Unauthentic Shrimp Pad Thai

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: February 2011, Main Course, Seafood Dishes

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I am the first to admit I have not had the real thing. I have never ordered Pad Thai from a restaurant so I really have nothing to compare this to. I have no idea what veggies are in an “authentic” Pad Thai, I just looked at the picture on the package and copied it and then added a few of my own choices. Thats what cooking is to me. Taking an idea and expanding on it to suit my tastes. If there are any Thai people out there in cyber land reading this I apologize. #1 for bastardizing the recipe and #2 using Pad Thai seasoning from a package. I know…blasphemy. Meh, what can I say, i’m a caucasian.

What you’ll need:

Pad Thai seasoning

Oil

1 egg

vegetables, julienned ( I used red, yellow and green pepper, bean sprouts, green onion and mushrooms)

protein ( I used shrimp but I hear chicken is really yummy in Pad Thai too!)

lime

fresh cilantro

rice noodles

First we must prepare our protein. If its chicken, slice it. Wow that would have been WAAAAAY easier. Instead I chose shrimp. Usually I buy the shelled, deveined type but the shell-on version was on sale….HALF PRICE! I figured the extra work was worth the savings.

Remove the shells from the shrimp and run a knife on the underside of the shrimp to remove the vein. This is a necessary step. You do not want to eat the vein. This is the shrimps poop shoot…the digestive tract and since shrimp are bottom feeders (they eat dirt) not removing the vein could cause you to bite into a gritty shrimpy. eww. I deveined 40 shrimp in about 10 minutes. Its fast and simple.

This was not a necessary step but I added some seasoning to the shrimp…Jamaican all-purpose seasoning. Its just garlic salt and black pepper (with a little cane sugar too). You can season your shrimp if you want to too….it made them super yummy!

Before you start stir frying, cook your noodles according to the package. I bought 3mm noodles so after the water started to boil it only took 2 minutes for them to cook. Drain and set aside. Best to have these all ready before you begin.

Cook your shrimp in 2 Tbsps of oil. Make sure the pan is sizzling hot. Reduce heat to medium. Only cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes. Just until they are no longer grey in color but pink instead. They are going to continue to cook with the veggies and you do not want to overcook your shrimp or they will become tough.

Push the shrimp off to the side of the pan and add your egg to the center.

Scramble.

Add your veggies. The densest vegetables first, the ones that take longer to cook. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables (except the green onion). Cover and cook 2-3 minutes.

Once the vegetables have softened, add the seasoning (and 1/2 cup water) and the pre-cooked noodles. You can now add the green onion too.

Cover and cook a few more minutes.  Add to plate and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime over the Pad Thai just before eating.

I have no idea if this is even close to how “real” Pad Thai should taste….all I know is that it is DAMN good and I can’t wait for leftovers at lunch tomorrow! And it LOOKS pretty too!

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Jamaican “Broke-down” Chicken

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Chicken Dishes, February 2011, Main Course

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Its a snow day here in Quispamsis…almost 2ft of snow dropped in overnight and I am avoiding the inevitable 2 hour workout called SHOVELING! I am daydreaming of my favorite island and missing the sun, the sand, my friends….

Thought i’d write about 1 of the few Jamaican dishes I can cook well, from the cozy comfort of my couch and blankie while looking at this through the window.

Sure makes me long for island life. Nothing to stress about besides what kind of frou-frou drink to consume in large quantities that day.

In May of 2010 I had a friend come visit me from Ontario. She had lived in Jamaica for a few years and we shared the same love of the island. We were both on the island at the same time the previous November and had some great adventures. When she came to visit she showed me how to make a chicken dish with simple ingredients. She called it “Pan fried chicken, cooked down”. Well apparently that was wAAAAAy to difficult for me to remember and I kept calling it “Broke-down chicken”. In my world, that is now its name.

You start with chicken. I prefer boneless, skinless chicken but you could use anything.

