Layered Asian Dip

This layered dip is chock full of crunchy vegetables and chicken drenched in a yummy Asian-inspired sauce. The creamy peanut butter base adds a fun twist! Enjoy with crackers at your next party! 

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

There’s nothing like a good appetizer to get the party started, right? I have a confession to make: I am terrible at appetizers. Most seem so finicky. If I’m hosting, I can totally make some hot little bites in the oven. But as things have it, in this stage of life, I rarely host [even though I’d love to]. We’re usually tasked with bringing x, y, or z to a gathering…and it’s just a pain to try to transport a hot dish, and sometimes those cute little bites just get gross if they sit for awhile. So cold dips are my go-to appetizers. Hummus, guacamole, salsa, I love them all. But they aren’t very fancy.

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This Layered Asian Dip takes a normal dip up a notch! It’s a play off of Mexican Seven Layer Dip, even though it’s only a three layer dip. But it’s three layers of awesome: a creamy base of peanut butter and cream cheese; a wonderful medley of chicken, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, scallions, and aromatics like ginger and garlic; and last but not least–a slightly sweet, slightly spicy Asian dressing on top. This dressing is really what makes the dip, imo. Sure, chicken and peanut butter are staples of my diet, but the sauce brings everything together in a nice package. It’s tangy and delicious!

Layered Asian Dip | thepajamachef.com

This dip is perfect for a party because you can make all the components ahead of time and chill them in the fridge, then go get ready, and then assemble at the last minute. I love it when things work out that way so I don’t have to worry about the dish losing its beauty while we’re waiting for things to get started. This dip is best enjoyed the day it is made, but the leftovers are still tasty the next day. By the way, you’ll have some extra sauce leftover–it’s perfect for tossing with some plain white rice and cooked veggies [I love those bags of frozen Asian vegetables] for a quick side dish during the week. Enjoy!

one year ago: Grandma’s Banana Nut Bread
two years ago: Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Pineapple Black Bean Rice
four years ago: Butterscotch and Chocolate Yellow Cake

Layered Asian Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2-4 hours but only about 20 minutes active time
  • Print

from The Sweets Life

Ingredients:

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops hot sauce [like Sriracha]

for topping

  • 3/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
  • 2-3 sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

for base

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2-4 ounces creamy peanut butter [depending on how strong of a peanut butter flavor you like]
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • crackers for serving

Directions:

First, prepare sauce. Whisk brown sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in water, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate to further thicken for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in advance.

Next, stir together all topping ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Just before serving, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and just enough milk to make mixture smooth. Spread on the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan or serving dish. Sprinkle topping over cream cheese mixture, then drizzle 1/2 cup sauce [there will be leftovers] on top.

Serve with crackers immediately.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This is not your classic macaroni salad… and in my opinion, that’s okay. It’s even BETTER! This macaroni salad is sweet and creamy and has a nice, satisfying crunch to it. There’s fruit and vegetables and all sorts of yummy things! I know that sounds odd, but don’t turn away!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

I’ve never made a “real” macaroni salad before because I don’t really like pickles or relish and it seems like every macaroni salad calls for that. I’m not going to buy a jar for just one recipe [but spices on the other hand…]! So when I saw this recipe, I was sold. I don’t really know what made the original recipe “Hawaiian” because to me, you need pineapple to make a recipe Hawaiian. [BTW I know that is SO NOT TRUE but that’s where my mind goes!] So I added some. Duh.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

And I also added some mint for good measure. This addicting salad was just calling for some. Seriously. This is a great dish to make for summer picnics and BBQs, or just an ordinary dinner at home. Ben doesn’t even like mayo-based salads but he willingly ate [and enjoyed] several bowls of this. How’s that for rave reviews? Enjoy!

one year ago: Thai Tofu Ramen
two years ago: Strawberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Margarita Cupcakes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 3hr 20mins
  • Print

adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook and drain macaroni to al dente according to package directions.

