Easy Green Curry Chicken and Vegetables over Rice

I am always looking for quick, yummy dishes I can make during the week after a long day.  Eating a sandwichIMG_0403 or cereal just isn’t an appealing dinner selection.  I want a healthy, warm meal on cold winter days.  I had been wanting to make a curry dish over rice, but felt overwhelmed by it since I don’t cook that type of food often.  On Tuesday, my co-worker shared an easy recipe I felt comfortable making!  I grabbed all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s on my way home from work and it turned out great!  It only took about 10 minutes to prep and another 12 to cook it.  The green curry is very mild and has a slightly sweet taste with just the tiniest bit of spice.  The recipe below only fed 2 people, so certainly double it if you have more people to feed.  I’m excited to try variations of this with different vegetables, meat and even yellow or red curry sauce.  Enjoy!

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or whatever you have)
  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • ½ lb chicken thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vegetables of your choice, fresh or frozen (I used a frozen stir fry mix of broccoli, carrots, onion, pea pods, baby corn, etc.)
  • ¼ cup chopped onion (if it’s not already in your vegetable mix)
  • 1 small jar green curry sauce (I used Trader Joes, but you could use whatever you want)
  • Cooked rice for serving

What you do:

  • Heat oil over medium heat and sauté diced garlic until fragrant (about 1 minute, do not burn!)
  • Add chicken and cook until done
    IMG_0395
  • Add vegetables & onion and cook until desired tenderness (I like mine until  just warmed so they still have a little crunch)
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  • Add desired amount of green curry sauce (I only used ½ the can so I could use it again in another dish)
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  • Serve over white or brown rice

Fried Onion Dip

Source: Amy Thielen Food NetworkImage 36

When my mom let me know that a Minnesota native had a new show on the Food Network, I knew I had to tune in.  I immediately started up the DVR and recorded her show.  Amy Thielen has such a great demeanor and represents our state well.  She seems humble and cooks with fresh, local ingredients which can be challenging at times when the snow flies.  I was looking for a little inspiration for an appetizer to bring to a Octoberfest party I was attending.   While surfing online for a recipe, I caught up on her show, America’s heartland.  In the episode I was watching, she made this incredible looking Fried Onion Dip.  That was all the inspiration I needed, onion dip seemed like a perfect appetizer for the party.

I doubled the ingredients below and started cooking.  While frying the onions totally smoked out my house, it was worth it.  The dip received rave reviews at the party and was gobbled up right away.  It has a delicious rich, savory flavor and the onions are smokey and don’t overpower the dip.  It was excellent and can even be made ahead and refrigerated!  Enjoy.

What you need: **Recipe from the Food  NetworkImage 41

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:

  • First, clarify the butter so that you can fry the onions at high heat and put a very dark, almost burnt crust on them. (Clarify butter: Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat until it foams and browns. Remove from the heat. Tilt the skillet and carefully spoon off the foam, saving it in a small bowl. Pour the clear butter into another bowl, and pour the dark dregs at the bottom of the skillet into the bowl with the foam. Add the clear butter to a larger heavy skillet. Discard the butter foam and dregs.)
  • Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fry the onions, flipping them now and then, until they’re dark on the edges, even black and crispy in spots, about 10 minutes.
    Image 40Image 39
  • Add the honey and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the vermouth, bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Put the sour cream and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until smooth. Finely chop the fried onions on a cutting board and add them, along with their pan juices, to the cream cheese mixture. Stir in the chives. Add the cayenne and season with salt.
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  • Transfer to a small bowl and garnish with more chives.
    Image 36

Got tomatoes? Homemade bloody mary mix!

Burton Lap

My Frenchie Burton!

When I planted my first garden in May, I never thought that 6 baby tomato plants would become monsters and produce enough tomatoes to practically open my own garden stand.  While that may be a tiny exaggeration, I did get about 300 Roma tomatoes off those 6 plants (yes, I counted them).  That means those tomatoes cost about $.016 / tomato!  So much cheaper than buying them at the store.

Since I have canned tomatoes, ate my fair share of caprese salad, made salsa and marinara sauce, I figured I’d try something else this time.  Insert, homemade Bloody Mary Mix!  There isn’t anything more enjoyable on a Sunday than sitting down to relax with a Bloody Mary while watching the Vikings (lose usually) game with a Frenchie cuddling on my lap.  If you load that bloody up with cheese, beef sticks, homemade pickles and olives, you are set!

