Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Lovely Bowl of Noodles: Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken

For weeks now I've been craving a GREAT bowl of noodles. I'm a little burned out on all of the fudge, the gingerbread, and even the noteworthy prime rib roast that the holidays brought into my life. Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy those things...I did...I really did...I have a lovely line around my mid-section where my jeans have been cutting into me ALL WEEK to prove it! But, what I really wanted was a steaming, spicy, bowl of noodles.

And then I remembered the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken recipe that I saw back in August on One Perfect Bite. This recipe totally hit the spot! It had all of the flavors that I was looking for; the complex spice and heat from the curry, the mellow coconut milk, the acidity of the lime, the freshness of the cilantro and the slight bite of the minced shallot, plus the color, texture, and heartiness added from the chicken and vegetables. I loved it! Mary, the creator of this recipe, prepared this for her young grandsons, so she cut back on the spice when she cooked this up in her kitchen. I went ahead and added that spice back in. On the evening that I made this, my children were playing at a friend's house and my husband was working late. I had the whole house to myself. It was unusual and SO relaxing to be alone in the quiet of my kitchen around dinnertime. Just the sounds of my chopping and stirring and some holiday music in the background. This almost never happens!

My children came home from their playdate and my husband arrived from work all around the same time. We settled in for a late dinner. I had already changed into my pajamas while the curry was simmering on the stove. After everyone found their way to our usual seats around our table,  we spent a lovely evening re-hashing our day and speculating about what surprises Christmas might bring. Ahhh....the perfect bowl of noodles, eaten in my pj's, surrounded by the loves of my life. It doesn't get much better then that! I served the girls rice noodles swimming in homemade chicken stock (I wasn't sure that they would appreciate the spicy curry) and then I sat down to slurp up my mouth-watering bowl of Mai Chiang Curry Noodles topped with cilantro, green onion, and shallot. It was sort of a feeding frenzy on my part. I'm pretty sure that my manners checked out for a coffee break after I put the first spoonful to my mouth. No holds barred. In fact, I have curry stains on my tank top to prove it!

Here's how I executed Mary's recipe:

First, I heated some oil in my skillet and then added in the garlic and cooked for a minute, until fragrant.

Next, I added in 2 rounded tablespoons of red curry paste and stirred until softened.

I added in 2 cut up boneless skinless chicken breasts. I cooked this over high heat, coating with the curry paste and garlic for a minute or so.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and keep warm.

Then I tossed my sliced veggies: onion, carrot, and sweet red pepper into the skillet and ....

I stir-fried until tender.

Then, I stirred in more spices: tumeric and yellow curry powder.

Once the veggies were coated with spices, I added in coconut milk, chicken stock (I used homemade, but the stuff from a can or box would work fine too), soy sauce, and sugar.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes so that the flavors can meld.

Now, squeeze in about 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice to brighten the flavor. Remove the skillet from the heat source. Cover and keep warm while you prepare the noodles and fixin's.

Divide prepared noodles into bowls and then ladle the hot curry over the top. I put the toppings: chopped shallot, cilantro, and green onion right onto the dinner table for easy access.


Halfway through my bowl in this shot...I'm surprised that I even stopped to take a breath, let alone a picture!

This was just what the doctor ordered to help me "chill" and enjoy the season in the days before Christmas. Asian-inspired spicy chicken noodle soup for the soul. Loved this!

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite and adapted by me.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons red curry paste (2 tablespoons)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large carrot, cut into fine julienne strips

1 small red pepper, cut into fine julienne strips

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk

1-3/4 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (I used yellow curry powder)

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt, to taste

1/2 pound dried Chinese-style egg noodles or wide rice noodles

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion


1) In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, warm the oil until it begins to ripple, and then add garlic. Cook for about a minute and add red curry paste, stirring it to soften it, about a minute. Add chicken and cook for about a minute, tossing to combine it with the curry paste. Remove chicken from pan and add carrot, red pepper and onions. Stir over medium-high heat until softened. Return chicken to pan. Add coconut milk, chicken stock, turmeric, soy sauce, and sugar, and stir well. Bring to a slow boil, and lower heat to bring it down to a simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes, until flavors have begun to meld. Stir in the lime juice, remove from heat, and cover to keep warm.

