Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thai chicken soup

I swear I am trying to keep up with the blog but when I get home in the evening I tend to be so tired that i don't want to do much... Right now I am suppose to sort through a new blog I am reading, make a couple albums, post recipe, organize recipes, write recipes... My computer broke last week and got fixed day before yesterday and I had a somewhat active social life for the past two days. Those things are not helping with that to-do list. And being without my laptop was not the most enjoyable experience either, I am sooooo addicted to it...

On top of that I have class that is taking more and more time, I am not sure if I am starting to enjoy it or not, helping students is rewarding, teaching not so much so far... That soup was a little like that I did not like it at first but now I am completely head over heels in love with it, DO NOT skip the lime and peanuts they are what makes it so delicious!!!!

Thai chicken soup
Recipe adapted from Bev cooks
- 3 chicken breas
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 oz thin rice noodles
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 2 cups fresh beans sprouts
- 1 jalapenos, finely sliced
- 2 limes, for garnish
- chopped peanuts, for garnish

- In a pot, add the coconut milk, broth, garlic, ginger, chicken, jalapeno, soy sauce, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer for 3 hours (until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily).
- Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Return to pot. Add the rice noodles, bell pepper and sprouts. Cook 30 more minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve each bowl garnished with sliced jalapeno, a small handful of chopped peanuts and some lime.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Braised lamb shanks

I am sharing with you our new year's eve dinner, every once in a while I want to cook a special meal without anything special in mind, I love just going to a nice grocery store and browse the aisles looking for a nice protein. This time was attracted me was lamb shanks and I had that nice recipe from Anne Burrell, it reminded me a lot of her meat sauce which I LOVE!!! I did divide the recipe in half since it was only the two of us. Can you believe that I never had lambs shanks before?!! I had leg of lamb that my dad use to roast to a nice medium rare with some herbs and I loved it, it is one of dishes I miss the most I have to say.

Oh and the left over sauce is DELICIOUS, makes a wonderful pasta sauce, it's unbelievably meaty!!!

Braised lamb shanks
Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lamb shanks
- salt & pepper
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 c red wine
- 1 bunch of thyme tied with kitchen twine
- 1 to 2 c water
- 2 bay leaves

- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Coat a Dutch oven (I used a 3.5 quart one) with oil, bring to a high heat.
- Puree the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, into a coarse paste, reserve.

- Season the shanks generously with salt and add them to the pan. Brown well on all sides and reserve.

- Discard the excess fat from the Dutch oven, add a little more oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the pureed veggies. Season with salt, to taste. Saute the veggies until they are very brown and aromatic, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn, don't rush this step.
- Add the tomato paste and brown for 5 minutes. Stir in the wine and thyme bundle. Stir frequently and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.
- Add the shanks back to the pot and pour in 1 to 2 cups of water until the shanks are 3/4 submersed. Add the bay leaves to the pan, cover and put in the preheated oven. The cooking time will be about 2 1/2 hours. Turn the shanks over about halfway through the cooking time. Check the shanks every 45 min or so. If the liquid has reduced too much add more water. Defat as you go (mine were not fatty at all).
- Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking time for maximum browning. When the shanks are done the meat should be incredibly tender and flavorful.

Enjoy!!! (I served them with oven baked fries)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thai chicken salad

My kitchen is slowly expending, it's interesting how fast that goes. I am not done with sharing my holiday recipes but today I decided to share a simple recipe that I ate over and over again last week. For some reason being back in Florida puts me in the mood for healthier food. I crave veggies and seafood. Oh and I am also in thai kick it seems. I just cooked some more developed recipes over the week end. One of the drawback of living alone is that I cooked 2 dishes to have some variety and now I have food for 2 weeks!!! Seriously!!! I don't think I can cook for 1 or 2 people, unless one of them seriously over eats. 

Anyway... I don't have many pictures of that recipe, last week end I was not really in the mood to cook (yes that does happen to me from time to time :) ). I had just driven 15h over night, started a new job and was trying to get settled in my new place. This is why I decided to make salads and sandwiches, they are easy, quick and healthy. I was also super excited to finally find some bean sprouts in my favorite grocery store. 