Marinate the chicken in spices for a few hours. I use Jamaican all-purpose seasoning, a few red chili flakes and an epicure spice called Southwestern seasoning mix. You can pick your favorites but be sure to include black pepper, garlic salt or powder. These are the base in the Jamaican all purpose spice…it also has some cane sugar and rice flour but use whatever you like. Its just to give the chicken a little more flavor. Dust the chicken on both sides with your spices.

After a few hours the chicken has time to soak up some flavor, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a hot pan and sear the chicken on both sides. You just want to brown the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add to the pan 1 julienned green pepper, 1 small julienned sweet onion and 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes.

Let this cook down until the veggies are soft  and the tomatoes are stewed.

Now its time to add some heat. Jamaicans eat a lot of Scotch Bonnet peppers. In North America we are more likely to be able to procure another member of the same pepper species, a Habanero pepper. They are cousins, same heat level and flavor, same thin, waxy flesh, same size and general shape. They are one of the hottest peppers around and rank a 9 out of 10 on the heat scale. Use whatever you are comfortable with. Sometimes its hard to get a hold of a Habenero so you could use a Jalapeno….they are everywhere. I would use at least half of a Jalapeno….i use 1/4 of the Habenero and its less than half the size of a Jalapeno! Dice up the hot pepper nice and small. You don’t want to get a big hunk of habenero pepper in a mouthful, it would blow off the top of your head! Dicing it small reduces your risk of popping off your head by 83%.

One good trick taught to me….if you taste the almost finished dish and you find you’ve added TOO much hot pepper, wash and peel a potato and half it and add it to the cooking dish. The raw potato will soak up the spice. Keep tasting it until it reaches your desired spice level and remove and discard the potato!

Add your hot pepper to the stewing veggies and chicken.

Now add 1-1 1/2 cups of water.

Turn up the heat to med-high and bring to a boil. Keep adding water as it boils off until you get a thickened mixture.

Add a tablespoon of Ketchup and a little browning (Kitchen Bouquet). I usually taste it now and see if I need more spices….more all-purpose seasoning….a little salt and pepper….

Once it is thickened and spiced to your liking you can serve it on Rice and Peas (a Jamaican staple that I have yet to perfect!)

Made by my friend Salla in JA

or you can serve it on plain white rice (my favorite is fluffy, buttered basmati rice)

A yummy, spicy chicken dish to warm you up from the inside. A perfect meal for a cold, snowy day like today.

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

A special thank you to Niina who taught me how to make this Jamaican dish that is now a favorite in our regular rotation!

Pendiente Mejicana Fresca (Fresh Mexican Dip)!!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Appetizers, February 2011

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That’s all I have for you in Spanish and even for THAT I needed an online English to Spanish translator. The only other words I know in Spanish are cerveza, bano and “no no quiero ver su pene”. All are very useful when in Mexico.

The only other advice I can give for when in Mexico is tequila is a drug and sombreros are not attractive on anyone.

Not sure when I got this recipe or from whom but I have been making it for at LEAST 10 years and can probably attribute 10 pounds to it. I love it. Brendan loves it…although I never told him it has crab meat in it and he is none the wiser for it. You can leave the crab meat out if you want (or if you have an allergy) but it adds a slight briney flavor that leaves the dip lacking if left out.

What you’ll need is:

1 block of cream cheese

1/2 cup of sour cream

1/2 cup of mayonnaise (REAL mayo…NOT miracle whip)

1 can of crab salad meat or chunk crab meat

veggies like green pepper, red pepper, tomatoes, green onion, diced very small

salsa

cheddar cheese

Start by combining cream cheese, sour cream and mayo in Kitchen Aid

If you have crab salad meat, drain and add to bowl. If you have chunk crab meat you need to flake it first in a food processor. Either or, make sure to drain VERY well….squeeze as much liquid out as you possibly can or its going to make the dip too salty and too runny!

THEN add it to the bowl.

Blend together and spread in the bottom of either 1 large 8×8 pan, 4 small square Ziploc containers or 8 small snack sized containers.

Add your salsa. Fresh made is best (see previous post on B@#chin Salsa) or you can use your favorite jarred salsa instead.

