It’s time to be real. When someone asks me if I’m ready for the kids to go back to school, my response is an emphatic, ‘hell yes!’ but am I actually ready with the school supplies//shoe shoppings//dental visits//school lunches planned out for the next 20 years like some other parents? Um, no. Excuse me while I crawl back into my hole and pretend school isn’t happening this week. Let’s pretend August is actually June and we’re rushing off to the pool and park, evening ice cream outings and road trips. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just June it all year long, with weekends packed with bbqs and evening strolls around the block?
But August is real. And August is busy. It’s a bittersweet goodbye to summer and a lukewarm welcome to early mornings filled with “I can’t find my underwear! Can I just wear the one from yesterday inside out?” (No, child. Just no), complaints about how exhausted everyone is, and finally, me yelling at The Bookworm and Little Diva to get in the car before everyone is late.
I’m that parent. The one who wishes she was organized but I’m lucky if my socks match in the mornings and I don’t have a mystery stain on my clothes (not very likely). Let me just be honest. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. No matter how much I try. I’m the person who hits snooze 104,230,285 times before actually getting out of bed and yet ambitiously set the alarm for 4 AM to go to gym. *insert laughter here* On the days I get to the gym and get back before the kids are even awake, I feel great. But seriously, it’s like I just won the olympics if/when I can actually get to the gym by 4:30 AM. #thisiswhyimfat.
I am great at night. My creativity juices are flowing after the kids go to bed because, even when the kids are sleeping, I don’t like quiet and I need to fill that silence with an internal monologue at the very least. Night time is when I go from mom —->blogger//food photographer//maker of grownup pallette deliciousness. I transform from the maker of pb+j sammiches, cleanup time supervisor, mommobile chauffer to foodie while listening to the music ? of MY choice. I want to eat things my kids will ask 10,000 questions about, like a spicy southwestern sweet potato noodle bowl. And while we’re on the subject, can I just say, I’m itching to reshoot some of my older posts like this beef stew and chicken sausage & butternut squash lasagna? Lucky for me (and The Mister and kiddos), those are two of my fav meals!
But for now, I’ll happily settle for a big bowl of noodles with lots of fresh corn, tortilla chip crusted chicken, and a spicy, smoky chipotle dressing. Oh, and the base is sweet potato noodles. Yes. sweet. potato. noodles. Cooked to al dente perfection, sweet potato noodles are the perfect foundation to build this salad/pasta/main course/deliciousness onto. And to think, I was just going to make a garden salad for this meal.
I’m an acquirer of kitchen gadgets. It’s my guilty pleasure and when I’m looking at said gadgets, in my mind, my kitchen space is infinite. Reality tells me otherwise but I had to have a spiralizer because spiralizer! It is this amazing tool that takes a vegetable (or fruit) and turns it into long strands of ‘pasta’. So I can have my pasta and eat it too. The first time I made a chicken pasta salad with zucchini noodles, no one missed the noodles. Not even carb loving me. Do you spiralize? I’d love to hear about what you spiralize and your favorite dishes; just leave a comment in the comments section at the bottom of this post and we’ll chat!
One of the many great things about this noodle bowl is that it doubles over as a salad for lunch the next day. The sweet potato noodles hold up much better than lettuce does, once tossed in dressing so no soggy veggies here. Can we just talk about the chicken? It’s marinated in the same smoky dressing and then covered in crushed tortilla chips, pan fried to a perfectly crispy golden brown, and served on top of the sweet potato noodles. Dare I say, the chicken is good enough to eat on its own. Why not just make a meal of it with the dressing as a dipping sauce on the side? Always dipping sauce, guys.
I used crumbled cotija cheese, a salty, crumbly mexican cheese that compliments the sweetness of the sweet potato noodles. Most major grocery stores carry it but you can also substitute finely crumbled feta cheese if you don’t have cotija. Add the cotija cheese right before serving otherwise it tends to dissolve into the noodles and dressing. And while you’re at it, you can top with fresh cilantro and/or microgreens if you want to get fancy. Only if you want to. I did because I have this deep love for cilantro- it’s my go to herb; nothing compares to that earthy, fresh smell.
Can’t you just imagine it now, eating this beautiful bowl of noodles for dinner, packing up the leftovers in a tupperware container, ready to go for lunch tomorrow? You’ll be sitting there, in anticipation of lunch time. I full plan to pack this for my gradeschoolers’ (!) lunches in coming weeks. Go ahead, be the office (or cafeteria) envy, as you pull out your beautifully prepped, from-scratch-meal, as your co-workers (classmates) look on adoringly. I mean this noodle bowl does ask, “don’t you wish I was sharing this with you?” But you don’t have to (if you don’t want to). But you should share. Because you’ll make the world. Who wouldn’t want to smile at a bowl of noodles?
Have you made this dish? Don’t forget to snap some of those beautiful pictures, post of IG and tag @mannaandspice or post on facebook. I love reading//hearing//looking at your creations!
- 1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce+ 1 tsp adobo sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 heaping tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp orange juice (fresh)
- juice of 1 lime (2-3 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp honey + 2 tsp additional
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
- 2 tbsp warm water
- <>for chicken noodle bowl: >
- 1 lb chicken breast cut into strips
- 1½ cups finely crushed tortilla chips
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- 2 ears corn (2 cups)
- 4 tbsp cotija cheese
- 1 avocado, large dice
- MAKE THE DRESSING. In a blender, combine all ingredients except cilantro and puree until smooth. Add cilantro and pulse until cilantro is mostly chopped but you can still see green specks in the dressing.
- MARINATE THE CHICKEN. Coat chicken breast with half of the dressing, cover and marinate for 30 minutes and up to 1 day in the fridge. Set aside.
- COOK THE CORN. Add corn in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until corn is bright yellow and fully cooked. Set aside until cool enough to touch. Cut kernels off the cob.
- COOK THE CHICKEN. In a shallow bowl, add crushed tortilla chips. In separate bowls, place egg and flour. Remove chicken from marinade, wipe off excess marinade, and discard. Coat chicken in a layer of flour, then dip in oil, then coat in crushed tortilla chips. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan, over medium heat. Add chicken and cook on each side for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown, until juices run clear and chicken is completely cooked. Slice chicken into large pieces, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.
- COOK THE SWEET POTATO NOODLES. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add sweet potato noodles, salt, chili powder, and toss with tongs to coat noodles. Cook until noodles, tossing occasionally, until "pasta" is al dente. Add corn kernels, diced red onion and toss with remaining dressing until well combined.
- ASSEMBLE BOWLS. Divide noodle mixture into four separate bowls. Add sliced chicken. Top with diced avocado and sprinkle with cheese. Serve warm.