Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thai Green Curry

I am lucky enough to have a friend from Thailand here who cooks delicious food for me sometimes. I learned how to make red and green Thai curry from her- once she made me and my three-year old a pumpkin red curry that was SO good.  My three year old couldn't get enough; I thought he would burst from eating so much of it.
The pics I took are of the leftovers, and it doesn't' look as good as it did the night I made it, but the leftovers still taste great, fortunately!  The below is just a loose recipe, more of a method. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, etc, to taste.  (PS: Fish sauce is not scary at all, and it's a important ingredient in many Thai dishes, so I'd get some if you plan to make this or any other Thai food).

Thai Green Curry
adapted from my friend W.P.

1 can (14.5 oz, or 400 ml, I think, or thereabouts) good-quality coconut milk, like Aryo-D
1-3 tablespoons green curry paste (to taste; start with a little and add more)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced and then cut into smaller pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped (or zucchini or other fave veggie)
palm sugar, a few teaspoons (sub a little other sugar if you don't have it)
fish sauce, 1 or more teaspoons or tablespoons, to taste
kafir lime leaves, if you can find them
fresh basil, chopped, optional

1.  In a skillet or saucepan, add some fat from the coconut milk and cook until melted.  Stir in some of the green curry paste; about 1 tablespoon, until it melts.  Add the rest of the coconut milk from the can along with the onions, chicken, and veggies.  Simmer gently until everything is cooked through; about 10-15 minutes.  Add palm sugar and fish sauce to taste.  If you have kafir lime leaves, chop some and add them (I have never used them because I can't find any).

2.  Simmer until the sauce reaches desired thickness and consistency.  If it gets too thick, you can thin it with some water.  Re-adjust seasonings.  You can also add some water to make the dish go further. Stir in fresh basil at the end, if using.  Serve over hot jasmine rice.
*You can use this method for red curry paste too.  If using something sweet like pumpkin, don't use any palm sugar.  Always add all seasonings to taste.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Nutella-Swirled Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

For some reason, I expected these to be like a PB Blondie.  They aren't, though; they are a delicious, shortbread-like textured, melt-in-your-mouth PB cookie bar topped with Nutella.  They were very good and hard to stop eating.  Also, quite simple to make.  Everyone loved them.

Nutella-Swirled Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

    ½ cup butter, softened
    ½ cup peanut butter
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 cup flour
    ⅓ cup Nutella

    1.  Cream butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Add egg and vanilla, and mix well.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  Press mixture into an 8x8 pan.  Drop Nutella in spoonfuls on top of dough. Use a knife to lightly swirl the Nutella into the dough.

    2.  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into 9 bars.  

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chipotle's Copycat Barbacoa Meat

We used this delicious slow-cooked beef in tacos (instead of burritos).  I'd like to make this again and use it for burrito bowls.  It was very flavorful!  Of course, the rice and Pico de Gallo helped with the whole experience.  When making the sauce ingredients, I used my immersion blender, and for some reason, everything exploded all over the counter.  Not sure why!  But I'd use a regular blender next time.  Or maybe my immersion blender is just weird.

Chipotle's Copycat Barbacoa Meat
adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3-4 pound chuck roast, fat trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
4 chipotle peppers (from a can, packed in adobo sauce)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle pepper can)
1 cup chicken broth (or 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon chicken base)
¼ cup fresh lime juice

1.  Prepare roast. Make sure all visible fat is trimmed. Cut into 8 chunks. Sprinkle all sides of cut beef with ½ teaspoon of salt, reserving the remaining 1/2 tsp. Set aside.

2.  In a blender or food processor combine the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth. Set aside. If you do not have a food processor or blender, mince the garlic and chipotle peppers. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

3.  Warm a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, until water dripped over top sizzles. Add oil. Sear all sides of cut beef. Once all sides are seared, place seared beef into slow cooker. Set slow cooker temperature to high. Pour sauce over top. Add bay leaves. Cook for 5-6 hours on high (or 8 hours on low) covered.

4.  After about 5 hours (or 7 hours on low) shred beef using 2 forks to pull it apart. Taste, and add additional teaspoon of salt (if needed), stir to completely coat in sauce. Cover and cook for 1 more hour. After this time you can serve and enjoy or turn slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.

To create burrito: Layer pico de gallo, Cilantro Lime Rice and Chipotle’s Copycat Barbacoa Meat on a large flour tortilla. Additional toppings of  guacamole, sour cream and cheddar cheese are also great. (Or serve in tacos with the same toppings, like we did.)

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Microwave Caramels

I made these quite a while ago but have not had a chance to put them up.  Before that, I had bookmarked this for quite some time as a fun project to try.  It worked very well, although there is a bit of babysitting.  But not as much as making caramels on the stove top, and they're done much, much faster!  They taste great, too.  I thought I had corn syrup on hand for these, but I didn't, so I used honey and it worked perfectly.

Microwave Caramels
adapted from Cooking Classy

1/2 cup unsalted butter (don't use salted; it will splatter)
1/2 cup light corn syrup or honey
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
fancy sea salt or fleur de sel (optional; I used grey salt from Brittany, France)

1.  Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl (do not use plastic, use glass or ceramic), heat in microwave until melted. (Keep in mind mixture will boil up; use a bowl big enough for this.)

