When I was working, we'd do take out at least once a week. Actually, it was probably closer to twice a week and we went out at least once. Obviously, it was a hard habit to break. Here is one of the ways we've managed.
When I need to turn leftovers into something, anything, that everyone will happily eat, I often rely on this sesame peanut butter concoction to help. My boys are big fans of it, and I certainly like the taste as well--which should tell you right there that it's something special, right? Unless I'm the only one who struggles to appeal to both a kid's and an adult's taste (though honestly, I could eat mac n cheese every night. But then I'd have to buy a new, larger, stretchy, wardrobe. So there's no money savings there).
Back to the sauce. Did I mention that it's super easy to make? And versatile? Thin it a little to make a sauce or keep it on the thick side for dipping. I usually add it to cooked thin spaghetti or soba noodles and whatever cooked chicken left from a previous meal. Toss in some fresh vegetables, such as thinly sliced red pepper, snow peas, and carrots, then top with some peanuts, and it's a one bowl wonder (great for lunches!).
I learned this mix of ingredients so long ago that I have no idea who to credit. And since I hardly ever measure, below is my best guess. Start with these amounts and adjust to your taste.
This is a pretty standard, all purpose sesame peanut butter sauce found in many Americanized Asian fusion cookbooks. I wanted to mention that because my mom is Thai. And growing up, I don't think my brother or I ever ate a sauce made with peanut butter. My point is, my mom didn't teach me this one. And so to my handful of friends out there who visit my blog and who also happen to know my mom (and who stash her eggrolls into take-home containers before the end of the boys' party--yes, I know all about it so stop thinking you're sneaky), you're not allowed to tell her, okay? Because if you do, she'll come over here and make me prove that I can still make a decent pad thai for the kids from scratch (which I can, thank you very much).
This is enough for 1 lb of thin spaghetti (which I toss in a little sesame oil after cooking).
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
5-10 Tbl soy sauce (depends on whether you're using low sodium, which I do, and how salty you like things. Once, I was nearly out of soy sauce, so put in very little and was surprised to discover we didn't really miss it)
3 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl warm water--use entire 2 Tbl if making sauce (I use the pasta water), use less for a thicker, dip-like consistency
2 Tbl sesame oil
2 Tbl rice vinegar
Place ingredients into blender or use an immersion blender (what I do) and blend until smooth. For extra flavor I sometimes throw in a few chopped cloves of garlic, as well as a chunk of chopped, fresh ginger. The next time you're craving some Asian style noodles, I hope you'll try this instead of reaching for a take-out menu.
For more ideas, be sure to check out today's DIY post over at A Soft Place to Land.
p.s. Sorry, no pictures. Squarespace and Internet Explorer are not friends today.