Ah….Thai Peanut Sauce!

Ah….Thai Peanut Sauce!

Do you want to know what is stupid good?  (I don’t care for the term stupid – it’s actually prohibited in our home but I am quoting one of my students here). Thai Peanut Sauce.

Ah, Thai Peanut Sauce.  Not only it is irresistible and totally worthy of eating right out of the blender it is surprisingly versatile.  I don’t remember where or how I came up with the recipe but this recipe rocks.  Seriously rocks.  Assuming you are ok with peanuts and cilantro.  If you are allergic to legumes or think cilantro tastes like soap, stop here. Read no further.  I can’t imagine making this sauce without either.  I apologize for not having substitutions as I most often do. Hold off until the next blog as I promise more deliciousness is to come.

This particular recipe is a snap if you have all the ingredients. I find that I normally do, if anything I may need to pick up fresh cilantro, dried won’t do here.

All the ingredients go right into a blender, a few good pulses and viola you have a thick and creamy, slightly spicy, mouthwatering Thai Peanut Sauce.  The best part about making this sauce is its flexibility.  Make up a batch (yields about 2 cups) and use for salad (my fave), chicken satay (my son’s fave) or a dipping sauce for spring rolls (my daughter’s fave).  Or hold the mayo and use it as the sauce for an Asian inspired wrap.  I am sure the options are limitless.

This week it’s my go to for a quick healthy, satisfying lunch.  Shred up some crisp Napa cabbage, jicama and carrots, toss the medley with the Thai Peanut Sauce, garnish it with chopped peanuts, more cilantro leaves, sesame seeds and dive in.  You won’t be disappointed.

Let’s talk ingredients:

  • I always have peanut butter in the pantry – creamy organic
  • Limes- pick the thinned skinned ones. Limes are better used room temperature.  Roll on the counter with your palm to release juices and always zest first with a microplane.
  • Sesame oil – I always have this in my pantry.  Don’t cook with it, use it as a garnish.
  • Soy sauce- I prefer organic and I always have it in the refrigerator
  • Honey – hopefully you have a generous friend willing to share their bounty – Thanks Jackie!
  • Garlic – I always, always use whole fresh garlic.  If you prefer some other kind be sure to read the label
  • Ginger root- buy fresh roots and for short storage wrap and place in the fridge.  For longer storage keep in the freezer and grate as needed.  To peel simply rub the brown skin off with a spoon or peeler.  Use a microplane to grate it right in to a recipe.
  • Peanut oil- great healthy oil option that I always have on hand
  • Kosher salt – always choose pure salt, no additives, preservatives, anti-caking agents
  • Siracha – hot yes, but adds a desired amount of heat to your level

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy and share!

Thai Peanut Salad Dressing

1/2 C peanut butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 1/2 t sesame oil
1 T seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 T soy sauce
3 T honey
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T minced ginger
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro (stems and all)
1/2 C peanut oil or safflower oil
1/4 t kosher salt
2-3 t Sriracha chili sauce
2-4 T water

Place all ingredients in a blender adding water as needed to thin.  Use as a salad dressing, a dip or on proteins.

Great on shredded Napa Cabbage, with shredded carrots, jicama, peanuts and cilantro.

Makes approximately 1 -2 cups

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Side in a Snap

Side in a Snap

It was discussed, but we never quite committed to attend the after school BBQ at my daughter’s elementary school as we have two kids; one in middle and one in elementary.  Commitments can be challenging sometimes.  When my husband is around, we divide and conquer.  The day before, we learned we could attend, so I quickly RSVP’d and signed up for a side dish then completely tossed the food idea out of my mind.

The day of, we ran in circles taking care of last day of school business in addition to the craziness of let’s pack our gear and get out town for five days details.  Our lives were hectic, which frankly has become our norm.  Thirty minutes prior to the BBQ, the light bulb in my crazy head illuminated and I remembered I signed up for a side dish. Crap, seriously?!

Obligation, along with guilt, set in knowing that a food columnist cannot show up with a bag of pretzels in tow. Immediately, I ran around the house and threw this pasta together.  Simple, refreshing, clean and done.  I tossed it into an old round wooden bowl I picked up at a yard sale for 5 cents along with my favorite funky wooden spoon.  I covered the bowl with a red and white gingham towel over the top and headed to the BBQ.

Little did I know that my snappy side dish would be so popular.  I received so many comments that I need to share.  I was limited to what I could use for this recipe so feel free to add, subtract or alter as you desire.  Just know that simple is usually not only easier but better.  Enjoy!

1 lb Orzo pasta

Chicken broth

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Coarse kosher salt / Fresh cracked black pepper

Fresh spinach, a generous amount, roughly chopped

Cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Ricotta salata or other favorite crumbly salty white cheese

Fresh basil, sliced

Cook orzo al dente in broth and drain.  Place chopped spinach in large serving bowl.  Add warm orzo to bowl.  Toss with generous amount of olive oil and juice of one lemon.  Add in sliced tomatoes, cheese and season with salt, pepper and basil.  Yum!

 LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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Waffles or Pancakes

Waffles or Pancakes

I don’t remember having flap jacks or waffles growing up, they just weren’t mom’s thing. Eggs were our go to breakfast routine. Dad recalls growing up with crushed pineapple waffles that my great grandpa ate by the stack and struggled to share. I am sure you will see my version of them soon. Unfortunately, my kiddos prefer pancakes. Me, I am a waffle girl. So, me, being the head chef I get to choose and I frankly I thinks its apples to oranges. Pancakes are more cumbersome to make, flat and lack a little character. Waffles on the other hand have a crisp exterior, soft interior and perfect little sections that hold your warm butter and rich maple syrup. A no brainer comparison for me!

Here is my go to recipe for waffles. Don’t worry if you don’t have buttermilk, as I often don’t. Just use the same amount of milk (I like whole milk) and squeeze some fresh lemon juice in it to sour it. I ALWAYS, have lemons in my kitchen.

Buttermilk Waffles

10 oz. all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 ¾ cup buttermilk or kefir soured milk

2 large eggs, separated

4 T unsalted butter, melted cooled slightly

Combine dry ingredients.  Combine milk, yolks, and butter.  Whip whites to stiff peaks.  Mix the dry ingredients with wet then fold in whites.

Cook in waffle maker.

Makes about 5-6 waffles depending on how generous you are.

*The blueberry syrup pictured above is just one container of blue berries, a little water and a little sugar heated up until a few of them popped.  Yum.

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Simply Asparagus

Simply Asparagus

During this morning’s hike there was no doubt that spring was in the air.  The air was crisp, the sun was bold and there was trace evidence of warmth among the dirt and rocks.  After the hike, I ran into the market to grab a few items and what do I see front and center? Beautiful spring asparagus!  Now I know asparagus is not quite emerging on our ditch banks yet here in Colorado (the tags did say Mexico) but nonetheless, I was feeling it and made the purchase.

I don’t remember loving asparagus as a child. I can not recall when the affair started but now I can not think of spring without asparagus being a part of it.

Over the years, asparagus has appeared in many of my menu creations but truly, my favorite preparation of asparagus is simply roasted.

Make sure to buy crisp, pretty green stalks. I won’t go into the politics but some like it big and some like it small. Your choice. I just don’t like it woody and I do prefer the flavor of the thinner stalks.

Snap of just the bottom end where it naturally snaps. Don’t use a knife and guess! You will cut too much or too little. Let the asparagus tell you where it wants to break.

Preheat the oven to 350 or up to 400 if you have other cooking to do. Place the washed, trimmed asparagus on a sheet pan with room to breathe.  Lightly coat with your favorite olive oil (a good on here and one that is relatively high heat tolerant). Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper (I prefer Tellicherry peppercorns).

Roast until tender. Depending on the size of your asparagus and your desired doneness this can take 10-15 minutes. Simply perfect!

Now, if you want to “turn up” your asparagus a little you can drizzle it with a little good balsamic vinegar and or fresh grated parmesan while it cools. Yum!

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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Favorite “Oldies but Goodies”

We all have routines in the kitchen which tend to include the “go to” meals that can be considered last resort, quick, or so familiar that it takes no mental energy to throw together.  In our house I would have to say that pasta and burritos fall into that category.  However, sometimes I sit down to the computer and skim through my online recipes and discover an “oldie but goody” that we have not had in a some time, then bam! Suddenly an old familiar simple dish becomes remarkable due to its absence.  Not too unlike a loved one taking a vacation for you to realize how much you miss them.

Welcome back Brown Sugar Bourbon Flank Steak my old friend!  Add this to your “easy but delicious” routine and it will make you happy. Promise.

    

Also sharing this plate is my house salad; extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and fresh grated lemon juice with rustic (skin on) garlic mashed Yukon Gold potatoes topped with spring chives. I get scorned for not serving mashed with any juicy steak :0)

Brown Sugar Bourbon Flank Steak

2-3lb Flank steak

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup favorite bourbon

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup sliced scallions

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cornstarch

Place the first 8 ingredients in a sealable bag and marinate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill.  Drain the steak from marinade and pat dry, reserving the marinade.  Place the marinade in a small sauce pan and add the cornstarch.  Bring the marinade to a simmer for about 3 minutes until thickened.  Keep warm.

Grill steak over medium high heat until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest 5-7 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain. Serve with sauce.

 

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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2015 Christmas Feast

2015 Christmas Menu

Avocado Crème Filled Eggs with Pomegranate Arils

Gravlax on Rye Toasts with a Mustard Dill Cream

Winter Pomegranate Salad with Fig Vinaigrette

Bulgur Wheat Salad with Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds

Whole Roasted Prime Rib

Brandy Au Jus

Horseradish crème Fraiche

Truffled Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Red Wine and Rosemary Roasted Cipollini Onions

Roasted Root Medley

LET’S GET COOKING!

SUZANNE

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SUZANNE

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