This recipe required quite a bit of peeling and chopping, but it was well worth it.  The Bloody Mary mix is loaded with fresh vegi’s, lower on sodium that a store bough mix and a healthy (O.K., healthier) way to have a cocktail.  I used the below recipe, but did still add more spice (celery salt, tobacco, Worcestershire) when I made the actual Bloody Mary.  It was delicious and made 3 quarts!

Enjoy!

What you need:

  • 10 pounds tomatoes, cored removed & quartered
  • 2 green peppers, seeds and ribs removed chopped
  • 2 red peppers, seeds and ribs removed chopped
  • 1 large sweet banana pepper, seeds removed, chopped
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped (omit if you don’t want any heat)
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt (to taste)
  • Generous grinds of black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

What you do:

  • Place all the chopped vegetables in large pot.
    Image 1
  • Add a splash of water, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are mushy, 40 minutes or so.
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  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  • Carefully puree the vegetables in a blender or food processor (you will need to do this in batches).
  • Press it through a fine sieve, extracting as much liquid as possible and tossing the pulp left behind.
  • Return all the extracted liquid to the pot.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, celery salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Bring the mix to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Pour it into a pitcher, chill it and use it right away.
    OR….
  • Can it in quart jars for long-term storage.

Canning the Mix:

  • Sterilize 4 quart jars in the dishwasher or boiling water (it might only fill 3, but do an extra just in case).
  • Fill each of your warm, cleaned jars with the hot Bloody Mary mix, leaving a ½ inch head space (I like to use a measuring cup to scoop the liquid and a funnel to pour into).
  • Place new, clean seals on top and screw on the bands.
  • Gently place the full jars into the boiling water and process the jars for 40 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the jars and let them cool for storage (the lids should pop down which means they are sealed).

To make a Bloody Mary, fill a tall glass with ice, add 2 ounces vodka, top with Bloody Mary Mix and stir. If it’s not flavorful enough, add more spices to your liking.  Top with a pickle, olive and any other fixings you like!

Garden Fresh Marinara Sauce

Isn’t it amazing that you can plant a $4 pack of tomatoes seedlings in the spring and Vine to Spaghetti sauceget 100’s of vine fresh tomatoes a couple of months later?  Garden fresh food is hands down the most amazing thing to cook with.  You can take a stroll across your yard and pluck ripe vegetables  & herbs right off the vine.  And if you love to cook, with a small amount of patience and a little work you can turn a ripe tomato into homemade spaghetti sauce!

What you need:

  • 20-24 large Roma tomatoes
  • 4 large garlic gloves peeled and cut in ½
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes paste
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh basil
  • EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes if you like a little heat!

What you do:

  • Wash & remove the core from the tomatoes, set aside.
  • Bring large pot of water to a boil.
  • In small batches, drop the tomatoes into the water and boil until the skin starts to naturally peel.
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  • Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and drop them into an ice bath.
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  • Remove the skins from the tomatoes.
  • Repeat the above 2 steps until all tomatoes are peeled.
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  • Crush the tomatoes using your hands until they are in small chunks.
  • Add EVOO to a large stockpot pan and sauté garlic for 30 seconds.  Do not burn!
  • Add tomato paste and stir until combined, about 3 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes, fresh basil, pinch of sugar, red pepper flakes and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.
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  •  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes until reduced and sauce is thickened (make sure you boil the water out otherwise it’s really runny).
  • Remove basil stems and large chunks of garlic.
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  • Optional: Let the sauce cool and puree in a food processor or blender if you like your sauce smoother vs. Chunky.

Basil Simple Syrup

Even though I made a boat load of pesto and have been eating caprese salads several photo-1times per week, I still have basil coming out of my ears.  I hate to waste any food, especially food I grew myself, so I have been searching for new things to try using basil.

When a neighbor came down and asked to use some basil, naturally, I was curious what she was using it for.  What she said blew my mind.  Basil simply syrup for watermelon cocktails!  Being that it’s a holiday weekend, that sounded like a perfect way to use some of my basil.

