Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).

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Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

I stopped at a Hispanic market Friday night and bought a bag of minature tomatillos (Tomatillo Milpero) and some beautiful serranos. The Tomatillo Milpero were so cute. There was no noticeable taste difference compared to regular tomatillos.

I do like to cook in the crockpot in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. I based this recipe on my favorite Salsa Verde recipe. It’s great served with Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans.

I made enchiladas with the leftover chicken and sauce. They were fantastic too. To make the enchiladas: Spread a little of the leftover tomatillos sauce in the both of a baking dish. Shred the chicken and mix it with shredded cheese and a little of the tomatillo sauce. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed corn tortillas and place them in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining tomatillo sauce and bake in a 350º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top the last 5 minutes or so of baking, if you would like.

You can complain about getting two different meals out of one.

Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half (also remove the stem if still attached)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 4 whole serranos, stems removed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and serranos in the crockpot. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the chicken is tender. Before serving, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Using a hand blender, puree the tomatillo mixture in the crockpot. Serve the tomatillo sauce over the chicken breasts.


Baked Chicken Taquitos

baked-chicken-taquitos

This is a recipe I posted on my other blog last night. I’m on a low iodine diet for 2 1/2 weeks to prepare my body for a tracer dose of radioactive iodine and a nuclear whole body scan to check for possible recurrence of thyroid cancer. I’m looking forward to a clear scan.

The thyroid is gland that absorbs iodine from one’s diet and uses it to make hormones that are used by the rest of the body. Certain types of thyroid cancers mimic healthy thyroid tissue and also absorb iodine. Because of that characteristic, certain thyroid cancers can be treated successfully with radioactive iodine. By eating a low iodine diet, the thyroid and  certain thyroid cancers are starved of iodine. When the radioactive iodine is ingested, the thyroid/thyroid cancer tissues gobble up the iodine with radiation attached. In a large, therapeutic dose the thyroid/thyroid cancer tissue is killed. In lower, tracer doses it allows for a scan that shows where the radioactive iodine was taken up. They are able to see if there is a recurrence of thyroid cancer (or regrowth of healthy thyroid tissue).

On the low iodine diet (LID), you can not eat iodized salt, sea salt, dairy, egg yolks, soy (soy oil and soy lecithin are fine), seafood, sea products (seaweed, carrageenan), certain dough conditioners, and red dye #3 or any foods that contain these ingredients. You can only have 5 – 6 ounces of meat per day. This diet is a challenge, but each time I have to do it, it gets easier. Only 12 more days to go.

When I am on LID, I eat these Baked Chicken Taquitos with LID-safe salsa and avocado “cream” (avocado blended with lime juice and kosher salt until smooth).

If you are not on LID, you can add cheese to the chicken mixture. You can also add other ingredients such as roasted chile peppers, kale, spinach, etc…

These taquitos freeze really well, but they have to be reheated in the oven (or toaster oven) to maintain crispiness. They get soft and chewy when reheated in the microwave.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

1 whole chicken
kosher salt
black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
corn tortillas
cooking spray

Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in the crockpot and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 -4 hour until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and let cool. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones (unless you plan to make chicken stock.…in that case, reserve). Shred the chicken. You should have about 6 cups of shredded chicken meat.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Add the ground cumin, garlic powder, and salsa to the shredded chicken. Season with more kosher salt and black pepper, if needed. Mix to combine.

Place 4 corn tortillas on a large microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds to soften tortillas. Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on  bottom third of the warmed corn tortilla. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Don’t roll too tight. Place the taquito on a baking sheet. Repeat until all of the chicken mixture is used. You will have approximately 18 taquitos. Use two baking sheets if you need to. Spray the taquitos with cooking spray and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, turning after the 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the toothpick before serving.


Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

chicken-and-white-bean-chili2

This is a nice change from a heavier, spicier beef chili. I like this dish a little more on the soupy side. If you like a thicker chili, add less chicken broth and definitely add the masa harina to help thicken. Serve the Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili with cornbread or fresh tortillas.

