Thai Green Curry with Eggplant, Peppers and chicken

Made this for Kumy’s birthday last week while we were away from home. We had kind of limited supplies, but I’d brought a couple of Tbsp of Thai Green Curry Paste, which made it crazy easy. We were all starved and this was the perfect dish!

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Eggplant, not peeled – cut into 1″ cubes
1 green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, cut into fat slivers
1 carrot, julienned
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into small bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional – I didn’t have any and it was still good)
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch red pepper flakes (totally optional – the paste is already very spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Thai Basil Leaves, julienned (optional – I didn’t have any and still good)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until it’s quite hot. Add eggplant and cook, flipping the eggplant to sear it. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the onion, peppers and carrot and saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and the peppers are softened. Add the chicken and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.

Shift veggies to the edges, and add a little more oil, and the green curry paste. Cook the green curry paste for a couple of minutes and add 1/2 cup water, the juice of 1/2 a lime and the salt and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together well and add the coconut milk. Cook for just another 30 seconds to warm the coconut milk and serve over rice.

Would probably be great with chopped peanuts, too.

Update:  Last night Maya and the gals made amazing vegan egg rolls, which Samir fried.  Since we had a lot of folks home for supper,  I made this dish without chicken, and realized it really doesn’t need the red pepper flakes!  Taylor made Sherry Trifle, so it was fine dining all around.

Chicken Pilau Biryani

Everyone has a dish that is their knock out dish, and Pilau Biryani is mine.  I’ve made it for graduations, parties and most recently for a wedding.  (5 catering trays worth!)  It’s a fairly simple dish, but so ridiculously tasty.  I use a spice mix called Shan Pilau Biryani mix, which is available online or in Indian grocery stores.

This makes a really nice big batch, but leftovers never last at our house.  I do make the recipe a little differently than on the box, but it’s still pretty close.  If you decide to make a half box, try to make sure you get roughly half of the big spices as well. It is also traditional to leave big spices like cardamom, cloves, black peppers , pieces of cinnamon etc. in the dish that you simply pick out while you are eating.

1 box Shan Pilau Biryani Mix
2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 1/2  Tbsp crushed fresh Ginger
3 cups water
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred well plus more for serving
3 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
6 1/4 cups of water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3-4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil

In  large pot, mix the chicken, spice mix, garlic, ginger and water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until chicken is cooked and soft.  (Probably about an hour.)  You want to end up with about 2 cups of liquid gravy (in addition to the chicken of course) so if you end up with much more, just cook it a little longer.  If you have less, add more water during cooking.

Remove from heat.  (If you want to pour it into a catering tray and freeze it at this point, you can.)

Stir the yogurt well and pour it over the chicken mixture evenly.

Cook the rice with the 1 Tbsp salt until just about done, and layer it on top of the chicken and gravy. It is important to make sure the rice isn’t overcooked and too soft, since the moisture in the gravy will add moisture to the rice.

If you get a red powder packet in the biryani mix, sprinkle it on top of the rice for nice bits of yellow color. Sometimes it’s not in the box – which is a bummer, but not a fatal flaw.

Fry the thinly sliced onions in olive oil, stirring frequently until they are dark golden brown and caramelized. This does take quite a while. Keep the onions and the oil they were fried in – you will use it all in the dish.  (I often start the onions before I even start the chicken to save time.  You can also cook the onions and then freeze them, and heat them just before you assemble the dish.)  For the wedding this summer, I fried two big bags of onions from Costco.  I think you could smell onions frying from two blocks away!

Ladle the fried onions and the oil on top of the rice, and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  (If you start with a frozen base, you’ll need to either cook it longer or you’ll want to thaw the base for a couple of hours.)

Remove from the oven and gently mix up the chicken and rice portion with a big spoon or saucer , and serve on a big platter. Serve with plain yogurt or a simple raita (spiced yogurt and vegetables.)

For a vegan version, substitute 3 cans of washed garbanzo beans, one cup of shelled pistachios, and 1 cup of frozen peas for the meat.  Add the peas until the very last minute or they get mushy.  (I sometimes just put the peas on top of the mixture in the tray since it all gets mixed up anyway.  That way they stay nice and green, but still absorb plenty of flavor.)


Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

For this soup, you cook the noodles separately, then place them in the soup bowl and add the soup and other toppings right on top of them.  Rice noodles can get really mushy if you overcook them, so by adding them to the soup bowl, you never have to worry about mushy noodles!

Rice Noodles

Place rice noodles in a large, heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water to cover and let sit, gently moving them apart with a fork. Check for doneness by biting one to see if it is cooked through. Really thin noodles cook in 7 minutes or so and thicker ones may need 10. When done, drain and toss with a little sesame oil.

4 Tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Mirin (can use cider vinegar with a little sugar)
2 tsp dark Sesame Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Sambal Oelek (Can use Sriracha or any hot sauce you like)
8 cups chicken stock
1 lb. thinly sliced chicken breast
1 head chopped Napa cabbage

Add everything except chicken and cabbage to a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the chicken and cabbage and cook until the chicken is done and the cabbage is slightly softened,7-8 more minutes.

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
6 scallions, thinly sliced

To serve, place noodles in a large soup bowl. Ladle soup over the noodles, and top with cilantro and green onions. Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha to let each person season their soup.

Elote – Mexican Street Corn

If you live in Omaha, you must go to the Farmer’s Market in Aksarben and pray that the sweet corn lady is there making Elote.  Kumy and I had gotten one, and quickly realized that there was no way we were willing to share.  (Okay, so there was no way I was willing to share, and I ran back to get another.)

There is nothing better than sweet corn that’s just been picked, quickly boiled and slathered with mayo, fresh lime, parmesan and Tajin Seasoning.  This is a version that I make at home.   Tajin seasoning is tart, salty, not super hot and easily available in Mexican markets and online.

6 ears of corn, freshly shucked and washed


1/4 cup Mexican mayonnaise (or use regular mayonnaise with a good squeeze of lime in it.)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Cotija cheese (or parmesan in a pinch)
1/2 tsp Tajin seasoning
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped pretty fine
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix crema ingredinets in a bowl.

Cook corn by boiling in unsalted water or grilling. Slather the corn with the crema, and sprinkle with extra cotija and dust with tajin seasoning.

Thai Rice with Veggies

Made this for the first time on Kumy’s birthday last year, with Sriracha-Glazed Salmon.  It was quick and very good.  Yellow curry paste is available in Asian Markets.  I use Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste – which is also available online.  You can use coconut milk or coconut cream – both are good, though the coconut cream is of course slightly heavier.  (Avoid using cream of coconut – which is sweetened and used in cocktails.  Ali made that fateful mistake once on what was otherwise a very promising curry!)

2 cups rice
3 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 package mushrooms, sliced (Add more if you like mushrooms.)
1 or 2 red bell peppers, cut into bit-sized pieces

1 1/2 Tbsp Yellow Curry Paste
1 cup coconut milk/cream

Make rice with salt and water. See recipe here.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute peppers for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and saute a few minutes more. Add curry paste, and stir in well. Add coconut milk or cream and remove from heat. Gently blend in cooked rice. Season with a little salt if needed.

Chicken Fried Rice for a Crowd

Maya and the gals were all at our house a year or so ago, and so were Sammy and Taylor when I suddenly realized it was supper time! Maya’s friend Madeline loves stir-fried rice and often makes it, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Once you understand the mechanics of it: use cold rice, cook meat, then veggies, then sauce, then add everything back together again, you can use whatever you have on hand. I like it with lots of veggies and meat so I add a lot. It’s pretty easy and it’s delicious – anyway, the gals and our family demolished it!

3 cups rice
5 7/8 cup water
2 tsp salt

Make rice and spread out on a tray or any dish that will fit in your freezer. The rice needs to be cooled down.

olive oil
3 eggs

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (thighs and/or breast)
6 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek (a great hot sauce – or you could use Sriracha, or Tabasco)
8 cloves of garlic, crushed, or 1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 cup peas
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup bell pepper

Heat a Tbsp of oil in a wok or large, wide skillet. Scramble eggs with a few drops of soy sauce. Remove and cut into chunks.

