TKT: Thai Red Curry with Pork and Veggies ft. ALDI products

I finally went grocery shopping last week after a three-week hiatus and a massive, nose-wrinkling refrigerator cleanout. It was so bad, a tupperware had a fork still in it and I contemplated living with an incomplete utensil set and tossing the entire thing into an incinerator. I saved the fork and am convinced the tupperware was a portal to the upside down. I’m sure the mold had a heartbeat! Anyways…

With a tiny kitchen, tiny fridge, and tiny budget, it was time to hit up my local Aldi. When I was younger, I remember being really label conscious about everything, but now I am all for whipping up some kick-ass dishes on a dime. Aldi has really expanded their organic, gluten-free, and specialty food selection, so finessing some fancy shit has been an enjoyable challenge.

For some time, I have been eyeing their sauces ($1.99): Thai red and green curries, Indian korma and masala, and Chinese stir-fry. I already have my own stir-fry sauce recipe and I need to expand my palate for Indian food past “butter chicken,” so I went for the Thai red curry sauce. It did not disappoint.

I grabbed the mini peppers, baby carrots, garlic, onion, potatoes and pork chops from Aldi too. The peas came from an uncharacteristically brief trip to the Target across the street.

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The recipe on the bottle said to use a pound of chicken, and 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I picked the pork chops because I like pork cubes in curry and I prepped way more than 1 1/2 cups. If you prefer curries more soupy, prep only a cup and a half. I packed at least 4 cups of vegetables into the curry and thought it was perfect.

Before going into how I made the curry, I just want to talk about the flavor profile of the sauce. Normal pre-made curry pastes or blocks are concentrated and a separate can of coconut milk is often added. The bottles at Aldi already have coconut milk/cream added. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the red curry, because I’ve only had yellow or brown curry before. From the bottle:

“A medium spiced sauce based on red chili puree with lemon grass, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, fenugreek and coriander. Rich and creamy from coconut crème with a touch of sweetness.”

This sauce definitely has a strong citrus flavor and bright acidity because of the lemongrass and vinegar. Medium spicy is definitely accurate, but its a plesant slow heat that builds the more you keep eating. It was definitely more citrusy than my personal taste, so I tampered mine and made it saltier using a Filipino condiment called patis. It’s made from the liquification of salted fermented fish. Sounds weird, but it’s similar to soy sauce and other southeast Asian countries have their own versions too.

After how well this turned out, I’m looking forward to trying all the other sauces. If you want to skip the scenic route, jump to the end of the post for the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 c. diced potatoes
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. thinly sliced peppers
  • 1 c. peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 lb. pork, thin cut chops
  • 1 bottle Aldi Thai Red Curry Sauce
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fermented fish sauce (optional)

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So what I did for pretty blog pic purposes was prep and arrange the ingredients in the order I’m adding them to the skillet.

  1. Red chopping board: Pressed garlic and minced onions
  2. Green chopping board: Cubed meat
  3. Blue bowls: Diced potatoes and carrots
  4. Pink bowls: Peas and julienne sweet peppers

NOTE: After making this dish, I’ve decided that the potatoes and carrots (being root hard veggies) should either be added before the meat, or par-boiled/steamed to soften them a bit. I realized my mistake and had to compensate by closely monitoring the pork  – which was thinly cut – from overcooking and being tough/chewy and praying the potatoes or carrots wouldn’t be crunchy. The official recipe below will reflect the ammended directions.

First, I poured 2 tbsp. of coconut oil to to a skillet on medium-high heat, added the  garlic and onion and sauteed until fragrant.

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Then added the pork,  potatoes, and carrots. I used salt and pepper here to season the meat and cooked it until the pork looked like it was halfway done.

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I unfortunately waited too long and the pork looked completely white on the outside, in hindsight, continue wiht the next step when the pork still looks pink.

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Then add the full bottle of sauce, peas and peppers. Mix together and cover.

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Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This is a great opportunity to cook rice to accompany the meal.

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Check to see if the carrots and peas are tender before removing from heat.

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Plate over rice and serve. OPTIONAL: Add salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce to taste.

