Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Thai Soup

Since the snow has hit the South a little by surprise the past couple of days... I figured I would share a nice soul-warming soup recipe to help ya'll (<-- see look, I can pretend to be a Southerner) escape the winter chill.

We got about 3 inches of snow in Raleigh which earned me a snowday - the perfect opportunity to share recipes on my blog! The dogs are LOVING the snow, we've been on a few walks already and they beg to go outside to chase each other in the snow. Not to mention the perfection of having a lazy day in front of a warm fire, Bailey's spiked coffee, and yummy pancakes smothered in Vermont maple syrup - I joked about being a snowday pro, I really think I've nailed it today!

I love this recipe because it can be so versatile! I've made it vegetarian friendly with some yummy noodles or chock full of chicken for a really comforting dish. I tend to just dump whatever leftover veggies I have in the fridge... so be creative with this one!

Here is a good base recipe to start off with. I would suggest doing chicken OR noodles but not both - you'll wind up with less of a soup and more of a messy noodle dish. Also, I've made the mistake of being overzealous with ingredients - moderation is key!


1 carton (32 oz) Swanson's Thai Ginger Broth (THIS STUFF IS AMAZING... and vegetarian!)
2 tbs Red Curry Paste
2 cans (12 oz) Coconut Milk
2 tbs Fish Sauce
2 tbs Brown Sugar
2 tbs Peanut Butter
2 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
   OR 8oz Rice Noodles
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 Onion, thinly sliced
8 oz Mixed Mushrooms - Cremini, Oyster, Sliced Baby Bella, etc.
1 heaping tbs Fresh Ginger, shredded or minced
2 cups Frozen Peas
1 tbs Lime Juice
Fresh Cilantro and/or Basil for garnish

I've also added snow peas, baby corn, carrots, green bell pepper depending on what I had left in the fridge...but seriously don't overdo it, I've made that mistake before!


Whisk together broth, chili paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, and peanut butter in your slow cooker until well combined. Add in chicken (or not), bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and ginger. Set slow cooker to HIGH for 4 hours. 

Add in frozen peas, lime juice, and rice noodles (if you're using them) cook on HIGH for an additional 15 - 30 minutes, or until noodles are cooked. Top with fresh cilantro and/or basil and enjoy!

Doesn't this soup make you feel a bit warmer just by thinking about it!?

Yummy Asian Meatballs

I had my first snowday in years today and what better way to spend my time than work on the blog? I have a few recipes and photos that I've been meaning to work on from a while back but I was just so excited about this recipe that I couldn't wait to post it - it got to cut to the front of the line.

This is another one of the recipes I made for my birthday party and just HAD to remake in order to take photos and blog because they are just THAT GOOD. I also love that these are just so easy to whip up.I don't need to set aside any real time for prep --> chop green onion, mix everything together and VOILA! prep is done! It's the perfect appetizer to make right before your guests walk in the door, stick them in the oven and they're finished, hot and ready to be devoured right as your guests are arriving.

I've never really been a meatball as an appetizer fan - I just personally think that they tend to be really heavy, especially when they are drowning in marinara. These meatballs do not have that heaviness, but  they have a nice balance of savory and sweet while feeling lighter than your average meatball.


For the Meatballs:
1 pound Ground Beef
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 large Egg
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds, for garnish

For the Sauce:
1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
2 tbs Rice Vinegar
1 tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Mix ground beef, sesame oil, panko, ginger, egg, garlic, and about 3/4 of your chopped onion (reserving some for garnish) in a large bowl. I use my hands - It's fun. Mix well, making sure to incorporate all the ingredients evenly throughout. 

Form your meatballs into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls.You should be able to make at least 18 meat balls. I usually do 6 rows of 3 meatballs on my cookie sheet, leaving enough space between each ball to cook evenly. Cook at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes or until cooked all the way through. 

While your meatballs cook, whisk together your sauce ingredients. Once cooked, place your meatballs in their serving dish, top with sauce, garnish with reserved green onion & sesame seeds. 

Holy Yum & Holy Easy - the best of both worlds!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not Your Mama's Pot Roast

I am still in a food coma after making this for dinner tonight. It is just so good that it's hard to stop shoveling mouthful after mouthful into your mouth of creamy, cheesy, ranch grits smothered in tender, moist, barbecue beef. And the sauce! Oh, the sauce! It's to die for.

I've never been too much of a pot roast fan... I think it's because as a kid pot roast was always served to me as dry, tough pieces of unseasoned meat but now I have a couple pot roast recipes in my regular rotation. This recipe is so easy. Just a few short minutes of prep is all it takes to set the slow cooker and then be on with the rest of your day. The grits whip up in a jif as well.

This recipe has been adapted from Plain Chicken after seeing it posted on Pinterest. I am so happy to have stumbled upon it.


For the Roast:
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 (2-4 lb.) Boneless Chuck Roast, trimmed
12 oz Coke
1 (12 oz) bottle Heinz Chili Sauce (you can find it near the ketchup/cocktail sauce)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
3 tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 cup Milk

For the Grits:
1 1/2 cup Grits (Quick Cook or Regular, not instant)
3 cups Chicken Broth (for stiff grits, for soupier grits use more)
1 packet (1 oz.) Ranch Dressing Mix
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese


In your slow cooker, sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper over roast. Top with Coke, chili sauce, Worcestershire and Tabasco Sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 7-9 hours depending on the size of your roast. I just made a 3 lb roast on high for 5 hours and it was perfect. 

