Carrot Curried Shrimp Soup

Let me JUST say that this is hands down an absolutely DELICIOUS and AMAZING dish.

Carrot Curried Shrimp Soup with Noodles

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Carrots (peeled and diced)
1/2 large Yellow Onion (diced)
2-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
1 Tbsp Corriander
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 lbs Shrimp (deveined) - I used 1 pound jumbo and 1 pound small
1 can Coconut Milk (approx. 14 oz.)
Curry Powder
1 package Rice Noodles (I used Pad Thai noodles)

Chives/Green Onion

Ensure all your shrimp is deveined (I devein under the belly as well as back) and sitting in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. Dice and mince vegetables for soup and garnish; the smaller you dice the vegetables, the quicker the soup cooks. Shake up your can of coconut milk; this ensures the fat mixes in. If you open your can of coconut milk and the contents are not well mixed, do NOT worry. The soup will still turn out just fine (this is experience speaking :). Have your chicken broth measured out and measuring spoons standing by!

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or wide cooking pot. Add your diced onion; stirring them often until soft/translucent. (Approximately 5 minutes) Add carrots. Continue to stir occasionally (to ensure vegetables do not burn) until onion is golden brown. Add garlic and red curry paste. Allow to cook until fragrant. Season with coriander, salt and pepper (to taste). (About a tablespoon each) Add your chicken stock and bring entire pot to a boil. Reduce to low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are soft.

Once your carrots are soft, heat a second pot of water. Fill this pot with enough water to cover your rice noodles. Your noodles are going to soak while you cook your shrimp.

While the water is heating up, begin to puree your carrot soup. If you have an immersion blender this will be all the easier. If you don't, then use a blender (as I did). Remember to go in batches and allow the soup to sit for a bit so it does not create an explosion of super hot soup! If you have a special container for your soup, place the soup there. Just remember you will be adding noodles and shrimp to it very soon. So make sure it is large enough!

Add noodles to the boiling water. Turn the water off. Allow noodles to soak while you are cooking the shrimp. (Approximately ten minutes)

Place another two to four tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. As soon as you turn on the heat, begin placing your shrimp into the skillet. (Unless you have a massive skillet, this will take a couple go arounds.) Begin to season your shrimp with pepper, salt, and curry powder (yellow). (And please, wash your hands before you do so; if you are touching your shrimp.) Once the shrimp begin to turn pink, flip them over and season the other side. Remember: shrimp are not large chunks of meat, so try not to over do it. Repeat these steps until all your shrimp has been seasoned and cooked. Once all the shrimp has been cooked, you may throw all two pounds into the skillet for a minute or two. (This will heat up the shrimp you started with as well as ensure everything is cooked.

Place the shrimp in with your pureed carrot soup. Drain noodles and add them to the soup.

Serve in bowls and top with desired garnishes Enjoy!

My dear friend texted me a photo of the original recipe stating she thought of me when she saw it. (We frequent "our" Thai restaurant together; in fact, I'm the reason she moved from HER Thai restaurant to "OUR" Thai restaurant. (It use to be MY Thai restaurant (the staff, owners, etc. knew my family on sight), but she started going more frequently and took over; so it's really her NEW Thai restaurant now, but I'd like to think she'd share credit with me. ;) Back to cooking..))

I knew I had all the ingredients for the recipe, but needed to sell "Carrot Soup" to my husband. My husband LOVES all food Asian, but I was 5 million percent sure I couldn't sell "Carrot Soup" just because it had "Curried Shrimp" in it. I decided if I added rice noodles and made the soup more of a sauce, he'd be all in.

That said, this would be an AMAZING soup by itself, with or without the shrimp. It does NOT taste sweet as my husband feared and we both wished there was more soup to it. That and leftovers. There were ZERO leftovers! The kids ate up every bite and had seconds. My husband had thirds. I was VERY content with one (LARGE) serving.