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Thai Red Curry with Pork and Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A globally-inspired, quick and hearty meal


Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 c. diced potatoes
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. thinly sliced peppers
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 lb. pork, thin center-cut chops
  • 1 bottle Aldi Thai Red Curry Sauce
  • Coconut Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Fermented fish sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour 2 tbsp. of coconut oil to to a skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and sautee until fragrant.
  2. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add cubed pork, salt and pepper. Sautee until almost cooked.
  4. While there is still pink in the middle of the pork, add the full bottle of sauce, peas and peppers. Mix together and cover.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This is a great opportunity to cook rice to accompany the meal.
  6. Check to see if the carrots and peas are tender before removing from heat
  7. Plate over rice and serve. OPTIONAL: Add salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce to taste.

NOTES

  • You can substitute differeent vegetables, just add to the skillet in the order they need to be cooked. I would keep the amount to 4 cups.
  • You can substitute chicken, tofu, or just use vegetables. When cooking protein, add the sauce to the mixture before it is fully cooked to prevent it from being over-cooked.
  • OPTIONAL: Garnish with lime wedge and/or cilantro.

Thirsty Thursday: Lemon Ginger Toddy

Last week, at Southport Grocery & Cafe, I spotted some fancy honey in the shelves. They always have great local and artisanal products, and I like to buy something whenever I stop in for a bite. What I thought was seasonal allergies turned into a full-blown cold when the coughing set in and I was looking for a little relief.

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The weather has barely turned from summer to fall and I already have the sniffles?! But it’s cool, because on this rainy fall evening, I decideded to crack open my fancy, locally-sourced Lemon Ginger Honey by senTEAmental moods, a Chicago based tea company and make a hot toddy.

 “Fresh organic ginger, juiced lemons and all natural raw honey blended to create an ultra smooth delicious topping. Use it alone or with tea to soothe irritated throats.” – product description

“Alone or with tea…” or… with whiskey? Sounds like a good investment to me!

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While the water was heating up in the kettle, I opened up the jar and the sweet and spicy aroma immediately wafted through the kitchen. This sauce (?) is definitely packed with lemon and ginger. You can’t really see lemon rind, tiny pieces of lemon seeds and ginger pieces suspended in the jar until you’ve mixed it into the liquid and it’s melted. I’ve been keeping the jar at room-temp, so when I stirred it up, it was defintiely more liquidy than honey.

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Since I’m a lightweight, all I did was add 1.5 oz of whiskey (I used Jack Daniels Honey) to 10 oz of water and added the honey to taste. (about 2 tbsp.)

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I bough this mug in 2010 after seeing my first Sketch Review. At the time, I lived in the burbs and was trying to go into marketing. Improv classes had never crossed my mind. 

Easy Peasy Lemon (Ginger) Squeezy!

The sauce is also “Great on vegetables, toast, fish and other foods!” So I’m going to sip on this drink while I peruse pinterest for recipes.

Night!

Here’s another hot toddy recipe from my blog

 

TKT: Chipotle Chicken Sliders

There’s a menu item at the Second City where I work as a server that is only available in the UP Comedy Club and the E.T.C. stage. They are grilled chicken sliders. What makes these tiny burgers so GD tasty are sliced roasted tomatoes. These crisp, sweet and savory suckers take hours to prepare before the doors open. But if we’re lucky, there are always a few that are not presentation-worthy that we can snack on before the night begins.

Who knew oven roasted tomatoes and chipotle mayo were so easy to make and really punch up chicken sandwiches? I was craving some the other day, so I figured I’d try roasting tomatoes, whipping up some chipotle mayo and creating my own version of these sliders. For time sake, I pulled the tomatoes out sooner than I liked at 2 hours, but if I roasted them another hour – they would be dehydrated enough for the perfect amount of crunch. I also was a little too liberal with the chipotle chiles for my delicate tastebuds, so I kept adding sour cream until my mayo turned into dressing. Other than those two hiccups, these sliders turned out really well!

Roasted Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees

Slice the tomatoes about a 1/4 inch thick

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Place  tomato slices into a bowl and add olive oil and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning and mix together

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Line a baking sheet with parchament paper and place a single layer of tomatos on sheet. Sprinkle with remaining tbsp. of Italian seasoning and sprinkle salt and pepper.

