Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kobe's back!

And so is Kobe soup!

You may remember that when Kobe scored 81 points in 2006, Hubs and I were eating Tom Ka soup, which we thereafter dubbed Kobe soup. It's one of those that I don't use a recipe for, so it's a little different every time...I realized, however, that the way I did it tonight was enough different (and enough better) than when I posted it last time to warrant a Take Two post.


Comeback Kobe Soup 
(Tom Ka Gai)
Peanut oil
8oz chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 package extra firm tofu, drained well and cubed in 1 inch pieces
2 cans light coconut milk (I like the Thai Kitchen brand)
14oz chicken broth (fill one of the empty coconut cans)
About an inch of fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp or so chopped lemon grass (I use the kind in a tube from the produce section)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp palm sugar
about a tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp chili paste
2 dried chiles, chopped fine
One can peeled, broken (or chopped) straw mushrooms, drained
one can baby corn, drained (cut them in 3rds or 4ths if they're whole)
Thinly sliced green onion and chopped cilantro, to serve

Heat a large soup or stock pot over medium high, add a little peanut oil (1 tbspish). Add tofu and let cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until they start to brown (takes like 10 minutes). Remove tofu, and add chicken, and cook a minute or two. Add turmeric, lemongrass and ginger and stir to coat. Cook another minute.

Add broth and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir tofu back in and remaining ingredients (besides the cilantro and green onion), and let simmer about 15 minutes.

Top with the green stuff, and that's it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I know y'all are sick of turkey by now. Have a shrimp taco instead.

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and it seems our parade of Thanksgiving weekend guests has finally come to a close. My girl Ness ("You can just call me Doctor") just left to finish the second leg of her drive home (one nice thing about being in the armpit of California is that the majority of my friends either live south but have family north or vice versa, and it's a long ass drive. Our pull out isn't mighty comfy, but it's always free. Cost wise, anyway. There's almost always a cat on it), and asked for my shrimp taco recipe from last night as she left. I told her I'd email it, but I figured as long as I was typing, I might as well share with all y'all.

They are some awesome tacos, it's true. And I think she was impressed by how fast (and easily) they come together. 

I didn't write anything down as I was making them, so this is rough, per usual. Adjust as you see fit. They're spicy but not unreasonably so. Adding more sauce and/or cabbage on top helps. There's no photo, but that's ok. You can take your own after you make them.

Chipotle Shrimp Soft Tacos
1 chipotle pepper (from the can), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
About 1.5-2 lbs medium sized raw shrimp, deveined and tails removed
Peanut oil (or canola or olive)
About a cup greek yogurt (0% works better but regular is fine)
About a 1/2 tsp cumin
A little less than 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Salt and fresh pepper
2 limes (One halved, one in 1/8ths)
Water as needed  
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed (We did some of each, both are equally good)
Shredded cabbage 
Chopped cilantro to top
Salsa or hot sauce to top

Combine the chipotle, about 2/3 of the garlic, shrimp, a good sprinkle each of salt and pepper and maybe a tsp of oil. Combine well so everything is coated, and let marinate in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. 

In the meantime, combine the yogurt, the rest of the garlic (about a cloves worth) cumin, cilantro, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and the juice of one lime. Mix well and stick in the fridge until needed. 

Heat a swirl of oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Depending on how large your skillet is and how much shrimp you're using, you may need to cook the shrimp-as follows-in two batches. Add shrimp, and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn over each piece and let cook another 2-3 minutes or until opaque and cooked through. Remove to a clean bowl. 

Take the sauce out of the fridge and taste. Add more lime or more cumin (or a bit of cold water if too thick) as needed. 

Throw some shrimp, a handful of cabbage, and a glob of sauce on a warm tortilla. Add salsa and cilantro if you want. Squeeze one of those lime wedges over everything. Eat. Say "Mmmmmmm...I'm SO effing glad this isn't turkey." Repeat.  

This served 3 hungry people, 2-3 tacos each. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On my own, yet never (ever, ever) alone.



cross posted today at Saltandnectar.com.


When E was 8 weeks old, I went back to work part time. But as I worked for an ad agency with networked computers and servers (and email, the best invention of all time), working from home was a total option. Plus, I'd always had side clients who couldn't afford agency rates, so between the regular paychecks and the freelance work, I had plenty going on for a new mom who really wanted to work from home.

4-5 weeks old. I'm amazed only 1/3 of us are sleeping here. 
For awhile, anyway. Loooong story short, and without placing any blame one way or another, the agency and I eventually parted ways in January of this year.

