chicken larb gai


sometimes being a grown up is awesome. you can eat a bowl of ice cream for dinner. you can spend all day saturday watching bad television in your pjs. no biggie. 

sometimes being a grown up is way overrated.  like paying bills, and missing out on christmas and summer vacations.

this year, i took back the christmas vacation.  eleven glorious days of no email, no bosses, no bed times and certainly no alarm clocks.

also, i ate a LOT of ice cream.

but i'm back. it's freezing, but at least it is sunny. time to get back in the swing of things.

here's a recipe we can all feel good about for the new year. it's easy. it's tasty. it's good for you, but doesn't make you feel like you're missing out.

chicken, lime, crunchy rice . . a way more adult dinner choice. save the ice cream for dessert, as you watch the bachelor, which is really like the dessert of tv. so good, so bad for you.


if you haven't had larb gai, it is thai meat salad. that's right. meat salad. spicy stir fried ground chicken that is excellent in a lettuce or cabbage cup or just on a spoon. from the wok or fridge.

isn't this a nice little mise en place?


you do really want to have your ingredients measured and at hand for asian stir fry because the point is to get your wok or skillet really hot, so the ingredients cook very quickly and you have no time to be mucking about in the back of your cupboard for that bottle of fish sauce.

here, you just heat your pan, dump all the ingredients and you're off to the races. for reals.

i love thai food because it's such a great mix of salty, sour, sweet, and spicy. it's balanced. it's usually not too heavy. and it's really easy to make at home.

fish sauce is really the most out there ingredient you'll need. it's salty, and a little bit smelly, but adds an important extra umph to lots of asian dishes. 

but, the real secret ingredient that makes this a super standout dish is the toasted rice powder.


it's easy. take some rice, maybe that funky short grain stuff you bought out of desperation at your tiny local organic food mart that is incredibly hit or miss when it comes to normal groceries. toast it up in a pan until it is golden. let it cool and then pound the heck out of it in a mortar or a spice grinder.

you know how sometimes you're getting dressed for work and it's just really an eh sweater and skirt combo? but you add a belt and suddenly it's an outfit you're rockin' kate middleton style (if only in your head)? that's just me?

anyway these toasty, crunchy little nubs are the belt to this meal. promise me you won't a) judge my lame metaphor or b) make larb gai without them.

i went super crazy when i made larb gai and busted out a whole thai meal including (not so) green papaya salad.


and a super funky pumpkin dish that i just can't recommend. i don't even really want to remember it. fresh pumpkin isn't that awesome anyway. it's so stringy and so inferior to the butternut.  although baby sugar pumpkins sure look cool, right?


maybe my next post will be on my hands-down, favorite all-time use of pumpkin . . . from a can . . . in a baked good, like god intended.


Chicken Larb Gai & Green Papaya Salad

I'm punking out and just sending you over to Spilled Milk's recipes.  No need to mess with something that works great just as is. Just don't forget the toasted rice powder!

spicy turkey chili & bacon zucchini cornbread


it’s chilly in dc.  time for some chili!

sorry.  couldn’t resist.  but good night, it is cold here today.  completely unacceptable.

this chili would be the opposite of that.  healthy AND tasty.  and if you have a half-eaten can of chipotle from last week’s chicken, you’re in luck.

little known fact – not only was i born in texas, i spent my fair share of time at chili-cook-offs. i’m pretty sure i was wearing gingham, cause my mom knows what’s what.

but really, chili is my dad’s thing.  this is one of two culinary gifts from my father, the mad scientist.  the first is peanut butter on waffles with pancake syrup.  i have yet to be able to convince anyone of the amazingness of that combination, so maybe you have to grow up with it?

anyway.  that man is serious about his chili.  he got his recipe down to a very precise combination of spices.  when i asked him for it a while back, he asserted that the ratios require that you create a very large quantity of chili spice, making it useless for the home cook.  pre-katrina, his local nola restaurant used his crazy spice mix, and i think he used to give baggies of it away to the worthy few.

