Thai Basil Chicken: WIN

Since coming back to America my adventuring has been put on hold and I have been focusing on reconnecting with family and friends I haven’t seen for the past 4 years of being abroad.

One big thing I have been doing is missing my Thai diet. Not only have I reinstated breads and dairy into my diet, my portion sizes have been on the rise. Welcome back to the fast food nation! Actually, pizza aside I haven’t been eating all that much fast food, but when Louis C.K.’s joke “the meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself” becomes a reality, I mean……

Anyway, since I miss the lighter feeling of Thai food on the stomach and  I made pizza a staple meal last week in California, I have decided to change things up a bit. I’ve taken to the kitchen to attempt playing Thai chef! The great thing about Thai food is that a recipe is literally just a suggestion of what to put in it and you can bend it however you want. On the other hand, ingredients are difficult if not impossible to find.

I found this recipe for Thai basil chicken (pad grapow gai ผัดกระเพราไก่) and decided to try it out. There are three ingredients you will probably have a problem finding; Thai chilies, holy basil, and dark soy sauce.

I still haven’t found dark soy sauce or Thai holy basil, but I did get lucky with the chilies! I found green chilies at Winco and a couple of days ago I found frozen red chilies in an Asian market! If you live in the Boise area you can find them at Orient Market on  Emerald St. For the Thai holy basil I just use regular Thai basil and you can find that in most supermarkets. I’m sure you can make dark soy sauce at home but I just leave it out. It’s still good!

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The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but making this Thai dish was a definite success!!

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Lemon Facial Scrub: WIN

I see all of these “nailed it” attempts and/or mockeries of pinterest posts and curiosity has led me to test a few of my own pins. Since I don’t exactly have a kitchen or my own home to freely create in, my options are somewhat limited, but I’ve started this project with a simple DIY facial scrub.

I found tha pin that links back to this site with the recipe, but I’ll just fill you in now to make it easy.
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp sugar

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I have lemon juice but I decided to squeeze a real lemon, not sure if that will make a difference or not, especially since I am using cheap honey. Girls on a budget, ya know?

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and you have your scrub. Rinse your face with warm water to open the pores and  apply the scrub evenly onto your face and neck, gently rubbing it in for about a minute. In theory the sugar acts as an exfoliate while the lemon brightens and clears, and the honey and oil smooth your skin. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with a towel. Apply moisturizer and voila! You are finished.

I don’t have any moisturizer so hopefully my skin will not look like the Arizona desert tomorrow. However I do live in Thailand and I don’t think my face has ever once felt too dry. I don’t even remember what dry skin feels like, so possibly foregoing the moisturizer will be beneficial for my skin and make it feel less oily. At the moment it actually feels quite nice!

Since this is a work in progress and I will see how my face looks and feels tomorrow,  I am so far giving this pin a tentative win. To be completely honest I share my room with ants (the little monsters never seem to go away); I haven’t had any problems with them yet but with all that sugar and honey in this scrub I am absolutely terrified I will wake up with ants crawling all over my face. (Oh my gosh can you imagine?! I would totally lose it…*ugghhhh*)

So…final judgement TBD, but so far the first test went well!

Oh PS lemon juice can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so wear that sunscreen! (I’m telling all of you this in an attempt to remind myself). Also, this scrub is rumored to work wonders with acne, acne scars, uneven skin tone, and sun spots. Score!

UPDATE: I did not wake up with ants all over my face (thank the Lord) and my face does in fact feel nice. Neither oily nor dry; it’s perfect. Only time will reveal the long term benefits, but I’m going to give this scrub the all clear and call it a WIN! 🙂