2) Cook the noodles per package instructions. Drain, rinse in a colander under cold water, drain again, and divide noodles among serving bowls. Ladle on hot curry, and sprinkle each serving with shallots, cilantro, and green onions. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

*I could not find wide rice noodles, so I just used "regular".
**I was concerned that my children would be turned off by the spicy nature of this dish...but it wasn't too spicy at all. In fact, my toddler enjoyed the leftovers the next day.
***This made quite a bit more then 4 servings. I even put the leftovers in an aluminum casserole, re-heated them, and served at a friend's Christmas party with the toppings the next night. There was plenty to go around!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Hello friends! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday. With the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and quality time spent with friends and family over the holidays (plus coping with one annoying little 24 hour flu-bug), I haven't had time to write. But there has certainly been lots of cooking and baking going on in my kitchen. It was difficult to decide which recipe I would post first from those holiday cooking adventures. I finally settled on this recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars, because it may just be my favorite out of ALL of the recipes that I tried over the past few days. After finishing his helping of this cheesecake at our family Christmas last night, my dad announced, "That one is going to win some awards!" (He's a pretty good judge from years and years of taste-testing 4-H baking projects made by my sisters and I).

These really are amazing!

I discovered this recipe on my blogging friend Beth's site The Seventh Level of Boredom. She described them as "a very bad idea". A bad idea, but only because you might want to eat the whole pan yourself! My advice is to make these NOW... before the new year, so they don't get in the way of keeping any resolutions.

These were pretty easy to throw together. Just a standard graham cracker crust: Butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon. (Loved the cinnamon in there with this!)

Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together sugar and 3 packages of cream cheese.

Once smooth, add the eggs, one at a time. Beat after each addition.

Now for the Dulce de Leche. Dulce de Leche = milk caramel. I bought mine in the International Food section of my local supermarket. This stuff was way thicker then I thought it would be. I thought it would flow like a caramel sauce. But look....

even when I turned it upside down and gave it a shake, the stuff was stuck fast. It needed to be scooped out with a spoon. My guess is that the consistency of dulce de leche varies from brand to brand. The Nestle version just happens to be very thick.

Beat 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche and 2 teaspoons of vanilla into the cream cheese mixture until just combined.

Then spread the mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust.

Bake for 38 minutes or until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked.

Then cool it completely. Mine developed an extra crack while cooling. No problem though, that was just a nice little ravine for the dulce de leche glaze to collect in during the next step.

Speaking of the next it is. Melt 2/3 cup of the remaining dulce de leche in a small sauce pan (or in the microwave) with 3-5 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. The amount of cream will vary depending on how thick your dulce de leche starts out. You want it to end up a nice, smooth pouring consistency.

Like this...

Spread the glaze evenly over the cheesecake. Then chill again for at least an hour.

Cut into 24 bars.

And serve! Give em' a little sprinkle of sea salt if it strikes your fancy. : )

This one may just make it's way into my "favorites" notebook. Thanks, Beth!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
Sea salt

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.

For filling:
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

For glaze:
Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.
Cut cheesecake lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 strips, forming 24 bars. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.

Note: I used my mixer, rather then a food processor to blend the filling ingredients.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Spirit: Homemade Amaretto

Last weekend I found this post titled "Homemade Liqueurs as Christmas Gifts" on La Buona Cucina (that's Italian for "The Good Kitchen").  Ann, who writes La Buona Cucina had made lovely gifts of homemade Amaretto and Limoncello. While my gifts have already been given away or are wrapped and awaiting Christmas morning, I thought that it might still be fun to bring homemade Amaretto to the family Christmas dinner. Plus, I had everything (besides vodka) that I needed to make this super simple recipe. After trekking through the Christmas shopping traffic to the grocery for some vodka, I whipped up this easy homemade Amaretto this afternoon.

Check it out!

First, combine a cup of granulated sugar with a half cup of packed brown sugar in a saucepan. Add a cup of water and stir.

Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and cool, then stir in vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour in 2 cups of inexpensive (read: cheap) vodka. I spent less then $4 for the bottle.

Now bottle it up...or in my case, "jar" it up. Ann used glass bottles that she had recycled by thoroughly cleaning, then she dressed them up with labels. Very pretty. They look totally gift-worthy. You can take a look at her work HERE. However, I went the moonshine route and poured mine into quart-sized canning jar. I am so classy! : )

While I'm more likely to use this in baking, I needed to do a taste test... for the sake of truth in reporting. So....CHEERS!

While I'm not a fan of vodka, the Amaretto was good. It was what it should be; sweet and almond-flavored. I'd totally stir this into a pound cake...or an Amaretto Sour.

Homemade Amaretto

1 cup white sugar
2 cups of inexpensive vodka
1 cup water
2 tablespoons almond extract
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions for Amaretto
Combine water, white sugar and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until boiling and all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let mixture cool down for 10 - 20 minutes. Pour in vodka, almond and vanilla extracts. Mix well and store in a sealed glass bottle.


And now for one more recipe on this lovely Christmas Eve before I rush off to stuff a stocking...or 3.

