Dinner Tonight: Party Wings with Thai Peanut Sauce


One way to make everyone in my family happy at dinner time is to grill or broil a hunk of meat seasoned with salt and pepper. Steak, pork chops, any part of a chicken, you name it… if it’s crispy and salted, they will love it.

On loosey-goosey dinner nights when we don’t have the time or desire to set the table and all that jazz, I like to broil party wings.

I can usually fit an entire frozen package on one broiler pan. Simply salt and pepper the wings, broil from frozen for about 20 minutes; flip them over, salt and pepper again, and broil for another 15-20 minutes or until done.

If I serve Thai Peanut sauce with these wings, the kids will dip all sorts of raw vegetables into it: carrots, celery, snap peas, even chunks of lettuce leaves. It’s a health food miracle (wrapped in a peanut butter and brown sugar disguise).

Here’s the recipe (source unknown):

Thai Peanut Sauce

1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c lime juice
3 cloves garlic
Mix together
Add peanut butter until desired taste/consistency, at least 1/3 cup.

What’s your fast and easy people-pleasing dish?

Dinner Tonight: Vietnamese Noodle Salad (vermicelli bowl)


My favorite Vietnamese dish is a vermicelli bowl, also known as a Vietnamese Noodle Salad. I first had one at the now-defunct Noodle Ranch in Belltown about twelve years ago when Bryan took me there on a date. Currently the best vermicelli bowl I know of in the area can be found at Green Leaf, also in Belltown (pictured above).

Tonight we made our own version for some friends who came over, and it was a big hit! I combined two recipes – one for the marinade and one for the dressing.

This is a chilled salad, so I can’t wait to eat this all summer long!

The marinade came from a recipe here:

  • 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (use more according to taste)
  • 2-3 shallots, minced (I used green onions)
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs Yoshida’s (I used soy sauce & honey)
  • 3 tbs roasted sesame
  • flexible grilling basket or indoor grill

Combine the shallots, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, Yoshida’s, sesame oil. Add pork and marinade for at least 1-2 hours.

Grill the meat until nicely golden brown and slightly charred. Remove from grill onto platter or bowl and toss with roasted sesame.

The dressing recipe came from (here):

  • 3 TBL fish sauce
  • 3 TBL rice vinegar
  • 2 TBL sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 TBL freshly squeezed lime juice

Assembling the salad:

  • cooked vermicelli noodles, cooled
  • carrots, julienned
  • green onions, chopped
  • cucumbers, julienned
  • shredded cabbage
  • bean sprouts
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • chopped peanuts

This is a chilled salad, so make sure the noodles are cooled. Combine ingredients in a bowl with the rice noodles on the bottom. Add the grilled pork, stir in the dressing, and eat!

Easy Peasy Meals with a Rice Cooker

Last year when I started working part time, Bryan bought me this rice cooker to help with easy meal prep, and it’s been a life saver!

One of the easiest dishes I make requires just a few minutes of prep in the morning, and a few minutes when I’m done working.

This is what I do in the morning:

  1. Add rice, water, salt, and seasoning to the pot.
  2. Add 3-4 frozen chicken breasts to the basket.
  3. Set the delay timer.
  4. Press the RICE button to start.

Seriously. That’s all I do. Sometimes I add chopped onion to the rice, but you get the idea.

This is what I do before we eat:

  1. Shred or chop the cooked chicken, and add to the pot of rice.
  2. Add a bag of fresh or frozen broccoli to the pot.
  3. Pour in a sauce, like Yoshida’s Teriyaki or Panda Express’s orange sauce.
  4. Stir it all together!

Even when I serve this with a salad, it’s super quick and easy, and my family gets a hot, healthy, home cooked meal.

p.s. This isn’t a product placement or sponsored post. I really just like my rice cooker.

Tortilla Heaven


I’ve always nuked my corn tortillas in the microwave using a tortilla steamer. I’m fully aware this is neither authentic nor mind blowingly good, but it sure is convenient.

Then we had dinner at my neighbor’s house.

Our neighbors are from Mexico, and they heat their tortillas up on a long pan that sits over two burners on their stove. They flip, and flip, and flip until they are soft, then keep them warm in a towel on a plate.

Tortillas were brought out from the kitchen throughout the dinner, and we filled them with homemade salsa and shredded meat from a whole chicken.

I was about ready to obsess over a search for one of these long pans when Bryan simply cleared off the stove (because any use of the stove requires it first being cleared of clutter) and dropped a few tortillas on the burners.

It’s a little more time consuming, but I will never go back to the microwave.

Enjoying Salmon to the Glory of God

We believe it is God’s will that all mankind should BBQ with charcoal. It’s the only way. Cast away your pansy ass gas grill and BBQ like a real man.

Here’s how the ZugHaus does Salmon:

First, we soak a cedar plank in water, then layer it with green onions. This raises the salmon off the plank and allows the smoke to penetrate even the bottom.

We marinate our salmon in teriyaki sauce. If we’re really organized, we freeze it in teriyaki sauce. But if we accidentally leave the fresh salmon in our fridge before leaving town for four days, we frantically toss it into the freezer when we get home on the expiration date. *cough*

Then we smoke the salmon on the plank over coals and mesquite chips.

(We do not mess around).

We also grill veggies in a grilling basket – usually asparagus, or broccoli, or brussel sprouts.

Leave a comment if you’d like to partake in one of our famous House of BBQ’s this summer.

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin


I love this recipe because it’s super quick and easy. Plus I love rosemary, and pork in the crockpot grosses me out for some reason.

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 – 50 minutes

2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, or about 1 tablespoon dried
3 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Trim fat from pork tenderloins and butterfly the meat, cutting them nearly in half lengthwise. Open the pork tenderloins and lay out, pounding to flatten with the palm of the hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Chop rosemary if using fresh, combine with minced garlic, rub on both sides.


Place pork on baking pan and roast for about 20 minutes (about 155° to 160° internal temp). Remove and let stand 5 minutes, then slice.

Rosemary roasted pork tenderloin serves 4 to 6

Kind of a boring post about meal planning.


Last Sunday I wrote about my new two-week menu plan and had a few inquiries re recipes and how I chose to set it up. It’s definitely a work in progress, but here’s a little background…

  • Ruthie has Taekwondo on Mondays and Wednesdays. We don’t get home until after 5pm, so I made Mondays a crockpot meal and Wednesdays a George Foreman grill meal – both are super easy for nights when I don’t have a lot of prep time.
  • On Thursdays we host a small group from our church community after dinner, so on this night I scheduled quick one-dish meals that are easy to serve and easy to clean up.
  • On Fridays I’m usually exhausted, which makes me more tempted to spend money on take-out or eating out. So on these nights I rotate spaghetti and nachos, which is pretty much all about opening up cans and boxes. These are also easy meals to push to the weekend should we have something more exciting come up.
  • Tuesdays are the only night I have time to prep dinner at dinnertime, so these meals are a little more labor-intensive (though still easy).

In regards to the actual meals I chose, I put a little thought into those as well.

  • I started by listing the meals I make often because everyone likes them.
  • Then I coordinated them so I could be efficient with perishable ingredients. For instance, I use sour cream for a Friday and Monday meal, and cilantro for a Tuesday and Thursday meal.
  • Then for extra credit, I kind of did a themey sorta thing. For instance, Monday’s meals are both served with corn tortillas, Wednesdays is grilled meat, Thursdays are main dish salads, etc.

I figure once I have the routine down, I can easily swap in different meals when the seasons change or if I get bored. Or I may blow it all up if I have a mid life crisis. But for now, it seems to be working.


Meal planning has been a bit exhausting for me lately. I’m not feeling the love like I used to, and the details are getting lost in my brain.

I end up making several extra trips to the store each week because I forget one thing I need to make dinner complete. And of course you never buy just that one thing you run in to grab, so my budget is a little crazy as well.

Friday night I geeked out a little on my calendar and set up a two week rotating weekday menu.

At first I was a little depressed about this solution, thinking it was incredibly boring and predictable. But then I realized even more benefits that I hadn’t even anticipated. For instance…

  • I can set up automatic delivery for my Amazon Fresh orders, which saves me 15% on the items I need each week.
  • Setting up automatic delivery makes my budget a little more predictable.
  • I can shop less frequently at Costco because I know in advance what I’ll need for the month.
  • I can still be flexible if I need to, and just shift meals around on the calendar.
  • I can still be spontaneous re other elements of the meal, like side dishes.

But the biggest benefit I’m looking for is: DON’T MAKE ME THINK.

Recipe: Curry Chicken Salad

Curry Chicken Salad

Sorry for the blurry picture, but my phone doesn’t focus.

This dinner is yummy and super easy to make. It’s also perfect for taking on a picnic because it’s an all-inclusive dish you can make ahead of time.

Added bonus for me, is my picky eater kids LOVE it.

I don’t really have a specific recipe for this one as I kind of just throw it together. The key is to get the proportions so each bite has a perfect blend of chicken, grape, and almond.

