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.

02-pinterest-daily.com-Coconut-Curry-Chicken-Soup-500x744(image via BevCooks)

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.

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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Smooth


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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.

Treats for my Niece

Last week, I got inspired to make some homemade dog treats for my niece-puppy Bexley. Yup, I know – I am the world’s best Aunt.

Well, let me clarify a little…

As many of you know, Matt is training for the NYC Ironman in August. (Read more about this here.) As a result, we have been trying to eat a little healthier in preparation. Now, when Matt seeing me pulling out sticks of butter and my KitchenAid mixer in preparation, he gets a little annoyed with me. However, baking is my therapy, so in order to avoid going crazy, I had to come up with a creative solution. Hence, the homemade dog treats!

I found the following recipe on Pinterest and thought it looked easy enough.

Ingredients:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet mixture to dry, and mix well.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

And anyone who knows anything about Martha Stewart can tell you how important packaging and presentation are. So my “Super Aunt skills” didn’t stop with the baking.

The night before, I had made Matt and mine’s favorite spaghetti sauce for his pre-triathlon meal. That left me with a 28oz tin can, just asking to be turned into some incredible craft project. Since I had already created enough pencil holders for all of y writing utensils, both at home and work, I decided to turn this can into a container for Bex.

I measured out some cork board (left over from another fun project) and painted the top of the can with black craft paint. Before gluing the cork around the can I stenciled Bexley’s name with a black sharpie. After letting it dry for 24 hours, I put in a cellophane bag of treats tied with a ribbon.

Needless to say, Bexley was thrilled with her personalized homemade treats.

Quinoa

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Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”)  a species of goosefoot (an annual flowering plant), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. Quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.

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Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato. Now a days, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). And unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine),  quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

In the year 2011, when eating organic is all the rage, Quinoa is considered a “super food.” Quinoa has an addictive nutty flavor, cooks up quicker than rice, and can be used to make pilafs, risottos, salads, soups, and even desserts. The simplest way is to cook quinoa like pasta: Fill a large pot or saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil. Add just about any amount of quinoa, turn the heat to low, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the water and allow the quinoa to cool.

How to cook quinoa

Tonight for dinner, I ventured into quinoa territory. I made a dish of chicken, vegetables and quinoa. Typically when foods are super healthy, what they have in nutrition, they lack in taste. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case with quinoa. Somewhere between rice, risotto and rice pudding, you find quinoa. I encourage you to experiment with quinoa. There are countless recipes out there, and even more nutritional benefits!

QUINOA WITH CHICKEN AND VEGGIES

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup quinoa (I found this in Whole Foods with the rice)
3 cups water
1 pinch salt

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions, chopped

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
*cook as you normally would, and cut into bite sized pieces

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring the quinoa, water and 1 pinch of salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic softens and the aroma mellows, about two minutes. Add the red pepper and corn; continue cooking until the pepper softens, about five minutes. Season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook for one more minutes. Stir in the cooked chicken and quinoa and green onions. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 4 large servings

Under Pressure

As many of you know, on Friday I was featured on word press’ main page Freshly Pressed. I had an amazing response and a lot of new visitors to my blog. In the past three days, I received more than 5,000 hits, which is pretty incredible considering it took me five months before I reached that number of hits. It was quite a weekend and a truly surreal experience. Now I am faced with only one problem…

What to write about for my next post.

The pressure is unbelievable. I started having nightmares last night and have spent the entire morning brainstorming ideas… Should I feature a DIY project? Or a new recipe?  Should I write more about the Rockefeller Christmas Tree (it is standing now…)

 Or should I write about tonight’s highly anticipated Glee episode featuring Gwyneth Paltrow?

While all of these would make great blog posts, they didn’t feel “good enough.” I then got the idea to feature some of my fellow bloggers who commented on my post. However, more than 70 people commented over the weekend and I don’t think I have enough time to go through and write-up a summary about each of these wonderful blogs. Although, I am making a point to visit and comment on each of these blogs.

Then I decided that I would feature videos from You Tube that always make me smile.

(This is why I want kids)

 

(This is why I wish life was a musical)

 



(This is why no one fully understands Abby’s and my sense of humor)

 

(This is why I can’t wait to marry Matt!)

 

And while I hope that these videos brought a smile to your face, they still don’t feel like enough. Again, I am faced with the dilemma… how do I follow-up a post the received more than 5,000 hits?

This simple answer is, I don’t. I have come to the realization that I can’t change my blog just because a few more people happened to click-through to my site. If I did that, I would just be focusing on the big things because the little things would never seem good enough. The whole reason I started writing this blog was to keep a positive outlook on life. I can’t stop doing that because of the big things in my life. So while I am extremely excited to have been featured on freshly pressed and I spent the weekend approving comments and tracking my stats, my focus remains the same. I am continuing to focus on the little things in life.

Thank you word press for picking my blog and thank you readers and fellow bloggers for clicking through. I hope you continue to follow along, comment and spread PMA.

Pizza Party

One of the great things about working at Cupcake Kids is learning fun new recipes. The most popular party that Jessi offers is the “Make Your Own Pizza Party.” I have to say that I became quite the expert in pizza making. Back in November/December of 2008, Jessi worked with a Charter School in Harlem to host field trips for their countless Kindergarten classes. So for 3-4 weeks straight, I would entertain groups of extremely well-dress eager chefs. We would talk about how yeast makes dough rise be releasing gas (like a burp), how honey makes the dough sweet, and how whole wheat flour is a little bit healthier than all-purpose. It was certainly a very tiring time, doing back-to-back classes for a few weeks straight, but I am now a proficient pizza maker. And last night, I put those skills to use.

I decided to make some pizza dough and use up some of the homemade marinara sauce I made Sunday for the baked ziti Matt and I enjoyed during Man Men.

Please enjoy the recipe, as written by Cupcake Kids! I highly recommend trying this at home!

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The pizza turned out alright, but I must admit, every time I have made it at home, it isn’t as good as the end product at Cupcake Kids. There must be a secret ingredient that the kids put in when I am not looking… oh wait, I think that is called slobber, boogies, and 5-year-old love!