Alice’s Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

You’ve survived Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s is just around the corner.  If food had a triathalon, it would be these three holidays.  I feel like I do more eating in these five weeks than I do all year.  Or maybe it’s just that I indulge in more of the things that I try and moderate the rest of the year like butter, sugar, flour, and eggs.  But even I get to the point where I’m cupcaked out and looking for some balance.

This bowl of balance comes courtesy of Alice at Savory Sweet Life.  It had been up on her blog all year without me knowing it.  I only discovered it when she posted it over at the PBS Kitchen Explorers blog.  Yes y’all, I get some of my recipes from a site targeting cooking with your kids.  Here’s why, if it’s easy enough to make with a child, it has to be a pretty foolproof recipe.  At the end of the day, I want to get dinner on the table before I run out of steam.  Hence, recipes that are easy enough to make with a child are perfect for my weeknight dinners.  Can you argue with that logic?

Even if you choose to argue the validity of my logic, once you taste Chicken Coconut Curry Soup, you won’t want to.  Curry paste + coconut milk + veg + leftover chicken is a recipe for creamy, spicy success.  Add some fish sauce for a bit of salty balance.  Or not.  It’s completely up to you.

I can’t promise that Chicken Coconut Curry Soup will undo all the cake, cookie, and eggnog damage.  But maybe if you enjoy a nice big bowl of this before heading out to the last Holiday Triathalon event of 2010, you won’t be as inclined to reach for those extra cookies at the New Year’s Eve party.

Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

Adapted from Alice of Savory Sweet Life and PBS Kitchen Explorers

BAH Note: I used light coconut milk but I would bet good money that using regular coconut milk would result in a luscious, rich soup.  Alice adds cooked rice to her soup.  If you happen to have some handy, why not.  I think I used one cooked chicken breast which may or may not have yielded exactly one cup of meat.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion,  finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chicken meat, shredded or cubed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat and cook the onions and carrots for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce and cook another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the curry paste is completely incorporated.  Add the chicken, chicken broth, and coconut milk to the pan stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and a squirt of lime juice.

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Alice’s Tuna Casserole

Have I mentioned how much I admire Alice Currah?  Not only is she a wife and mother of three, but she also maintains two blogs (Savory Sweet Life and Everyday Alice) and is now a contributor to PBS’s Kitchen Explorers.  How she finds the time to do all these things, I will never know.  As impressive as those time management feats are, they aren’t why I admire Alice.

I admire Alice for speaking difficult truths, for honoring her own convictions, for owning her opinions, for encouraging others to follow their passions, for being both a vocal critic and an ardent cheerleader, for reminding us to be authentic, and for being one of the warmest, most welcoming people I have ever met. I truly feel lucky to have met her in person and seen the passion she has for what she does and for this community of food bloggers.

When I read her Tuna Casserole post on PBS Kitchen Explorers, I ached to have it as part of the Food Memories project.  She eloquently conveyed how her food memories played a huge role in her life.  I connected with this story in a lot of ways and I really loved how she honored her early experiences with food.  I am honored that Alice is allowing me to share it with you here.

Alice’s Tuna Casserole

Cooking and baking has always been a part of who I am.  My mother and father had to work twelve hour days to put food on the table.  Having six kids was challenging and they did their best to make sure we were clothed, fed, and had a roof over our heads.  The food wasn’t glamorous but it sustained and nourished our bodies.  My mother would often prepare a big one pot dish before leaving for work, which would be waiting for us on the stove top for dinner.  Most of the time these dishes were very basic and accompanied by warmed rice made in a rice cooker.

Although our family certainly qualified for public assistance, the prideful part of my father seemed to always override the need for more food in our cupboards.  Nevertheless we managed, partly because of my resourceful grandmother who would occasionally bring us bags of groceries she received from the local food bank; bags of canned and boxed goods in white labels with black letters.  These canned and boxed government issued foods would become my pantry, which started my love affair with cooking and baking.

