White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

With holiday preparations in full swing, I'm guessing you are focused on last minute shopping, holiday menu planning, and trying to enjoy this wonderful time of year.  In our house, that also means our dinners are makeshift and as simple as possible.  Tonight was beans and franks, a throwback to my childhood that I secretly love but am a bit embarrassed to admit I'd feed to my family.  Earlier this week, we had white chicken chili from the freezer, which reminded me that I've been meaning to share this recipe for months.  

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Thai Steak & Noodle Salad

Before you take one look at the list of ingredients below and ignore the rest of this post, please hear me out.  This Thai Steak & Noodle Salad is unusual, tangy, filling, and oh-so-good.  Yes, there are quite a few ingredients, but there is overlap between the ingredients for the marinade and the salad dressing.  You can prep almost everything the day prior (the marinade, the dressing, and the vast majority of the salad ingredients - I'd cut the avocado and mango just prior to serving).  Plus, you are likely to have a handful of the ingredients already.  This would be the perfect one-course dish for a summer dinner party - you can throw the meat on the grill, toss the salad, and voilà!  

If nothing else, please give the marinade and the dressing a try.  Often I find that I'll marinade meat or chicken and once it is cooked, the flavor seems to have disappeared, which was not the case here.  And I think you could use greens and whatever other ingredients you happened to have on-hand, toss them with the dressing, and top with a protein to create a simpler version of this salad.

One tip - dress the salad right before serving.  I used kale instead of arugula, which held up in the leftovers the next day, but I'd advise waiting until you are ready to eat the salad (so if you plan to have leftovers, only dress what you'll eat immediately).

Thai Steak & Noodle Salad
Recipe from Bon Appétit 
Serves 4-6

Steak

   1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped

   ¼ cup soy sauce

   3 tablespoons raw sugar or light brown sugar

   2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

   1 tablespoon fish sauce

   ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

   ½ teaspoon garlic powder

   ¼ cup olive oil

   1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

   ¾ pound filet mignon steaks, 1 inch thick

   Kosher salt

Dressing

   ¼ cup fresh lime juice

   ¼ cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)

   ¼ cup peanut oil or vegetable oil

   2 tablespoons fish sauce

   2 tablespoons sugar

   1 tablespoon honey

   1 garlic clove, finely chopped

   Kosher salt (optional)

Salad and Assembly

   2 ounces dried ramen or lo mein noodles

   Kosher salt

   ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

   1 large mango, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

   ½ bunch arugula, stems removed, leaves torn

   ½ bunch watercress, tough stems removed (I omitted this)

   2 medium carrots, finely shredded on a mandoline or a box grater

   2 scallions, chopped

   2 cups finely shredded savoy cabbage (I used regular cabbage)

   1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

   1 avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces

   ½ cup chopped cilantro

   ½ cup torn basil leaves

   ¼ cup torn mint leaves

   ¼ cup crumbled toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

   ¼ cup finely chopped salted, roasted peanuts, plus more for serving

   Lime wedges (for serving)

Preparation

Steak

   Whisk ginger, soy sauce, raw sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add olive oil, then sesame oil. Transfer to a small resealable plastic bag and add steaks. Close bag, pressing out air, and turn steak to coat. Chill at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours (I marinated mine overnight, for approximately 20 hours, and it was delicious).

   Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high.) Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Season very lightly with salt. Grill, turning every 2 minutes, until lightly charred all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each steak registers 120° for medium-rare, 8–10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into 1" pieces.

   Do Ahead: Steak can be grilled 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Cut just before serving.

Dressing

   Whisk lime juice, chili paste, peanut oil, fish sauce, sugar, honey, and garlic in a small bowl to combine. Taste and season with salt if desired.

   Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Salad and Assembly

   Cook noodles in a small pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Toss with oil in a large bowl. Add mango, arugula, watercress, carrots, scallions, cabbage, tomatoes, and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt if desired. Add steak, avocado, cilantro, basil, mint, coconut flakes, and ¼ cup peanuts. Gently toss just to combine.