Mix chicken with 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Fry the meat, stirring frequently until it looks cooked. Remove from the heat.

Add another Tbsp oil to the pan. Dump in carrots and onions and saute for a few minutes. Add peas and bell peppers and saute for a minute more. Push veggies to the outer edges.

Mix garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, chicken broth and Sambal Oelek in a bowl and pour into the middle of the veggies. Cook for a few minutes.

Add eggs and chicken back in. Stir veggies, sauce and meat together until everything is nice and saucy.

Add rice back in and cook,stirring to toss the rice with the meat and veggies. Check seasonings, and add red pepper and soy sauce as needed.

Zuppa Italiano with Sausage, Potato & Kale

4 slices, turkey bacon or real bacon, chopped
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cups of chicken broth
2 big potatoes, cut into thin, bite-sized pieces
1 tsp salt
1 cup half n half
2 cups kale, chopped

Saute turkey bacon in a little olive oil. (Real bacon won’t need oil.)

Add sausage, garlic and red pepper. Brown well. Remove sausage from pan, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Add back to pan, and add broth potatoes and salt. Cook 20 minutes. Add Kale and cook 2 more minutes. Add half & half and check seasoning.

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Sauce

From the Wall Street Journal – though simplified. Eggplant and tahini are so good together! The original recipe called for fresh herbs on top, but we like it just like this.

6 small eggplants, halved, skin and stem intact
olive oil
kosher salt

Put eggplants on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 425 for 20 minutes.

1/4 cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
sprinkle of garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Mix all together and drizzle over eggplant just before serving. Trader Joe’s also sells a Tahini sauce which you can substitute for the tahini paste and water. Just use 1/2 cup of the sauce instead.

You can use larger eggplants – just cut them in slices about 1″ thick.

Fish Tacos

This is so good and if you use frozen panko-breaded tilapia, it’s crazy quick.

4-5 piece of panko-breaded tilalpa from Costco. (Sorry – can’t remember the brand)
cumin powder
cayenne powder

Sprinkle a pinch of cumin and cayenne on the fish and bake as directed. When you remove them from the oven, slice them into 1/2″ slices.

Meanwhile, put together the avocado relish and yoghurt sauce, and warm the tortillas.

Avocado relish:

1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup jalapenos
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup diced avocado (can add more if you like)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix all gently.

Mayo sauce:

1 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
dash hot sauce (can use Tabasco or Sriracha)

Mix together.

corn tortillas
diced cabbage
1 bunch cilantro, diced
Mexican cheese (not taco cheese)

While fish is baking, wrap tortillas in foil, pop them in the oven for 5-6 minutes and assemble avocado relish and mayo sauce.

On a plate, place a warm tortilla, and fan out one fish fillet on each tortilla. Top with a spoonful of Avocado relish. Add a spoonful of cabbage, a sprinkling of cilantro and cheese. Drizzle with mayo sauce and serve. Sooo good.

Tangy Chicken Tacos

These tacos use all green ingredients and have flavors that remind me of Salsa Verde. They are delicious.

If you are lucky enough to have a Mexican grocery store nearby, you can easily get tomatillos, serrano pepper, cheese and good fresh corn tortillas.

I often use Asadero cheese or Queso Fresco, but most grocery stores sell shredded Mexican cheese, and I use that sometimes, too. (Do not use Taco cheese, which is seasoned, as it will really drown out the other flavors.)

If you can’t get tomatillos, I’ve read that you can use green tomatoes and a splash of lime as a substitute.

Be careful with the serrano pepper – they are 5 times hotter than a jalapeno. You can also substitute a jalapeno for the serrano.

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1 serrano pepper, diced
1/2 lb. tomatillos, rough diced
3/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped
corn tortillas, warmed
1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese, crumbled or shredded
2 cups romaine lettuce, rough chopped
1 cup chicken broth

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes. Add onion, cumin and pepper, and cook for a few minutes until onions are soft. Add tomatillos and chicken broth. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Check salt and pepper and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas, cheese and lettuce and fresh lime.

These would also be good with Shrimp. Just remove the shrimp from the shells, and add them 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.