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Place in top rack of the oven and roast for 3 hours

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Chipotle Mayo

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients  except chipotle chiles into a blender or food processor. Open the can of chilies and take 3 chilies out of the can and add to the ingredients. Also add a spoonful of adobo sauce to the mix. Blend.

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Scoop the sauce into an airtight conainer and refrigerate. It should keep for a week.

Slider Fixins’

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. thin-sliced chicken breast
  • 1 pkg. slider buns

DIRECTIONS

Cut the breasts into three pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Pan fry each piece. Thin cut chicken breasts cook up quickly and provide a good meat to bun ratio for sliders.

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Put together the sliders and add lettuce or other toppings like bacon or slaw!

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Chipotle Chicken Sliders

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A juicy, savory sandwich with sweet roasted tomatoes and spicy mayo


Ingredients

  • 3 roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 lb. thin-sliced chicken breast
  • 1 pkg. slider buns
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the tomatoes about a 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Place  tomato slices into a bowl and add olive oil and 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning and mix together.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchament paper and place a single layer of tomatos on sheet. Sprinkle with remaining tbsp. of Italian seasoning and sprinkle salt and pepper.
  5. Place in top rack of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
  6. Place mayo, sour cream, paprika and garlic salt into a blender or food processor. Open the can of chilies and take 3 chilies out of the can and add to the ingredients. Also add a spoonful of adobo sauce to the mix. Blend.
  7. Cut the breasts into three pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pan fry each piece.
  9. Assemble the sliders.

NOTES

  • You can add more toppings, like cheese, bacon, or even cole slaw.
  • The chipotle mayo should keep for about a week if refrigerated.

TKT: White Bean & Kale Soup

A couple weeks ago, I went to lunch with my friend Samantha and we checked out Lady Gregory in Andersonville. My teeth were sore and achy from a recent braces adjustment so soup was looking like the only edible thing on the menu. The Cavelo Nero piqued my interest.

Cavalo Nero is Italian for lacinato kale, otherwise known as dinosaur kale. To me, kale is a garnish. I’d rather eat spinach. Or pizza. Or ice-cream. But this soup was tasty and delicious enough for me to attempt to make it at home. It also is super healthy and can be made vegan or vegetarian. But I ain’t about that life, so I used chicken broth.

After poking around Pinterest, I found three recipes I used as inspiration for my version.

The White Bean and Kale soup on Culinaryhill.com provided the base of my recipe. Meggan’s version gave me a general idea of basic ingredients and how to assemble the soup. This version also used mashed beans in order to thicken the soup without the use of a roux.

Forkknifeswoon.com’s Lemony Kale and White Bean soup gave me ideas for the types of herbs and spices I could use to add flavor to the base. Sidebar: what is up with the price of lemons and avocados right now? A regular size lemon was $1.25 the last time I went to the grocery store and a haas avocado is $1.99!

And finally, I came across a recipe for White Bean Puttanesca at andiemitchell.com. This recipe gave me a sense of other vegetables and ingredients that could pair well with the kale and beans.

Before I delve into the details, I’m just going to say that even though this soup turned out really flavorful and delicious, it is hella cruciferous…translation: bloat and gas city, baby. Maybe if I knew more about kale and trendy health food in general, I would have known that 1 cup of torn kale leaves was enough for the soup, and not “enhance” the recipe by adding 3 more cups. The recipe has been adjusted accordingly, lol.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cans canelli beans (other beans work as well), drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can Tomato, Okra, Corn medley (found at Aldi) or can mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup kale, torn
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 boullion cube
  • garlic bread

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DIRECTIONS:

Dice the onion.

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Take one can of beans, mash it and set aside.

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Tear and rinse the kale pieces. Open the canned pantry items.

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Heat the olive oil into the bottom of a stock pot and add the onions. Cook until almost translucent. Add the butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions have browned.

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Add the broth, one can of water, boullion cube, mashed beans, and canned vegetables.

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Bring to a boil and stir in the kale.

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Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Prepare and bake the garlic bread. Serve soup with garlic or any crusty bread.

