Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coconut Rice

I'm supposed to be folding laundry.  There's a mountain of it in my basement.

But, because I love you, I'm sitting at my computer.  I have to tell you about this rice.

Or maybe I'm sitting here because I'm compulsive?  I forget which excuses I've already used.

Whatever the the reason, you've just got to make this rice.

We loved it.  You could serve it with a million different things, but here's what I did:

Grilled chicken (marinated in lime juice, salt & pepper), mango salsa and coconut rice.

I felt like I was on a tropical island.

The rice was sticky and just perfectly coconutty.  It was creamy.  It was sticky (did I already say that?).  I {heart} sticky rice.

So good, my internet friends.  So good.

So simple, too.  Just a can of coconut milk (I used lite), rice, a little brown sugar and some shredded coconut at the end.

I just discovered this frozen shredded sweetened coconut at the grocery store too.  It's my new fave.  (It was with the frozen fruit?)

And here's why I love it: it's shredded super fine.  It's about the length of a grain of rice, which is why it was just perfect to stir into the rice at the end.  It added a slight texture and a little more coconut flavor without being overpowering or making the rice stringy with regular coconut.

It was a win.

Dinner's over.  I have to go finish my laundry now.

Coconut Rice
Adapted from Paula Deen

14 oz. can lite coconut milk (not cream of coconut; just regular unsweetened coconut milk.  you can usually find it on the Asian food aisle)
1 1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (not quick cook)
2 T packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (about 1/2 of a 6 or 7 oz. package) shredded sweetened coconut (frozen, if you can find it)

Stir together the coconut milk, water, salt, brown sugar and rice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce to the lowest heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed AND the rice is tender (be sure to test the rice to be sure it's done).  Remove from the heat, stir in the frozen coconut (no need to thaw it first) and put the lid back on.  Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chocolate Mousse

I don't know how to wear lipstick.  Clarification: I am incapable of applying lipstick.

I'm not sure how this happened, because my mother is an expert lipstick-applicator.  She could probably do it in the dark.

Beat the egg yolks until thick and pale.  Beat in the sugar.
I wear gloss just fine.  And chapstick is fine.

Temper the yolks with the hot milk, then cook the mixture on low heat for a few minutes until thick.
But lipstick?  I didn't get the lipstick-application gene from my mother.  It's a thing.

Stir in the chocolate.  Doesn't this look delicious and smooth?
Once there was a lipstick incident in the car.  I was trying to apply it, and in the end I looked like a clown and the back of my car seat had red lipstick on it.

Cover it - directly on top of the chocolate mixture - with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled.
Yes, the back of the car seat in which I was seated had lipstick on it.  I'm still not sure how that happened.

The mixture is chilled! And wonderfully thick.
I don't think I've tried to apply lipstick since.  That was about nine years ago.

For the record, it's not entirely my fault.  My upper lip is asymmetrical.  And the application process is not as easy as it looks.

Whip the cream.  Do you like my action shot?  My beater is going so fast you can't even see it!  I'm easily entertained.
Now it's fine with me to not wear lipstick because I kiss on my babies all the time.  Baby Bear would be covered in sticky pink (asymmetrical) lips all the time.

Now we're ready to combine the light, fluffy whipped cream with the thick, dense chocolate custard.
How is any of this related to chocolate pudding?

Just fold it in.  Do not stir aggressively or vigorously.  You don't want to deflate that perfectly whipped cream!
Beats me.  But since I haven't told you anything about this actual recipe, here goes: this mousse is yummy.  It's fluffy and creamy and rich and sweet and chocolatey but not too sweet.  It's simple and good and really just what a chocolate mousse should be.

It looks like a zebra.  Just keep folding.
I just typed "mouse" instead of mousse.  Just to be perfectly clear, there are no mice in this pudding.

Since I'm off topic again, I'm going to say goodbye.  But the next time you need a good chocolate mousse (or mouse), I hope you think of me and my lipstick dilemma.  I mean this recipe.

And you're there.  A fluffy, smooth, homogeneous mixture.  Absolutely perfect.

Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup (6 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate (don't use chips because they don't melt perfectly smooth)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 T sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for about 3 minutes on high speed until thick and pale yellow.  Gradually beat in sugar.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot. (Do not boil.)

Temper the eggs with the hot milk by pouring about half the milk into the egg/sugar mixture while stirring constantly.  Return the warm egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Do not boil.

Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.  Cover the chocolate mixture with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the mixture (this will keep a "skin" from forming on top).  Refrigerate until cool (this will take about 2 hours).

When the chocolate mixture is chilled, beat the whipping cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Slowly add the 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract.  Fold the chocolate mixture and whipped cream together, being careful not to deflate the cream.

Spoon into one large serving dish or individual dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thai Chicken Wraps

I have a whole list of things to post but I just bumped these wraps to the front of the list.

They were that good.

I made them for dinner tonight...we LOVED them!

I smashed two recipes together and this is the result.

There are a few steps, but they can be done ahead and then all wrapped together when you're ready to eat.

First, marinate the chicken for a few hours.  It was an amazingly flavorful marinade...and very quick and easy to whip together.

You'll need cilantro, limes and this little jar of red curry paste.  I found the curry paste on the Asian aisle at the regular grocery store.  I thought it might be spicy, but it wasn't.  (I would have liked a little more spice but didn't add red pepper flakes because my husband isn't as spicy as me.)  But it did give a great flavor and color to the chicken as it marinated.  So don't skip the red curry paste!

The chicken will tenderize as it cooks (thanks to the lime juice).  I cut the chicken into strips before tossing it into the marinade so that it would grill up super quick when I was ready.