At first, I freaked the &^@# out. No regular paycheck? No health insurance? Hubby was working for a local sports team, and it was definitely a job for a single 20 something, not a man in his 30s trying to support a family. But we support each other, because we're a team (seriously, I should make us T shirts for the amount of times we've reiterated this to each other the past year). So we talked, we freaked out together, and we realized that we'd make it work, no matter what. We had savings, we had motivation, and we had each other. And we had moms willing to help how they could—one subsidized rent, the other E's (incredibly pricey, but that's for another post) insurance. Thank you again and eternally to you both.

And then, because this is how things tend to work, a new job fell into his lap. A good union job with incredible benefits in a big company with plenty of room for growth. But it's also at the low end of the totem pole for now, so he's not making enough money for me not to work.

So, that. Not working has never been an option for me, anyway. I've got seven years of full time college education, two degrees, and enough debt to tell me that not doing what I love and pursued as a career would really just be, well, stupid unfulfilling.

Plus, I love E. He's incredible, he's amazing, he's breathtaking. I love being his mom. But I am still me, first. I decided to become a mom in addition to—as a part of—being me, not to redefine my life. I have the utmost respect for women who want and are able to be stay at home moms…it's just not for me. I need to be creative. I need to share the talents I've spent the past 10 years honing with other people. And I need to do it for a living and feel like I'm helping to financially support my family.

Meet my intern and personal stylist, E.  
And so now I'm a full fledged small business owner. Sole proprietor, according to my taxes. I get to work from home, I get to work part time, and I get to do what I love. I've been on my own for almost a year now, and I've never been happier. I've added clients locally and nationally, small and large. It's been, in a word, great.

Is it hard? Oh my god, unbelievably so. I work in an industry with deadlines, and I've got a 20 month old son with plenty of deadlines of his own. And his come first, but I'm not about to tell my clients that (though the vast majority of my clients ARE parents, as well as small business owners themselves, so I really don't have to). He has needs. They have needs. And I constantly have to find ways to balance that.

Priorities, people. He's showing me leaves. 

We struggle financially, seeing that some months I'll get 8 checks and some months I get maybe 2. I miss the stability of a regular paycheck, but we're making ends meet, so that's really all I can ask for at this point. Plenty of small businesses fold within the first year, and knowing that, I can hold my head up and say we're doing just fine.

But I'm still really looking forward to daycare when he turns 2. Mama needs a nap herself now and then.

Need logo/branding help? Brochures or business cards? Invites or other event collateral? Check out facebook.com/PamHuberDesigns or pamhuberdesigns.com for more info. And Pam can always be reached by email at pamhuberdesigns at gmail.com.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kale's just a leafy green, people. The insanity confuses me.

Have you joined the Kale craze yet? It's freaking everywhere. That's not to say I'm not on board...I am, mostly. The hubby likes it, it's super healthy, it's not romaine...but it's a little bitter and thick and a little rabbity. 

But basically, I'm willing to play with it. I tend to just buy the pre-cut/washed bags, cause I'm lazy (what?) but if you do, make sure and pick out the pieces with the giant stems still attached. Cause they're what we refer to as nasty. 

Anyway, here's an easy one to try if you're curious and/or already on the Kale Train. Homemade Shake and Bake chicken with a roasted tomato and garlic kale salad. Try it. Let me know if you're on board.

And if you have kale recipes YOU like, let me know. Normally we do a golden raisin, pinenut, cheese with garlic lemon dressing concoction. So I'm open for new ideas!


Walnut Panko Chicken with Tomato and Kale Salad
12 oz chicken breasts (3 4oz pieces or equivalent) 
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard 
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts 
1/4 cup panko, toasted
2 tbsp Parmesan 
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp fresh ground white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

A couple cups fresh kale, trimmed and cut in pieces (just buy a bag) 
Olive oil
A cup quartered cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
Balsamic vinegar 

Preheat oven to 425. 

Mix milk, vinegar and mustard in Tupperware or large bag. Add chicken, and let sit in fridge for 5 minutes-2 hours.

Mix remaining chicken ingredients (walnuts through salt) in shallow bowl. 

Place kale in a salad bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Use your hand to toss well, till everything is well coated. Set aside. (This tenderizes it a bit. Not a necessary step, but a good one) 

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Make a separate foil "bowl" about 6" square. Fold up the sides so the contents don't leak. In it, place the tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle well with olive oil and a good dash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Place bowl on one side of cookie sheet. 