not screwing around here folks, not screwing around.

anyway, we’re moving ahead without you here, dad, with what i’m sure would be a pretty solid contender for the blue ribbon.


tomatoes.  green chile and chipotle chilies.  white beans.  freshly ground cumin.  hard to go wrong here.

and hey, look!  i grew those peppers!  last gasp of summer, there you go.


this chili is seriously good.  it is nicely spicy and smoky from the chipotle and paprika, has a brightness from the green chile and tomatoes.  the ground turkey gives it heft without heaviness.  and the white beans, especially on day two, are just pillowy soft.  i caught the somm fishing them out of the leftovers, the sneak!


and . . . because i can’t leave well enough alone, i also made cornbread.  the sweetness balances the chili’s spice, and the smoky bacon brings it all together.

the zucchini?  well, i was just intrigued to see if it would turn out as a proper cornbread or more like a quick bread.  happily, this is a true cornbread, maybe just a tad moister, with lots of green goodness tucked inside.


this is a hearty bread, between the whole wheat flour, bacon and zucchini.

it also has buttermilk – and i cheated and added a bit of lemon juice to milk for a DIY solution – and browned butter.  yum.

i baked it in a cast-iron skillet coated with the bacon (ok it was pancetta, but how girly girly does zucchini pancetta cornbread sound!!) drippings so it was infused with bacon flavor.


Spicy Turkey Chili

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 canned whole chipotle chilies in adobo, finely chopped or pureed with a little water
  • 2 18-ounce cans tomatoes, whole or diced (you may not use them all)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoky Spanish paprika
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • two 4-ounce cans mild green chilies, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
Warm oil in a large pot.  Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until softened and fragrant.  Add cumin and paprika and cook for another minute or so.  Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink.
Add the chipotles, broth, seasonings, and tomatoes.  Let simmer for about an hour.  Add more broth if it gets too thick.  Then add your bell pepper and green chiles and cornmeal and simmer for half an hour.  Then add your beans.  Continue to add more broth or tomatoes to keep the consistency as you like it.
Discard bay leaf.  Serve with cilantro, sour cream and cheese on top.
This keeps well for a few days in the fridge.
Bacon Zucchini Cornbread
Adapted from Epicurious
  • 6 slices (or more!) of bacon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large zucchini (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup medium-grind cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it gets a nutty brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool before adding eggs and buttermilk.

While butter is cooling, you can:

Crisp your bacon in an oven-safe skillet (cast iron will work really well, but you can use any type, or just use a baking pan greased with your bacon drippings).  Remove and roughly chop bacon.  Swirl drippings around to coat pan, discard excess.

Cut a few thin slices from your zucchini and reserve; shred the rest with a grater or cuisinart.  Add to bowl with butter mixture and stir until well blended.

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cornmeal into a large bowl.

Add zucchini mixture; fold just to blend (mixture will be very thick).

Transfer batter to skillet and decorate with your saved zucchini slices.

Bake bread until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes.

Eat with lots of butter and chili!

chipotle roasted chicken


fact: i am that boring girl who goes to fancy restaurants and just wants to order the chicken.

steak?  so . . . meaty.  duck?  eh, gamy.  i mean, you know my love of pork.

but, man, a good roasted chicken?  juicy, flavorful, gets me every time.  and the skin . . . might just be the best part.  and i know i’m not alone here.

lucky for us, fall is a great time for roasting chickens!

and this recipe is a real winner.  it starts with this:


chipotle peppers and i have been having a bit of a love affair recently.  i keep some in the sauce in my fridge.  mix it up with plan, non-fat greek yogurt and you have an amazing taco salad dressing.  or dip for veggies.  or spread for a quesadilla.  i’m not sure what it wouldn’t be good on.

try it.  do it.  get spicy.


first, you mash the chipotle up with softened butter and lots of chopped herbs.

second, you rub it all over your bird.  this is not a time to get squeamish, folks.  get up under the skin.  pretend the bird’s had a tough day and needs some deep tissue lovin’.

the result? both the bird and the chicken skin get infused with a softly spicy, smoky, herby deliciousness.

i went ahead and butterflied my bird, and roasted it with onions, carrots and winter squash.  tasty, and much faster than when you leave the bird intact.  but, really, you just can’t lose with this one.


