Xi’an Famous Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Smashed Noodles

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One of my first posts on this blog was written in praise of one of my favorite little New York gems of a restaurant, Xi’an Famous Foods. From the moment Josh and I first tried their insanely addictive and spicy hand-ripped noodles, we were hooked. Oily, intensely flavored, with big pieces of lamb scattered through, it was everything we didn’t even know we wanted.

Then we moved to Ohio.

While we have found a great spot for pho and banh mi locally, as well as other delicious restaurants (Eli’s, you have my heart), there is definitely a big lack of authentic asian cuisine. Not entirely surprising, but sad none the less.

When Mandy from Lady and Pups posted a recipe for her take on the Xi’an noodles, I might have screamed. I’ve been a fangirl of hers since I discovered her blog over 6 months ago, and have made a LOT of her recipes, always incredibly successfully. Her Vampire Slayer ramen? I’m constantly contemplating when to make it again. Her recipes are long, they have ingredient lists that will probably require a trip to an asian grocery store and/or an order from Amazon, but every time they are worth every single minute. She’s opened my eyes to a whole new way of cooking, and Josh is loving it more than words can say.

I would never even presume to retell or repost her glorious recipes, since they are long, involved, and her photos are excellent and often very helpful, but I will make a few notes.

Go, MAKE THESE NOODLES.

  • I think finding the right flour can be one of the most intimidating parts of this, but our asian market had a bag of it. When in doubt, go to your international market. Words to live by.
  • These noodles are spicy. No way around it. I had tears of pleasure/pain in my eyes, and we didn’t even use the chili oil she recommends. Maybe next time? If that much spice scares you, cut the cayenne pepper down to 1/4 or even 1/8 tsp. Go a little hotter than you normally would. It’s part of the experience.
  • The dough hook for my stand mixer isn’t as cool or complex as hers, so I definitely had to work my dough longer. It will not look like any dough you’ve worked with before, and that’s okay. Follow her instructions and use her guidelines. It really will all work out.
  • Don’t stress too much over the ingredient list. I didn’t have white pepper and I never have MSG. I didn’t feel like buying extra dark soy sauce for the tiny amount required. Don’t sweat it. Get as much as you can, and then taste and see if you think something is missing. I wound up adding a little more soy sauce to make up for the lack of MSG, and it was fantastic.
  • Next time, we’ll add more lamb. It was delicious.

Meal Plan: May 24-May 30

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit or vegetables), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Our neighborhood feline stalker
Our neighborhood feline stalker

May 24-May 30

A cat has started appearing more and more often on our neighbors’ roof, watching our every move. This, of course, makes our cat Minerva FREAK OUT and climb furniture and claw at the window while threatening to knock over various pots of succulents. It’s super fun (sarcasm).

Maybe the cat is just jealous of all that we’ve been cooking?

We’re celebrating Memorial Day quietly this year. Honestly, after years of Josh working retail,  it didn’t even cross our minds that this year we could have gone somewhere for the long weekend. Oh well. There’s always next year.

Instead, we eat!

Total cost: Roughly $142

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $5.07

Memorial Day

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

  • Carrots and cucumbers

Dinner

Red Beans and Rice

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File this one under “recipes that don’t photograph well but are nothing short of perfection,” because that’s how I view this beauty.

While Josh loves pretty much everything I cook, there are a few dishes that he gets downright giddy when I offer to make. My bolognese is a surefire winner, as well as mulligatawny (which somehow I don’t have on here. Must remedy soon). I’d say that this recipe for red beans and rice is right up there in the top three.

This isn’t the only recipe for this dish that I’ve tried, mainly because this one seemed too easy and I felt that I needed to try some more complicated ones.

Sometimes, simple is best.

Red Beans and Rice (copied from Eat, Live, Run)

  • 1 lb dry small red beans (we use kidney beans)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (I omit this. Celery is gross)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 ham hocks (about 1 lb) (or pork neck bones, our favorite)
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning (I love Tony Chachere’s More Spice, but it is quite spicy)
  • 2 tsp original Tabasco sauce (sometimes I use half original, half jalapeño/green Tobasco)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz good quality smoked andouille sausage, roughly chopped

for serving—

  • 1 cup dry white rice
  • 2 cups water (I like to replace some of the water with broth from the beans)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • extra Tabasco sauce on the side!

