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Sesame Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

Tonight we made Ted Allen's Sesame Peanut Noodles for dinner and added shrimp. It was very tasty. I will definitely do it again, and Brian even liked it.

Shrimp might sound like a weird choice - it did to me - but it actually paired really well with this dish. Shrimp and peanuts didn't sound appealing, but I knew I had a better chance of getting Brian to eat this if it had shrimp in it. He loves shrimp. And shrimp were mentioned as a possible addition to the dish.

We left out the cucumbers because neither of us is a big fan of them. I used cashews because that's what I had on hand. I used tamari instead of low sodium soy sauce, so my version might have been a little too salty (but I like salt).

The only noodles I could find at our extremely ethnically diverse grocery store (can you see me rolling my eyes?) were generically labeled "Chinese Noodles" and were thinner than most vermicelli. I bought 1lb of them to conform to that part of the recipe. The result was not fantastic. As with vermicelli, if you don't make enough sauce the result is kind of a sticky blob of pasta. It did taste good though. Next time I'm going to Woodman's or maybe a true Asian grocery to look for some thicker noodles that can carry the sauce without completely absorbing it.

1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes is just right if you want it to be just barely spicy.

Brian thawed and peeled the uncooked shrimp, then sauteed them in a little bit of toasted sesame oil after I emptied the pan from toasting the sesame seeds. I didn't thoroughly read the recipe about the sesame seeds - it calls for 1/4 cup (and also 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil). I bought a small spice jar of sesame seeds and 1/4 cup is about 3/4 of the bottle. The sesame oil bottle was also pretty small and I used quite a bit.

We use uncooked shrimp because they don't get so rubbery when they're cooked in a stir fry or a dish like this. It's a little more work, but it's worth it.

I'm definitely enjoying having cilantro on my deck within easy reach. It was very yummy in tonight's dinner.

This one will be added to the permanent rotation.

Dan Dan Noodles

Tonight I was on my own, so I decided to make something experimental rather than get fast food. I tried Dan Dan Noodles, and considering the trouble I had finding ingredients, it turned out REALLY well.

Dan Dan Noodles

about 12 oz lo mein noodles (or spaghetti if, like me, you can't find them)
2 Tb sesame oil
1 pkg ground chicken (about 1 lb)
scallions, sliced thin (white and light green parts)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
about 1 Tb Sriracha or other chili sauce (to taste)
about 2 Tb Oyster sauce (also to taste)
about 6 Tb soy sauce (also to taste, maybe hold back at first and add the rest in later to taste)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup water with 4 tsp corn starch dissolved
bean sprouts and julienned cucumber for garnish

1. Boil water for noodles, cook as directed.
2. Meanwhile heat oil in large skillet and cook chicken, breaking up into as small of pieces as possible.
3. When chicken is cooked push to sides of pan and add garlic. Cook for 1 min. or less. Add chili sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce brown sugar, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Add dissolved corn starch and water. Stir to thicken.
4. Serve sauce over noodles, garnish with scallions, bean sprouts, and julienned cucumber.

Obviously you can add more chili sauce if you want your lips burned off. This level was pretty tolerable, I'd call it medium. The measurements are approximate. I didn't really measure things except the water and corn starch. It was very very good. I will be doing this again, hopefully with real lo mein noodles next time.

Cincinnati Chili

Tonight for dinner we made the Cook's Country version of Cincinnati Chili. For those of us who are unfamiliar with this (like me, before I saw it on tv) it is beef chili with different spices (including allspice and cinnamon) which can be served five ways: 1 way is by itself, 2 ways is on top of spaghetti, 3 ways is with shredded cheese, 4 ways is with onions or kidney beans, and 5 ways is with both onions and kidney beans.

Ours turned out very watery, which might be because we used too small of a pan for the 15-20 minute boiling time. We'll be trying it again. The cheese we chose was not good. Next time it will be mild cheddar (this was some blend, and melted way too fast). Next time I will remember to put the garlic in with the rest of the spices instead of later. Next time I will also remember to reserve some chopped onions for topping. Oops.

Guacamole

I made this recipe and took it over for a cookout with friends on Sunday. It was REALLY good. I was really craving guacamole and this was almost perfect. I'd double the recipe next time and maybe not double the onion.

Perfect Guacamole from Simply Recipes, reposted today in honor of Cinco de Mayo!

I've been having good luck with the recipes I'm trying from Simply Recipes. The French Onion Soup, Pork Schnitzel, and now the Guacamole. I think I've done other recipes from that site before, but it just happens that I had a bunch in a row from the same website.

Pork Schnitzel

Tonight we made Pork Schnitzel for dinner. I've been planning it for several weeks. We recently decided our meat was going to waste too much, so we've started picking up meat at the store the day we'll use it instead of weekly. As a result, the pork schnitzel has been pushed off a couple of times because life intervened, but at least we didn't waste too much meat.

This was divine. I am in love with this recipe. I had my doubts about the sauce when the sour cream didn't seem to integrate into the chicken stock easily, but after it thickened it was fine. I didn't have any lemons, but next time I think I'll get a lemon - I can see where that flavor would be perfect.

Ours looked just like the picture on Simply Recipes (linked above). It was really pretty quick. The rice-a-roni we had on the side (elegant, I know) was what held up dinner. It didn't cook down like it should have. The dill sauce for the schnitzel took a little time to cook down. I could taste the frying oil (we used Canola), so I don't know if I'd like olive oil.

This will be a permanent addition to our menu rotation. It's SO much better than shake-n-bake pork chops. Next time I'll probably add more salt to the flour mixture, but that's just me.