Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Last night I made the most amazing soup. I know, everyone who blogs about their food says that, but this time, I really mean it.

I found the recipe on Pinterest – my source for everything from recipes, to DIY projects, to even workouts. The original poster was Bev from BevCooks. I had never been to her blog before – which is what is so great about Pinterest. You are constantly finding new and exciting bloggers. In her post she goes on and on about how easy and delicious this soup is. Almost to the point where I was like “Already already Bev – the soup can’t be that amazing!”

But I was wrong. It is that incredible.

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Coconut Curry Chicken Soup:

Makes 4 large servings 

*3 Tbs. red Thai curry paste (or more or less depending on your heat preference)
* 2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 tsp fish sauce
* 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips
* 1 cup snow peas
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 2 bundles vermicelli noodles
* 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
* 1/2 cup sliced scallions
* 1 sliced chile, for garnish (optional)
* juice of one lime
* coarse salt

My Notes-

fish sauce: I couldn’t find fish sauce, and to be honest, it sounds gross so I left it out
vermicelli noodles: I used pad thai noddles because that is all I could find
shredded chicken: I used pre-cooked Perdue short cuts because when you are cooking dinner at 9pm after working for 10 hours and working out, that is allowed. I did my best to shred the pieces with two forks.
scallions: I didn’t have these
chile: I opted out. I had a jar of chilis in my fridge, but when I opened it, all that remained was the juice
Bring a large pot to a medium-high heat. Add the curry paste with 1/4 cup coconut milk; whisk until smooth.

  1. Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce. Stir until combined.
  2. Add the red bell pepper, snow peas, peas, vermicelli noodles and chicken. Toss in a good pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium for about 8 minutes, until the noodles have softened.
  4. Add half the lime juice, stir and taste. Need more salt? Add it.
  5. Serve soup garnished with scallions and chile pepper and remaining lime wedge.

I promise you – the soup is good and it is easy.

Thanks Bev for this wonderful recipe.

OMG – We’re Adults!

"Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday"
“Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday!”

Today is Matt’s 30th Birthday! Not only is this exciting because it means we get to have cake and celebrate but it also means that Matt can stop reminding me at every change he gets that I am 30 and he is 29. Honestly, the 3 months between our Birthdays are the worst. To be honest, I don’t mind that I am a little older than Matt but I don’t need to be reminded of it all the time.

We kicked off the celebration a little early last night with a dinner party at our friends apartment. We have known Lucy and Smeets since our early days in Boston and have continued to remind friends over the years. They are lovely people with whom we’ve taken a few ski trips , gone to many dinners and shared more than a few glasses of wine! A couple week’s ago we celebrated Lucy’s birthday together with a dinner at Peels, one of my favorite NYC restaurants. That night we ordered some oysters for the table and got to talking about how Matt and I have recently gotten into oysters. It just so happens that Lucy’s uncle owns an oyster farm in Cape Code, Sweet Neck Farms, and knows a thing or two about the slippery delicacies. I mentioned that I really wanted to learn how to shuck them so Matt and I could enjoy them at home (and not have to pay the ridiculous price of $3 per oyster at a restaurant!) So I was pleasantly surprised when Lucy called me on Tuesday night to tell me that her uncle had shipped her some fresh oysters and invited Matt and I over for a shucking lesson and dinner party.

Now, this may shock you – but this was the FIRST real dinner party that Matt and I have ever been to. I know – weird. I think it is because NYC apartments are so small, that very few people have dinner tables so we always go out to dinner. It is sort of funny because the only person I can think of who has an actual table in their apartment, which chairs and adult things like that, is Kinsella – and his version of cooking is opening a can of soup (which IS pretty impressive). We’ve had many a football watching party at his place, but those normally involve Bleeker Street pizza and eating off our laps (please don’t mistake my tone for judging – Matt and I sit on the floor and eat off a coffee table at home).

It was nice to play house for a little with Smeets and Lucy and feel like real adults. Thanks for keeping us classy guys!

 

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Here is Smeets in the Kitchen - hoping that rubs off on Matt!
Here is Smeets in the kitchen – hoping that rubs off on Matt!

 

Valentine’s Day Cake

I will pretty much celebrate any holiday if it means I get to bake. Pair that with access to a photographer and I will bake a million things! So, in continuation with the blog post from the past couple days, I am going to continue with another Valentine’s Day treat.

I turned to my trusty cook book, BakeWise by the wonderful Shirley O. Corriher. I love this book because, not only does it have incredible recipes, but the explanations on why you want to do something a certain way and tips on how to actually do them, are  unmatched. So, I wouldn’t be doing the cookbook justice if I didn’t strong encourage you to get a copy for yourselves. The recipe that I used for the cake was the magnificent moist golden cake – it is a moist and sweet cake that was easily sliced into three layers.

