Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pad Thai at Home

There’s one thing that’s really hard about living out here.  Welllll, Josh’s long commute might make it two things. But the more difficult one, the one that impacts our everyday life and compromises my general well-being? We don’t have an awesome go-to Thai take out place.

I know, it’s been a huge sacrifice.

And it has also driven me to make my own Thai concoctions, something I was never really tempted to try to at home because how can you beat good take-out Thai?? You can’t. Or at least I can’t.

I did, however, make AWESOME Pad Thai for my husband one night. And then when I tried to mimic the meal for his family over Christmas, well it turned out pretty good. Not take-out caliber, but it was yummy. Somehow I can never really nail a recipe when I’m cooking for a bunch of people. Under pressure cooking just makes me flustered. Ever notice how serene and smiley those women are on the Foot Network? That’s pretty much the opposite of me when I’m cooking for a party of 4 and up.  I’m usually schlepping a beer and prematurely making excuses for the outcome of the meal. Blaming the pans I have to work with, or they didn’t have the ingredient I always use at your grocery store, orrrrr I am just nervous to cook for everyone after raving about how good this turned out the last time.

But my Thai-loving family flattered me greatly by asking me to post this recipe for them. I was really just happy to have my two-year-old niece Sophie’s approval – girl had multiple bowls and she is the Pad Thai master.

So this is for you, Soph!

Chicken Pad Thai   *a variation of Food & Wine’s Quick Shrimp Pad Thai

pad thai

1 lb chicken tenderloin

8 ounces pad thai noodles

4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

6 tablespoons light brown sugar

4 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 serrano pepper with seeds, stemmed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

3 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 large eggs, beaten

4 scallions, thinly sliced

Toppings:

Roasted peanuts, crushed

Chopped cilantro

Bean sprouts

Lime Wedges

For the marinade:

To prepare the chicken, combine the 2 tablespoons chili garlic, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ cup lime juice and 2 tablespoons peanut butter in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Pad Thai:

1. Sautee the marinated chicken in a large skillet over medium heat. Once cooked through, transfer to a plate.

2. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover entirely with very hot water. Let soak approximately 5 minutes. Do NOT cook them completely. Otherwise they will become mushy by the end of the process. Mushy noodles are the worst.

3. Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ cup lime juice in a bowl.

4. In a large skillet or wok, heat about 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over high heat until tender and lightly brown, about 4 minutes.

5. Add the pad thai noodles and stir-fry until heated through, about 4 minutes. Scrape the noodles and chicken to one side of the pan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the empty side of the skillet. Add the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly set, about 1 minute.

6. Add the cooked chicken to the skillet.

7. Add the scallions and toss everything together, keeping the eggs relatively intact. Add the fish sauce mixture and stir-fry until the noodles are evenly coated. Transfer the pad thai to a platter.

8. Top with peanuts, cilantro and bean sprouts and serve with lime wedges.

 

Enjoy!! This is really pretty good and typing this all up is makes me want to try it again. Oh and Joni and Damien, don’t forget to leave out the shallots when you make this at home J

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Christmas: Part Two

As usual, I was stressed about all the wrong things this Christmas. This should be a lesson to stress less in general but… I think it might just be who I am so I’m going to let it go for now. As you know, I was really nervous about the long car ride with a seventeen month old who protests the moment she SEES her car seat. But in spite of that, we had a couple of things on our side this time. Normally our trek through the mountains of West VA involves some kind of precipitation in various form of ICE, gusting wind, semi-truckers who don’t seem to have a real grasp on how massive they are, and of course, the road to get there is windy and treacherous. Josh LOVES driving next to his anxiety-ridden wife, especially when I gasp and grab the Oh shit handle as we pass trucks, or when I demand that we never drive behind anything carrying logs, and the best– pointing out the dumb asses who are texting while driving. I seriously want a sign that I can hold up to my window, calling these people out for their recklessness. I mean do you drivers not see the perilous CLIFF to our right?? Or your kid in the backseat? And my BABY in my backseat? Okay, I’ll simmer down. Our drive was pretty easy. For starters, it was a balmy 65 degrees meaning no ice, no crazy wind. Also on our side? A happy baby. Hadley didn’t sleep at all, but she also didn’t scream. We DID listen to the Elmo CD for an excruciating seven times on repeat, but you do what you gotta do to keep the kid content or at least quiet.

I was grateful that we arrived without incident or major stress, and even more grateful that we got to spend a relaxing week with Josh’s family. His parents are so great about giving us a break from the baby so we can do exotic things like have a meal at a restaurant, go see a movie in the actual theater, and shop without worrying about when Hadley will get tired of being strapped in a cart. Last year Hadley was only five months old and still refusing a bottle, so leaving her was difficult and stressful and not really worth it. Now she is more than happy to hang out with Nana and “My Bumpa” as she calls them. 

I love the Christmas Eve service at the church. Simple message, beautiful music, and the peaceful lighting of the candles. I remember last year my sister-in-law Joni and I were SO stressed about bringing the babies to the service. Any church service is stressful with babies, but particularly the quiet and peaceful ones involving open flames. Of course, since I was worried about it, infant Hadley was absolutely fine. And consequently, I wasn’t stressed about it at all this year, and toddler Hadley was the opposite of fine. At the start of the program, she decided that she needed to be part of the nativity display at the front of the chapel. If a seventeen-month-old blond baby jabbering to the animals in the stable weren’t distracting to the rest of the congregation, the moment she shouted “BUMPA” to her grandfather giving the sermon certainly was.

So here’s where we spent the Christmas Eve service. 

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                                       Thankfully, she found another nativity display to mess with

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                                                      Please can’t I go inside and see my Bumpa?

 

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                                                                            She eventually found him

As much as I was convinced that Hadley wouldn’t really understand what was going on Christmas morning, she picked up on the present thing pretty quickly. Since she (we) love accessorizing, one of her stocking gifts was a pack of hair bows. A few presents later, she got another hair bow from Josh’s mom. She looked up at me and said “More?” Yep, baby girl, that’s pretty much how the day will go. Followed by the inevitable overdosing on food, and the subsequent falling asleep in front of the television after dinner. 

We spent a lot of time just watching Hadley and her cousin Sophie interact. Some of my best childhood memories are vacations with my extended family, and I LOVE it that Hadley is always surrounded by her cousins. Built-in playmates for life. Always someone to do Ring Around the Rosey with and for Hadley, it doesn’t get much better than that. 

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