Divide salad among plates, piling as high as possible. Top with additional peanuts and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

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Rachel Rogers Design

These custom crests by Rachel Rogers Design have me swooning!  How fun would it be to design a crest for your family, your wedding, or a new little one?  Rachel Rogers designs book covers, invitations, crests, custom cards, and monograms and her style is incredible.  I immediately envisioned adding one of these to Blythe's gallery wall, although custom designs start at $500 so that isn't likely to happen. A girl can dream! 

All images credit to Rachel Rogers Design.

Pumpkin Bread

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I have an amazing group friends and family.  I recognize this year-round, but every year on my birthday the cards, telephone calls, and celebrations serve as a special reminder of just how lucky I am.  This year, I had not one but three friends sing happy birthday to me in voicemails, which absolutely made my day -- I listened to the messages while waiting for the bus and had a HUGE grin on my face.  The day before my birthday, I got to celebrate my Mom's birthday with a fall run through the canyon behind my parent's house with my parents, followed by a surprise party for my Mom that my Dad planned (yes, my Mom and I almost share a birthday)!  Rob treated me to a new craft beer to try.  A special friend even brought me the best black licorice in the world from Berlin.  My birthday extended from a day into a week as we finally hosted a housewarming party a few days later.  If I ever feel lonely, I need only remember how awesome it was to have fifty friends drop by our house on a gorgeous fall day.  There were kids playing and running through the house, Forest the cat basked in the attention of our guests, and new friendships were forged.  Instead of snow, we had sunshine.  Life is great. 

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It also reminded me of how we thought we'd have a housewarming barbecue in July, shortly after we moved in.  Ha!  Only now do I feel like the house is ready to have guests... our new closets are finished, our bookshelves are done as of yesterday, and the basement is a work in progress, but thankfully not one I have to look at every day.  It definitely feels like home.

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In one of my birthday phone calls, I was discussing with B how disappointed I had been with the pumpkin-inspired recipes I've made recently.  These Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, for example, were fine, but not great.  On my birthday, I made a special dinner for Rob (Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie) and while I love all of the ingredients, the end result was underwhelming.  I've heard B rave before about her pumpkin bread, and she passed along the recipe in the hopes that it would lift me out of my pumpkin funk.

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It absolutely worked!  This bread could not be easier to make.  It is flavorful without being too sweet.  It makes both an excellent breakfast or dessert.  Plus, it makes two loaves, so you have one to keep for yourself and another to share (or to freeze... but why not make someone's day and give them a surprise loaf of delicious bread?).  As I write this, I am enjoying a piece at my desk... 

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Pumpkin Bread

Recipe shared from friend to friend and given to me by Betsy Strenio

Note - I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup.  If you prefer your bread super sweet, I'd add that 1/2 cup of sugar back in.  I used olive oil and loved the end result.  The original recipe, however, calls for vegetable oil.  And if you want to make the bread healthier, you could try substituting apple sauce for half of the oil.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (I use both store-bought pumpkin and homemade puree in my pumpkin goodies.  If you want an easy and instructive post on homemade puree, use this link.)

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.  Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend.  Mix in eggs and pumpkin.  

2.  In a separate large bowl, sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

3.  Divide batter equally between prepared pans.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.  You can freeze a loaf for future eating or give one to a friend!

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Birthday beer from Crooked Stave in awesome mugs courtesy of Danielle & Kate

Rhubarb Scones

Rhubarb Scones

What I loved most about these scones were the giant chunks of rhubarb.  You'll probably think as you mix them up that these scones will certainly fall apart with such large pieces of fruit inside, but they defy the odds and stay together nicely.  I was also concerned that there wouldn't be enough sugar in these to offset the somewhat bitter taste of rhubarb.  Again, I was pleasantly surprised as the rhubarb flavor really shines but the scones are neither overly tart nor overly sweet.

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