Suggested song to play while cooking: Every Day Should Be a Holiday, by The Dandy Warhols
It was the summer of 2013. I was home from college for the summer, working my menial retail job, and spending every free moment I had between going to the gym and lazing about on our porch in the sunshine, with just my pup and a good book for company. The days were warm; the taste of blue skies and pinkish gold sunsets lingered on the tongue like cotton candy. Despite my pale Irish skin’s determination to burn itself into a bright ruby red, I mercilessly baked myself in the sun, savoring each golden drop.
The weather was not the only thing I savored however. One day, as I was resting on a blanket on our deck with my book lying out in front of me and a smoothie in hand, my mother came home with a marvelous surprise. A magazine entitled “Chicken Dinners,” containing “225 recipes, tips, and how-tos.” We flipped through the pages, gazing at the delicious looking pictures; the recipes ranged from salads to barbeque, from pizzas to pastas to soups. They were all just waiting to be created.
I will not mislead you, dear Sporkers, we did not make all 225 of these dishes. However, the gym I frequented was in the same plaza as a grocery store, so when I was finished with my workout I would text my mother and ask what ingredients I should get. She’d find a recipe from the book, send me what we needed, and we’d spend the evening cooking together. Fond memories indeed.
We lucked out, because even though this magazine did contain many great meals, the first one we tried was, and still is, the best: Thai Chicken and Noodles. I’ve learned everything about cooking from my mom—she’s a beast in the kitchen. She likes to play around with recipes and never sticks to the exact measurements; she somehow just has the natural cooking knack. She’s also allergic to onions, so whenever a recipe needs onion powder, we just add more garlic instead (you would not believe how many things have onions and/or onion powder. We’ve had to get pretty creative on a few occasions). When I make this dish by myself I add the onions in, and usually some green beans too.
This dish surprised us by being both tangy and spicy—not too hot to make you gasp for water, but enough to zap you awake and make your lips feel good and fuzzy. The chicken absorbs the sauce like a sponge, and the sweet peppers give a satisfying crunch. I recommend finding this chicken recipe cookbook, but if anything, I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. It has won itself a spot on our family recipe hall of fame.
A quick note before divulging this masterpiece: if you really want a good bold flavor, I recommend doubling the sauce part of the recipe. Pasta can soak up all the sauce if you use too much—something I do almost all the time.
Thai Chicken with Noodles
6 ounces vermicelli or thin spaghetti
¼ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium recommended)
¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth sauce (reduced sodium recommended)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (I usually triple or even quadruple this, the more lime the more tangy flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger (my mom is partial to adding extra ginger)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (1 teaspoon if you want it extra spicy)
1 and ½ cups shredded or chopped deli-roasted chicken or cooked turkey breast
1 red sweet pepper, cut into thin bite-size pieces
3 green onions, bias-sliced into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro (optional, sometimes I forget this ingredient)
2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, combine soy sauce, broth, peanut butter, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper. Cook and stir over low heat until peanut butter melts. Add cooked pasta, tossing to coat.
Add cooked chicken, sweet pepper, green onions, and cilantro; mix well. Serve warm or let stand at room temperature for up to 30 minutes. Serve with lime wedges. If desired, garnish with peanuts. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information for those interested: Per serving: 334 cal., 8 G fat (2 G sat. fat), 46 MG chol., 1,071 MG sodium (which is why I recommend the reduced soy sauce and chicken broth), 37 G carbo., 2 G fiber, 25 G pro.
Post and Photos by Shannon Moloney. Recipe from “Chicken Dinners” published by Better Homes and Gardens; Special Interest Publications.