Tag Archives: leftovers

Wanna Be Asian Noodles Recipe with Orange-ish Chicken

We love this !  I can’t stress how much all of us truly enjoy this dish.  And its various incarnations.

I also can’t quite define what I’m doing here.  It is Asian-inspired, to put it neatly.

The noodles are an attempt to copy my favorite dish at Noodles & Co (they call it Thai something or other).  The chicken is marinated in salad dressing, orange juice,  and fruit spread.  The veggies and sauces can vary each time, but I try to keep them similar.

What you’ll need:


Spaghetti or Linguine

Soy sauce

Brown sugar

Ketchup

Garlic, crushed or powder

Chili Powder

Butter

Ginger, powder

Peas, carrots, broccoli, edamame, bell peppers, onions, bok choy,  whatever

Chicken breasts

Orange juice

Asian salad dressing

As always, I try to stick to organic ingredients and make sure the dead animal I’m eating was well-treated before slaughter.  Appetizing, I know.

Directions

Cut the chicken into cubes, skewer the cubes with bell pepper and onion between them, and place the kabobs in a deep dish.

Mix a half cup each of salad dressing and orange juice with 3 tablespoons of fruit spread and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.  Pour mixture over kabobs then cover dish; I prefer Walmart-brand plastic clinging wrap.

Prepare grill and set to medium high heat.

Fill pot with water to cook pasta. Bring the water to a boil, drop in pasta, get it submerged and back to a boil, and turn down the heat.

You’ll want to follow the directions on the box for the pasta, but know that once it can be left alone for a few minutes, you’re going to be running that chicken to the grill.

Grilled chicken can be a pain in the neck.  I’ve learned you want to cook it really hot, being fast to turn it so you don’t burn it.  Once the entire outside of the piece of chicken looks cooked, turn down (or off) the grill heat and keep the lid closed.

Basically, you’re searing the chicken to lock in the juices and you’ll let it cook from the outside in.  That’s how you keep from drying it out.

When the pasta is 97% done, toss in your harder veggies like onion, edamame, and carrots.  When the pasta is 100% done, add peas, broccoli, and peppers.  Then drain it all.

Add butter to your pasta pot, maybe half of a stick, and get it melted before putting the pasta and veggies back in the pot.  Then stir.  Get the noodles coated.

Did you forget about the chicken?  Go check it!

Turn the burner under the pasta back on to about medium heat.  Then mix together (in the same thing you mixed the marinade, if you want to save yourself dishes)
¼ cup soy sauce,
¼ cup ketchup,
¼ cup brown sugar,
¼ teaspoon ginger,
½ tablespoon garlic,
and ½ tablespoon chili powder.

Stir well, until the sugar is dissolved, then slowly pour over the buttered noodles and veggies.

Keep stirring!  You’re making my half-hearted attempt at caramelizing your noodles.  Make sure you turn off the heat AND move the pan to a cool burner when you’re done.

Bring the chicken in off the grill and strip the skewers.  Make sure it really is cooked.  This seems to be a repeat issue with me, chicken, and the grill.

Pile it all on plates and EAT YOUR COLORS!

If you’re feeding toddlers like I am, make them small portions and stick them in the fridge.  While you’re chasing them to wash their hands and get to the table, while you are filling drinks and calling out to your husband that he needs to wash his hands and get his drink, while you are chasing at least one escaped toddler, while you get forks for the other three but a set of chopsticks for yourself, your children’s food will be cooling off and ready to eat when you finally get all four of your bodies to the table.

AH-MAY-ZEEN

This meal changes every time I make it.  In fact, frequently I use ground beef in a wanna-be-street-vendor-style Korean sauce instead of the chicken.  Whatever, it is still freaking awesome.

I try to make enough to last two dinners and one lunch, but since it is so darn good, we often eat more than we should at one sitting.  Sometimes we add black pepper or a sweet chili sauce or extra soy sauce to the finish product; sometimes it is just too good for words, much less extra condiments.