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White Bean & Kale Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy, meatless option, full of protien and fiber...if you're into stuff like that.


Ingredients

  • 2 cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cans canelli beans (other beans work as well), drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can Tomato, Okra, Corn medley (found at Aldi) or can mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup kale, torn
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 boullion cube
  • garlic bread

Directions

  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Take one can of beans, mash it and set aside.
  3. Tear and rinse the kale pieces. Open the canned pantry items.
  4. Heat the olive oil into the bottom of a stock pot and add the onions. Cook until almost translucent.
  5. Add the butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the onions have browned.
  6. Add the broth, one can of water, boullion cube, mashed beans, and canned vegetables.
  7. Bring to a boil and stir in the kale.
  8. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Prepare and bake the garlic bread.
  10. Serve soup with garlic or any crusty bread.

NOTES


Thirsty Thursday: Coco Lime Spritzer

A couple weeks ago, I spent the afternoon at the Randolph Street Market. Most everything is entirely out of my price range, but it’s a great place to peruse some vintage merch and find some really cool knick knacks. By the food trucks was a promotional tent for White Claw Hard Seltzer. I recently hopped onto the carbonated water trend. I don’t know how or why it happened, but soda water with a splash of lime has been tasting pretty damn refreshing lately. I’m not obsessed with la croix  – yet – but White Claw tasted really good! Their rep had mentioned that they could be found at Target and other grocery stores. Fast forward a few days later and I saw Truly Spiked & Sparkling at the grocery store in a variety pack. Did I remember the correct brand from Randolph Street? Clearly, I didn’t. But I decided to impulse buy this 12 pk with three flavors: Pomogranate, Grapefruit and Pomelo, and Colima Lime ($8.99).  It’s also just 100 calories, 5% abv and 2 grams of carbs!

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I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with cocktail that weren’t overly-boozy and here is the first one! Alcohol-infused fruit is good (and good for you?)…right? RIGHT! So at the grocery store, I picked up some pre-cut pineapple. I cut it into smaller chunks and transferred it into a jar full of Malibu Coconut Rum.

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I let the fruit soak for a few hours before assembling the drink.

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Just toss the pineapple chunks and about an ounce of the infused Malibu rum into a glass. Add ice and fill to the top with the Colima Lime Spiked & Sparkling Seltzer.

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This slightly sweet and über refreshing drink pairs great with spicy food, like chipotle chicken  with roasted tomato sliders. Pop a chunk of pineapple in your mouth between bites fore a sweet palate cleanser.

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BOTTOMS UP!

Coco Lime Spritzer

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A sweet, bubbly, and refreshing cocktail


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1 8 oz Malibu, or any other coconut flavored rum
  • 1 12 oz can of Lime flavored Truly Spiked & Sparkling Hard Seltzer
  • Ice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut pineapple into 1/2 in. chunks and place in a container.
  2. Fill container with Malibu or coconut rum and seal. Place in a sunny location or you can also refrigerate for a few hours.
  3. Add desired amount of pineapple chunks to a glass. I used a rocks glass.
  4. Add an ounce of the infused rum to the glass.
  5. Add ice and fill to the top of glass with Spiked Seltzer.

DIY: No Sew Clutter Covers

When I moved to Chicago in 2014, I had to fit about 800 sq. feet of furniture and belongings into roughly 450 sq. feet. My galley kitchen seriously lacks counter space, so I IKEA hacked two lack side tables  I already owned and other hardware into a kitchen island. The tutorial for that DIY project is one of my first blog posts.

Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island

If you went to Ikea now and bought everything, it would be $45

Over the years, the cart has become a bit of an eyesore – overwhelmed with pantry items and kitchen gadgets.

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I bought an extra damaged Lack table a few months later and used it to make another shelf.

Lately, I’ve been on a purge and organize kick and figured out a super-simple way to cover the clutter using tension rods, safety pins, and dinner napkins.

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Tension rods are the shit. I have used them all over my apartment to create vertical space, hang decorations, and organize belongings. I usually buy tension rods at my local Target, but the length I needed (18″-28″) had been out of stock for sometime. Luckily, I found the length I needed at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a few dollars less.

