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Celebrate National Peanut Butter Day

This Sunday, Jan. 24, is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States. Yes, there is a day devoted to this most humble of good-for-you foods.

Peanut butter is a highly economical source of protein that’s loved by kids and kids at heart across the globe. It’s incredibly versatile. How many other foods give you the option of spreading on toast, making sandwiches, baking with it, making candy, mixing with noodles or turning it into a sensational sauce?

Honestly, the options seem endless and worthy of a day devoted to its charms.

Most of us get our nutty fix with grocery store brands of the nutty butter. I’m sorry to tell you, many of those processed nut butters contain up to 10 percent added ingredients like sugars and emulsifiers like hardened vegetable oils to keep the mixture from separating. Gourmet or artisanal peanut butters, without unnecessary ingredients, are lovely but can be expensive. Did you know you can make delicious, pure peanut butter at home in less than five minutes?

Here’s how to make peanut butter: Get 2 to 3 cups raw or dry roasted peanuts. Toast them in the oven, then take them for a spin in your food processor or blender, scraping it down until creamy. Add a little honey or salt to taste. Ta da!

This week I’m sharing an easy recipe for a favorite restaurant take-out item: chicken satay with peanut sauce.

Here’s a great no-cook recipe for peanut sauce. It comes together in mere minutes making it perfect for weeknights. For this purpose, feel free to use inexpensive teriyaki sauce. I use the store brand bottle that’s very thin in texture and costs less than $2, but use whatever teriyaki sauce you have on hand.

This recipe makes one cup of sauce that’s sufficient for the satay recipe below but easily doubles if you want more for coating noodles or vegetables.

Whether you prefer crunchy or creamy, we should take every opportunity to celebrate the simple things in life. And always carry a spoon in case of peanut butter.

SIMPLE PEANUT SAUCE

What you’ll need:

½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

¼ cup vegetable oil

1½ teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar

Optional: add heat to taste, cayenne pepper, chili garlic sauce, hot pepper sauce or siracha

Other optional ingredients: 1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic and/or ginger

Here’s how:

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. There may come a moment when you wail “Curse you, Patti Diamond!” because it looks like a curdled mess. Keep stirring, I promise it’ll get lusciously creamy. Add heat to taste, if desired. Rest for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors marry.

Use as a dipping sauce for chicken satay or vegetables or noodles, or chips or spoons or fingers.

QUICK CHICKEN SATAY

Yield: approximately 24 skewers

What you’ll need:

Bamboo or metal skewers

2½ to 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

½ cup teriyaki sauce

2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil

Optional garnish: green onion and/or cilantro

Optional: cooked noodles or rice for serving

Here’s how:

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes before using.

Slice chicken into thin strips (I got six strips from each thigh). Set aside.

Make marinade by mixing teriyaki sauce and vegetable oil in a bowl. Place chicken in bowl with marinade making sure all the chicken is covered. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Thread the strips of chicken on the skewers, filling them halfway. This allows for a “handle” to turn the skewers as they cook.

To cook, either grill on your barbecue, indoor grill or under the broiler. These cook quickly so keep your eye on them. Depending on how thick or thin you sliced your chicken they will take between five and 15 minutes to cook. Serve with peanut sauce garnished with green onion and/or cilantro. Serve with noodles or rice, if desired.

If the idea of threading chicken on skewers doesn’t appeal to you, you can simply sauté marinated chicken pieces in vegetable oil and serve over rice or noodles topped with peanut sauce.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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