I had to be resourceful, creative, and flexible – a philosophy which would apply to every aspect of my life including working in the kitchen.  My mother was not home to teach me to cook, but watching cooking shows on PBS planted seeds in my heart.  Although we never had any of the ingredients on hand to make anything I watched on television, I would experiment with what we did have on hand.  I developed my first recipe at eight years old.  I opened up a few cans of tuna, cooked some packaged pasta, stirred in some frozen peas, and mixed everything in a bath of shredded cheese, milk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  To top this casserole off, I crumbled Shredded Wheat cereal over a 9×13 baking dish and dinner was served.  My siblings and I devoured my no recipe-recipe and soon I was known as the cook of the family.

I learned to bake from my neighbor, Alice (I was actually named after her).  She was an elderly lady who never married and we considered her our American grandmother.  Her yard was covered in fruit trees and a vegetable garden we looked forward to eating from every time we visited. Every year she would take us kids to the local strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry farms to pick fresh seasonal fruit.  She then would bake the best pies and pastries in the world for us to enjoy.  Her love of baking and teaching was passed on to me as if I were her granddaughter, for which I will always be indebted.

Today my three beautiful children – Abbi (9), Mimi (7), and Eli (2) – and I cook and bake together all the time.  From the moment each of them was able to hold a spoon I’ve tried to teach them the basics of cooking and baking, and encouraged them to discover their own way.  They’re developing their own creative flare with what they make.  My husband Rob and I love watching them explore their potential in the kitchen, burnt cookies and all.

I’m an avid home cook and baker.  The advice, recipes, and stories I’ll be sharing with you are from everyday moments and experiences – not from culinary training or professional expertise.  I believe in being creative, resourceful, and flexible.  This is the approach I will share with you here and on my personal food blog: Savory Sweet Life.

I’m thrilled to be a weekly food contributor as part of the PBS Parents team along with my partner, Aviva Goldfarb.  I’m most looking forward to hearing your stories, recipes, tips, and ideas of food you love and how you incorporate it into your daily routine.  My hope is that we can become friends- learning and growing from each other.  I don’t have all the answers but I’m more than happy to share with you what I do know.  I also plan on reaching out to the PBS Parents Kitchen Explorers community for your ideas and perhaps even showcase them on one of my weekly posts.  I invite you to become an active participant in our newly launched community.  Together we will laugh, commiserate, and share family-friendly food our families will love and enjoy!

Reminiscent of my childhood, here’s is an updated version of my tuna noodle casserole recipe.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Reprinted with permission of Alice Currah

BAH Note:   I am a sucker for tuna noodle casserole.  It is one of my most comforting  guilty pleasures.  There, I feel much better getting that out in the open.

  • 6 oz dried curly egg noodles
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 8 oz package shredded medium Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 (5-oz) cans solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup potato chips, gently crushed into smaller pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente.  Drain noodles and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter in a 12″ heavy skillet over medium heat for five minutes.  Add mushrooms, celery, and salt and cook for five minutes longer.  Stir in water and bouillon cubes.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and cornstarch until completely dissolved.  Add the milk mixture and 3/4 cup of cheese to the skillet and stir everything until well incorporated and sauce is nice and thick.

Add noodles, peas and tuna and gently fold them in. Season with pepper and additional salt to taste.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and crushed potato chips evenly on top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

{printable recipe}

Big Summer Potluck

I’m not a gambler by nature. The risks I take are calculated, not reckless.  However, there are moments when I throw caution to the wind, say what the hell, and let the chips fall where they may.  These moments are few and far between, but they do happen.  My most recent spontaneous, caution thrown to the wind decision involved me, one untested cookie recipe, a set of Mapquest directions, six hours of driving, 39 food bloggers, several food professionals, and three deer.

The destination was called the Big Summer Potluck.  Organized by women who know food, blogging, and photography – Maggy Keet and Sharon Anderson of Three Many Cooks and Erika Pineda of Ivory Hut – this was a day to come together with other food bloggers to talk about the challenges we all face. It was an opportunity to build our food blogging community, to support and encourage one another, to learn more about our craft, and to eat some amazing food.

