Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

20150622_203129

True it is July and there is just a glimmer of hope that it might actually start to feel like summer, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting a comforting bowl of soup for a meal, right?! Well, let’s just assume that’s the case! I know a bowl of soup sounds far more inviting in the cold and dreary winter months, but hey, with this intensely flavored bowl, you might actually feel like you are vacationing somewhere in Thailand or Sri Lanka! 

20150707_180818  20150707_181907

The idea for this recipe originated from a lunch break conversation with a colleague who was longingly taking out a warm bowl of homemade soup from the microwave. It smelled great and she went on to add that she was so sad that her last bit of soup made in bulk was going to be consumed! She quickly summarized the recipe for me while I made a mental note of just three things – curry powder, coconut milk and whatever you want to throw in to make it a meal! I also remembered with a smile a small Ziploc bag of kefir lime leaves that I had in the freezer from an online purchase eons ago! I knew adding that would mean I would get an addictive aroma of combination of curry, coconut and citrus! What not to love about this, huh!

20150707_183439  20150707_184319

I didn’t have to wait around to make this recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand – you think it is weird? 🙂 Especially those kefir lime leaves! Oh well! By the way, for those of you who wish to avoid meat, you can easily substitute the chicken with tofu and the chicken broth with vegetable broth. I think that in essence will make this recipe vegan! A really delicious one!

20150707_191411

So, armful of assorted vegetables, a small tray of chicken thighs and a little of this and that, voila, the recipe was concocted in a flash! Seriously, don’t let the list of ingredients discourage you from trying this out. It is really a snap to whip up and the end result is….honestly, I think you should just make it and tell me yourself!

20150622_203138

Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients
6 chicken thighs, skin removed
Salt and pepper to season the chicken
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided for use
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ inch thick slices
1/2 large red pepper, sliced into 2″ strips
1/2 large green pepper, sliced into 2″ strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms (button or baby bella)
1/4 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon mild or medium curry powder
2 kefir lime leaves, zest of 1 lime OR 2″ piece of lemon grass, crushed
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 32-oz container chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Dash of crushed red pepper, optional
3 corn on the cobs, cut in half (optional)
1 cup of cooked noodles (rice or Udon preferred) – Optional

Preparation:
1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Heat a large, heavy bottom pan over high heat and drizzle a tablespoon of oil. Place the chicken thighs in a single layer and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and add the vegetables, including onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes.
4. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another minute or two till the raw smell of the curry powder fades away. Add in the browned chicken pieces.
5. Slowly add the chicken broth, water and soy sauce. Adjust the amount of soy sauce to your taste. Add in the kefir lime leaves, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce heat to medium and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
6. Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in the coconut milk, reserving a few tablespoons to top the soups before serving.
7. Serve hot with some noodles (if using) and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

You can refrigerate any leftover for consuming later. Just know that when you reheat, the soup may look a bit “split” because of the coconut milk trying to separate from the soup. The taste will still be great!

Advertisements

Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells

20150613_150428

It’s been a very hectic week and I didn’t have the chance to go by the grocery store like I had hoped to. There was a potluck BBQ party on Saturday and I had to figure out a no-fuss, yet rather light summery appetizer to take along.  I know I had a tray of shaved beef in the freezer. Since one of my kids has more or less sworn off beef, I figured I could use the meat for an appetizer.

After a mental run down of what seemed like dozens of ideas, I decided on a summery, citrusy salad that could be eaten as a finger food. Ah, what better vehicle to hold the salad than crispy wonton shells! Have you tried those? I must say, this was my first time and I was quite impressed! The shells remained partially crisp the next day, even after a light drizzle of the delicious citrusy-Asian dressing.

It is super easy to make the shells. Just spray a muffin pan and gently mold a wonton wrapper into a general cup shape and bake at 350F for about 7 minutes or so. Similarly, shaved beef is super easy to cook. Fast too! Just season with whatever – in this case, an Asian-inspired marinade, and just saute for a few minutes.

20150613_125804

The salad dressing, which probably is the best part of this entire dish, is a simple combination of lemon juice, honey, teriyaki sauce, few drops of dark sesame oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

20150613_131137

Just layer on the salad ingredients and drizzle the dressing right before serving. These cups were a huge hit at the gathering and people raved about the dressing. Addition of lemon zest does take it a whole new level, so don’t hold back on it!

20150613_150435

So, what are you waiting for? Get ready to impress your friends and family at the next gathering with this super light, yet super delicious Citrusy Asian Salad in Crispy Wonton Shells!

20150613_150452

  • Servings: ”18″
  • Print

Ingredients
18 wonton shells
cooking spray
2 cups of Spring green mix
1/4 cup thinly sliced salad radish
1/4 cup finely minced red peppers
1/2 lb shaved beef
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
dash of salt and pepper

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spary a muffin pan with cooking spray. Carefully place a wonton wrapper into each of the muffin cups and gently form into shells. Bake for 8 minutes till golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.
2. In a medium frying pan, spoon a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the beef and quickly stir around till meat is browned. Add the teriyaki sauce and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let the meat cool to room temperature.
3. In the meantime, remove the wonton shells from the muffin pan and carefully arrange them on a large platter. Place a layer of salad greens into each shell. Place about a tablespoon of the sautéed beef and top with radish and peppers. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad cups right before serving.

Perfect blueberry muffins

20150517_080442

Berries are a perfect way to start off a sunny morning -even a weekday one! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries….I just love them all!

20150515_064109

I hope you have had the opportunity to try my raspberry scones! They are divine. Although I debated another scone recipe this morning, I went for buttery streusel topped blueberry muffin instead. This recipe is adapted from the original at the Café Sucre Farine. The recipe called for the blissful combination of lemon and blueberries! Heavenly!