Play with it.  It is amazing.  You’ll come back to this post to thank me.

#GotItFree


Please note that I used Barilla’s Gluten Free pasta for this recipe.  I received this pasta for free to give my honest opinion of it.  I am a BzzAgent and qualified to test and taste this Gluten Free pasta.  This recipe and the opinions I have regarding this pasta are mine.

We are not a gluten free family by any means.  When the BHE and I went wheat free 5 years ago, it was for personal health based on personal research.  We didn’t really go “gluten free” nor did we stick to it after that initial round of weight loss.  Probably because I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant a couple months after we started the diet.

However, I told BzzAgent that I am interested in gluten free foods.  It is the closest way to telling them that we try to avoid excessive wheat in our diets.

I was so freaking excited to get free pasta!  I LURV PASTA!

I received both macaroni and linguine.  I used the linguine for this Asian-inspired dish.  The sauce clung to the noodles perfectly.  I’ve learned that organic wheat as well as gluten free pastas take a little longer to cook than traditional GMO wheat noodles, and sometimes those types of pastas let your sauce slid right off.  Not these!  Perfect.

The kids didn’t notice anything different about the noodles.  That’s how good Barilla did with taste and texture on these.  What I noticed was that I didn’t have to cut their servings.  Normally with linguine, I have to cut the noodles down to 1 or 2 inches in length.  These noodles broke apart during the regular cooking process for this recipe.

Let me tell you:  it still tasted good.  The flavor of the noodles is great!  My husband loved loved LOVED that it was gluten free.  He said he would rather eat something without wheat than worry if it held together.

If you were making, say, chicken alfredo with linguine noodles, I wouldn’t recommend Barilla’s Gluten Free pasta.  You can’t twirl your noodles!  If you are making this recipe or don’t care about how your food gets from your plate to your mouth, these noodles are just fine.  In fact, in the case where you need to cut the noodles to feed a kid or have less messy leftovers for lunch at work, these noodles work great!

The flavor and ingredients:  great!

The texture and look:  not so great, but acceptable.

How to Meal Plan to Save Time and Money

(More Free Printables!)

This is my current project:  simplifying our lives by removing the stress of deciding what is for dinner each night as well as working on our biggest budget-buster by making grocery shopping less costly and time-consuming.

I have read so much about saving money on groceries, so many blogs and books about how to spend less at the store, so much that I feel I’ve read all that can be said about meal planning and couponing.

Now I’ve got my own way of doing things.  Here’s how you can simplify and save, too.

What You Eat

First, decide what dietary requirements you and your family have.  For instance, we prefer few processed foods, organic foods, low wheat and low dairy meals, and to use meats sparingly.

Next, decide which meals you really enjoy eating as well as making.  I made a list of about 8 meals that every one of us enjoys to eat that takes me no more than an hour of active cook time.  I asked the BHE what he likes, too.  Given the way some meals can be varied by switching up the sauce used or selecting chicken instead of beef, we ended up with a list of 14 meals.

Also, determine how often you want to cook.  WE LOVE LEFTOVERS!  We save so much money by making enough food each time we cook dinner to utilize the same stuff as lunch the next day.  I wanted to take this a step further:  I want to go a full day without cooking!  My time should be spent WITH my family instead of rushing to make dinner in the other room FOR my family.  I want to be a part of the action, not on the side as a cook or maid.  The less often you cook, the less dishes you have to do, too.  Win-win!

I decided each time I make a meal, I need to make at least 9 servings if not 12. One “meal” should provide:  2 adult and 1 toddler servings for dinner, lunch the next day, dinner that evening, and possibly lunch the following day, at least for the BHE at work.  So, 12 servings.

This is just a snapshot of what I came up with! I typically print these to write on them, but I’m sparing you my terrible handwriting. 

