Sunday, October 24, 2010

Korean Chicken Noodle Bowls

I love Korean food. Of course, I've only eaten Korean food either at home or at Japanese restaurants, so I have no idea if I love real Korean food. But I do love my version of Korean food.

So I jumped all over this recipe, which I saw in Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine. What's not to like? Stir-fry? Good. Noodles? Good. Kimchi-like sauce? Good.

And it WAS good. However, I did make modifications that I think made it better. Namely, I added extra veggies and reduced the amount of noodles that were called for. But the recipe still made too much of a good thing (after three meals of this, even the little man grew weary), and was too heavy on the pasta for my tastes. I think the recipe would improve with even less pasta, which I adjusted in this recipe.

Even though it takes away from the kimchi nature of the recipe, I think you can swap in any veggies that you've got on hand. And while I like the texture of whole-wheat pasta here, you could use regular old pasta or Asian noodles in its place.

Korean Chicken Noodle Bowls
Serves 4

Salt and pepper
8-10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1" piece of ginger, grated
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1/4 c. tamari
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sriracha
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut in thin strips
1 c. coleslaw mix
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, cut in thin strips
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine a splash of the boiling water with the ginger, garlic, tamari, honey, tomato paste, vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha. Blend until smooth.

And then taste it, and adjust your seasonings accordingly. Rachael Ray is fond of eyeballing measurements, which I did. Mine was a bit on the salty side, so I decided to add some more honey and sriracha to make it sweeter and spicier.

3. Salt water and add pasta, cooking according to package directions. Drain the pasta well.

4. When pasta is almost finished cooking, heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry, about 3-5 minutes.

5. Add cabbage, pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms, Stir-fry for 2 minutes.

6. Add the ginger sauce and toss for 1 minute.

7. Pour stir-fry over the drained noodles and top with scallions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

M&M Caramel Brownies

I have a confession. I'm addicted to buying seasonal candies. And not just candies that are around only for specific seasons, such as Cadbury Mini Eggs (the world's perfect food). I can't resist the allure of the Reese's peanut butter cups or the Hershey's kisses in all their foil-wrapped loveliness of rotating colors. (I'm convinced that green Hershey's kisses taste better than any other.)

So of course, when I saw the first bags of Halloween M&Ms on store shelves, I had to buy them. The last thing I need are little bowls of M&Ms lying around within reach, so I've been storing the bag in the cupboard, waiting for the perfect recipe, which turned out to be this: an ooey, gooey, ridiculously sweet adaptation of a Pillsbury recipe.

But as I was making the brownies, I discovered that M&M/Mars is taking advantage of those of us with seasonal candy addictions by offering not only Halloween M&Ms, but also autumn colors M&Ms. I expected orange, brown, and black, and ended up with red, gold, and brown. Whatever color your M&Ms, these brownies showcase them nicely.

In other news, I recently received this award from Merut of Eating with My Mouth Open.

Thanks, Merut! Stop by her refreshingly witty blog for a visit -- she's got lovely photos, and even lovelier recipes.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go buy my Halloween M&Ms.

M&M Caramel Brownies
Makes about 2 dozen

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
1 cup evaporated milk, divided
35 caramels, unwrapped
1-1 1/2 c. M&Ms (miniatures or full-sized)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan with shortening.

As usual, I used cooking spray, which was too slippery for this batter. It was miserable. Do as I say, not as I do.

2. Mix cake mix, butter, and 2/3 cup evaporated milk until well blended. Spread half of mixture in pan and bake 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat caramels with remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk over low heat. Stir occasionally until caramels are melted.

4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup M&Ms over partially baked crust.

5. Pour caramel sauce over M&Ms. Although the M&Ms may appear to be drowning, resist the urge to rescue them. That caramel is hot.

6. Run fingers under cold water when you can't resist the urge to sample a caramel-covered M&M. Swear you won't include this in your blog post.

7. Drop remaining batter by teaspoonfuls over caramel mixture.

8. Sprinkle with remaining M&Ms and press in lightly.

9. Bake 20-24 minutes longer or until center is set. Cool completely before serving.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Little Man, Big Birthday

My not-so-little man has had a busy fall. He's been growing like a weed, getting around better than ever, learning to play games, throwing temper tantrums, and growing teeth like nobody's business.

Did I mention he's growing?

Jack also recently celebrated his first birthday. He had Mickey Mouse decorations and balloons. Bunches of presents. And a whole lot of attention.

And lots of Jack's favorite foods, and some of our own. Caprese salad. Marinated mozzarella. Chopped veggies. Fruit with a dip so wonderful that I wish I remembered what I put in it. Beef stew. Biscuits. And cake. I made the chocolate fudge layer cake recipe, with the frosting from Famous Dave's chocolate cake. It was good. It was very, very good.

It's been quite a year. Happy birthday, Jack!

P.S. Why yes, I did just discover the "collage" function in my photo editing software. Quiet, you.