RSS Feed

Category Archives: Peanut Sauce

Menu Planning Week 16

Well, I’ve been posting menu plans for 4 months now. I’m not sure its helping anyone but me, but I choose to maintain the illusion that there are people out there who are close to leaping from the bridge of family cooking, only to discover this blog, breathe a sigh of relief, perhaps say “I want to live again!” and plunge back into the fray with renewed vigor and creativity. I realize that I am all over the place – exotic and complicated recipes, homey comfort food, reduced calorie recipes from “Cooking Light,” re-purposed leftovers, but things move fast around here. Moods change, seasons change, schedules change, cookbooks arrive, waistbands tighten, requests for favorites are made…isn’t that kind of how everybody lives?

Anyway, this week I am cooking fairly “light”-ly, still working around three football practices a week, and preparing two meals that can be shared with my parents. As is ever the case, I have planned no more than two red meat meals, and at least one vegetarian meal, relying heavily on what is on sale at the grocery store. I live in a place where there is no Whole Foods, Wild Oats or Trader Joe’s, and this is the final weekend for our local Farmers’ Market, so I have learned to be grateful for the little advances, like the fact that Meijer’s Thrifty Acres has deigned to stock broccoli rabe for the first time ever this fall….

Here’s what we’re eating on Forest Street this week:


Chili-Cheese Sloppy Joes and Fruit Salad

The Sloppy Joe recipe actually comes from “Bon Appetit,” and seems to be gloopy and cheesy enough to satisfy the boys, while being interesting enough to please me. We’ll be at a college football game most of the day, so I need to make something quick and easy when we get home, and maybe’ something a little tailgate-y. Fruit Salad will probably be spinach with pears, toasted nuts and a some scallions. I’d love to add some cheese, but I really think we’ll be sufficiently arterially challenged by the main course.


Pork Chops, Baked Squash and Egg Noodles

This was actually a meal planned for last week, but we ended up eating out one night and ended up with an uneaten meal. The chops are in the freezer, and squash keeps for a while, so I’ll just defrost, marinate, and saute the chops and bake the squash cut in half with some butter and brown sugar.


Chicken Cutlets Breaded with Panko and Peanuts, Peanut Sauce,Rice Noodles and Broccoli Rabe

I’m playing with several ideas here, and this dinner could end up somewhat different depending on mood, weather, and fit of pants. The idea for breading cutlets of any poultry or pork with Panko and chopped nuts came from “Cooking Light,” and sounded good to me. It sounded like it might go nicely with my standard peanut sauce and noodles, but I may decide that the sauce is overkill and just serve the coated cutlets with noodles and broccoli. Or, I may jettison the breading, cut up the chicken, broccoli and some onions and make a stir fry with the peanut sauce and chopped peanuts sprinkled over the top…We’ll see.

Melissa’s Peanut Sauce

1. 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth works too; its just a thinner sauce)
2. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3. 1 teaspoon white sugar
4. 2 drops hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
5. 1 clove garlic, minced
6. 1 inch (app.) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
7. 1/2 cup water


Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Swiss Baked Potatoes and Chunky Applesauce

Tuesday is the first day that it might possible feel like fall – it is in the 80s here, and expected to reach near 90 on Saturday. This set of recipes from the most recent issue of “Cooking Light” seemed like a good fall-ish dinner, makes good use of sale-priced pork and abundant apples, and makes a quantity that will let me share with my folks.


Brunswick Stew in Bread Bowls

Sam is in love with bread bowls, his standard choice at Panera. My father adores Brunswick Stew, and probably hasn’t had it for years. When I saw both the bread bowl instructions and the Brunswick Stew recipe in “Cooking Light,” I saw a cosmic convergence that directed me to make this meal and please two of the three most important men in my life. (Rob may not love it because the stew has lima beans in it, but I’m hoping he’ll be so swept away by the novelty of the bread bowl that he won’t be too bothered about the beans). Because I am either a very bad or a very good mother, I will buy a can of broccoli cheddar soup and put that in Sam’s bread bowl, because I’m not sure what he’ll make of the stew, and because he loves broccoli cheddar soup.


Penne with Cauliflower and Leeks and Greens

This is our vegetarian meal, and it comes from the recent all-Italian issue of “Food & Wine.” While penne, cauliflower and leeks initially sounded very, well, white to me, I was reassured by the inclusion of a hot red pepper in the recipe. I am hoping the dish will be subtle, earthy and satisfying with enough of a kick to make it interesting.


Cook’s Night Out


Flexibility in the Kitchen: Sometimes, You’ve Got to Punt

Say, hypothetically, that last week, when it was reasonable cool in the evenings, you decided that you were going to make pot roast and mashed potatoes using Tyler Florence’s recipes for both. Imagine that you have purchased the meat and the potatoes, as well as some broccoli which was to be roasted with a Parmesan crust. Now picture this: its hot. Very, very hot. Its already 90 degrees, and with the air conditioner on you can only get the house to 75 degrees when you are NOT running an oven for 2 1/2 hours. The idea of pot roast and mashed potatoes, which would make you swoon with delight in December, is just plain repulsive. Its time to punt.

The Meat

I had 3 pounds of top round, which was supposed to be the pot roast. I didn’t want to run the oven, so roasting and broiling were out. I consider cutting it into small steaks and pan-frying with some shallots and garlic and then making a sauce by de-glazing the pan with some red wine, but rejected that idea because top round isn’t a really tender cut of meat, and I thought it might get tougher with frying.

I decided to cut it into 1-inch steaks, marinate it, and grill it. The marinade was a critical decision; if I went with something sort of olive-oil and wine vinegar-y, I was heading down one road, whereas an Asian-influenced soak would require a different set of decisions. Since Italian is my default setting, I decided to live on the edge and use this marinade from my current kitchen God, Mark Bittman:

Soy and Sesame Dipping Sauce or Marinade

(from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

  1. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  2. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  3. 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons rice or other light vinegar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  6. 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  7. 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir briefly, to blend. (Bittman notes that if the flavor is to strong you can dilute it with water. a teaspoon at a time). I made my marinade, put it in a Ziploc with my “steaks,” rubbed it around a little to make sure the marinade covered all surfaces, and put the bag in the refrigerator until grilling time.

The Potatoes…or not…

I bagged the potatoes. I couldn’t think of a way to make them that didn’t involve baking, boiling or frying, and I didn’t want to do any of those things. As a courtesy to my Soy and Sesame beef, I made sushi rice.

The Broccoli

Finally, there was the matter of the broccoli. I knew what to do on this one. I love broccoli, I really do, but after a while it gets a little dull with butter, or lemon, or both, or even sauteed with garlic and onion. Tonight, I steamed it in the microwave and topped it with my friend Melissa’s peanut sauce, which is so good that if no one was looking I might eat it out of the bowl with a spoon. Double the recipe because you’ll want some for dipping veggies, or to have for lunch over some noodles or steamed vegetables.

Melissa’s Peanut Sauce

  1. 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth works too; its just a thinner sauce)
  2. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  3. 1 teaspoon white sugar
  4. 2 drops hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1 inch (app.) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  7. 1/2 cup water

The meat was delicious grilled and cut thinly across the grain, and it went nicely with the rice, broccoli and peanut sauce. Sometimes, a punt works better than the originally planned play.