The next step for me was to write out the chart of meals on the printable I made (and will share with you for free).  I wrote out the few variations we want for breakfasts 6 days a week, the plan for Sunday brunches, that lunches will either be leftovers(LO) or something easily toddler-friendly, and then the meals on every other day of the week.  The days in between are marked LO since we’ll just be heating up what is already cooked.  When all was said and done, I had SIX WEEKS’ WORTH of meals planned out.

Menu Printable

Print the free Meal Chart, talk it over with your household, and start to fill in the blanks.  Challenge yourself and print 4 pages so you can take care of a whole month at once!

What You Buy

Now that your Meal Charts are filled out, you need determine what groceries are necessary to make these meals happen.  Consider how often you’ll need to buy the things on your list.  The organic canned beans go on sale for $1 each at Kroger/Payless roughly every 6 weeks, so I’d like to buy those in bulk.  But bananas can’t last that long!  Produce goes on my “weekly” list.  Open the free Planned Pantry printable and fill that in as you review your Meal Charts.

Here’s a sample of what I’ll need and how often I should be buying groceries. The real list is a little longer and includes “incidentals” like candy, chips, ice cream, and alcohol. Oh, yes, alcohol. 

I reviewed my list of meals and wrote down the necessary ingredients for each, including side items, and made hash marks next to each meat, veggie, spice, etc., keeping portion sizes in mind.  That is how I determined what I would need for 6 weeks.

But I go to the store more often than that!  Sure, I would save so much money if I only stepped into a store once every six weeks (less likely to buy impulse items and stuff we don’t need/use/want).  But I like fresh produce, I get a kick out of finding marked down goodies, and I really need to get out of the house more than that.  That is why I must have specific lists and know how much I need of what so I can make these trips successful, saving time, money, and sanity as I drag my littles around town.

Planned Pantry Printable

A big part of saving money with meal planning is buying what you need, and want, ahead of time.  And preferably in bulk. No extra trips to the store, no using the ingredients needed for another meal because you didn’t buy enough for the one you’re making, no staring at bare pantry shelves with a blank mind.

Don’t forget to review your weekly sale ads and check on your coupons before you head to the store, either.  Look over THIS post and use that free printable to keep your shopping streamlined and as cheap as possible.

What You Do

Now that you’ve filled in your free printable lists, you’ve got a good idea of what you need to do next:  put it on the calendar!  Go ahead and mark on the calendar you’ve got hanging in your kitchen*, the small planner in your bag, the desk set at work, and anywhere else you regularly look to see what you’ve got going on in life.

Not only do you want to write in what meals are on what days (and which days you have off from cooking thanks to LeftOvers!), you’ll want to write down which days you’re going to go buy the items you need from the stores you wrote down.

Take note which days the sale ads switch over, too.  I’ve learned that my preferred Kroger puts out their sale ads on Thursdays, but they mark down their produce on Fridays.  I have also learned that the meat market has a fantastic special on ground chuck the week starting the second Tuesday of each month.  Knowing these factoids can go a long way to saving you time and money.

Once you have your printables filled out and your calendar filled in, take a deep breath.  The first time you do this may take a good 30-40 minutes.  Now that’s a small chunk of time for a month or more of planning and an even smaller price to pay for a load of stress off your mind.  But it also won’t take that long the next time you need to do it, as you’ll be a pro at handling the groceries and meals.

How Did It Go?

Come on back to comment and let me know how it worked out for you. By then, I ought to have my post and free printable for bill-paying and creating a personal spending plan**.  Stay tuned!

Here they are again, in case you wanted to finish reading before opening the PDFs:

Menu Printable 

Planned Pantry Printable
* You don’t have a calendar in your kitchen?!  I don’t understand.  Go get one and hang it up. You’re welcome.

 ** Because no one likes the word “budget.”

Healthy Eating, part 2: The 2-Week Meal Plan (somewhat)

Two Week Meal Plan

As requested by my sister-in-law…

Monday

Breakfast

Water

Barbara’s Organic Puffin cereal (on sale at Kroger and with coupon from Coupons.com)

with sweetened almond milk (Blue Almond on sale at Kroger)

Organic banana cut up into cereal

Calcium fortified OJ (non organic due to price)

Coffee (half coffee, half sweetened vanilla almond milk)

Snack

Water

Horizon organic cinnamon grahams (bogof from Coupons.com)

Lunch

Water

Organic pasta with organic marinara and nonorganic “shake” cheese (I love Aldi’s)

Frozen organic peas (still frozen)

Snack

Sweetened almond milk on ice

Horizon organic cheese cows (bogof from Coupons.com)

Dinner

Water

LEFTOVERS!  Grilled locally-raised and –butchered chicken kabobs with organic green peppers and white onions on salad with Wild Oats organic salad dressing (found at Walmart)

Organic corn tortilla chips with organic black bean and corn salsa (both Kroger “Simple Truth Organic” brand on sale)

Dessert

Cheat of the day:  leftover Edward’s Hershey chocolate silk pie from weekend bbq

Do You See Any Patterns?

Tuesday

Breakfast

Water

Organic old fashioned oats (bulk section at Fresh Thyme, purchased during 20% off all bulk goods sale) made with water*, organic raisins (Fresh Thyme bulk), organic cinnamon (Wild Oats organic at Walmart), and Smart Balance nonGMO buttery spread [I add nonorganic brown sugar to the top of mine]

*Making it with OJ or almond milk is a great alternative but I recommend doing half water, half oj or almond milk.  I think it cooks** better.

**By “cook,” I mean I mix it all together in a very large microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for 2 minutes, stir, nuke it for another minute, then let it sit for 5.  Otherwise, it is like trying to eat magma.

Juice and coffee like on Monday

Snack

Water

Frozen organic grapes, cut into quarters for Angel Baby (purchased on sale in fresh produce then rinsed and destemmed before freezing at home)

Horizon organic cheese cows

Lunch

Water

Annie’s organic wheat boxed bunnies and cheese with finely chopped organic broccoli mixed in (used Smart Balance nonGMO buttery spread and unsweetened almond milk to prepare mac’n’cheese)

Organic apple, sliced and peeled for Angel Baby (I eat the peel)

Snack

Water

Whatever juice is leftover from the morning

Yogurt (I like Wallaby brand organic yogurt and Silk nondairy yogurt alternative, in just about every flavor offered)

Dinner

Water

Locally-raised and –butchered ground beef, browned with bbq sauce, organic green peppers and white onions, salt and pepper, organic ketchup, and brown sugar served over organic potatoes (mashed with organic garlic and unsweet almond milk, boiled then cut and served with olive oil and black pepper, or sliced thinly and sprayed with nonGMO cooking spray before broiled for 25 minutes in the oven)

Tossed organic salad with Wild Oats organic dressing

Frozen organic peas and corn for Angel Baby since salad really isn’t a thing for toddlers

Maybe a beer or cider for the adults since alcohol really isn’t a thing for toddlers

Dessert

Cheat of the day:  Turkey Hill Natural vanilla and chocolate ice cream

Getting the Idea?

Instead of typing out a whole two weeks’ worth of meals, I’ll sum up the ideas for you here.  Just remember to drink water as often as possible throughout the day.  Your body and mind need it for a million different things (no exaggeration).  Squeeze some lime or squish some berries in it but DRINK WATER.

Scroll on down to the bottom to see how Sundays are different for us.

Breakfast

Organic cold cereal or old fashioned oats (not the quick cook kind!) with some kind of organic fruit and something other than water to drink

The BHE needs protein to get his day started, more than just a yogurt or fortified cereal can provide.  He eats a couple humanely-raised eggs plus leftover pancakes*** or leftover dinner meat or leftover potatoes or… I guess whatever he takes out of the fridge before he leaves for work.

Snack

An organic fruit or vegetable with an organic carb or protein:  banana with peanut butter, grapes and cheese cows, sliced apples and sharp cheddar cheese cubes, rice crackers with buttery spread and sliced tomatoes, etc

Lunch

We’re really big on leftovers, so see dinner ideas.  Sometimes lunch just looks like a large-scale version of both snacks combined, with things like cheese cubes, frozen grapes and peas, fresh peaches, rice crackers, yogurt, etc.  Sometimes this is where we have our daily cheat and eat something nonorganic like pretzel sticks.

Snack

An organic fruit or vegetable with an organic carb or protein:  chips and salsa, popcorn and raisins, pears and graham crackers, yogurt with frozen blueberries, etc

Dinner

Spaghetti:  organic marinara, browned local ground beef, fresh or frozen organic vegetables, organic wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta; this is also a great chance to use my meatballs (which freeze well)

Murphy Potato Soup and Sarah’s Irresistible Soda Bread

Meat junk:  the bbq meat thing I described for Tuesday (see above) [again, the meatballs, just do the bbq thing instead of the marinara thing] served over Annie’s organic mac’n’cheese or some kind of organic potato with salad, peas, or green beans on the side (I love to saute cooked green beans and carrots in butter, garlic, and Creole seasoning.)

Grill night:  locally-raised, -butchered, and –crafted German bratwurst served with potatoes, onions, and peppers wrapped in foil with olive oil and black pepper plus steamed, buttered organic corn on the side (Don’t forget some chow-chow for those brats!)

Asian inspiration:  chicken (previously cooked and shredded then frozen) steamed with broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, and peas tossed with Asian sauce of your choice (Organicville’s teriyaki and Mae Ploy’s sweet chili) served with brown rice (previously steamed in great batches then frozen for easy and quick use)

Oh My Pot Pie

Mexican night:  nachos that are just chips with melted cheese, browned meat with either salsa or bbq sauce, black beans, corn, and avocado

Sometimes burgers with cheese, sometimes no meat at all but extra beans, sometimes something super easy like Applegate’s hot dogs with Kettle Brand chips and a tossed salad or steamed whatever-we’ve-got, sometimes a bizarre mix of everything you see above because I didn’t feel like cooking and the fridge was full of small portions of leftovers

Dessert

Best. Cookies. Ever.

Turkey Hill Natural ice creams (try the salted caramel… and try not to eat the whole thing)

Bitchin’ Brownies

A second hard cider

Remember

Everything in moderation.  Except the water.  I think I drank 100 oz yesterday, not including juice, coffee, almond milk, etc.  Then again, it was in the high 80s with high humidity (hello, Indiana in June!) and I did some serious yard work while Angel Baby took a nap.

We have our cheat days.  Not just something non-organic as an add-in or dessert.  I mean, we eat in line with our diet and ideals for breakfast, snacks, and lunch, then we have dinner out with my father at this fantabulous pizza place where we load up on wheat beer, non-organic and gluten-full crust with sauce, meat, cheese, and veggies that may or may not have had their pesticides washed off.  We’ll eat a good breakfast, take healthy snacks, then bomb out on lunch at a chain American food restaurant or this great Mexican place in the Levee, but return to our home for a nice, organic, home-cooked meal… reheated from last night.

***Stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought to read about our Sundays and get the recipe for the perfect pancakes.

Disclaimer

I am not a professional… anything.  I’m not a trained cook, I’m not a licensed dietician, I am not an authority on anything other than the life I lead.  My education includes a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in Library Sciences.  What I have presented to you here is nothing more than what I feed my family.  Maybe it is a place for you to start your family down a cleaner, greener, happier, healthier path through life; maybe it is what sparks you to thoughtfully seek something different or better.  I wish you luck but do not presume to have answers or medical guidance.  That’s what your doctor and WebMD (just kidding!) are for.

Also, I did not include pictures because this post is long enough without them.  Click on the links.  They have pictures.