healthy

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale

I know. I know.
I’m sorry.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

I can’t even believe it’s been so long since my last post. Like really, where on earth did the time go? How is it even possible that multiple months have actually passed since I was here last?
My poor neglected little blog.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Before I posted the Jamhattan recipe in FEBRUARY (!!!), I was on a lil’ break from blogging because I was tricked into doing the Whole30 by my beloved husband Russell. Even though we tried some recipes that we really enjoyed, I was just too miserable and grumpy to write about food. Before that it was the holidays. Before that, the election. Before that I was working on building out and decorating Maxwell’s. Through all of that I was still posting the occasional recipe, but I wanted to post more often and I was absolutely certain that once all the big projects and excuses were out of the way, I’d be good to go and the blog posts would start flowing again.

Once we made it through the Whole30 I got to work sampling cocktail recipes, and had grand ideas of getting back into the swing of things after a crazy, hectic 2016. I even had (and still have) a long list of post ideas that I hope, at least in theory, will be coming soon to a blog near you. Of course, as you know, things don’t always work out quite the way you have in mind. While I was hard at work editing the Jamhattan post, just a day or two before I hit publish, I was approached by some very good friends to see if I’d be interested in contributing to a project they were working on.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

As I mentioned earlier this year, I’ve been feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the current political climate here in the US, and I’ve been driving myself mad wondering what I, as a humble food blogger, could do about it. I’m no politician, no policy expert, no journalist, so what can I do? I went to DC for the Women’s March, I’ve gone to rallies in Manhattan, I’ve donated to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood; but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there should be something more I could contribute, something uniquely mine.

That’s when my friends, feeling inspired by their youth in the 90s, decided to publish a zine combining the stories, works, and talents of their circle of friends. The project has since grown to a scale I never imagined it could or would, and they’ve compiled the work of poets, film makers, artists, musicians, actors, writers, and activists from all walks of life, all wanting to share their truths, effect positive change, and further the cause of the new American resistance movement. What was originally conceived as a 90s style homemade zine, has grown into a beautiful, powerful, and professionally-printed magazine called “Esta Tierra“, Spanish for “This Land”.
And the best part? All the profits will be divided and donated to IRC, ACLU, The Audre Lorde Project, Planned Parenthood and Honor The Earth! I could not be more honored to be involved in this project.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Meanwhile, with Brooklyn Homemaker still on my mind, I made and photographed a soup recipe that I first tried when I was doing the Whole30 with Russell. It was so tasty that I knew I wanted to share it with y’all, and I knew that Russell and I would love eating it even after we (finally) finished with our stupid diet. I uploaded the photos to my computer, started a draft for the post, and had high hopes that I’d have the recipe up on the blog in a week or two. That was in February.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was so excited about my involvement with Esta Tierra that I started brainstorming my contribution before I ever got around to editing my photos or taking my post from an outline to a draft. I dove into the project head first, and before I knew it, it was all I could think about. After a false start on a cocktail recipe that I abandoned because I was unhappy with the results, I decided to share a recipe and a story that was deeply meaningful and personal to me. I revisited my great-grandmother’s apfelkucken recipe, making it even closer to the way she made it when I was growing up, and, with current attitudes toward and challenges surrounding immigration in mind, decided to tell the immigration stories of my great-grandmother and my grandfather on my dad’s side. Without giving away too much, they both immigrated to the United States from Germany, both coming through Ellis Island and settling in Upstate New York, at a time in American history when German immigrants were often met with suspicion, fear, and hatred because of World Wars I and II.
I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to Esta Tierra, and once the magazine launches I’ll let you know on social media how you can buy a copy of your own so you can read my work and see the amazing work of all the other talented artists and activists involved.

Now that I’ve finally submitted my contribution and the magazine has gone from accepting submissions to fundraising for publication, I can finally get back to blogging. Who am I kidding though, chances are just as good that you’ll see a new post here next week as they are that I’ll get distracted by some shiny new project and won’t be back for another 3 months. Lately I’ve been doing some work in our back yard and finding that pretty distracting, so who knows?

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Either way, this soups is seriously delicious, and even though soup season is basically over, I promise that you don’t have to be on some silly fad diet to enjoy it. It’s packed with the warm, tropical flavors of ginger, lime, coconut, and Thai curry; all of which pair beautifully with chicken breast, sweet potato, and Lacinato kale. This soup is so flavorful and delicious that you’ll totally forget that it’s good for you too! Go ahead and make a pot of it today before it gets too hot, or save the recipe to make on some chilly, rainy day to come.

thai coconut curry soup with chicken and kale | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Kale

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 carrots, sliced into coins/disks
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken stock
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 to 2 limes

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large heavy stockpot or dutch oven. Cook the chicken breasts, flipping at least once, until cooked through. Set aside to rest.
Add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the pot, along with chopped onions and carrots. Brown for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned juices from the chicken breasts with your spoon as you stir. Add garlic, ginger, and curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sweet potato and chicken stock, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
While the soup is coming to a boil, cube the cooked chicken and add to the pot.
Once the soup comes to a full boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Add the coconut milk, chopped cilantro, and juice of 1 lime. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If desired, add the juice of another lime and garnish with more cilantro.