In my many trips to Target hoping to find the tension rods I needed, I also scoped out their home textile section. Although I like sewing things, I guesstimated that dinner napkins would have the same dimensions as the openings on my kitchen island. The plus-side to this is that I didn’t have to cut fabric and the edges were already hemmed and finished! These dinner napkins matched the color scheme  of my kitchen (turquoise and red) and provided a colorful ombré effect.

After measuring the height of the opening, I folded the napkin over and pinned it about 1.5 inches from the edge. Using the pattern on the napkins as a guide, I pinned across every 2-3 inches to create an enclosed tube for the rod to fit through. I repeated it for all four of the napkins and ironed out the creases.

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The last step was adjusting the length of the rods to about half an inch past the desired length to create enough tension for the spring to keep the rod in place.

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Here are the rods in place before I hung the napkins on them.

Then I just threaded the rod through the napkin and hung the rods/napkins up in each of the exposed sides of the cart. I can either lift the flap up to grab something, or push it to the side to see more.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, or want more options when it comes to the look of the covers, buying the fabric and sewing a straight seam across is also an easy and simple option. It may also be a little more cost-effective if you find a good deal on fabric. By using safety pins, I also retain the ability to wash them and reuse them as actual dinner napkins if I ever feel like changing the fabric in the future.

All in all, this DIY cost about $28. I bought four tension rods at $4.99/each and the dinner napkins cost $6.08 for a set of four.

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I bought the dishtowel from Crate & Barrel. The plastic bag holder and crochet dish rags are both handmade. Tutorials are in the works.

 

TKT: Fresh Tomato Pasta w/Shrimp & Asparagus

Thank you, Martha Stewart, for putting together a dummy-proof recipe that’s versatile and yummy! It’s time for another Tiny Kitchen Tutorial…

As a server at the Second City, the catered events leftovers are LEGIT. A couple weeks ago, they hosted an event that had some leftover marinated veggie trays. I’m talkin’ asparagus. I’m talkin’ roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. I’m talkin’ about the components for a bomb-ass primavera pasta…that got thrown away before I could wrap some up to take home. Yearning for what could have been led me to just sucking it up and buying the ingredients and doing a little research to make this pasta a pastability. See what I did there? What’s that? Shut up and just get on with the recipe? You got it.

What’s great about this recipe is that you can cook the tomato and herb pasta separately from what you put on top. I had a hankering for shrimp and asparagus. But you could easily switch it up with balsamic chicken and mushrooms or  lemon chicken with capers. I made just enough shrimp and asparagus for two servings. There is still pasta left in the fridge and will probably cook up some chicken to eat with the rest of it.

I also got to break in my newest kitchen gadget, one of those rotary cheese graters you see at Italian restaurants, and it is EVERYTHING. I impulse bought mine at Marshalls for five bucks, but it’s also on Amazon.

Keep reading to see the food-porn, but if you want to skip the foreplay, then scroll to the bottom for the printable recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. tomatoes at room temperature, preferably plum
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for cooking and drizzling
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning to taste (optional)
  • Grated parmesan (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Start boiling water for the pasta and add salt to taste. Cook pasta according to directions.
Chop up the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

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Mix in a bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. By the way, how cute are these mixing bowls? I only have two to eat out of that I am deathly afraid of breaking because they are so pretty, so when I saw these blue ones and salmon colored ones at Target on sale, I had to buy them. Thank God all the college kids didn’t snap these up. I bought 2 sets for, like $2/each. I will be cooking with them as well as eating cereal and ice-cream out of them too.

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Cut the asparagus stalks to 1.5-2 inch pieces and set aside. Prepare the shrimp. I just defrost frozen raw shrimp and take off the tails. If the shrimp is fresh, peel and devein. Set aside. Add 1 tbsp. oil to a heated skillet and add the asparagus. I used to work for a chef that made a shrimp diavolo pasta that was awesome, but guests would complain that he left the tails on. Don’t get that guy started on how much flavor is wasted when you don’t cook the shells! For this particular tutorial, I took the tail shell off. But next time, I’ll leave them on.

