Homemade Chicken Pad Thai

I have this problem where I pretty much always want to be on vacation.  Not just at home with time off, but I want to be in a foreign country walking around and trying all the foods.

But that’s probably true for everyone, right?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit my fair share of countries.   Since we’ve been togetherJesse and I have made it a point to go on a trip once a year. We went to China, Peru and Thailand/Cambodia (along with Mexico and Guatemala, do those count if we were visiting family?).  Our 4th year together is looking to be a vacation-less one, since there’s a major expense coming up next year: wedding.

In both Peru and Thailand, we took cooking classes, which has become one of my favorite things to do on vacation.

In Thailand, there are tons of cooking classes.  We went with the Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai, because some friends (they have an awesome travel blog!) we met while hiking to Machu Picchu had done it and recommended it.

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It was definitely worth it.  Now that it’s been about 7 months since our vacation, Jesse and I had an itch to make some of the recipes in the cookbook we were given.   So we hit up a local Asian market that I learned about at my new job (yay for supporting small business!), gathered all our ingredients and made this:

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Isn’t pad thai everyone’s favorite?  It’s also pretty easy to make too!  We added chicken to it to make it more of a complete meal, but you can also omit the chicken (or the tofu) if you’d like.

Here’s what you’ll need to serve 2 or 3…

Chicken Pad Thai

80g rice noodles
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup sliced tofu (optional)
1 piece of chicken breast, sliced
2 shallots, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 cup of mung bean sprouts
2 tsp tamarind paste (or white vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp molasses
Pinch of chili powder (or a squirt of sriracha)
Salt to taste

1 tbsp green onion (green part only)
Chopped peanuts and lime for serving

Soak noodles in warm water for 30 minutes until soft.  In the meantime, prepare your sauce.  In a bowl combine water, fish sauce, brown sugar, tamarind paste and molasses.   (Note: Here I found a tamarind paste that was basically the whole tamarind, so I had to blend it but in Thailand I used a paste that dissolved.  If you blend, just be sure there are no tamarind seeds in there).  Set aside sauce.

pad thai ingredients

Heat oil in a wok (or large pan if you don’t have a wok like me), until it starts to smoke.  Add chicken, shallots and tofu.  Toss until chicken is cooked and tofu is crispy.  Move the chicken, shallots and tofu to one side of the pan.  On the other side of the pan, scramble the egg.  Once scrambled, toss them all together and add the noodles, carrots, bean sprouts and sauce.  Mix until the noodles are cooked and all is well combined.  Try a noodle and see if you think it needs salt.  Salt as needed.

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Serve with chopped peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Jesse and I devoured this yesterday.  I’m almost a little bit embarrassed to tell you how much we ate.  Ok not really.  We doubled this and ate about 3/4 of it.  Enough said.

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We also discovered that we seriously want a wok.  We made it in a dutch oven pot, which was fine but I think it would have turned out better (texture wise) in a wok.   But it still turned out great.

Since we bought a ton of basic ingredients we’ll likely be making tons of Thai recipes this week.  I can’t complain about that.

What foreign food do you want to learn how to make?

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Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

You know those days where you don’t feel like cooking and it’s too hot to turn on the oven to roast some chicken and vegetables?  This is your meal for those days.

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It’s super, SUPER easy and  tasty.  As a bonus, it’s pretty healthy too.  It might be a little bit high on salt but you’re not really drinking the sauce, just spoon a bit on your spaghetti squash (or rice #carbs4life) and you’re good to go.

I think I’ve only had traditional Filipino Chicken Adobo at a restaurant once.  I remember it being delicious and tangy.  As is true with most countries in South East Asia, the Philippines has awesome food and I’d love to visit.

In the meantime, make this dish for an easy weeknight meal while you daydream about being in a far off land.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

8 pieces of bone-in chicken (I used drum sticks)
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 shallot, sliced
3 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with spaghetti squash and green beans (or serve on rice, because I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s normally served).

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If you’re wanting to make this paleo, you can probably substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce and you’re good to go.

I had this for dinner and leftovers for lunch.  All sorts of goodness.

Totally unrelated to this recipe, I have a mini poll…

Would you be interested in seeing workouts on here?