Stir together hot macaroni, mayo, carrots, celery, and vinegar. Combine sugar, pepper, and onion powder, add to macaroni, and stir well. Fold in pineapple and mint, then season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to set, overnight if possible. Add a little more mayo before serving if desired. Enjoy!

Author: Sarah K. @ thepajamachef.com

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Lindsay’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Let the week of LOVE continue! You guys [y’all?] I am in LOVE with this chicken noodle soup. It all started with a recipe I saw on Facebook, posted in the comment of a photo. My friend from Bloomington made this soup for her family and a bunch of people were asking for the recipe cause it looked awesome. Lindsay posted the recipe and I made it. And we loved it. And I may never make another chicken noodle soup as long as I live.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles | thepajamachef.com #bestever

Though these photos hardly do the soup justice, you must promise me that you’ll make it! Promise? Good.

This soup undoubtedly is so good because of two things: white meat. Dark meat. Homemade noodles. Wait–that was three things. Oh well. You basically cook the chicken low and slow on the stove with some buttery vegetables, shred the meat, add some broth, add the noodles, and devour. While the chicken is a-going, you make some noodles. No big deal, right? The noodles are actually pretty simple to throw together. Mine were a little thicker than I’d like–they were almost like dumplings–but they were still delicious.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles | thepajamachef.com #bestever

And you know what the best part of making my own egg noodles was? [Besides how good they taste???] They’re the first recipe I’ve tried as part of my 30 before 30 project! I should really make more of an effort to get on that. The months are tickin’ away. I think I may have a problem making some of the other items on my list because I’m just going to want to make these noodles all the time though! Thanks Lindsay for the great recipe. :)

one year ago: 60 Minute Sandwich Buns
two years ago: Loaded Sweet Potato Fries
three years ago: Tomato Tortellini Soup

Lindsay’s Chicken Noodle Soup [from my friend Lindsay]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken [4-6 pounds]
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4-8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 recipe egg noodles [see below]

Directions:

Place one whole chicken and bay leaves in a large stockpot, then cover completely with water [just barely covered]. Salt water, then bring to a boil.

In a skillet, melt butter then sauté celery, carrot, and onion until crisp-tender. Season with pepper as desired. Add to pot with chicken, then cook until chicken is fully cooked with an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Remove chicken from pot, then remove meat from bones, shred, and return to pot. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, then egg noodles

and boil until al dente. If necessary, add up to 4 additional cups of chicken broth to thin out soup.

Time: 2 hours [30 minutes active]

Yield: 16 servings.

Homemade Egg Noodles [from my friend Lindsay]

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

Directions:

On the countertop or in a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Next, add egg yolks and whole egg. Mix thoroughly. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together.

Knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 4 parts, then roll out each part 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Gently cut into noodle strips, then place on a kitchen towel. Repeat until all dough has been cut, then let noodles dry for 2-3 hours.

Use in any recipe calling for egg noodles, boiling to al dente as usual.

Time: 4 hours.

Note: Noodles can be made in advance, storing in an air-tight container at room temperature [NOT refrigerated] for up to a month.

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice

Lately I’ve been really into quick but still healthy meals. Working full time is great… but when I get home from a long day and an even longer commute, half the time I want to just curl up on the couch with my soft blanket and my Kindle, and the other half of the time I want to bake doughnuts, cookies, and muffins and skip dinner entirely. No idea why this disparity, but dinner is usually not my highest priority. But ya gotta eat, right? So I’ve been turning to quick meals that are still healthy and that make loads of leftovers to eat all week long, like this fabulous Pineapple Fried Rice. This crave-worthy dinner can be made in about 20 minutes so it’s awesome for busy or lazy nights when you just want something yummy but not heavy.