These ladies pulled out all the stops.  On the agenda:

Pam Anderson (food columnist, cookbook author, Three Many Cooks food blogger, and former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated) shared her thoughts on recipe development and recipe writing, in addition to graciously hosting us at her home.

Abby Dodge (food writer and instructor, cookbook author, and contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine) demoed a dessert from her upcoming Desserts 4 Today cookbook (brilliant concept y’all…a cookbook full of desserts that utilize four ingredients), and shared some of her tips and tricks (stabilize whipped cream by replacing half the heavy cream with marscapone…yum).

Melissa DeMayo (food stylist extraordinaire) shared her food styling expertise and tips (texture, height, ingredient shots), demoed building the picture perfect sandwich, and told us the best way to do {fill in the blank with your question of choice} is whatever results in the prettiest shot.

Erika Pineda (photojournalist, sports photographer, and Ivory Hut blogger) spoke about the Holy Trinity of photography (Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO), point and shoot vs. dslr, and processing.

We had a lively discussion about video content and media campaigns with Auritt Communications.

And then there was Alice.  Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life and Everyday Alice.  Alice Currah who was named one of Forbes.com’s “Eight of The Very Best Food Bloggers” and Saveur’s food photography “Cover Contest” winner. Maybe you’ve heard of her?  She’s the bomb.  Alice spoke to us about the importance of being authentic in our craft, speaking (and blogging) from the heart and from what we know, carving our own niche out of the blogosphere while also supporting and encouraging and honoring other food bloggers.

I go on and on about The Universe this and The Universe that and it may sound trite but hear me out.  I was originally supposed to be in New York city for BlogHer this summer.  My plans changed and I didn’t have the opportunity to attend and to finally meet in person some of the people that I have grown to think of as part of my extended family.  And I was disappointed about that.  But The Universe more than made up for it by getting me to Big Summer Potluck.  BlogHer is mega big. It’s huge.  Which for my socially awkward self is completely overwhelming.  Big Summer Potluck was intimate.  It was warm and welcoming.  It was a conversation among old friends who may have just met each other that morning.  It was exactly where I needed to be.

Remember my post You Might Be A Food Blogger If… That’s how Big Summer Potluck made me feel.  I was anxious about walking into a room with an untested recipe (and we know I have strict rules about untested recipes) where I didn’t know a soul.  My lack of navigational skills resulted in me getting lost in rural Pennsylvania and being the very last person to arrive 30 minutes late.  Hello, I consider showing up on time being late.  And yet, once I set foot in the door all of that melted away.  I was embraced by these people.  I was part of their tribe.  I belonged.  And isn’t that what we all want?  To be accepted.  To be validated.  To be inspired.

There was laughter.  Warm sun, clear skies, and cool breezes.  Amazing products supplied from KitchenAid, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New West Knifeworks, The Spice House, Fine Cooking, Green Valley Organics, Green Mountain Coffee, Cypress Grove Chevre, Naturally Nora, and Lindsay Olives.   And incredible food.  Because you have to know that at a food blogger get together we’re going to nosh on good eats.  To see people who know and make good food eat my potluck contribution and have their faces light up was priceless.  In my head, I sounded like an insecure adolescent saying OMG, Alice Currah is eating my cookie and she LIKES it!!!  There may have also been jazz hands and the Peanuts dance going on in my head as well.  I was too excited in the moment to accurately recall now.

So I’ve been quietly sending my thanks back to The Universe for giving me the opportunity to be part of Big Summer Potluck.  For the people who made it all possible and the people whose presence made it what it was.

I’ve also been thanking The Universe for allowing me to come to a complete stop on that winding back road in time not to hit the deer that decided to pop out of nowhere and lazily cross the road.  I don’t know if there is any symbolic meaning to seeing three massive bucks other than the obvious – slow down.  But that is one of the small moments from the weekend I hope to hang on to.  Yes Universe, sometimes I hear what you’re trying to tell me loud and clear.