Goal: Try a New Recipe Weekly

When making my goals list in early January, I wrote down that I wanted to try at least one new recipe every week as long as I am in my current flat. And guess who has actually been succesful?! That’s right, you are reading the words of a master chef. Ok, that might be a bit (read: a lot) of an overstatement, but still…I’m doing better than my usual beans in a can meal. I have a somewhat unhealthy addiction to pinterest, but one good thing to come from these hours of trolling others’ pins is the plethora of recipes I’ve accumulated, and I now have the kitchen to create culinary masterpieces sub-par copycats.
Actually, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself! I recently attempted to make some spinach ricotta stuffed chicken and let me tell you…it’s my new favorite. Since everything in New Zealand is expensive (especially when it comes to fresh food and dairy) I made some amendments to the recipe. You can find the original recipe here, but I will share with you my variation. Bon appetite! 🙂

Spinach Stuffed Chicken
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp butter
1 small onion-finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves-minced
dried basil and parsley (or any other herbs you think would go well)
just over 1 C cheese-I used mild and edam cheeses
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch pepper
2 chicken breasts (the recipe says this is for 6 chicken breasts, but I like to seriously stuff these bad boys)

1.Preheat oven to 190*C
2. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until softened (about 3-5 mins)
3. Add spinach, basil and parsley and cook (stirring) until spinach wilts and moisture evaporates (about 2 mins). Let cool completely.
4. Mix in cheese, egg yolk, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
5. Create pocket in chicken by cutting the breast almost all the way in half
6. Stuff spinach mix into it, cover with meat and tuck it in if you can (I usually can’t, and it works out fiiiine)
7. Place on foil lined pan, brush with butter. Bake about 35 mins or until golden and juice runs clear.

Look Who’s Cookin!

Oh muse, why have you deserted me? I guess nothing too exciting has happened in my life lately, it’s a shame. I am back in Boise for now, although I’m heading up to a massive 4th of July party in Crouch, Idaho tomorrow which I’m sure will be nothing short of exciting. I mean, there is a bar there called the Dirty Shame Saloon…how can you go wrong?! My parent’s recently bought a cabin up there, and the neighborhood is having a massive bbq. The main dish is sorted but everyone has to bring a side dish or drinks, so I have made an awesome 3 bean salad for it! I also made some lovely potatoes and asparagus for dinner tonight. YUM! Anyway (before I get too side tracked), I got the 3 bean salad recipe/idea from my wonderful host mother, Sally, while I was frolicking about (and not painting like I thought I would be) in Forest Grove. I am in love with this recipe, and it is one of the easiest things to make! It would be hard to get sick of this versatile salad. Without further ado, I give you………….bean salad.

What you will need:

3-4 cans of beans. Any kind of beans will do!

1/3 C vinegar (your pick)

1/3 C sugar

1/4 C oil (your pick again)

About 1 red or sweet onion (finely chopped)

Celery (optional, this is only to bulk it up a little)

Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley, etc)

Find yourself a big bowl to mix all of this in and start with the beans. Make sure they are drained and washed first. This is important, if you don’t do this you will have way too much bean juice and that’s just gross. In my most recent concoction, I’ve used kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans and black beans. Next take your finely chopped onion (since I only had half of a red onion, I used half red and half sweet) and chuck it in the bowl. Add celery if you so wish, and toss on your oil, sugar and vinegar. I used rice wine vinegar and olive oil with a splash of peanut oil. Sally used peanut oil and balsamic vinegar in hers and it was WONDERFUL. The peanut oil makes it a bit sweeter I think. Seriously, there are so many combinations to use and I haven’t had a bad batch yet, so get creative! Finish it all off by adding your seasonings. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley and rosemary in mine. Put whatever you feel like putting in it and chances are it will probably come out good. Now, you’re supposed to let it sit overnight so all the flavors can blend together, but even just a couple of hours will do just fine.

You could even get festive! Embrace the American 4th of July spirit and use red kidney beans, butter beans, and black beans (they were the closest I could come up with to blue. If you somehow find a blue bean, nice work! And let me know, I wanna see it). Make your salad match the flag.

I didn’t take this picture, but my bean salad looks quite similar. Just so you know what it’s gonna end up looking like (if you were at all curious)

The best part about this salad? Beans are good for you! So this salad is good for you too! …mostly. 🙂

A Word On Vodka

If I had to pick my poison, I know exactly what it would be. Liver, meet vodka, she’s a cruel mistress.

