Yakisoba

This is a copycat recipe for the chow mein at Panda Express. I think it comes very close, and is just as delicious, but after making it myself I’ll just call it yakisoba. We gobbled this up at dinner and it made great leftovers for lunch the next day. I served this with teriyaki chicken skewers.

Here it is, tweaked from the original based on the amounts that worked best for me.

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 4-oz. packages dried yakisoba noodles, seasoning packets discarded (this is the kind I used)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 small stalks celery, sliced diagonally
1/8 head of cabbage, shredded

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper; set aside.

Cook yakisoba noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Measure out 11 oz. of cooked noodles and save the rest for another meal.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and celery and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cabbage until heated through, about 1 minute.

Stir in noodles and soy sauce mixture until well combined, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

A super-delicious crowd-pleaser using just a handful of ingredients and a slow cooker, so it requires very little work.

I have resisted using our slow cooker because it feels a little like cheating. Yes, I know it makes cooking easy and produces wonderful results, and I know I’m being silly. But when I saw this recipe the other day on Family Fresh Meals, it seemed so appetizing and fun that I gave it a go. And it was a total success. We’ll definitely be making this again.

It calls for Italian dressing, which I didn’t have, so I made my own with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, and a generous amount of garlic powder, dried parsley, and dried oregano.

Serves 4-5

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Place in the slow cooker.

In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.

Set the slow cooker for 3.5 hours on high. When finished cooking, pull the meat apart with two forks. Serve on lightly toasted brioche buns with cole slaw.

Homemade Chicken Stock

When cooking with a rotisserie chicken, don’t throw it away after removing the meat — make your own stock. Just put the carcass in a large pot, fill with water, and toss in some chunks of vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onion. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours. Now you have stock, and the quality will be so much better than store-bought. It will noticeably improve your recipes.

Once the stock has cooled, save it in containers and freeze. Be sure to mark how many cups are in each, so that when you have a recipe requiring a certain amount, you can take out what you need.

* You can also save some of the stock in ice cube trays. Whenever you need small amounts — like for a pasta sauce or boiling rice — you can use some cubes without having to open or defrost an entire container. (Saving broth in ice cube trays is also a good idea when you have just a little bit left in a container and don’t want to waste it.)

Eggs Goldenrod

Not everyone likes eggs with runny yolks, but I love them, like in my poached eggs recipe. Sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper, soaking slightly into slices of toast, I think they are heavenly.

This classic recipe is another way to have eggs atop toast that has a similar taste without the runny yolks. I’ve had it in my cookbook since the beginning, taped to the first page of the section on breakfast food. It uses hard-boiled eggs, so it requires planning ahead, and a simple white sauce. Serve this to impress guests at a brunch or just for yourself when you’re looking for a different take on your breakfast eggs.

Serves 4

4 slices toast (any type of bread will do, but a darker one will look especially nice)
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup white sauce (recipe follows)
Dried parsley for garnish

Make the white sauce.
Cut the slices of toast in half lengthwise. Separate cooked egg yolks from egg whites. Chop egg whites finely, add to the white sauce and pour over toast.
Force yolks through a strainer or potato ricer and sprinkle over the sauce, then sprinkle with dried parsley.

WHITE SAUCE
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
White pepper
1 cup milk

In small saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, salt, and pepper and stir with a whisk until well blended. Pour in milk a little at a time, stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes, continuing to stir. The sauce will be somewhat thin.

Blueberry Mascarpone French Toast Casserole

This is an overnight recipe that makes wonderful use of fresh blueberries. Slices of French bread are stuffed with the blueberries, smeared with sweetened mascarpone, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Make this the night before and let it soak up the milk and eggs, and after baking in the morning, it comes out crispy on top and deliciously gooey inside.

I have this recipe for classic French toast, and I have another recipe for French toast casserole that involves chunks of brioche soaked overnight. It’s wonderfully messy and served in big scoops. (I’m happy to share that by request.)

For this recipe, you lay the sliced and stuffed French bread in loaves in the pan. After baking, you just cut a couple of slices and lay them on the plate.

It calls for three loaves and serves 12. I made the whole thing so I could test it out, but also to have as breakfasts for several days to come. I’m sure you could easily scale it down.

This comes from a Better Homes & Gardens book of 13×9-inch one-pan meals. But I had to use a much bigger pan to accommodate the size of the loaves — a 15×12-inch roasting pan. So use whatever size works with the loaves you buy.

3 8-oz. French baguettes
8 oz. mascarpone, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries
6 eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

Grease the baking pan and set aside. Cut each loaf into 1-inch slices, cutting to but not through the bottom of the loaf.

