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Carrot Coconut Soup

17 Nov

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I’ve been craving carbs (and hamburgers!) like crazy during this pregnancy. Bread, crackers, cereal, chips, pasta – I can’t get enough! So when cold weather finally came to north Texas, my guilt for not eating enough vegetables arose, and I saw this recipe on Shutterbean, this soup was added to our dinner menu right away. It’s a super simple meal to make and the carrot/coconut combo works better than I’d ever imagine! Plus a drizzle of sriracha not only gives it a little kick but gives the flavor even more of an Asian flair.

So if you’re looking for a good wintertime soup and are trying to eat your veggies – this is a keeper. Enjoy!

Carrot Coconut Soup

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (14 oz)
Sriracha and fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

Yield: 4 servings

Instructions:
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and garlic, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir often until the carrots are softened, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and the liquid has slightly reduced, 40-45 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly, then puree it with an immersion blender or carefully in a regular blender. Reheat it in the pot when ready to serve, thinning it with water and seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Dish the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of sriracha and a sprig of cilantro if wanted.

Source: Slightly adapted from Shutterbean

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Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

12 Aug

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A few years back, myself and a group of girlfriends would get together often at one of our houses for a girl’s night. Every once in a while, we’d get some Vietnamese food from a place in Fort Worth, either via take out or dining in. My absolute favorite thing to get were the shrimp spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce. I would order a double serving and call it a meal!

Eventually the group unofficially ended because several of us were moving to different states/cities and pursuing new and exciting things. I look back fondly on those times and it’s crazy to see how different our lives are now. Lots of new adventures, jobs, marriages, and babies!

In honor of my fabulous female friends, I made some homemade spring rolls with a spicy peanut sauce during my recent Asian cuisine phase. I used some shredded chicken, but you can definitely use shrimp instead or make an all veggie version. The rice papers were fun to work with and after a few tries, I got the hang of folding them. But just a warning – don’t leave the rice papers in the warm water for too long, otherwise they’ll get too soft and sticky and will tear when you try to fold them. (I learned this the hard way) There are a lot of good photo and video tutorials out there; Not Enough Cinnamon has a good step by step demo too.

Besides the meat variations, you can toss in whatever vegetables you prefer. I saw some recipes that used cabbage instead of lettuce, and some that added fresh mint or cucumber too. The peanut sauce is such a perfect addition. You can turn up the heat or leave it more subtle, depending on how much sriracha you want to add. These rolls are much easier to make than they look, so muster up the courage to give them a shot and enjoy!

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:
Rice papers/wrappers
1 cup cooked vermicelli rice noodles
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
1 cup lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
A few dashes of sriracha sauce (to taste – can add more if wanted!)

Yield: 4+ rolls

Directions:
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Take a rice paper and dip the entire sheet into the bowl of water and pull out immediately. The rice paper may still feel hard now, but it will soften up while you work with it.

Lay the rice paper out flat. Place a little of each filling ingredient on the middle of the rice paper sheet. Use a good amount, but make sure there are still a couple of inches around the edges to roll.

First fold in the sides of the rice paper. Then fold the top part of the rice paper sheet over the ingredients. Tuck in the fillings and roll the rest tightly. Repeat the above until you run out of filling ingredients.

To make the peanut sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well combined and use as a dipping sauce for the spring rolls.

Source: Adapted from Spoonful of Sugar Free

Thai Chicken Pizza

19 Jul

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Friday has always been pizza day in my home – we had pizza for dinner every Friday night growing up and I’ve still carried on that tradition. I bookmarked this recipe for Thai Chicken Pizza a while back and knew it was the perfect fit for pizza Friday of Asian week.

I always use my favorite homemade crust (I’ll post that recipe one of these days!) but you can use store bought or whatever recipe you like. Just a tip, because my crust used to sometimes be too soft and flimsy: to get a crispier crust, I actually bake the rolled out dough by itself for 3-4 minutes before adding the toppings.

The sweet chili sauce makes for a nice tangy base. Then lay out a layer of the sliced zucchini and load on the cheese, peppers, shallot, and chicken. If you’re in a meatless mood, you could always throw in some other vegetables – I think some mushrooms would be a nice addition! When the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, take it out to cool for a minute or two, then top with some chopped cilantro, slice, serve, and enjoy!

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Thai Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:
Pizza dough (store bought or your favorite homemade recipe)
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 shallot, diced
1/2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2-3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Yield: 2-4 servings

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. (If you want a crispier crust, bake the crust alone for 3-4 minutes before topping) Spread the chili sauce over the crust in an even layer. Layer with the zucchini, cheese, shallot, peppers, and shredded chicken.

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Sprinkle with cilantro before slicing and serving.