I always need to have some kind of protein on cheese in my salad, otherwise it is not really filling to me. This is why I decided to make some Asian inspired grilled chicken, I marinated, grilled and cubed 3 chicken breast and that I used in salads all week.

It required the purchase of a cutting board, I had everything else :).

Asian inspired chicken salad:
- 3 chicken breasts, cut in halves (helps the marinating process and cooks faster)
- 1/4c soy sauce
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1tsp sugar
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- lemon dressing (I added some soy sauce to taste)
- lettuce, shredded
- bean sprouts
- tomato, chopped
- broccoli, blanched and cut in florets
- peanuts, chopped
- cucumber, chopped,
- any other salad ingredients that float your boat :)

- In a 1 quart ziplock bag, place the chicken, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and lemon. Mix well and let marinate for a few hours.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken until cooked all the way through, cubed and reserve.
- Mix all your salad ingredient to your liking, add cubed chicken and drizzle with dressing (you don't really need me to tell you how to make a salad, right?!!!)


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Crazy times have started, I started teaching on Monday and as expected, I have much less time and the time I have, I tend to be lazy... the fact that I don't have a table or chairs does not entice me to write either but I do try to keep good habits. Not that you really care about this but my first lecture was horrible, the second one better and we will see how it goes, hopefully my level of stress will reduce but right now it's still pretty high. It's strange, I can present in a conference in front of however many people and be completely confident and comfortable but put me in front of 120 sophomore students and it's panic time... Anyway, I haven't cooked much at this point, I did invest in a zester to make some cranberry sauce in order to make some yogurt parfaits as snacks and a pot to boil water (and cook the delicious home grown broccoli given to me by Kate, so good!!!!).

I have to say that this is the one good things about being back here, Gainesville is as close as it gets to a home town for me for some reason and being able to spend time with friends I missed is priceless, so I will enjoy that as much as I can. This week I mostly ate smoked turkey and swiss on a slice of sour dough bread and Asian inspired salads, I need to share that chicken marinade with you later, I will have to do it again, I just winged it and didn't take pictures... just one of those, I don't feel like cooking but I need food for the week moments.

I am also catching up on the recipes on my favorite blogs for the past month... they have been piling up in my cooking inbox... I don't know how you do it but I keep a note in my phone where I add any recipe that looks yummy when I come across it, and at the end of the week I just go to that list and pick whatever I feel like eating the coming week. Honestly I have way to many recipes on my computer, I am in the thousands now... I should really do some cleaning but I am a recipe hoarder, I cannot help it... I have even things I will probably never make but just in case...

Anyway... Today I will share a lasagna recipe, I LOVE lasagna, it's really one of my favorite casserole kind of dish and it's so easy, it is a little time consuming, but so worth it. The recipe here is a mix of a few things, and you can definitely simmer it a little longer but I was in a hurry that day and I had miscalculated my schedule by 1h and it still came out great. I have to say that the precooked lasagna sheets are a very cool short cut, I refused to use them out of principle but I am sold on it now!

Recipe adapted from What's Gaby cooking
- 1 package no-boil lasagna sheets
- 2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 2/3 c milk
- Salt & peppe
 - Ground nutmeg to taste

- oil
- 4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1lb ground meat (I used a meatloaf mix)
- 1 c red wine
- 1 1/2 c chicken stock
- 2 c milk
- 3 (14.5 oz) cans of tomatoes, roughly crushed (I crush them in my hands)
- Salt & pepper to taste


- In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.
- Stir in the flour and whisk together to create a roux. Brown and slowly add in the milk and whisk to avoid lumps.
- Continue whisking until the bechamel is thick. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.

- In a food processor equipped with a metal blade pulse the onion, carrot and celery into a coarse paste

- In a large sauce pan over heat a couple tbsp of oil over medium high heat, add the bacon and sautee until render it's fat, you can discard some of the fat if there is too much.
- Add the coarse veggie paste and brown, 15-20 min, be careful not to burn it though
- Add the ground meat and continue to saute until it is fully cooked.

