Easy Sesame Noodles

I don’t make many Asian inspired dishes but I love using rice wine vinegar + sesame oil + soy sauce. It is such a great combo. It is really great in this noodle dish and I love it as a marinate for chicken wings too. This trifecta is also delicious for a salad dressing base. I saw The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for sesame noodles and thought it just looked too easy…would it have enough flavor? Turns out, it does.

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Sesame Noodles by Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

9 oz Chinese style fresh pasta (or linguini fini, or thin spaghetti)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (or soy sauce)
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs garlic, minced
3 tbs rice vinegar
3 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tsp hot sauce
3 tbs vegetable oil
4 green onions, chopped
3 tbs sesame seeds

Directions:

Boil water for the pasta
Cook the pasta just under according to the package (9-10 minutes if it says 10-12)
Heat a dry small frying pan over medium heat
Whisk together the teryiaki sauce, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, hot sauce, and oil.
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Toast the sesame seeds in the frying pan for about 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove them from the heat once they start to get tan colored.
Remove pasta and put it in a serving dish.
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Mix in the sauce, half the green onions, and half the sesame seeds.
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Top with the rest of the green onions & sesame seeds to serve!
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I loved how much the noodles soaked up the sauce. They were seriously sesame-y. I thought the flavor was spot on. This dish had great flavors and couldn’t be easier.
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This dinner is suuuuper cheap too. I love adding some meatless wonders to my plans for the week.

Sesame Noodles Overall Cost Breakdown:
(I’m way over estimating the sesame oil & rice vinegar. Buy them! They’re inexpensive and don’t go bad forever).
Chinese style noodles: $2.99
sesame oil ($6.00 for the whole bottle): $1.00
rice vinegar ($2.50 for the whole bottle): $0.50
green onions (1/2 of bunch): $0.49
garlic could be optional in a pinch & sesame seeds are a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have
total = $5.00 for the whole thing, it serves 3 good portions or $1.66 per person.

Impressive, no? Once you have the sesame oil and rice vinegar you’ll definitely use the rest of them. These egg rolls were so stinky easy and worth it to have them freshly baked. Make this Chinese Pork in the Crockpot, it is ahhhhmazing. Or marinate chicken wings in it like these. Add sesame oil to your own crab rangoons and they’ll taste so much more flavorful.

What I Ate: Hot Ham & Cheese with Poppyseed Sauce

Here’s a copy-cat recipe from Pioneer Woman making a pretty tasty spread for sandwiches

I made these kind of envisioning that they would bridge the gap between winter and spring. They’re also easy. And they’re cheap. Yup, spring-ish/easy/cheap fit the bill perfectly. Work is a bit crazy right now. I can’t believe it is May. I’m not sure if I should feel like crying or puking right now.

Ingredients:

2 rolls
1/4 pound sliced honey ham
2-4 slices of American cheese
2 tbs stone ground mustard
2 tbs mayo
1 tsp poppyseeds
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp honey

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Mix ingredients for the sandwich spread: mustard, mayo, poppyseeds, vinegar, garlic, and honey.
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Assemble sandwiches
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Cover and bake for 10 minutes.
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I liked the spread, but I don’t know that I’d purposely make it again. It might be a fun option at a sandwich bar or making the every-day-lunch more exciting. I don’t use horseraddish often but maybe that was really the missing link. I think this spread was just OK but when Ree Drumand makes it, there’s prob a reason why she adds horseradish.

This is a mild spread. I love condiments so this one was only “ehhh” to me. The sandwiches were melty and warmed through while not having any butter or grease. I think they were a pretty good option to keep things different but I might not make them all that regularly.

Cost breakdown:
rolls: 2 @ $0.45 each
ham: 1/4 pound @ $4.99 per pound 1.24
cheese: 1/2 pound @ $5.99 per pound 2.99
mayo: <$1.00
stone ground mustard:  <$1.00
poppy seeds: <$2.00
total: about $7.13 for 2 sandwiches or $3.56 each (prob wayyy less if you already have mayo/mustard/etc)

If you have leftover poppy seeds whip up some everything bagel dip!

