Thai food happens to be one of my favorites and the men I live with are obsessed with anything noodle oriented. Sometimes I wonder why? Perhaps it was because I ate a ton of cantonese lo mein throughout each one of my pregnancies? This could be why my kids hand chopsticks easier than a fork.
Whatever the reason, I can incorporate noodles into almost everything and be happy. I have made pad thai for years and have really not been impressed with the recipes that I’ve tried. I decided that the best pad thai is the one that you don’t add 100 ingredients to…..this one has less than 20…. don’t get scared when you see the long list of stuff below. It’s basically the entire contents of my fridge and pantry. ha ha.
Simple is best. My version of this dish includes tofu and chicken. Feel free to go Pad Thai wild and add anything you wish. Line up the ingredients and let’s get our chopsticks ON.
1/2 pkg skinny rice stick noodles
2/3 cup chicken stock – low sodium
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp grated lime rind
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp chili flakes
4 tsp vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 package firm tofu, cubed
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced gingerroot
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
Prepare rice noodles according to package directions, rinse in cold water and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together chicken stock, ketchup, fish sauce, sugar, cornstarch, lime rind and juice and chili flakes; set aside.
In wok or large skillet, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) of the oil over medium heat; cook eggs, stirring often, for 2 minutes or until scrambled and set. Transfer to plate.
Wipe out wok; add remaining oil. Brown chicken and tofu, in batches, over medium-high heat. Transfer to separate plate.
Add carrots, red pepper, garlic and ginger to pan; cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until slightly tender. Add noodles; stir gently for 1 minute.
Return chicken to pan. Stir sauce and pour into pan; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until thickened, noodles are tender and chicken is no longer pink inside.
Return egg mixture to wok along with bean sprouts; toss gently for 1 minute or until heated through. Serve sprinkled with peanuts and optional green onions.
Comfort Food Definition: A food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it, these tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association.
I have eaten lots of comfort foods in my lifetime (mainly because I’m old and need to be comforted). To name a few….creamy mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, buttermilk biscuits, apple pie, meatloaf and of course classic macaroni and cheese.
Nothing is better than good ol’ down home cooking.
In fact, I’ve always envisioned myself as Laura from Little House on the Prairie, cooking up “vittles” in a small wooden barn house…….I just don’t look great in braids.
I’ve used my “mac n cheese” recipes in various ways but the easiest and cutest thing I have done to date are these little muffins. They are great for parties or just for fun when you want to serve them as an appetizer, main or even a side dish.
The trick to a perfect mac muffin is a good combo of “binders”…….eggs and cheese are your best bets. I have tweeked my recipe to add a little punch for the adult crowd by making them sharp and spicy but you can absolutely use any cheddar cheese you desire.
Here’s how you make em’ ….
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 extra large egg, beaten
1 cup whole milk (if you are watching your diet you can use 1 % milk but it really makes a difference using the full fat one)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or shredded jalapeno cheddar for an extra kick
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or a 24 mini tin) with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil and salt; set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for about 8 – 10 minutes, it should still be a little bit firm or al dente. Remove from the heat, drain and return to the pan; stir in the butter and egg until pasta is evenly coated. Reserve 1/2 cup of cheese and stir the remaining Cheddar, milk and mozzarella cheese into the pasta. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the reserved cheese and the bread crumb mixture over the tops.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the topping is nicely browned. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. This will allow the cheese to set and they will hold their muffin shape. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.
See ya next week!
Growing up, my mom always made a dish using “bow” shaped pasta and a whole grain Kasha. Kasha is buckwheat groats and can be eaten as a soft cereal. It is considered to be a Jewish comfort food and is often served with little bow ties. This dish is referred to as “Kasha Varnishkes”. You can also use Kasha as a filling for Knishes and my mother throws some into her famous chicken soup. I have no idea why I have started this blog with a complete description of Kasha because it has nothing to do with the recipe I’m sharing with you below. I think I just got side-tracked because of the stupid bows.
So, let’s talk about pasta shapes for a second. The past few months I’ve been walking down the specialty aisle at a local market eyeing the colored pasta. This is something that you probably may want to know. Colored pasta is made from natural food coloring and is only different from your regular pasta IN PRICE. I have a rule at my home which most of my kids know to a keep secret. They actually have been paid handsomely to keep some information under wraps. If I buy a package of pasta to use in a photo shoot and it costs 11 bucks ….I don’t tell my husband Steve. We slip it in on the grocery bill and let him think it’s laundry detergent. Steve probably won’t have time to read this blog so I think my secret shopping list is safe. Today I’m using my beautiful striped bow shaped pricey pasta in a very easy recipe that I’ve been using for years. It’s a pink sauce that can be used on just about anything and I think you will love it so much you may want to schmear it all over yourself… it’s that delish.
THE GOE PINK ONE:
Here’s what you need:
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls butter
1 Vidalia onion (for some reason this is the only onion I can eat, it’s sweet and doesn’t repeat)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of tomato sauce (15 oz. each) or I sometimes like to use plain old Ragu (large size jar)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream or if you want a skinny version use 1 cup of 2% milk
¼ cup grated grana padano cheese, parmesan or romano is fine too
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
How to put it together:
Heat butter and oil in a skillet, medium high heat. Saute garlic & onions for about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper. Add brown sugar and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally just to make sure you don’t scorch the sauce. Remove from heat and add your milk or cream. Sprinkle in cheese and then taste your sauce. You may have to add a little more salt, pepper or maybe brown sugar. Add half of your chopped basil and then your pasta. Stir gently and garnish with remaining basil and a few shakes of grated cheese. Bon Appetito !!!
See ya next week!