- Add the red wine and let it reduce by half.
-  Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and cook until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk and the tomatoes.
- Cook uncovered, until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- To assemble, place a layer of the bechamel in a 13x9 casserole dish, followed by a layer of the noodles and then topped with a layer of the ragu and half the cheese. Repeat this process.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden. Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy!!! (as is or with a salad, I have to tell you that the leftovers are almost even more delicious!!!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Butternut squash soup

And I am back!!! Yes I know that I have not published in a week, it has been crazy times for us, I am now back in Florida, it is strange how much it feels like home. I am sad to see Matt leave tonight to go back to Philly but I am so happy to be able to spend time with my girl friends again, it is something I missed so much... I am almost all set here, if you consider camping as all set, I have an unfurnished two bedroom, with 2 dog crates, an air mattress, a tv and a found tv stand... it's very basic but only a few months :). I never had such an empty kitchen before, it's a strange feeling, I might post some pictures later maybe, right now I will mostly eat salads and sandwiches, I did see a few meat cuts that I will have to make because I have such a hard time finding them in PA, but that will come later. Tomorrow I will start teaching... I am TERRIFIED!!! 118 sophomore students, 90% guys and I will teach introduction to numerical methods (math...) everyone's favorite topic... I can feel the panic attack coming tonight and the sleepless night too :).

Right now I still have a few recipes to share with you from the holiday season, I will start with an easy soup (can you believe that I don't even have a cookie sheet?!!! I know, it's a shame).
Butternut squash soup (in an acorn squash bowl)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 or 2 onions, quartered
- 2 acorn squash, top cut and seeded
- olive oil
-  salt and pepper
- chicken (vegetable) stock

 - Preheat oven to 400F

- Toss the butternut squash and onion with olive oil (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper, spread on a baking sheet
- Season the acorn squash and place cut side down on a baking sheet
- Bake until cooked, fork tender about 45min

- Place the butternut squash and onion mixture in a food processor equipped with a metal blade, pulse until smooth, adjust the texture to taste with chicken stock, adjust seasoning.
- Ladle in the acorn bowls, you can top with sour cream and/or bacon bites


Monday, January 2, 2012

Meyer lemon dressing

I apologize for the absence of pictures in this post... I will try to add some later :)

Happy new year!!! This should hopefully be an exciting year and we will get to see 2013, I know that it is most likely non-sense but seeing all those documentaries on how the world is suppose to end in 2012 kinda freaks me out... Anyway this is a year that starts with some big changes on my side, I will get back to that later as it unfolds but lets just say that I have a few busy months ahead of me. This all starts with me partially moving back to Florida, I will be teaching there at the university for at least 1 semester (completely freaks me out but a job is a job, right?...). This will be "interesting", I am leaving all my stuff here with Matt in Philly, I will just take what fits in my car, which is not much once you have added a co-pilot (15h drive over night..), 2 dogs, crates and tv. I will have to make do with a fairly basic kitchen, right now I am thinking cast iron skillet and French oven, couple plates & bowls, silverware and a wisk, I will buy things as I need them. 

Anyway, this more of a warning to you, there will be less cooking probably and somewhat different, much less baking and more soups and salads since that's what I enjoy eating when I am left on my own.
I do still have some holiday recipes to share with you and I will do that but to start this new year to a fresh start I thought I would share with you a salad dressing. I am usually just oil and vinegar (much more vinegar than oil) kinda gal, or light Italian, but I came across a bag of Meyer lemon at the market and I could not resist getting it. I made lemon bars (to come) and then I thought I would give a shot to that recipe for a change, OMG this is so good!!!! I tossed it on some romaine with tomato, blue cheese and crispy bacon bits and I was in light food heaven... So here you go:

Meyer lemon dressing
Recipe from White on rice couple 
- 2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to personal taste
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp mayo (I use light mayo)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk together until mayo blends into vinaigrette, leaving no lumps, I usually start with the mayo, adding the liquid slowly, like a slurry.

Enjoy over your favorite salad combination