Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Peanut Sesame Dressing January 6, 2013

Filed under: Asian,Quick and Easy,Salad,sauce,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 7:46 pm

Let’s face it, I have been doing hell to my body for the past year. I’ve hardly cooked (as evidenced by the lack of posts on this blog), I’ve drank a ton, and I’ve rarely exercised. Add a lot of stress and a job where I sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, and the results are not pretty. It doesn’t help that buying fast food is so much cheaper than buying all the ingredients needed to make a healthy, well-balanced meal. But, I guess you get what you pay for.

Now I have no more excuse. I HAVE to get back in shape. Richard and I both agree we need to lose weight. Neither of us feel well most of the time, and there is so much going on in the next year that we need to have energy for. I went on a mega grocery trip yesterday and spent all day today prepping for meals. Man it felt good to really get back into the kitchen and letting my creative juices flow.

One of the things I prepped was this dressing. It’s maybe not the healthiest dressing out there, with the peanut butter and oil, but it’s better than what I HAVE been eating for lunch. I also cut up an apple and bell pepper, and roasted a chicken tonight, so I have plenty of toppings for the mixed greens I bought. It’s a step in the right direction, definitely.

This dressing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s very strong, but also very delicious. You don’t need a lot–the flavor goes a long way. Oh! I even put some in a baggie with sliced chicken breast for stir-fry on another night. Yum!

Peanut Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2009

3 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I used chunky)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine (I used flat champagne leftover from New Years.)

In a blender, mix ingredients until well combined to your taste. Add more of something if it needs it. I played around with it for awhile, even tripled the recipe so I could use it as a marinade.


Beef and Broccoli Udon October 23, 2012

Filed under: Asian,Beef,Broccoli,pasta,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 11:47 am

We are finally starting to really get settled into our apartment. The furniture is in it’s place, clothes are put away. I even built a desk this weekend! It’s good to finally feel at home, instead of being so displaced like I have been the past year.

One thing that Richard and I both agree on is the importance of sitting down for a real meal when we both work the early shift (since he works retail, that’s not every night). This is great for me, because it gives me a chance to get back into cooking. Plus, it’s just really nice to sit down and talk about our day and unwind.

We’ve been eating way too many prepackaged meals lately, so we went on a mega food shopping trip this weekend and stocked our pantry. Boy does it feel great to have real food in my fridge! Things with color! What better way to celebrate that than to cook something vibrant and fresh. This dish fits that to a T. Quick and easy, which was perfect on the stereotypical Monday we both had. But also hot and flavorful. And I got to work some of my stress out on the cutting board. What is better at relieving stress than smashing some garlic cloves and stir-frying veggies?

Make this soon. It’s healthy, fulfilling, and it’s a great way to use up any extra veggies you may have in your fridge. I’ll definitely be making this often in some form or another.


Beef and Broccoli Udon
Adapted from Dinners for a Year and Beyond


2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Sriracha to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound beef tenderloin, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
2-3 drops sriracha

4 teaspoons oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, large dice
10 button mushroom, sliced
2 cups broccoli
2 7oz packages udon noodles
Combine marinade for ingredients. Toss beef in marinade, let sit at room temp while you prep the veggies.
Combine sauce ingredients, set aside.
Heat large pan on high heat. Add 2 tsp oil. Saute beef until just brown on both sides. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add other 2 tsp oil. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds-1 minute. Add red peppers and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add broccoli, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes, until veggies are tender-crisp. Add sauce, noodles and beef. Cook for 1 minute just to warm everything through. Serve!

Garlic Soup with Shrimp December 7, 2010

Filed under: Asian,Freezer Meals,Quick and Easy,shrimp,soup — hmills96 @ 7:52 pm

Holy Crap! 3 blog posts in 4 days?? What is going on??

I TOLD you guys once I got my groove back you’d see a lot more of me again. Here I am! Thanks for being patient with me. Hopefully I can keep up the mood I’ve been in and the desire to cook.

I’ve been on a HUGE Asian food kick lately, ESPECIALLY Japanese. Once I discovered sushi, it was all over. However, my addiction is expensive, and I cannot go out EVERY night. So, I must learn to make some things at home. I love Japanese-style soups, which I think I mentioned before when I made my ramen knockoff.

I’m not sure if this was originally an Asian-style soup but that’s what it felt like to me. The original recipe tells you to toast french bread and pour the soup over it, but I’ve never been a big fan of soggy bread in my broth (ie French Onion Soup). So I left that out, and poured it over ramen noodles instead. I think adding instant Udon to the broth when it’s simmering would be amazing as well. Just don’t add the shrimp until the noodles are almost done cooking.

