Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thai-Style Chicken Noodle Soup

So I finally have a moment to upload a recipe! I'm moving back to school tomorrow so I'm a bit disheveled and upset at having to move away from Ethan and out of the big city, but it's time to graduate! Anyhow, I'm quite proud of this recipe because it was spur-of-the-moment and COMPLETELY from memory. I like referencing other recipes for specific portion sizes and what not, but I just put a bunch of ingredients together based on what I know about Thai food and scribbled down how much of each I used. I've had to write down specifics for all these recipes and I HATE IT. For the last couple weeks I've been making dinner, eyeballing everything, and not writing anything down; this is completely normal, but now I don't have the recipes to share. Alas. Recording all these measurements is tiring! Lazy cook.

I thoroughly enjoy Thai food. Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Italian are some of my favorites. I frequently make Chinese dishes, and I can make a damn nice Pad Thai when I have the money. I've been laying off the Italian lately because of money and too many carbohydrates. And when I move, I'm planning on putting more Japanese food into my diet. The best news about this recipe I invented is that it's not expensive nor difficult to make. Plus, you could make a lot of it and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Yummy lunches and dinners when you're lazy. Who doesn't like a good bowl of chicken noodle soup, anyway?? ;)

As you know, I LOVE spicy food, so I left all the seeds in the two jalapeños. Feel free to take them out for a milder dish. I look so silly cutting hot peppers--lately, not covering my hands = insane burning for hours. I don't know why it started happening this summer but I DO NOT LIKE IT.
Ouch! - Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
Additionally, I didn't have any fish sauce in the pantry, so I made do with oyster sauce. The next time I make this recipe, I think I'm going to lessen or completely omit the oyster sauce, add fish sauce, and add more lime juice (I ran out!). I want to see if it helps the flavor, or at least makes it closer to Thai-style soup. This recipe was delicious, I'm not gonna lie, but it can always get better!

I'm tired and distracted, so I'm going to stop ranting and shut up already!

Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters

Thai-Style Chicken Noodle Soup

-10 c. water
-2 chicken-flavored bouillon cubes (low-sodium preferred if you can)
-large handful fresh string beans, ends removed
-1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
-1 stalk celery, thinly sliced/julienned
-1 large chicken breast, pounded out and sliced very thin
-2 jalapeño peppers, sliced
-3/4 c. roughly chopped fresh basil
-1 8oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
-1 tbsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper
-1/4 c. oyster sauce
-generous squeeze lime juice
-4 to 5 oz. flat rice noodles, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes (not necessary, but I find that it aids in faster cooking)

1. Boil water with bouillon cubes to create a basic broth. When water is bubbling, add string beans, onion, and celery. Reduce heat a little and let simmer for ten minutes.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
2. While soup is cooking, pound out the chicken until it is nearly flat, then slice into thin pieces. Turn heat back up and bring the pot to a boil again. Add the chicken and jalapeños to the broth and stir. Chicken should cook almost immediately.
Soup's on! - Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Keep hot and let noodles finish cooking.

Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
 Happy Eating!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"What's the matter with kids today?"

(Ah, yes. Another rant about troubled youth. I feel like the bitter grandmother who sits on her porch and scolds kids to stay off the lawn, complaining about "when I was young". Nearing 22 in just over a week, I have very little room to talk...but I will anyway.)

As I headed toward the subway station, I saw a small group of young teenagers, possibly 15 or 16 (if even), comprised of three hat-wearing, skater-type boys and three preppy girls. A fourth boy was jumping the barrier onto grass and walking away from the situation. One of the girls was crying, holding a sweatshirt in front of her, shirtless. The other girls were urging her to put her sweatshirt on, which she finally did after another minute or so of extreme distress. What the hell happened? I was trying not to stare, but with the appearance of homeless folks adding their two cents as well as the cops asking questions, I overheard a couple things. "He ripped her shirt off." "You can get a restraining order." "You know him." Based on just these tidbits alone, clearly shit went down. The ripping of the shirt appears to have been in anger more so than for any sexual reason (I'm assuming because they were in public with friends), but...

Why was this display necessary? Why so much anger in a kid who looked like he was just starting puberty (...or maybe that's why...!)? I know that teens cause trouble. I know they're rebellious and all that...but seriously. I want to know what the hell happened in these teeny-boppers' lives to allow this behavior to be acceptable to them. It was and still is disturbing to me. This isn't to say I'm less opposed to adult violence or anything like that. However, when I see young teenagers finding "cool-ness" through violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and apathy, more than half the time I'm going to assume that there's nothing actually wrong with or troubling them. And I mostly say this because of the crazy life I lived (and I didn't start messing around or getting myself in trouble until I was 18...not that it's an excuse, but it's better than 14, if you ask me). I hear complaining from kids these days who started drinking because "of how hard their life is when their parents didn't get them a new car or a Prada bag for their birthday" and how "their parents didn't let them go to a rave this weekend and they hate them and will probably take up smoking cigarettes just to make them angry". I'm so sorry for you. But if you can tell me you've had a hard life because you were sexually abused for almost 7 years by someone you know, then come back to me. Because that was me. Besides, my recreational activities have been my choice, for myself, not to spite anyone and not because my life has been hard. Don't start smoking crack because you were grounded. Unless you legitimately went through some bad shit, calm down and grow up.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Mexican" Ravioli

