Sesame Chicken & Soba Noodles

Here is a super easy and healthy Asian-inspired dinner. Chicken is sauteed in soy sauce and light brown sugar and then tossed with toasted sesame seeds.  The sesame chicken is piled on top of soba noodles and greens that have been drizzled with a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, rice vinegar, and ginger.

A few tips — I used chicken tenderloins instead of whole breasts so the chicken would cook quickly.  I mixed shredded carrots and sliced red onion into the greens.  Lastly, I used a microplane to quickly grate the ginger.

A nice lighter meal as we edge towards spring!

Sesame Chicken and Soba Noodles
Real Simple

  • 1 8-ounce package soba noodles
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 7-ounce package mixed greens
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchstick-size strips or shredded
  • 1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced

Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions and rinse under cold water.

Heat the soy sauce and brown sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, vinegar, and oil.

Divide the greens, carrots, and onion among individual plates. Top with the soba noodles and chicken. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Serves 4.

I Became a Foodie 10 Years Ago

Perhaps being pregnant is making me overly sentimental but I realized that 10 years ago this weekend marks the beginning of my journey as a “foodie”.  I took Tim out to celebrate his 25th birthday.  The first of many birthday celebrations we have shared.  Given that our relationship was just a couple months old at that point, I was very nervous about planning a fun birthday celebration that struck the right tone — I wanted the night to be fun and show that I made an effort, but not be too over-the-top that I might scare him off.

I remember being in the bullpen at Morgan Stanley asking my friends for ideas.  I don’t remember who suggested the Donkey Show — an interactive disco version of a Mid-Summer Night’s Dream — but that ended up being the first part of our evening.  And, my friend Eliza suggested the restaurant — Montrachet, an amazing French restaurant in Tribeca.

I don’t remember everything I ate that night but I do remember eating the most tender and delicious lamb I had ever tasted and being amazed by the beauty of the presentation and intensity and variety of flavors packed into such delicately prepared dishes.

Montrachet has since closed but that experience has compelled Tim and I to try some of the best restaurants across New York City and in different cities we’ve visited over the years and helped inspire my love of amazing food and dining experiences.

Celebrating Tim’s birthday with Holy Cow Cake!

Yesterday was Tim’s birthday!

To celebrate, I made a cake that I brought into the office.  This was no ordinary cake — it was Holy Cow Cake (as coined by the Cake Mix Doctor).  This is not the cake to bake if you are looking for something elegant or pretty.  It’s an ooey gooey messy cake.  But it feeds a crowd and is packed with all sorts of sweet goodness!

Here is an overview of the cake:

1) Bake a basic devil’s food cake from a mix.

2) Poke holes in the warm cake after it comes out of the oven.   A drinking straw will do the trick.

3) Pour a caramel sauce – sweetened condensed milk combination over the cake.

4) Sprinkle 2 crushed Butterfingers candy bars over caramel combo.

5) Make frosting with Cool Whip and Cream Cheese.  Spread over cake.

6) Sprinkle 2 more crushed Butterfingers over the cake and refrigerate.

Make sure to buy the right size Cool Whip container.  That was my only issue.  I had to add some confectioners sugar to the frosting to make a bit sweeter.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the Holy Cow Cake!  There is some leftover and I intend to have another piece as a Friday afternoon treat!

Holy Cow Cake
The Cake Mix Doctor

Cake

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower
3 large eggs

Topping

1 jar (8 ounces) caramel topping
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 ounces each), crushed
1 container (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 38 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Immediately poke holes in the top of the cake with a drinking straw or chopstick.

4. Prepare the topping. Place the caramel topping and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon this mixture over the warm cake so that it can seep down into the holes. Measure out half of the crushed candy bars and sprinkle the pieces over the cake.

5. Place the whipped topping and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and combined, 1 minute. Spread the mixture over the top of the candy. Sprinkle the remaining candy pieces on top.

6. Place the pan, uncovered, in the refrigerator to chill the cake for about 20 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving.

Store this cake, covered in waxed paper, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Ricotta and Proscuitto

Here is another recipe courtesy of my new iPhone app.  After a long week, it was a super easy meal to prepare on a Sunday night.

I would suggest a few changes to the recipe to amp up the flavor.  In addition to the 1/2 cup of parmesan sprinkled on top of the dish, I added 1/2 cup of parmesan to the ricotta – pasta – spinach mixture.  Also, be sure to season the mixture with plenty of salt and pepper.  I used about 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes instead of regular black pepper.  Lastly, make sure to squeeze all the water out of the frozen spinach; otherwise, you’ll end up with too much liquid in the dish.

Next time I might consider a mixture of proscuitto and some hot sopressata.

Tim and I have plenty leftover so dinner one night this week is set!

Baked Gemelli with Spinach, Ricotta, and Prosciutto
Everyday Food

* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 pound gemelli pasta
* 20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
* 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips
* 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
* 2 cups whole milk
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta; cook until almost al dente.

Meanwhile, squeeze spinach to remove moisture. Drain pasta, and return to pot. Add spinach, half of the prosciutto, ricotta, milk, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine.

Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, top with remaining prosciutto and Parmesan. Bake until golden and crispy, 30 to 40 minutes.

What My Waffle Maker Means to Me…by Jessica Ogilvie

I have a deep sentimental attachment to my waffle maker.  I am sure that raises some questions.  Do I eat waffles often?  Was it given to me but a very special person?  Did I win the waffle maker in a waffle making or waffle eating contest?

I eat waffles twice a year at most.  While I received the waffle maker as a bridal shower gift back in May 2004, it was given to me by one of my mom’s friends.  In other words, not someone I am particularly close to.  And, lastly, I have never entered any type of waffle contest.