Let me know in the comments (Yay! I love work outs! Bring ’em on! OR Umm no thanks, more cake, please).

 

 

 

Perfect 4th of July Menu (No Really, It’s Perfect)

I want to make your 4th of July easy and delicious, mostly because I want to live vicariously through you.

I don’t have big plans, being that we’re in the Bay Area and I have no idea what to do around here (and currently have very few friends).

But if you have tons of friends near you and are looking for the perfect 4th of July menu, I’m going to tell you the 5 major components of an Amazing 4th of July (because I know you are dying to get my unsolicited advice).

The idea is to keep it simple and delicious, so here’s what you’ll need. . .

1.  Meats

Ribs.  Always grill ribs on 4th of July.

In my perfect Food Network world, I imagine that Gina and Patrick Neely make the best ribs.  So let’s go with their recipe found here.

If you don’t have a grill (heresy! oh wait, I don’t either), then make them in the oven a la Smitten Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

Regardless of what you choose, ribs are a must.

2.  Hot Dogs

Nothing says 4th of July like Hot Dogs.  You can get sassy and put egg salad on them:

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Or go traditional and grill up some fatty sausages and slather them in mustard!  I swear Costco’s Kirkland brand hot dogs are the best for the price.

PSA: Don’t forget to grill the buns too!

3. Side Dishes

You don’t need a million side dishes, but you need some diversity.  And let’s be honest… you need carbs.

This Torellini Salad is amazing.  You need to include it.  I’ve made it for 4th of July and other gatherings.  It’s always a hit.   If you’re not feeling tortellini, use rotelle pasta and you’re good to go.

Photo Credit: The Kitchn

This Red, White and Blue Potato Salad looks awesome.

Photo Credit: Chive Cooking

If you don’t love mayo, you’re a liar.  Make this potato salad anyway.  People love mayo.

And of course, no summer meal is complete without baked beans.  Normally, I would just say buy a few cans at the grocery store (because I really do think canned baked beans are delicious and I’m not ashamed), but you can also give these slow cooker ones a try.

If you don’t love beans, we can’t be friends.

Let’s also not forget to have a fruit salad or some watermelon, because fruit is a wonderful refreshing side.  And potato chips.  Always potato chips. Because ‘Merica!

4. Dessert

Pie is for 4th of July!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a touch of bourbon is a fine option.

You might also want to consider this Bourbon Banana Pie, because it’s simply divine.

BourbonBananaPie3Let’s also not forget the magic that is cake.  This year, I’m sort of itching to make an American Flag cake.  Too cheesy?  Maybe, but doesn’t this one look good?

Photo Credit: Oh Sweet Basil

5. Drinks

Beverages must be flowing on 4th of July.  Beer is an obvious choice.  But Gin is also a winner.  Try these strawberry-basil gin and tonics

strawberrybasilginandtonic2For something alcohol-free (and really hydrating, because it’s hot and hydration is important), keep a pitcher of this Coconut Mint Cooler in the fridge.

coconutmintcoolerWith this menu, I promise your 4th of July will be a hit.   You’ll be well-fed, happy and ready to celebrate our nation’s independence.

You can also feel free to throw some cornbread into this menu mix.  We could always use more cornbread.

What’s on your 4th of July menu?

 

 

Let’s Do Lunch

Lunch has always been the most boring meal of the day for me.  In school, it was something I quickly grabbed between classes while trying to catch up on last minute reading for a discussion section later that day.

Then work started and lunch was a little more fun.  I almost always packed my lunch and ate it with a few others who did the same for about 20 minutes, then back to work.

Now that I work at home, I’m trying to make sure lunch is more fun (hey, a lady needs something spice up her day).  Have you noticed that lately, we’ve all been so preoccupied with brunch that we’ve forgotten about lunch?

Let’s do lunch.

The Meal

Let’s keep the meal healthy and balanced.  Last week, I had some fish with sauteed squash.  It was all sorts of tasty.

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Today, I had tuna.

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Tuna sounds not exciting, and I have no idea how to make it look good. But when you throw it on a salad with some barley, it’s a winner.

Tuna is seriously underrated.

Now that food is set, let’s chat…

The Discussion Topics

In the World:

Aziz Ansari is hilarious and wrote a book.  Here’s a bit about it in Time.