Smoky Sausage Pasta

I don’t always cook pasta, but when I do….I’m glad I did. Pasta tends to be my go-to option when I haven’t planned anything else. Dried pasta + kitchen ready tomatoes = fast dinner. I rarely start out with pasta as part of my meal planning. Seriously, the last one I blogged about was bolognese (which was really about the sauce) or mac & cheese. This one was awesome and I totally need to make it again.
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This is totally a one pot wonder. It is based off of America’s Test Kitchen’s: The Best Simple Recipes. I saw it on a few blogs, here was one of them. Several took a spicy approach with hot sauce, spicy rotel, and spiced sausage.  I added spinach to mine to increase the nutritional value but wheat pasta would be hidden really well here.

Ingredients:

1, 12-oz pkg turkey kielbasa or chicken sausage
1 pound box short pasta
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth
1, 16-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika
3-4 cups baby spinach
1 ½ cups shredded monterey jack cheese
2 stocks of green onion, chopped

Directions:

Saute kielbasa cut into coins, in a large hot skillet with 1 tsp olive oil. Stir until evenly (but lightly) browned over medium heat.
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Add tomatoes, broth, crushed tomatoes and milk. Bring to a gentle boil.
Add in dried pasta, garlic, liquid smoke, and paprika. Stir and cover to cook for about 8 minutes.
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After that, pasta will be mostly cooked, but still a bit firm. Cover the pasta with 1 cup of cheese and spinach. The sauce will have reduced and thickened.

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Reduce to medium low temperature, stir, and cover again for 3-5 more minutes.
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Serve topped with more cheese and green onions.
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I didn’t think it was especially smokey, but the flavors were great. The light tomato flavor is great in the cream.

I went with Kevin & Amanda’s choice of pasta shape: campanelle. They were great little cones to hold the sauce. Mr. J thought they reminded him of a krimpy pappardelle. I remember having campanelle regularly growing up.

It reheated perfectly the next day for lunch! It was suuuuper cheap. It is a great reminder of how easy and cost-effective it is to cook at home. This would be easy for lunch for the week or even halving the recipe.

There is also easy potential to add in other foods you have laying around. I think the base of pasta + protein + enough liquid = endless options. A slight Mexican twist uses hot sauce/rotel/salsa/pepper-jack cheese/jalepenos. An Italian twist could use chicken sausage/basil/Parmesan/artichokes. A BBQ twist could have bbq chicken/bbq sauce/liquid smoke/onions/peppers.

See what I mean? Endless possibilities.

Cost Breakdown:

turkey kielbasa $4.49
pasta: $1.00
chicken broth: $0.80
canned tomatoes: $1.49/2
spinach: $1.85
Monterey jack cheese: $2.50
green onions: $1.00/2
total: $11.89 (or $2.97 per person, 4 servings)

What I Ate: Easiest Banana Muffins

What I Ate is a series that might not necessarily require a recipe but these muffins are a prime example of a recipe to file away and whip it up when the time is right.

Pinterest introduced me to a shortcut banana muffin recipe just like the pumpkin muffin shortcut I loooove. Do you follow me on Pinterest? They’re so quick and really easy to make. I’m not a big baker but these came out perfectly!

I made these guys before I knew how badly I’d need warm banana goodness. Work has gone bananas…to put it mildly. Bananas I tell you. Thank goodness I had these for the week. I think my crisis is averted. I’ll be sure to shower my local co-workers with these soon to thank them for all their support. When the goings get tough, the tough get going. For sure.

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Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix
4 very ripe bananas (small or 3 large)
2 eggs

Directions:

Mash bananas or use a mixer, or food processor.
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Mix in eggs and cake mix.
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Add in cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit, chips, or anything you like! (I added cinnamon & cinnamon chips)
Fill muffin cups or a sprayed loaf pan.
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Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out cleanly.
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These are suuuuper easy and are such a good use for discount bananas. I love discount produce and these bananas were a steal. Forty-three cents for 6 bananas. Forty three cents. I froze some of the least ripe bananas in chunks for future smoothies.
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Cost Breakdown:
uber ripe bananas: $0.43
cake mix: $2.25
2 eggs: $0.30
cinnamon chips: $1.35 (1/2 bag)
total: $4.33, or $0.30 per muffin