If I could give further credit to the owner of the above recipe, I would. This is all I have and what I went off of to create my dish. I honestly do not even know where my friend was at when she sent me the photo or what she was reading. And I didn't ask. Not because I don't want to give credit, but because I have a stupid phone (literally, it is not a smart phone, it is dumb) and it took longer than I'd like to admit to even VIEW the recipe. So to whom the credit goes, THANK YOU for publicly sharing this AMAZING and DELICIOUS recipe of yours!

[Random "Fact": Why no "Cocount" in my title; if there is "curry" it is assumed to have coconut in it. At least according to my husband who studied Thai. Not in high school and not in college, but at the Defense Language Institute by Thai instructors.]


Avocado - Take Your PICK!

I have found QUITE a few yummy "avocado" recipes lately. And I wanted to try them. ALL of them! The problem? I REALLY like avocado. In my wraps. On my eggs. With a Mexican spread. Never mind the fact that after purchasing all the necessary ingredients to make a dish I end up using some of the ingredients for a different dish. No, the real problem has been keeping enough avocados in the house to actually MAKE a dish.

I made an avocado chicken salad a couple weeks ago and was HOOKED.

I have never been a big "chicken salad" fan because of the mayonnaise. I gave up eating mayonnaise YEARS ago and just can't bring myself to eat it. When I saw it called for avocado instead of mayonnaise, I KNEW I had to try it. Plus, all the ingredients were REAL ingredients. A friend suggested adding jalapeño; the only change she made when she tried it, and I can't imagine NOT adding a jalapeño to this recipe. Then I saw a recipe for Chicken Avocado Soup. Sure the ingredient list doesn't look much different than Chicken Tortilla Soup, BUT it LOOKS like Avocado Chicken Salad in soup form! I wanted it! After that I saw the Guacamole Deviled Eggs. And I had to make those too!

With the ever looming "problem" of avocado not lasting long on the island counter, I was able to accomplish Avocado Chicken Salad and Avocado Deviled Eggs. The ingredients are almost exactly the same; it just depends on which part of the chicken you are going to use: chicken breast or eggs? And because my eggs looked VERY sad after de-shelling (the "secret" to make it easy does NOT work for me), I decided to make an avocado egg salad as well!

Avocado - Take Your Pick - Chicken Salad, Deviled Eggs, or Egg Salad

What You Need: (for Avocado Mix)
1 avocado (more if you want MORE avocado flavor/green coloring or covering/moisture
Salt and Pepper - to taste
1 SMALL jalapeño (mine came from my garden, is ANGRY hot, and smaller than my thumb
1 green onion (I only used MAYBE a third of mine and only the green part)
1 clove of garlic
Lime juice - 1Tbsp or so
SMALL bunch of cilantro - about 1Tbsp

Can you find the TINY jalapeño from the garden? These things have been ANGRY hot (this is #3 so far this season) so this tiny guy is PERFECT for this amount of avocado mix.

For Chicken Salad: Add a chicken breast (depending on how large a breast you have, you'll want to increase the rest of the ingredients to coat the entire breast (see photo below)) and season your breast and cook on a skillet or boil with an onion (or shallot, garlic, etc.)

For Deviled Eggs: Add 6-7 eggs (my eggs looked VERY sad after being de-shelled, so I ended up using 7 eggs total and paprika.

For Egg Salad: Add 6-7 eggs (again my eggs looked sad after de-shelling, so I only made ONE avocado deviled egg (2 halves) and the remainder of the eggs I chopped up for the egg salad; only using the YELLOW yolks and tossing out any grey ones. And paprika.

Halve your avocado and take out the pit. Score it with a small knife. Scoop out your avocado into a mixing bowl. Mince up the jalapeño, green onion, garlic, and cilantro.

Add your jalapeño, green onion, garlic, and cilantro to your avocado. Add salt and pepper and a tablespoon or so of lime juice. Mash/Mix it all around.

Then it's time for deciding what to do next!

For Avocado Chicken Salad:

Cook your seasoned chicken breast on the skillet, boil it, or cook it in the oven. Pull it and add to your avocado mix. Serve. Eat and ENJOY!

This was my FIRST Avocado Chicken Salad and I wish I had used MORE avocado. 

