I’ve been all about Pad Thai lately. It is one of those restaurant style dishes that is really quite simple to recreate at home – so it’s healthier and cheaper! I’m still working on perfecting my own version of Pad Thai, but I found this video helpful, so I thought I’d share!
Pasta Carbonara is one of THE easiest dishes to make – it is literally just bacon, eggs, cheese and pasta. The trick to making perfect carbonara is timing (just like life). I’ve tried a number of different ways to prepare this dish and this is my preferred method. If raw eggs freak you out remember, the egg is going to cook as you mix it with the hot pasta. You are not eating raw egg.
If you don’t succeed at this recipe on the first try, I strongly encourage you to try again. It is definitely a practice-makes-perfect type of dish. The good thing is that the ingredients are cheap and it’s quick to make, so if you don’t get rich creamy results the first time, you can always whip up another batch on the spot.
How to Make Restaurant Quality Carbonara
Serves: 4 servings
8 oz. uncooked thin pasta or linguine
6 – 8 slices of bacon, chopped
½ Cup scallions, chopped
1 cup of good quality Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of boiling water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente (or however you like it).
While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto a paper towel. Reserve 1 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan. Add chopped scallions and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat for a minute or until the scallion wilts down.
In a small bowl mix eggs and Parmesan cheese together and set aside.
Return cooked bacon to pan with the scallions and turn heat to low. The spaghetti should be done by now. If it isn’t, turn off the heat to the pan until the spaghetti is cooked. Add cooked spaghetti directly from the pasta water to the bacon and scallion mixture in the pan. Toss to coat and heat through. Add a small scoop of the pasta water if the pasta seems dry or is sticking together. Turn off the heat.
Add mixture of beaten eggs and Parmesan cheese to the pan, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. The noodles should have a creamy, translucent glow that sort of looks like an Alfredo sauce.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
If your eggs curdle, the pasta was too hot. Next time try mixing the pasta with tongs for a minute to cool it down enough. You want the pasta to reach the sweet spot of hot enough to cook the eggs, but not so hot they curdle.
I like to use thin white spaghetti. I find with wheat pasta I have to increase the eggs and cheese.
Parmesan cheese is salty, so go don’t add salt until the very end after you’ve tried it before serving.
I love this for a quick and easy weeknight meal. It is this working mom’s favorite go-to meal!
Have you ever heard of Spatchcock chicken? I didn’t think so. It’s an easy way to prepare a whole roasting chicken so that it will cook quickly and evenly. This makes it an ideal meal for busy working moms and dads. You can prepare it and then let it marinate in your sauce of choice, overnight, for added flavor. Check out the full directions for more information.
I was in the checkout line at Hannaford and the cashier, a 20-something girl, held up the avocados I was buying and asked “What do you do with these?” And my heart broke a little. She didn’t even know what an avocado was. I always feel bad for people who don’t know or are unwilling to try avocados. They are so good and good for you. And they require hardly any prep.
Avocados are probably the most popular food at Boxshop. We eat them plain, diced up on top of scrambled eggs, sliced inside sandwiches, as a topper for salads or burgers, and our favorite way: Guacamole.
One of the perks of my now defunct marriage is the salsa and guacamole recipes I learned to make. Passed down from a Mexican grandmother (yes Donald Trump, my kids have Mexican blood running through their veins, better get that wall up ASAP) this recipe is a cinch to prepare. And not to toot my own horn, but I am kind of a big deal when I show up to parties and potlucks with a bowl of my guacamole. For real.
Easy Guacamole Recipe
Serves: 2 cups or so
Be the star of your next pot luck with this gorgeous guacamole.
1 ripe avocado (it should give a little when you push it)
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 tablespoon diced jalapenos
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 dashes of worchershire sauce
1 squeeze of a lemon
Salt to taste
Optional: tablespoon of diced red onion.
Scoop out the avocado and mash it with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and stir together. Viola! You can add in 1/4 cup of sour cream or greek yogurt to stretch the recipe for a small crowd. You will need to adjust the worcheshire, lemon juice, and salt.
I usually double or triple the orginal recipe and may throw in a dollop of sour cream, if I am taking this to a potluck or serving to a crowd.
I gave a quick elevator speech to the cashier, about how to best eat avocados. As I pushed my grocery cart toward the exit, she didn’t look entirely convinced, but I felt better.
One of my favorite bloggers is Melissa at Bless This Mess. She has lots of healthy, affordable recipes that feed a growing family. Her Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pasta is a nice switch from plain old spaghetti.
I love shrimp for dinner because it is so quick and easy – perfect after a long day in the office. This Honey Soy Shrimp from Jo Cooks looks delicious!
Bufflo Chicken Potstickers by Danielle Green at The Creative Bite are new twist on two of my favorite foods. You can make up extras for lunches the next day.
Thai Lettuce Wraps are made with ground turkey and lots of veggies, making them healthy and delicious.