2.  To bowl with butter, add corn syrup or honey, granulated sugar, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and salt and whisk very well. Return to microwave and cook mixture on HIGH power for 6 to 7 minutes. (Original author recommends taking it out around 6 and testing either with a candy thermometer which should register between 238 - 242 degrees, or placing a small spoon of the caramel in a bowl of ice water then remove it from the water and it should have formed a small pliable ball - nothing too soft or too hard. If it needs a little more time return to microwave and heat in 20 second increments. Mine took a little bit past 7 minutes.)

3.  Using hot pads, carefully remove bowl from microwave. Add in vanilla extract and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top lightly with fancy sea salt or fleur de sel. Place in refrigerator until set, about 20 - 30 minutes. Cut into rectangular pieces and wrap in cut rectangles of wax paper.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef for Enchiladas

Most of the fam was fan of these enchiladas.  I loved them, myself.  I don't like canned enchilada sauce, so I never make enchiladas.  But the homemade sauce from this recipe is so good, easy, and flavorful.  A friend made this and it looked so good (and easy!) I decided to make it too.
You can make this recipe ahead of time- even cooking your meat overnight, then assembling the enchiladas in the morning, sticking them in the fridge, and then into the oven in the evening when you're ready for dinner.  That's what I did.  (And why I have no pics of the baked enchiladas; it was totally dark outside when we finally got to eat these.)  The meat alone is very good too, and would be good in tacos, taco salad, or a burrito bowl too.  I omitted the salt from this recipe; there is plenty of salt from the broth, salsa, and cheese.
Slow Cooker Beef for Enchiladas
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 (2-3 pound) chuck or sirloin beef roast
2 cups low-sodium beef broth (I just used one regular can)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup (8 ounces) salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
10 6- or 7-inch flour or corn tortillas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh cilantro (optional)

1.  In a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, add the beef roast. Whisk together the broth, vinegar, salsa, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the roast, cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours until the beef is tender and shreds easily. (I cooked on low overnight, then assembled the enchiladas in the morning, stuck in the fridge, and baked in the evening for dinner.)

2.  Remove the roast from the slow cooker and place in a large bowl or shallow pan (like a 9x13).
Pour the mixture from the slow cooker into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch (or flour) with about 2-3 tablespoons water (a bit more water if using flour). Whisk the slurry into the simmering liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened slightly, 4-5 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

3.  Pour about 1/2 cup sauce in with the beef and toss. Spread another 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Toss the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses together.  Fill each tortilla with some of the beef mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll up and place in the pan. (I had one row length-wise and one width-wise.)

4.  Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas (you may not need to use all the sauce if you feel like it will be too much. I didn't use all the sauce.)  Top with any remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and hot. Let the enchiladas rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, if desired, and serve.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Avocado-Egg BLT

I've had this bookmarked for over a year and then made it about a month ago, and I'm now finally posting it!  This was delicious and filling.  I forgot the lettuce, so I guess it's not a BLT anymore, but oh well.  Things kept sliding off this as I was eating, so I think lettuce would have made it even more slide-y.

I found baby San Marzano tomatoes and they were pretty good, even for this time of year.  (I found some grown-up ones today that were NOT that good, BTW.  Lol.  Can't wait for summer produce!)
Avocado-Egg BLT
adapted from Our Best Bites
Makes one open-faced sandwich

1 slice favorite whole grain bread
2 tablespoons mashed ripe avocado
dash garlic powder
2 slices cooked bacon
a few slices red onion
handful of greens, or lettuce leaf (optional)
2-3 slices tomato
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
optional: flavored olive oil, for drizzling over top

1.  Toast your bread. Meahwhile, mash avocado with garlic powder and spread on bread as it comes out of the toaster. Place bacon and onion slices on top of avocado. Top with greens, sliced tomato and egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and if desired drizzle with olive oil.  
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

It's been rainy, windy and chilly here lately, and this drink was the perfect thing the other day.  (Last week we had beautiful spring weather, so hopefully this rain passes soon.)  Recipe like this are popular on the internet, and I've never been to Starbucks and had theirs.  I mainly wanted to use up the last bit of store-bought caramel sauce I had in the fridge after making this pie for Pi Day.  This was so good as it was- I can't even imagine how good it'd be with homemade caramel sauce.
I only had enough caramel sauce to make one serving, and my three-year old practically stole this out of my hands and drank most of it.  He really, really enjoyed this.  Lol.

I used some of our homemade Azorean Sea Salt in this, and it added the perfect flavor.  It doesn't taste salty; rather, it brings out the flavors of chocolate in this.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
idea from the Internet; this is my version

1 cup whole milk
1 oz. good quality dark chocolate (I used Ritter Sport)
1-2 tablespoons caramel sauce
1/4 teaspoon good sea salt, or to taste
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (save pod for other use; vanilla sugar or extract)
whipped cream, optional

1.  In a small saucepan on the stove, heat everything together over low heat until everything is melted and incorporated together and hot.  (Add 1 Tbsp. of caramel sauce first, then taste and see if you need the rest.)  Serve with whipped cream, optional, and extra caramel sauce drizzled over the top.
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