Weekend + Gingery Peanut Soba Noodles

gingery peanut soba noodles from coffee & quinoa

Good morning. How was your weekend?

Mine was SNOWY.

coffee & quinoa

We got over a foot of snow here in Salt Lake, and about 4 feet up in the mountains! That means skiing next weekend for sure. Hooray!

Friday night Nate and I braved the storm to go out for dinner at Sage’s Cafe, our favorite vegan restaurant (slash only vegan restaurant we’ve tried) in Salt Lake.

sage's cafe | coffee & quinoa

We ate so much food! We split the bruschetta to start. This is my entree, the picadillo vegetariano. It was delicious and full of spices – I will definitely be recreating it at home sometime soon. Nate got a pasta ragout special that was also yummy. And then we had dessert – brownie and ice cream with peanut sauce for me, chocolate raspberry cake for Nate. We should have split a dessert… mine put me over the edge!

It snowed pretty much the rest of the weekend, so I holed up inside and cooked and baked up a storm. So much fun! And also very tiring. But it means I have plenty of food to share with you this week! Luckily I did bundle up and make it to yoga and the gym, although it was still probably not enough activity to offset all the sampling I did while cooking :)

Speaking of cooking, let’s get to the recipe part of this post.

gingery peanut soba noodles from coffee & quinoa

These noodles actually weren’t part of my weekend cooking extravaganza; I made them last Thursday night. Healthy, tasty, and ready in 20 minutes flat – if that’s not a recipe for weeknight success, I don’t know what is! They are my favorite thing to whip up when I get home in the dark after work and yoga and we have no leftovers and I am HUNGRY. And the best part is that while I’m at it, I get to use up any extra vegetables that are lurking in my crisper causing guilt.

There’s really no wrong way to make this dish. I usually aim to have about equal parts noodles and vegetables. You can throw any veggies you like in here, and even better if they are ones that often appear in Asian dishes (I happened to have broccoli, carrots, a red pepper, and some frozen edamame this week). You can also add cubed tofu in for protein, which I usually do but forgot this week. Roasted peanuts and green onions on top are also yummy if you have those lying around. But what reallllly makes this dish is  the sauce! I love love love peanut sauce and could eat it on pretty much anything. Thank goodness Nate feels the same way!

gingery peanut soba noodles from coffee & quinoa

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gingery Peanut Soba Noodles
 
Hands-on time
Cook time
Total time
 
This perfect weeknight meal is healthy, tasty and ready in 20 minutes flat.
Author:
Yields: 4
Ingredients
  • 5 oz soba noodles
  • 8 oz extra-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • Chopped vegetables - I used:
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 crowns broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 1 Tbsp reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Sauce:
  • 1 knob ginger, chopped or grated (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • chopped fresh cilantro for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. First, prep the vegetables, ginger and optional tofu. (If I don't do this first, I tend to let the noodles cook too long.)
  2. Next, heat water for the soba noodles. Once boiling, add noodles and remove from heat. Let soak for several minutes, until tender but not mushy. This really takes almost no time at all, so keep a close eye on them! Strain and rinse in cold water, then set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in tamari, sesame oil, and optional tofu and continue sauteing a few more minutes until tofu is heated through and veggies are slightly softened.
  4. While vegetables are sauteing, mix the peanut sauce. Add all sauce ingredients (ginger through red pepper flakes) to a small bowl and (ideally) blend with an immersion blender. Whisking will also work fine - just make sure to chop the ginger as finely as possible beforehand.
  5. To serve, divide soba noodles among individual bowls. Add vegetables and top with peanut sauce and cilantro. Enjoy with a big mug of green tea!
Notes
Peanut sauce from Eat, Live, Run http://www.eatliverun.com/peanut-soba-noodle-bowls/

Have a good start to your week!