A separate batch looking more moist/green/delicious/avocado-y!

It's good the next day too! And because of the lime juice, it doesn't brown! (That is, IF you don't consume the entire thing in one sitting the first day. You'll see I didn't leave a whole lot for a second meal. And my chicken breast size range in weight between 14oz and 1lb.)

Second Day Avocado Chicken Salad

For Avocado Deviled Eggs:

I have been trying the "secret to easy peeling hard boiled eggs" now three go arounds and it is just NOT working for me. So, I'll say hard boil your eggs however works best for you because the ice over the hot eggs just doesn't work for me. (I'll try playing bumper cars next time, but after that I'm over it.)

I DO place my eggs in a pot, add water to cover them and turn on the stove top. I let the water come to a boil and then I turn the burner to low and wait for the water to reboil. Once the water has begun to boil again, I usually let the eggs sit 5-10 minutes before turning the water off and let them sit/set for 20 minutes. This ensures yellow yolks without the grey ring; this HAS worked for me the last three attempts at icing my eggs.

Halve your eggs.

These eggs have the grey ring because I just boiled them for 20 minutes straight.
Now, scoop out the yolk. I personally did not add the yolk back into the avocado mix, but it was because I wanted to get an egg half in my mouth and I wasn't going to be patient enough to mash in the egg yolk to the avocado mix. I suggest if you do add in the egg yolk, you add more of the avocado mix ingredients. (But it tasted DELICIOUS without. Although I'm sure it tastes just as good with the yolk in too; although you might lose some of the green color.)

All you need to do now is scoop in some avocado mix and sprinkle some paprika over these babies. Then DEVOUR them!

For Avocado Egg Salad:

Hard boil your eggs. (Or use your leftovers from your Avocado Deviled Egg attempt; mine looked FUNKY after trying to peel them, so they were PERFECT for egg salad.) Peel them and start chopping them up!

See how "not happy" these eggs look after de-shelling? I think they wanted to be turned into egg salad instead of deviled eggs.
Then add you egg bits and pieces to your avocado mix and sprinkle paprika on top.

Mash/Mix it altogether and serve yourself a plate. Or bowl. Or plastic container; just make sure you get some. Then BEFORE you take a bite, package the leftovers. Trust me.. you might inadvertently eat ALL of it if you don't.

I can vouch for ALL three of these avocado recipes. They're healthy AND delicious! The problem.. I don't keep even mashed avocado mix in my house for very long. Two meals TOPS. Speaking of.. I'm feeling a little snackish. 

Look out Mr. Avocado. Look out..

P.S. I should add that if you let your egg salad sit in the refrigerator.. the flavors just get BETTER! Lay it on a bed of lettuce.. DELICIOUS!


Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Greek Yogurt Pancakes. Also known as "The Best Pancakes in the WORLD". At least that is what they are known by at my house. The first time I made these, I literally ate them OFF the griddle. NO plate needed. No fork needed. NOTHING extra needed. Pancake, meet Mouth. Mouth, eat Pancake.

Yes, they are really THAT good. In fact, they have become a staple in our home. Whether you want to label then as a staple recipe, staple meal.. that's up to you. But a week does not go by without eating these delicious creations. At least twice. A week. Although I have been known to put away more than two servings of these delicious pancakes in one meal sitting.

The most amazing aspect of these Greek Yogurt Pancakes, in my opinion anyway, is there are only FOUR ingredients. Four SIMPLE ingredients. Four REAL FOOD ingredients.

What you Need:
-24 oz. Greek Yogurt
(I use vanilla and honey Greek Gods Yogurt because it's what we always have on hand.)
-2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
-4 tsp Baking Soda
-4 eggs

Simple. Real. Ingredients.
First, turn the heat on under your griddle. I keep mine between low and medium low and adjust as the process of cooking the pancakes goes on.

Then you start with your yogurt and eggs.

Mix the yogurt and eggs around until you have a pale yellow mixture. If you have EVER made the most delicious blueberry muffins in the world, you will know EXACTLY what the mixture/consistency is like.

Pale yellow mixture and a whisk (VERY important).
Then it's time to add your flour.

And then your baking soda.

How EASY and SIMPLE is that?! I have found that using a whisk to combine the wet ingredients and using a spatula to combine the wet and dry ingredients works best. (It's something I learned when making the muffins mentioned above.) It keeps your whisk from acquiring the batter. You WANT the batter on your griddle, not in your whisk!

Use a SPATULA to combine/fold in the dry ingredients.
At first, it seems as though you are doing something wrong. You are really folding in the dry ingredients so it looks all lumpy and scary, but just keep going!

Looking kind of weird.

Eventually you will end up with PERFECT pancake batter.

And then, it's time to MAKE the pancakes!!! I use a 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup dry measure. A half a cup, which I started using before moving over to the 1/3 cup dry measure makes really BIG pancakes; not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

Each side takes about 2-3 minutes. BEFORE you flip your pancakes, you'll notice the edges building up a bit of a wall. That's when I usually flip mine. I've tried using the "bubble method" (where you check for a lack of bubbles forming) and it's never served me well. Then again, pancakes in general have just been one of those foods I never really understood and therefore was too afraid to try and master. They just NEVER turned out well. But no more! (Although my first batch was a bit dark; I spread butter on my griddle, but learned you really don't need it.)

Although I DO flip my pancakes back over to ENSURE they care cooked all the way thru (and because I usually end up splattering batter when flipping pancakes). I know mine are done when I can touch them (either with my finger or my trusty flipper spatula) and there is no "squish" to them. Because that is TOTALLY technical kitchen vocabulary there. :)

I also managed to get "better" as I went along!

Look! Really PRETTY pancakes!
If you can mange NOT to eat these straight off the griddle, they are absolutely DELICIOUS with strawberry jam, honey, maple syrup (straight from the tree, not the corn syrup stuff), strawberry jam AND fresh strawberries, JUST strawberries, the possibilities are ENDLESS!

In fact, I figured I should probably test out more than just my usual strawberry jam and/or strawberries and had a little sampling this morning.

But really, these Green Yogurt Pancakes with strawberries = Just Amazing. And strawberries with a little bit of maple syrup; forget about lunch/dinner and dinner/supper, I'll have pancakes ALL day long!

My version of StrawberryShortcake!
(The above photo is of MINI Greek Yogurt Pancakes, not the giants I made this morning.)

The kids LOVED theirs with banana and strawberries:

I do NOT like bananas, so I take mine with just strawberries when I can:

And of course, with just a bit of maple syrup is delicious as well!

In ALL honesty though, I think my favorite way is straight off the hot griddle! With the honey and vanilla yogurt, the pancakes are already full of flavor and life! Well, not life. I mean, that would be kind of twisted, right? But you know what I mean.

These things are GOOD! You need to make them. Today! I think you'd be glad you did!

P.S. OOOOH! I've also made these with blueberries and chocolate chips (two separate batters; not together :) IN the batter (messier on the griddle, so I don't make them very often) and they're DELICIOUS! If I had had FRESH blueberries, I would have left them as filling between pancakes, but I only had frozen, hence adding them TO the batter instead.

Bacon Bacon Bacon

I'm just going to say it: I LOVE bacon.

[Now you know.]

However, I am also VERY picky about my bacon.

Don't get me wrong, I'll eat it however which way it is served, but I have "particular tastes" of what perfect bacon is. So what IS perfect bacon? Perfect bacon is melt-in-your-mouth-crisp-perfection. And while I JUST stated I'd eat bacon any which way it is served, I REALLY detest non-crisp-perfection bacon. If it's close, that is one thing, but if my bacon is still wiggling on my plate ... I'm not touching it. Or I'll touch it to kindly hand it off to whomever in my family would like to digest it.

So how in the WORLD are you suppose to master non-crisp-pefection bacon?!

Well, I finally mastered it. And you want to know the best part? The "secret" has been on the packaging of my bacon all along. WHO KNEW THIS and did NOT share with me?!

The "secret": Bake your bacon in the oven.

