Taste of Thailand: Thai Inspired Basil Chicken

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Thanks to my sister, brother-in-law, and diverse group of friends, I’ve developed a taste for foods with an international flair. I’ve began experimenting with non-traditional cuts of meat, tried some exotic fruits and vegetables, and have developed a taste for fish sauce. I’ve also found that shopping at international grocery stores and being willing to try out some non-traditional foods has saved us a lot of money on our grocery bill. I’m so thankful that my husband will eat any food at least once — so that allows me to be a little more creative in the kitchen.

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I received the Chelsea Market Cookbook as a Christmas gift this past year and as I was browsing through the cookbook I found some amazing recipes and The Thai Chicken with Holy Basil recipe really stood out to me. I headed to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients but I found that my local farmers market did not carry everything I needed leading me to improvise with the recipe. If you read my blog often you’re probably starting to understand I use chicken thighs whenever possible, so I switched thighs out for the white meat in this recipe. I have no idea what dark soy sauce is so I used the Aldi brand soy sauce I have in my fridge. Jalapeños were my go to pepper for the recipe instead of bird chilies. I used live basil… So i’m not really sure what type of basil that is. And last but not least, I decided to serve this meal over rice noodles instead of jasmine rice (rice noodles are delicious and much easier to cook than rice).

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A key ingredient to this recipe is the fish sauce. If you’ve never had fish sauce it does take a little getting used to. The ingredients for fish sauce are water, anchovy extract, salt, and sugar so that should give you an idea of what to expect with this flavoring. At first the smell can be a little overpowering but once you add in the soy sauce and other fragrant ingredients, you’ll lose the aroma of the fish sauce.

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In addition to the chicken portion of this recipe there is also a Nam-Pla Prik sauce that is added to your individual bowl as you eat. This sauce is strictly hot peppers and fish sauce but I’ll admit that it does add a nice flavor. The longer you let the peppers marinate in the fish sauce, the better the flavor the Nam-Pla Prik will have.

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This recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and if served over rice noodles, it’s very filling. Happy Cooking!

  • Difficulty: easy
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

Nam-Pla Prik Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 2 small red jalapeños thinly sliced into rounds, ribs removed and seeded

Chicken

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut to 1/2 inch dice (any color bell pepper will work)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 extra large red jalapeño or 2 small jalapeños
  • 2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • Cooked rice noodles, for serving

Directions:

Nam-Pla Prik

  1. Combine the fish sauce and chilies in a small bow and let aside for at least 30 minutes.

Chicken

  1. In a small bowl, combine fish sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add coconut oil and heat until the oil is very hot.
  3. Add bell pepper to skillet and stir fry until soft, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the garlic and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the chicken thighs and cook until the outside is no longer raw, about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and cook until the sauce has reduced slightly and the chicken is cooked throughout.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in basil until it is wilted.

Serve over rice noodles and have Nam-Pla Prik available as a seasoning for individual bowls.

*Recipe adapted from the Chelsea Market Cookbook Chelsea Thai Chicken with Holy Basil, page109


End of Winter Countdown: Soul Warming Tomatillo Chicken Chili

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It’s February 25th and it’s still very cold outside. I’ve lived in the south my entire life and there’s a reason why I still live here… I don’t really like the cold. I appreciate a little snow here and there, but I mostly appreciate those winters we have where I rarely have to leave home with more than a heavy jacket.

Last year in metro Atlanta we experienced snowpocalypse. All of us southerners were trapped on the streets and in our cars because of an inch of snow and an inch of ice. It was a terrifying time for the city and the only way you’ll understand how our city was crippled from ice is if you live here. Today, most of our city is shut down due to the fear of another approaching storm. It’s currently 33° outside today with a projected high of 38°. I think this year we are trying to be a little more cautious to keep from a repeat of last year. I’ll admit… I’m just ready for spring and the warm weather that it brings.

Since I’m in my nice warm home and i’m looking outside at a gloomy cold day, I figure it would be a great time to share my most recent cold weather meal. This recipe is for a Tomatillo Chicken Chili that will warm your heart, body and soul. I’m not a fan of beans and I avoid them at every cost. I was skeptical to develop a soup with white beans but after going grocery shopping with a friend and getting a little insight in the the world of chicken chili…. I was ready to take on the challenge.

ingredients

I wish I could tell you that you can throw all these ingredients into a slow cooker and it will turn out tasty and delicious but I’m not sure if this is actually the case. I don’t actually own a slow cooker and I strongly believe that you can make delicious “slow cooked” food on the stove. My version comes together in about 30 minutes and it tastes better than any soup that’s been cooking for the last 10 hours in a crock pot (I might be a little biased).