The Weekend: Viva Las Vegas!

las vegas | coffee & quinoa

I just got back from Vegas last night! And although I don’t necessarily feel ready to take on the week, I’m happy to report that I neither drank too much nor lost any money the whole weekend. The same can’t be said for all the co-workers I went with – not calling anyone out though :)

This was a work trip, but no meetings or anything – just an annual rewards trip where we get to head down there and have fun! Last year they went at the end of my very first week of work, so needless to say, I did not get to go. I was happy to be in on the fun this year.

We took buses down there, leaving at 6 am on Friday, which was brutal. We arrived in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel, the Palazzo. The hotel was awesome. I’m not sure how much the suites cost, but it was definitely nicer than the hotel we stayed in last time I was in Vegas on my own dime!

palazzo las vegas | coffee & quinoa

The rooms were huge! Each one had two double beds (we had roommates) and a step down to a seating and office area.

palazzo las vegas | coffee & quinoa

The bathrooms were super nice, too, although I didn’t get a picture before I spread my stuff out all over.

Our hotel was attached to the Venetian, and I wandered around there for a while. I found I could deal with the tackiness of Vegas much better my second time there, and even appreciate it, because I knew what to expect.

the venetian | coffee & quinoa

I didn’t do any gambling the whole weekend. I’m not really into the gambling thing… when I was in Vegas this May I lost about $2.50 in the penny slots, and that was enough gambling for the year for me! (Can you say high roller?) Luckily this time we had plenty of activities lined up, and I didn’t even have to spend too much time watching other people gamble. :)

Friday evening we had a company meeting (where I won a $50 Amazon gift card – totally left Vegas up!), then a bunch of us headed to dinner at the sushi fusion restaurant in our hotel.

sushi samba at the palazzo | coffee & quinoa

That might not be the most appetizing picture, but everything was delicious! Pickled seaweed, grilled baby corn, asparagus, eggplant, and more corn, plus swordfish and beef skewers. We did a tasting menu that included our waiter bringing out several trays like this for the whole table to share. I have to admit I broke with veganism to eat these swordfish skewers, plus the sushi that came after this. Too good to pass up!

After dinner, we went to the hotel club, where we had a VIP area rented out for work. Probably the only time in my life I’ll get bottle service in Vegas, and I only drank the bottled water! When my choices are Amstel Light and hard liquor, I think I’ll pass.

lavo at the palazzo | coffee & quinoa

The club was fun, but by 1 am (2 am Salt Lake time!) I was ready to call it a night.

The next morning we ate at Olives and got to watch the Bellagio fountain show from the patio. Fun!

olive's at the bellagio | coffee & quinoa

We shopped our way back down the strip, only to hop in a cab and head back to the Luxor for the Bodies exhbit.

Saturday night we had a staff dinner at the steak house at the Palazzo. I was all prepared to request a vegan entree… until I saw the prix fixe menus on the table. Boo. I ate creamy squash bisque, salad, salmon, and part of the creme brulee. My stomach did not feel awesome afterwards, but that’s OK. As much as I like eating vegan, I also realize the value of being able to go with the flow and not make a stink in that type of work-dinner-prix-fixe situation. (Did I mention I avoid confrontation at all costs?)

After dinner we made our way back down the strip to the Chandelier bar at the Cosmopolitan.

chandelier bar | coffee & quinoa

This place was awesome, and had no cover! It’s a multi-story bar in the center of the Cosmopolitan that looks like a giant chandelier. We wandered in and ended up going down to the ground floor where a live band was playing. They were amazing!

jennifer keith quintet | coffee & quinoa

They played swing, some songs from the 20s, and other music that made me wish I still had some of my old college ballroom moves. Maybe I’ll get back into it sometime…

My feet were killing me after walking a mile down the strip in heels, so we took a cab back and headed to bed. This morning we were up bright and early for breakfast and the loooong bus ride back!

So after adding every possible picture into this post, here’s a little summary:

Where we stayed: The Palazzo (attached to the Venetian)

Where we ate: Sushi Samba (vegetarian friendly), Morel’s French Steak House (they might make you a veggie entree, but everything on the menu definitely had meat, butter and cheese), Todd English’s Olives (I got the portobello flatbread without cheese and it was delicious!)