Once your roast is cooked remove it from the slow cooker, momentarily. Combine cornstarch and milk in a small bowl, mix well until there are no clumps. Pour the milk mixture into the juices reserved in the slow cooker, mixing well. Place roast back into slow cooker. Cook on high for an additional 15 minutes to thicken up the sauce.

While your sauce thickens you can work on your grits. I recommend quick grits but in a pinch I've used regular old fashioned grits - just make sure to adjust your time accordingly (Quick grits take about 5 minutes where regular grits take about 15-20)

In a medium-large saucepan bring chicken broth to boil. I like my grits kind of stiff, almost like a mashed potato, if you prefer yours to be a little wet, add more chicken broth. Once boiling, slowly add in grits, while stirring. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes for quick grits or 15-20 minutes for regular grits. Stir in ranch packet and cheese. 

Serve your roast over the grits, with sauce generously poured over top. It's amazing that this much deliciousness can come from so little effort.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Deconstructed Pallet Brewery Sign

For Christmas this year I had to get a little creative with Aaron's presents. I got him the new iPad Air which totally blew my budget (holy expensive) but I wanted him to have a few more things under the tree to open which led me to this project... which came out great! I wanted to make Aaron a sign for his brewery that also had the ability to display what we had on tap. Also I'm obsessed with chalkboard paint so I'll make up any excuse to use it. In my head the design was based off old ice cream shop signs. You know the kind-- where they hang the different flavors available?

I have a pallet hoarding situation in the garage which is a blessing & a curse. We have a 2 car garage yet no room to fit any cars in it. There's a sofa, a few pallets, the "brewery", and a lot of giant boxes that need to be broken down, among other things. I thought using one of the pallets would be a double gift to Aaron, hehe. Clearing some space in the garage AND making an awesome sign.

These instructions are going to be kind of vague... as I totally "winged it." There were no tape measures involved, just eyeballs and it made for a very rustic look, which is what I was going for.

What You'll Need

An old pallet (or scrap wood, or even new wood)
Hammer & Nails
Handsaw (or as I call it, "Christmas Tree Saw")
Regular Paint
Chalkboard Paint
Small Paint Brushes 
Hook Screws & Eye Screws


To deconstruct your pallet: I used 2 wide panels nailed together for the top section of the sign, held together by nailing them into smaller pieces long enough to span the gap between the slats. (See diagram.) You'll want to hammer the nails in from the front.
view from back of sign

I used narrower panels for the hanging sections. All pieces came from the same pallet. To deconstruct I just used the handsaw to cut pieces directly off the pallet. 

To paint text: Choose a large bold font for your text. Print off onto regular printer paper - this will act as your stencil so make sure it fits your wood pieces properly and as you'd like to see it as a finished project. Cut off excess paper and tape to your wood. Firmly trace the text with a regular pen - the wood is soft enough that this should leave an indent to use as a guide when painting. Remove stencil and paint text.

Paint the narrower slats with a few brush strokes of chalkboard paint so that you can write the "on tap" selections. You can cut/paint as many of these as you might need. We only have a 2 tap kegerator so I only painted two. Allow all paint to dry thoroughly. 

Attach eye screws and hook screws to your pieces. (you might actually want a tape measure for this). I did mine about 3 inches in on each side of the sign. Since the edges weren't cut exactly straight, I had to do a little adjustments to one side or the other by tapping the screws lightly with a hammer. 

And that's it... easy right?

*And yes, the walls in my kitchen are lime green... I promise it works, it just looks a little weird in these pictures without the rest of the kitchen. 

Crab Cakes Bites

I've been kind of a bad blogger lately... I've been making A LOT of good food, I promise. I've just been really busy so I haven't had the time to take all the gorgeous photos that are needed for a good blog post . For my birthday party I whipped up these melt-in-your-mouth savory Crab Cake Bites. They were so good that I made them again today so that I could take photos and share the recipe with you all.

This recipe is SOOO easy! And other than the crab meat, everything on the ingredients list is simple stuff that I already have chilling in the fridge and pantry. What's great about these crab cakes in particular is that they are ALL CRAB - hardly any cake. The large chunks of lump crab meat actually melts in your mouth. I can't put into words how delicious these bites really are... they're that good. 


16oz Fresh Lump Crab Meat
1 large egg
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Worcester Sauce
1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into 21 small pieces
Optional: Arugula, Cocktail Sauce, & Dijon Mustard for serving.


Set the oven to broil and make sure the oven rack is close to the top. I broil mine at the second rack space from the top. 

In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Add mayonnaise, whisk until well combined. Add Old Bay, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, and Worcester sauce, whisking again until well combined. Mix in bread crumbs until uniform in texture. Gently fold in lump crab meat - so not to break up the big lumps of meat.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet - cooking spray works great.

Form your crab mixture into meatball-sized balls. You should be able to make 21 crab cake bites. Top each ball with a small amount of butter.

Broil for 7-10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. If the tops seem like they're burning, lower the cookie sheet/baking rack.

Serve while warm. I like to lay them on a bed of arugula for a pretty presentation. They taste great on their own but you can serve with some Dijon mustard or cocktail sauce if desired.

I was thinking about how delicious these little guys were and came up with the genius idea of making these into normal sized crab cakes and making a bad-ass sandwich with them. I can just imagine them with a creamy lemon dressing on a fresh, toasted bun...YUM!

Pro Tip: Lump Crab Meat is EXPENSIVE. Look out for sales.