let’s eat | pad grapow chicken

I made a thing! Ok, so I’ve been making lots of things but this specific thing is in my Cravings cookbook so obvi I had to write about it here! I’ve never made anything Thai before! I’ve barely even eaten Thai food in my lifetime! So I was a little worried about this one. It seemed simple but what if it’s simplicity just made it easier to ruin?! And to really turn up the heat in the kitchen (see what I did there), I was having a guest over for dinner that night! The last thing I needed was to totally destroy our intended dinner. The shame of it all!

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I mean…..what the heck is a grapow?! Honestly, I still don’t know but I think it has something to do with basil. My ingredients were pretty easy to find, except the Thai Basil, I couldn’t find that stuff an-y-where. So I settled for regular ol’ basily basil. I also braved using the Serrano pepper! Ok so I may have removed all the seeds first, but still! I usually avoid pepper of all kinds that aren’t of the bell variety.

So I cut up my chicken, dice up my garlic, chop up some pepper and that was that! Easy. Next step, combine the surf with the turf:

DSC_0986Alright guys…oyster sauce.  How is it made?? What part of an oyster is it even made from?? Oysters aren’t that big! This will be one of life’s great mysteries and I think I’m pretty ok with that. Also it seemed odd to put in on chicken but Chrissy hasn’t let me down yet so I trusted her.

As I let that little concoction marinate a bit I threw my aromatics into my pan. I’ve got to say, this is always my favorite part of the cooking process. There’s nothing quite like the smell of garlic 30 seconds into being on the pan. It’s heavenly. And then sometimes I get caught up in the moment and burn it and then it stinks. But not this time!

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Ain’t it purty!

Keep in mind that while this is happening I’m making the rice, per the bag’s instructions. Multi-tasking like a Boss! After successfully not burning the garlic and pepper and letting the chicken marinate accordingly, I add the chicken to the hot pan.

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Oooooooohh. Aaaaaaaaahh. I let this cook till the chicken is cooked through then threw in the basil. Whole leaves and everything! Once they got wilty, that was it! Seriously though….that’s all. I put the chicken and basil on the rice (that I also managed to NOT burn).

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As you can see, I was so excited to have this I started eating it before I took a pic! And look…

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…my distinguished guest enjoyed his meal as much as I did. And lived to tell the tale!

This recipe was so easy and so quick and SO satisfying! Thai food is where it’s at and if anyone wants the recipe I’ll be elated to share it with you. You could make it for dinner tonight! Just sayin’.

let’s eat | prosciutto-wrapped stuffed chicken breasts

I know it feels like it’s been a while since I shared some of my food-ventures with you but please don’t think I’ve only been eating Ramen Noodles for the last month. Trust me, I could if I let myself. But alas, I just haven’t cooked from my book for a while and maybe just maybe there was a failed recipe in the interim that I haven’t had the guts to share with you all! Moving on swiftly…

…here’s my most recent try!

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I mean, come on. Chicken. Stuffed with cheese and bacon. Wrapped in Ham. It’s a no-brainer. I felt pretty confident going into this one.

Since this recipe didn’t have any spicy elements to it I didn’t have to substitute any ingredients! Perf!

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Except of course for adding wine. I think it was Sophocles that said ” I always cook with wine and sometimes it makes it into the recipe”. Or something to that effect. One thing I did change was, because I’m such a fancy lady, I opted for a truffle goat cheese. So good. So worth it.

First things first, I made my cheesey spread. Straightforward. Mix up cheeses with herbs and garlic. Nailed it. Then, fry up some bacon. Boom. I got this!

Second step. Smash the sh*t out of those chickens! Now since this is amateur hour, the last thing I possess in my kitchen is a meat mallet. So I had to use the next best thing.

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That’s right. I went full Tangled on those chickens! Frying pans are truly versatile. And if you don’t understand my Tangled reference I don’t think we can by friends. Sorry.

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Just look at that flat chicken! And what a stress reliever. Hooo! My gal Chrissy suggests cutting the edges off if they got a little mangled and that annoyed me, but it didn’t, so mangled they stayed. We’re all a little mangled on our edges so who am I to judge these chickens for what I’ve done to them! Moving on.

Slather them chickens! Sprinkle ’em with bacon! Roll ’em up real nice! Mummify them in prosciutto!

