Ever since my daughter was born, I've understood why other parents would talk about "nap time" in hushed tones, like it was a sacred, essential part of the day that should not be disrupted or messed with. Something as important as water or air. That's because it is, folks. Nap time is as much for the baby/toddler as it is for the parent who just needs a mental break from trying to figure out what the word "toal" means and why your daughter is so insistent on having it. It's a chance to sweep up some of the Cheerios off the floor and hide the puzzle toy that frustrates your child that somehow reappeared out of nowhere that morning.
Usually nap time at our house is fairly regular, but every once in a while you get what I like to refer to as an "epic" nap. The nap of fables and glorious bragging with other mothers, the epic nap lasts at least an hour longer than regular nap time. You rush, rush, rush to finish everything you have planned to finish during nap time and then realize your little one is still asleep. What you do with the remainder of nap time is up to you. Since you have no idea when the epic nap will end, it's best not to get too deep into a project that can't be interrupted. My favorite thing to do, not surprisingly, is to cook something. While my daughter is a fairly good cooking buddy, chopping and measuring ingredients is always faster without taking breaks to untangle toys, remove crayons from her mouth, or bring her milk, again. It's a great time to experiment with new recipes that or bake things that take a little longer to prepare.
The first time I tried out this sweet and spicy pork recipe was during an epic nap and it turned out to be time well spent. It is a fast recipe once all the chopping and sauces have been put together, but it does have a fair amount of prep time. The finished dish, though, is well worth it. I love that it is full of vegetables and the sweet spicy sauce is a good balance of flavors. This recipe as written is low on the spicy side since I'm a wimp, but you can easily amp up the spiciness with more red pepper flakes or more chili sauce. Cooking the noodles and letting them sit in the sauce while the rest of the meal is being stir fried makes for a great tasting noodle base. Pork is becoming more and more of our go-to meat when I want to give us a break from chicken, and it is nice to have a non-crockpot recipe that uses so effectively. Although, like most stir fry-type recipes, this one is very adaptable to your own tastes, let me just warn you that the sweet chili sauce shouldn't be skipped or omitted. It is where the dish gets most of its sweetness and tangy flavor so do try to find it in the international section of your grocery store (it is usually near Thai ingredients) or whip up a batch of your own if you are feeling ambitious.
Sweet and Spicy Pork with NoodlesPublished 01/13/2014
- 6 ounces dry chow mein noodles (or thin spaghetti)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (found near Thai condiments in the international section of the grocery store)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound pork loin cut into thin, 2" long strips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 small head napa cabbage, sliced
- 1 cup sliced carrots (the bagged matchstick carrots work well here)
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced into 1/4 inch thick strips
- 2-3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- Start water boiling for the chow mein noodles. When it reaches a boil, add noodles and cook 5 minutes.
- While water is heating for the noodles, combine the noodle sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Once noodles have finished cooking, drain and toss with noodle sauce. Set aside.
- Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce and 2 cloves of minced garlic in a medium bowl. Add pork pieces and marinate 5-10 minutes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Using a slotted spoon, add the pork from the soy sauce mixture to the hot pan. Add onion pieces and red pepper flakes and cook until the pork is browned on all sides and nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Add the chopped napa cabbage, sliced carrots and bell peppers. Cooking, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add noodles and sauce to the pan and stir to heat the noodles. Add 2-3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (to taste) and sesame oil to taste. Serve hot.
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min
Recipe Source: adapted from allrecipes.com