20150515_065111

This recipe is so easy – I mean it. Even though the original recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar, I decided to skip that step, mainly because I have made several batches of muffins before and I felt confident the muffins will turn out just fine without this additional step.

20150517_080431

So, grab yourself the basic ingredients I am sure you already have in your pantry and whip up this recipe in time for a great grab n’ go breakfast.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Ingredients

Crumb topping

3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped almonds

Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (set aside for 5 min)
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups frozen wild blueberries
Glaze (Optional)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation
1. Heat the oven to 375F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. You can also use muffin liners.
2. Prepare the streusel topping by combining all ingredients till crumbly. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
4. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sour cream, curdled milk, oil, melted butter, lemon zest and vanilla.
5. Gently stir in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture just until moistened.
6. Fold in the frozen berries taking care to avoid breaking too many berries. I say this because it is inevitable your batter is going have bluish tint running through it no matter how careful you are! 
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Don’t level the batter. Top with a generous amount of the streusel topping.
8. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 375F. Decrease heat to 350F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes till the tops are golden and the muffin is cooked through.
9. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the tin and let cool on a wire rack till completely cool.
10. While the muffins are cooling, prepare the glaze (optional) by vigorously stirring together the lemon juice and powdered sugar to a “drippable” consistency (say, like honey).
11. Lightly drizzle over the muffins. Let set.
12. Store muffins tightly covered for up to 5 days.

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

20140427_130123

Green may not be my favorite color, but I love greens – the eating type! Spinach, collar, mustard, kale, turnip…When it comes to spinach and kale, I enjoy them in every which way. So, when it was time for a light and quick lunch over the weekend, I was motivated by my sister to prepare a kale salad.

I had kale on hand along with bunch of salad-type veggies. So, a quick look through the refrigerator and pantry resulted in me laying out kale, radish, red onions, purple cabbage, fresh orange, fresh lemon, canned chickpeas, feta cheese, leftover turkey bacon and boiled eggs! It’s gonna be delish!

20140427_102700  20140428_180201

I have heard people complain about kale being difficult to digest. Although I haven’t found this to be an issue, I figured I will look into it. After a brief cyber consulting, I decided to do a flash-blanch of the leaves prior to preparing the salad. Briefly sautéing or blanching kale not only helps with easier digestion, but also softens its earthy, slightly bitter taste. Additionally, it also makes it easier to make kids eat it too!

20140427_125947

Feel free to add in any salad vegetables of your choice. You can also add in cooked quinoa, barley or couscous in lieu of (or in addition to) the chickpeas. Similarly, replace boiled egg with grilled chicken breast or salmon. Let your creativity run wild – I guarantee you will enjoy the finished dish!

Lastly, I really think the quick salad dressing made using orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and dash of crushed cumin seeds is just perfect for this salad. Again, feel free to substitute another dressing of your choice. This salad is satisfying, delicious and packed with chock full of nutrients! Enjoy!

Hearty and Healthy Kale Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Print

Ingredients
3 cups of kale leaves, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sliced red cabbage
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radish
2 sweet oranges, segments removed and juices reserved for dressing
2 – 3 slices of cooked turkey bacon, chopped
2 boiled eggs, chopped
2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese, optional

Dressing
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (from above)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed or ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
1. Blanch kale leaves very quickly by dropping them in boiling water and immediately removing them. You can transfer them to an ice-cold water bath, but I skipped this step. Transfer the drained leaves to a salad spinner and remove any remaining water.
2. Place the leaves in a large bowl. Add in remaining salad ingredients and toss to evenly distribute.
3. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients thoroughly.
4. Drizzle over salad and serve immediately.

Chicken thighs in lemon garlic sauce

20140328_185642

Chicken is so versatile, yet there are times when I simply am not sure what I want to do with it. That’s how this recipe came about! I had a package of chicken thighs and had less than an hour to get dinner on the table. What do I do with it?

20140328_182133  20140328_183322  20140328_183154

After bit of pondering, I remembered I had fresh lemons, garlic and parsley on hand. I imagined that to be a rather straightforward “Chopped” basket and quickly thought of a way to incorporate them into a dish that had some sauce/gravy to it. It’s almost like I was working backwards. I had a freshly baked bread from earlier in the day and I wanted something to go with the bread… 🙂

20140328_185302  20140328_185527  20140328_190400

This dish with a wonderful citrus and garlic notes with just the right amount of a light sauce was amazing with a slice of a crusty bread. Since I had incorporated some green beans right into the chicken dish, it really was a wholesome meal. I would certainly like to prepare it again, but this time cook in the oven. If any of you try this in the oven (I would say 375F for about 45minutes or so – check for doneness), do drop a note below to say how it turned out.

Chicken Thighs in Lemon-Garlic Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients
4 medium chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onions or shallots
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh green beans, end trimmed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter or heavy cream, optional

Preparation
1. Cut chicken thighs into 2-3 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
2. Slice half the lemon into thin slices.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat and lightly caramelize the lemon slices. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. To the pan, add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
5. Add a teaspoon of additional oil if needed and sauté the onions and garlic till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden.
6. Add back the chicken pieces and a cup of water or chicken broth, making sure to scrape off all bits from the pan.
7. Cover and let cook for 30 – 35 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.
8. Add the trimmed green beans, lemon slices and juice from remaining half lemon. Adjust salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in parsley.
9. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

NOTE: If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and continue to cook the sauce with a tablespoon of butter and/or cream for a few additional minutes till it thickens a bit.