cabbage chicken pad thai.

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it’s technically like a no-noodle chicken cabbage pad thai curry, but i didn’t wanna throw you off with a weird long title.

also - super almost vegan (just remove chicken & use alt fish sauce) and super customizable in the veggie or protein department!

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AND… best news ever:

i finally figured out the missing flavor in homemade thai dishes that i’ve been searching for FOR-EV-ER.

i have made thai curries at home over and over and over, adding one new ingredient at a time that i always think will be THE ONE missing link, but it’s never been quite right…

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until now.

i have found it. this is the one.

LIME LEAVES, PEOPLE.

lime leaves.

i should have freakin known. there’s a whole thing in that movie no reservations with catherine zeta jones where she’s a chef and she hauls her chef boyfriend all over town looking for her signature secret ingredient - which ended up being kaffir lime leaves.

i knew it somewhere deep in my head.

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i was actually buying thai basil at the store and admiring these edible flowers. i noticed the box of “lime leaves,” took one sniff and i knew that was the flavor i’ve been searching for.

i pretty much ran home and made this right away. i was so excited to discover how much flavor lime leaves give off when you steep them in coconut milk. it’s such a specific taste and it really makes your homemade thai dishes extra legit.

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this is kind of a “curry” recipe because it has the base of a thai curry - then you add a TON of freshly shredded cabbage which soaks up all the coconut milk and all the salty curry flavors to become noodley! and then voila, it is a cabbage pad thai with ALL the right flavors.

at thai restaurants, pete & i usually order panang curry & chicken pad thai - and i always end up mixing them together a bit, so this recipe is kinda like that idea!

the tenderized cabbage actually does a pretty good impression of noodles in this form. i was so pleasantly surprised! just don’t over cook them so they keep a little bit of that al dente crunch & chewy factor.

plz don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list - you can do itttttt. and once you buy all the thai flavors/spices/jars of various things (fish sauce & red curry paste are just staples around here now!), you’ll be making thai food for daaaays.

think of them as a homemade thai food investment.

No-Noodle Cabbage Chicken Pad Thai

Serves 2-4

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast, thawed & filleted

  • red chili flakes, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil.

  • 2 cloves or 1 TB garlic, minced

  • 2 TB fresh ginger, minced (or Gourmet Garden Ginger paste)

  • 1 TB Gourmet Garden Lemongrass paste, optional

  • 2 tsp. tamarind concentrate

  • 1 TB fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 TB. Thai red curry paste

  • 6-8 lime leaves, whole or ripped in half

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

  • 2 heaping cups green cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 2 heaping cups purple cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 a green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, optional

  • mung bean sprouts

  • fresh Thai basil, lots!

  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

  • 1 lime

  • fresh mint or cilantro, optional

Instructions -

Using a mandoline, shred the green & purple cabbage until you have at least 2 heaping cups of each. It should be about half a head of each cabbage. Shred or cut it to about the thickness of noodles (not too thin or the cabbage might get soggy).

In a large pan, cook the chicken breast in 1 TB olive oil and garlic on medium heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for spice. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and allow it to rest on a cutting board before slicing.

In the same pan with the chicken & garlic remnants, add the sliced chicken back into the pan with fresh ginger, lemongrass paste (optional), tamarind concentrate, and red curry paste. Toss well to coat. (***Note: If you’re making this recipe using real noodles instead, cut down the salts by half [salt & fish sauce]. There’s extra sodium here to compensate for the large quantity of raw cabbage.)

Add 1 whole can of coconut milk to the pan and stir. Drop in all the lime leaves and some Thai basil to steep as it simmers on medium/low.

Prepare & slice the remaining veggies, herbs, and toppings.

Toss half of the green & purple cabbage in the coconut milk to coat. The liquid should thicken and become almost gravy-like. Add the remaining cabbage, bell peppers, and broccoli, if using. Toss everything to coat using tongs until the cabbage has tenderized and resembles the consistency of noodles. The liquid from the pan should mostly be soaked up into the cabbage “noodles” when it is ready to eat. You may remove the lime leaves before eating if desired - they are pretty tough to chew.