I had much more success with this cake, as compared to my last; however, it was still far from seamless. After baking for 40 minutes, I open the over door so that I could insert a toothpick into the cake to see if it was done. Unfortunately, when I opened the door, the middle of the cake dropped. I saw it happening and quickly shut the door and continued cooking the cake for another 5 or so minutes. I seemed to limit the damage, but there was a slight sink hole in the middle of my cake and when I sliced it open, you could see that the middle was slightly undercooked. So while I’ve progressed and aren’t overflowing my cake pans anymore, it seems as though I still a bit of practicing left to do before I achieve perfection!

Up next was my favorite part – frosting and decorating. I decided to make Shirley’s Crusting Confectioners’ Sugar Buttercream because I was intrigued by the smoothing technique she described that called for using a Viva paper towel (I know, now you are probably intrigued too!)

Crusting Confectioner’s Sugar Buttercream

Make about 4 cups (*I made a half recipe and had plenty to frost a three layer cake)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Crisco or other shortening with emulsifiers
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 tablespoons clean vanilla flavoring (if you can’t find this, regular works – just know your icing won’t be bright white)
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 tablespoons water
plain white Viva paper towels

  1. With the paddle attachment of a mixer, whip the butter until soft, and then whip in the shortening. Beat in the extract and flavoring on low-speed.
  2. Sift the sugar through a large strainer with medium mesh just to remove any lumps. Beat the sugar and the meringue powder into the fat mixture on the lowest speed. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Stir the salt into the water to dissolve and mix it into the icing thoroughly on low-speed only.
  4. Adjust consistency to a spreadable icing with a little more water or confectioners’ sugar. Do not over mix or mix on high-speed.
  5. For a very smooth cake, similar to a cake draped with rolled fondant, let the icing dry just until a dry Viva paper towel touched to the side does not stick, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the humidity. To create an absolutely smooth surface, use a plain white Viva paper towel  and start with the sides. Place the towel against the side and smooth up and down gently with your fingers or palm. Do not allow the towel to pleat or fold. If desired, smooth a contour edge and smooth the top.

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I decided to add chocolate piping around the top and bottom (similar to the design that I did on my last cake). I then finished it off with some shaved milk chocolate on the top – with a hearth silhouette for Valentine’s Day.

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I was happy with the way it turned out but as I said earlier, I still have  a long ways to go before I can compete on Cupcake Wars or start can claim to be the next Cake Boss :) Unfortunately, for my co-workers, that means a lot more cake tasting!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope yours is filled with love and baked goods.

Valentine’s Day Cookies – Part 2

Yesterday I posted about the cookie part of the Valentine’s Day sugar cookies that I made. However, everyone knows the best part of any good sugar cookies is the frosting.

Some places will use royal icing for their frosting and pipe it onto the cookie. While this definitely allows for a clean and professional look, they don’t taste that great. For these cookies, we use a frosting that has a much better flavor, but has to be spread onto the cookie and has a more rustic feel.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup margarine (Imperial or Blue Bonnet) *cut up if cold
1/4 cup half-n-half

  1. Pull all of the ingredients in the mixer
  2. After blending, whip on high for 5 minutes
  3. Add food coloring if desired (*I prefer gel food coloring)

I would like the thank my friend Kristin Boyd for coming over to photograph this baking session. Kristin is a trader by day, amature photographer by night. She is currently taking a photography class that focuses on environmental photography. For her homework each week, she is asked to photograph people in their natural environments. So when I asked her to come over and take pictures of me in my kitchen for this blog, it was a win-win for both of us! I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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What do you think? Could I be the next Food Network Star? Or maybe just a really good Room Mom.

Valentine’s Day Cookies – Part 1

Sugar cookies are my favorite. They taste good, they are pretty to look at and they are a Brethauer family staple. We first learned the recipe when my family took a trip out West and visited my pen pal (who was the daughter of my father’s medical school roommate) and her mother made them in the shape of starts. Since that point, we’ve often referred to them as “star cookies” regardless of the shape we chose to make.

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to make some heart-shaped “star cookies.” I often make these in 2 (sometimes 3) steps.

First you have to make the dough. then refrigerate it for at least an hour before rolling out. And I tend to wait a day before frosting the cookies. That way, you can ensure that they are 100% cooled and you don’t get too tired!

Rolled Sugar Cookies (AKA Star Cookies)

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
3 Tablespoons half-n-half
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla bean paste)
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Beat sugar and butter until flurry. Add half-n-half, vanilla and egg. Mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients in two parts. Blend.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour.
  5. Roll dough onto well floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. (*Don’t roll the dough too thin, unless you want crispy cookies!)
  6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes.

