Archive for the ‘Easy meals’ Category

Pad Thai

Pad Thai in the pan with lots of cabbageSo sad… it’s missing cilantro because I didn’t have any. 😦

This Pad Thai recipe is adapted from a fabulous little book called “Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens” by Jennifer Schaertl (See another recipe I cooked from that book: stuffed chicken breast). It’s so easy, and you can dress it up or down (why do I feel like I’m talking about a purse or a pair of shoes?).

The book says it makes 4 servings, but it’s definitely closer to 6-8. Or maybe I just overdo it on the cabbage. But whatever. I love cabbage. Thank you and you’re welcome.


The ingredients are very forgiving, so if you don’t have something, a substitute will probably taste just as delicious. The first time I made it, I used egg noodles instead of rice noodles, oyster sauce instead of fish sauce, white vinegar instead of rice vinegar, brown sugar instead of cane sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oil, ground ginger instead of fresh ginger, and red pepper flakes instead of red Thai chili pepper. See what I mean? My name is Hannah, and I have a problem with following directions.

Actually, I am a MAJOR rule-follower, except when it comes to food. And maybe a few other random things. No, I don’t claim in any way to be normal. Why do you ask?

I felt like it could’ve used a little more sauce next time, but here’s what I used last night:

  • 8-10 oz. dried rice noodles (you can use egg noodles instead, but I have a very deep love for rice noodles)
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce (you can use fish sauce instead)
  • 3 Tbs rice vinegar (you can use white vinegar if you need to)
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil + 1 Tbs chili oil (use 3 Tbs olive oil if you’re a pansy)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (you can use more, but I’m not a huge fan of strong ginger flavor)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (the result isn’t spicy at all to me, but more sensitive types might want to scale back on the pepper flakes)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken cuts (I used some chicken breasts I had in the freezer, but you can use thighs or whatever you have. It equals about 2-4 chicken breasts depending on how much chicken you want.). Dice the chicken into small chunks.
  • 1 regular cabbage, thinly sliced (I love cabbage. If you aren’t such a fan, you can use as little as 1/2 a cabbage and probably get away with it.)
  • 1/2 cup toasted (or roasted) and chopped peanuts (preferably unsalted, but salted works too)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
Cilantro is a very important ingredient too, but I didn’t have cilantro last night (insert sad eyes and a pitiful sniffle). If you happen to have cilantro, you’ll use a whole bunch.


It is incredibly quick and easy (unless you shell the peanuts by hand like I did…).

  1. Boil some water, remove from heat, and put the dried rice noodles in the water to soften. The water should fully cover the noodles. The noodles can just chill out in the pot while you’re cooking the rest. After 20 minutes, strain all the water out of the noodles.
  2. Whisk the oyster sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. If you use the whole cabbage, you may want to make more sauce than the recipe suggests.
  3. Heat the olive/chili oil in the biggest sauté pan you have over medium-high heat. If you don’t have a big sauté pan or wok, use a big pot. Add the ginger, pepper flakes and garlic, sautéing for about 1 minute.
  4. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and add them to the pan. Sauté until completely cooked (2-4 minutes).
  5. Add the cabbage, 1/2 of the cilantro bunch, 1/2 of the peanuts, and the sauce mixture. Fold everything over until it’s all coated and mixed well. Sauté for a few minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt.
  6. Stir in the drained noodles and toss until they’re warm and coated with sauce.
  7. Serve immediately, sprinkling some peanuts and cilantro on top. Garnish with a lime wedge (squeezing it over the noodles adds a wonderful flavor).
It keeps really well in the refrigerator, too. I had leftovers for lunch today.
You will probably want to chop your chicken into smaller pieces, but I was tired of cutting after shelling and chopping all the peanuts by hand.
Sautéing chicken in the pan with spices and oil
Draining the rice noodles
Draining the rice noodles
It’s amazing how long it takes to shell 1/2 cup of peanuts.
Chopped peanuts on the cutting board with a knife
Chopped chicken simmering in juices
I have a huge pan, and this is AFTER the cabbage wilted down – and BEFORE adding the noodles. Let’s just say I’m busting out the big guns (14-inch wok) next time.
Pan of cabbage in sauce

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Mexican pizza casserole homemade

I’ve had a lot of people ask me for easy recipes that you can throw together without a whole lot of effort. I have quite an arsenal of these from my highly creative mother (who fed our family of 6, plus the odd guest or 2). She is a genius at coming up with simple, delicious recipes with random ingredients, and over time many have developed into family favorites. Thus, I have decided to add a new category on my blog just for these. I’ll tag these recipes (and any other ones I come up with along the way) as “Easy meals,” and if you want to look at the whole list of these easy recipes, you can just click on “Easy meals” button at the top of the page. These meals are perfect for:

  • Beginners
  • Anyone who is busy ever.

I think that pretty much covers it.


Now this will be fun… These recipes are in this category partly because you can make them with an assortment of ingredients. Mexican pizza is really quick to whip up if you have some of these ingredients on hand! You don’t need everything I’m listing – this is mostly to give you ideas.

  • Ingredients to make cornbread (or cornbread mix)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Shredded meat (I used chicken)
  • A handful or two of frozen corn
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa

You can also add green chiles, bell peppers, or whatever you want.


This is ridiculously easy, and it tastes delicious!

  1. Prepare 1 batch of cornbread and bake it spread out in the bottom of a large glass casserole dish. Leave the oven on when you take it out.
  2. Heat a small sautée pan while the cornbread is in the oven, and sautée the corn in about 1/2 tsp olive oil until some of the edges are just barely turning brown. I used chipotle-flavored olive oil, and I sprinkled a lot of black pepper on the corn as I cooked it. Set it aside. You can just use plain corn, but this extra step gives it an amazing flavor.
  3. I sautéed a chicken breast (seasoned with Cholula chili-lime seasoning) in a few drops more of the same chipotle olive oil, then I took it out and shredded it with a fork. I put it back in the sautée pan for another minute or so, so the shreds from the inside of the chicken breast can get some seasoning too.
  4. Spread the refried beans evenly across the cornbread “crust.” Sprinkle the tomato, olives, shredded chicken, corn and whatever else on top.
  5. Sprinkle cheese across the top to your desired thickness (or at least to whatever thickness you can get away with..).
  6. Bake it for about 10 minutes, or just until the cheese is fully melted.
  7. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

I grew up eating it, so it’s a comfort food for me too. This is seriously delicious. What would you put on it? I’d love to hear your variations!

Mexican pizza close-up ingredients


Mexican casserole side view of cornbread, beans, tomatoes and olives


chicken sautéed in olive oil and seasoning


Sautéed shredded chicken breast


Finished Mexican pizza with melted cheese

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