FIFA is still being nuts, but the Women’s World Cup just started! Why can’t we be as excited about this World Cup as the regular one?

Vegetables!

 

Let’s talk about GMO foods for a minute… Fear or fact?  “The anti-G.M.O. movement, I’m afraid, risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What is needed is a dispassionate look at what G.M.O.s mean and their actual and potential good, not just a fear of harmful possibilities.”  <– Agreed!

In MY World:

I walked past Tartine Bakery twice this weekend and didn’t eat a croissant. Who am I?

Instead, I ate pupusas at Balompie Cafe in San Francisco, and they were all sorts of tasty.

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I hiked at Tennessee Valley in Marin yesterday and forgot to bring sunscreen.  Fail. I’m sunburnt.   But that aside, I hung out with my friend Emily for the first time in years.  She’s awesome. We talked about how much we love having girl friends.  I’m a girl girl, and I’m cool with that.

 

Do you tend to have friends of the same or opposite sex?  And more importantly… What did you have for lunch?

 

Salad Spring Rolls

One of my favorite things about living in Orange County was the plethora of Vietnamese restaurants.

Fun Fact: Orange County, CA has the largest Vietnamese population in the US.  

And because of that we were blessed with delicious (and inexpensive) restaurants.

Over the last four years, I’ve become obsessed with the Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  It’s almost a rule that I must order them any time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant.

I’m sure there have to be amazing Vietnamese restaurants here in the Bay Area, and I will do my best to discover them, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep the memory alive with some spring roll inspiration.

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These aren’t really Vietnamese spring rolls.  They don’t include rice noodles or shrimp or pork.  They’re just vegetables, which is why I call them salad spring rolls.  Despite not being like the tasty ones I get at restaurants, this has become my new favorite way to eat salad.

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They pretty quick, easy and tasty.  The other wonderful thing is you can make them with whatever you have on hand.

Here are some suggestions for filling your spring rolls:

Thai Basil
Lettuce
Cucumber
Carrots
Red Bell Pepper
Bean Sprouts

For Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp peanut butter, natural
1-2 tbsp sriracha
1-2 tbsp water

To assemble, cut your vegetables into match tickets (i.e. carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers) and wash your lettuce and thai basil.   You’ll need to get rice paper.  You can probably find it at any Asian grocery store (or on Amazon).

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Wet your rice paper by dipping it in water for about 3 seconds and you’re ready to go (do one at a time, don’t wet them all at once, because they’re very sticky).  I have a rice paper water bowl, but it’s not essential, and shallow dish to submerge the paper in will work.

Then you can start assembling your spring rolls.   Place some of the vegetables toward the bottom of the circle, like such:

springrollsteps

Fold the right and left sides toward the center, then the shorter side up and roll to cover.  I couldn’t take photos of this process because it requires two hands and I only have two, unfortunately (or fortunately).  But this blog has an awesome tutorial!  Check it out!  

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Once your spring rolls are rolled and ready, make your quick dipping sauce.   Combine hoisin, peanut butter, sriracha in a bowl.  Start with 1 tbsp of each, taste it and adjust to your liking.

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You don’t have to use this dipping sauce, you can also mix fish sauce with water, a bit of sugar and chili garlic sauce and dip!  Or since these are salad rolls, feel free to dip in your favorite salad dressing.  We’re not being authentic here, so anything goes.

But seriously, this hand-held salad options is awesome.  I served it with some mustard rubbed chicken and it was a hit (to Jesse and me, that is, but I think we have ok taste).  I think this is my new favorite summer meal.

What’s your favorite salad or summer meal?

Getting Back on the Healthy Train and Starting Crossfit Again

I live and die by schedules.  I love checklists, to-dos and deadlines.

I love to know exactly what I have to done and when it has to be done.  In work, that’s great.  I get things done quickly.  In life, it means when my schedule gets thrown off, I have a hard time maintaining sanity.

Moving to the Bay Area has really thrown off my schedule.  It used to be I’d wake up at 5:30, be at the gym by 6am (or out for a run), be at work by 8:15.  My morning schedule was great.  I was used to it.  I was so productive.  Exercising in the morning makes me feel great.

Then the past few months happened.  We went to Mexico and Guatemala, we moved and got settled and all that went away, especially because I work remotely while I look for a new job up here.

