thepigeoncoop

Musings about life in the Pigeon household


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The Soup That Made Hubby Fall In Love With Me All Over Again

That’s right. I made a soup that was so easy and so delicious and so super-healthy, I think I had hubby feeling things he hasn’t felt in a while.

Thai Shrimp Lime Coconut Soup

  • 4 – cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 – cups water
  • 3 – cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 – scallions, white parts and 1/2 of green parts thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 – 2″ piece lemongrass (I actually had a squeeze tube of lemongrass – worked great!)
  • 1 – 1″ piece fresh ginger, finely chopped (again, no fresh ginger at my store – used bottled. Not the same thing, but it worked in a pinch)
  • Juice and grated peel of one lime
  • 1 – Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 – tsp anchovy paste or 4 Tbsp fish sauce (I used the fish sauce)
  • 1 or 2 – tsp Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 – bag shrimp (I used 51/60 size, but feel free to use what you have) peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 2 – carrots, cut into 2″ julienne (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 – cup chopped spinach or bok choy
  • 1 – cup sliced shitake mushrooms (they were dried and re-hydrated in water for 30 minutes)
  • 6 – 8 – oz dried rice vermicelli
  • 1/2 – cup canned light coconut milk
  • 4 – Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Combine the broth, water, garlic, scallions, lemongrass, ginger, lime juice and peel, soy sauce, fish sauce and chilies (if desired) in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken and carrots, spinach and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vermicelli and coconut milk. Simmer until the vermicelli is cooked, about 5 minutes for fresh and 10 minutes for dried.
  4. Serve topped with 1 Tbsp cilantro each.
  5. Pour a glass of wine & enjoy! 

Originally taken from Prevention’s cook book – I replaced the chicken with shrimp. Can’t wait to try the chicken though! Hope you like this as much as hubby did!


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Chopped

I am a little addicted to the Food Network.

There are a few shows I just love and some I just casually watch.

I could basically watch that channel all day long.

Restaurant Makeover; Chef at Home; Pitching In; Iron Chef Superstars; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Top Chef Just Desserts; Dinner Party Wars; French Food at Home and one that I just can’t get enough of; Chopped.

Chopped.

Love Chopped.

For those of you who don’t know what this show is about, there are four chefs in a kitchen with a basket each.

They open the basket of mystery ingredients to find out what they need to make their dish out of. Usually three to four things they need to incorporate into each meal.

There is a basket for appetizer, entree and dessert.

And they have a time limit for each course.

And there are three judges who decide who goes on to the next round and who is eliminated. At the end of each course, a contestant is ‘chopped’ out of the competition and remaining chefs go on to the next course and cook their little hearts out with another set of secret ingredients.

And the food combinations thrown at these professional chefs are insane! For instance, they’ll open their baskets and inside they find that they have to make a main dish with plantains, black lentils, gummy bears and octopus.

And I just can’t believe what these people can create out of seemingly nothing.

Kinda like life.

Every night, I’m left with opening that big scary double-door white basket in the middle of my kitchen to try and figure out what to make for my family.

There’s usually a time limit.

And the pint-sized judges in my house don’t hold back on giving criticism. And it ain’t so constructive.

I give credit to those chefs on the show – they come up with some pretty inventive, amazing dishes.

But seriously, they have it easy. Anyone can cook for adults.

Cooking for kids? Now that’s a challenge!

I look in my fridge – low and behold – hmmm… I have celery, left over garbanzo beans, milk, eggs and hot sauce.

Hmmm…

So not only do I need to make supper, but I really have to do groceries too!

Okay, to be honest, there are other things in there too.

But why would anything be defrosted? Some nights yes.

But that would be too easy to be on the ball like this all the time.

We’re looking for a challenge here.

And the clock is ticking….

So I move in-between my pantry and the fridge and the freezer, concocting, building ideas, creating a plan…

Then I spot the phone on the counter and think that ordering in pizza would be a fabulous idea.

Again, not so challenging.

Think, think, think.

Then up the stairs I hear, “Moooooooooooooom, when is dinner ready? I’m staaaaaaaaaaaarving!”

And that’s when I yell down, “I’m making it. Come have celery while you wait.”

Silence.

As if they didn’t hear me. They know that I know that they know that I know that they heard me.

But I don’t push it.

I’m trying to focus. They’re interrupting my foodie mojo.

I spot sausages at the back. Smell them. Hmmm… Not bad. Need to be cooked. Soon. Very soon. I can cook the crap out of them and I’m sure they’ll be safe to eat.

I know I saw chicken broth in the pantry.

I can throw the chick peas in a soup with celery, sausage and chickpeas…. hey… I might actually rock out on a satisfying sausage gumbo sort of dish here.

It actually turned out okay. I was happy with the result. A bit of spinach, some broccoli and herbs helped too.

And I made sure to give hubby a big glass of wine before he sat down so it would taste that much better.

And of course I had my glass while creating.

I remember being in university and my professor told our class to never drink and then write, because usually what you ended up with would turn out so brilliantly, you would continue the pattern and become one of those artsy-fartsy types on a twelve-step program.

But I don’t think the same rule applies to cooking.

Don’t ask me if the kids liked it. Of course they didn’t. They turned up their noses and went hungry.

Did I ever mention the winner of Chopped ends up with a prize of $10,000?

Mommy isn’t leaving the kitchen arena with a prize of $10,000 for winning tonight’s cooking challenge. Or any night’s challenge.

So if you don’t like it, you can cook it yourself.

 

NOTE: For a copy of my Sausage, Spinach and Chickpea Soup (AKA the last-minute-meal made with ingredients found at the bottom of my fridge on a Tuesday night), check out the recipe in my Food Category on this blog.


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Sausage, Spinach and Chickpea Soup

(AKA the last minute meal made with ingredients found at the bottom of my fridge on a Tuesday night)

  • 1 tetra pack of chicken broth
  • 7-10 breakfast sausages, sliced (or to your taste – and depending on how many you have and how long they’ve been sitting in the deli drawer)
  • 1-2 cups bagged spinach (or however much is still in the bag that isn’t all black and slimy yet) 
  • any veggies you can find in the fridge that still have a little life in them
  • 1/2 cup chick peas (or whatever is left in the Tupperware container from three days ago)

Directions

  1. In a pot over medium heat, cook the sausages, drain.
  2. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil. I added some garlic and pepper at this point. The sausages were salty and I didn’t need to add any additional salt.
  3. Throw in veggies and chick peas. Cook until veggies are tender.
  4. Toss in the spinach and heat until it is wilted.
  5. Serve with lots of wine and a bun… or the bread that’s about to expire and better be eaten today or else…


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Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

You read the title right. And I did it. I tried it.

My friend showed me this recipe a while ago for chocolate chip cookies… with bacon.

Not sure who thought this one up, or why they even figured it would work. All I can say is that bacon with anything can NOT ever ever be bad. So I baked some up the other day.

But to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the bacon in the cookie. When I did actually get a piece of bacon, it was more of a jarring sort of, ‘hold up, wait a minute there, what the heck is in my cookie’ sort of sensation.

But the true bacon-y flavour didn’t seem to come through for me. I was a little bummed.

Basically all I ended up doing was adding more fat to my cookie, really. Oh well, live and learn. Give these a try if you’re curious though! They’re still delicious cookies and everyone loved them – bacon and all!

makes 24+ cookies

  • For the candied bacon:
  • 8 slices center cut thick bacon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • For the cookies:
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place bacon in a single layer on a foil lined sheet.
  3. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of bacon strips. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until crispy, making sure to turn bacon over after 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for cooling. Once bacon has cooled chop it finely.
  5. Keep the oven at 350 degrees.
  6. Sift flour and baking soda.
  7. In a medium bowl, cream butter with the white and brown sugar.
  8. Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk to the bowl and beat until light and creamy.
  9. Add flour mixture and mix well.
  10. Add diced candied bacon and chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
  11. With a teaspoon, scoop out balls of dough on a cookie sheet. I baked these for 9 minutes and 20 seconds – I really like soft, chewy cookies. Or you can just bake until the edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cookies sit on the pan for a couple of minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

Excerpted from Tablespoon website: http://quick-dish.tablespoon.com/2011/02/09/candied-bacon-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 


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Herb and Caper Salmon

I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network shows lately and I have a couple of foodie friends I admire, so I branched out and tried something new with salmon and got rave reviews from hubby. The following recipe isn’t exact – amounts are a guesstimate – tailor it to your own taste:

  • 2-3 Tbsp dill, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp chopped capers
  • 1/2 tsp bottled ginger
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 4 salmon filets
  • white wine
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat grill to medium heat. 
  2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, mixing together well, but not mashing the herbs. 
  3. Tear 8 aluminum foil sheets big enough to accommodate a filet – leaving enough room for the foil to be tented around the fish. Double up the foil so that you have four packets in all. Spray the bottom of each packet. 
  4. Place the salmon skin side down in the foil packet. Wrap the foil around the fish so that it creates a bit of a bowl. Pour some wine into each packet (however much you like – pour some in a glass for yourself too, while you’re at it!) and pour a bit of olive oil on top of the filet. Make sure there is still an opening in the foil for steam to escape. 
  5. Place foil packets on grill. Leave about 5 minutes. Spoon herb mixture over salmon (careful of the hot grill – I learned that the hard way!) 
  6. Cook salmon another 5-7 minutes or until flaky and tender. 
  7. Pour another glass of wine & enjoy! 

This was great with sliced, roasted potatoes & grilled zucchini.


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The ‘Best’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seriously. These are the ones my mom made when I was a kid. Totally takes me back. She baked like I bake – if it required a rolling pin or cookie cutters or anything having to rise, it wasn’t being baked. It was always a treat when she baked. She was a fantastic cook. Love you Mom!

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add salt, vanilla and eggs. Beat for about one minute until well mixed.
  4. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stire in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop spoonfulls onto a cookie sheet, about 5 cm apart.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes (I make smaller cookies and bake for 9 minutes as I like them chewy – just like Mom used to make!).
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets about 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
  8. Makes 3-4 dozen.

 

Excerpted from Best of the Best; the Best of Bridge


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Spicy Shanghai Noodles

My Mom’s very dear friend, Solana, gave this recipe to her years ago. I consider Solana a very dear friend too and she is an incredible woman who introduced a whole world of exciting food to my Mom & I.

And it must be said, after all these years, if I ever want to butter up hubby – this is seriously, the go-to dish.

  • 1 package shanghai noodles (fresh)
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp hot chili oil (one Tbsp of oil can be substituted with hot chili oil to make noodles spicier)
  • 1 tsp hot chili sauce
  • 6 green onions, sliced fine
  1. Cook noodles for 2 minutes in salted, boiling water.
  2. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Combine noodles with other ingredients in the bowl.
  4. Let this sit for a couple of hours to blend flavours.
  5. Serve at room temperature or reheat.

NOTE: You can also add shrimp, chicken, beef, cilantro, broccoli, snow peas, etc.