I used to be a cookbook collector. I own cookbooks on baking, BBQ, Scottish cooking (bland), Southern cooking (not diet-friendly), brunch, Christmas, Summer, Autumn, cookies, church pot-lucks, and the list goes on and on. I used to belong to The Good Cook book club and delighted in ordering a new book every month or so. A little treat for myself. I used to refer to these books like old friends, curling up with a cup of tea and just reading or rereading favorite recipes. However, lately I’ve noticed that I’m just not that into them. This makes me kind of sad, because we’ve spent so much time together in the past.
But thanks to an iPad and Pinterest, most of my recipe time is now spent online. I have 116 boards and over four thousand pins (4009 to be exact). Excessive? Maybe. Helpful? Definitely. I have boards on everything from cooking to decorating to exercise. I have boards for things that make me laugh. Make me pause and think. Boards that motivate me. As someone who likes lists and pretty pictures, Pinterest is a one stop shop.
The past four or five new recipes I’ve made at home have been culled from Pinterest. My latest Pinterest find was from my board Take Out, a copycat recipe from damndelicious.net,PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I renamed them Thai Lettuce Wraps because I think it sounds better, and this is my blog. I also used ground turkey instead of chicken and omitted the water chestnuts because I think water chestnuts are gross. Otherwise, the recipe is spot-on.
These were quick and easy to make, a hit with the boys and more or less on the clean/healthy side. Win Win Win all around!
I had never heard the term Spatchcock until recently- it means to split open and grill poultry- kind of like butterflying it. Over the weekend tried this cooking technique, which is suppossed to reduce cooking time. We opted to roast the spatchcock chicken in the oven, rather than deal with the grill in the cold weather. The chicken did indeed cook much faster than roasting it whole, taking about 45 – 50 minutes instead of an hour and half or more.
To spatchcock a chicken you cut out the backbone and flatten the breast bone until it looks like this:
I will definitely try this technique again, on the grill next time. It was easy and made cooking a whole chicken so much faster. I have yet to find a proper definition or back story for this term and how it evolved. Which is really bugging me, because I thoroughly enjoy food trivia. If anyone has any information about spatchcock, please let me know!
So, I love Chinese take-out. Like, it’s the sad highlight of my otherwise staid work week (I know, I need to get a hobby or something). When I was a kid, mom served pu pu platters instead of pizza at my birthday parties. Whenever she took my brother and I out to lunch, we always went to the same Chinese restaurant, sat in the same booth and ordered the same meals: PFK, chicken fingers and chicken wings (it was the 80s’ in rural Maine and for a nine year old and four year old, that was pretty exotic). Mom always ordered Chicken with Broccoli, a dish that would eventually become one of my favorites, too.
Earlier this year I went through a bit of nutritional mid-life crisis when I declared I would eat nothing but clean foods. [Insert image of me standing like Scarlet O’Hara in my kitchen, declaring “I will never eat processed foods again, so long as I live!” ] This was all well and good, except this meant no eating out. No take-out dinner to lift my spirits mid-week. No Chinese food. But I declared it in front of my four children, who have memories like elephants when it comes to me making sweeping nutritional declarations. Hey Mom, remember when you said we are going to go vegan on Fridays? Remember Mom, we are only going to bake with whole wheat flour… Mom, I thought we are going to grow all our own food from now on? …Seriously, these are the same kids who lose their retainers, forget how to use the washing machine or put the toilet seat down….
In a surprising show of self-control, when the urge for Chinese food hit I took to Pinterest and found several versions of Chinese Chicken and Broccoli. In an even more surprising twist, I liked my final version even better than any Chinese take-out! Gasp! I didn’t think such a thing was possible. Bonus, this dish is cheap, cheap to make. I admit, at first glance the ingredient list is a little fussy looking, but I promise, if you buy them, you’ll find plenty of other recipes that use them… like Honey Sesame Chicken and Asian Inspired Egg Scramble.
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken breast will work too, but I think the thighs have more flavor) sliced into narrow strips
2 cups of blanched broccoli (blanched means half-cooked)
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (any old vinegar will do)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (a little goes a long way)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you like a little heat)
1 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp oil ( I use coconut, you can use whatever you have on hand)
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger (this is important- the dish tastes way better with fresh ginger, which will stay fresh in the fridge for a while, so it’s worth the investment)
4 green scallions, chopped
Heat coconut oil your pan/skillet to low-medium heat
Whisk soy sauce, OJ, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, pepper flakes and corn starch together – set aside
Add chicken to the hot pan and cook for about a minute
Add broccoli, garlic, ginger and scallions to pan and saute* for two-three minutes until vegetables cook down and are soft (not mushy)
Add sauce to chicken and broccoli and simmer over low heat, stirring for 3-4 minutes*saute just means to cook food quickly in a little bit of fat over direct heat (it’s a fancy word for frying – which sounds nutritionally bad, but really isn’t)
Serve chicken and broccoli with long grain wild rice or with a leafy green salad for a lighter take on this Chinese food favorite.