Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

My Las Vegas cousin’s wife posted this really pretty picture of Thai Chicken Noodle Soup and it looked so good I just had to try it. If you like Thai food, you should like this. If you like chicken soup, you should like this. It’s just good. Maybe even better. PS This recipe is changed from the original and what I have printed out doesn’t say where it came from so I can’t give anyone credit for it, sorry.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-4 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 28 ounces coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, bite sized
  • 3 ounces rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons siracha sauce

Directions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot (we use our 8-quart pot) over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides but don’t cook through, about 2 minutes. Remove to plate.
  • Add remaining tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté 3 minutes.
  • Add curry paste, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chicken back to pot and add the chicken broth, coconut milk, Aminos, brown sugar, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to easily shred.
  • Remove chicken and let rest until cool enough to shred or chop. Meanwhile, add mushroom, bell pepper, cauliflower, and rise noodles to pot. Simmer approximately 5 minutes (noodles will continue cooking while you finish). Stir in shredding chicken, cilantro, lime juice, and siracha.
  • Taste and add more siracha for spicier soup or more lime juice for tangier soup.

Notes

  • The original recipe called for chicken breasts. We’ve used breasts and thighs and prefer thighs.
  • Ginger powder will work, but fresh is better. If you use powder, about 1 teaspoon is good.
  • We’ve used canned coconut milk and coconut milk in a carton. We prefer the canned as it seemed to be thicker and creamier, but be sure to get the stuff with no guar gum and other crap added.
  • Although the recipe called for cremini mushrooms, almost any, including canned, will work.
  • We don’t usually add the siracha sauce to the soup itself as some of us don’t like much (if any) heat. Those of us who do, add it to our own bowls.thai-chicken-noodle-soup.jpg
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Banana Bread

 

I guess I have a reputation now with Hubbardston Pack 12 Bear Den. Two weeks ago my Bear, Joseph, wanted to take snacks for a den meeting. He thought banana bread would be good so we made some and took it along with some homemade lemonade. What a hit! In all fairness, there was one boy who doesn’t like banana bread. I don’t blame him; I don’t like banana bread myself. Yesterday we had another den meeting and the den leader’s son asked if we could take banana bread again. I guess we’ll have to and remember to take something for the non-banana bread Bear.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (you can use up to one half applesauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups massed ripe bananas (if you don’t have quite enough or don’t want to squish an entire banana for a smidge, replace with applesauce)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I usually make a double batch with whole wheat flour and use 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (this is a recipe that if you forget the salt, people probably won’t complain)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (this is optional, of course)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of a loaf pan. I usually use a cast iron dinosaur pan because I usually am making this stuff for children who love dinosaurs and/or don’t really care what it looks like. This is similar to using a cupcake pan. I spray the pan with non-stick spray and then put it in the oven while preheating.
  2. Mix sugar and butter (and applesauce, if you are using some). Stir in eggs until well-blended.
  3. Add bananas and water (I’m so used to writing H20 I sometimes forget how to spell water).
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients just until moistened. If you are using a stand mixer, make sure the stuff from the bottom has been mixed in well.
  5. If you are using a loaf pan, pour batter into the pan and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For an 8-inch pan, this will be about 75 minutes, for a 9-inch pan, about 55 or 60 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, loosen sides from the pan, and remove from pan.
  6. If you are using cast iron, bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately. If you’ve sprayed the heck out of the pan, there should be no problem with them just falling out. If they don’t seem to want to, kind of wiggle them to loosen them a bit.
2016-04-06 BB 2 with butter and applesauce

The sugar, butter, and applesauce.

2016-04-06 BB 3 squished banana

Mashed bananas. There is just something repulsive about the smell and feel of bananas. I am not sure I understand this; my mother tells me I liked bananas when I was younger. But now I don’t. Not only that, I used to like banana bread even though I didn’t like bananas and now I don’t even like that.

2016-04-06 BB 4 with eggs

With the eggs. Eggs are so pretty.

2016-04-06 BB 7 with dry ingredients

Dry ingredients added.

2016-04-06 BB 9 dino pan

The dinosaur pan. You can find odd things like this on ebay or craigslist. This particular pan came from one of those.

2016-04-06 BB 10 in pan

Filled. I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to fill these guys. Works pretty well. The light in the kitchen in the morning isn’t the greatest for picture taking, though. The sun was coming right in the window and rather overpowered my obviously feeble flash.

2016-04-06 BB 13 done and out again

All done and cooling. That white patch on the t-rex is an errant ray of sun. It’s powerful.

2016-04-06 BB 14 done and in container

All done and in a container. I put a sheet of waxed paper or parchment over the first layer and then put the rest in. When I double the recipe, I get 24 dinosaurs and a little mini-bundt cake.