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After a few minutes, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done.  Shrimp cooks up fast and can be prone to being overcooked and rubbery. I will spend the next few minutes watching the shrimp until it just turns from translucent to opaque and have it pink up a little bit before taking it off the heat. The shrimp will keep cooking in the residual heat, and won’t get rubbery or shrink up. Optional: Add lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning.

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Hopefully, the water has started to boil and the pasta is close to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Fold in the tomato mixture.

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Plate the pasta and add the shrimp/asparagus mixture on top.

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Add grated parmesan  and enjoy 🙂

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Fresh Tomato Pasta w/Shrimp and Asparagus

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light tomato based dish with endless pastabilities


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. tomatoes at room temperature, preferably plum
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for cooking and drizzling
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon zest to taste (optional)
  • Grated parmesan (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start boiling water for the pasta and add salt to taste. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Chop up the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. Mix in a bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Cut the asparagus stalks to 1.5-2 inch pieces and set aside.
  4. Prepare the shrimp. I just defrost frozen raw shrimp and take off the tails. If the shrimp is fresh, peel and devein. Set aside.
  5. Add 1 tbsp. oil to a heated skillet and add the asparagus.
  6. After a few minutes, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done. Optional: add lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning.
  7. Hopefully, the water has started to boil and the pasta is close to al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  8. Fold in the tomato mixture.
  9. Plate the pasta and add the lemon/asparagus mixture on top. Add grated parmesan on top and enjoy 🙂

NOTES

  • The pasta mix should keep in the refrigerator for a few days if you want to reheat it with new toppings. It also tastes good as a cold pasta salad!
  • This recipe can be easily divided or doubled based on how many you’re trying to feed.
  • CREDIT:http://www.marthastewart.com/904229/pasta-fresh-tomato-sauce

TKT: Mini Chicken Pot Pie

Damn. This is my first post in almost two years, and it’s my first recipe and attempt at embedding a recipe using HTML codes and shtuff! Thanks for checking this recipe out and hopefully (re)visiting my blog. I plan to post a TKT (Tiny Kitchen Tutorial) every week and I hope you come back soon 🙂

If you want to skip the step-by-step with photos, a printable version is available below.

The first time I made these babies was in 2013. I had just discovered Pinterest and had gotten my apartment in the suburbs juuuuust clean enough to have people over. Through the years, I’ve made them for parties, potlucks, dinner-dates, and weekly meal-preps. They are good to snack on by themselves, but pair with some mac ‘n cheese, roasted potatoes, or mashed potatoes, and dinner is served! The recipe below is the latest incarnation and it’s the best version to date!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. chicken (white or dark meat, your preference)
  •  3 celery ribs
  •  1 small onion, diced
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1 tbsp. olive oil
  •  1 pkg. mixed frozen vegetables
    (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
  •  1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  •  2 pkg. refrigerated biscuit dough (10 biscuits)
  •  Salt and Pepper, to taste
  •  Shredded Cheese (optional)
  •  Dried Parsley (optional)
  •  Garlic Salt (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to the biscuit dough specifications. Dice the celery and onion and set aside and chop the raw chicken into medium-sized chunks. I’ve tried various ways of pre-cooking the chicken for this recipe (boiling and shredding, boiling and cubing, baking/roasting whole breasts before shredding or cubing, rotissere chicken). Cutting it raw before cooking helps the chicken cook faster and more uniformly, and I can tell that the chunks are cooked because I can see the pink fade from more pieces. I also avoid burning my fingers trying to cut hot chicken or spending a long time shredding it. This particular batch was made with two chicken breasts, but I have also used chicken thighs and chicken tenderloins.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-1
Heat a large skillet and add the oil and garlic. Sauté the garlic for about 3o seconds to infuse the oil. Add the chicken, salt and pepper and cook until chunks are about half-done. Add the diced onion and celery and cook until the chicken is cooked through and turn off heat. Usually when sautéeing, onions and garlic are added before veggies and protien. However, my thought process in adding the celery and onion after the chicken is to retain some texture and crunch, since the rest of the vegetables are soft. Not waiting until the chicken is fully cooked before adding vegetables also ensures that I don’t overcook and dry out the chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-3Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-2

