Peanut-sauced noodles with vegetables go together in a flash. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

There’s a lot happening here at the cove as I get everything spiffed up for summer. I’m spending extra time in the flower gardens, completing some much-needed outdoor painting and catching up on the spring cleaning I let slide last month.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

My evening meals have been consisting of fast and easy combinations, mostly vegetarian combinations. For this delightful and satisfying noodle dish, you don’t even have to sauté the vegetables if you don’t want to. Just use them raw. You can also exchange the pea pods for edamame or green beans. I have even used frozen peas and carrots, which I always keep on hand because they’re so versatile.

Like a lot of one-dish pasta meals, it’s the sauce that matters. This particular, unique yummy sauce can be made even more peppery and spicy if you like by adding more cayenne and black pepper. This is also really good slathered on grilled chicken or used as a dipping sauce for any number of crunchy goodies.

Since I’m big on flexibility, I love that I can use whatever I have on hand for the pasta component of this dish. Soba noodles, spaghetti and rice noodles are all delicious. And guess what? This can be served hot, cold or at room temperature (my favorite), making it easy to transport to a friend’s house or to a picnic spot.

So, say that after you have your peanut/peppery-sauced noodles, you just want a little smidgen of a chocolate-baked good, but don’t want to have a whole cake hanging around the house.

These little cakes are perfect for one, or just double, triple or increase ingredients exponentially for desired servings if you’re having company or think you’re capable of eating more than one at a sitting. Mix this dessert together in three seconds flat. Then choose your chocolate tidbit for the middle from the array of sweet things you surely have squirreled away in the dark recesses of your pantry: namely, a few chocolate chips, a dark chocolate square, a mini-peanut butter cup or a little peppermint patty.

These mini-cakes are best eaten straight out of the oven with a spritz of whipped cream from the can. You know, the one you have in the fridge for emergency situations, such as rewarding yourself after a morning of accomplishing great things. The cake is also a wonderful accompaniment to Netflix- or Hulu-watching. Two can also be whipped up when a friend comes to call. Every excuse is a reason to have a smidgen of chocolate, don’t you agree?

Creamy Peanut Lime Noodles

1 (12-ounce) package of your favorite noodles
1 large colored bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh pea pods, cut into thirds
1 cup corn, thawed frozen or fresh
2 scallions, chopped
Fresh cilantro

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water to cool the noodles.

Sauté pepper, carrot, pea pods and corn very lightly in a non-stick skillet just until tender-crisp.

Toss noodles and cooked vegetables with sauce. Garnish with scallions and cilantro. Yield: 4 servings

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Salt to taste
1/3 cup hot water

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl, adding more water if needed.

Chocolate Smidgens

3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons milk
1 chocolate tidbit for the middle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1-cup size oven-proof ramekin. Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk in wet ingredients (batter will be thick). Spoon batter into ramekin and push the chocolate tidbit into the middle. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The middle will be squishy but the edges should be cooked through. Yield: 1 mini-cake

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