Egg Drop Soup

2016-03018 egg drop soup

We’d been searching for a good recipe for Egg Drop Soup. I believe our search is over now that we’ve come up with our own.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chicken broth
  2. 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  3. 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  4. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  5. 1 teaspoon cold water
  6. 1 egg, beaten
  7. 1 teaspoon fresh chives (or onion tops)
  8. 1/8 teaspoon salt (or less–pay attention to your chicken broth, if it has salt, you may not need to add any, and keep in mind this is salt-loving me speaking)
  9. 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the first three ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Combine the cornstarch and water; stir into the boiling broth.
  3. Gently stir in the beaten egg.
  4. Season with the chives/onion tops, salt, and pepper.
  5. Enjoy!

I made some for myself for dinner one evening because I didn’t feel like the leftovers that were available. Joseph tried some and learned how to make it the following morning for breakfast. Seth didn’t want to be left out and he ended up making some for his breakfast as well. This version is much better than the first we tried but you really do need to be careful about the salt.

It is quite easy to double or triple the recipe which is useful. Do keep in mind that Egg Drop Soup doesn’t warm up well in the microwave. On the stovetop, it’s just fine.

Steve’s Hike

With a Pack 12 Cub Scout Hike coming up on Saturday, we thought it would be a good time to get everything ready to go in order to plant one or two letterboxes. We had a stamp for Joseph and Seth ready to go as well as the boxes but Joseph’s needed a log book. That was put together and then everything was put together.

2016-03-18 Joseph's letterbox Steve's Hike 2

I guess Steve is the name of the guy when you play MineCraft. So, this is Steve’s sword that Joseph and I came up with and carved and Steve’s Hike is the name of Joseph’s letterbox.

2016-03-18 Joseph's letterbox Steve's Hike 3 ready to go

Here it is all ready for the lid to be put on.

As of when I just looked to get the link, there have been 13 hits but no finds for this one. If you’d like to take a look, the link for clues is here.

2016-03-19 Pack 12 hike Joseph

This is Joseph at the river in Winchendon which was part of the hike. We planted Steve’s Hike letterbox and then went on the hike with the pack. Nice day for a hike, especially in the trees to be out of the wind that was somewhat cold.

Hot Chocolate

Today is one of those days at our house. Not a bad day, just one of those. It looks like this outside:

2016-02-24 outside 2 again

At least, that’s what it looked like a couple of hours ago when I took the picture. Now it’s raining and there isn’t as much white to be seen. This has been one of the least winter-like winters I remember. Still, it seemed like a good hot chocolate day so here you go–

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 quart milk (I used goat, of course, but you can use whatever kind you’d like; I’ve used coconut milk with good results
  • splash vanilla

2016-02-24 HC 2 sugar, cocoa, salt again1. Dump the sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a pot. For a lovely taste sensation, you can add cayenne or some other spice to it at this time. When I make spicy hot chocolate, I usually add between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon to a single batch. Unless I am making one spicy and one not, I double the recipe which is what I did today.
2016-02-24 HC 3 whisked2. Whisk the dry ingredients.
2016-02-24 HC 4 with water3. Add the water and whisk well.

2016-02-24 HC 6 whished at med-high again4. Let this mixture come to a rolling boil at medium high heat (I tried to get the 7.5 temperature in the picture for you).

2016-02-24 HC 7 bubblingThis is what the rolling boil should look like.

5. Stir in the milk and reduce the heat to a medium low.
2016-02-24 HC 8 hot chocolate

6. Let heat until hot and add a splash of vanilla.
2016-02-24 HC 10 done

Pour into your totally awesome new Gryffindor mug that Julia got at Universal Studios and enjoy! A dollop of whipped cream is good on top. So is a candy cane used to stir it up. Or plain. Plain and simple. Good stuff.2016-02-24 HC 11 cup of

 

Burritos/Tortillas

Burritos are one of our favorite foods. It had been a few months, which is very out of character for us, since we’d had them so the other day, we needed to fix that.

First things first, we had to cook the beans. Typically, we’ll just rinse about 2 cups of pinto beans, place them in a two-quart pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Then the heat is turned off and they sit for an hour. After draining and rinsing, they are again covered with water and brought to a boil. The heat is turned down so they remain simmering and they are watched. For refried beans, you want them to be really, really soft, which takes water, but you don’t want them watery. Or too dry. Once they’ve been cooking for an hour or two, we start mushing them against the side of the pan. Eventually you’ll have a mass of mostly mushed beans. You can use a fork or even put the beans in a blender or food processor. In our kitchen, we like to go for easy and the fewest possible dirty dishes. That means mushing against the edge of the pan with the spoon that’s been stirring them upon occasion. At some point in time, you should add salt. We usually add between 1/2 and 1 whole tablespoon; it is completely up to you and what your tastebuds/blood pressure will allow.

We also like to have rice in our burritos. I prefer long-grain brown rice and since no one else either cares or gives opinions otherwise, we have long-grain brown rice unless there isn’t time for anything other than white. White rice is really good as a hot pack–I should perhaps discuss this in another post. Continuing on with the brown rice, you need 2 1/4 cups water, 1 cup rice, about a tablespoon butter or oil, and however much salt you like, we typically use in the neighborhood of a teaspoon. Bring that all to a boil in a one-quart pot, reduce the heat so it’s simmering but won’t boil over with the lid on, and cover. It should be done in about 45 minutes.