Remove chicken from milk bath, let excess drip off, then roll in panko mixture till well coated on all sides. Place on other side of cookie sheet, then bake everything for 20 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through).

Let sit 5 minutes. Add tomatoes to kale and toss. Serve with a bit of Parmesan on top. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Break out the crock pot. The big one.

So, the crock pot.

We like to pretend it's magical and frees us from "cooking." It doesn't. It makes it easier. A little. Sometimes. You still have to chop. You still have to clean up. However...there's something about doing the work early in the day that makes it seem like you didn't really cook. And I'm on board with that.

Plus the house smells good all day. Though when you're watching your calories and all you smell is chicken and cumin deliciousness wafting from your kitchen all day this may be more obnoxious than "good," but I digress.

Anyway, I informed hubby we'd be having a crock pot heavy fall this year. I probably say that every year, but I'm going to try and mean it this time.

You need a big crock pot for this one, just to warn you. You could also just simmer in a stock pot on the stove for a couple hours if you had to, but that kind of kills the point of crockpotting, doesn't it?


Crock Pot Tortilla Soup
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 2 large and 3 small)
One small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
Large can (28oz) diced tomatoes
4-5 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
about a cup frozen corn
juice from one lime
about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
more chopped cilantro (to top)
shredded mexican style cheese (to top)
greek yogurt or sour cream (to top)
tortilla chips, crushed (to top)
Tapatio or Mexican hot sauce (to top, optional)
Radish slices (to top, optional)

Throw everything from chicken to oregano into the crockpot. Stir gently, and turn on for however long works for you. I did 6 hours.

After about 5 hours (or 30-60 minutes before you have it set to be done), remove all the chicken to a big bowl. Use two forks and shred into pieces (it should basically fall apart). Add back to soup and add in the tortilla pieces, corn, cilantro, and lime juice and keep cooking.

When it's done, serve with more cilantro, cheese, yogurt and tortilla chips, etc. on top. People tend to like to top their own food to taste, but you can be a Type-A host and do it for them. Just really depends on how many small bowls you have/want to wash/fancy you want to be.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's still like 80 out. Don't care. It's fall. It's stew time.

Ok, raise of hands, please. When you hear the phrase "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" do you humm along, or do you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about?

Yeah, not so much a raise of hands situation, more of a polling question, but still.

My husband and his best friend Chef (actually the opposite of a large black man...still with me? Too many cultural references in one post? You can do this.) had no idea what I was talking about when I came prancing into the living room mid-meal-making singing it. I believe the question from Chef was, "Are you singing about herbs?" And I'm like, um, the guys who sing the Mrs. Robinson song? What's their name? Simon and Garfunkel? WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT? (Possibly it was the prancing, now that I think about it)

So I play it. Chef goes, "Oh, I know that." Hubby just looks at me. We've been married 5 years. I should know his faults by now.

Annnnywho, I made stew tonight. It had...wait for it...parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. And bay leaves. And wine. And deliciousness.


Herby Beef Stew

1.5 lb stew meat, cut in bite sized pieces if needed
2 cups baby carrots
About 20-25 pearl onions, peeled
3 stalks celery, sliced in 1/2 in pieces
1.5 lb fingerling potatoes, cut in half or thirds (so all are the same size-ish)
1/4 cup Flour (I used oat flour)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup red wine
3.5 cups beef broth
1tsp rosemary
1tsp dried parsley
Good pinch dried thyme leaves (1/4 tsp?)
Good shake sage (1/8 tsp?)
2 small bay leaves

In shallow bowl combine flour, garlic powder, and a good pinch each salt and pepper. Add meat cubes and toss until well coated. 

In large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add meat, and brown about 3 minutes, turn, and cook another 3 minutes. Add wine, and move everything around to deglaze pot. Add broth, rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme, and about another 1/4 tsp pepper, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Cover and cook one hour. 

Bring back to a boil, and stir in potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, and bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer, re-cover, and cook another hour. Add salt to taste, if needed.

Remove bay leaf before serving.






Friday, October 11, 2013

Eat more garlic. It's good for you.

I love garlic. Love it. I normally buy it by the head and use as needed, but once in awhile I cheat and get the bag of pre-peeled cloves. Problem with those, however, is that you really need to use them quickly, and they include a LOT of garlic.

Enter 40 Clove Chicken. I make this kind of a lot. But usually with chicken breasts and just do it on the stovetop (also delicious, but more of a mess. And healthier, cause I replace most of the butter with sherry) and serve with mashed potatoes. I just searched this blog for that recipe but apparently I've never posted it?? I apologize. Next time I do it, I will.

