Sweet Sesame Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli

Good morning, friends!  I finally have a recipe for you.  I haven’t been in the kitchen as much as I’d like to be lately but hopefully I’ll be able to cook a dinner or two next week.

Last night I had a walking then dinner date with a girlfriend.  We’ve decided it needs to be a monthly date.  I was in charge of dinner last night and she was in charge of the wine.  This recipe is not only super fast to pull together but a lot of the ingredients can be prepped in advance.  Yesterday afternoon I cut the chicken into bite size pieces, chopped the green onion and whisked together the sauce.  Once I got to her house all I had to do was boil water (this took the longest!), sauté the chicken, cook the pasta and the broccoli and then mix it all together.

The sauce is a mix of  rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce (or tamari), peanut butter (!!!!), sesame seeds, brown sugar, crushed red pepper and garlic.

I used these noodles which are my go-to for any kind of noodle bowl.  They’re gluten free but don’t fall apart.  I love the flavor and texture – a little nutty.

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And while the noodles were awesome and the wine was refreshing, it was the company that I enjoyed the most.

Have a great day!

Asian Marinated Chicken with Corn and Basil Faux-Fried Rice

This is one of those recipes that I’ve been holding onto for years (since September of 2012) and I finally got around to adding it to our dinner menu.  I’ve thought about preparing this dinner multiple times but I wanted to use our homegrown corn and basil so it never was the right time.  Until now.

The recipe doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and the only swap I made was using both boneless and skinless chicken thighs and I also used ginger instead of garlic.  I would have totally used garlic but I forgot to pick some up at the store.  The chicken marinates for two hours before it’s cooked and that’s where so much of the flavor comes from.  The Asian flavors come from soy sauce, mirin (you can find it on the international aisle), and ginger.  The green onions in the marinade also give it lots of fresh flavor.

The chicken is seared on the stovetop for 3 minutes before turning over and then continuing to cook in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 more minutes.  The faux-fried rice is made by boiling your rice for 15 minutes and then draining.  The rice is then sautéed in a little olive oil with more green onions, the corn and a little more soy sauce.  The final addition of basil is perfection and adds so much brightness and flavor.

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The chicken was perfectly tender and I loved the pops of corn in each bite of the rice paired with the fresh herbs.

 

Seared Scallops with Snap Peas and Pancetta

Scallops are not something I typically cook at home.  While I adore them, it can be hard to find scallops that live up to my expectations.  Last week I made a run to Raleigh to pick up some lamb as well as wine and I couldn’t help but grab a pound of the biggest, most tender, wild caught scallops at Whole Foods.

The scallops stole the show in the 5-ingredient show stopper dinner.  The key to good scallops at home is to make sure you don’t overcook them – they will become chewy.

The snap peas are sautéed in a cast iron skillet first before cooking the pancetta and shallots.  The snap peas, pancetta and shallots are then combined before searing the scallops.They only need a minute or so on each side so don’t walk away.  The scallops are served on top of the snap pea mixture – along with a glass of wine.

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This dinner was so gorgeous that I couldn’t help opening bottle of Iron Horse Chardonnay to sip alongside the scallops.

 

Pickle-Brined Chicken Tenders

If you’re a fan of Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches, you’re going to flip over these pickle-brined chicken tenders.  Because that is exactly what they tasted like to me.  Now, if you ask for your chicken sandwich without pickles, I’m rolling my eyes.

Big Guy and I go through quite our fair share of dill pickles.  And at any given moment there are at least 5 jars of something pickled in our fridge.  (Current count:  6)  And I always hate pouring the leftover pickle juice down the drain once the last pickle is eaten.  But now you don’t have to throw away your pickle juice.  Instead, use it as a brine for your chicken.

The chicken is brined for 8 hours and then completely dried off.  Dip it into the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb-panko mixture (I used gluten-free of both).  Spray with cooking spray or EVOO and bake at 425 degrees (10 minutes on the first side, turn and then 6 more minutes).

The end result is everything.  Crispy chicken tenders that have the faintest pickle flavor.  They are out of this world.

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I served the chicken tenders with some sautéed okra from our garden as well as some gorgeous watermelon radishes that I roasted.

I felt like a kid eating chicken tenders (cannot remember the last time I ate tenders) and it made me crave a Chick-fil-A sandwich like WHOA.

Pickles – fan or not?

Collard Green-Quinoa Wraps

After the weekend we had (hello, wine), I could not wait for a nutritious and veggie-filled dinner on Monday.  Collards are known for being tough and fibrous, but when soaked in warm water, they become the perfect swap for a flour tortilla or wrap.

The collards are filled with a Mediterranean-inspired mixture of quinoa, garlic hummus, dill, feta cheese, red onion, olives, plus a little salt and pepper.  The wrap is then finished off with a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.

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You could totally play with the flavor profiles by switching out the flavor of hummus (roasted red pepper would be awesome!), changing up the cheese (mmm, goat cheese) or adding some different herbs (cilantro for a Mexican-inspired wrap).

Collards:  Yay or Nay?

Simple Flaky Crab Cakes

The past several days have been the most perfect way to kick-off the summer season.  Nothing makes my heart happier than time with my family as well as some salt air and sunshine.  I wasn’t quite ready to pack up the truck this morning and head back.  We took long walks, we sipped mimosas, we laughed and we completely relaxed.  The beach is truly my happy place.

On our way out of town, we stopped by our favorite little seafood shack (Island Seafood Company) to pick up some lump crab meat.  I’ve had crab cakes on my mind for several weeks and they turned out better than expected.

The best part about these crabs cakes is the ratio of crab to breadcrumbs.  One pound of crab to four tablespoons of bread crumbs.  These crab cakes were packed with delicious crab cakes.  Along with the breadcrumbs, the cakes had egg, fresh herbs from the garden, a little mayo, lemon zest and pepper.  The crab cakes were cooked on the stovetop with a little butter and oil for a crispy exterior and tender crab cake.

We served the crab cakes on top of a spring salad with a buttermilk-herb dressing that was light and bright with a little zing from the buttermilk.

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The perfect end to a long weekend!  I hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day weekend.  I can’t believe it’s almost June.

 

Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Sesame Glaze + Asparagus with Sesame & Citrus Vinaigrette

The next couple of weeks are cray-zeeeee.  Fun but crazy.  There’s going to be a lot of go-go-go-ing.  And I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one.  For those of you with kids in school, well, summer is right around the corner.  And for those of you with little ones, well, life always seems crazy.  And for those of you without children, the start of the summer more often than not brings about a jam-packed social calendar.

So regardless of which category you fall in – this easy, 20-minute dinner is the ticket to ease your weeknight, dinner worries.  You can mix together the glaze in the morning and then all you have to do come dinner time is warm up the grill pan and pull together the asparagus.  

The glaze is a mixture of green onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and sambal oelek.  Basically the glaze = flavor.  The chicken thighs are marinated in half of the mixture while the other half is saved for glazing the chicken before serving.

The asparagus are simply roasted and then tossed with orange segments, a little fresh orange juice, sesame oil, salt, pepper and then sprinkled with sesame seeds.

I loved the the brightness that the orange juice and pieces brought to a salty, savory and slightly spicy dinner.

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So good!  So flavorful!

Let the craziness begin….