This took only 10 minutes to make and tastes lovely!  It’s obviously sweet with the sugar, but if you didn’t know it was basil, you’d have that “what do I taste?” thought.  While I haven’t tried it in a drink yet (it is only 11am), I am excited to give it a whirl when guests arrive.  I’ll likely add it to a vodka soda with lime, or even in a watermelon margarita.  It would also be yummy drizzled over some fresh fruit or over vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

What you need: 

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup loose packed basil

What you do:

  • Heat ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
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  • Remove from heat, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes.
  • Strain syrup.
  •  for about a week in the refrigerator, stored in an airtight container.

Garden Fresh Basil Pesto

Do you remember when I planted my 1st garden?  I doubted my green thumb, big Basil Planttime.  However, thanks to the Miracle Grow Soil and some good sun and rain, my 1st garden is thriving.  In fact, I have fresh basil coming out of my ears!  I’ve been making 1 million caprese salads but wasn’t sure what else to do with it.  In comes the pesto.

I haven’t been a huge fan of pesto in the past but I love basil so I wasn’t sure why.  I think it is likely because a traditional basil is made with pine nuts.  I’m not a huge fan.  So, I figured I would substitute almonds for the pine nuts and see how I liked it.

I started with a small batch and loved it!  I plan to make a boat load more and freeze the sauce in small enough portions (ice-cube trays perhaps?) that I can take one out at a time and use them for dinners during the week.

This time around I served it over a store-bought (gasp) gnocchi along side salmon and a caprese salad.  It was divine!

Salmon dinner

What you need:

  • 1 cup basil leaves (loose)
  • ½ cup Toasted Almonds (I used slivers)
  • ¾ cup EVOO (you can use more or less depending on how thick you want the pesto)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice (do this to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What you do:

  • Lightly toast the almonds in a pan or oven
    Toasted Almonds
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add more oil if you want the pesto thinner.

  • Serve over any sort of pasta you like or even over fish!
    PestoGnocchi with Pesto

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Back in college, my friends and I would take trips to Mazatlan, Mexico.  To say that weChicken Tortilla 7 had a little fun is a bit of an understatement.  We baked in the sun, talked to other college students from all across the U.S. and went to clubs I wouldn’t be caught dead in now.  At the time, it was the best thing ever!

Believe it or not, one of the highlights I remember was a chicken tortilla soup served at a tiny corner restaurant.  I feel like we went there almost every day for lunch.  They would serve the soup with all the fixings on the side – avocado, crispy tortilla strips, cheese, etc.  Once it was loaded up with the fixings, it was heaven in my mouth.  The salty soup combined with the creamy cheese and crunch tortilla strips made my day.

Since 2002, I have been on the hunt for a recipe that did this soup justice.  What I couldn’t put my finger on was what the broth was made of; chicken broth, onion broth, or something I had no clue about?  The other thing that made it amazing was the crumbly cheese that melted just enough but still kept in tact when dropped into the soup.  It wasn’t feta or goat cheese, but had a consistency similar to those if you mixed the two together.

After over 10 years of searching, I’m convinced I finally found a recipe that brings me back to those days.  Once again, Food and Wine Magazine came through.  I now know the broth is a chicken stock & tomato puree and the cheese is crumbled queso fresco found in the Mexican section at the grocery store.  Duh.  I can’t get over how similar this soup is to what we ordered in Mexico over 10 years ago.  Now if I got some blue hair extensions and put on my backless shirt with hot pink shorts, I might think I was in Mexico while slurping on this soup.  Oh the memories 🙂

Recipe Source: Food & Wine Magazine
Recipe by: Rene Ortiz

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 6 corn tortillas, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 cups shredded chicken, from one 2 1/4-pound rotisserie chicken
  • Crumbled queso fresco, dried chile, avocado and cilantro leaves, for garnish

What you do:

  • In a saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chipotle chiles and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very soft, 30 minutes.
    Roma Tomatoes

    Roma Tomatoes

    Chipotle

    Chipotle

  • Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil. Add half of the tortilla strips and fry over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the strips to paper towels. Season with salt. Repeat with the remaining strips.

    Tortilla Strips and Queso Fresco

    Tortilla Strips and Queso Fresco

  • Carefully ladle half of the soup into a blender and add half of the butter. Puree until smooth. Pour the pureed soup into a large saucepan. Repeat with the remaining soup and butter.Chicken Tortilla 4
  • Stir in the shredded chicken and gently reheat the soup. Season with salt.
  • Serve the soup in bowls, garnishing with queso fresco, chile, avocado, cilantro and tortilla strips.