Directions:

The night before, rinse the beans under cold running water and then place beans in a large pot. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

In the morning, drain the beans. Add the chopped yellow onion, chopped green pepper, celery, minced garlic, Creole seasoning, bay leaves and ham hocks in the same pot with the beans. Cover with fresh water about three inches above beans (I used a five quart pot and pretty much filled the thing to the top with water).

Turn the heat to high and cover pot with lid, letting about an inch open to let out steam. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

After an hour and a half, stir in Tabasco sauce, salt and chopped andouille sauce. Simmer slowly for another hour, stirring often at this point.

When the beans are done, the liquid should have gotten very thick (almost like a gravy texture) and the beans will almost look mashed. Remove the ham hock and the bay leaves and turn off the heat. Cover the pot again while you prepare the rice.

To make the rice, boil the rice, water and salt together. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 16-18 minutes (I actually use our rice cooker. Forever and always). Fluff rice with a fork when done and serve with the beans with additional hot sauce on the side.

Spring Abundance Bowl

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A few weeks ago, I made this recipe for the first time. Josh was home the day I made the radish pickles, but left town before he could actually eat one of the fully assembled bowls. All he got was the pleasure of listening to me rave about how delicious my lunch was every day.

He’s a lucky guy.

This past Sunday, we grabbed a variety of random spring produce at our newly opened farmer’s market (!) and brought it all home to think about how to incorporate it into our meal plan this week. This is a slightly different method than we usually use, going into the market with no list, just seeing what they have, but it worked out extremely well. After discussing a few options with asparagus, Josh brought up my lunch bowl that he missed out on, and I knew we had a winner.

One of the beautiful things about this recipe is how adaptable it is. This time, we had fresh tender lettuce, thin bright asparagus, and delicate baby sugar snap peas from the market, and added them all into the mix. Since I already had a jar of pickled radishes in the fridge from the last time, that part was easy as can be. We made the dressing with goat’s milk yogurt, since it doesn’t seem to make Josh’s allergies act up the way cow’s milk does, and added a good bit more lemon juice than the recipe calls for (this is pretty normal for my sour loving self).

Spring lettuce, quinoa (cooked in my usual way) tossed in lots of sea salt, lemon juice and some olive oil, grilled asparagus, sliced sugar snap peas, cubed avocado, thawed baby peas, and pickled radish slices, all topped in a tangy, creamy dill dressing?

Sign me up.

See the original recipe here at My New Roots, and adapt to your heart’s content.

Meal Plan: May 17-May 23

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit or vegetables), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Honeysuckle cordial in process
Honeysuckle cordial in process

May 17-May 23

BIG NEWS: our neighborhood farmer’s market started this weekend! Okay, I realize this might not be considered big news by some (most), but we’ve been waiting all winter for this. The main Cincinnati market is open year round but is… underwhelming, as well as a decent drive from us and requires paid parking, so we haven’t gone much since we moved. Our neighborhood market is just a 5 minute drive away, if that, and surprisingly good. We shopped at several stands that I can see us hitting regularly, got our knives sharpened (and I have two new cuts on my thumb to prove it), and I know it’s just going to get better once we move on in the season and more exciting produce comes our way.

Seriously, the highlight of the week.

Total cost: Roughly $135

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.82

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

  • Sliced cucumbers and carrot sticks

Dinner

Meal Plan: May 10-May 16

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Pretty Cincinnati
Pretty Cincinnati

May 10-May 16

My parents are in town and Josh is in and out of town this week, leading to countless meals out and a Mother’s Day feast at home.

Cincinnati has become absolutely gorgeous in this weather and we’re loving every minute of it after that brutal winter. A Yankee I am not, and the cold isn’t being missed in the slightest. We’ve been taking countless walks and sitting out on porches and patios as often as we can. Our neighborhood farmers market opens this coming Sunday, and we’re excited to see how good it is. I’m sure as many strawberries will be purchased as possible.

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Meal Plan: April 26- May 2

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

New plants, with custom rope hangings by Josh
New plants, with custom rope hangings by Josh

April 26-May 2

I got herbs planted this weekend! I also planted a few flowers around our front porch so we don’t have the sad, unloved house on the block. We’ll leave that crown for someone else.

Our neighborhood farmers market opens this weekend, and we’re very hopeful that it will have some solid vendors, since it’s so easy to get to, unlike the main Cincinnati farmers market.

Fingers crossed for strawberries!

Total cost: Roughly $113

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.04

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal and smoothies

Lunch

Snack

  • Grapes

Dinner