Divide into servings and top with lots of fresh Thai basil, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges & chopped peanuts. Optional: fresh mint, cilantro, or edible flowers for garnish.

Serve immediately and enjoy leftovers within 1-2 days.

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aloha triple nut skillet cinnamon rolls.

alooooha.  i suppose i've had hawaii slash any tropical vacation on the brain lately :)  pete and i recently had a cinnamon roll that we could have sworn had coconut in it.  i don't think it actually did, but it gave me an idear!  hawaiian style cinnamon rolls.

all my life i've put cinnamon rolls on this mental shelf of "too much work" or "can only buy them in a restaurant or a store."  everybody always seemed to talk about how time consuming and how hard they are to make.  i've been wanting a damn cinnamon roll lately, so i looked at a recipe and was like....well this looks easy.  if you have all the time in the world (aka a saturday with zero plans), you can make them!  the only time consuming thing about them is that you have to let the dough rise for two hours, and then after the rolls are complete and sliced up, they need to sit and rise for another thirty minutes or so.  this means, you can go outside for at least two and a half hours during this INTENSE cinnamon roll making process.  haha.  i wandered about the house, stared at the mountains, spray-painted some old planters, tested out pete's new seat belts in the volkswagen, looked at a magazine.  the point is, they are not difficult to make at all!  you could easily make the dough in advance if you needed to, roll it out when you're ready, throw on your toppings, roll it up, slice, and bake baby bake.

not only was this the first time i have ever made up my own recipe for baking, it was the first time in my whole life making cinnamon rolls from scratch.  don't fear the cinnamon roll, people.

i used coconut milk and coconut oil instead of regular dairy and butter, and the dough turned out just as moist and delicious as regular cinnamon rolls, and with a delightful hint of coconut!  i guess i could have called these "quadruple-nut cinnamon rolls," but that might be overwhelming and make everyone want to run to the hills.

i knew for sure i wanted the classic walnut in the recipe, because they are cinnamon roll staples, and because i said so!  also, i bought literally 23 macadamia nuts from the bulk section because i know they cost an arm and a leg and didn't want a whole container...i pulled that lever down oh so gingerly.  macadamia nuts for extra hawaiian vibes.  finally, something about the flavor of a hazelnut i just couldn't exclude from this nutty party.  so hazelnut made the cut for no reason other than i like them a lot.  i know a lot of people do not like nuts in their foods/desserts and things, but you don't have to use any of these if you don't want to!  i just like them for texture and extra hints of different flavors.

this looks very easter-y.

oooh ombre nuts. so trendy right now.

i only used 1/4 cup of each type of nut.  i went easy on the hazelnuts because this particular batch i had were kind of stale. bumma. 

i don't actually know why i added chocolate.  maybe because i was making my own recipe and getting crazy in the kitchen with all the freedom.  i think i was worried the rolls would be dry and this was my attempt at giving them extra moisture.  turns out the chocolate was probably too much and i would leave it out completely the next time i make these.  it was surely delicious, just a bit too rich and overpowered the cinnamon.  the dough wasn't dry at all.  dry dough crisis averted, and lesson learned.

you could cut these into thinner rounds if you want to have more cinnamon rolls without doubling the recipe.  i cut them into random widths because i'm a first timer and i didn't know what i was doing.

i baked them in a skillet just for the hell of it.  i did find that the roundness of the skillet allowed the butter in the bottom of it to gather and collect in all the nooks and crannies of the rolls instead of retreating to the corners like in a square baking pan.  peter referred to this effect as "good bottom caramelization." i would agree.  go for the skillet!

i wanted to keep the glaze as light as possible since the cinnamon roll innards were going to be pretty rich, but you could use whatever icing or glaze you like.  i even tried heating plain greek yogurt with vanilla extract.  don't do that.  unless you like sweet & tart rubbery curds of dairy on your baked goods that clog the sink drain.

this is just powdered sugar, coconut milk, and very light vanilla and coconut extracts.

the rolls be bakin'!  pause to gaze at these pink flowers and pretend you're laying in a breezy porch hammock listening to the waves crash on the beach.

voila.  the rolls didn't explode or disintegrate, and i didn't burn the house down! great success.

and, guess what?  they tasted good!  i think i actually liked these better on the second day. the dough stayed moist and all the flavors had some time to jive.  my mother uses that term for flavors coming together, which i like a lot more than "meld" or "integrate." mingle is a good word, too.

and they're cute, to boot.