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

I started off this dish with the Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil from STAR Fine Foods which they graciously sent me to try out. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store, just add a little ginger [fresh or ground] and some extra soy sauce as the veggies are sauteing. Normally I wouldn’t think of using special infused oils on an ordinary weeknight, but I’m beginning to change my mind. They really make an ordinary dish shine–and cut down on my prep time so I can get back to my book sooner. :) #librarianalert

Pineapple Fried Rice | thepajamachef.com- a 20 minute quick and healthy #dinner #STARFineFoods #vegetarian

For this batch of fried rice, I used garlic, carrots, edamame, peas, and green beans, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. I’m thinking some sugar snap peas and broccoli would be good to try next time. What we especially loved about this vegetarian fried rice was the subtle sweetness of the pineapple with the salty soy sauce and sesame oil. Oh man, what a combo! This dish was hearty enough without meat [I totally think fried rice is one of those dishes where meat isn’t missed] but if you gotta have some, pork or shrimp would be good. Chicken is too predictable, methinks. Oh, and don’t forget the chopped honey roasted peanuts on top. Crunch crunch! :) Cilantro would be a good addition too! TTYL :) [I can’t believe I just wrote that. LOL! Hahaha.] Enjoy!

one year ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
two years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons STAR Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil [extra virgin olive oil infused with soy and ginger]
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained [reserve 1/4 cup pineapple juice and save the rest to drink or for something else]
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked, cold rice [day old if possible]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for serving
  • chopped honey roasted peanuts, for serving

Directions:

Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in edamame, peas, green beans, and pineapple. Cook for a minute or so until they just begin to soften.

Add rice and soy sauce to vegetables, then stir continuously for about 4 minutes, until rice is hot and begins to crisp up.

Push all the rice mixture to one side of the pan and pour the eggs in the empty spot. Quickly stir the eggs on the hot surface until they just begin to cook, then whisk them into the rice mixture. Pour in toasted sesame oil, then stir to combine.

Remove from heat, and serve fried rice with sesame seeds and chopped honey roasted peanuts.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Disclosure: STAR Fine Foods sent me a complementary package of their new cooking oils and some other goodies to try out. I had no obligations to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try them though! Thanks to Ruby and all the other great people at STAR Fine Foods for their generosity.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese & Bacon

Kale. Seriously can’t get enough of it. Ben can’t either. No complaints here.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

Normally, our kale is cooked–in pasta, fried rice, or as a base for chicken or pork. But this time, I decided to do something different and make a chopped kale salad. That’s right… raw kale, chopped into a billion teeny tiny bites and tossed with a fabulous array of toppings and the most spectacular dressing ever. Intrigued?

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

What makes this salad special and different is ALL the tastes and textures going on. Crisp carrots, sweet apples, salty bacon, pungent bleu cheese, tart cranberries, crunchy toasted almonds. And a sweet peanut butter-maple vinaigrette that is nothing short of amazing. I was literally eating it with a spoon, for goodness sake! It has a peanut butter base, so that’s totally legit, right?

By the way, if you aren’t the biggest fan of bleu cheese, don’t let this scare you. There’s only enough to give a hint of the flavor, but if you like it you can always substitute feta or parmesan. I don’t always include cheese in my salads but it really works in this one, to make it more substantial. Just FYI.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

I threw this recipe together quickly on a busy night when we were headed to a small group dinner, and it was all but polished off. Fortunately, there was enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, but the salad definitely got a little soggy on day 2 so I would recommend adding the dressing just before serving if at all possible. I only made this a couple weeks ago and am totally craving it now, as I write this at 10:27 pm. I have a feeling this salad is going to become a regular in our house and I hope it will in yours too! Enjoy!

So you tell me… have you ever had a kale salad before? What are your go-to [kale] salad mix-ins?

a year ago… Man Cupcakes
three years ago… Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese and Bacon [dressing adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bunches kale
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large Fuji apple
  • 3 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper

dressing

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Directions:

Wash and dry kale, then tear into small bite-size pieces, discarding thick stems. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry cabbage, carrot, and apple, then shred. I used my food processor but a grater would also work. Add to kale, along with bleu cheese, bacon, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter until smooth to make dressing, then drizzle half over the salad. Toss to combine, and add more dressing as desired. I used about 3/4 of the total dressing made. Season with black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 side salads, 3-4 meal size salads.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.