What we drank: Vanishing Point 2011 Pinot Noir (at Morel’s), Mad Fish 2008 Australian Shiraz (that I brought from home), bloody Mary at Olives (delicious!)

What we did: Lavo Nightclub, shopping on the strip, Bodies exhibition, Jennifer Keith Quintet at The Chandelier

My main takeaway from the weekend was that even though I don’t love gambling or drinking heavily, Vegas is a lot of fun! As long as someone else is paying. :)

Willamette Valley By iPhone

Hah! As if all my pictures weren’t taken on my iPhone.

This past weekend, Nate and I headed to Oregon to spend a long weekend wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. We had planned this vacation in the summer, when he got his class schedule and realized he’d have this Monday off. I’ve been looking forward to it for months!

Last spring we spent 5 days in Napa, and it was the best vacation we’d ever taken together. Doing the same thing this year (but this time with pinot instead of cabernet!) sounded excellent.

We flew into Portland Friday evening, picked up our rental car (Frankie the Ford Focus!), and headed down to Newberg, OR. We spent the next three days doing nothing but visiting vineyards and planning our next meal! It was pretty much heaven.

We did multiple tastings each day, ranging from a private tasting with the owner/winemaker at Belle Pente to tastings at much more established wine bars in town. It was all delicious! We restrained ourselves and didn’t buy any bottles to bring home. You’re not allowed to send/bring wine back to Utah (plus we were tasting expensive wines!), so we opted to just enjoy it during our vacation.

Most vineyards were bottling while we were there, in preparation to start harvest on Monday. It was fun to be there at harvest time and see the grapes looking so ripe. When we were in Napa last Easter, there were barely any leaves showing! This was quite a bit different.

Favorite wineries:

Archery Summit - This was our first stop, and had an awesome little outdoor tasting area with some of the most beautiful views we saw. We liked it so much, we went back on Monday!

Carlton Winemakers Studio - This is an amazing co-op where several local winemakers come together to use the same winemaking facilities and tasting room. Two of the winemakers were in the tasting room with us! I loved the Hamacher 2011 Willamette Valley pinot noir, the Andrew Rich 2010 Willamette Valley Verbatim pinot noir, and (surprisingly) a Rose from Retour Wines (that wasn’t on the tasting menu and I didn’t think to take a picture of, so I’m not sure what year!).

Lemelson Vineyards - We stopped here twice, too! Our favorite was the 2010 Cuvee X pinot noir.

Argyle Winery - They focus on bubbly as well as pinot noir. The 2009 Knudsen and the 2008 Spirithouse pinot noirs were my favorite!

Domaine Serene - Another beautiful outdoor tasting area. I think their 2009 Yamhill Cuvee pinot noir was my favorite… but I wasn’t keeping such good track by that point!

Stoller Family Estate - They had just built their new tasting room 3 weeks before and it was gorgeous!

(We didn’t drink much wine, did we?!)

Where we stayed:

We spent the first night at a cheaper chain hotel in Newberg, so that we could splurge on a bed & breakfast the next two nights. We picked the Lobenhaus just outside of Carlton. We were the youngest people staying there by at least 25 years, but it was a great place to come home to after a day of wine tasting.

What we ate:

Pasta and pizza at the Dundee Bistro, delicious sandwiches at the Red Hills Market, gnocchi and risotto at Paulee, and Tapas at La Rambla. For the short distance from Portland, I was shocked at how un-vegan-friendly this area was in general! I guess French cooking and wine country just go together? There was hardly a vegan item to be found on any menu, although everyone was very nice about accommodating vegan requests. Although I have to say that by Sunday night my resolve had broken down a bit, and I ate quite a few tapas with cheese on them at La Rambla. I won’t beat myself up about it once in a while… and they were so good.

When’s my next vacation?!

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