I think this could easily be made into a crockpot freezer meal. Add all of the ingredients except for the canned beans and masa harina to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze flat. You could make several at one time and have them on hand for easy crockpot meals. The day before cooking, place the frozen bag in the refrigerator to defrost. Place the defrosted contents of the bag in the crockpot with the drained canned white beans and cook 6 – 8 hours on low or 3 – 4 hours on high. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry 30 minutes before serving.

chicken-and-white-bean-chili

Crockpot Chicken and White Bean Chili

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large breasts)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, stems and seeds removed and finely chopped
1 4 ounce can roasted chopped green chiles, drained (or the equivalent of chiles you roasted yourself)
2 15.5 ounce cans white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, Navy), drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons Masa Harina mixed with enough water to make a slurry

Possible toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded (Monterrey jack, pepper jack are great options)
avocado, sliced
lime wedges
serranos, sliced

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the cumin, coriander, paprika, Mexican oregano, cayenne, and salt over the chicken. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapenos, roasted chiles, white beans, corn, and chicken broth. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high 3 -4 hours.

30 minutes before serving, remove the chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot. Stir in the masa harina/water slurry and continue to cook 30 minutes until the chili is thickened.

Serve and let each person customize their toppings.


Southwestern Split Pea Soup

spicy-split-pea-soup

I haven’t blogged in so long. Life has been really busy. I’m not getting into the kitchen much. Plus, it’s been so hot this summer, I don’t even want to cook to avoid heating up the house. To make things worse, the hard drive on my computer died and I lost so many pictures, including food pics for future posts. I thought I had backed up my computer this past spring, but that appears to not be the case. I lost a year and a half worth of pictures and documents. Stop what you are doing and back up your hard drive right now. I’ve been spending my extra time trying to compile my pictures from various sources and organize them. I’m not sure if I will ever finish this daunting task.

It is finally starting to cool down here in South Carolina. It was only in the low 80’s today. My hubby is out of town and my youngest son didn’t have a soccer game today so I got to spend some time cooking. I baked some brownies and then started working on this soup.

Southwestern Split Pea Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel)
7 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup green split peas
1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and jalapeno. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, Rotel (including the juices), dried split peas, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potato, corn, and zucchini. Cook until the split peas and potato are tender, about another 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.


Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

It’s hard to believe I never used a crockpot until a few years ago. I was totally missing out. There are some things that are just so much easier to cook in the crockpot, meat being the first thing that comes to mind. It’s my go-to method when I need shredded chicken, beef, or pork.

I have been experimenting with different ways of preparing pork roast in the crockpot. This one turned out well. The pineapple juice made the meat even more tender and the sweetness complimented the flavor of the pork (I think pork need a little sweeness).

I pulled the pork and made sandwiches with it on Rosemary Focaccia and topped with Pickled Collards for crunch and acid and a drizzle of BBQ sauce. So good. It would have been better if I hadn’t totally mucked up the focaccia (I ran out of flour and subbed whole spelt flour….turned out very dense), but even good cooks mess up sometimes. It’s OK. Learn and move on.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork on Rosemary Foccacia with Pickled Collards

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

1 4 – 5 pound Boston butt pork roast
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple with juices
Favorite dry rub (or use recipe below), about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat

Rub the pork roast with the dry rub. Layer the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the seasoned pork roast on top of the onions. Dump the pineapple and juices over the pork roast. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5 hours. The meat should be very, very tender.

Remove the cooked pork from the crockpot, leaving much of the pineapple and onion. Remove any fat. Shred the pork with two forks.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork Spice Rub

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients. This makes a perfect amount for a 4 – 5 pound roast.


Pickled Collard Greens

Pickled Collard Greens

I get the most amazing collard greens from my CSA. Sometimes I get an overwhelming amount of amazing collard greens from my CSA. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I’m always trying to think of interesting ways to prepare them. This morning I put a Boston Butt pork roast in the crockpot with dinner plans for pulled pork sandwiches on homemade Focaccia bread. I was staring into the fridge and the idea of pickling the collards popped into my head. I have pickled mustard greens before and enjoyed using them as a condiment. Why not collards? Y’all, they turned out so good. They were excellent on the pulled pork sandwiches. I kind of wish I had made a double batch.

These sweet and sour collard greens would also make an excellent side dish. Just cook the collards until tender (about 20 minutes longer than stated in the recipe) and serve warm. I could easily drink the pickling/cooking liquid. : )

Pickled Collard Greens

1 large bunch of collard greens
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Wash and chop the collard greens. I usually remove the center ribs from the leaves before chopping.

In a pot over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped collards and cook for 5 (for crunchy collards – these are actually better after a few days in the fridge) to 20 (for use right away as a condiment or side dish) minutes. Let the collards and pickling liquid cool and then transfer to a large Mason jar. Refrigerate at least several hours (a couple of days is even better) before use.