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Thursday, December 24, 2015

5 Ingredient Asian Noodles

Here's a QUICK and simple meal where all the ingredients come from one store...Trader Joe's! There is no chopping of veggies involved, so everything comes together very fast with little mess and no clean-up.  I'm going to compare it to as close as you can get to chow mein without adding powdered mixes or making your own sauce with lots of weird things like fish sauce/oyster sauce.  My kids love eating at fast-food Chinese places solely for this dish, and it drives me crazy to see how enthusiastically they dig into those heavy and unhealthy noodles. This pacifies their craving and they call it "fake chow mein". The irony that it's more "real" food than the fast-food version is lost on them, but oh well.  The crunch of the brocolli slaw and carrots is just like what you'd get from the restaurant version, and leaving the veggies mainly raw retains their nutrients and saves preparation time.

I've had a hard time finding teriyaki sauce that does not include alcohol, so I was thrilled when I read the list of ingredients on the Trader Joe's version of teriyaki, called "Soyaki". I ALWAYS have a jar of this ready to be used, and I've tried it in many recipes with great success. Here is my children's favorite way to enjoy it, with plain noodles. I'm going to be honest with you, the kids like this dish prepared simply as only noodles and sauce, without the veggies. But being who I am, I'm always shoving healthy stuff wherever I can so when I've got the broccoli slaw, it goes in. And when I don't...well, the kids don't complain ;)

The exact moment I knew I needed to make my own noodles
 (these are from a local Chinese restaurant)

Tips for success:
Feel free to leave out the veggies for a 3 ingredient dish, or add your favorite protein to the noodles. Chicken and shrimp are my favorites but tofu and steak would also work great. I also frequently use whole wheat spaghetti with great results. Hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes really elevate the flavor!

Serves 4-6

-1 pound spaghetti noodles (cooked al dente according to package instructions).
-2 tablespoons sesame oil
-12 ounce package Trader Joe's broccoli slaw
-10 ounce bag of shredded carrots
-1 1/2 cups Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce (3/4 of the jar)

To make
-Boil a pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, al dente  (usually around 9-11 minutes on my stove). The pasta will cook for an additional few minutes later on when you add the sauce.
-Once the pasta has cooked, drain in a strainer. Do not rinse.
-In the same pot you boiled the pasta, heat the sesame oil and add the broccoli slaw, carrots, boiled spaghetti and Soyaki sauce. Cook the mixture for about 3-5 minutes, until the noodles have absorbed the sauce.
-Remove from heat and serve.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cookies n' Cream Oreo Bars

I've got a good one for you today. 5 ingredients (I'm even generously counting the salt and vanilla in this number!) + 10 minutes = HAPPY HAPPY eaters!

There's no baking required, and no special tools! I love these bars for so many reasons. Here are a few:

1) They're made with Oreo cookies. Enough said.
2) They have marshmallows, which makes them a fancy version of a Rice Krispy Treat.
3) There are no complicated ingredients required, meaning you can throw them together in the spur of the moment.
4) They travel very well. No refrigeration or special care is needed. Take them with you anywhere!
5) Probably my favorite reason to love can make these and get their hands dirty in the process! Anything that gets the kids in the kitchen gets a thumbs up in my book!
6) It should go without saying that these TASTE INCREDIBLE! ;)

My sister, the same one behind these addictive cookies, made these one day into a bark-like form. I was skeptical because they were very thin, but the flavor was REALLY yummy, so I begrudgingly ate more but complained about how they looked. Then my other sister re-made them, but about 1000000% thicker, and they were just as good but now way too rich and heavy. This is where I came in and evened them out into what we all consider the perfect ratio of thickness, sweetness and indulgence.

Feel free to add mini-marshmallows when you add the Oreo cookies for extra texture in your bars. I've also made these with flavored Oreo cookies (the most recent trial was mint Oreo) and they're all good!

Makes about 16 bars

-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-14 ounces marshmallow cream
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-26 Oreo cookies (2 sleeves from large package)

To make
-Line a 7x11 inch pan (or 8x8) with parchment paper and butter the pan and paper, making sure to butter the sides of your pan.
-Heat a pot on the stove and add butter. Once butter is melted add the marshmallow fluff, vanilla and salt. Stir until everything is mixed together. (I use a silicon spatula so the mixture doesn't stick to my spoon).
-Remove the pot from the heat. Roughly crush Oreo cookies with your hand and put them into the pot. Stir them into the marshmallow mixture until all the cookies are well coated with the marshmallow.
-Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top to make sure it is even.
-Allow the cookie bars to cool, then cut into desired sizes and serve. Store leftovers tightly covered at room temperature.

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Reader favorites! Try some other bar recipes:

Smore's Bars

Chocolate Date Bars

7 layer Cookie Dough Bars
7 layer cookie dough bars
Cookie Butter Rice Krispies