I finished this recipe a week and a half ago, but time has been getting the better of me, it seems! I'm currently in the process of packing up my things and preparing for my final year of college. Figuring out moving situations as well as my audition/monologue for fall mainstage auditions (if you don't know, I'm a BFA Musical Theatre major) have been a little hectic. Happily, everything is piecing itself together. I'm going to miss NYC, but I'll be back next summer for good, so I can't complain too much. I will definitely miss living with Ethan, but that, too, will fix itself in due time.

Anyway, this was a recipe that I came up with when I was lying in bed one morning. Apparently there are other recipes like this, but I hadn't realized it at the time, so I'm going to stick to pretending that I'm special. ;) The only help I had for this recipe was a ravioli dough recipe I found online. Otherwise, I just kind of made things up as I went along...the only way I know how!

I followed this dough recipe ( and replaced the semolina and all-purpose flours with whole wheat…healthier, but mostly because I didn’t have the other types of flour on hand. I kept my ravioli a little thicker/a little larger than instructed, and definitely much less pretty. I’ve only made ravioli a few times and it always seems that my impatience gets the better of me. If you are a pro at making ravioli, please take pictures. I'm always jealous.

Peek-a-Boo! Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters

“Mexican” Ravioli
-Pasta dough 
-1/2 lb. ground beef
-1/3 c. finely diced onion
-1/2 tsp. each: black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
-1 large jalapeño, finely diced (keep the seeds in for extra spice)
-1/2 can fat-free refried beans
-less than a cup of finely shredded extra sharp cheddar
-Green bell pepper, sliced, for garnish
-Any tomato-based pasta sauce you desire—I used canned tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh basil as the base of my sauce

1.       Follow the directions for the ravioli dough. Wait about half an hour before worrying about the rest of the ravioli ingredients.
2.       While dough is refrigerating, cook ground beef in a large pan. Don’t worry about adding oil; the beef should have enough when it cooks. I used 80/20 from Trader Joe’s, but if you are using even leaner beef, feel free to add a little olive oil.
3.       When beef is half-cooked, add onion, spices, and jalapeño. Stir well and cook completely.
4.       Add refried beans and mix. Turn off the heat and place pan on a trivet or oven mitt near your “ravioli workspace”.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
5.       At this point it should be about an hour since you made the ravioli dough. Remove from the refrigerator and follow the instructions for rolling it out.
6.       Fill each ravioli square with the meat mixture. Top with a pinch of shredded cheese. Use a little bit of water and wet the edges of the dough. Fold over the other half of the dough and pinch closed. For additional security (and a nice touch), take a fork and use the prongs to press down on the dough edges.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
7.       Place ravioli on plate with plastic wrap in between layers of pasta so they don’t stick to each other. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to prepare.
8.       Boil water in a large pot. Place ravioli into water, 5-10 at a time, depending on the size of your pasta. Pasta will take about 8 or 9 minutes if you make it thick and beefy like mine. If you have thin, beautiful ravioli, it will be between 4 and 8 minutes.
9.       In another large pot, heat up the tomato sauce. Add the ravioli as they finish cooking. Mix. When everything is complete, plate your ravioli and garnish with sliced green bell peppers.
Delicious! Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
 Happy Eating!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food Snob Rant

Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters

“Food Snobs” upset me. Whether it’s online or off, these people think they’re entitled to be harsh, rude, dismissive, egotistical know-it-alls. Honestly? Unless you get paid as a food critic or professional chef, lay off. Now, I don’t mean Food Snob in the “nice” sense—those everyday folks with high appreciation for culinary arts, expensive products, and abounding flavor—but instead people that think that “average foodies” like myself SUCK and aren’t worthy of cooking, much less taking pictures of my meals. I post my food photos and my recipes online because I want to share delicious bites of joy with the world. For you to take a look at a photo of mine and hate on it because I’m a poor college student without an expensive camera [and live in an apartment with very little natural light] is rude. It’s plain rude. I'm not perfect and I have work to do but DAMN. I'm trying! I will never dislike someone’s food photography if they’re doing their absolute best with what they have to work with. And you shouldn’t, either.