While the chicken marinates, you can whip up the sauce.  The peanut sauce.  Ugh.  This sauce is beyond anything I can even describe.  So amazing.

I adore fresh ginger, and this sauce is packed with it.  Plus brown sugar, peanut butter (no, we're not making cookies here), garlic and more red curry sauce (I told you to get it!).

You can use a food processor to make the sauce (it'll make it super smooth) or you can just grate the ginger, garlic and shallot and whisk the sauce together.  I just used a whisk.

When you're ready to eat, grill the chicken (it cooks fast because it's cut into strips).

Now to build - layer the chicken, sauce, tons of fresh veggies, cilantro and peanuts in a wrap (I just used a large tortilla).  You could also use Bibb lettuce instead of a tortilla.

Please make these.  And please tell me if you love them.  And if you don't love them...well, just keep that to yourself.

Thai Chicken Wraps
Inspired by Rachael Ray and Simply So Good

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3-4 strips each
1 bunch cilantro leaves, minced
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 red pepper flakes
1 T red curry paste (on the Asian aisle)

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup hot water
1 T red curry paste
2 T brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 shallot, grated
2 T grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced

For Assembling the Wraps:
4 large (burrito-size) flour tortillas
1 seedless cucumber, sliced in half and then sliced into thin half-moons
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 cup peanuts

Mix the marinade ingredients in a gallon freezer bag.  Add the chicken and coat the pieces well.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours (up to 12 hours).  Grill the chicken until cooked through when you are ready to assemble the wraps.

While the chicken marinates, whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce.  You can blend it in a food processor if you want it to be very smooth.

To assemble, layer the chicken and veggies in the middle of a tortilla.  Top with plenty of sauce and sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.  Wrap and enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Peas

The week before Baby Bear was born last summer, my dad went fishing in Kodiak Island, Alaska.

In case you're not familiar with Kodiak Island, it's the second-largest island in the US.  And it just so happens that the island is populated by MORE BEARS (those would be Kodiak Bears) than PEOPLE.  (This is my dad's definition of heaven on earth.)  And since my dad is more into hunting than fishing, I knew it had to be quite a place for him to spend his time fishing.  Quite a successful fishing trip it was.

We have been the very blessed beneficiaries of my dad's once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip.  He shipped home several hundred pounds of frozen salmon, halibut and cod.  He caught it, shipped it home, and we've been eating it ever since.

Y'all, I've bought and eaten a lot of fish in my life.  This Kodiak Island fish does not even come close to any fish I've ever had.  It's amazing.

I've baked it, grilled it, fried it and pan-roasted it.  My kids LOVE it.

So what does orzo have to do with fish?  Well, since we eat fish quite often, I've made this to go alongside the fish (and asparagus, since it's in season) a few times.  The whole family loves this's creamy, cheesy and colorful with tomatoes and peas.

As for the fish?  I'm going to be so sad when it's gone.  And as for Baby Bear?  He waited an ENTIRE WEEK past his due date just so my dad would get home in time for his birth.  Wasn't that sweet of him.

Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Peas
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta (12 oz.)
1 T butter
2 shallots, minced
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
10 oz. (about 1 1/4 cups) petite frozen peas

1 cup cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar, romano and parmesan)

Cook the pasta according to package directions - cook it on the al dente side because it will continue to cook when you mix the remaining ingredients in.

In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes.  Add the drained tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add the cooked and the drained orzo, milk and pasta water.  Stir well and remove from the heat.  Cover the skillet and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the peas and cheese.  The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and warm the peas.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

M&M Cookies (fluffy and puffy and wonderful)

My baby girl calls these chocolate candies that melt in your mouth - not in your hand - "MM's."

Well, I turned this package of MM's into some totally awesome cookies.

I have Pinterest to thank.  Yet again.

So here's the thing with these cookies: they don't spread too much, they remain soft and light and puffy (not cakey at all), and they were pretty much perfect.

I pick my cookies by what the bottom looks like.  This one's pretty much perfect: lots of M&M's and chocolate chips and perfectly under-baked.
I don't do cakey cookies.  And I don't do cookies that spread out too much and get too thin.

The secret to these cookies is sort of weird, but it totally worked.  Dry instant vanilla pudding powder.

Random, I know.

But pudding mix contains cornstarch, and cornstarch has a wonderful effect on cookies.  A chewy, gooey, puffy, not-thin-at-all effect.

You don't have to chill this dough.  You don't have to do anything except cream the butter and sugar,

add the egg and vanilla,

and then stir in the MM's, chocolate chips, flour, soda & salt until it's all just combined.

Drop them on a sheet tray and bake for 11 minutes.  They will look a bit underdone when you take them out, but they will continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet AND they will set up as they cool.


I used a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons of dough) and got about 18 cookies out of this recipe.

M&M Cookies (fluffy and puffy)
Adapted from Picky Palate

2 sticks (1 cup) butter (cold or room temp - it doesn't really matter; just don't melt it)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 T (yes, that's Tablespoon) vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups PLUS 2 T flour
6 T dry instant vanilla pudding mix
12 oz. package mini M&M's (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and both sugars until completely combined - you will have one homogeneous mixture.  Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.  Add the baking soda, salt, flour and pudding mix.  Pulse your mixer a few times until almost combined (you don't want to over-mix the dough at this point).  Add the M&M's and chocolate chips and stir together by hand.

Drop in mounds on baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  I used a medium cookie scoop, which is about 2 T dough.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 9-11 minutes.  Take them out when they look undercooked - they will continue to cook and set up as they cool.  Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer the parchment paper to a counter for the cookies to finish cooling.