Chicken satay and peanut sauce — sweet, crunchy, delicious

At a friend’s home in October, members of our local photography club gathered to shoot pictures, snack, chat and enjoy the fading rays of an Indian summer. In addition to the many fabulous desserts and pasta salads was Thai chicken satay — hunks of delicious chicken marinated in coconut milk, curry powder and . . . some other spices we weren’t totally aware of. A kind friend told us a brief outline of her family recipe.

Spencer, my adventurous boyfriend, is never one to back away from a culinary challenge. After feasting on the chicken satay and sharing appreciative glances, Spence began mentally preparing that tasty meal for us in the future.

It just took a few months for it to come to fruition.

On Monday night, I was on “peanut sauce” duty. Because what’s delicious chicken without something to dip it in? Buffalo wings need bleu cheese. Grilled chicken needs barbeque sauce. It’s the way of the world.

Spencer prepared the chicken satay marinade on Sunday, leaving our dinner to settle in the fridge for 24 hours. The recipe below only calls for two hours of chillin’, but I can attest that the day-long yum bath didn’t hurt our meal one bit.

So while he was skewering all the chicken onto sticks, I was pulsing a blender full of onion and minced garlic. We’re not spicy eaters, so we left out the hot chili pepper — but I’m sure that would have given it a nice kick! After the mixture was pureed (and quite intense smelling), into the sauce pan it went. I stirred while trying not to get hot, popping peanut sauce all over my torso, then we added in peanut butter (crunchy!), vinegar and lots of sugar. I like peanut sauce to be more sweet than tangy, so I might have been a little heavy-handed with the sugar crystals. A cup of water was the last thing into the mixture, and then it was left to simmer . . . and that’s it!

Not bad at all, really.

Monday brought a freezing rain/sleet mixture to our neck of the woods in Maryland, but that didn’t deter Spencer from starting up the ol’ grill. The man is primal. Donning our coats, hats and gloves, off to the backyard we went — and the satay was placed over an open flame. It took about a half hour for them to cook, I’d say, which wasn’t bad . . . except we had to keep running into the garage to keep warm. Spencer’s mom, Alex (hi Alex!), called, and we were giggling like children while trying not to freeze and checking our slabs of meat like cave people.

I felt like a cave person.

But it was worth it. The chicken satay was delicious — creamy, but with a nice kick from the curry powder Spencer added to the marinade, plus all the other delicious spices. The peanut sauce had a good blend of sweet and savory (the perfect combination). We made rice to accompany the meal and added in a little curry powder for some color. Satay is a bit ambitious for a week night, but worked out well because Spencer had enough enthusiasm to prep the chicken on a Sunday.

For me? I’m more of a pour-some-spaghetti-in-a-pot and heat-up-some-canned-tomato-sauce sort of girl.

Oh, and cupcakes. I could totally do cupcakes for dinner.

Better stick with Spence so I don’t starve.

Chicken Satay

Recipe from The Perfect Pantry

1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
A pinch of fresh ground black pepper
2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
12 long bamboo skewers, or other skewers of your choice
Peanut sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together everything except the chicken, until the ingredients are incorporated and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the chicken, and transfer all to a Ziploc bag. Squeeze out the air, and seal the bag. Massage the chicken until it’s coated all around, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat your grill to high heat, or prepare a stovetop grill pan. Thread 4-6 pieces of chicken on each skewer, keeping the chicken bunched toward the bottom end of the skewer. Grill the chicken, turning frequently, until crisp, 2 minutes per side. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping. Serves 6-8 (can be halved or doubled).

Thai Peanut Sauce

Recipe from

4 teaspoons corn oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon hot chili pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup of water

In a blender, combine corn oil, onion, garlic and hot chili pepper; blend for 1 minute

Empty the mixture into a saucepan and place over low heat until the mixture starts releasing aroma. Add peanut butter and mix well over low heat.

Add water and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in vinegar and sugar; continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar and sugar if the mixture does not have the sour and sweet taste.

Place sauce in a shallow plate for satay dipping or pour over fresh salad.