Aloha Triple Nut Skillet Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 10-12 

Total Time: 3 1/2 hours with lots of free time built in :)

Ingredients:

-Dough-

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) active instant yeast
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (i used the trader joe's light version in the green can)
  • 2 TB melted coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

-Filling-

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (use whatever type of nuts you like, or none at all if you prefer)
  • 2 oz. finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)
  • 1 TB coconut oil + 1 TB butter for brushing the dough

-Glaze-

  • 1 cup + 2 TB powdered sugar  (i added 2 extra TB for thickness; this depends on preference)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (i used the rest from the TJ's can)
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions-

Warm 1 cup of coconut milk in a sauce pan.  Transfer to bowl of stand mixer or electric mixer and add melted coconut oil and packet of yeast.  Stir with a spoon, and let sit for 15 minutes until foamy/bubbly. 

Slowly begin adding the flour in small portions, unless you enjoy poofy clouds of flour in your eyes and cleaning tables and walls.  Add the egg, vanilla, and salt.  Mix on low until combined with paddle attachment.  Switch to the Captain Hook attachment, and continue to mix on low and add the last of the flour.  If the dough seems a little dry or looks flaky, add 1 TB coconut milk and continue to mix. Knead for 5 minutes on low. 

[You can do this all by hand if you don't have any mixers, it just takes a little more elbow grease.  Just think, "How did the pilgrims make this?" if you are concerned about not having certain equipment.  I got my KitchenAid mixer for my birthday a couple months ago.  Up til then, I'd been ferociously stirring things with a good ol fashioned wooden spoon in a bowl and having pretty good luck.]

Oil a medium/large sized bowl with butter/cooking spray/coconut oil.  Place the dough in this bowl and cover with a warm & wet kitchen towel or paper towel.  Let sit on the counter for about 2 hours. Go outside.  Do whatever you want for 2 hours. 

Come back to find a plump risen ball of dough.  Yay!  That's what you want to see.  You're pretty much almost done at this point even though you've done practically nothing.

Chop all the nuts and chocolate and set aside.  In a small bowl, stir the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and set aside.

Clean a large surface of your counter or tabletop.  Flour the surface enough to cover so that the dough won't stick.  Remove the dough from the bowl and begin kneading it on the clean surface with your clean hands.  Flatten out the dough and roll into a large rectangle with a floured rolling pin (or wine bottle!).  My rectangle was approximately 18 x 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick.  I used a melted mixture of butter and coconut oil to brush the dough all over once it was all rolled out.  Sprinkle the brown sugar & cinnamon mixture all over.  Sprinkle the nuts and chocolate all over.  Roll it up, pup! Try to keep the roll tight so that the bits of filling won't fall out everywhere.  Slice the roll with a sharp floured knife into 1-2 inch sections.

Liberally butter/oil/grease the inside surface of your cast iron skillet.  The more the merrier caramelization.  Carefully place all the cinnamon rolls into the skillet, giving each one a tiny bit of breathing room so that they're easy to separate later.  Cover,  and let them rise for 30 more minutes inside the skillet or baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the glaze.  Whisk, whisk, whisk!  It will become smooth after looking perpetually lumpy for a few minutes.  

[Add more coconut milk or more powdered sugar to adjust the thickness.  I do not like glazes or frostings that taste like straight up powdered sugar, so I try to use the smallest amount I can in order to get the texture I want.]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).  Place skillet in oven on center rack.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  I kept mine in for 30 minutes until I saw the top getting golden brown and the dough looked set. 

Eat 'em with milk or coffee or the complementary beverage of your choice. 

Kick your feet up! You've just made cinnamon rolls from scratch and it wasn't as scary as everybody always told you.

recipe inspiration from

here

(my go-to girrrrL!) and

here

!

and mahalo.  my first real life, big kid recipe.  written down with words and actual measurements.  milestone.

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