You may not believe this but the waffle maker represents a really wonderful phase of my life — when Tim and I started to build a life together.

In October 2002 — when we were boyfriend and girlfriend of almost three years — Tim and I bought our land in the Berkshires.  The 2.67 acres our house sits on represents the first big decision we made together and a clear indication that we planned to share our life going forward.  Neither Tim nor I had ties to the Berkshires, so the location in and of itself marked that we were comfortable charting our own course together, independently of our families and friends.

Ground was broken on our house  just before our wedding in the summer of 2004 and we moved into the house 5 years ago last weekend!  On Friday, February 25, 2005, we drove out from Boston — where we were living at the time — with an air mattress and some other necessities — and started the wonderful process of decorating, landscaping, and making this place our own.

So, where does the waffle maker come in?  Well, when we first moved in, while the stove had been delivered it was not set up to properly convert the propane to gas.  So, all we had to cook with was a microwave, small outdoor charcoal grill, and, you guessed it, a waffle maker!  Our house is in a somewhat remote area so takeout wasn’t an option.  We ate a lot of waffles during those early weekends at our house.  Even though we didn’t even have a kitchen table to sit at, those early breakfasts will always be among my favorite meals at our house.

Five years later, we have bought the adjacent land giving us 17 acres of wooded beauty, planted countess bushes, flowers, trees, and other plants, refinished furniture, put on an addition, built a greenhouse, and decorated and filled every room and closet (to the point, I think I need to purge to make room for the baby).  We have a wonderful place Tim and I both love coming to, where we can truly unwind and do the things we love to do outside of New York City.  Tim is an avid gardener and likes to drive around in his 1952 Ford truck; I love to cook in my more spacious kitchen; and, we both love to hike and swim with the Berkshires’ biggest fan, Angus.

While Tim and I have since made decisions much bigger than the house — starting a business together and having a baby to name two small ones — the house was one of our first big wins as “Team O”.  Even after we sell the house down the road, I will always cherish and be proud of 67 Cherokee Road.

In honor of 5 years in our house, I made waffles for us this morning.  They were delicious and brought back some great memories!

If you are interested in bringing this wondrous waffle maker into your home, you can buy it at Williams-Sonoma.  One of its best features is that it makes chirping noise when the waffles are cooked to your desired doneness.  I typically take a shortcut when it comes to making waffles and use a mix.  Some of my favorites are below.  These tend to be pricier mixes but since I only make waffles a couple times a year now, I figured it was worth the splurge.

Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Mix

Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix (the blueberry is also quite good!)

(By the way, this happens to be my 250th post!)

Dinner Courtesy of an iPhone app: Pepper Steak with Squash and Mushrooms

Tim and I had a very long week moving our AdBuyer.com offices from shared office space in Tribeca to our very own space in the Flatiron.  We were planning to drive up to the Berkshires Friday night but were too tired so we drove up Saturday morning.  On our way up we decided to stop at Trader Joe’s in Danbury.  We made the decision to stop about 200 yards before the exit so I had to come up with dinner menus for Saturday and Sunday in about 3 minutes.  I had just installed the new Martha Stewart Everyday Food iPhone app on my phone so I decided to give it a whirl!

Everyday Food’s recipes typically don’t have too many ingredients which was ideal — my shopping wouldn’t take too long and, hopefully, I’d be able to find everything I needed at Trader Joe’s.

This Pepper Steak recipe — an au poivre-style dish, not an Asian pepper steak — was yesterday’s daily recipe.  I thought Tim would really like it and Trader Joe’s typically has prepped butternut squash so I thought the recipe would be quick and easy in terms of prep time.  I used a tri tip roast that Trader Joe’s had and followed the cooking instructions on the package.  I cooked it longer and at a lower temperature (425 degrees) than the recipe below.   The veggies still roasted beautifully.

It was a very tasty one-pot, low prep dinner!

Pepper Steak with Sqaush and Mushrooms
Everyday Food

  • 1 package whole button mushrooms, (10 ounces)
  • 1 small butternut squash, (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges (along with core)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 top round or London broil steak, (1 1/2 pounds, about 1 1/4 inches thick)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black peppercorns

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In an 11-by-15- by-2 3/4-inch roasting pan, combine mushrooms, squash, and onion. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Arrange vegetables around sides of pan; place steak in center of pan.

In a small bowl, stir together mustard and peppercorns. Coat steak with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Spread mustard-pepper mixture over top of steak; press down to adhere.

Roast, turning and stirring vegetables once, until steak is lightly browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in one side of steak registers 130 degrees to 135 degrees for medium-rare, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer steak to a cutting board to rest; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Spread vegetables in an even layer, return to oven, and continue roasting until lightly browned and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Cut the steak into 1/4-inch thick slices, and serve with vegetables.

Semi-Homemade Dinner: Mediterranean Beef Patties

Here is a very quick and easy Mediterranean-flavored dinner.

The actual “cooking” takes only a few minutes to prepare and cook the patties and chop some of the toppings for the pitas.  I seasoned the beef patties with an Italian seasoning blend I had as well as salt and pepper.  The mini patties cooked up quickly on my grill pan.

I warmed the pita in the oven and topped with store-bought hummus, the beef patties, chopped parsley and onion, crumbled feta, and some olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Tim and I both enjoyed this tasty but super easy meal at the end of a long Monday!


Mediterranean Beef Patties
Real Simple

  1. Shape 1 pound ground beef into 16 patties. Season with salt, pepper, and 1½ teaspoons dried oregano. Brown over medium heat, 2 minutes per side for medium.
  2. Top 4 pocketless pitas with hummus, the patties, flat-leaf parsley, and sliced red onion. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4.