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on frosting!

I’ve Been Keeping Something From You

No. I am not pregnant. (Matt, you can stop freaking out)

Last Christmas (as in 2011), I received a life changing present from my mother-in-law: ice cream!

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Or more accurately, the ability to make homemade ice cream whenever I want. I know, I can’t believe I haven’t told you this until now either.

Over the past year, every time I made ice cream, I was shocked at how easy the process was and how quickly I was able to make it. I was even more shocked/embarrassed about how quickly Matt and I ate it. As a result, I haven’t had any pictures to show of the process. That is, until now.

For the Super Bowl party, not only did I make a cake, but I made ice cream as well! And thankfully, Matt helped document the process this time (and yes, this is why the pictures show my tummy hanging out of my shirt and a desperate need for new nail polish. Thanks for the warning Matt!)

I decided to make my favorite flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Oreo Mint  (along with the ice cream maker attachment, I also received the Ben & Jerry’s recipe book)

Ben & Jerry’s Oreo Mint Ice Cream

2/3 cup oreo’s, coarsely chopped (I use at least 2 cups and I prefer double stuffed)
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 tspn peppermint extract

Place the cookies in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Eggs
Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.

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Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the peppermint extract and blend again.

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Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer’s instructions.

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After the ice cream stiffens, about 2 minutes before it is done, add the chopped cookies and stir still blended (you may need to use a spatula or wooden spoon for this part).

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Transfer to a freezer proof container and  continue freezing until the ice cream is ready (minimum of 1 hour).

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Makes 1 quart.

Be prepared – this will go quickly. It went so quickly at the party that I didn’t even have time to photograph the ice cream in my super cute paper cups.

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Here’s to many more ice cream flavors. The sky is really the limit on this one!

Covering Up a Baking Disaster with Frosting

I look for any reason to bake a cake, from the most obvious: a Birthday, to the obscure, a Notre Dame football game. So, with the Super Bowl this past weekend, I figured it was a good time to put  on my apron, get out my KitchenAid and create a delicious treat.

I wanted to focus my efforts on my decorating techniques. I feel that I’ve successfully mastered making a cake from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t done much more than vanilla or chocolate, but the cakes normally taste good. However, there is room for improvement on the decorating front.

I’ve always envied the ability to crumb coat a cake. I’ve watched videos on how to do it and read cook books outlining the steps but whenever I do it, it doesn’t seem to come out as clean and smooth as the professionals. So this weekend, with the help of Butter Me Up Brooklyn, I decided to try it once more.

After gathering my ingredients on Saturday morning from the grocery store, I set about making a delicious brown butter layer cake. Even though this was a new recipe, I just said earlier, this part was supposed to be the easy part. I took my time, measured out all of the ingredients and even used some of the tip I learned at a recent cupcake making class I took at ICE. The batter looked amazing when I poured it in my cake pans and set them in the oven to bake.


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10 minutes into their cooking time, I was startled by the smell of something burning. I went to the oven to see this:

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My cakes were overflowing and dripping onto the bottom of the oven (hence, the burning smell). After throwing a mile temper tantrum and frantically googling what could have caused this (either too much baking soda or over mixing – both of which I swear I didn’t do), I decided to continue to bake the cakes, hoping that I could cut off the overflowed portion and that the remainder of the cake would turn out ok. After sampling a little – and not throwing up,  I decided to continue with my original plan and continue with the cake. Frosting can fix anything right?

I decided to make a chocolate butter cream frosting and again, I turned to Butter Me Up Brooklyn for help with the act of frosting the cake.

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It was a slow process, but I think in the end it was worth it.

In the end, the cake didn’t taste horrible, but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made either… hopefully next time both baking and decorating come together in one cake!

I’m Cheating on My KitchenAid Mixer

My favorite kitchen appliance is my KitchenAid mixer. I coveted one for years. And then, after Matt and I moved in together and after I secured a new (and desperately needed) job, a KitchenAid mixer appeared in the mail. My mother, who never owned a one herself, bought me the cobalt blue mixer.

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From the minute I turned it on, I was in love. Making cookies became easier, beating frosting didn’t require holding a mixer for 15 minutes and after my mother-in-law bought me the ice cream attachment, the love affair escalated. I’ve purchased many off friends’ wedding registries and got one for my mom last Christmas. Honestly, I don’t know how she lived without for 60(ish) years. Nothing could tear me away from my KitchenAid.

That is… until my Crock-Pot came along.

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When Matt and I got engaged, registering fro Kitchen appliances, gadgets, pots, pans and dishes was a highlight. With my limited kitchen space in NYC, I hesitated to put a crock pot on the list. Thankfully my mom convinced me, saying even if I could use it now, I would want it in the future. So I registered for one.