Moving is hard.  It’s hard to get used to a new place and get your bearings.

So while all that was happening, I basically ate terribly and didn’t exercise.

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(Please see my Instagram for more details)

But all that said, it’s finally all coming together. But it’s not magic, it takes work (and contrary to what other blogs like to tell you, getting healthy is not always fun).

I’m figuring out my schedule.  I also found a new Crossfit.  I’ve been 3 times so far and let me be perfectly honest with you, going to a new crossfit is scary.  You’re not sure what to expect, because every box is different, and people are different.

I think I’ve lucked out, because everyone has been extremely nice.  But it’s still scary, and I miss my old box with my set of friends and coaches that I like.

I had to make myself go this morning.  I was dreading it, because I was scared.  But once I got there and did the workout, I had a great time (p.s. my back squat 1 rep max has gone down by 22lbs, I’ve got work to do).

The key for me to stick with it is to just make myself do it.  I don’t have my running buddy anymore, so I need to find other ways to make it work.  My solution: Nike it.

Then there’s eating healthy.  I’ve struggled, because cheese and cake are delicious.

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So just like how I have to force myself to exercise, I currently have to force myself to eat well.  I’m trying, because I pretty much want to eat Chinese food and cake for every meal.  I cleaned out my fridge and left only non-processed foods and made normal meals for myself trying to balance protein and carbs.

breakfast

lunch

Healthy and colorful meals can be awesome.  They just take some getting used to, because I’m convinced your palate changes after eating a certain way for a few weeks.  Being healthy is important and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s not fun and you just want to eat cake (I can’t be alone in this sentiment).

There’s a time for cake, but right now, it’s time for vegetables.  And let’s not forget, I’m getting married next year, now is not the time to start gaining weight.  I’m also not into crash diets, so probably a good idea to just maintain my weight for the next year (or lifetime?).

Do you have any tips for getting healthy after being off-track for a while?

Fancy Deconstructed Breakfast Burrito

It’s been years since I’ve watched cooking competitions like Top Chef, but back in the day, I was an avid watcher.  I remember that chefs took a common dish and made it fancy by calling it “deconstructed.”

You know… Deconstructed Peanut Butter and Jelly would be something to the effect of pan fried bread with peanut butter mousse and roasted berries.

Fancy, right?

Deconstructed was all the rage about 10 years ago.  Is that trend still happening?  I’m not hip enough to keep up with trends, so I’m still doing things “deconstructed.”  Hence this deconstructed breakfast burrito.

Deconstructed Burrito1We all know and love Breakfast Burritos.  But I decided to make a healthier (and fancier? That’s open to interpretation) version for your average weekend morning. Jump on the deconstructed train and make this deconstructed breakfast burrito.  

It has everything you need: eggs, beans, tortillas and… kale. I know, kale has no business being in a breakfast burrito, but we’re being fancy remember! So here it goes…. Deconstructed Burrito2

Fancy Deconstructed Breakfast Burrito

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup kale, washed and finely chopped
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 lemon, juice only
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/4 cup Monterey jack cheese,  shredded
1 cup refried beans of choice
2 flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)

Heat olive in a pan on medium heat.  Add onions and cook a few minutes until translucent.  Add kale and cook a few more minutes (about 2-3).  Add tomatoes and cook another minute or so.  Season with salt and pepper, then mix in lemon juice.  You want it to be a little salty since you’re not adding anything to the eggs.

In the meantime, beat together eggs.  Add eggs to pan.  Scramble it all together.  Set aside.

Heat tortillas (either on a pan or in the microwave a few seconds).  Place tortilla on a plate, spread with refried beans, top with scrambled eggs, sprinkle with cheese (about 2 tbsp per tortilla, or more if you want) and serve! You can try to wrap it up or eat it with a fork and knife, if you’re looking to be fancy. Ok let’s be honest.  I always thought the deconstructed this was a bunch of crock.  But that said, this dish is awesome.

Deconstructed Burrito3Call it what you want: Burrito? Kale Egg Scramble? A Hot Mess on a Plate?

Whatever you call it, it’s all sorts of tasty and definitely breakfast-worthy!

What’s your favorite fancy breakfast? I love eggs benedict (is that even fancy?)