Garlic Soup with Shrimp
Adapted from Serious Eats

1/4 cup EVOO
10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
4 cups chicken stock or shrimp stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Sriracha sauce, to taste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Pour oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping often, for about 10 minutes. Watch the heat, as garlic burns easily.

Add the stock, cumin, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and Sriracha. If using Udon or Ramen, add the noodles as well. When noodles are almost finished, add in the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2-3 minutes.

*****This makes about 4 cups. I kept one more bowl for lunch tomorrow, and froze the other two cups in individual freezer bags for later.


Udon Noodle Soup September 25, 2010

Oh my GOD you guys. The soup I am eating right now. I couldn’t even wait until I finished eating to write about it. My bowl sits in front of me, half finished. I pause every few sentences to slurp down another noodle. Make this recipe. Lunch, dinner. Hell, I had made it at 10 am in the morning.

Yes, I made Udon soup for breakfast. I have been seriously craving Asian food in the mornings lately. I don’t know if it’s watching Anthony Bourdain gulp down bowls of Pho in the early hours or reading of the savory broths Asian cultures often serve for the first meal, but cereal has lost it’s appeal. Unfortunately, in Indiana, it’s not so easy to find hot and sour soup at 7 am.

I’m not alone either. The Kitchn just featured an article this week about having Miso soup for breakfast. When I read that yesterday, I knew I could resist no longer. So this morning, when I woke up with that craving, I had to create something. Luckily, I had made homemade ramen a few weeks ago, so I still had some (albeit, a little frozen from being stuck in the back of my crisper) Chinese cabbage and ginger. I also had some Udon noodles! I EVEN had one more container of my homemade chicken stock, just waiting for soup from scratch.

Guys, this is seriously good. My version may not be the most traditional. It should be made with dashi stock, and I’d love to have some mushrooms and eggs (of which I was unfortunately out). But, this may have been the best breakfast I’ve ever had. And anyone who knows me knows that I do NOT eat breakfast. I will be doing this again. I might make it ahead of time to keep in the fridge.

Oh, and if you would rather eat a strawberry poptart every morning with a Diet Coke (hehe, you know who you are. I love you.), all the power to you. But make this for lunch at least.

Udon Noodle Soup
Adapted from The Kitchn

2-3 cups chicken stock
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp diced ginger
1 package udon noodles
1 cup bok choy or Chinese cabbage
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha sauce, optional

In medium pot, simmer stock. Add cinnamon and ginger and simmer for 1 minute.

Add noodles and cabbage, cook for 2 minutes.

Add rest of ingredients, cook for 2 more minutes. Serve hot.

**Note–If you want to add an egg or two, add to stock just before it comes to a simmer, cook for two minutes before adding noodles and cabbage. Be gentle when adding the other ingredients so you do not break the eggs.


Hoisin Glazed Chicken August 30, 2010

Filed under: Asian,Chicken — hmills96 @ 6:02 pm
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I mentioned in my post yesterday that I butchered a chicken. This is one of those culinary tasks that seems so advanced, but it’s really something that every serious cook should know how to do. I love buying whole chickens, but I always roast them, and THEN divide the servings. How much more difficult could it be to cut it up before cooking?

But, I hadn’t tried it until now. Again, my inspiration for this move came from a Food Mob video. These videos really are great for learning techniques. I watched this video a few times (flip to the end), and then went to town on my chicken. It was a piece of cake. It’s going to be hard to justify buying an expensive package of tasteless breasts when I can spend $5 on a roaster and get so much more meat, not to mention more flavor.

Roast chicken with Spicy Hoisin Glaze
Adapted from Serious Eats

2 chicken thighs and 2 drumsticks, skin on
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tsp ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 500. On medium-high heat, preheat a skillet with oil.

Place chicken, skin side down, in pan. Sear, 2-3 minutes, on both sides. While cooking, in a bowl, whisk together hoisin, ginger, garlic, red pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.

Place chicken in baking dish. Put in oven for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, pour sauce over chicken. Put chicken back in oven for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.


Homemade Ramen August 29, 2010

Filed under: Asian,Chicken,garlic,Mushrooms,pasta,Quick and Easy,soup — hmills96 @ 7:11 pm
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I’m trying to get back into my cooking mojo. I went to the grocery store this weekend and bought a ton of great ingredients (and actually stayed within budget somehow). I’ve got some great recipes to test out. I even butchered a chicken myself yesterday, just to get into the spirit. But more on that tomorrow.