For the filling, in a medium bowl mix the mascarpone with 1 teaspoon vanilla until well blended and smooth. Mix in powdered sugar. Fold in blueberries. Spoon filling between bread slices (I found it easiest to lift up the bread with one hand and smear a spoonful into the open slice with the other). Arrange the loaves side by side in prepared baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour over loaves, cover the pan, and chill overnight.

Heat oven to 350F/175C degrees. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over loaves.

Bake 45 minutes or until egg mixture is set, covering with foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

One-Pan Roasted Vegetables and Sausage

When I found this recipe, I was looking for an easy dinner to make that night, one that was reasonably healthy with something I knew my children would enjoy. This ended up being just right. They especially loved the sausage (not so much the vegetables, which I loved, but we’re working on that!).

I used the veggies called for in the recipe, but you can use any variety you’d like. The recipe also calls for smoked sausage that you roast in the pan with the vegetables. I used a chicken sausage that I cooked separately on the stovetop and then cut into pieces when I served it, and that worked really well.

Serve this on top of rice, quinoa, or couscous.

2 small red potatoes
12 oz. green beans (I used chopped frozen green beans, straight from the
freezer)
1 large head of broccoli (for about 1 1/2 cups florets)
2 bell peppers (try to use bright colors like yellow and red, but green is just
fine!)
9 oz. smoked sausage
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C degrees. Line a large sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.

Prepare the vegetables: Chop the red potatoes (chop into small pieces so they will be tender in time), trim the green beans and halve, chop the broccoli, chop the peppers into thick squares, and cut the sausage into thick slices.

Place the vegetables and sausage on the sheet pan. Pour the olive oil and all the spices on top. Toss to evenly coat all the veggies and meat.

Bake 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and stir the vegetables. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sausage is browned.

Cook the rice, quinoa, or prepare the couscous while the vegetables and sausage are roasting.

If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the vegetables and sausage as soon as they come out of the oven.

Recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Homemade French Dressing

20200829_194844This is a tangy-sweet dressing, not too thick, that works really nicely with crunchy salad leaves. Though it doesn’t have the creaminess of the bottled kind, this homemade version tastes much more special. And you can always add more mayonnaise than called for here if you prefer a thicker dressing.

This recipe makes enough for one bag of salad leaves, or 4-6 servings.

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • A scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepperto taste
  • Tip of a knife of mayonnaise, or more to taste

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients with a whisk until blended.

Adapted from a recipe at the blog Five Heart Home.

Make-Your-Own-Sandwich Night

This is one of the most popular dinners at our house. It never fails and I can’t quite figure out why, because it takes so little effort. But I get good-quality ingredients, like deli salami and real ciabatta rolls, and maybe that’s part of it. We can make whatever sandwich we want from a really tasty buffet. And bonus: We’ll have leftovers of everything, so if we make sure to buy enough bread, we can do it all again the next night.

Here’s how I plan it:

Bread

  • Individual ciabatta rolls, toasted
  • Sliced loaf of rye or sourdough, toasted

Meats

  • Salami
  • Ham
  • Turkey

Cheese

  • Provolone
  • Mozzarella
  • Swiss
  • Buffalo mozzarella, sliced

Greens

  • Baby spinach leaves, arugula, or crunchy salad leaves
  • Basil

Vegetables

  • Sliced plum/Roma tomatoes
  • Sliced rings of bell peppers or baby peppers

Spreads

  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • Yellow mustard
  • Ketchup

Extras

  • Basil pesto
  • Olives
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil

Creamy Orange Popsicles

Even having made these gourmet-tasting popsicles, it can be hard to believe they’re made with just two wholesome ingredients: freshly squeezed orange juice and vanilla yogurt. My children and I giggled to think these could actually qualify as breakfast food.

You can use popsicle molds or paper cups with popsicle sticks. One trick to keep the sticks upright as they freeze is to cover the top of the cups with foil and make a slit for each stick. Once frozen, you can peel off the paper cups.

Credit for this recipe goes to my friend Laura Rodriguez, who put a lot of work into a great series of recipe videos for children this summer. This one was our favorite.

1 cup juice from fresh oranges (we used about 3)
1 cup vanilla yogurt

Whisk the ingredients together, then pour into popsicle molds or paper cups. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

If you’re using popsicle molds, you’ll have to run the plastic part under lukewarm water for a few minutes to loosen the popsicles before removing.

Ham and Egg Cups

This recipe is just two ingredients, but it’s how it looks that makes it special. It’s easy to serve and it leaves room on your plate for other yummy things. We had this as part of breakfast for dinner with homemade hash browns, breakfast sausage, and fruit salad. (The hash browns, though tasty, were an utter failure. They will not be homemade next time.)

8 slices good-quality deli ham
8 eggs

Heat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Use cooking spray or butter to grease 8 cups of a muffin tin. Put a slice of ham in each cup, then carefully break an egg into each one. Bake 15 minutes, then lift them out individually and serve.

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