Key Lime & Peanut Ginger Noodles + Swiss Chard Berry Slaw

The garden is exploding in one last push before the coldness of fall settles into the leafs and then into the ground. This explosion of cooler weather loving greens, and root vegetables bursting through the dirt means one thing – harvest overdrive. Tonight I couldn’t decide what on earth to make for dinner, all I knew is I needed to use up some beets, carrots and swiss chard.  As I was harvesting, and chasing dogs who run to the neighbors, I was really trying to think outside of the box. I then remembered we had key limes, then I saw coconut; I realized I might actually have enough items to make an asian inspired dinner.

As I looked around the fridge for things to use I saw a few more inspiring things – frozen wild berries, half a frozen jalapeno piece, shredded ginger and frozen udon noodles (my favorite Japanese noodle). In my typical style a recipe was nowhere in sight – just produce that needed to be used, some basic ideas of flavors and a hunch.

It turned out to be a pretty good hunch. FYI: I made it spicy, feel free to do less or eliminate the jalapeno.

Key Lime & Peanut Ginger Noodles + Swiss Chard Berry Slaw

Ingredients – Udon Noodle Dressing:

  • Juice of about 10 Key Limes
  • 2 tbspn rough chopped coconut
  • 2 tbspn ginger – minced fresh or chopped grated
  • 1 to 2 cups peanut butter
  • finely chopped 3 thick slices jalapeno, seeds and all
  • Shake or two of Penzy’s Spice Zatar seasoning
  • extra light olive oil to emulsify(Uhm, maybe 4 tablespoons?)
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • couple drops soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Ingredients – Slaw

  • Big Bunch Swiss Chard (don’t be shy, it cooks way down)
  • 3 Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Clove Garlic, rough diced (I’ve only rough chopped in this photo, do more than that)
  • 1/4 large onion or 1 small onion diced
  • 1/4 Cup rough chopped wild blackberries
  • glug sesame oil
  • glug olive oil
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • pinch salt

Directions

Noodles

  1. Start boiling water for your udon noodles. These are normally already cooked through and you only need to very quickly heat up. Save these for the absolute last thing you do.
  2. Udon Noodle Dressing: Add everything under the dressing ingredients together and whisk in except the oils & pb.
  3. Add PB & slowly whisk in the oil, it will be hard at first but will get easier. Make sure the peanut butter is totally emulsified and smooth. You’ll obviously still have chunks of the other ingredients, but the peanut butter should be smooth.

Slaw

  1. Make sure all of your veggies are prepped. Swiss Chard should have the thick stem removed, carrots should be shredded etc.
  2. Heat up a saute pan with sesame oil. Add diced onion and garlic to just hot oil and let saute for about 2 minutes – stir to keep from sticking. Add in about a small handful of carrots and the berries. Splash in your red wine vinegar and salt. Let saute for another couple minutes until the carrots just start to wilt, but still have a slight crunch. Remove and put into a bowl.
  3. Add olive oil to pan and add in chard – be careful, make sure your chard is dry or the oil and water will cause splattering which can cause burns. No burns. It does not make for a good dinner experience. Keep adding the chard until it cooks down. Add in the rest of the carrots, and toss.
  4. At this point add in the udon noodles to your water, wait a few seconds, test one and drain them.
  5. Okay, now go back to your slaw mixture. Toss in the onion, carrot & garlic mix from before into your swiss chard and carrots. It’s done!
  6. Now, throw your noodles in a bowl and toss in the dressing.

Okay.

Ready?

EAT. Om nom nom. Tasty.

Okay, there is a reason I don’t mention the beets again.

Me and beets are at odds with each other. I literally have no idea how to prepare them properly. I actually looked up how to do it and came across the basic “throw them in tinfoil until fork tender and peel skin”. Apparently this is more like a baked potato as I found out this evening, which the fiance and I had a pretty good laugh. Turns out you’re suppose to peel them, season them and cut them up like roasted potatoes. Oh well, they’ll still taste good. The faster I can get rid of them the better. One day when I can prepare them right it will grow on me, but there’s something about a stubborn root vegetable that turns my clothes purple (I’m clumsy) that I don’t particularly enjoy right now. I will say that baked beets do smell pretty good though.

Hey, at least I can make a pretty good asian noodle dish. I have that going for me.

Happy Eating!

-Heather

Potato & Pesto Chicken Soup

We love basil in our house. I’m not sure that is the proper way to emphasize it, so in spite of correct grammar let me emphasize:

We. Love. Basil.

Thus, this explains the entire row of our garden dedicated to this herb – primarily to satisfy Andy’s constant cravings for pesto. Once the warm air hits the words are not “It’s summer”, the words are “It’s pesto time!!!!”.  So far this summer we’ve put up more pesto than I care to remember. I’m pretty sure our freezer might be made of pesto at this point. Andy has become a pro at what I refer to as pantry pesto. We don’t use $20.00 a pound pine nuts. Andy rarely ever buys anything full price – so it comes as no surprise that he won’t use pine nuts (unless they are on sale). Thus, we have experimented with all different kinds of nuts. Our favorites are cashews – you don’t need to add any salt and they give a meatier texture to the pesto. Almonds will turn it into a sort of pesto paste. Walnuts were okay – but not our favorite. Then there were the peanuts…oh God, the peanuts. Pesto should never, I repeat never, contain peanuts.  It’s like peanut butter pesto (just think about it).