 

 

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hearty kale and lentil soup

Back in my college days I was a vegetarian. I mean, who wasn’t a vegetarian for at least a little while in college though, right?

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I grew up in a strictly meat and potatoes (and dessert every night) kind of family, so straying from that formula was definitely a learning experience. I was on my own for the first time and I wanted to express myself as the “independent” young adult that I was… or something like that.

I don’t know.
I was 18.
Who are you to judge me?

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I think that out of my whole family my grandmother had the hardest time wrapping her head around my new dietary choices. I mean, most of the family was sort of just like, “why?”, and rolled their eyes, but the first time I went home for Thanksgiving my poor grandmother was completely beside herself.

This was well before the bacon-ization of America and most of the sides at the table were totally vegetarian friendly, so I bellied up to the table and piled my plate high with squash and beans and potatoes and biscuits and corn and all sorts of amazing things. Grandma just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) accept that I was satisfied or full without having turkey and stuffing and gravy. She kept asking if I was okay and offering to go get me something else to eat.
Personally though, I was thrilled with all the different sides and it was one of the best meals I’d had in a long time. Grandma wasn’t buying it though.

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Back at college I was doing my best to try new things, and was eating all sorts of things that I was unfamiliar with up until that point.

Crispy fried bean curd (basically general tso’s tofu) was one of my new favorite things at the Chinese restaurant on Main St., and a vegetarian chili made with TVP or “texturized vegetable protein” at the neighborhood health food store was a lunchtime staple in my diet. I also ate a lot of BK Whoppers without the meat. No veggie burger, just a Whopper with no meat. Don’t knock it till you try it.

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

One thing that I never quite got into though, was lentils.

Something about lentils just conjured images of dusty old hippies gnawing on sprouted mung beans in some commune somewhere. While I was actually really into Phish and the Grateful Dead, the lentils (and the mung beans) didn’t appeal to me.

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

It wasn’t until much later, after meat found it’s way back into my life, that I tried lentils. My years as a vegetarian taught me a lot about how to make a tasty & filling meatless meal, and that I should always be open to trying new things.

There was a time shortly after I moved to Brooklyn when I was out of work for a little bit and a good friend found herself out of work at the same time. We decided to save money by cooking big cheap meals together that we could share and eat for a few days. We came across a recipe for a pureed french lentil soup, and given that lentils are like a buck a bag, we decided to go for it.

It was love at first bite and for years that was my go to lentil soup recipe.

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Lately though, I’ve been wanting to try something different. Something new. I figured that I might add some diced tomatoes to the soup for a bit of brightness and acid, and throw in some lacinato kale for texture and color and to make the soup feel even healthier and more substantial.

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

This is just the kind of thing I crave this time of year. A hearty, healthy, filling soup to warm my old bones on a cold winter night. Tender veggies, earthy al dente lentils, chewy dark green kale, bright acidic tomatoes, a bit of heat from the chili flakes, and fresh green parsley. Just perfect.

While this soup would probably fall under the “healthy” category, I promise that it doesn’t taste like health food. No dusty hippie communes here, just bright, delicious, hearty soup. And even though this soup is technically vegan, you won’t miss the meat at all. This soup is so thick and hearty it’s practically a stew!

kale and lentil soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Hearty Kale and Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onions (1 large onion)
1 cup sliced carrots (about 3 carrots)
1 cup sliced celery (about 3 to 4 stalks)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
one 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried green or brown lentils
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch Lacinato kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large heavy stockpot or dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, and celery, & season with salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one minute more. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes to concentrate their flavor. Add lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale and parsley and simmer 5 minutes more. Check that lentils are tender. Add vinegar, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and some nice crusty bread. A bit of parmesan cheese could be a nice touch too.

orange carrot ice pops

Lately I’ve been trying really hard to stay away from foods with lots of refined sugar.

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I confessed a few weeks ago that all my baking and bundt-ing had me feeling a little lethargic and down, so I’ve been trying my best to eat a little healthier and concentrate on fresh whole foods rather than baked goods and sweets.

I’ve actually been doing really well too!

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

That is, I was anyway, until Lindsay over at If the Spoon Fits had to go and post this Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream recipe. There I was, minding my own business, eating fruit instead of cake, and walking home after work every day, when boom!
Ice Cream!
Irresistible orange creamsicle ice cream! During last week’s damned heat wave mind you, when I couldn’t have been craving something icy and sweet any more than I was in that exact moment.

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Not wanting to completely undo all the good choices I’ve been making lately, I started thinking about what I might be able to make to satisfy my intense craving without actually busting out the ice cream maker.