Vodka and I have a history, most of which I can’t remember and most of which results in me making a fool of myself. Vodka once told me that Isabel and I had to have a get low competition in the middle of the streets in downtown Spokane while wearing mini skirts. Vodka also told Isabel to grab my face and kiss me in front of my then boyfriend in an attempt to “protect me from creepers” because she was too drunk to realize it was him. Vodka was by my side to mentor me in New Zealand, once convincing me thImageat I had to kiss that Brit to rescue Chiquita the party pineapple from certain cannibalistic death in the camper van where she was held captive (she was forever grateful, by the way). Actually, vodka’s told me to kiss and run on multiple occasions, it’s her favorite game. In Spokane we pregamed with a delicious drink I will soon share with you and tried to sneak beers into the bar. I was too drunk to be subtle and the bouncer caught us and kicked us out. I spent at least 5 minutes doing my belligerent best to convince him that we had bought those beers there, despite the fact that they didn’t happen to sell 24oz PBRs. It ended with me yelling at him to go check with the bartender as he pushed us out the door. On another night I think I got kicked out of a bar called the Marquee (either that or one of my other friends did because she was too drunk to come back in), and I made a right fool of myself on the way out. You know those queue ropes, the ones they put out to condense long lines of people? I grabbed my coat and decided to walk right through the middle of them on my way to the door, dragging poles and rope behind me like a wedding dress train. My friends were quite impressed that I pulled that off without noticing a thing. The bouncers, however, were not. After a long night of partying, my duplex mates and I decided to have an underwear dance party in our basement, followed by an inpromptu streak across Whitworth campus at 5am. Thanks for keeping me classy, vodka.

As I mentioned above, this is a great pregame drink (if you like sweet things):

1 can frozen lemonade mix

1 bottle champagne

Fifth of pomegranate vodka

Mix frozen lemonade with champagne in lieu of water. Add at least half of the fifth of vodka. More if you wish. I usually add more.

Another good one is vodka bitters. It’s usually this:

vodka

soda water

splash of bitters

lime cordial

Or if you want to jump start your night just order a vodka bitters with lime on the rocks like I did at Cafe Ole last weekend. You end up with a glass of vodka and a slice of lime on top. Not quite the same, and you have to really like vodka. I’d recommend the first one.

More Pickles Please

I love dill pickles. I might have just OD-ed on pickles. I’ve eaten about 5 of them in the past ten minutes. They get such a bad rep, what with all the (unfounded) pickle and ice cream/pregnancy associations. The only reason pregnant women want pickles is because they are suffering from a sodium deficiency, so they can go lick a salt block. Lay off the pickles, they don’t need that stigma. I can’t really answer to the ice cream craving, other than ice cream is just so good who doesn’t crave it?!  So have no fear, I’m definitely not pregnant; I just really like eating these crunchy morsels of deliciousness. Anyway, it got me thinking of all the great things you can eat with pickles.

You can always eat dill pickles plain. They are just lovely to munch on and you can’t beat  0 calories! (Not sure if I believe that “fact”). Or you can make a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. DON’T hate on it until you try it. Most people try it and find that they rather like the combination. It happens to be one of my quick lunchtime favorites. Dill pickles are amazing when put on a nice hamburger or cheeseburger, or chop em up and add to some tuna!  Throw some dill pickles on a cheese board, it’s fantastic. My little brother is telling me deep fried pickles are good…I’m skeptical, but I’d be willing to give it a go. This is a dill pickle dip recipe I’ve been wanting to try, Im going to make it right now. And try my hardest not to eat my weight in chips and dip. 🙂

I also just read that someone uses dill pickles as a chaser for vodka! Take a shot, bite into a pickle. I’m intrigued. Can you imagine the bartender’s reaction if I asked for a pickle with my vodka shot? Do they even have dill pickles at most bars? Might have to try this one out just for shock value. Pickles are the new lime.