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This recipe uses ingredients that are present in most chicken chili recipes: chicken, beans, broth, and some type of pepper or green base. I decided to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because I believe there’s more flavor in the thigh (plus it’s harder to over cook chicken thighs). I use fresh jalapeño peppers and canned tomatillos to give the soup a little kick and exotic flavor.

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The trick to this recipe is sautéing the chicken with onions, peppers, and garlic. Most recipes have you boil and shred the chicken before adding it to the soup. The flavor profile that’s developed in the chicken by cooking it with fresh seasonings ads depth of flavor to the rest of the soup.

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I think every good chili should be served with some sort of cream or sauce and a side of tortilla chips. After I made the soup I realized I didn’t have sour cream so I topped it with plain greek yogurt (and it was heavenly).

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe out before the weather changes. I loved the recipe and I can’t wait to make it again.

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  • Difficulty: easy
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups chicken broth (preferably home made)
  • 2 – 15 oz cans Great Northern Beans with or without pork
  • 1 – 11 oz can whole tomatillos, chopped and with juice

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil In a dutch oven or large saucepan, over medium heat.
  2. Sauté onion, jalapeños, and garlic until soft,  3-5 minutes.
  3. Add in oregano, cumin, chili powder, and salt and stir to combine.
  4. Add chicken thighs to pan and brown on each side. Once browned, cover and cook until they are cooked throughout, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from pan and cut into small cubes (or shred) and add back to pan.
  6. Add chicken broth, beans, and tomatillos to pan.
  7. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
  8. Boil until liquid is reduced by 1/3, 10 – 12 minutes.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm, with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler: King Cake Inspired Cupcakes

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Mardi Gras day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is less than a week away and in the spirit of the Carnival season I couldn’t help but think about my love of King Cake. I can’t even remember the first time I had my first slice of King Cake, but what I do know is that it’s a taste that brings back so many memories of family and fun.

The King Cake is part of the heritage and food of the city of New Orleans. The tradition of the King Cake is believed to have originated in the late 1800’s when it was brought to New Orleans from France. It gets its name from the biblical three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. The cake is covered with purple, green, and gold-colored sugars that represent justice, faith, and power.

If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you need to change that. I believe every person should experience this colorful city. I love the sights, smells, foods, and the people of this city because it’s a place like no other. Both of my parents were born and raised in New Orleans and that probably explains why I have such an appreciation for the heritage, culture and community there. mix

I won’t be going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras anytime soon, but I really wanted to bring a little bit of the spirit of the city and celebration to my home. The best and easiest way to do this was though food or… well… through baking. In order to celebrate the spirit of Mardi Gras I decided to take some time out to develop a King Cake themed cupcake. DSC_0492cakesbasic

My King Cake cupcakes have a similar flavor profile to a cream cheese filled King Cake. Although the yeasty challah dough of the King Cake is not present in this cupcake, it is still infused with all the other flavors. The cupcake starts with a vanilla brown sugar cupcake base that I adapted from NatashasKitchen.com. There’s a cinnamon, brown sugar cream cheese filling and it is topped with cream cheese frosting, a sugar glaze and has the colored sugar for the infamous design! frosted

Many of the ingredients for this recipe are on sale at Target right now and I saved even extra money on many of their Market Pantry Items using the Target Cartwheel app. I ended up having to purchase my colored sugar from Walmart (but you can make your own).filling_final

If you’re celebrating the holiday over the weekend or just want to bake something new be sure to try out my recipe!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler… Let the good times roll!DSC_0587


  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Recommended Specialty Cookware: Decorating/Piping Bag, Muffin Pan

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Flavor:

  • 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp flour

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Sugar Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk

Colored Sugar:

  • Colored sugar in purple, green, and gold

Directions:

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a mixing bowl cream together eggs, brown sugar, sugar, and oil.
  3. in a separate bowl combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.
  4. Alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk to wet ingredients and mix until combined (do not over mix)
  5. Fold in buttermilk.
  6. Pour batter mixture into a lined 12 compartment muffin tin filling to about 2/3 full.
  7. Set muffin tin aside.
  8. To make the brown sugar flavor combine maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Sprinkle evenly on top of the cupcake batter.
  9. Bake cupcakes for 15 – 17 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, milk, and powdered sugar until smooth.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Sugar Glaze (do not make until after cupcakes have been filled and frosted):

  1. Combine powdered sugar, salt, and buttermilk. Stir until smooth (it should be a thick liquid).

To Assemble Cupcakes:

  1. Using the round tip of a wooden spoon, knife, or your finger create a crater in the center of each cupcake.
  2. Using a piping bag fill each cupcake with the cream cheese filling being sure not to over fill.
  3. Using a piping bag or knife frost each cupcake in the method of your choice.
  4. Mix together the sugar glaze and spoon mixture over the top of each allowing it to drip over the sides.
  5. Quickly sprinkle a combination of colored sugars over each cupcake.

Keep refrigerated until serving.