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Farewell Winter – Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
– John Steinbeck

The first day of Spring is a classic metaphor for new beginnings. But it’s also the end to the season of heartiness and perseverance. In Winter we huddle around the hearth. We tend to nest inside. We focus inward. And when Spring blossoms forth, we follow. Bursting with the energy pent up the long, cold months.

To pay tribute to this day of transition, I wanted to find a dish that captures the balance of the heartiness of winter with the fresh zest of Spring. I found it in Tom Kha Gai, a traditional Thai soup made from chicken, ginger, coconut milk and mushrooms. Soup by its very nature embodies the wintry sense of comfort, while the ginger and lemon epitomize the bright promise of Spring. I found my inspiration recipe from She Wears Many Hats and got to work.

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I’m still a Thai cooking novice, so I was nervous taking on a traditional dish like this. But, it turned out to be much easier than I thought; and now I’m ready to face the new season by challenging myself to make even more exotic dishes.

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Here’s my Tom Kha Gai recipe, completely Paleo, and fairly effortless…

Thai Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

Ingredients

1 lb of Cooked chicken, shredded (I used light and dark meat)

  • 3-4 Peeled carrots, sliced into coins
  • 3 T Cilantro, fresh leaves
  • 1 1-inch piece Ginger, fresh
  • 1 T Lemongrass, dried
  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • 6 c Chicken stock or broth
  • 1 can of Coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 2 T Fish sauce
  • 3 T Lime juice
  • 1/2 t Red pepper flakes
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • Lime wedges
  • 1 c cashews

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook carrot coins for about 4 minutes, stirring often. They should still be fairly firm. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In same saucepan, add ginger and lemongrass, stir to toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, lime juice and pepper flakes; bring to a simmer and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken and simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Whisk in coconut milk, fish sauce, and cilantro; lower heat and allow to mingle for about 10 minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Toast cashews in toaster oven for about 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  7. Top individual soup bowls with cashews. Garnish with cilantro leaves and/or lime wedges.

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Easy, right? Can’t think of a better way to finish out Winter. Enjoy and Happy Spring!

Oscars Party

Recipe: Oscar Party Pun Food

The Oscars are a great excuse to gather with friends, gawk at gorgeous couture, and maybe win a bet or two with your predictions. For me, I’m also always struck by the sheer amount of people and types of craft it takes to make a movie. It’s an event that is such a juxtaposition – an earnest outpouring of adulation for professionals at the top of their game, and a frilly, bedazzled, sometimes strange ceremony that we basically play Bingo to. So, what to serve at this sequin-worthy occasion?

Enter, pun food. Pun-themed food based on Oscar nominees has been around for a while now, but I never tire of it. Never. With new nominees every year, the pun will never end! (See what I did there?)

So, drumroll please, here are my nominees for best appetizers for punny Oscar food for 2015…

Edamame Dip

Edamame “Dip-Lash” (Edamame dip)

In honor of Best Picture nominee, Whiplash

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1-2 large avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 T chile-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha®)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Process the edamame, onion, cilantro, and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add the avocado, lemon juice, and chile-garlic sauce; pulse again.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
  • Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Easy!

Original recipe by AllRecipes.Com


Paleo Banana Bread Muffins

“Bird-Ban-ana Bread Bites” (Banana Bread Muffins)

In honor of Best Picture nominee, Birdman

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 275 grams almond flour (about 2 1/2 cups. This will keep muffins moist)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ gluten-free chocolate chips
  • 2 T flaxseed

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease or paper a regular muffin tin.
  • Beat eggs with whisk (or stand mixer + whisk on medium-high, but I did it by hand). Do this for 203 minutes until eggs start to thicken.
  • Mash bananas gently with fork.
  • Add mashed bananas and mix until combined. Pour in honey and lemon juice and mix until combined.
  • Mix dry ingredients, including flaxseed, then add to wet ingredients in 2 additions. Mix until combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts, then spoon batter into muffin tin.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown on the top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Original recipe by CookEatPaleo.com


 

I loved both of these recipes for their simplicity – you won’t need a whole crew of specialty craftsman to whip them together. I’d say that’s an Oscar win!

But remember, just because these snazzy snacks were served up for the Oscars this year doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to make them. You can incorporate then into any get together that needs a shot of healthy & special. Just make sure you have your host-of-the-year speech ready. 😉