Tags: Chicken Breasts, Chicken Fingers, Chile Garlic Sauce, Cilantro, coconut, cooking, Dessicated Coconut, garlic, Ginger, Greek Yogurt, Lime, Panko, Soy Sauce
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Edesia’s Notebook (love the name) authored and photographed by Lesa. For the first time since I joined, I didn’t have the urge to grab some gorgeous dessert, which Lesa has plenty of, and play with it. Instead, the same thought kept going through my head.
You don’t often see posts where I just make dinner, nothing fancy, nothing outrageous, nothing you would only make for a special occasion. It’s not that I don’t have a decent amount of simple recipes, but I just felt the need to cook dinner and blog it. I chose her Crunchy Lemon Chicken.
Of course, I ended up futzing with it, because I truly believe it’s nearly impossible for me not to futz with recipes. I cut each breast into strips, used limes instead of lemons, added soy sauce and garlic to the marinade, threw in dessicated coconut with the panko bread crumbs and whole eggs plus coconut water in the breading station, plus a few other minor alterations, like the baking time and temperature.
Otherwise, it’s just dinner, and it was delicious. I think these are the crunchiest, most delicious chicken fingers I’ve ever had. Kids would go nuts over these. Just my completely unbiased opinion.
I also made a dip to go with them – what I call a garbage dip, where you rummage through your fridge and cabinets and just throw something together. It was interesting and tasty, (Looks kind of gross in the photos..like Thousand Island dressing that sat out too long, doesn’t it?), but the chicken fingers had so much flavor, it really wasn’t needed.
Now to Bad Boy First Love Part 9. If you’re reading this for the first time, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, and Part 8 is HERE.
Between the kissing, hugging, talking and staring into each other’s eyes ( I didn’t laugh or look away once, for the first time in my life. His eyes were so blue and clear in the dark, I can still picture it perfectly to this day), for hours, it was absolutely, unequivocally, the best.night.of.my.life.
Soon the sky started to lighten a bit, and I was exhausted. So much raw emotion had been released in less than 24 hours, so many highs and lows.. the wine and beer certainly playing a part too. I couldn’t prevent the constant yawning, no matter how hard I tried – BUT, I wanted this night to last forever. In a way, I wanted to fall asleep in his arms, right there..even if we were awakened to harsh sunlight, screaming kids, the smell of suntan lotion and beach balls landing on us. He held me for a while as I started to enter dream land, then gently kissed me awake, stroking my hair.
“I think we better get you home, sweetheart – you’re starting to crash”
“Huh? No..I’m awake.. just resting my eyes”
The above is my usual line when someone wakes me up, whether in person or by phone. No idea why I always say that, and still do to this day, as if it’s a bad thing to admit I’m falling asleep or that they woke me up from a deep sleep. I’m so weird.
On our drive back to my luxurious penthouse, he suddenly pulled over. I was so busy staring at his beautiful profile that I hadn’t even noticed the scuffle going on between 4 guys, one of them apparently being ganged up on by the other three, in a somewhat dark, out-of-the-way area near the beach. One of the three was holding what looked to be a baseball bat, but he was leaning on it. Maybe they were fighting over a late night to early morning baseball game that just ended? Of course I said that to him, feeling like a total idiot once the words left my lips.
He looked at me calmly, and said, “I’ll be right back”, like he was going to get me a soda or something..not like he was about to play vigilante. I was terrified..I touched his arm..
“No, don’t..please, let’s just go”
He smiled and kissed my cheek, “I’ll be right back”
OK, he meant business.
Nothing rattled this guy. I heard the trunk open and close. I watched in the rearview mirror as he pulled something out of his trunk – it looked like a tire iron. He walked toward this scuffle like it was no big deal – such confidence, no fear at all. Now I was really scared, but in a strange way, it turned me on. West Side Story was about to come to life, minus the singing and dancing, and I was slightly turned on..what the hell was wrong with me?
Oh, I remember, I liked bad boys, and this was most certainly bad boy behavior, but he was a good bad boy, he was going to protect someone. Then the thought of him getting really hurt scared me again. I opened the window and called out to him meekly. He didn’t hear me, but I couldn’t hear me either..my voice was shaking a little, and I think I squeaked.
I watched as he walked up to them and stood in front of the victim, blocking him, looking calm, but so damn tough.
I was excited again.