You can use bigger pieces of chicken for this, whatever fits in the skillet without being squashed (Breast, thigh, etc., but it'll work best if they are bone-in pieces. Cook it a little longer—up to 1.5 hours for an entire chicken.)

Oh, and crusty bread is necessary with this one. You need something to smash those roasted garlic cloves onto. Also, the final product photo is terrible, but I'd already dug in before I realized I hadn't taken one, and it was too late to do any art direction on my plate. Sooooo, yeah...here it is before I stuck it in the oven.


One Pot 40 Clove Chicken and Potatoes

1.5-2lbs chicken wings/drummettes (About 16 pieces)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves (or 6 fresh sprigs)
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 medium yellow potatoes, quartered
About 40 cloves of peeled garlic

Heat oven to 350.
Sprinkle chicken well with salt and pepper. In large heavy skillet, heat about 2 tsp oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium high. When hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes, turn and brown the other side about 3 minutes.

Add potatoes, and stir to combine. Turn off heat. Add garlic, and do your best to get all the cloves on the bottom (under the chicken and potatoes). Sprinkle thyme, salt and drizzle a little olive oil over the top of everything.

Stick skillet in hot oven, cook for an hour. About half way through, turn the chicken pieces over and throw a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top. Add salt to taste and let rest about 5-10 minutes before eating.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

I *sniffle* hate the f*sniffle*ing Santa Anas.

What is it about these annual winds that makes everyone crazy? I grew up with them, and they're basically the weather equivalent of a full moon. People. Act. Nuts. Besides the normal nutty behavior associated with having to deal with downed trees and power lines, destroyed hair, dirt in your eyes, and head congestion, I mean. It's probably all the electricity in the air? Serious, check Wiki's Health Effects section. It's legit crazytime.

Anyway, I just got back from visiting my parents in the Inland Empire‚ which is like, Santa Ana central. Their house even shakes in these winds, which is actually cool to me, because in So Cal we often like weird things that terrify normal people (i.e. earthquakes, eating raw fish, flip-flop tanlines.) Anyway, it also means I returned with a head full of snot and completely plugged up ears. They got so pressurized on my drive home over the mountains that I literally couldn't hear E whining in the back seat. So, not all negative, I guess.

I woke up this morning and the sore throat was gone and I can hear out of my left ear, so it's getting better, but I still wanted something soupy for lunch. I was going to make this, but I had tofu that needed to be used, and some bean thread noodles my mom sent home with me (she may have discovered they weren't actually another form of bean sprouts and some hilarity may have ensued, but that's for another day), so I did some substituting. And it was delicious. And easy. And I will definitely be making again.

You could probably substitute green curry paste, if that's more your thing (I will be next time, cause I love it), but I had red in the fridge so I went with it.


Red Curry Coconut Soup
1 tsp peanut (or canola) oil
2 tbsp red curry paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 can light coconut milk
5 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1.5 limes
3 tbsp sugar
1 package extra firm tofu, cubed or thinly sliced
2 small bundles of bean thread noodles (or about 4oz any asian rice noodles)
cilantro, chopped, to top

Heat the oil and curry paste in a stock pot over medium heat. Add broth, coconut, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce, bring to a low boil. Add noodles and cook until soft, anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the kind of noodle.

NOTE: If you used really thin noodles (like bean thread) take a sharp knife or some kitchen shears, stick it in the soup, and cut, cut, cut. It'll still be a bitch to serve (and will require chopsticks to eat) but this helps a ton.

Add tofu and let cook another minute. Turn off the heat and let sit a couple minutes to let tofu get hot.

Add more lime juice to taste and top with cilantro.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Use those figs!

Yay for figs! They've been everywhere here lately-the farmers market, the grocery store, the other grocery store...so obviously I had to figure out how to use them. This originally was going to be a goat cheese and thyme stuffed chicken, but I only bought goat cheese in my head, so plans changed about 5 minutes before I started cooking.

Luckily, too. This was delicious. And I did it all in one skillet. (Plus a bowl here and there. You are welcome, hubby.)

This recipe might call more the most butter I've ever used, like ever. It wasn't a huge quantity, but it was in everything. And it was awesome. The recipes I found and combined to make this all called for a LOT more, so I actually replaced some with a bit of olive oil, and still ended up using 3 tbsp less than directed. So if you're a Paula Deen at heart (the butter loving part, not the other part), go ahead and throw some more in there-you can add at least another tbsp to the sauce. I just didn't want the calories and didn't miss it. Your call.