Yes, BAKE it. Am I the ONLY one who found this earth-shattering? I had NEVER imagined cooking bacon in the oven, let alone with a cooling rack and cookie sheet. I first came across this way of cooking a few months ago. Unfortunately, it was NOT working. I figured it HAD to be my oven; I mean, the door didn't even close all the way on the top right side. (Yes, JUST the top right part of the door didn't seal completely with the oven; which meant half your meal was crispier than the other half REGARDLESS of what you were cooking and regardless of how many times you turned the food.) We finally decided to purchase a new range and the day before the installation I mastered melt-in-your-mouth-crisp-perfection bacon. In the "broken" oven. All because I decided to follow the instructions on my package of bacon.

First: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Fahrenheit.

You can ignore the fact that it is 8a.m. and I'm only JUST now getting to making breakfast.

What You Need:
-shallow baking pan
-cookie cooling rack

First, take a shallow baking pan/cookie sheet out.

Then, place your cookie cooling rack right on top.

Next, lay your bacon across in a neat (not REALLY necessary), non-crowded (VERY important) rows.

Notice none of the pieces are overlapping.
As you finish unloading your package of bacon, you may want to adjust your pieces. The package of bacon I used this morning is one of those where I would have had one slice left by its lonesome and I was NOT about to leave a single piece of bacon out, wait for the rest to cook, and then cook a single piece by itself. Not in the middle of summer. In the desert. So I adjusted all my slices and ended up with this beauty:

Although, let's face it, COOKED bacon is FAR more beautiful than uncooked. And twenty minutes later, I had BEAUTIFUL bacon.

See that far, left piece. THAT is melt-in-your-mouth-crisp-perfection. Same with the third one in from the left. Those are the pieces you take straight from the oven and munch on while you wait just a tad for your pancakes to finish cooking so by the time the pancakes are done, you have MORE melt-in-your-mouth-crisp-perfection bacon to enjoy!

Bacon PERFECTION using the oven. WHY didn't I know about this sooner?!?!


Deliciously Amazing Kale Chips

These are SO good and SO EASY to make! In fact, I don't have a very good "Deliciously Amazing Kale Chips Completed" photograph because the kidlets lined up chairs in the kitchen and ATE the chips as they came out of the oven! 

MY kidlets?!?! Can you believe it?! 

I can't. I couldn't. It STILL boggles my mind. I mean, I KNEW the green kale would give me an edge as green is one of each girls' favorite colors (they think they have to have the same number of favorite colors as their age) but when the first batch came out and they looked brown, I was a little nervous. Of course, brown is another one of the favorite colors for each girl, so I still thought I might have a win going on. But to have my kidlets (including the boy, he's 18 months old) each pull up a chair and continue to ask for more KALE chips, was BEYOND my wildest imagination! 

Of course, if the kids were going to dive into these chips, I had to take the plunge myself. After all, making kale chips was my original intention in purchasing my first bunch of kale. And you know what? These Deliciously Amazing Kale Chips, true to their name, did NOT disappoint. Even the extra crispy-probably closer to burnt ones didn't disappoint; they reminded me of those popcorn kernels at the bottom of the bowl that are more crunch than butter. 

It ALL (finally) started just a couple days ago when I decided to take the plunge. I was GOING to make Deliciously Amazing Kale Chips. I had seen the recipe over at Nom Nom Paleo and polled a fitness group, as well as doing a general internet search. When I saw the LIST of suggestions at Love and Primal, I KNEW I had the grasp on kale chips that I needed to push me into making (and trying) kale chips!

Deliciously Amazing (and Simple) Kale Chips

(First made 07 May 13)

What You Need:

Kale (I used one full bunch from Sprouts)
Oil (I used avocado)
Garlic Powder
Cheese (I used a mix of fresh parmesan, asiago, and romano)

I ended up needing to grate more cheese. SCHUCKS!

The first (and apparently MOST important) step is to dry out your kale. I say apparently because I did NOT end up with ANY soggy pieces and the point of COMPLETELY drying out the kale is to ensure you don't get any. So either I have super powers in making kale chips or I just did a really good job of drying out my kale.

I hand washed and dried my kale. After washing a leaf in the sink, I moved it to a paper towel. After the entire paper towel was covered, I moved one piece at a time, upside down to dry off excess water and then moved the leaf to a fresh paper towel.  Then I started over again until I had three paper towels covered in kale. (You could also be more environmentally smart than me and use towels; mine just happened to be in the wash.)

Then I left them on my counter. I was simultaneously making supper, which CONVENIENTLY meant my kale would be COMPLETELY dry by the time it came to actually putting the ingredients together. 

(You could also use a salad spinner, but I don't have one.)

This is actually three (or four) stacks of paper towels with DRY kale.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Break up your kales leaves into happy, chip size, flat pieces. 

I did NOT use scissors, which resulted in not using the ENTIRE kale leaf, but I think it worked out in making nice flat pieces. 

(Flat pieces are important to avoid having "mushy" parts of your chip. I'm WEIRD about my food, remember, so I made SURE I had as flat of pieces as possible; even if it meant stacking the pieces on top of one another to push flat pieces that didn't want to cooperate. The oil will help with this too, so if you don't have super flat pieces, fear not.)

When you are FINALLY ready to take the plunge, which I would hope by this step you are, arrange your kale pieces on parchment paper or a cookie mat. I actually happen to HAVE a cookie mat which I received as a gift and was STOKED because I did not have any parchment paper in the house. (It's not actually something I usually have on hand either.)

Drizzle on your oil. At this point you can take your none flat pieces and rub the oil on with your fingers and then "stick" it to your parchment paper or cookie mat. You can see I have a couple pieces that just did NOT want to lay completely flat. (Spoiler alert: they still turned out okay, WITHOUT the mush! :) 

Sprinkle your kale with salt and pepper.

Then sprinkle on your cheese!

Then plop your tray into the oven. (Carefully plop though.)

Fifteen minutes later:

I won't lie, I was excited and disappointed ALL at the same time when my first batch came out of the oven. I had to ask a savvy friend if they even LOOKED right coming out of the oven. After being assured that they were fine, I asked the kidlets, "Who wants a green chip?!"

"ME!" yelled my oldest.
"Me!" yelled my youngest daughter (third in line).
"NOT ME!" yelled my second daughter.

"WOW", I thought. My eldest (the pickiest) wants a chip and the one who usually eats/tries EVERYTHING doesn't want a bite. And yes, I ignored the fact that I was pawning my kale chips off on my kidlets before trying them myself. (Something I NEVER do.)

Don't worry, it didn't last long; although the kids DID have the first (few) bites. After hearing, "Mommy, may I have some more chips please?" I knew I HAD to take the plunge (finally). (Come ON already!)

My first bite was one of the more crispy/burnt ones. And you know what? It tasted like popcorn! You know the kernals at the very bottom of the bag that are all crunch more than anything else? JUST like that. Except it evaporated in my mouth in mere nanoseconds!

I decided to try another one. After all, my kids weren't complaining, were asking for more, the second born decided she did in fact want some and proceeded to ask for more, AND the 18 month old pushed a chair into the kitchen after his sisters so he could have some too.

Due to the sprinkling of oil and my lack of "sprinkling oil" skills, I took the chips immediately off the pan and onto a paper towel to help soak up any extra oil that decided to drip off the chips. Or cheese.

My first batch:

They lasted all of two minutes. Tops.

Total I had approximately 4 batches put into the oven and this is ALL that remained (even though the kidlets were STILL asking for more, while they sat so patiently in the chairs they pulled up to the kitchen island).

I know they look "wet" but these are DRIED out kale chips!

Since I read in a couple places that kale chips don't last long, I KNEW we'd be eating (and subsequently FINISHING) what remained the following day. Let me just say, that kale chips added to your salad equals DELICIOUSNESS!!! And even though the girls were hesitant at first to eat their side of chips with lunch (yes, HESITANT despite DEVOURING them the night before after supper), they ate them all up. They even said they didn't want to eat the cheese; only the chip!