Satay-esque Peanut and Chicken Noodle Salad

I do not love peanut butter. Cookies, cake, brownies…sandwiches…crackers…not a fan. I’ll eat it if I am starving, but 9 times out of 10, I will move on without a look behind me.

But. Several years ago, I discovered that peanut butter in a savory application is pretty damned delicious. So that summer, the summer of discovery if you will, we ate peanut noodles at least once a week. At the time, I was a new step mom to a 4 year old and a 2 year old…and they were used to eating mac and cheese. And more mac and cheese. And more mac and cheese. But they loved peanut butter sandwiches, and obviously noodles, so this wasn’t a hard sell.

Time travel to the present: Remember when I said I often will make an awesome recipe only to forget I ever cooked it? Well, 2012 was the year of the peanut noodle and I think it is reemerging in 2017.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and I am thinking I will make a few changes to it.

Change #1: I am going to cook the cabbage instead of leaving it raw. I might even scorch it some. I LOVE caramelized cabbage. The recipe calls this dish a salad, but I am going to push it over into the entree realm by cooking the cabbage.

Change #2: I don’t love curry powder. I think it’s the turmeric. Instead of seasoning the chicken with it, I will use Chinese 5 spice.

Change #3: Will not garnish with peanuts. Let’s not get crazy, ok?

Change #4: Honey instead of brown sugar

Change #5: Totes using bagged coleslaw instead of shredding my own cabbage.

Change #6: Garnish with cilantro.  Use fish sauce next time. 


Jenn’s “I don’t know what the hell I am doing quiche”

…or as I have to call it for my husband to eat it: Manly egg, bacon, and potato pie. He walked into the kitchen as I was making it, looking dubiously at me as I cooked.

“Coffee?” he asked.

“Nope,” I answered. “It’s not personal…I just got sidetracked by this *gestures*.”

“No coffee is always personal. What are you making?”

“A manly egg, bacon, and potato pie.”

He nodded and left the kitchen.

The only quiche I have eaten in my life came from a grocery store, and it was way better than it had any right being. The kids even loved it. So, as I was sitting on the couch this morning with my girl, watching the 239th Sesame Street of the morning, I had a flash of inspiration: I have a pie crust in the freezer! It might be a little freezer burnt, but I like to live dangerously.

So I have no idea if this will work…let’s be adventurous.


  • five eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup sour cream
  • some grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • blind baked pie crust
  • 3 strips of pepper bacon
  • whatever was leftover in the bag of frozen hashbrowns, browned in a skillet
  • half of a diced onion, sauteed in bacon fat


Blind bake pie crust. Mix eggs, sour cream, and milk, and throw whatever cheese you have in there, too. Salt and pepper.

Brown bacon. Crumble. Saute onion. Set aside. Brown hashbrowns.

Throw everything into pie crust. Bake at 400 for 15 and at 350 for 30. Hope for the best.

In the meantime, tell her to get out of my onions!

raw onion.jpg

Bacon, Chicken, Alfredo French Bread Bake

I honestly don’t know why I don’t pile more stuff on french bread, bake it, and call it dinner. Talk about stupid easy and stupid delicious. But I never think of it. I’m the kind of cook who may make something one time, everyone loves it, but I completely forget I ever made it. This is one of those recipes.

Our favorite toppings to add to french bread are bacon (of course), chicken, and alfredo sauce (sometimes this gets swapped with ranch). Of course, cheese will make a strong appearance. And green onions. And some kind of hot sauce…sriracha, maybe?

Other great toppings might include diced tomatoes, avocado added after baking, olives (if you’re that kinda guy…we all know the olives on everything guy), pickled jalapenos? Or you could change out the Alfredo and do bbq sauce. With a sriracha ranch drizzle after it comes out of the oven.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s not a recipe. You can clean out your fridge, make some kind of sauce, add some cheese…and that’s it.


1.5 chicken breast halves, roasted in the oven with whatever seasoning sounds good, at 400 til done.

3-4 strips of bacon, cooked til crisp and crumbled up

1 jar of Alfredo sauce

some softened cream cheese

Green onions, chopped

Whatever cheese I can find in my fridge



Roast chicken. Dice chicken. Cook bacon. Crumble bacon. Get a big ol’ bowl.  Add chicken, bacon, some cheese, some Alfredo, some hot sauce.

Cut open your bread length wise and scoop out some of the insides. Slather chicken mixture onto bread and bake, open faced, at 375 until toasty and bubbly. Top with green onions.








Graycen’s BBQ Beans

Please let me start by saying that having a recipe for BBQ beans (or baked beans) is ridiculous. I don’t have one. If you want one, go google it. I am going to share with you some flavor combinations that work, but basically, I do these beans differently every time, and I truly don’t think I will ever make the same beans twice. beans.jpg

Let’s start with the must haves:


What kind? Well, if you are feeling ambitious, I suppose you could cook pinto beans or whatever you want from dried. If you do that, good for you.

99% of the time, I use good ol’ pork and beans. I love those. Beans in a tomato sauce with little chunks of pork fat floating in it? Doesn’t that sound delicious? Not so much? Fish out the fat and use them anyway. Or don’t. But I do.


If I am feeling fancy, I use both hamburger and bacon. But if I don’t have the time or the forethought to get hamburger, bacon is just fine. Today, I am using thick cut, peppered bacon. This bacon is seriously too expensive and delicious for this recipe, but oh, well.