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Spicy Ginger Beef Stir Fry

18 Jul

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I knew I had to try a new stir fry dish during my Asian cuisine week and this one sounded amazing! The marinade/sauce packs a spicy punch and is full of fresh ginger flavor. I added a variety of vegetables based on what we like, but you can totally customize it based on your preferences. This would go great over some plain rice, so you can soak up all of the tasty sauce, or I served it with my favorite sesame noodles. Enjoy!

Spicy Ginger Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients:
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin

About 1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 green onions, cut on a diagonal, including the greens
2 carrots, shaved
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked
1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, peeled and diced
Chopped cilantro
Sesame seeds

Yield: 4-6 servings

Directions:
Chill the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before you slice it, this will make it easier to cut in thin slices. Slice the steak first crosswise in 1/2-inch thick slices. The cut each slice lengthwise into strips.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Mix the beef in with the marinade to coat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours, in the fridge.

When ready to cook, heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the beef and the marinade to the pan. Stir-fry until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the green onion, carrot, peppers, broccoli, garlic, and ginger to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but still have some crunch.

Stir together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Push the  ingredients aside in the pan/wok to reveal the stir-fry sauce. Add the cornstarch-water mixture and stir to thicken the sauce.

When the sauce has thickened, plate the stir fry and top with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve with rice or noodles.

Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes

Homemade Orange Chicken

14 Jul

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I’ve been trying out some Asian infused recipes this past week and the first thing on my docket was homemade orange chicken! This is one of my absolute go-to entree when eating Chinese food (like most people, I think!) and I thought it would be a good meal to try and attempt at home. I had no idea how this was going to turn out, but you guys, it’s amazing!!

I must warn you, it’s a little time consuming, especially if you’re making it for the first time and are constantly double checking the recipe so you don’t mess up. (that was totally me) But the end result is worth the effort and tastes just like restaurant quality. Actually…I’d argue that it’s better, because it’s super fresh and you know exactly what’s going into it, which is always a plus. I kept it simple and paired the chicken with some white rice and steamed broccoli.

By the way, don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to drizzle a few extra spoonfuls of orange sauce onto your meal. This is totally normal and definitely encouraged – the sauce is beyond delicious and was probably my favorite part of the meal. So get a little courage and spare time and treat yourself and others to an impressive homemade version of a take out favorite!

Homemade Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
Zest of 2 oranges
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (any kind – I used dark brown)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (plus more minced, if wanted)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups oil (I used vegetable oil, but can use canola, peanut, etc.)

Yield: 4 servings

Directions:
To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag or a dish. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Or if using a dish, evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place the saucepan with the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second plate or bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a colander or large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice and add some vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Spicy Peanut Chicken Pasta

12 Jun

I’m such a sucker for peanut sauce – there’s just something about it that’s irresistible to my taste buds. So you can imagine how much I loved this Asian pasta dish with a spicy peanut sauce. The variety of vegetables gives it vibrant color and makes you feel a little healthier eating this tasty dish.

Quick tip: you can add the chopped vegetables to the cooking pasta for about 5 minutes to slightly cook them while still leaving a bit of crunch. Mix in the sauce, top with chopped cilantro, and you have a delicious meal after my own heart.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup shredded or julienne carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped or shredded cooked chicken breast (2-3 breasts)
8 oz cooked whole grain linguine

For the dressing:
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp sesame or canola oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup peanuts
Sriracha sauce (a few dashes – or more to your taste)

Cilantro for garnish

Directions:
Puree all of the dressing ingredients (except peanuts) in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Add the peanuts last and process until just finely chopped.

Cook the pasta and add the vegetables into the water for the last 5 minutes to soften them a bit. Drain and return to the pot. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Add more sriracha if you want a spicier taste. Top individual servings with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum

Veggie Tales: Bok Choy

31 Aug

Bok Choy is one of those mysterious and underrated vegetables that most people randomly see in the produce section while on their way to the carrots. This Chinese vegetable is in the cabbage family and looks like a combination of celery and romaine lettuce. Warning: I’m currently obsessed with Instagram, so check out my beautiful head of bok choy:

The crisp stalk and vibrant leafy greens are chocked full of Vitamins A and C and is low in calories. It make the perfect side dish for an Asian inspired meal and is super simple to cook. Just like kale and fresh spinach, the greens wilt and the stalks become tender when sauteed and soak up whatever flavors you add. I thought the dish was quite tasty, though the recipe I followed called for way too much soy sauce in my opinion, hence the not-so-lovely brown hue in the photo, so I scaled it back a bit. Here’s my hubby’s take on the side dish:

“There’s little more I can say that my lovely wife has said already. The look and taste is similar to kale to me, and I think I would enjoy it more while it’s more fresh. The soy sauce was too powerful for me to really enjoy it I believe. I will want to give this veggie another shot in the near future.”

Soy Ginger Garlic Bok Choy

Ingredients:
1 head of fresh bok choy, washed and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Sesame seeds
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook them for about one minute. Add the bok choy and soy sauce and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the leaves are wilted and the stalks are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle sesame seeds on top for garnish.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network