Hot bacon dip — or why you can’t go wrong with bacon

I’ve never been a breakfast person. Pancakes coated in syrup leave me totally cold; sausage and eggs make me want to gag. On vacations and other extravagant adventures, I can down a few slices of French toast — but even that makes me feel queasy after a while. You know what I had for breakfast on Thursday? Leftover spaghetti. And the day before that, it was a can of Diet Pepsi and some cottage cheese.

Basically, I’m weird about morning meals. But I digress.

You know what breakfast food I can totally get behind? Bacon, friends. Crisp, delicious, oh-so-bad-for-you bacon. And if you mention a recipe that includes both bacon, cheese and bread, three of the things I love most in the world, I’m right there with you.

Such was the case on Halloween. Being the true foodies that we are, Spencer and I decided we needed to make a snack to eat while we were waiting for our other food to cook — in this case, green bean casserole and a beef stew for dinner. In between carving pumpkins and getting ready for our Halloween movie marathon, we gathered the ingredients for this tasty dip, which comes courtesy of a recipe written for Spence by Alex, his awesome mom.

And once we pulled the hollowed-out sourdough bread shell from the oven, bubbling over with cheesy, onion and garlicky goodness? Well, it was heaven. I washed my hands of pumpkin guts long enough to nibble on endless slices of French bread, and this dip barely lasted long enough for us to share it with Eric, my sister’s boyfriend. That’s what he gets for arriving late to the festivities. (Okay, so he wasn’t really late — and he called to tell us when he’d be arriving. Maybe I was just being selfish and wanted all the dip to myself! . . . Maybe.)

This was so good, in fact, that it totally ruined us for the dinner we’d had in the Crockpot for hours.

But now I’m eating all the leftovers for lunch at work — and saving $10.

See? This dip is awesome. This dip saves me money.

Hot Bacon Dip

Recipe from Alexandra J.

• 12 slices center cut bacon – crisp and crumbled
• 1 package (8 oz.) shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese
• 1 cup (4 oz.) grated parmesan cheese
• 1 cup real mayonnaise
• 1 small onion — finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic (minced)
• 1 round loaf of bread (not wheat – Italian or French is best)


Mix ingredients together in large bowl. Spoon into round, scooped out bread shell (bread bowl). Cover shell with the cut-off bread top. Place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until cheese is bubbly. Serve warm. Cube up loaf of French bread for dipping, and use bread removed from round loaf for extra dipping.

Sweet potato pie — a worthy (and scrumptious) alternative to pumpkin

Sometimes in life, we have to improvise. Unexpected things pop up; detours must be taken. Our path is blocked. Recipes don’t go according to plan.

Like when you run out of sugar.

And you’re in the middle of baking three pies.

And you’ve already dumped in most of your (not inexpensive) ingredients.

In keeping with our new baking tradition, Spencer and I felt adventurous and decided to try our hand at a sweet potato pie. My friend Sandy, a talented baker, had dropped a sweet potato muffin on my desk earlier that day — and just saying “sweet potato” to Spence was inspirational.

After gathering together what we believed to be all the necessary ingredients, I began to measure the white sugar called for in our recipe. Since we’d decided to really go for the gusto and actually make three pies at once, I was tripling everything.

Unfortunately, there was no tripling that little mound of sugar left in the container.

“Why doesn’t this call for brown sugar?” Spencer scanned the sheet over and over. “Doesn’t it seem like it should have brown sugar?”

Yes, I agreed. It does. So let’s do this.

Taking the total sugar content down by a third, we substituted 1 cup of white sugar for 1/3 cup of white and 1/3 cup of brown — and the end result? Totally delicious. Sweet but not too sweet; warm; cozy; completely fall-like. An awesome addition to any meal this autumn, and possibly a substitute for all diners who find themselves a little pumpkin’ed-out.

No Thanksgiving is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie, I’ll grant you that, but for all those other days? Give sweet potato a whirl. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Megan & Spencer’s Sweet(ie) Sweet Potato Pie

Adapted from Sweet Potato Pie I on


  • 1 (1 pound) sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


  1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
  2. Mash sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.