Asian Spring Noodles

There are not too many meals that my whole, entire family eats with enthusiasm.  In fact, I can’t really think of anything besides pizza and … this Asian dinner that we had last night!!  I feel like something transformative has happened now that we have a second all-star dinner in the rotation.  And the fact that it’s super-healthy is not even in the top 5 of reasons why I love it.

Tuesday, May 22nd:
Oriental Express Porch Pockets (with turkey or tofu filling) & Thai Chile dipping sauce
Amazing Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken & Vegetables tossed in Homemade Sesame Soy Dressing
Salad Toppings:  Napa cabbage, cucumbers, cilantro & slivered almonds
Vegetarian Option:  Asian Noodle Salad with Kidney Beans & Veggies
Optional Add-on/Gluten Free:  Make-Your-Own Chicken Lettuce Wraps ($8)
Optional Add-on/Low Carb:  Asian Noodle Salad with Low-Carb Pasta ($10 per quart)
Kids Meal:  Plain Noodles, Chicken & Sesame Dressing (on the side!) ($6)
Dessert:  Camino Bakery Ginger Lemon Cookies ($6)
GYTTW:  Goat Cheese Lasagna (with Italian sausage or Vegetarian, $25 reg, $30 large)

Okay, so by now you may have realized that we are a little obsessed with the whole Porch Pocket concept, and you may even suspect that we are planning our weekly menus based around Pockets we want to make.  Well, you may be right, but I for one think it’s not a bad strategy.  Starting a meal with a pocket pie filled with wonderful, flavorful things can only improve your chances of having a nice time at the dinner table.  These Oriental Express pockets are filled with ground turkey, crunchy water chestnuts, mushrooms & seasonings.  Dipped in sweet Thai Chile Sauce, I think you’ll agree with our family’s 5 out of 5 star rating.

As I was making dinner yesterday – chopping lots of vegetables, napa cabbage, shredding chicken and carrots, I kept thinking that I was wasting my time completely.  I can hardly get my kids to eat a single bite of broccoli some nights, so I figured that there was no way they would touch this salad with a ten foot pole.  I expected to have to employ my considerable bribery skills (enhanced by the fact that I had purchased a box of Diana’s Bananas – chocolate covered frozen bananas – earlier in the day).  I was trying to keep them out of the kitchen as I chopped and mixed, hoping to at least delay the complaining until we sat down at the table.  Imagine my surprise, readers, when this vegetable-laden, healthy noodle salad was devoured by my family.  They were even adding on toppings like cucumbers and cabbage.  I’m pretty sure it was the amazing Sesame Soy Dressing, recipe inspiration courtesy of The Pioneer Woman, but still.  Still.  I was holding my breath just a little throughout dinner, when my oldest child announced that he was “too full from the delicious dinner” for his chocolate banana.  I don’t even think these are my kids, y’all. 
I heart toppings!

In case you think I’m just being silly and exaggerating for the sake of noodle sales (who, me?), here’s a little background leading up this meal;

2002 – Get married while living & working in New York City.  Meals cooked = 1 (Thanksgiving)
2003- 2004– Have baby, move to Oregon.  Meals cooked = technically none, since cereal and sandwiches do not require cooking.  Realize that baby is very picky and allow him to survive on cheese & applesauce.
2005 – Second baby born.  Meals cooked = many, once I realize that eating in a restaurant with two children is a horrible experience enjoyed by no one.
2006 – Continue to cook, but do not make any effort to get the children to eat what we are eating because I do not have any idea about how to do this and enjoy eating dinner after they are in bed, preferably while watching Lost.  Plus, I was really tired since I also did not know how to get them to stay asleep.
2007 – Move to WS, where our house has a proper dining room, and decide that we will all eat a healthy, home-cooked dinner together every night.  I think you can imagine how responsive my young boys were to this new approach.
2008-2009 – Make significant headway in the kitchen, cooking dinner most nights, with only occasional tears at the table (mine).  Start to feel like I might really have this whole “parenting thing” down.
2010 – Adopt 15-month old baby.  Everything comes to screeching halt.  Mealtimes (and most other times) are totally disastrous.  I continue to try to make dinner, because, but if they are not well-received, things can quickly turn ugly.  Sleep deprivation and slight insanity conspire to make me believe that this is the ideal time to begin a business venture. 

And, voila! Dinners on the Porch is born.  Suddenly, all three of my children realize that they do love to eat whatever I present them for dinner and they appreciate how hard I work to balance work and parenting and our mealtimes are now conflict-free and filled with meaningful and stimulating conversation.  Or, rather, that happened for the first time last night.  But only the part about loving the meal.  The appreciation and stimulating conversation, not so much, unless you find it stimulating to hear Knock-Knock jokes made up by a three-year-old.  So there you have it. 

Finn, enjoying dinner!
Anyway, when we have a dinner that is successful in this manner, I like to share the love.  Add on some Lettuce Wraps for even more fun, and finish up this healthy meal with one of our favorite Camino cookies – the Ginger Lemon.  So fresh and summery, you will feel like walking in the grass barefoot!

Once you’ve enjoyed your Noodle dinner (and lunch the next day), I think you’ll be feeling pretty good about family dinner.  Keep the vibe going with our DOTP favorite, Goat Cheese Lasagna.  We make it with locally made Neece’s Extra Sage Sausage, four kinds of cheese, fire-roasted tomato sauce, fresh spinach and basil and lots of love.  The veggie version is great as well, with mushrooms, eggplant & spinach layered between noodles, cheese & sauce.  This is a great family dinner and also makes a great gift meal.  Paired with a great bottle of wine, there’s not much else you’ll want out of life!

That’s all we’ve got this week, friends.  Check out the Mini Grocery Store for some kitchen basics & cross a few trips to the market off of your to-do list. 

Have a great weekend & enjoy the sunshine!

Claire & Alex

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