Cheese: my preference is extra sharp cheddar but we use whatever cheddar we have on hand. Grate up a bunch because there is no such thing as too much cheese.

Salsa: I have made my own salsa off and on for years. When I don’t make my own, Mrs. Renfro’s is our favorite. Especially the green jalepeno or the habanero. Well, for those of us who like it hot. The rest of us use whatever baby salsa we have on hand. Baby salsa? you ask. Yeah, no heat, basically. Those of us who don’t like the heat really don’t like the heat. It’s kind of lame.

Avocados: unless you live somewhere where you can pick them off a tree, make sure they’re soft but not mushy. And ignore the smarty-pants people who talk about the “green stuff like butter that has no flavor.” If you don’t like avocados, fine. Just keep your mouth shut.

I think that brings us to the tortillas. Yeah. The best commercial tortillas I’ve ever had were ones we discovered while we lived in New Mexico. I think they were called Albuquerque Tortilla Company but I can’t find anything definitive in a quick online search so it may be that they are indeed the company that sold out to Mission. Very sad. Honestly, however, it is their whole wheat tortillas I loved. I had white flour tortillas. They’re pasty and gross. Yuck! I love whole wheat tortillas; if they’re made right. Typically those you find at the store are like cardboard or aren’t really whole wheat. Still yuck.

The recipe I have came from a couple of Mexican women who frequented the same organic garden we did in California so I’m pretty sure it’s pretty authentic. Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil and mix well. Mix in the water. Let rest 1/2 hour.

Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a circle.

 

2016-02-06 making tortillas 3

Four ready to go.

Cook on an ungreased griddle on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Flip; cook until brown spots form, about ten seconds. We use a cast iron skillet.

2016-02-06 making tortillas 4

As you can see, this one obviously isn’t very round. You can also see the towels to the right waiting for more tortillas and the sourdough starter to the left. Always, the sourdough.

Place the cooked tortillas on a rack on which you’ve placed a towel and cover the stack with another towel; this keeps them warm and from drying out. We usually have two or three people working on tortillas because we don’t make just 12. Currently we make 24 and while we had everyone home, 36 was not unheard of. In order to make short work of tortilla making, have one person squishing the dough into fat rounds, one person rolling them thin, and one person cooking. A tortilla press would be a good investment.

Sourdough English Muffins

If you love sourdough and you love English muffins, you should really give these a try. They aren’t hard and don’t take two days like some of the bread I like to make. I started out with the King Arthur recipe which you can check out here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (active dry or instant)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (fed or unfed; fed gives a more vigorous rise)
  • 7 cups flour (I actually use around 6 1/2 cups generally because I use part whole wheat and part unbleached all-purpose–King Arthur’s of course)
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salt (don’t skimp on this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (this is for an enhanced sour flavor and is worth using)
  • extra flour

Directions

1. Combine all the dough ingredients other than extra flour in a large bowl. I have a Kitchen Aide and love it but it isn’t large enough for English muffins. Imagine my surprise when I went to get out the Bosch only to find that the base was there but not the bowl or dough hook! 2016-02-05 mini-greenhouses

It was just hiding. Behind my supply of mini-greenouses. No, we don’t really drink that much milk. Those are actually milk, water (I use distilled water for making lotion and in the iron), and orange juice jugs and we will use them in a month or two for starting seeds in.

2. Mix. You can knead if you want, I prefer to use a machine because I usually have a million other things going on. Don’t do either for an overlong period of time; you want a smooth, soft, and elastic dough that isn’t terribly sticky. Use a little more flour if you need.

3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover (my bowl fits a plate on top perfectly), and set aside to rise for one or one and a half hours; until it is nice and puffy. You can, for a more pronounced sour flavor, cover 2016-02-05 English muffins 7the bowl at this time and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours without rising first. You will need to let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two before continuing.

4. Gently deflate the dough by turning it onto a lightly floured work surface. Let rest for a few minutes. Roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut in 3 inch rounds.

5. Place rounds on a cookie sheet which has been sprinkled with flour. Let rise in a warm place until light and puffy. This usually takes 45 to 60  minutes but depends on how warm your house is. If you refrigerated the dough, it may take up to two hours to rise.

2016-02-05 English muffins 8

Yes, that is my starter in the measuring cup. And the ever-present pot of hot chocolate. I suppose I should do that recipe one of these days.

6. Preheat an electric griddle to 350 degrees (F, not C) or an ungreased frying pan over medium-low. Carefully transfer muffins making sure not to overcrowd them.

7. Cook for about 10 minutes on each side. I like to turn the temperature down after initially placing the muffins on the griddle. If I don’t, they overcook on the outside without cooking all the way through. The edges should still be soft but not doughy.2016-02-05 English muffins  z

8. Remove from griddle and cool on a wire rack. You can store them for four or five days in a plastic container, if they last that long.

These pictures are the same thing, really. The one on the left I used flash, the one on the right, not. The jelly is elderberry that we made a year or two ago.

 

2016-02-05 English muffins 4

Not the best picture. This is what I have currently for citric acid but any type should work fine. It really does make a difference and if you like a tangy sourdough, this is the way to go.