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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thai Larb

If you've ever been to a Thai restaurant, then you must have seen this dish on its menu.  Don't have an adverse reaction to the's actually pronounced "laap," which has a nicer ring to it.  It happens to be one of Jim's favorites.  I have never been excited about it because I get anxious when it comes to ground meat...don't judge me...we all have our own brand of crazy.  So when I was perusing Bon Appetit's web site this weekend (as I tend to do) and saw this recipe for larb in which you start with chicken breast and grind it in a food processor, I was sold.  I was on larb duty, while Jim again set to work making papaya salad (this time he did it Thai style the way I prefer it) and sticky rice.  Another Asian style Sunday in the Faulkner house.  Everything was amazing.  Even Adrienne loved loved loved the larb - and sticky rice has always been one of her very favorite things in the whole wide world (her words, not mine.)  So the meal was an absolute success.  The larb was so easy to prepare, I wouldn't hesitate to make this on any weekday night.  You could serve it with rice or noodles, or serve it with lettuce cups and you have a ridiculously healthy meal.

Thai Larb
adapted ever so slightly from Bon Appetit

1-1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup roughly chopped shallots
2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small red Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
3 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
chopped cilantro for serving

For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp siracha

In a food processor, combine the first 8 ingredients.  While drizziling 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, pulse the mixture until the chicken is very finely chopped.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken mixture and allow to cook while breaking it up with a spoon until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes.  Serve over rice or with lettuce leaves and the sauce.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

So let me start by telling you about my first experience with chia seeds (not THIS experience).  I had been hearing good things, so I just had to try these little nutritional powerhouses (the very same seeds are in fact used on chia pets in case you were wondering like I had wondered.)  I decided to try them out by throwing them into my morning smoothie, and the result was that I thought I was experiencing morning sickness all week long.  Turns out I can't handle chia seeds on an empty stomach...and blended fruit and veggies with almond milk is not enough.  When chia seeds mix with liquid, they expand and becomes jelly-like (this is why you can make pudding out from these seeds.)  Apparently, when this happens in my stomach, I feel ill.  So I didn't care to give chia seeds a second shot until I saw a new Kashi granola bar using chia and chocolate.  It's become my favorite snack - except for the fact that the chia seeds tend to get stuck in my teeth, and as a teacher, I need to be careful I don't end up embarrassing myself in front of a room full of 16 year olds.  Well this new favorite snack has led me to attempt this muffin recipe.  I'm always looking for a healthier muffin so I feel okay eating something cake-like for breakfast (especially since Jim, Ade and I will eat them all week.)  These came out perfect.  I wouldn't change a thing.  It's an awesome healthier take on the traditional lemon poppy seed muffin.  They are not very sweet at feel free to add some more sugar or perhaps use a lemon yogurt which will have additional sugar in it in place of the yogurt and additional lemon juice.  There is no butter, but olive oil instead, and I threw in some whole wheat flour to amp up the healthy a wee bit more.  If you've been curious about using chia seeds, I feel like this is the least intimidating way to incorporate them into your diet.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
adapted from The Corner Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt
juice from 1 lemon
juice and zest from 1 meyer lemon
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and yogurt.  Then add the lemon juice and zest.  Lastly, add the egg and vanilla.  Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Then add the chia seeds and incorporate.  Line a muffin tin with liners and bake in the oven for 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of their centers clean.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.  Keep in an airtight container to store.  Mine began to taste a bit stale on day three, but popping it in the toaster oven for a few minutes perked it right back up.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Potato Bacon Pizza

Like the Instagram pic?  I was doing all pictures on my phone because the cooking went down at my friend Colleen's house.  We planned an "Iron Chef" party, although you should know how loosely we're using this name.  The only thing that made our dinner party Iron Chef-like is the fact that we"randomly"  picked a central ingredient.  I also used the word "randomly" very loosely.  Although Maggie claims she picked a handful of episodes randomly, when faced with the choices of bananas, hot dogs, or bacon, I am willing to bet she made the right call when bacon ended up the winner.  There could be no better star of the evening...bacon makes everything better.

So as soon as I found out we were using bacon, I decided to make this pizza.  Jim and I frequent a restaurant that makes a pizza like this that is to-die-for-good.  The issue was going to be that I was going to Colleen's house directly after work to cook.  Now I could have just bought pizza dough, but if you've ever made your own, you know how much better homemade dough is.  It's Iron Chef night...I have no choice but to make the dough.  I used Deb's recipe for a "lazy" pizza dough since she provides three different variations on the recipe depending on how long you have between mixing the dough and using the dough.  (Bless her soul.)  So I set out to make a dough that would be ready to use after about 24 hours or so, but when I woke up in the morning, after the dough had been resting for half that time, it didn't look like it had done anything.  I think my house was too cold.  When I got to school, I threw it in the greenhouse near my classroom and by the end of the school day, it seemed to have kicked into gear.  Hallelujah.  I went to Colleen's with my dough and picked up a store-bought back-up on the way just in case.  However, when we cooked off a test piece, it was simply perfect.  Hooray.

So the pizza was an extreme success...I absolutely can't wait to make it again.  I made 6 individual pizzas and my husband was extremely lucky he got some leftovers.

Potato Bacon Pizza
makes 2 pizzas

1 lazy dough recipe
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
20 slices bacon, cut in half
1 bunch scallions, sliced

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place the bacon in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, rotating once halfway through.  When done, remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb some extra grease.  Once it is cool enough to handle, crumble and set aside.

While the bacon is cooking, place your potato slices in a steamer basket over boiling water and cover.  Cook for 8 minutes, uncover, and stir.  Cover it again and let cook for another 6 minutes.  Check the potatoes with a fork to see if they are done.  If they aren't, recover and cook for an additional minute or two.  If they are done, uncover and remove from the heat so they can cool.

Place a pizza stone (if using) in the oven and raise the temperature to 500 degrees.  Roll out your dough.  I place my dough on parchment paper so I can easily move it on and off of the stone.  Then sprinkle most of the cheese over the dough, reserving a little to sprinkle over the potatoes.  Then spread out the potatoes, the rest of the cheese, the crumbled bacon, and the scallions.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes.  The pizza crust should be golden and the cheese should be bubbly.  Serve with some sour cream and chopped chives if you'd like.