Chipotle Roasted Chicken

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 4-5 lb chicken
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 2-4 tsp chopped chipotle in adobo sauce, depending on how spicy you want to get
  • 3 tbsp chopped herbs, I used parsley, thyme, and rosemary because that’s what I had, but cilantro would be good if you have it
  • 4-6 herb sprigs
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse your chicken, pat dry and bring chicken to room temperature.  This will help create crisp skin and help the bird cook evenly.

If you’re going to butterfly the bird, do it now.  Using good kitchen shears, snip your way through the bird along each side of the backbone.  Open the bird up, pressing on it’s shoulders.  You’ll see the keel or breastbone in the center.  Cut through the membrane above the bone, and you should be able to snap the bird open to release the top of the bone, then use your fingers or a knife to remove it.  See, that was easy!

Combine the butter with chipotle, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

Gently loosen the skin from the bird with your fingers.  Try not to break the skin.  Rub that butter under and on top of the skin – including the thighs and drumsticks.

If you didn’t butterfly the bird, place the herb sprigs inside.

If you’re roasting veggies with your chicken put them in your roasting pan and season with salt and pepper.  Top with your bird and roast for about an hour or a little longer, depending on if the bird is butterflied or not.  Take it out when your meat thermometer reaches 165 or 170 in the thigh.

Let cool and dig in!




honey bourbon & peach bbq chicken

peach bourbon chicken tableset

what do you do when someone offers to come to your house on a sunday evening and bake you a chocolate pie?

make them this chicken in return.  it's like saying i love you, in tangy, sweet poultry form.

this is not a fancy recipe.

peach bourbon chicken cast

it was created by the pioneer woman.  let me tell you, she knows her comfort food.

want to play with the camera?

check out the peach jam!

peach bourbon chicken preserves

whoa, wait!  there's that honey bourbon!  betcha thought we were done with that bad boy! 

peach bourbon chicken jd

this recipe got us close, but there is still a good inch or so left in the bottle. 

and don't let it's honey sweetness fool you.  this is a gateway drug to more serious whiskey.  it is possible a bottle of makers mark has made it to my place of work.  it is certain that i was not responsible.  but it is possible that i have partaken.

goes great with diet ginger ale.  and a caramel apple lollipop.  as you cry silently at your desk.

wait, too serious?  back to the food!  focus!

this recipe is essentially a braise.  oh man, get ready.  fall is here for reals and i'm going to be braising so much meat you won't be able to keep up.  how else can i be sure my favorite short rib recipe is really my favorite?!?!

but today, we are cooking the bock bock.  that's chicken for those of you who don't speak paige.

peach bourbon chicken chix

chicken thighs are great for braises.  they're virtually indestructible – have you ever had a dry chicken thigh?  just ask spilled milk.  i browned up some bone-in, skin-on for some juicy goodness.  and then boneless skinless because i'm lazy and would like to not gain 10 lbs every weekend.  plus my yogi is uncomfortable with meat-looking meat. 

let it hang out in the oven with all that good bbq sauce, peach jam, and bourbon until it falls apart.  serve with smashed potatoes, and maybe some green beans for good measure. 

this sauce is crazy addictive.  you'll want more than seconds because it just hits every note right – sweet, savory, with just a hit of the bourbon.  just use a bbq sauce that has a bite – you want to balance out the jam.  and if you choose a good jam, it'll be a little chunky.  it's a substantial sauce, let me tell you.

peach bourbon chicken upclose

bonus?  it goes great with chocolate pie.  thanks larkin!

Peach-Whiskey Barbeque Chicken

All I did was swap out the bourbon for honey bourbon, so you should just check out Pioneer Woman's recipe posting.  She'll walk you right through the recipe, but it's easy as pie.  Promise.