastic ziploc bag, add the cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper. Shake/mix thoroughly.
  2. Fold/roll the top of the bag down, towards the outside, 2-3 times over.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces and place into your bag.
  4. Unfold the bag and zip/slide shut.
  5. With your hands, maneuver the chicken through the cornstarch/flour mixture so that all the pieces are evenly coated.
  6. Heat up a large wok or 12 inch skillet.
  7. Add canola oil
  8. Once the canola oil is hot, but not smoking, drop one piece of chicken into the skillet. If it starts to sizzle right away, add the remaining chicken, being careful not to crowd. If the chicken does not sizzle right away, wait until it starts to sizzle before adding the rest of your chicken.
  9. Using tongs, turn the chicken to cook about 2-3 minutes on the top and bottom, then 1-2 minutes on each side edge so that it gets crispy on all sides.
  10. Once all of your chicken is cooked through and crispy on all sides, Add the chopped white parts of the green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  11. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of soyaki sauce (depending on how saucy you want it!) to the pan.
  12. Toss to coat.
  13. Serve 4-6 pieces on top of cooked Basmati Rice and spoon additional soyaki sauce from the pan, if desired.
  14. Top with the chopped green parts of the green onions. Add sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and/or peanuts for extra special garnish and flavor.

Notes

If you're using a non-stick skillet, add canola oil before heating. If you're using a stainless steel or clad skillet, heat the skillet up to medium heat, then add the canola oil when the pan is hot.

https://www.menubility.com/easy-crispy-asian-chicken-with-soyaki-sauce-recipe-family-meals/

Savory Apple Recipes: Apple-Fennel Slaw

Savory Apple Recipes - Apple Fennel SlawI love how much flavor is packed into this extremely simple and versatile slaw! We paired it with Warm Goat Cheese patties sitting on top of a bed of greens that were very lightly dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.  I imagine it would be delectable on a pulled pork sandwich as well. If you’re on the hunt for savory apple recipes, you’ve got to give this one a try!

 

What would you pair with this healthy, crazy-fast side dish?

 

 

 

 

Apple Fennel Slaw Recipe

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

1/2 cup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon suga
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts chopped.
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 firm, large crisp apple or 2 medium apples (such as Pink Lady, Gala, or Braeburn), julienned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Add green onion, sliced fennel, chopped fennel fronds, and apple.
  3. Toss to coat.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
https://www.menubility.com/savory-apple-recipes-apple-fennel-slaw/

This recipe is adapted slightly from the original Celery, Apple and Fennel Slaw recipe on Epicurious.