Recipe for a Merry Christmas

To a cup of tradition, time-honored and dear,
Add a generous portion of holiday cheer,
Combine with the memories of Christmases past,
Then sprinkle the mixture with joy unsurpassed.
Add a dash or good spirits, stir fondly until...
You set it to rise in the warmth of good will.
Pour love over all in generous measure,
And garnish with laughter and heartwarming pleasure.

~~By Barbara Burrow~~

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nacho Chicken Bake...revisited

When this blog was a baby, just one month old, back in November of 2008, I posted this recipe for Chicken Nacho Bake. Since I first discovered the recipe years ago (I can't remember when and where exactly), it has established itself as a regular in my meal plan rotations. I love this recipe because my family loves it (not the healthiest concoction, but SO good!) and because it requires very little effort. I should have someone time me one of these days, but I estimate the prep time on this yummy dish to be between 5 and 10 minutes. You only have to chop one ingredient and the rest of the ingredients are just dumped, stirred, spread, and baked.

When I made this casserole again last week, I decided that it was worth another mention (the original post just didn't do it justice), and so I snapped some new pictures and here it is again....Nacho Chicken Bake!

Here's how it comes together:

I generally use Baked Nacho Chips (Doritos), but this time I used "regular" Nacho Chips because I found them for $.99 a bag. Slightly crunch the chips and spread them into the bottom of a casserole dish, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Then I combined the other ingredients together in a mixing bowl. This is chicken, condensed cream of chicken soup, salsa, shredded cheese, chopped onion, and diced green chilies. I usually use picante sauce, but I was out and so I grabbed a jar of salsa instead.

Spread the mixture over the chips.

Top with more cheese and pop it into a pre-heated oven.

Serve with whatever fixings you like. Last week I served it over shredded lettuce and topped it with a dollop of sour cream.  It's a perfect quickie, family-pleasing, weeknight dinner. Delicious as always!

Nacho Chicken Bake

8 cups Baked Doritos

2 cans cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat free)

1- 10 oz. can of chunk white chicken

1 cup picante sauce

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 medium onion, chopped

1-4 oz can diced green chilies

Additional cheese to top casserole

Arrange the chips in the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Combine the next six ingredients. Pour over the chips and spread evenly. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Pie

I'm finally reunited with my computer after a whirlwind weekend of early Christmas celebration. After logging 12 hours of travel (there and back) and 2 family Christmas parties in the last 72 hours, I am excited to cozy up to my keyboard in our quiet house (the kiddos are nestled all snug in their beds, resting up for more Christmas excitement) and share this recipe for Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Pie with all of you!

The main and side dishes were taken care of at the Christmas parties we were attending, so I decided that I would contribute some "goodies": gingerbread cookies, turtles, and eggnog. This pie was an afterthought. The night before we loaded up and hit the road, I discovered a forgotten pie shell in my freezer. "Ooooh." I thought. "I should fill that with something yummy and bake it to share with the families this weekend." And that's just what I did. Last minute baking. This recipe was inspired by a Cranberry Chocolate Nut Pie that I found in the September 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I already had all of the ingredients on hand, and this came together in a flash. Just combine everything in a bowl, dump into a pie shell and bake. I'm so glad that I made this. It was wonderful. Kind of like a Derby Pie...with a festive twist! The tartness of the dried cranberry in this pie played perfectly against the sweet gooey texture, the chocolate chips, and the nutty pecan finish. Topped with whipped cream, I was head over heels for this recipe!

Before you begin, soak 3/4 cup of dried cranberries in 1/2 cup of orange juice for an hour or more.

Then melt and cool 1/3 cup of butter. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 3 eggs.

Stir in 3/4 cup of flour and a cup of finely chopped pecans.

Followed by the soaked cranberries and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into an un-baked pie shell.

Slide it into a pre-heated oven and bake for 65 minutes. Cover with foil for the last 30 minutes, if needed, to prevent the top from getting too dark.

This baked up beautifully, except for that pecan crater that formed on the bottom right section of the pie (as seen in the picture above).

Here's a closer look at that:

Oh well. It adds character. My advice, if this happens to your that slice with extra whipped cream. No one will be the wiser.  : )

Chill the pie for an hour or so (mine chilled overnight) then slice it up...

And enjoy!

Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Pie

3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brandy or orange juice
1 Single-Crust Pie Pastry
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (heaping, if you like) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Whipped Cream (optional) for garnish


1. In small bowl combine dried cranberries and OJ or brandy. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

3. In medium bowl whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Stir in pecans, flour and chocolate chips until just combined. Stir in cranberries/OJ mixture. Spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Bake for 65 minutes, loosely covering the pie with foil the last 30 minutes of baking. Cool on rack.

4. Top with whipped Cream.

Makes 10 servings.
Related Posts with Thumbnails