Peanut Noodle Bowls

I have a very clear memory of sitting at the small kids table in the front room [“the piano room” which later became “the computer room”] of my Mom’s house and being served a giant bowl of peanut noodles. I know there were other kids there, otherwise we would’ve been eating at the regular kitchen table. I know it was summer, or at least warm and sunny out. But other than that, my memory is really of the giant serving bowl filled with peanut butter goodness.

For me, as a child, peanut noodles felt like a trick that adults hadn’t quite figured out. Like Nutella, I wanted to point out that peanut butter was too delicious to be allowed for dinner. Especially over spaghetti.

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Even as an adult, peanut noodles feel like getting away with something.

But the other night, I made us heaping bowls of peanut noodles with broccoli, a little chicken for Mister and some leftover tofu for mine.

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I followed the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything blog and it was exactly what I was looking for; the only change I made was I added more water to thin the recipe out quite a bit.

While the sauce was being made, I diced up a chicken breast for Mister and cooked it in a pan while simultaneously steaming some broccoli in the microwave and boiling pasta water.

I had completely forgotten about this little microwave steamer I picked up from Sears a few years ago.  I’m sure it would be easy to find something similar on Amazon, and it really is helpful for quick cooking as an alternative to buying those frozen Steam Fresh type veggie bags.

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Dinner for Breakfast

I love breakfast. I even eat breakfast for dinner more often than I should admit. It’s without a doubt my favorite meal.

Yesterday, however, I had dinner for breakfast. And I don’t regret it.

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The night before I made chicken Parmesan with spaghetti, and some grilled, marinated eggplant and zucchini (the veggies came frozen from Trader Joes).
In the morning, that dinner still sounded good.

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I poured leftover marinara sauce into a sauté pan, and cracked two eggs directly into the bubbling liquid. Covered to steam for a few minutes.

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Once the whites were set, and the yolks still semi-soft, the whole pan was poured over spaghetti. And then all smushed together in a very un photogenic way. Seriously good breakfast.

Fed Like Family

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Last night Mister and I went to Ferrari’s restaurant for an abundant meal of carbs served in an atmosphere that I can only liken to a Grandmother’s living room. It was perfect.

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Upon arriving you wait in this cozy, slightly cramped, bar / vestibule. The bar tender appears to be possibly the owner, maybe family of the owner. He was friendly, welcoming: greeting regulars by name, teasing the staff, and making sure everyone felt at home while they waited.

The hostess popped back and forth from the mysterious dining room and the bar area, promising we would be seated in no time even without reservations. Sure enough, we were taken back there in under 15 minutes or so, though the wait was as enjoyable as the dinner to come, serving as an introduction to family atmosphere.

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The wood paneling. The framed family pictures. Mismatched dishes. It was just like someone had pushed the couches aside only moments earlier to set up extra tables for the expanding dinner party.

Service was efficient, the waitstaff seemed to appear at just the right moment to take orders and deliver food, while leaving us plenty of time to talk and relax with the cold wine.

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The bread basket that arrived was good quality bread but it was cold and sad. I didn’t want to waste any calories or stomach space, so I pushed it to the side once our salads arrived. Included with entrees, we both requested the house dressing. It was a slightly more complex Italian dressing that worked perfectly over the perfunctory mixed salad. These salads are the hallmark of local red sauce restaurants, highlighted by sharp cheese and sweet roasted red peppers.

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Starting with fried calamari, we were delivered these light, crispy morsels of tender squid. They weren’t the least bit chewy, and I was able to fully enjoy the salty, lemony goodness only made better by the bright sauce served on the side. It was thick with plum tomatoes, and lighter than their marinara.

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Mister chose chicken Parmesan, while I went with their Chicken Antonio. These giant chicken dishes arrived crisp with bowls of pasta. My chicken was egg dipped, crispy, but sitting in a perfectly tart sauce of lemon, wine, and garlic. I wanted a spoon to really enjoy the sauce on its own, it was that good. Light and decadent.

The chicken Parmesan was crispy in its breakind, thin. Neither chicken cutlet was dry or over cooked, which is sometimes the downfall of such giant portions or basic dishes. Ferrari’s marinara sauce is anything but basic. With the perfect consistency, neither too thick nor thin, with a bright tomato flavor I surprised myself with how much I liked it. Normally, I find marinara overwhelming when it’s costing my entree and my pasta, but this sauce was sweet without being cloying and had an actual depth of flavor. I just barely regret not ordering some.

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Instead of marinara, I requested garlic and oil on my linguini. Mister went with Alfredo on his spaghetti, and the table was covered with an overwhelming amount of food. According to their menu, pasta is cooked to order and to allow for extra time for this. The pasta was certainly al dente, mine came dripping with garlicky unctuous oil.

The only downfall, aside from the cold bread, was the side order of meatballs Mister ordered as an afterthought. They had the most unpleasant texture, and I’m not even sure how to politely describe them. It took effort to swallow my one bite; soft and squishy like white bread, with an aftertaste I would equate to the taste left in my mouth if I mistakenly breath in to deeply near the container of dog food. These were pretty terrible. They were not frozen, but they were not crispy on the outside and had a puréed, bready texture.

Meatballs aside, we had a fantastic night. We were not rushed in the slightest, even with a line out the door once we left. Our stomach full of garlic, chicken, wine, and pasta it was one of the best date nights we had in a while. Although pricy ($81.00), we have enough leftovers for at least two more meals. But it was more than the food or the price, it was the lighthearted feeling of a warm room filled with conversation and laughing. Shared meals and family reverberated from the wood paneling. Hardly weighed down from the gluttonous meal, instead I left relieved of the week’s stresses, lighter in spirit.