So, in honor of our freezer of pesto, and the fact we still have a ton of basil to harvest before our first frost, which is quickly approaching,  I decided I needed to use some of the pesto up. (the rest of the crop will probably get turned  into..you guessed it..pesto. I wonder if I can get some of it and freeze it before he notices?)

Since it was our first cooler evening, I got the “fall” bug. To me this means hot hearty stews. I had roasted a whole chicken, and decided to use some of the juices and the freshly roasted herbed breast to make this stew. Potato Pesto soup was something my good friend Meg introduced me to in college. I sort of took it and made it my own this time around. I included other veggies, like spinach and red pepper, and took out some ingredients, like ditalini pasta and about 17,000 calories of cream. By the way, I am in no way knocking cream based soups – me and cream are like wheat on rice, only not as healthy.

Enjoy this recipe and as a pantry cook, tweak as needed! Throw in what you have, take out what you don’t have, and add things that I haven’t. That’s all the fun of being a pantry cook – making things your own, and only using a recipe as a very loose guideline.

Potato & Pesto Chicken Soup

  • 1-2 cups Shredded Roasted Chicken Breast
  • Chicken broth reserved from roasting (skim fat, but remember, fat is where the taste is so leave some)
  • 2 cups Pesto
  • 1 medium/small onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 7-8 medium/small potatoes (well rinsed)
  • 1 pad butter
  • Fresh spinach (maybe about a cup?) and extra basil if you want
  1. Turn your soup pot on, and add about a pad of butter. Dice the onion and red pepper, and mince the garlic and add all three to the hot butter.
  2. Saute until the onion and garlic smell good and are slightly translucent.
  3. Dice up your potatoes into about 1 inch chunks and toss into pot – stir and mix all ingredients. Let saute, occasionally stirring, for about 5 minutes. Don’t let the potato’s stick to the bottom. This isn’t really a saute at this point as the potatoes will release starch and water (it’s good).
  4. Add in broth, pesto and enough water to thin out the pesto into a stew consistency. You don’t want it too thick, but you also don’t want it to be thin and broth-y – make it somewhere in the middle. It should cover a potato something like this when you first water it down.
  5. When you can easily pierce a potato, add in the roasted chicken just to warm, the spinach (torn up into pieces of you’d like) and the extra basil if you so desire (I’d recommend rough chopping it).  Simmer for about 5 minutes, just long enough to warm up the chicken. It looks pretty unappetizing at this point – but it smells awesome. If you have younger kids go ahead and call this Shrek Soup – they would probably love it.
  6. Serve! Because of the potato’s you won’t need any extra carbs to go with this dish (i.e. bread to dip in, croutons, etc) but that being said – we had garlic bread anyway.

This is an extremely hearty meal that stands alone easily ( I only ate about 1/4 of everything because I was so full). With the amount of potato’s in it – it goes a long way. I was able to get dinner for 3, lunch for 2, and another dinner for 1 the next night from it. It’s quick to make and goes a long way. I don’t recommend having this every night because of the foods involved – but it’s great to warm those bones and put some heat back into them when the cold starts settling in deep.

Enjoy and remember, being a pantry cook is all about making it work for you.

Happy Eating!

Heather

Homemade Salsa 101

Tonight my fiance and I decided to make some homemade salsa using our abundance of tomatoes in the garden. He picked up a couple of veggies we don’t have yet at the local Farmers Market and tonight we went to town! It tastes so amazing and fresh and was incredibly easy to do. I never thought salsa would be so simple but all it takes is some veggies and a sharp knife. Make sure to use fresh veggies if possible from your local market, or of course, your back yard. It will taste so much cleaner, fresher and have a lot more flavor.

Ingredients:

-1 large green pepper

-1 large jalapeno (wash your hands immediately after cutting and DON’T rub your eye, go to the bathroom or touch any cuts! Unless you enjoy severe burning sensations, just wash your hands.)

-10 to 15 tomatoes of various sizes

-1 medium white onion

-5 cloves garlic (you read right, 5 of them)

-1 bunch cilantro

-1 red sweet bell pepper

Directions:

Dice all items into smaller pieces and throw into a bowl and toss. Seriously. That’s it.

—–

This recipe is pretty awesome when you take some tortillas, slice them into wedges (think like a pie…or you know, tortilla chip shaped) and toast them up quick. They make the perfect crunchy but wonderful dipping tool. This would be great in wraps, with eggs, on chicken, or just in a big spoonful!

I like to store mine in jars, I’ll plan on actually water bathing these at some point so I can keep them on the shelf. For now, these stay in the fridge. I’m pretty sure they will be gone by the time the weekends over!

Happy Cooking!

-Heather

Pppstt, Ppssstt: While you’re at it – check out my sisters cooking blog Edible Awesomeness. I’m definitely a comfort food butter loving pantry cook, and though I can cook some mean Asian dishes, she is the one in the family who can make a really refined tasting dish. She comes up with some pretty off the wall awesome recipes from the top of her head and really takes the prep time to make them, and make them right! I’m more of the Paula Deen of the family (butter, cream anyone?), and she’s more of the…Julia Child with a killer sense of humor. Both are damn good, but totally different! (I think it’s pretty ridiculous for me to compare myself to Paula Deen by the way, that woman is unbelievable and I am nowhere near as good, just similar style).