Quick Red Coconut Curry Noodles

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe somehow convinced me to make this dish last night. I’ve avoiding learning to make my favorite foods—yes, it is absurd—so I can enjoy them at my favorite restaurants. Dumb. Glad the tides are turning. Next time I’d like to try this Thai Coconut Curry, which is a little different. I have a few cooking notes down below, but the quick take is that this tasted really great on a Saturday night and I will make it again with tweaks.

INGREDIENTS:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon oil
2 cans light or regular coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cups sweet Thai chili sauce
2 ¼ cups chicken broth
1 (13.5 ounce) package rice noodles (about ¼-inch wide)
1 yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons
2 red peppers, cored and sliced thinly
1 cup broccoli slaw or thinly sliced matchstick carrots
1 teaspoon salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot over medium heat, scoop the cream off the top of each can of coconut and put it in the pot. (If using light coconut milk, there won’t be cream to use, so use the 1 tablespoon oil called for in the recipe). The cream will be used as the “fat” instead of oil or butter. Along with the cream, add the curry paste and ginger. Let this simmer, stirring constantly, for about one minute.

Add the chicken and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Add the coconut milk, sweet Thai chili sauce, cilantro, and chicken broth. Bring this to a simmer.

Add the red pepper, broccoli slaw (or carrots) and rice noodles and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom, for about 5-8 minutes. The noodles will thicken and plump up as they absorb the liquid. The mixture will be slightly soupy when the noodles are finished cooking.

Take the pot off the heat and let the noodles sit for about 5 minutes. The mixture will continue to thicken. Garnish with more cilantro, if desired.

**Two cans of regular coconut milk is a little much for me. The creaminess, the fat content, the weight of it in my stomach veers over the edge just slightly, so next time I might try the light coconut milk cans or simply reduce the amount I’m using. I skipped the red peppers for the sake of my non-pepper loving family members and I doubled the amount of broccoli slaw. This works, but I’m craving more veggies. This recipe can definitely handle chunky vegetables. Some commenters noted they added fish sauce at the end, and other doubled the amount of red curry paste. Both seem like potential good ideas to me. I wanted more of a spice kick, but again, for my child in particular, I didn’t want too much heat. Really yummy recipe, the smells flooded my house with happiness. But I think I can do a bit better next time.

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Summer Coucous Salad

My church is full of good cooks. Some are actual noteworthy chefs in our city (small church, I don’t know how we got so lucky) and others seem to have the knack for deliciousness all on their own, surely a skill developed by years of cookbook reading and kitchen work. At our recent summer camp there were several amazing quinoa and/or couscous salads. This was one of them, and oh was it yummy. Thanks for the recipe, Jen!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous, uncooked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup reduced fat feta cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover the pan, remove from the heat and let stand for five minutes. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, red pepper, slat, paprika, and pepper. Set aside.

Add the chopped green onions, basil, tomatoes, lemon zest and feta cheese to the cooled couscous and toss. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir or toss until combined. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

**I couldn’t be bothered by low sodium or reduced fat options this time around. Bring on the salt and fat! At least, today. Tomorrow I might change my mind.

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

chocolatechip_cookies_dark

Livia and I tag-teamed this recipe last week and were super happy with the results. This might be my new favorite chocolate chip cookie.

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
12 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 C loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 t vanilla extract
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until combined and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg and egg yolk until just combined, and then beat in vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Beat in the chopped chocolate.

Scoop or drop 1 1/2 to 2 TB of dough onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between. Sprinkle each dough ball with coarse salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until set in the center and slightly golden. Let cool completely–these are amazingly chewy once cooled!

**I used 2/3 dark chocolate chips and 1/3 semi-sweet. Someday I’ll get brave enough to try 100% dark.

Creamy Pesto Shrimp

I used Knorr’s creamy pesto sauce packets for a fast and large meal with rotisserie chicken, so it’s nice to use it with shrimp, too. I’m aware some folks don’t like to use pre-made flavor packets… but I feel sorry for those people because, let’s face it, McCormick’s chili packets make the best chili. My family loved this dish.

2 T olive oil
1lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 1/2 C milk
1 pkg Knorr Creamy Pesto sauce mix
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
2 T lemon juice
8oz your fave pasta, cooked & drained

Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat and cook shrimp, stirring occasionally until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside.

Stir milk and Knorr mix into skillet and bring to boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened. Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Toss sauce with hot pasta and serve.

Chili Lime Sweet Corn Salad

This recipe surprised me by winning over most of our dinner guests last night. It’s a subtly sweet and crunchy corn salad and it’s simple to put together. I grabbed the last 4-pack of corn at my grocery store yesterday (not in season yet in Nebraska) and added one can of sweet corn kernels to the mix. Turned out just fine.

INGREDIENTS:
6 ears of corn, husk and silk removed
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco*
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Boil the corn for 3 minutes, then remove and allow to cool slightly so that they can be handled. Cut kernels off the cob into a large bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together butter, lime juice, chili powder, and chopped cilantro. Pour the chili lime mixture over the corn and mix to coat. Add the crumbled queso freso and stir. Season with salt to taste.

Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Carnitas Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

I’m all about recipe books with great pictures and layouts these days and I pick up a new one from the library each time I go in. This recipe comes from Kelsey Nixon’s Kitchen Confidence and it’s a keeper. These carnitas are incredibly flavorful! (It comes with a recipe for pickled red onions, which I did not make, but will do so in the future. That recipe follows the carnitas.)

1 3lb boneless pork shoulder (butt), trimmed of excess fat
Juice of 4 limes
1 C orange juice
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 T chili powder
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 T kosher salt

Cut the pork shoulder into 1.5-2 inch pieces and put them in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, and salt. Add just enough water to cover the pork and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for at least 1.5 hours but no longer than 2 hours, stirring occaisonally and taking care that there is still liquid in the pot.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking, carefully turning the pork pieces, until they develop brown, crispy edges, about 5 minutes.

Serve the pork with picked onions (instructions below), warmed tortillas, and, if desired, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, cheese, and lime wedges for squeezing.

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PICKLED RED ONIONS

1/3 C fresh lime juice
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1/3 C sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into rings
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

In a small saucepan, combine the lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Place the onion slices in a bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for about 20 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup w/ Turmeric

After accidentally buying a second head of cauliflower, I looked for ways to use up and was intrigued by a roasted cauliflower soup. I combined two recipes, and it resulted in a really delicious soup for a chilly spring night. Total win here. My whole family enjoyed it.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, diced
5 cups vegetable stock
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 t turmeric
1 t curry
1/2 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

Cut head of garlic, about 1/4-inch, to expose tops of garlic cloves. Place garlic head, cut side up, in a sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold up all 4 sides of the foil and cover tightly.

Place cauliflower florets in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, turmeric, and curry. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil; gently toss to combine. Spread cauliflower out onto baking sheet. Place garlic onto the baking sheet. Place into oven and roast until cauliflower and garlic is tender and golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool before squeezing cloves from skin.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in cauliflower and garlic. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is tender and falling apart, an additional 10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached.
Stir in heavy cream; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately.