Tan-tan chicken and snow peas

Tan Tan chicken with snow peas

In the spirit of trying to eat all things local, I’m posting this recipe as snow peas are now available in our local fields. At the very least I know that Red Fire Farm has them because they’re on the list for CSA members for Pick Your Own crops this week. If they’re not available yet in your area, these crisp, flat peas are typically out in loose bins at most grocery stores.

Between its sweetness and its crunch, the snow pea is a great snack in raw form. They’re also fantastic steamed or stir fried, and they do not require the accompaniment of any sauce or spice. In this case, I’ve tossed them in a peanut sauce that is just a little sweet, a little savory and has a touch of heat. This dish is fine on its own, but would be great served over rice too.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp peanut butter

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

2-1/2 TBS peeled & grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp water

pinch of cayenne to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups Snow peas, ends trimmed

1/2 cup minced scallion

Directions:

  • Bring a fry pan up to a medium heat and sauté the chicken breasts in sesame oil
  • When the breasts are cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside to rest while you prepare the sauce
  • Blend all of the remaining ingredients, except the scallion, together in a blender
  • Cut the rested chicken breasts up into bite-sized chunks and return them to the pan and toss with the snow peas, sauce and scallion

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

A while back I had tried out Heidi’s recipe for a healthier version of the standard peanut butter cookie and really enjoyed them.  Then the other day I was working on new recipe development for a makeover of the Peanut Butter Blossom and couldn’t get the phrase “peanut-butter-jelly-time” out of my head the whole time that I was measuring and mixing and baking and cooling, and I had to do something about that.  My solution was to take a healthier peanut butter cookie, make a welt in the top of it with the back side of my cookie scoop, and fill it with a tart raspberry jam that I had picked up a the Tuesday Market by Beaumont’s Berries which is sweetened with nothing but the berries and some honey.  The pairing was a match made in heaven!  The salty peanut butter cookie topped with the tart berry jam was wonderful and very satisfying as a sweet snack.  What’s even better is that with the lacks of eggs in this cookie, you can eat the dough!

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup organic, natural peanut butter

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt
  • In a stand mixer bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla & stir until combined
  • Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir until just combined
  • Let sit for five minutes and give one more quick stir
  • Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes – but don’t over bake or they will be dry
  • Immediately sink the back side of your cookie scoop/spoon into the top of each cookie to create a well
  • Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack
  • Fill the cookie wells with your favorite jam

J

Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

the Rocky cookie

J

Spicy Thai Peanut Shrimp with Green Beans

Not everything in my kitchen is made from scratch.  If it was, I could probably have a new post for every day of the week.  But it’s not, so I don’t.  In fact, Neil and I can be found munching a take-out pizza about once a month.  We’ve had our share of turkey sandwiches, burgers, dogs, boxed mac-and-cheese, etc.  With that in mind, this is a meal that I threw together in less than 10 minutes- yes you heard me right.  And it was great!  Spicy, vinegary peanut shrimp over smooth rice noodles with sweet, steamed fresh green beans.

shrimp in spicy peanut sauce over rice noodles, with steamed green beans

What I did:

  • Boiled some water and tossed in the packaged noodles to cook for 6 minutes
  • While that was going I heated a bit of oil in a fry pan with some red pepper flakes and added the frozen shrimp, then covered so that the shrimp would heat up quickly
  • The green beans went into a steam pan for about 7 minutes to get their cook on
  • When the shrimp were fully heated, I removed their tails then threw them back into the pan and poured in a bottle of peanut sauce just to get warm
  • Drained the noodles
  • Chopped a bit of fresh cilantro
  • Plated dinner, shrimp and sauce over noodles, sided by beans, topped with cilantro

J

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

I am a doggie-mama.  My 22-pound all black pug is named Duncan.  Being one of the smaller breeds of dog, he is prone to weight management issues and must be carefully fed and well-exercised.  The easiest way for me to keep his weight under control is to make all of his food and snacks so that I know exactly what is going into them, and can adjust as necessary.

Duncan came to me via a rescue organization called PRONE.  When I first met him, he was living in foster care and the agreement was that I’d meet him in person to see if our personalities were a good match before beginning the adoption process.  So the night before our meeting I stayed up late and baked dozens of these peanut butter cookies, cut into tiny, pug-sized bites.  I brought them with me in a 1/2 pint Chinese take-out container and won him over.

Since Duncan only gets about 6 or so cookies a day, and this recipe makes about 370 cookies in his size, I freeze them.  Once they’re completely cooled I stuff them into a freezer bag or plastic storage container, taking out only a few at a time.  They thaw in just a few minutes.  This works out great for travel too as I always have snacks on hand.

Ingredients:

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 cup skim milk (non-fat soy milk may be substituted)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter and milk
  • Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix until it comes together in a ball

the dough

  • Remove from mixing bowl and knead for a minute
  • Roll the dough out to ¼-inch thick (I use wood dowels to ensure uniform thickness)

using dowels ensures uniform thickness

  • Cut into the shapes of your choice and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet

all lined up and ready for the oven

  • Bake.  For smaller shapes, bake for 15 minutes, for larger ones- 20 minutes.  The longer the cookies bake for, the crunchier they will be
  • Cool on a rack

cooling

J

Recipe adapted from Three Dog Bakery cookbook