Post holiday delights

We've returned to the daily grind, but our cooking doesn't have to; here are some great post-holiday recipes.

Peanut noodles (photo credit:
Peanut noodles
(photo credit:
The holidays are over and it’s back to business as usual.  One constant is that we always need to eat.  Here are some everyday hits – good for family, friends or just yourself!
This is a special and unusual salad that will delight all who try it.
Sweet Potato Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
¼ cup soy sauce3 tablespoons mayonnaise4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 4 garlic cloves, minced1 tablespoon peanut butter2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce1½ teaspoons golden brown sugar2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes1½ cups sugar snap peas, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces1 cup thinly sliced green onions1/3 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Whisk first 9 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Add enough water to large saucepan to cover sweet potatoes by about 1/2 inch. Remove sweet potatoes. Bring water to a boil, add sweet potatoes and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, cool.
Mix sweet potatoes, dressing, sugar peas, and green onion in large bowl. Can be made 4 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle salad with peanuts and serve.
Another hit in the peanut family (this is not a week for those with allergies) – this can be a side dish or a main course.  Stir-fry some chicken or chop up some left-over chicken and mix it with the noodles for a great dinner.
Peanut Noodles
These are creamy (not greasy) with a hint of spiciness.  They taste like the peanut noodles you get in a restaurant and they are so easy to make at home. 
½ pound spaghetti or whole-wheat spaghetti
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil plus a little more
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
Heaping ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ - ¾ teaspoons red-pepper flakes
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1 red pepper, halved and sliced thin
1 zucchini, halved and sliced thin
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil or hot water (optional, to use if the noodles are too sticky if reheating)
Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the pasta and salt and cook until al dente, 9 – 10 minutes.  Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta in a colander. Drizzle with a small amount of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking. Set aside.
Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet.  Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes.  Sir in the peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, red-pepper flakes and served pasta cooking water and cook until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, bell pepper and zucchini.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 3 minutes.  Stir in the drained noodles and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve. This can be served warm or at room temperature. If the noodles are too sticky, either warm them a bit, or toss with 2 tablespoons canola oil or some hot water.
Banana Bread with Streusel Topping
A good after-school or mid-morning treat, the streusel perks up plain ole banana bread.
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons cold margarine, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 (very) ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup tofutti sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.  To prepare streusel, combine all ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until coarse crumbs form.  Set aside.
To prepare batter, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, bananas, vanilla and sour cream.  Mix well.  On low speed, add flour and baking soda until completely incorporated. Pour into prepared pan.  Top with streusel. Bake for 65 minutes – until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.  Let rest in pan 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
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