Thursday, August 30, 2012

Easy Red Curry Chicken

Let's face it. Sometimes every family needs a quick recipe for dinner. One of my favorite quick recipes is a simplified version of red curry chicken. This recipe will take you more time to make your rice than it does to cook. Here we go!

You need:
1 can coconut milk
1 rotisserie chicken
red curry paste
vegetables (your choice)
salt/pepper to taste
1 T sugar
fresh basil for garnish
serve with rice (we prefer jasmine rice)

Start your rice cooking. We have a handy dandy rice cooker, so I just add my rice and water and turn it on. Remove the skin from your rotisserie chicken. Tear/cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside. Cube your veggies (make about 1/2" cubes). Put about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk (should be white and solid) in a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until melted and smooth. Add 1-4T of red curry paste. My kids don't like hot/spicy food, so I used 2T. Stir until well combined. Dump the rest of the can of coconut milk and stir. Add the veggies first so they soften and cook. Mix in the sugar at this time. When the veggies start to get soft, add the shredded chicken. Stir and warm until heated through and the veggies are cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice and basil for garnish.

That's it, folks. You can change the flavor depending on the veggies you add. I kept it simple with some zucchini and a little onion.

Hope you enjoy this quick recipe! You can keep the curry paste and coconut milk as staples in your home and just add the meat and veggies. The rotisserie chicken cuts down on the cooking time, but you (obviously) can use chicken breasts or other meats you have at home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins

August and September are the months out of the year where we are inundated with fresh squash and zucchini. I plant them in my garden each year partially because they're hardy and will grow in our short Montana summers. The kids like them because you can actually see the growth from day to day. Last year, we had too much. I think I supplied about 6 families with all the squash and zucchini they could eat. We cut back on our plants this year, but our harvest is wonderfully plentiful. I like experimenting with different ways to use these vegetables. I personally love them roasted with salt, pepper and some fresh herbs. I use them pureed in my homemade marinara sauce. Of course, there's the ever popular zucchini bread. I have a wonderful recipe for zuke bread, but was searching for something new tonight. I really wanted to combine the warm nutty flavor of pumpkin with the delicious spices I usually use in the zuke bread. Plus, I'm a sucker for breakfast muffins.

I started with a recipe from "The Baking Barrister" and tweaked it toward my preferences. Here's my adaptation.

Preheat your oven to 350. Line upcake tins with papers or thoroughly grease.

2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger

Combine these ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Grate 1 medium zucchini. Place the grated zuke in a tea towel and wring/squeeze as much water out of the pulp as possible. Measure out 1 cup and set aside.

1/2 c. butter at room temp
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/3 c. water

Beat the butter and sugar until well combined. I was out of brown sugar, so I used all granulated/white sugar. I would normally do half brown and half white, but use what you have! Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Slowly add the pumpkin and then the zucchini and beat well. Begin adding the dry mixture about 1/2 c. at a time alternating with the water until you've combined all the ingredients into the batter.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. I was able to make 18 muffins and a small loaf of bread using this recipe. Once the batter is in the cups, sprinkle with NoMu sweet rub or Olivelle's sugar and spice dipper. This is an amazing combination of cinnamon, sugar and other spices that I use regularly. Bake for 20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). If you greased the cups, let cool slightly before removing muffins.

These are so moist and delicious! The pumpkin adds such a warm flavor and I think contributes to the moist texture. My husband spreads a little cream cheese on them and it is truly a party in your mouth.

Stay tuned for more breakfast muffin recipes this week!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making Manners Fun!

Something very important to me as a parent is teaching my kids manners. There's no such thing as "too polite" in my book. Things like "please" and "thank you" are the foundation. I teach and we practice using phrases like "May I please...." on a daily basis. My husband and I are also working on having the kids sit at the dinner table, even if they are finished eating, until everyone is done and then asking to be excused. These are all simple things to teach my girls manners.

Thank you notes are another instance of showing manners. I want my kids to learn to be gracious for the extras in life. Birthday parties and friends are fun and birthday presents are extras. My kids are still pretty little, but it's not too early to have them help write thank you notes.

My oldest daughter just had her 4th birthday. She had a lovely party with friends and family. She's not quite old enough to write her own thank yous so I came up with this idea. Why not make the creation of the actual thank you card a craft project? She loves doing craft projects and it keeps her engaged in the process, even if she can't write the content.

I dug out a handful of my scrapbooking supplies to make the cards.

We started by using a light fibrous paper to stamp the word "thanks" a bunch of times over and over. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the stamped page. Then I let her cut out each word.

I cut out paper to the size of 6" x 8" so when it's folded the card is 4" x 6". My daughter glued "thanks" to the front of each card.

Her birthday party theme was My Little Pony, so she stuck a couple MLP stickers to the fronts of each card.

She wanted to make them fancy, so we worked together to put some Prima paper flowers on each card using a brad.

Once the cards were done, I wrote the thank you note based on what she dictated to me. At the end, she wrote her name at the bottom of each card.

This was a very simple craft project to do with only a couple adult assistance steps. You can make it even easier by using index cards and stickers for younger kids. Having my daughter help in the thank you process helps her learn manners and graciousness. Sometimes the journey is just as important as the final product!!