Add your choice of chopped veggies. I like green pepper and tomatoes.

Top with shredded cheese.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating to allow the cream cheese base to set and firm back up a little. I only make it in one pan when I am taking it to a party otherwise I use multiple smaller containers. It stops me from eating too much in one sitting!!! 😀

Enjoy! and be careful….its addictive!!!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Quispam Cheese Steak (sure ain’t from Philly)

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beef Dishes, February 2011, Main Course

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I have to start by saying I have never been to Philly and I have never had a “REAL” cheese steak….this is my version of one. I needed to add that disclaimer so no one crucifys me!

I wasn’t sure, other than BEEF, what type of meat needed to be used. I once tried replicating a cheese steak using deli sliced roast beef. That didn’t work. It was just a warm roast beef sandwich.

So before heading out to the grocery store I used the modern day encyclopedia, Google. After perusing 15+ sites where people vehemently argued about REAL Philly cheesesteaks (which apparently can only be found if you are within 1 hours driving distance from South Philly) I realized I was only going to be able to make a poor substitution. I still wanted to get the meat part right.

Most sites said thinly sliced rib-eye, strip loin or eye of round are best suited for a cheese steak sandwich. As luck would have it there is a sale on this week at The SuperStore on eye of round roasts!!! YAY!!! I found an entire roast for $4 and had Mr. Butcher slice it up for me. SOOOO much better than paying $15-20 for a few slices of rib-eye. The only problem with eye of round is that its not as tender so I marinated it for an hour before cooking. Found a $0.99 packet of beef marinade at the grocery store and it was right within my price range! 🙂

Get your hoagies ready. Slice halfway through the bun and spread some garlic butter on. 3  minutes in an oven at 450 degrees just makes it all toasty, add some Provolone cheese and allow cheese to melt. Remove from oven.

Add 2 Tbsps oil to a frying pan. You’ll know when the oil is hot enough if you drop a bead of water in an it pops and sizzles. Add julienned onions and green peppers.

Saute until onions are transluscent. Remove from pan and add beef.

Cook beef a couple of minutes on each side for medium. Longer if you prefer your beef like shoe leather. 😛

Add the peppers and onions back to pan. Put meat mixture into hoagie and serve!

I found without slicing the beef after cooking it was to difficult to eat. So for the second sandwich just before putting the onions and peppers back in the pan I removed the beef and sliced it in strips. THEN put it back into the pan and added the pepper mixture and it was AMAZING!

I added a few dollops of Miracle Whip to the top and it was to die for.

Simple recipe, good fresh ingredients…easy for anyone to make.  Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher to slice up the meat for you. If that isn’t an option for you a good trick is to put your meat in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing. It makes it easier to slice nice and thin.

Enjoy!!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny, Little Individual Peach Upside Down cakes!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Desserts, February 2011

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Since The Food Network seems to be in at my house 24/7 I happened to watch a show I have never caught before, “Good Eats”. Alton Brown is a bit of an odd bird.  He seems to be obsessed with peaches….at least he was on that episode.

Bizarre side note: Dreaming about peaches implies the sickness of children or disappointing returns in business. Dreams of dried peaches means your enemies will steal from you.

I had a dream last night I was riding a burrow down the streets of Quispamsis. Wonder what that means? I digress.

So anyway, on this episode Mr Brown was making little mini individual upside down cakes and they looked divine so I decided to follow his recipe.

First off you need to remove the skin from the peaches. The easiest way to do that is by blanching.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Reduce heat and drop in peaches for 30 seconds. Transfer peaches to a bowl with ice cold water and shock for another 30 seconds.

Now with a piece of paper towel you can just wipe the skin off….easy peasy!

Now we are ready to make some cake!

What you will need:

3 Tbsps unsalted butter, divided into 4 (I didn’t have unsalted so I used salted!)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 medium peaches, sliced

3 Tbsps  finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide 2 tablespoons of the butter between 4  ramekins. I  had 7oz ones and they worked just fine.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside. Evenly divide the brown sugar between the ramekins, sprinkling it into the bottoms of the dishes.