I tried to submit my recipe for rosemary potatoes and eggs to a certain website four times, rejected each time with no second thought, I'm sure. The first “no” was for the photo being shot at a bad angle. Fine. So I chose another image. “Lighting issues—dull/unsharp.” So I sharpened up the image and made it a little brighter. “Lighting/exposure issues.” Played with it a little more, only to be shown the door for “Photo/Food composition.” Wait…what? If you didn’t like this image for composition three submissions ago, you should have said that and I could have stopped wasting my time. Most recently, I tried to submit my focaccia recipe with an image that I’m actually quite proud of. I was rejected that evening because the composition was “too tight”… So many images on this website are taken at extremely close range. So I didn’t bother to resubmit. I’ll probably try again with a different recipe later, but I’m about to give up.

When I started posting recipes on my blog (which, as you can tell, is quite recently), all I wanted to do was share with anyone who wanted something yummy. I’ve been a huge fan of that website for years now, and it was a starting goal of mine to get at least one recipe posted there. I didn’t know it would be this difficult, and frankly, I'm slowly shying away from visiting the webpage because of their "mightier-than-thou" cold-shouldering. I tried a different website, and after some searching on FoodBuzz, I heard that it’s even harder to get a post successfully submitted there than my first site. Jeez. Suffice it to say, FoodBuzz has been my best experience so far. Everyone there is friendly, kind, and full of recipes to share (just like me). Some people have professional-looking photos, some do not, but people enjoy them all the same! Why can’t these other websites that are filled with Food Snobs get over themselves and realize that people can make good food without fancy cameras and the exact angle they want?

Now, this is nothing toward the majority of people who post on these websites; they generally seem to be fun and fabulous people. It just frustrates me to no end when I think that I’ve taken a really nice picture (with what I’ve got to work with) and then get my face curb-stomped against the metal mixing bowl of Food Snob Hell.

I guess what all this ranting really amounts to is this:
Passionate people want to share their love of food with others. Please just let them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Carb Conundrum and Whole Wheat Onion-Rosemary Focaccia

Carbs are the bane of my existence. Every and all type of carbs needs to be in my stomach. Potatoes, bread, oatmeal, cereal, pasta, rice, tortillas, etc. etc. etc. However, I find that as I'm getting older and my metabolism is getting worse and worse, I can only process so many carbs and sugar products at a time. Ethan can pretty much handle anything, so I like to make bread and rice products for/with him. Eating a plate of chicken and veggies without a side of rice or pasta practically depresses me. It's pathetic. When I was in London in spring, I was incredibly good at cutting out carbs and didn't miss them at all, but toward the end of the semester, I gave in...and the trend continued. That's probably why I gained so much weight in London. I suppose I want to have my cake and eat it, too...literally.

Yesterday, I had a craving for a realllly good sandwich for dinner. I didn't want to use the whole wheat bread we have in the pantry, so I decided to go for some focaccia. This version has been "healthified" using whole wheat flour rather than all-purpose flour (I haven't had anything at home with all-purpose flour for about two months, which seems absurd to me), and onion and rosemary were mixed in. I've been on a rosemary kick recently (and still wishing I had fresh rather than dried, but since I already bought the bottle, why bother? Poor college student decisions!), and this herb is incredibly common for focaccia bread. I added the fresh onion for a bit of extra flavor and texture, and I think it was a nice touch. I wanted to make Ethan a delicious dinner (which was accompanied by healthy-ish Cottage Cheese Brownies, a recipe I found online that I'll be posting soon), so when I got home from Central Park, I got to work in the kitchen!

Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters

Whole Wheat Onion-Rosemary Focaccia
-1 tsp. sugar
-1 packet active dry yeast
-1/3 c. warm water
-2 c. whole wheat flour
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 c. onion, diced
-2 tbsp. dried rosemary
-olive oil
-plenty of fresh cracked black pepper
-sea salt, to taste

1.       Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2.       In a bowl, combine sugar, yeast, and water. Let sit until smooth, around 10 minutes.
3.       Add flour and stir well. Spoon in more water, 1-2 tbsp. at a time, until dough comes together in a nice ball. Pour onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Be careful not to over-knead!
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
4.       Oil a larger bowl and place the dough inside. Flip it around a few times to lightly coat it with the oil. Cover with a damp towel or a couple damp paper towels and let rise for about 30 minutes or until doubled in volume. Make sure you place it in a warm area so it can rise properly.
5.       Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it again briefly, adding garlic powder, diced onions, and 1 tbsp. rosemary. Make sure the ingredients are combined well.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
6.       Flatten to desired thickness and place on oiled baking sheet. Brush with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the other tbsp. rosemary on top and lightly press to ensure it won’t fall off. Crack fresh black pepper and salt over the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
If my focaccia looks like there's too much black pepper on top, always remember that you can adapt it! Not only do I love black pepper, but my grinder broke open while I was grinding and all the peppercorns and "pepper debris" fell out onto the dough...that's the third time in the last few weeks! Grr!

Photo Copyright 2011 Katie Peters
Oh, and the sandwich I ended up creating? Oven-roasted chicken breast, extra sharp cheddar, tomato, lots of basil, red onion and lettuce, plus light mayo combined with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and sweet chili sauce. Mmmm!

Happy Eating!