My soon-to-be sister-in-law bought Matt and I our crock pot for our shower. I was super excited to receive this gift, but I knew there was no way I could store it at our apartment. So, sadly, like many of our other shower and wedding gifts, I packed it into my bedroom closet at my parents house. And then, I forgot about it.

Not because I didn’t appreciate the gift, but because I didn’t have room for it. However, every time I return to NH, I open that closet and feel an incredible sense of frustration that I have these wonderful, nice things that I simply don’t have room for. And pinterest made it worse.

When I joined pinterest, I immediately started using the site for recipes. And much to my chagrin, a huge number of the recipes I would come across were for crock pots and slow cookers. And I didn’t have one (in my possession). Eventually, it was just too much. After Thanksgiving, I hauled the large box back to NYC and spent a few hours strategically moving things around. Finally I found a spot for the crock pot!

A few days later, I pulled it out and fired it up. The first recipe I made was one recommend by Matt’s mom: white chicken chili (recipe below). I put the ingredients in  before work and by the time I came home, our apartment was filled  was delicious aromas and the cooking was done! It was amazing, delicious and the clean up was just one pot. After dinner, I hopped on my computer and started looking up more crock pot recipes. I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before the crock pot took the place of my KitchenAid. Baking cookies and making ice cream was replaced with chilis, pulled pork and soup. Matt didn’t complain by my co-workers started to question what was going on.

While I can’t say with conviction which is my favorite – I can definitely say that in our 800 sq. ft. apartment, I’m happy to designate at least 10 sq feet to my ever-growing collection of kitchen appliances!

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

2-3 boneless chicken breast halves (can be still frozen)

2 cans Rotel tomatoes

2 cans corn kernels, do not drain

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix(dry)

1 ½  T cumin

1 ½  t chili powder

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

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Put the chicken in the crock pot.

Top with the tomatoes, corn, drained and rinsed beans,ranch dressing, cumin, and chili powder; stir to combine.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stir and add cream cheese.  Cook on high 1 more hour.

Shred the chicken into large pieces, stir to combine all.

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Last night I decided to make a cup of tea to enjoy before I went to bed. I don’t own a tea kettle, so I had to heat up the water in the microwave. As I was waiting for it to heat up, I decided to start unloading the dishwasher (you know how I love to multitask). It didn’t take me too long to put two and two together – I could race the timer on the microwave and see if I could beat it. Ahh, finding competitive aspects to household chores… love it.

I picked up my pace – I only had 2 minutes and 15 seconds to unload everything and put it away in the proper pace. It didn’t take long for me to visualize my myself competing for the gold medal in “dishwasher unloading” at the 2012 Wifery Olympics. I  felt my heartbeat quicken as the seconds ticked down. I threw the last spoon into the silverware drawer a few seconds before the timer went off. VICTORY!

And just think…I was making some nice chamomile tea to enjoy before bed –  something that I thought would provide a little calmness to my night.

The Second Coming

Last night, the entire Robin Hood staff was invited to a private viewing of The Artist in Harvey Weinstein’s private screening room. We also used this opportunity to celebrate our Executive Director’s 50th Birthday. The evening was very fun and adds to my growing list of “once in a lifetime opportunities” that I have experienced since joining Robin Hood.

Matt spent this evening at CrossFit and then went home. He was on his own for dinner, which usually means a smoothie, heating up a lean cuisine or ordering something from seamless. When I opened the door to our apartment, I smelled something weird… I walked to the kitchen and looked to see if any of our gas burners were left on by accident (something Matt has been known to do frequently). All were in the off position. Then I realized that the oven light was on. I ducked down to peer in and I almost fell over at the sight I was beholding.

Matt is definitely not a fan of leftovers; so much so that he refuses to eat them (And you all think I am a princess?!) Typically, when I decide to make something for dinner; I need to cut the recipe down by at least a half, or be prepared to eat the meal for the next 3 days (lunch and dinner). I grew up in a household where we had a leftover smorgasbord at least once a week, so the concept of Matt absolutely refusing to eat them was one I didn’t understand, and truthfully, didn’t really appreciate.

Well, last night, not only was Matt using the oven and cooking himself dinner, but he was heating up leftovers from the meal we had the night before! I shouted outloud (just ask my mom as I was on the phone with her) “hallelujah, praise the Lord! Christ has come again – it is a miracle!”

After praising Matt for his newfound appreciation for my cooking (even in the form of leftovers) I went to bed dreaming about my now nearly perfect husband.

Unfortunately when I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen, I returned to reality. I guess the second coming has come and gone already.

This was our sink this morning...