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Chrissy uses a cast-iron skillet to bake her chicken in but since I don’t have one of those either I used a pyrex and, like the bacon-lover I am, covered the bottom with my leftover bacon grease! Once my little chickens were seam down in their bacon pool I threw in some thyme sprigs and colorful tomato friends after (of course) cutting my finger with my tomato knife.

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Damn serrated knives! Sneakily sharp! I’m pretty sure he and the bread knife are in cahoots. Battle wounds…right??

Then it was off to the oven for 30min and voila!

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Please note the ooey gooey cheesey insides that became outsides. Mmmmm. I think the glass pan vs. cast-iron skillet kept my prosciutto from getting as crispy as it could have but I didn’t want to risk cooking it longer and having the chicken get dry. Nothing is worse than dry chicken. Except maybe burnt chicken. Eww.

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All in all, another success! I will say that it looked pretty sparse on the plate so next time I think I’ll definitely make a vegetable for a side. More importantly it tasted delicious and wasn’t difficult to make. There’s hope for me after all guys!

let’s eat | skillet-charred fish tacos

For this edition of my foray into foods I skipped the random finger-point method and actually chose which recipe to conquer. And the chosen recipe was…..DSC_0606 (2)

I’ve been craving tacos lately so it was an easy choice to make. Little did I know how adventurous they would make me! For you see, these are NOT your every day fish tacos. NO! They are so much more.

I began with the sauce that you see our gal Chrissy lovingly pouring on her taco. It’s called Pepper’s Hot Green Pepper Sauce. Now, if you know anything about me you know that spicy things and I are not on the best terms. So obviously this sauce scared the crap out of me. Just look at the ingredients!

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Serrano peppers! And 4 of them! It made me sweat just thinking about them. But I was determined to do this the right way and make the scary sauce. Luckily I have a roommate with a great love of spicy things so even if I couldn’t handle the heat, it wouldn’t totally go to waste.DSC_0608 (2)

Sadly, in my quest for Serrano peppers I was only able to find jalapenos. Knowing that I have avoided these peps all my life because of their spice, I figured they’d still do the job. I also decided on only using 3 peppers instead of 4 and maaaaaaybe I removed the seeds. Baby steps people!

I blended up my peppers with my garlic gloves and as I poured the mixture into a bowl the smell of this concoction cleared my sinuses better than any cold medicine available. I was obviously terrified. Next I stirred in the brown sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. This was my first experience with fish sauce and let me say, I still have no idea what it’s about. But I used it and I look forward to discovering more about it! Once my  mixture was stirred well it was the moment of truth. I had to taste the stuff. I dipped my pinky into the bowl and quickly put it in my mouth. Rip off the band-aid right?? Much to my shock, it was good! Yes there was definitely some heat there but it wasn’t burn your tongue off heat. This was different. This was enjoyable. I patted myself on the back a little. DSC_0610 (3)

Next on the list….the Sriracha Mayo. If you’re keeping score this is now 2 spicy elements to this dish. What was I thinking??? I told myself that luckily I had control of how much Sriracha actually made it into the mix so I would just start small and see how far I could go.DSC_0612 (2)I started out with less that 1/4 cup and gave it a taste. Not bad. Not bad at all. I added a couple long squirts more and OH MAN. We had spice. Nothing too painful though. I was pushing the boundaries of my taste-buds for sure.

Onto the fish portion of the fish taco! I went with Tilapia because it’s delish! Duh. I’ve only cooked fish like, 2 other times, so going into this I wasn’t totally in the dark, but it’s fish! You can’t really come back from a poorly cooked fish. I got my fillets and began making the rub for them. Ingredient #1…Chili Powder. SAY WHAAAAAT???DSC_0614 (2)

That is 3, count them, 3 spicy flavors in this dish. Clearly I’m trying to never enjoy a meal again or something. The terror was real people. I put all my spices in a bowl with the owl and stirred them together.DSC_0615 (2)

The result was the scariest looking substance I’ve ever seen. It was like spicy tar. I can never un-see it. And I was supposed to be putting this on my fresh, heavenly white, Tilapia?? The horror!! But, I vowed I would do as Chrissy says. She is the expert here. So I slathered my fish. DSC_0617 (3)

Now, I did have a small moment of “Oh crap, can I still cook this” when the recipe called for a cast-iron skillet. I do not have a cast-iron skillet. I have a frying pan. Can I not make these hell fish on a regular frying pan???? Lucky for me, I keep a chef on speed-text for these very situations.

