Peanut Udon Lettuce Wrap

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My children are very different animals. Everett, the 2-year old early riser, consumes most of his calories between the hours of 5:00am and 8:00am. The rest of the day he loves irrational hard labor. Like picking up chairs, pushing tables, and gathering armfuls of heavy toy supplies. He would volunteer for decathlon training if he could. He’s disciplined, dedicated, and mild-tempered, and demands to”GOOOOOOOO!” pretty much all the time, which is frustrating at 6:00am when the rest of the house is still asleep and school isn’t even open yet. Oddly, he also prefers a largely vegan diet. He eats fruit, nuts, more fruit, pasta, fruit again, and sometimes beans.

Asher, the 4-year old late riser, consumes most of his calories between the hours of 5:00pm – 8:00pm. He happily sits on the couch reading Lego manuals all day and relatively sedentary. But where Asher lacks in physical interest, he is very cerebral and a true master negotiator. I lose every time. In fact he’s been speaking full sentences since he was 1 and we had to use words to explain to him HOW TO WALK. Yup. Unlike Everett, Asher loves second dinner, and is usually the last kid up from the table at birthday parties. But Legos is Asher’s one true passion and ALL he thinks about. He has amassed a collection large enough to make any grown nerd jealous.

Anyway, what I’m saying is one child is always happy while the other one is always crying. I know this is the universal story of having two kids. So my sanity break is to escape to the kitchen and cook up something wonderful. This week it was Peanut Udon Lettuce Wraps.

PEANUT UDON LETTUCE WRAPS
1 package udon noodles
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
1 red pepper, julienned
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 head butter lettuce

PEANUT SAUCE
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced

Mix peanut sauce ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set aside. Boil udon noodles 5 minutes. Remove and rinse under cool water in colander to immediately cool. Combine peanut sauce with noodles thoroughly. Fold in the peppers, cilantro and green onions. Serve in one butter leaf as a tasty lettuce wrap! Or, chop lettuce with ranch dressing and hand to 4-year old as seen below.

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Creamy Peanut Slaw

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Why is Chili’s at an airport so exciting? The steady flow of travelers, pilots mingling in the coffee line, those airport golf carts whizzing by. The 5-minute meal served in a red plastic basket – out in the real world this is known as “fast food” but in an airport it is simply “efficient”. In an airport it is forgivable that you pay $18 for a sandwich and soda because $18 is STEAL to not be sitting at your gate.

I have been traveling a lot for work lately, which makes my meals at home with the family all the more enjoyable. I am especially thrilled with my new cookbook Thug Kitchen, based on the popular vegan blog. If you don’t know this blog or cookbook, please indulge yourself. This week I made a super Creamy Peanut Slaw which I paired with soba noodles and tofu. My boys adore cold soba noodles more than spaghetti and marinara, more than pizza even. It’s like crack to them. So this recipe worked well for all of us.

CREAMY PEANUT SLAW
3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 carrots, shredded
3 green onions, chopped

PEANUT SAUCE
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and finely diced

Shred your slaw ingredients in a food processor with a grater setting, or with a knife for larger chunks. Mix the peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl until you get a thick, creamy consistency. Combine sauce with slaw in a large bowl. I recommend serving on top of buckwheat soba noodles, which only take 3 minutes to cook. One package of soba noodles can be tossed with one tablespoon sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, and one tablespoon of sesame seeds for a flavorful, hearty noodle dish that pairs well with any asian stir fry or cold salad dish. My photo may not be award-winning this week, but I can tell you this made a damn good work lunch.

Senegalese Peanut Stew, and Vegan Too!

peanut stew Our first dinner date at my apartment I made my now-husband cry. It was over my home-made salad dressing. And right then I knew that I could cook for this man the rest of our lives and be happy. I am very pleased to share that this past week we celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary, and in celebration we renewed our vows with our little boys and dearest friends in tow! Asher wore a suit with a clip-on tie which he thought was “cute”, and Everett wore a onesy with a picture of a bow-tie and suspenders!

family Over our five years of marriage, there have been a handful of dishes I have prepared for Robby that he has happily claimed is a “keeper”, and today’s recipe is one of them. It’s a vegan Senegalese peanut stew that is superb served over brown rice. You could also add some tofu and fresh peanuts if you are feeling adventurous and need a bit of crunch.

Cooking spray
2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 medium green pepper, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 pound uncooked sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium uncooked carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, minced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable broth, reduced-sodium
6 Tbsp peanut butter, natural, creamy-variety
8 cups fresh spinach, leaves, stemmed, packed, chopped

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sweet potato, carrots and garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the ginger, cloves, salt and cayenne; cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly, stirring once in a while, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the spinach; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Keep the heat low as the soup simmers so the peanut butter doesn’t separate.