Tuesday, August 28, 2012

what the pho?

One of the best parts of my job is working with all different kinds of people from different cities and unique backgrounds. For some, therapy is getting back into the kitchen and doing what you love. It is my patient' s turn to teach me something when we are in the kitchen. I have learned to make some of our favorite dishes from watching and listening as these people heal.

Today I pieced together a recipe from an old shopping list I found in my binder at work, a hazy memory, and some (actual) recipes found on Google. The dish is pho (pronounced "fuh?') and I chose to make it with chicken like the original woman who showed it to me, but it can be made with beef or vegetables.

Clayton and I first tried pho at Rice Paper, a Vietnamese restaurant close to our house. It is especially delicious on a cold night! I was so excited to try and make something that we enjoy so much, and something that was never served in our family home growing up.

The ingredient list is fairly basic, I only needed a few things to throw it together. After a brief trip to the market I came up with the following:

6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 cloves freshly chopped garlic ( or to taste)
2 clove star anise
1 chicken breast
1 package rice noodles (I used udon noodles because it's what we had)

bean sprouts
green onion
sweet chili paste
hoisin sauce

First I mixed the chicken stock, fish sauce, garlic, and star anise in a pot and brought it to a boil and then reduced heat and allowed it to simmer. Simultaneously, I boiled the chicken breast. Some recipes called for boiling the chicken in the pho, but I didn't want any weird stuff from the chicken coming off into the broth. Also, I am a total freak about undercooked chicken. My chicken turned out a little dry, but I am convinced I am going to get salmonella poisoning. If you have been doing this longer than me (anyone) you probably won't have this problem. After boiling the chicken I shredded it into generous chunks and added it to the pho.

Don't forget about the noodles! I nearly did! Mine took 13-14 minutes to simmer, so depending on how long you have to allow your pho to simmer on the stove you can start the noodles first for a quicker dinner or after for more flavor.

I chopped the cilantro and green onion and mixed the two together, however they can be served separate. I rinsed the beans and the toppings were done!

The best part about the dish is that everyone gets to dress their own to make it sweeter or spicy depending on preference. I added a handful of bean sprouts, about half a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, a heap of chili paste, and finished it off with cilantro and green onion. The bean sprouts give it a nice crunch, and the chili paste gives it a sweet and spicy flavor.

i promise i hang out outside of my kitchen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

breakfast bundt

Recently I inherited a bundt cake pan. I will be honest, I have never baked a bundt in my life. I haven't even baked a 9x13 cake that turned out like it was supposed to. As I was rambling to my mother-in-law about what exactly I was going to do with said pan, she pulled out a cook book called "The Cake Doctor" and sent me home.  The book is written by a woman who spent years testing recipes made by fixing up cake mixes. In the last two or three weeks I have already made three bundts, all of which turned out moist and delicious!

I have to give the credit to the recipes, for my reading/following instructions abilities have not vastly improved (if anything they are declining).  I snapped some photos of the most recent cake, a breakfast cinnamon cake.

I started by putting the walnuts on the bottom of the pan so they would have a chance to toast while the batter baked.

Pictured is the fabulous book (I now must go and buy my own copy instead of holding this one hostage), some ingredients, the batter mixture, the cinnamon sugar mixture, and my amazing hand mixer!

Just out of the oven


On the cooling rack, you can see the toasted nuts and the two layers of the sugary filling. Also my MIL gave me the pictured owl towel for Valentine's day. We literally own four towels that do not have owls on them.

Final product with the glaze 
(Clayton was not patient enough for me to take the picture before cutting out the first slice).

Despite being a "breakfast" cake, it is delicious at all times of day. The best part is, since I am adding additional ingredients like pudding or sour cream I feel slightly closer to making some thing from scratch.

 After the cake was finished and the dishes were washed I was tapped out on the "good little wife" front. 

This is what I made for dinner last night:


their crust is seriously the best.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

so this is what wednesday night has come to

Lately, I have found I have a weird and until recently subconscious obsession with going to the grocery store. More specifically the Safeway at 7th Avenue and Osborn. Between shopping for cooking groups at work and fulfilling my personal cravings for Luna Bars and puffy Cheetos I am at that establishment about twice a day. Is it weird that other customers ask me where to find items? Even weirder that I know exactly where to find the frozen cornish hens? (They are in the frozen aisle on the bottom shelf near the other frozen meats)

Recently I confronted myself with the idea of being a shopaholic. Not in the sense of that movie with the cute red head girl or the even more popular book series by Sophie Kinsella, but that I literally HAVE to buy something everyday. Even if it's just half and half or a Country Living magazine. Or maybe it is just that I like the smell of the Starbucks coffee in the air and the feeling of familiarity. Either way, something amusing and essential can always be found in the seasonal section.

When constructing shopping lists I make organize them in geographical order starting always with produce and wrapping up with bakery and deli items. The most annoying part of this little revelation is that my memory for the new found favorite-place-of-mine is only good at that specific Safeway store. The same grocery chain near both my mother and father's residences are completely backwards and jumbled. Of course I would be the one to devote good brain power to a completely useless cause based on convenience.

While were on the subject of grocery shopping, I have to admit that I have about seven reusable shopping bags but only use them about 3% of the time. Even when going on planned grocery trips and leaving from home I forget to bring them. My Willo neighbors totally judge me when I unload my groceries, as they are usually doing something annoyingly wonderful like jogging or taking out their recycling in a Trader Joe's paper bag.

I tried shopping at Trader Joe's, but it was a joke since it's about six miles away. The nearest Sprouts is just about that far away, and if I went to AJ's twice a day I would be homeless. Homeless, but I would have some damn fancy cheeses that's for sure. The other nearby chain grocers are too scary (Bashas and Liquor Mart) or don't have enough variety (Fresh and Easy).

I guess for now I am fated to take the "Safeway" which is darn fine with me.

obviously obsessed with food.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

i know its been slow around here

On my 24th birthday I made a '25 before 25' list of things to do. One of them was to blog weekly. Obviously not checking that one off, but I have been making more of an effort to throw pictures up of what I am doing or post a blerb of recent happenings. In an effort to attempt to blog more I have even downloaded the blogger app for my android mobile device.

I have unfortunately uninstalled the app due to not being able to access RLA and post (that was the whole flippin' point!!!) all the amazing stuff I do. I guess this was just the world saying I shouldn't be treating my blog like a facebook status update.

Currently, the Nelson household is gearing up for a fabulously busy week full of back to school dinners, testing out a new bundt cake pan, and spending time with my momma and sisters before she ties the knot next weekend! Woohoo San Diego here we come!

yay for happily ever after!