Slice each peach into 12 to 14 pieces. Lay the peaches on top of the sugar; evenly dividing them between the dishes and sprinkle with the ginger.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla and the remaining 1 Tbsp of melted butter. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined (about 10 stirs). Its ok if its still a little lumpy. You don’t want to overmix or the batter will get tough.

Pour the batter over the peaches; dividing the mixture evenly between the dishes.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. I turned the broiler on for a few seconds at the end of baking just to brown the top because it was looking a little pale.

Remove from the oven to a rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each dish and turn upside down onto a serving plate. Repeat with each cake. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

That one was eaten straight out of the oven….still all warm and melty! It was sooooooo yummy!

Later that evening, after supper, I had Upside Down Cake version 2.0

and it was JUST as good.

Enjoy

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Ravioli-OOOOOO!!!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: February 2011, Main Course

Ravioli is a pretty cool food. You have pasta (and who doesn’t like pasta!!), you shove stuff in it…cheese, meat, vegetables, you smother it in a sauce of your choice and there you go, you have supper. Chef Boyardee makes it look so simple. Hell, he makes a billion cans of it a day, how hard can it be?

Its really not that difficult as long as you don’t make the mistake I made. First off I didn’t follow any type of a recipe.  That wasn’t the bad part but HAD I followed a recipe I could have avoided my error.

I made homemade pasta with my food processor and my Shulle pasta machine. As I was rolling out the dough one ball at a time (6 balls in total) and running it through the machine I allowed the remaining balls to rest on the counter. As I finished each sheet I layed it over the chair backs in the dining room.

DON’T DO THIS!! 🙂

This is ok if you are then going to cut into noodles but if the sheets dry it makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE to get the 2 sheets to stick together for ravioli. The re-hydration process was a near disaster! Running fresh made, dried pasta under water makes it a little goopy. Not as pretty as I had hoped. Next time I will Saran Wrap the balls that are waiting and after each run through the pasta machine I will make the ravioli! No more hanging to dry. Dry = BAD!

I wanted a vegetarian dish to add to my repertoire since I don’t really have any but my son, Brendan, wanted meat in his so I ended up making 2 batches of ravioli filling.

For my filling I used:

1 cup of ricotta cheese, drained

1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, powdered in a can eg. Kraft

1 10oz pkg of frozen spinach, drained and chopped

1 egg yolk

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

The meaty one was similar….

1 cup of Ground beef, cooked and drained

3 Tbsps cooked, diced onion

1/2 tsp garlic, minced

3 Tbsps chopped frozen spinach, drained

1 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, powdered in a can eg. Kraft

1 egg

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp parsley

Mix each filling in its separate bowls and place a small, meatball sized dollop in the center of the sheet of pasta in a straight line.

Take a pastry or BBQ brush and brush egg white (or water) around each ball. Take a second sheet of pasta and place over the top of the first one. Push the pasta down gently around each ball of filling , removing all air between each sheet and sealing the two together. Cut with a knife into squares or use a small round cookie cutter.

Boil in salted water for 12-15 minutes.

Serve with your choice of sauce.

I have a very simple, fresh tasting, basic tomato sauce that I will include.

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small sweet onion, diced

1 Tbsp dried basil or fresh in a tube (or 10 fresh leaves)

2 Tbsps Olive Oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan add Olive Oil on med-high heat. Saute onion until translucent, reduce heat and add garlic. Saute for 1 minute but be careful not to burn the garlic or it will become bitter.

Add tomatoes and basil and simmer for 30 minutes to 4 hours. The longer it simmers the more the flavors will blend.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

You could eat it just like this, a little chunky, but I then place it in a blender and blend until smooth.


Smother sauce on top of ravioli. Add more Parm cheese and some parsley flakes.

If you have never had fresh ravioli there is just no comparison. Brendan said “MOM, this is the BEST ravioli I have ever HAD!!!”

I should hope so, move over Chef Boyardee…there is a NEW chef in town!

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick