Monday, August 13, 2012

Sate Chicken Skewers

This is BY FAR one of my family's favorite meals. We usually grill this in the summer, then sit outside in the evening and enjoy a delcious meal together. The skewers are healthy, and low in fat, yet highly flavorful. We hope you enjoy it too.

Sate Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce

**Inspired by a Rasa Malaysia Recipe


2 ½ pounds skinless and boneless chicken breast, sliced into chicken tender sized slices

30 wooden skewers, pre-soaked in water for 30 minutes

2 Cucumbers, sliced


3 tablespoons Fish sauce

4 whole cloves of Garlic

2 teaspoons sweet Soy sauce

1 teaspoon Soy sauce

2.5 teaspoons Coconut or Palm Sugar

1/4 teaspoon white Pepper

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1 teaspoon Coriander

4 tablespoons Red Curry Paste

1 cup Coconut milk

1/8 cup Olive (oil optional)

Peanut Sauce:

2 teaspoons Red Curry paste

2 tablespoons Fish sauce

3 tablespoons Tamarind puree

3 tablespoons creamy Peanut butter

1 tablespoon Palm or Coconut sugar

1 teaspoon paprika powder

2 whole cloves Garlic

2 cups Coconut milk

1 cup crushed Peanuts


Prepare the marinade by adding all your ingredients to a blender, blending on high until smooth and creamy.

Slice the chicken breasts, then add to a large zip lock bag, then mix in the Marinade and make sure all pieces are coated. Marinate the meat overnight, or at least 4 hours in a large zip lock bag in the refrigerator.

Prepare the peanut sauce by adding all the Peanut Sauce ingredients in a 2 quart sauce pan. Mix well and cook on medium heat. Stir the sauce while cooking. Turn off the heat when the sauce is slightly thickened. It takes about 10-15 minutes.

Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator. Insert the wooden skewers through the meat lengthwise. Grill the Sate for 4 minutes on each side or until desired tenderness. I grill them on the lowest heat, turning frequently so they don't burn.  

Serve with Peanut Sauce and peeled and sliced cucumbers, and Thai sticky rice.

Green Papaya Salad

We are currently living in an area that doesn't have green papaya. However, someone told me to use cucumber as a substitute. I actually tried it this time, and it worked well. The texture is pretty much the same, yet doesn't retain its firmness as well.

Green Papaya Salad


1 clove Garlic

1 or 2 red Thai Chilies

2 tablespoons dried Shrimp

Thai palm sugar, to taste

1/4 cup roasted Peanuts

2 cups green Papaya strands

6 cherry Tomatoes

Juice of 1 fresh lime- to taste

Soy sauce

Fish sauce, to taste


Pound the garlic and bird’s eye chilies until they form a smooth paste.

Add the dried shrimp and pound until the pieces are broken up, but not completely pulverized.

Add the palm sugar (cut into small pieces), maybe 2-3 teaspoons at first. Add the peanuts and lightly pound until they are broken into small pieces, but not to the point where they form a thick paste.

Add the papaya and tomatoes and pound on them until the tomatoes begin to burst. Add a few teaspoons of fish sauce and a couple of teaspoons of lime juice to the mix.

Adjust taste by adding additional palm sugar, soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce. Serve cold immediately.

Apple-Cinnamon Rolls

I usually make these on special occasions, or holidays. It works out perfectly to make them to day before, roll them out, then prep them for the second rise on day #2. Enjoy.

Apple-Cinnamon Rolls

Yields: 12-15 Cinnamon Rolls

**Adapted from a whatscookingamerica recipe


1 cup 2% milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)

1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs, room temperature and beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Orange extract

5 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten flour (optional)*

3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

Cinnamon Filling (see recipe below)

Cream Cheese-Butter Frosting (see recipe below)

* The Vital Wheat Gluten helps the sweet bread dough rise better, be more elastic, and easier to roll out.

Standup Mixer Recipe:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a 5-quart stand mixer, combine all the ingredients in the order given except the Cinnamon Filling and the Butter Frosting. Using a dough hook, mix everything together until a soft dough forms.

Check the dough. It should form a nice elastic ball. If you think the dough is too moist, add additional flour (a tablespoon at a time). The same is true if the dough is looking dry and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time). If you can't judge your dough by looking, stick your finger in and feel the dough. It should be slightly tacky to the touch.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-oiled surface (I use a nonstick cooking spray), and knead until elastic, approximately 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size.

Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan; set aside.

After dough has risen, roll and stretch the dough into approximately a 15 x 24-inchrectangle.

Brush the 1/2 cup softened butter (listed below in the Cinnamon Filling) over the top of the dough with a rubber spatula or a pastry brush. Sprinkle Cinnamon Filling over the butter on the prepared dough. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal. NOTE: Rolling the log too tightly will result in cinnamon rolls whose centers pop up above the rest of them as they bake

With a knife, lightly mark roll into 1 1/2-inch section. Use a sharp knife (I like to use a serrated knife and saw very gently) or slide a 12-inch piece of dental floss or heavy thread underneath. By bringing the ends of the floss up and criss-crossing them at the top of each mark, you can cut through the roll by pulling the strings in opposite directions. Place cut side up in prepared baking pan, flattening them only slightly. The unbaked cinnamon rolls should not touch each other before rising and baking. Do not pack the unbaked cinnamon rolls together.


Refrigerating or Freezing Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls:

At this point, the cinnamon rolls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight (I've actually made them two days in advance) or frozen for 1 month. Before baking, allow rolls to thaw completely and rise in a warm place if frozen. I have found that I have to take the unbaked frozen cinnamon rolls out of the freezer 10 to 12 hours before planning to bake. I just put the frozen cinnamon rolls (container and rolls) on my counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight for 10 to 12 hours.


If refrigerated, they can be either baked upon removing from the refrigerator or let come to a room temperature (I've done both ways). They do a slow rise overnight and it is not necessary to let them come to room temperature before baking. NOTE: If you rolls are not rising enough after being refrigerated, your yeast may need to be tested. To overcome this, let them rise, while sitting on the counter, until you achieve the desired rising before baking.

Bake Immediately After Making:

Cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size (after rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. for regular oven or 325 degrees F. for a convection oven. 

Bake in a convection oven approximately 15 to 20 minutes until they are a light golden brown.

Baked in a regular oven approximately 20 to 25  minutes in a regular oven until they are a light golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread Butter Frosting over the cinnamon rolls while still warm. Best served warm, but room temperature is also great! 

Yields 12-15 cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon-Apple Filling:

1/2 cup butter, melted or softened (1 stick)

1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar

4 to 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 yellow-red variety apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces

In a bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Peel & slice apple, set aside. With a spatula, thinly spread butter on top of dough. Gradually sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of butter dough until the entire piece of dough is saturated evenly. Sprinkle apple pieces on top of dough.

Cream Cheese-Butter Frosting:

4 ounces Cream cheese, room temperature

¼  cup unsalted Butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered (Confectioners) Sugar

1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon Orange extract

¼ cup Whipping cream or Half n Half

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange extract until completely mixed and creamy. Gradually add the half and half or whipping cream, while still mixing and thin the icing to the desired consistency. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use and then bring to room temperature before spreading.

Cooking Challenges

I have found cooking for the family lately to be quite a challenge. I'm in my third trimester, and conforming to what expectations I have for myself has been the biggest challenge. The family doesn't necessarily expect me to cook every night, but my mind tells me I need to, it's my responsibility, and I need to take care of my family...despite being quite pregnant with twins.

With two other older children in the house, I'm learning to let go, and trust more. This is easier said than done, especially for control freaks like myself. Things always have to be done a certain way, using a specific method, and come out perfectly. I am starting to accept that this is not only an unreal expectation at this stage in pregnancy, but I'm actually beginning to care that I conform to that expectation less and less. This is a good thing. Necessity over desire.

I've started shifting the home responsibilities over to my hubby, like the grocery shopping, laundry, etc. My oldest, almost 13 year old daughter has been by my side cooking over the years, and is quite capable of following a simple recipe (or more), or taking step-by-step commands from me, whilst laying in the comfort of my bed.

This experience is teaching me the I cannot and should not have to do everything on my own, and there are many people around me who are willing to, and do support me. I just have to let them. So now we play the waiting game till the twins arrive....will it be 5 more weeks or 7-8 more weeks...who knows? Until then, I am resting up, not overdoing it, cooking when I can, and looking to the people who love me to help support me at this time. I am very blessed and thankful!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vegetable Chicken Pasta Soup

I usually make this when there are veggies in the house that need to get used. Although this variation is utilizing zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, swiss chard, spinach and celery, you could really use most green vegetables, and any type of shell or small variety pasta. Enjoy!

Vegetable Chicken Pasta Soup


4 cups chicken stock

1 pound skinless chicken breasts-diced

1 bunch (1 cup) roughly chopped Sweet Basil

1 Yellow Onion-diced

4-5 cloves Garlic-minced

6-7 stalks Celery-thinly sliced lengthwise then chopped

1 cup diced Carrots

2 Zucchini-diced

2 Tomatoes-diced (or you can use whole stewed canned) 12 oz.

2 cups dry pasta (Fusilli or shell)

2 cups fresh Baby Spinach or Swiss Chard

½ Teaspoon dried Red Pepper flakes

2 cubed Chicken Bouillon

½ teaspoon Thyme

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

Salt & Pepper or Nature’s seasoning to taste


In a large pot, sauté onions, garlic and basil in a few tablespoons of Olive oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add chicken, stir and cover. Stir chicken every couple of minutes, cooking for about 10 minutes. Add dry spices, tomatoes, chicken stock, and cover.

Wash, dry & dice your vegetables. Remove middle section of red stems from swiss chard, before rough chopping & adding to soup. Add to pot, stir and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Ensure that you have enough broth to cover dry pasta noodles, add pasta, season broth, & cook for an additional 7-8 minutes, or until your pasta is tender. Serve.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Loaded Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Loaded Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes


2 lbs. Red Potatoes-washed and diced

1 whole bulb Garlic-unpeeled

1 cup whole Cream

1 bunch Green Onions (Scallions)

1 cup white-yellow Cheese blend

1 stick of unsalted Butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Wash and dice potatoes into large chunks. In a large pot, add salt & water- then place potatoes into pot and cover. Boil on medium high heat until potatoes are tender. Drain.

In a small baking sheet, cut off the edges of the top of the bulb of garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Place into the oven at 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, and garlic is roasted and tender. With a fork, gently remove garlic from casings.
Add potatoes, garlic, chopped scallions, butter, and salt and pepper to large mixer. Mix until creamy and no lumps are remaining. Slowly add cream, adjusting for consistency. Add grated cheese, and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper if needed, and serve while potatoes are hot.

Cauliflower Mac N Cheese

This mac n cheese is made with a basic milk, flour and cheese bechamel. It delivers a creamier and more consistent texture, and allows your cauliflower to mesh into the pasta better. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese


  • 3 cups blanched diced Cauliflower (1 head)
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Yellow Onion-diced
  • ½ cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted Butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups whole Milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ¼ cup Parmesan
  • 1 cup Grated Asiago cheese
  • 1 & ½ cups grated white/yellow cheese blend
  • 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
  • 8 ounces spiral Pasta


  • Mince garlic, and yellow onion, sautéing over medium heat with butter. Add flour, making a roux. Add milk, & mix consistently, until all lumps are gone, and roux is silky and smooth. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken. Turn off heat & add Asiago, Mozzarella, & ½ cup cheese blend. Season to taste with salt, paprika and pepper.

  • Heat a large pot of water, and a pinch of salt until it reaches a rolling boil. Wash and chop cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Blanch for 2-3 minutes, then immediately remove, and place into cold water and a strainer. Drain and set aside.  

  • Cook pasta according to directions on box, drain, rinse & set aside.
  • Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter large baking dish, then spoon pasta into dish. Stir sauce, remaining cheese & cauliflower into pasta. Sprinkle with crumb topping, and more grated cheese.
  • Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Serve.