I couldn’t hear what they were saying outside of my now even sexier guy commanding them to ”‘Keep walking” when the bullies started to back off after trying to get tough with him and apparently not succeeding. Tire iron > baseball bat.
Then they came forward again and I couldn’t take it anymore…he was going to get hurt! I do have to admit I liked how he didn’t back up, not even one inch, when they came toward him.
Just as I was about to open the car door so I could run over and fling myself in front of Dreamboat, he pushed one of them in the chest. I was shocked to see the guy stumble back quite a ways and fall when it seemed like such a light push, with one hand, no less. They took off. Wow, that was too easy. I guess they realized that if he could push that lightly and send the guy back that far and on his ass, one swing of the tire iron could be pretty fierce. Then again, I didn’t hear what was said, so that probably played a part too. It didn’t matter, he was so damn awesome, he wasn’t going to let three guys beat up on one.
He came walking back to the car with the victim. Turns out, after an introduction, the kid, who couldn’t have been more than 16 (well..a little younger than me..shhhh) worked in one of the booths on the pier and he knew him. The kid got into the car and couldn’t stop thanking Dreamboat. I was in awe of how cool, calm and collected Dreamboat remained, as if he simply bought the kid a soda, and there was no need for a thank you.
Apparently, this kid owed a little money to one of the guys, and that guy brought along his three friends and a bat to collect, when this kid couldn’t have weighed more than 120 lbs soaking wet.
“No problem. I don’t care what you owe him, if he can’t collect on his own, he’s weak. Let me know if they ever give you a hard time again, ok?”
The guy was an ‘effin chickensh*t according to Dreamboat..and I couldn’t have agreed more.
We dropped the kid off. Now that we were alone again, I couldn’t keep my hands off of him..I hugged and kissed him as he drove. I was even more crazy about him than before, and frankly, I didn’t think that was possible because I thought I had already reached the apex of love, longing, lust – whatever you want to call it – with him.
When he pulled up to my mini ‘party central’ apartment complex (there were parties still going on and the place was hopping..at 5:30 am), after about a 20 minute goodbye (our goodbyes would become legendary, to us, that is) I reached to pick up a little purse I had brought with me and left on the passenger seat floor.
Cut to 6 months prior..during my sad Junior year of High School. My friend bought me one of those white button pins with an I HEART Dreamboat on it – aka I LOVE plus his real name, when we were at the mall one night. I always kept it in my purse, for no reason other than I did HEART him, and being a little superstitious, felt that maybe it might bring us back together again (like the cup holder!).
I bet you can guess what happened.
I’d forgotten that I had opened the purse before getting out of the car to walk, well, trip over my own feet, to the beach, to grab a few orange tic-tacs. The button came flying out of my open purse and landed right on his lap.
I wanted to die.
He picked it up and looked at it, not saying anything for about a minute. Why, why, why? Now he would think I was some obsessive, stalker child! Why would a supposed 18-year old be carrying something like that around?
Maybe there was a slight chance he was illiterate? I had never wished someone to be illiterate, that desperately, at that moment. I could teach him to read, kissing him every time he read a word correctly!
I braced myself, my face was burning, I wanted to turn back the clock two minutes and do it over again, GENTLY picking up the purse. Maybe I could say it was another Dreamboat! Yeah..I could hear myself now..trying to act all cool..
“Well, during our time apart I just so happened to meet a guy named Dreamboat, what a coincidence, huh? I thought I was never going to see you again, so I thought I loved him, but I didn’t, and I forgot it was still in this purse..I rarely use this purse” *confident flick of my hair*
He interrupted my momentary lapse of reasonable thinking..
“You shouldn’t have one of these unless you mean it”
I DO MEAN IT! I’m madly in love with you!
Instead…I told him the truth, without confessing my love for him.
“I know, D bought it for me, and I kept it in my purse, hoping it would bring me luck and I’d see you again.”
Woah, that was easy, why was I so freaked out about it?
He hugged me tight to him and whispered in my ear..
“I guess it worked then, like the cup holder”
I smiled, a wave of relief washing over me. I decided I’d drop the age bomb the next night.
Part 10 coming soon. I’m sorry I left you all with the same cliffhanger as last time, but I started this post before everything happened, and couldn’t finish it, which would have included that story, due to the current circumstances. I didn’t want to give you all something half-assed. I promise Part 10 soon, and the whole thing will be wrapped up in Part 11.
Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips or Bites
Adapted from and Inspired by Lesa from Edesia’s Notebook
Yields about 4 servings
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breasts (About 1 lb) cut into 1-inch wide strips. Cut each strip in half for ‘bites’.
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup dessicated coconut shreds
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to season flour
2 eggs, beaten with 4 tablespoons of coconut water (you can use coconut milk if you can’t find coconut water)
Oil spray, doesn’t matter what kind
1. In a bowl, stir together lime juice, zest, light olive oil, ginger, light soy sauce, garlic and salt. Add the chicken strips and stir until they’re completely coated with the marinade. You can also pour the marinade with the chicken strips, into a ziplock bag, which is what I did. Marinate for 4 to 5 hours at the most..stirring the strips in the bowl of marinade or squeezing around the bag every hour to an hour and a half to insure even marinating.
2. Line a large baking sheet with foil sprayed lightly with oil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl, the beaten eggs and coconut water in a second bowl, and the panko and dessicated coconut in a third bowl. Remove the chicken strips from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
3. Lift up each chicken strip and shake off some of the marinade so it isn’t overly-saturated (I just ran two impeccably clean fingers down each strip, sliding off the extra marinade). Coat each chicken strip in flour, knocking off the excess, then dip and coat well in the egg mixture and then dredge it in the panko - dessicated coconut mixture, pressing it onto each strip. Place each chicken strip on the oiled baking sheet and continue until all chicken has been coated.
4. Lightly spray some oil on the breaded chicken strips, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. IMPORTANT – Do not let them sit on the baking sheet once out of the oven. Transfer them to a rack if not eating within a few minutes, or the bottoms will get soggy.
Spicy Yogurt Dip
1 cup greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients together, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend.
If you get a chance, please click on the blue frog below to see all the amazing dishes recreated by Group A of The Secret Recipe Club. Also, click on over to Edesia’s Notebook for some fantastic sweet and savory recipes!
Tags: Chile Peppers, Cilantro, Daring Cooks, Peanut Sauce, Pork Satay, Satay, Thai cuisine, Thailand, Yogurt
This is a very rare entry for me….wanna know why? Because I have nothing to say. Can you believe it? ME..nothing to say? That’s like Michelle Duggar not popping out a kid every 1.5 years. In any event, this may be the first time I’m actually grateful for blog checking lines.
The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipe Cookbook by Martha Day. Thanks for a delicious challenge, Cuppy!
To touch on this challenge, one word..YUM. I love Thai food, but then again I love all international cuisines. However, I hadn’t had Thai in a while, so it was a nice change of pace to my dreary meals du jour. I felt the marinade for the meat had more of an Indian flavor, but pairing it with peanutty saucy goodness helped bring it back. Satay is great because you don’t need a fork or knife..just a hand and mouth. Did I ever mention I love food on sticks?
Not the presttiest marinade, is it? Brings the Exorcist to mind.
OK, I suppose I do have a little more to talk about regarding the challenge. I followed it verbatim, only swaying a bit by making my own sauce in conjunction with the luscious peanut sauce..some of which I poured over udon noodles to serve with the pork satay. Since I added quite a few Thai chile peppers to the pork marinade and peanut sauce, I thought a nice, cooling yogurt sauce (completely whited out in the photos..go figure – see below) with cilantro, lime, salt and cucumber would be ideal, and my tongue agrees 100%.
On another note, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with photographs lately. I’ve ended up with ghastly tones, such as blue, green, gray, even when using a white background, in most of my photos. Yes, I futzed with the white balance, but if you’re a reader of my blog, you know I’m without good natural light, and use 2 Lowel Ego Lights on a regular basis. I don’t know if it’s just one of those crappy phases where nothing seems to turn out right, but if anyone has any tips or ideas when it comes to artificial light.., I’d be eternally grateful (well, at least in spirit).
Wow..I feel like I haven’t been here in a long time, even though it’s only been 3 weeks, but then again, 3 weeks is an eternity in the blogging world, isn’t it? Hmm..I seem to be touching on a lot of ‘eternal’ stuff today, huh?
Oh, did I mention I also made some thinly sliced beef satay? Yep, I made pork one week, and beef the next. Are you all yawning yet? I am. Don’t forget to check out much prettier and creative takes on the ‘any meat or veggie’ satays by clicking on the links at the Daring Cooks Blogroll. Until next time, when I KNOW I’ll have lot more to say!
