Homemade peanut noodles with pork tastes better than take-out

Peanut Noodles with Pork
Peanut Noodles with Pork Food Network

Monday: Meatless

Day-old French bread gets a new life in White Bean Panzanella Salad.

Cube the bread and set aside. In a large bowl, mix diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, cubed fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, a can of rinsed and drained white beans, and a sliced fennel bulb. Add in the bread cubes. Dress with a red wine vinaigrette and sprinkle with capers. The liquid from the tomatoes and dressing revives the bread.

Tuesday: Go nuts

Put that jar of creamy peanut butter in your pantry to good use in Peanut Noodles with Pork (see recipe).

This is a flavorful dish that rivals just about anything you’ll pick up for take-out. If you can’t find ground pork at the market, ask for it. They’ll grind some to order for you.

Wednesday: Chicken pie

Casseroles are a year-round delight. Chicken Tortilla Pie is a kid favorite, too.

You’ll need 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken, both dark and white meat. Lightly spritz an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer in 4 toasted corn tortillas (you’ll need 12 total), 1 cup of the chicken, 1/2 can of mild chopped chiles, 1/2 cup green salsa, a few spoonfuls of sour cream and a handful of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat once more and top with the rest of the tortillas, more sour cream and cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Slices of cold melon on the side.

Thursday: Shellfish splurge

Every now and then, you have to say what the heck and splurge on sea scallops. Make them simply and savor their natural flavor in Caesar Salad with Sautéed Scallops. Prepare the salad and then sauté the scallops in a mixture of melted butter and olive oil. Before cooking, season the shellfish with salt, pepper and paprika.

Cook on one side over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, flip and cook for just another minute. Do not overcook or they will be rubbery. (And you’ll have wasted that hard-earned cash.) Serve on top of ice-cold Caesar.

Friday: Burger night

Make the family Avocado Bacon Burgers tonight and you will earn a gold star for the week.

Prepare burgers however you like and melt slices of pepper Jack cheese on top, then garnish with thick slices of tomatoes, avocado wedges, cooked bacon and iceberg lettuce leaves. Try a mayo mixed with a smashed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce on the buns. Serve with ranch-style beans and corn.

Saturday: Easy Entertaining

Invite guests for Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa (see recipe). Serve with rice, grilled zucchini and sourdough bread. For dessert, drizzle strawberry sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Sunday: Family Day

This Pot Roast (see recipe) reminds me of the one that my mother used to make. Serve it with a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Slice angel food cake, top it with blueberries, and add a dollop of light whipped cream for an easy dessert.

Peanut Noodles with Pork

Kosher salt

12 ounces uncooked spaghetti

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce, divided

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided

2 carrots, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds and ribs for less heat), divided

1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)

1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces ground pork

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain. Whisk the peanut butter, vinegar, 2 tablespoons each water and soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, the carrots and half of the jalapeño in a large bowl. Add the noodles and toss to coat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites, ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the pork and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce.

Transfer the pork mixture to the bowl with the noodles. Add half of the scallion greens and cilantro and toss to coat, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to loosen. Serve topped with the remaining jalapeño, scallion greens and cilantro. Serves 4.

Per serving: 780 calories, 40 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 60 mg cholesterol, 73 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 32 g protein, 690 mg sodium.

Source: Food Network magazine.

Pot Roast

1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup water

1 (1-ounce) envelope onion soup mix (from 2-ounce package)

1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) boneless beef chuck roast

6 to 8 small whole red potatoes

1 medium onion, cut into quarters

1 (16-ounce) package baby carrots

Chopped parsley for garnish

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Shake flour into large oven cooking bag; place bag in 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Add water and soup mix to bag; squeeze bag to blend sauce. Add beef to bag. Turn to coat beef with sauce. Place potatoes, onion and carrots in bag around beef. Close bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2-inch slits in top. Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove from bag; carve meat across grain and serve with vegetables. Garnish with parsley. Makes 10 servings.

Per serving: 234 calories, 28 g protein, 6 g fat (23 percent calories from fat), 2.2 g saturated fat, 17 g carbohydrates, 52 mg cholesterol, 234 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Carb choices: 1.

Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

4 boneless pork loin chops, 3/4-inch thick, trimmed

3 slices fresh or canned pineapple (about 6 ounces)

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat grill to medium-high; lightly oil grate. In a bowl, combine chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Rub on both sides of pork. Grill pork 3 to 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Grill pineapple 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly charred. Remove chops from grill; let stand 3 minutes. Meanwhile, dice grilled pineapple and finely dice jalapeño. In a bowl, combine pineapple, pepper and lime juice. Serve salsa with chops. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 236 calories, 28 g protein, 8 g fat (30 percent calories from fat), 2.3 g saturated fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 86 mg cholesterol, 333 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Carb choices: 1.