Also, I've been making 3-4 servings of everything lately so hubby can take leftovers for lunch. So this will work with 3 or 4 chicken breasts. It's not exact. You may have some leftover cheese mixture if you make 3, or just don't fill the chickens as full and make 4. I trust you can figure this one out.

I served with a side of simple mashed red potatoes (skins on, mashed with some butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste).



Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Walnut Chicken with Fig Sauce

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
Half a medium-small red onion, halved and sliced thinly
about 3 oz blue cheese
About 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
salt and fresh pepper
8-10 figs, halved
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup chicken broth/stock
butter
olive oil
toothpicks

Heat oven to 400.

Heat about 2 tsp butter and a dash of olive oil over medium heat in a large oven safe skillet (if you have one, otherwise a large frying pan or similar is fine) and cook onions for 8 minutes or so until they are soft and starting to brown. Remove to a medium bowl to cool.

Add the wine and sugar to the pan and bring to boil (high heat). Reduce to medium and simmer until it's reduced to about half. Add the broth and reduce again til about half gone. Pour liquid carefully into a pyrex or bowl (or whatever you've got) and set aside.

Take the cooled onions and add in the blue cheese and walnuts. Gently mix together.

Take your chicken breasts and with a thin knife, make a hole into the middle of the narrow end, fanning your knife a bit to make the hole wide on the inside. It may be easier at this point to stick a finger or two in there and widen a bit more (don't break through!) If you have a different way you want to make a pocket, do it. The point is that you're gonna put stuff in it and you don't really want it escaping.

Take the cheese and onion mixture and (with your hands) push it down into the pockets. Take a toothpick and close the hole up a bit, if you can. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Add 2 tsp butter and a splash of olive oil to skillet/pan and heat to medium. Brown the chicken for about 3 minutes a side, then either put the skillet straight into the oven or transfer the chicken to a (cooking spray coated) baking dish. Let cook 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let set. If you used the skillet method, remove from skillet and place on a serving dish before continuing.

In the skillet/pan, add another tbsp of butter and once hot (foamy) add the figs, cut side down. Let cook 3-4 minutes, then add the wine sauce back in. Cook another few minutes until hot and the figs are pretty and brown. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over the chicken.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

I eventually get to the Edamame Pasta here.

Hubby is so very good about my fondness for vegetarian nights. He's also very good about just shutting up and eating, however, so that could also have something to do with things. He winced ever so slightly when I told him I was going to make an edamame pasta, but he had two large servings, so whatever, I'm gonna take that as a win.

I kind of feel like I can just stop writing right here and let you get on with the recipe, but maybe you've missed me and therefore I need to keep blathering for a moment. Plus I've had a couple V0&Diets tonight and that obviously means I think I'm far more interesting than I actually am. Or it means I am more interesting than I usually am, and so either way, I can't stop.

So. What's new?  I spent a solo weekend in San Diego for Labor Day, not laboring other than the giant amounts of work my stomach did.

Saffron's Vietnamese Noodles
Case in point: Saffron for lunch on Saturday. My favorite Thai, and I get it approximately once every 5 years, so it was even more appreciated. And delicious. Holy shit, it's delicious. And THEN I had sushi. Like, a lot of it. For two days in a row.

I also went snorkeling with sharks (and my two fave SD dudes) but NBD. Also, they are LEOPARD Sharks. I kept calling them Tiger Sharks, cause whatever, cat sharks, but my snorkeling host/oldest&dearest/guy on fire Jon pointed out that Tiger Sharks will eat you, while Leopard Sharks will let you, like, snuggle with them. So, yeah.

Ok...enough of that. Pasta time! I used yellow tomatoes but red are of course fine, and I like romano cheese, but parmesan would be just as good. Just pick a pasta that has the little grooves in it, cause it holds the pesto better than the smooth kind.


Edamame & Pesto Pasta

1 package frozen shelled edamame (about 2.5 cups)
About 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil
1 pound (1 box) uncooked cavatappi (or similar) pasta
1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated fresh Romano cheese

Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Slowly pour oil through food chute (or just pour it in there if you need to, whatever), and keep blending/processing until all evenly mixed.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain. In same pot, place edamame and cover with water. Bring back to a boil (or until hot), then drain them into pasta. Combine pasta, edamame and basil mixture in large bowl or the pot, tossing gently to coat. Add tomatoes and half the cheese, tossing to combine. Taste and add salt if needed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese to serve.