For the recipe and instructions, click HERE.
Tags: Chicken Soup, Cilantro, Daring Cooks, Hoisin, Pho Ga, Rice Noodles, Snickers, Soup, Vietnamese, Wontons
One cool aspect of food blogging is that someone in the publishing world might see your blog and think you’ve got the skill, creativity, chops etc..to write and maybe even photograph your own cookbook. There have been several bloggers who are working on, or have cookbooks published, and one of them just so happens to be this month’s Daring Cooks host, Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. This gal’s got mad talent, and her blog is a joy to ogle, drool over and read, so I can completely understand why she’s now the author of a cookbook that’ll most definitely sell like hotcakes. Congrats, Jaden!
The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. If you’re a lover of Asian food, this book is right up your alley. If you’re not, it’ll make you one! *Not so subliminal message* Buy this Phoking book! Thanks for sharing these recipes with us, Jaden!
As you’ve probably figured out by the title of this entry, we’re making soup, but not just any soup, Vietnamese Chicken Pho soup. Pho is pronounced ‘fuh’, so you just KNOW I’m going to have a field day with this. To say this soup is fanphokingtastic is an understatment. This soup is fanphokingtastic and fanphokingtabulous. We were given the option of making the chicken aka Pho Ga soup (I’m assuming ‘Ga’ means chicken??), or Jaden’s beef version..not to mention seafood, pork or vegetarian/vegan if desired. I decided to stick with the chick, but I’ll most definitely be trying her beef version, especially after smelling, tasting, almost wanting to bathe in, the chicken version.
Straight from the mouth of Jaden - So what is Vietnamese Pho? Well, it’s like the most insanely delicious noodle soup popular in Vietnam. The broth is simmered for hours and hours with either beef knuckle/leg bone or with a whole chicken. Other accompaniments include ribbons of rice noodles, fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, a wedge of lime or lemon, fresh bean sprouts and fresh sliced chilies if desired.
What makes Pho so different than any other type of noodle soup is the spices that go into the simmering broth. Warm spices like coriander, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger transform an ordinary broth into a very authentic Vietnamese Pho.
Jaden also gave us a choice of making her quick version of Pho Ga or making her long simmering pot of homemade stock ‘version’. Since I had several quarts of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, I decided to make the quick version. This frozen stock is the bee’s knees (first time I ever used that phrase..swear on it), and most definitely Bubby’s version..so I suppose you could call my Pho Ga Jewishnamese Penicillin.
What makes this soup so special, as mentioned above, whether it be the long, simmering version, or the quick version, is the spices and aromatics. OH.MY.GOD, the smell of this soup simmering will you bring you to your bee’s knees (second time).You char an onion and a knob of ginger, scraping off the charred skins, and toast some star anise, coriander seeds and cloves, then dump them into a pot along with sugar, fish sauce, a whole chicken and water (long, simmering version) or chicken stock and one whole chicken breast (shorty). Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and VOILA, phoking heaven with lots of phoking accoutrements and a damn good cure for my cold (on it’s last legs, but still annoying).
Finally, Jaden also has a great recipe for chocolate wontons which we were asked to make along with the soup. The fun part is..whoever comes up with the most unique, creative sweet wonton filling, will win a copy of her new cookbook.
Well, IS THERE ANY AWARD FOR THE LEAST UNIQUE AND CREATIVE WONTON FILLING?? If so, I WIN!
I took a Snickers bar, chopped it into pieces and that’s my filling. Gotta admit, it was really phoking good! ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, you know me..I couldn’t just sit with that, so I also made some unique PB & J (My spiced plum chutney from the Dosa challenge, hot chili peanuts and coconut) mini eggroll wontons at the last minute (try 10 minutes ago). Now, I feel better. Disturbing, huh? Truth is..they sucked, but I tried.
As always, please check out the Daring Cooks Blogroll for all the cool Pho’s and super creative sweet wontons. I saw some in the Daring Kitchen forum, and I know one thing for sure..Phogeddaboutit, I ‘ain’t’ winning squat! lol
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Soup)
Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
*2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
1.To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2.In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3.Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4.Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
5.Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
6.Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7.Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8.Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
* I LIKE the tails on the bean sprouts, so I chose to leave them on.
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling
1.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
2.On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down witha point toward you, like a diamond.
3.Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
4.Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
5.Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
6.Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
7.Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
8.In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
9.Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
10.Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.