I NEED A PRO TIP!!! If a recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet is it the end of the world if I don’t use one??? Will a frying pan still do?

Frying pan will do just fine.

Thank goodness.

It pays to know people.

So a frying I went. 3 minutes per side, as Chrissy said, and my fishies were looking just perfect. But how did they taste?? I took a deep breathe and had a piece. Spice? What spice?? These had tons of flavor but no spice! It was a Christmas miracle! I would be eating fish tacos for dinner afterall!

While my fish cooled I went to cutting up my toppings. I may or may not have cheated just a smidge by buying pre-shredded red cabbage. I deserved it after all these scary spicy things! Plus I did attempt to julienne radishes. It wasn’t pretty but I do have all my fingers. Not to self: buy a mandolin.

And since presentation is everything…voila!DSC_0620 (2)

Quite the colorful spread wouldn’t you say?

Lastly came the part that I have no trouble with at all…building the tacos! This is where my talents really shine. Choosing just the right amount of meat to veggie ratio is a keen skill that I feel like I’ve mastered over my 29 years. And with so many options, the possibilities were endless.DSC_0622 (2)DSC_0624 (2)

The truest sign of a successful meal…the filthy napkin at the end. I can’t wait to have more of this tomorrow as well as make it again in the future. It was so simple and flavorful. A winning combination. The only thing I would change for next time is having them with a margarita!

Confession: There was a big part of me that was worried about the sauces being way out of my heat league….so I had backups. Thanks Paul, but I didn’t need you afterall.DSC_0621 (3)

let’s eat

In my current quest to start cooking more I went and bought myself my first cookbook! Well, first that I’ve purchased myself. Let me preface with confessing that one of my guilty pleasures is following the outspoken life and times of Chrissy Teigen on social media. Her love of sarcasm and John Legend and calling haters out gives me great joy. And have you seen Baby Luna??? The cutest. But I digress.

 

So when I saw that my gal Chrissy had come out with her own cookbook I was all in. Let me tell you guys, it’s the bomb. The recipes are not your A-typical, supermodel, rabbit food. On the contrary they are hearty and delicious dishes that I can’t wait to try. And try I shall!

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I am determined to cook my way through this book and I am determined to keep record of it here.

In order to choose my first dish to make I used the very scientific method of flipping through the pages with my eyes closed and randomly sticking my finger on a page. And the first recipe is…..

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My initial reaction was that a salad was too easy! A cop-out! I eventually came to think of it as a warm-up before the big leagues. A little practice run before things really get serious. Plus….prosciutto. Duh.

Being a gal on a budget, I wasn’t about to head to my local fancy-pants grocery store so I made due with that I could find at my corner spot.DSC_0558 (3)

For festivities sake I purchased 3 types of tomatoes and in lue of straight arugula I got a spinach/arugula mix. Green things!! Caprese salad is one of my fave snacks so I knew this salad would be a winner!

First things first was the crispy prosciutto. I love this salty meat any way I can get it so I was thrilled for this.

When will I learn not to trust my oven. My crispies were not ruined my any means but they were a little dark for my liking. I would not be swayed by this. I would soldier on!

Next up, the chicken I decided to add to this meal. Simple. Chicken cutlet with Italian breading. Probably more fun to make the mess of breading than to actually cook.

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Then came my salad! Let me be the first to say (yes of course I know I’m not actually the first to say) that having a sharp knife is absolutely crucial to the joy of cutting tomatoes. I have ruined many a tomato due to a dull knife. Lucky for me, I received a brand new set of knives for Christmas so those days are over!! I cut those ‘matos with such precision! Chunks, slices, wedges. I did it all! I placed them delicately on my greens.

It was now time for the real cherry on this sundae. The magical element that set this salad apart from the rest. The burrata. I cannot be expected to put into words the emotional feelings I have for burrata. Gooey cheese inside a ball of cheese???? Mozzarella Inception?? I mean! DSC_0568 (2)

I sprinkled my crispies and drizzled my oil and balsamic. My salad was complete! So simple. So straight forward. And most importantly, so delicious!! This was a caprese salad taken to the next level with little to no effort!

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Salad. Nailed it. This was an excellent way to rev up my cooking engine and I definitely see myself  making this again in the future.