It’s a good idea to have the bag of mixed veggies thawing on the counter while you are cutting the fresh vegetables and the chicken. If you add the veggies straight out of the freezer, the extra ice stuck to the vegetables will make the chicken mixture too watery. The recipe from Cambellkitchen.com called for two cans of soup, which is why there were two in the picture, however after adding the first can, one was definitely enough.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-5Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-4

Add the can of condensed soup (do not add water) and the bag of frozen vegetables to the chicken/veggies and mix until evenly combined.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-7Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-6

Open the biscuit dough and place a biscuit in each of the cups in a 12 ct. non-stick muffin tin. You don’t have to grease the pan. The butter or lard in the biscuit dough should be enough to keep it from sticking. The biscuit dough I used from Aldi didn’t rise higher as much as it baked wider, pushing the filling to the top. Different types of biscuit dough may will yield different results.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-8

Press the dough flat against the bottom and half-way up the sides to make the crusts. Not greasing the pan also helps the dough stick to the sides instead of shrinking back down to the bottom.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-9
Scoop the chicken mix into the center of each cup making sure the sides of the biscuit are not covered. I used a heaping tablespoon for each cup and slowly let it drop in the middle and spread out. Once the first scoop is in and not touching the sides, then you can add more filling without blocking the biscuit’s ability to rise and form the side crust.

Sprinkle shredded cheese over each pot-pie. This is an optional step. Adding cheese helps the filling to stick together at the top, which keeps it from falling out when you remove the pies from the tin after they are done baking. I had two types of shredded cheese on hand: taco-style and italian-style. I wasn’t sure how they would fit in the American Comfort-food flavor profile, but when it’s melted, it didn’t matter at all.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-10

Bake the pies according to biscuit dough instructions. Remove the pies from the oven and onto a cooling rack. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining filling and biscuits.

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-11

Plate and sprinkle parsley and/or garlic salt and serve. It’s yum yum in the tum tum! #justsayin

Chicken Pot Pie Tutorial v1-16

Leftovers keep very well in the refrigerator for 5 days. The moisture of the chicken mix keeps the biscuit from drying out. Extra filling can also keep in the fridge if you make ahead of time, or run out of biscuits! I have not tried freezing the filling.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Major flavor and savory goodness. Itty-bitty packaging. Serve a bunch for parties, or pack a few for lunch.


Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken (white or dark meat, your preference)
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pkg. mixed frozen vegetables
  • (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 2 pkg. refrigerated biscuit dough (10 biscuits)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Shredded Cheese (optional)
  • Dried Parsley (optional)
  • Garlic Salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to the biscuit dough specifications
  2. Dice the celery and onion and set aside
  3. Chop the raw chicken into medium-sized chunks
  4. Heat a large skillet and add the oil and garlic. Sauté the garlic for about 3o seconds to infuse the oil.
  5. Add the chicken, salt and pepper and cook until chunks are about half-done
  6. Add the diced onion and celery and cook until the chicken is cooked through and turn off heat.
  7. Add the can of condensed soup (do not add water) and the bag of frozen vegetables to the chicken/veggies and mix until evenly combined.
  8. Open the biscuit dough and place a biscuit in each of the cups in a 12 ct. non-stick muffin tin (NOTE: do not grease the pan)
  9. Press the dough flat against the bottom and half-way up the sides to make the crusts.
  10. Scoop the chicken mix into the center of each cup making sure the sides of the biscuit are not covered.
  11. Sprinkle shredded cheese over each pot-pie. (NOTE: Optional)
  12. Bake the pies according to biscuit dough instructions
  13. Remove the pies from the oven and onto a cooling rack. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining filling and biscuits.
  14. Plate and sprinkle parsley and/or garlic salt and serve

NOTES


 

Thirsty Thursday: Spicy Hot Toddy

Classic Hot Toddy

The classic Hot Toddy has spawned tons of yummy variations

Many people sip on hot toddies as a boozy way to soothe sore throats and kick coughs to the curb. I don’t care what anyone says, the flu shot has worked for me this year. (Knock on wood.) so I decided to whip one up because it’s a warm and cozy solution to coping with chilly weather –  and intermittent radiator heat.

