My kids are on spring break this week. Their vacation from school couldn’t come soon enough.
It’s not that either kid has had a lot of homework or is extremely busy with after-school activities. If anything, this time of year is much quieter than October. I think the endless snow and cold temperatures that has been this winter as dragged on the point where it takes too much energy to do anything.
Packing the kids’ lunches? Ugh.
Making sure I’m back from the gym to get them going on the morning? Blah.
Checking math homework? I want to tell them there’s very little chance they’ll ever use algebra in their adult lives, but that’s a secret no parent can share. Well, not until they’re a grandparent, anyway.
Yes, winter is dragging and I am dragging right along with it. It’s gotten to the point where making dinner seems like too much effort. Unfortunately, I maxed out our eating out budget for the month weeks ago. My kids no longer want Chinese, pizza or burritos. They want real food and they expect me to make it.
An editor once told me that when work gets boring, start a new article that will challenge your mind. I figured she was just trying to get another story out of me, but I decided to apply that philosophy to dinner. For one week, I will make a new dinner every night, using a recipe I’ve never tried before. Spring break – the week the kids don’t have homework or after-school activities – seems as good of a week as any to start. Hopefully the sun will be shining when I finish.
Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, so I will definitely have this recipe in the lineup.
SESAME NOODLES WITH SHREDDED CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES
½ teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons hot water, plus extra as needed
Chicken and noodles:
8 ounces fresh Chinese noodles or 6 ounces dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
½ red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, optional
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
For the sauce: Process all ingredients except hot water in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the blender still running, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce has consistency of heavy cream.
For the chicken and noodles: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add noodles and salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles, rinse with cold water, drain again and then toss with oil.
Transfer noodles to a large bowl. Add sauce, shredded chicken, red pepper, cucumber, carrot, scallions, and cilantro (if using), and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Source: The Pasta Revolution by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen (Boston Common Press; March 1, 2012)
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