I was seriously stressed out this afternoon trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight. Ben kept telling me over and over that he was fine just having leftovers, but for some reason I feel like when I have the time in my schedule, I need to make something new and exciting. And I had so many ideas of recipes I wanted to try! Stuffed chicken burgers, enchilada lasagna, quinoa swiss mushroom
“muffins,” and stuffed tomatoes…
The problem is that when I have so many ideas, I get overwhelmed and then we end up just having leftovers. I think the problem is having too many possibilities and almost too much time to decide. I want my recipes to be healthy, comfort food, easy, cheap, quick, make lots of leftovers, AND look good in pictures. Reality is, you just can’t have all these things in one recipe! (If any of you have the magic recipe for that problem, please share!)
I’ve decided that when I feel like this in the future, the best thing to do is limit my options: resist going to the store, go home, open the pantry, and get creative with the things that I already have there. Any of you who remember my “Spring Clean Your Fridge” Challenge from last year will know that I usually surprise myself with what I come up with!
Tonight, when I opened my fridge/pantry, I found a few goodies to work with. The end of a box of angel hair pasta, a few wimpy carrots, and a half-finished jar of Jif. Oh, and half of a leftover piece of a gigantic grilled chicken breast. I had a thought: Chicken Pad Thai!
- Thai Peanut Sauce (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats Chicken Pad Thai: http://iowagirleats.com/2011/02/28/when-we-were-newlyweds/)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce or hot sauce
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, julienned or ribboned using a vegetable peeler
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- leftover angel hair pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions, cooled and rinsed
- Chicken Marinade:
- 1/4 cup peanut butter, melted
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 (or as many as you have) chicken breast (or tofu!), cooked and chopped into pieces
- Cilantro, sesame seeds or chopped peanuts for serving
- Combine all ingredients for the Thai Peanut Sauce in a small jar and shake vigorously. Set aside.
- Cook pasta, rinse, and drain twice so it doesn’t stick together.
- In a medium skillet, heat oil and add onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add frozen peas and pasta.
- Pour in the Thai peanut sauce and toss to combine. Set aside.
- Whisk together ingredients for Chicken Marinade and allow chicken to marinate for at least 30 min. (You can also marinate raw chicken strips in this sauce and then cook on stovetop!).
- In a separate saucepan or skillet, pour in a bit more oil. Add chicken in its sauce and reduce on medium heat by about a half- which will take about 5 minutes. Then, turn up heat to medium high and cook until the chicken is browned. Return the noodle mixture to the pan with the chicken and stir until heated through.
- Serve warm or chilled, with cilantro, sesame seeds or chopped peanuts on top.
We loved this! It definitely hit that savory and sweet spot, and satisfied every bit of our inner peanut butter lover. And to think- I didn’t need to buy ONE thing to make it. Enjoy!