Hungry for more Big Summer Potluck?  Check out:

Bread and Putter

Wenderly

Sugarcrafter

Smells Like Home

Tickled Red

Add A Pinch

The Sensitive Pantry

Three Many Cooks

Fine Cooking

The Dinky Kitchen

Dine & Dish

The Coquettish Cook

What’s Kookin’ In Kara’s Kitchen

How To Simplify

My Kitchen Addiction

Four Chickens

Modern Wench

The Ivory Hut

Smith Bites

Souffle Bombay

The Peche

She Wears Many Hats

Bluebonnets & Brownies

Abby Dodge

Do you wonder what a Big Summer Potluck looks like?  Check out Erika’s lovely photos of the day.

And stay tuned for the Peanut Butterfinger cookie recipe that I took a gamble on being Big Summer Potluck worthy.

Jaden’s Coconut Shrimp

Jaden's Coconut Shrimp

These truths I  hold to be self evident:

  1. There are lots of food blogs out there.
  2. It’s impossible to follow every one.
  3. Clearly, I’m missing out on some good stuff.
  4. That’s not a good thing.

Thankfully, the blogs I read help me to find some of that good stuff that’s on other sites.  So I’m giving Alice @ Savory Sweet Life a big BAH thanks for her post of Jaden’s Coconut Shrimp.  Otherwise, this gem would have gone unnoticed by me.  And as #4 states, that is not a good thing.

I am entering this recipe in the Get Grillin’ Event run by Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans. This week’s theme is appetizers.  Check out all the entries and submit one of your own!

Jaden’s Coconut Shrimp

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons cognac
  • kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar (if using sweetened coconut, omit)

BAH Tip: If using smaller shrimp, work in batches so that they do not steam.  You want them to cook quickly in the pan so it’s important that you only have a single layer of shrimp in the pan at a time.

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and set aside.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the coconut.  Stir occasionally and toast until golden brown.  Transfer coconut to a plate.

Return empty frying pan to stove and set over high heat.  The pan is ready when a bead of water sizzles on contact and evaporates.  Add oil and shrimp to the pan.  Cook for one minute then turn and cook for one minute on the other side.  Remove shrimp from the pan, leaving as much oil in it as possible.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the pan.  Once it has melted and starts foaming, add the green onion and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.  Remove frying pan from the stove and add the cognac, a pinch of salt, and sugar (if using).  Return pan to the stove and stir to combine.  Return shrimp to the pan and let the sauce thicken slightly and coat the shrimp.

Remove from heat, add the toasted coconut, and gently toss to combine.

Serve as an appetizer or add rice for an entree.

{Printable Recipe}

Scooby Snacks

Scooby Snacks

Here’s one last holiday themed post in case you’re still looking for an easy, homemade gift that won’t break the bank.  I liked this recipe so much that I plan on making it again for The Mistah and I and Santa to snack on.

Muddy Buddies

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life

BAH Note: As much as I like the all Chex version that Alice posted, and that we already packaged and sent out, I think it needs a salty component.  Use whatever combination of Chex you like.  Alice included wheat in addition to the corn and rice Chex.  I decided to leave wheat out of mine.  Also, I found it easier to use my hands to combine the melted chocolate, peanut butter, and butter with the cereal.  Yes, it’s messy as hell but I think it kept more of the cereal squares from breaking.  Be sure to use a big enough bowl so that you have enough room to get in there and really mix things up.

  • 7 cups of Corn and Rice Chex cereal, combined
  • 2 cups thin pretzel sticks or small pretzels
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided

Measure out the cereal and pretzels into a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Stir in vanilla.

Pour the melted mixture over the cereal and pretzels and gently stir to combine until the cereal is evenly coated.  Divide the coated cereal between two 1 gallon zip top bags and add half of the powdered sugar to each bag.  Seal the bags and gently shake until the powdered sugar evenly coats the cereal.

Spread the cereal on a parchment lined sheet pan to set up and then package in airtight containers.

{printable recipe}