I always use half or a whole onion, and then half or a whole red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, depending on how much I am making. Also garlic OR garlic powder if I am not feeling like dealing with garlic cloves.


Here is where it gets fun. BBQ, to me, is a combination of sweet, savory, salty, and sour. The balance of those is important, and what you use to satisfy those flavor categories is expansive. For sweet, I commonly use brown sugar or molasses. Or orange juice. Or apple juice. Sour is usually apple cider vinegar. Honey mustard will also probably make an appearance. Today, I am using rootbeer, chipotle peppers, and perhaps a hefty drizzle of molasses. Keep tasting to find the right balance for you. Remember to to salt and taste and salt some more. I often hear from people who think they aren’t good at cooking–that they never can quite figure out what’s gone wrong with a recipe. I can almost always guarantee you that their food was under-salted. (If you choose to use chili powder or cumin, both of which are delicious in this, add them to the meat and meat fat before the veggies. Both of those seasonings are fat soluble and do well to be bloomed in hot oil before other ingredients are added.)


Chop veggies. Brown meat. Drain most of fat from meat. Saute veggies. Add beans and flavorings. Cook for a long time. Give to your 23 month old because this is her favorite food. Or you can it yourself…whatever works for you.


Summer ’17


Summer is a bittersweet time for this Mama and teacher. Oftentimes, we don’t have the money to do all of the fun things available with our kids–and then towards the end of the summer, we are especially strapped for cash because Mama gets paid in June and then not again until September. Money sure has a way of adding  quiet, stifling anxiety to summer vacation.

The teacher part of me needs to get up every day at 5:30, have a purpose and goals set, and work towards them all day. Come home at 5, make dinner, do mom stuff, and relax. I need schedules, goals, plans. And it took me years to figure this out. Summer vacation would come around, ambitious fun would be planned, and then two or three weeks in, it’s not so fun anymore. It’s more like…have I seriously worn these same yoga pants for three days in a row now? What is that stain? Ina Garten, why are you so pretentious? (That’s me on a Food Network binge.) So for several years, I could never quite figure out why summer vacation was never…fulfilling. And always steeped in latent depression and anxiety. Guilt for not being productive. No relaxing whatsoever. Ah ha!  I finally realized that I do need to stick to a schedule and that is perfectly normal.

All of that being said, I am in kind of a slump right now…although I did shower and am wearing clean yoga pants. I have had killer allergies and bronchitis going on six weeks, so going outside and doing things truly is miserable.

So, on the couch, I am. Toddler is napping in her big girl bed. And I have an enormous glass of homemade raspberry iced tea I made a few days ago. Iced tea always brings back summertime memories. My aunt used to take us to the 4-10 Cafe in Grandview, WA, where she would do pull tab gambling and I would drink glass after glass of weak, sugary ice tea. My brothers would drink what Aunt Shiela called “milk pop.” This was her way of giving them a treat, without actually giving them an entire soda. She told the waitress to fill the glass nearly to the top with milk and then add a splash of Pepsi. My brothers thought they were living the high life with that stuff.

Henry and I went to the coast a few days ago and spent the weekend in an RV we rented from my colleague. It was just me, Henry, and the toddler–and each morning, I would venture out to the nearby coffee stand to get us coffee, and a hot chocolate for the kid. One morning, I forgot the hot chocolate that, apparently, Henry had been talking up in my absence. Damn it. So I had to improvise. Milk pop it was. Man, she really thought she was getting away with something, drinking that with breakfast.

Happy Thursday, friends! I will get back into blogging this summer. For dinner tonight: chicken tostadas and homemade pico de gallo!


Yet another dinner from a pie plate

I am loving my glass Pyrex pie plates lately.  Stuffed shells Sunday night and now tamale pie Tuesday night. This is the perfect weeknight dinner. I had it done in under an hour and the kids devoured it. Here’s the rundown:

  • 1 box jiffy cornbread Mix
  • 1/2 cup creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • Cumin,  Mexican oregano, new Mexico chili powder,  garlic powder, salt and pepper all to taste
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Rotella tomatoes,  drained
  • Tons of grated cheese


Mix cornbread mix, egg, sour cream,  and creamed Corn. Pour into buttered pie plate and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

In meantime, brown hamburger in spices,  add drained tomatoes,  and enough enchilada sauce to make saucy.  Simmer til cornbread is done.

When cornbread comes out, poke holes in it. Rough it up. It’s slightly undercooked and that’s ok. Top cornbread with enchilada sauce. Let it soak in. Top that with meat mixture and cheese.

Bake for another 15 minutes.


Stuffed shells with Annabel

Wow, what a night. The 20 month old has been throwing a tantrum on and off for 3 hours. The almost six year old clocked a neighbor kid in the head with a swing, cutting him in the face. Why? He was laughing at him. 😣 In the midst of chaos, Annabel and I managed to make dinner. Somehow.

Here’s the rundown:

1 pound of sausage, browned
Pasta sauce, enough to coat bottom of pan and cover pasta
Cottage cheese
1 egg
Spinach, chopped
Italian seasoning

Boil pasta til almost soft.

Brown meat. Cool.

Mix cottage cheese, egg,  parmasean cheese, salt,  pepper, Italian seasoning.  Add spinach and cooled sausage.

Stuff shells.

Top with sauce and cheese.  Bake at 350 til bubbly.

Top with torn basil.