Eyeball the following ingredients together:

Curry Chicken Salad

  • 3-4 chicken breasts – broiled, steamed, or fried.
  • Red grapes, halved.
  • Toasted almonds – sliced, slivered, or chopped.
  • Mayo – 1ish cups or to taste
  • Curry powder – 1sh T or to taste
  • Salt to taste

Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, add to a bowl with grapes and almonds. Mix the mayo together with the curry powder and salt, then stir into the chicken. Chill. Serve.

Other things you can add or substitute: shredded carrots, raisins, brown rice, dried cranberries.

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts on the Grill

I didn’t grow up eating brussel sprouts, and had no idea what they tasted like until a couple years ago. I’ve since discovered that how you cook a brussel sprout will determine how edible it is, so I’ve tried several different recipes.

Recently Bryan blew me away with the simplest dish – halved brussel sprouts tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grilled directly on the grilling rack.

Tender, crispy, salty, and oh so good.

Corn & Bean Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

Corn & Bean Salad

Friend: “Wow. Is that a salad or a dip?”

Bryan: “Yes.”

I brought this salad regularly to a weekly summer BBQ we attended with a small group from our church last summer. It’s intended as a salad, but as we all waited for our meat to grill the bowl disappeared along with half a bag of tortilla chips.

This summer we are hosting the weekly BBQ at our house, and about three weeks into it one of my friends mentioned the salad. As in, WHERE IS THAT BEAN SALAD YOU MAKE?

So now it’s back in rotation, and I highly recommend it. It’s quick, easy, and made with things I always have on hand.

Corn & Bean Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 peppers, any color, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tomato, diced

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 T cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
lime zest from 1/2 lime
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t chili powder

  • In a large bowl, combine corn, black beans, peppers, onion, and tomato.
  • In heavy bottomed bowl, combine cilantro, vinegar, limes, garlic, zest, and spices.
  • With a large whisk, whisk quickly as you slowly drizzle in olive oil to emulsify.
  • Add dressing to salsa, toss, and serve.

Dinner Tonight: Italian Summer Squash Polenta Bake


I was in the bulk section at the grocery store yesterday and noticed the corn meal was 79 cents a pound, and I thought to myself: polenta! So right there I searched for “polenta” in my Allrecipes DinnerSpinner app and this yummilicious meal popped up.

I altered the recipe slightly based on what I already had on hand, plus I added chicken to make it a one-dish meal. Here’s how I did it:

3 carrots, sliced
2 small zucchinis, sliced
a bunch of sliced mushrooms
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes w/ basil
1/2 can tomato paste
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch garlic salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 chicken breasts, saute’d and cut into bite sized pieces
1 (18 ounce) package prepared polenta*

*I started out by making my own polenta, and here’s how I did that.


    veggies and chicken saute-ing

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Saute carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onion and bell pepper in a large saucepan with a small amount of olive oil. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Saute vegetables for approximately 5 minutes and pour in stewed tomatoes & tomato paste. Stir, cover and simmer until vegetables are slightly tender.
  3. Slice polenta into 1/2 inch circles and season with garlic salt and pepper and layer the slices in a large casserole dish. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the polenta, top with the chicken pieces, then sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake casserole for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

So good. So comforting. So healthy. Loved it!

p.s. I’m testing out Google’s calendar widget for blogs, so check out my side bar to see what we’re having for dinner and also to find links to great recipes!

watch this space

roasted strawberriesWow. That was quite the flu bug. It waxed and waned then struck again with a vengeance of ear aches and sinus infections in Ruthie and Bryan.

Me? I came down with it on Monday, and it was Saturday before I could take a shower without needing a nap.

By Tuesday my flu was in full swing, but Ruthie was feeling better. So I did what any sane person would do when everything down to her hair hurts – WE WENT TO THE ZOO.

I’m pretty sure if the gorillas were allowed to roam free they would not act this stupid.

The makers of Ibuprofen should pay me money out of their marketing budget, because for about three hours that morning I felt like a normal person.

AND I TOLD THIS TO EVERYBODY I SAW – which may or may not have made me look like a crazy person.

Shortly after lunch I lost Ruthie. We were there with a friend and had four kids between us. If you’re ever in charge of multiple children you know the counting game you constantly play in public – one-two-three-four – over and over again. But after lunch I only came up with three.


Squinting into the bushes, spinning around in circles, looking for that blond hair bobbing.

WHERE’S RUTHIE? I shouted again.

My friend masked a snicker and nodded down to my side – I was holding Ruthie’s hand.

And that’s how I knew it was time to go home.

But now it is Tuesday again and I’m busy digging myself out of this pile of laundry and clutter and bills and receipts.

I’m also working on a writing project with an actual deadline that is only two weeks away, so watch this space for more news on that.

The strawberries pictured above were roasted under the broiler and served with chocolate pudding, just a little gift from me to you. Try it!