The classic recipe is simple and straight-forward:

  • 2 oz bourbon or whiskey
  • Hot water
  • 4-6 cloves
  • lemon wedge or twist
  • brown sugar or honey
  1. Warm a mug (or Irish coffee mug if you’re fancy) with hot water for a couple minutes
  2. Dump the water out and add your sweetener of choice (sugar or honey), cloves, lemon and boiling water
  3. After the sugar dissolves and the cloves and lemon have steeped for a little bit, add your booze, stir and enjoy.

A simple google or Pinterest search showcases sooooo many different variations! I spotted anise seeds, cinnamon , chai, rum, ginger, cranberries, tumeric and even sriracha in various ingredient lists. It’s a lot to take in, so I just decided to wing it with whatever I had accessible.

 

The first time I had Fireball was at Trace in Wrigleyville. It was 3 a.m.  There are already so many things wrong with this situation.

The first time I had Fireball was at Trace in Wrigleyville. It was 3 a.m and seemed like a really good idea at the time…

Unless I’m baking, I don’t really measure anything. So all these measurements are pretty arbitrary. Add more or less of anything or just nuke the booze and take a swig straight out the bottle. I’ll cringe, but I won’t judge.

  • 1 oz Fireball Whiskey
  • 5 oz Hot water
  • 1 tsp Chai Tea (this is loose tea from Teavanna)
  • Dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • lemon slice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Steep the Chai in the water to desired strength
  2. Stir in the pumpkin pie spice and whiskey
  3. Add lemon juice/zest

Dunzo!

Lemon twists make drinks look fancy

Lemon twists make drinks look fancy

 

Thirsty Thursday: Bar Cart Makeover

What apartment is complete without a bar cart or liquor cabinet? As a former bartender, I’ve amassed a decent-sized collection of booze and barware.  So figuring out how to store it on the cheap was at the top of my apartment to-do list. It’s been eight months and I still don’t have a bed – but I do have a bar cart. Priorities. Am I right?

Hollywood Recency Bar Cart

I originally thought the bar cart could double as a side table. Turns out I needed way more room for my booze.

This is not a picture of the one I own. Vintage Hollywood regency bar carts are ‘spensive. Like hundreds of dollars expensive. New ones and reproductions are around the same price or a little less, but I was really jonsing for an authentic vintage piece. Luckily, I found this one at Affordable Antiques in Naperville.

FullSizeRender

Harvest gold is so hot right now

 

Pretty swank, right?

Pretty swank, right?

I had seen it previously going for $60, but the antique dealer was closing up shop and slashed prices. I picked this gem up for $20. It’s more arts and crafts than hollywood regency, but with a little elbow grease and paint, I am definitely happy with the results.

First, the floral motif had to go. Unfortunately, the adhesive from the laminate left some residue that was hard to sand off. Lame.

image2

Annie Sloan chalk paint is amazing. It primes, paints and dries to a soft matte vintage finish. It’s a little pricey ($12.95/4 oz sample), but a little goes a long way. I’d write out instructions, but I literally watched a youtube tutorial, cracked open the jar and started painting. I wanted to keep the brass accents (screws and casters), so I just taped off part of the cart, put on two coats and buffed-in the wax.

image4

I also decided not to paint the bottom shelf and sanded away some of the paint at joints and around edges to keep some of the original wood exposed. Unfortunately, the top of the cart was still super bumpy and I didn’t feel like adding a layer of epoxy to the top of the cart, so I just put a sheet of Paper Source wrapping paper on the top as a quick and interchangeable fix.

image6

 

Finally, I picked up a wine rack from Goodwill for a couple dollars and a wine glass rack from IKEA.

IMG_2362

 

Here’s what my bar cart looks like now!

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In all, I think this project cost about $40. Not too shabby!

Here are just a few helpful links if you’re looking for more inspiration.

http://www.anniesloan.com/ 

5 ways to build a bar cart – from Bob Vila’s website…so you know this is legit.

14 bar cart designs and makeovers – Here are some more before/afters

Industrial Inspired cart for $40 – cool weekend project/guy gift from Premier

Man, writing this post made me thirsty! And it’s so cold outside. Hot toddy time!