“What? You mean my family has to eat? And they’re expecting ME to provide a cooked meal for them?” I swear this isn’t too far from the thought that went through my mind when I glanced up at the clock last Tuesday evening, realizing that it was 5:45 and that I hadn’t even thought about what my family was going to be eating for dinner. This situation seems to be happening all too often for me, so I’ve decided to turn it to my advantage. If this happens again . . . okay, okay, when this happens again, I will do what I did Tuesday evening, and use the opportunity to come up with an easy meal idea (aka, “Desperation Dinner”) to share with you if you should ever happen to find yourself in the same situation.
Tuesday night I grabbed a few things that I always have on hand: Chinese egg noodles, a couple of garlic cloves, some fresh ginger that I had in the freezer, peanut butter, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. If you love Asian food, then I highly suggest making these ingredients a staple in your own pantry—you will be amazed at what you can do with them! After grabbing those ingredients I started rummaging through the freezer to see what else I could add and found a couple of frozen chicken breasts and a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables. BINGO! I poached the chicken breasts and shredded the meat, steamed the vegetables, cooked up the noodles, and whipped up a quick Thai-inspired peanut sauce, et voila, chicken and noodles with peanut sauce. So quick and easy that you won’t break a sweat, and if your kids are anything like mine, they will inhale their food. I find that kids will eat ANYTHING with peanut sauce on it.
Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Makes 6 servings
Recipe Notes: If you don’t have Chinese egg noodles, you can substitute spaghetti. The peanut sauce can be used with many other dishes, and can even be used as a dipping sauce. If you are going to be using it with something else, start out by adding only 1/4 cup of the hot water, then add additional hot water until you reach the consistency that is appropriate for the use of the sauce.
10 ounces Chinese egg noodles
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
For the peanut sauce:
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups steamed vegetables (I used a frozen stir-fry mix)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. When al dente, drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water. Put the noodles in a large bowl and toss with the sesame oil.
2. Make the peanut sauce: Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the hot water until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Pour the hot water into the bowl in a slow steady stream while whisking. Whisk until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
3. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce. Add the vegetables and chicken, toss, and serve.