I’ve been eating a LOT of chicken ramen lately. As I told you in my last post, I really have not felt like cooking at all. I went home two weekends ago and my sister kind of got me hooked on ramen. She is really picky, and has stomach issues that don’t allow her to eat many things on top of that. She has this favorite flavor of ramen, Creamy Chicken, that for a long time, was discontinued. While I was home, she found it in the store and bought an entire case of it. She was heading off to college that weekend, and while she was nervous about her first time living away from home, she said it would be ok now because she had her food. Well after a full weekend of talking about ramen, I had to pick some up myself. And because I haven’t felt like cooking, it’s pretty much all I’ve been eating. Which means I’m more bloated than day old roadkill. Ugh.

Because of this, when I was thinking about my grocery list, I knew I had to include Food Mob‘s Ramen. I’ve talked about Food Mob on here before, when I made chili. I love their show, I watch it religiously every week. A few weeks ago Niall made homemade ramen. With fresh veggies. And real tuna! It looked sooooooooo good. I knew I had to make it soon.

J has started a new job, which means a lot more money for him. However, it’s 4 am-3:30 pm 3 days a week (Saturday, Sunday, Monday). It’s a crazy schedule, and he just started yesterday, so he is wiped out. However, I was REALLY looking forward to cooking this ramen tonight. So I was pretty bummed when he said he just wanted a snack and bed. After sitting here for about 15 minutes, I decided by golly I’ll make it for myself! It made a ton, which means I have plenty of food for lunch this week. But at least it’s a lot healthier for me than the packaged stuff! And a LOT more delicious.

Instead of the tuna, I used chicken, and it was great. This will definitely be a go to meal from now on. It took only about 20 minutes from start to finish, including cooking the chicken. A tip on that–butterfly your chicken breast so it is thinner. It will cook much faster that way.

Homemade Ramen
Adapted from Food Mob

1 large chicken breast, butterflied
1 chili pepper, the long red skinny kind if you can find it (I used a habanero because I had it, but it was a little intense)
1 red onion, sliced
1 pint mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Splash of Sesame Oil
Splash of Rice wine vinegar
Splash of lime juice
1 package straight to wok noodles (or just plain ramen, no seasoning)
3 cups Chinese cabbage (it was called celery cabbage in my store)
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the bias

Preheat oven to 500. Preheat a skillet with oil. Also preheat a large pot with oil.

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken.  Place in pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes on both sides (I chopped my veggies while waiting on the saute). Move to oven.

While chicken is cooking, toss onions, peppers, and garlic into the hot pot. Saute for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and ginger. Let cook for another minute.

Add chicken stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Add noodles, stir to break up. Add cabbage and sugar snaps. Let this boil while chicken is cooking, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When cooked through, remove chicken from oven. Slice into bite sized chunks. Add to soup. Let cook for 1 minute to soak up juices, serve hot.

**Note–this is not going to taste anything like the packaged stuff, so don’t expect it to. It is so much better than that, savory, spicy, and so full of healthy veggies. Seriously, go make this. Only don’t use a habenero. Trust me on that. PS–Fig Newtons are really good at calming the burn.

**Note #2–Go watch the video of Niall making this. Yum!


Spiced Glazed Catfish August 10, 2010

Filed under: Asian,Fish,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 7:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This summer has been HOT. I think I say this every summer, but it seems like it is hotter than last year. I was not built for Indiana summer. Give me fall and winter any day. I’m fair-skinned and I burn easily, and since I got sun poisoning at the beginning of the summer this year, my heat sensitivity has dropped to nil.

So when J and I found ourselves suffocating at his unit’s annual family picnic Sunday, I knew we had to find somewhere to cool off. We called Canoe Country and headed out to float down the river in inner tubes for the afternoon. I would recommend this to anyone with a free afternoon! It was only $20 for the two of us for four hours, which was really probably too long in a tube. I would recommend the 2.5 hour trip. Save the longer trips for canoes and kayaks, which also looked like lots of fun on a day when we are feeling more active. The prices are not much higher either. The river felt so good!

Oh, and I didn’t get sunburned because I have a new floppy straw hat to protect me! Isn’t it the greatest?

I debated on posting this recipe. It was good, but not great. I think the problem was the spices I used. The original recipe calls for Chinese five-spice, but I didn’t have any, so I tried to make up a blend of “orientalish” spices. However, my spice cabinet is made up of mostly Italian based herbs and spices so that was not easy. There was too much curry powder in this mix. But the concept of this recipe is a good one, play around with the spice mix you use. If you can find an Asian based mix, or five-spice, definitely use that. In the end, I decided to post it because I finally took a really great picture! Is that sad?

Spiced Glazed Catfish
Adapted from Noble Pig

2 catfish filets
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp clove
1 tsp red curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 ground pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
Half a bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

Sprinkle both sides of filets with spice mix. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and peppers and cook about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, turn fish over and pour sauce over fish. Bring to boil and cook until fish is cooked through.

Serve fish with peppers and sauce.