I recently saw these juice ice pops at the grocery store that had me really curious. They were made with flavor combinations you’d expect to find at a fancy juice bar- apple, celery, & ginger; or blueberry & beet. You know, that kind of thing.
I figured that trying something kind of like that could be healthy-ish and tasty-ish. I’m sure there’s plenty of sugar in them but it’s like, natural and stuff. Right?

I didn’t want to copy the fancy juice bar flavors exactly though, so I started trying to come up with a flavor that would A) taste great and satisfy my sweet tooth, and B) not taste like a health-food alternative to something I’d rather be eating.

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Suddenly I thought of something called “Orange Carrot Elixir” that I used to drink when I was a teenager. I can’t even remember who made it, and I’m not sure the company is even around anymore, but I used to drink the stuff by the gallon.

Growing up in a small town in Upstate New York, my exposure to new and interesting flavors and foods left a lot to be desired. Fortunately, one of my first high school friends with a car shared my desire to branch out and try something new, and rather than doing drugs or causing mischief, we and our friends used to drive around checking out grocery stores and searching for their “International Foods” sections.
We’d drink Mexican Goya sodas (I especially loved tamarind flavor), eat carob “chocolates” by the fist-full, wolf down whole baguettes, and munch on marinated canned octopus. We’d drive almost an hour to Ithaca, NY to go swimming, visit Indian or vegetarian restaurants, and browse the prepared foods section at Wegmans where I’d stare at trays of sushi that I was too chicken to try.
In the grand scheme of things the Orange Carrot Elixir wasn’t nearly as exotic as some of the other things I was eating and drinking, but I seriously couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

Carrots, in sweet beverage form! Mind blown.

I decided it was worth a shot to try to capture that sweet orange-carrot combination but in frozen ice pop form instead.

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

It actually took me a few tries to get these right. First I just tried pureeing whole carrots with orange juice, but the end result was bitter and pulpy. Then I tried peeling the carrots to remove the bitterness and juicing them rather than pureeing to remove the pulpiness. This was a start but the pops still weren’t sweet enough and the flavor was kind of flat and boring. Next I added a bit of fresh ginger for kick and apple juice for sweetness. Muuuch better but the pops still weren’t quite sweet enough, and were icy hard rather than bite-able and tender like store bought ice pops.

I did some reading online and found out that since ice pop manufacturers are able to freeze their pops much faster at lower temperatures that home freezers, some type of thickener like cornstarch or gelatin is needed to help give homemade ice pops a better texture. This also keeps the juices from separating before they freeze, and helps prevent the pops from dripping while you eat them. Since ice pops (and ice cream) are frozen, they also need a little bit of extra sugar because freezing-cold foods slightly dull your sense of taste. I went ahead and added juuuust a little extra sugar, and a little bit of cornstarch, and bingo! Success!

If you don’t have a vegetable juicer you can still easily make these at home using store bought juices. Most grocery stores these days (at least here in my neck of the woods) carry bottled carrot juice, so I don’t think it should be too hard to find. The only thing you’ll need to do differently is to add grated ginger in with the sugar and cornstarch, and then strain out the pulp just before pouring into  your molds. I promise I tried this during one of my experiments and it worked great.

These puppies are TASTY! They’re bright and citrusy and summery, with just a touch of fresh spicy zing from the ginger. The carrot juice and orange juice are a match made in heaven and the apple juice just helps sweeten things up. They’re just sweet enough, with a really great bite-able texture, and the absolute last words that come to mind is “health food” or “diet”.

Craving satisfied. Officially.

orange carrot ice pops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Orange Carrot Ice Pops

  • Servings: makes ten 3-ounce ice pops
  • Print
3/4 cups apple juice (I used fuji apples)
1 3/4 cups orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
zest of 1 orange
1 cup carrot juice (from about 2 lbs peeled carrots)
1 to 2 inch peeled chunk of fresh ginger (juiced with carrots if possible, finely grated if not)

In a medium saucepan, combine apple juice, orange juice, sugar, cornstarch, salt, & orange zest. If you don’t have a juicer at home you’ll also need to add your grated ginger now as well.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking regularly to prevent lumps. Once the mixture has boiled and thickened to a citrus-curd-like consistency, remove from heat. Add carrot juice and ginger juice (if you aren’t using grated ginger) and whisk to combine. If using grated ginger, strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove pulp.

Pour the mixture into ice pop molds (makes enough liquid to fill ten 3-ounce pops). If your ice pop maker comes with plastic sticks, insert now and freeze at least 4 hours or until solid. If using wooden sticks, cover the mold and freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour before inserting sticks and freezing for at least three hours more.

To un-mold your pops, run them under warm water to 10 to 15 seconds each. Pops should slide out of molds easily and can be quickly refrozen and stored in a ziplock bag or individually wrapped in plastic wrap.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw

Growing up in Auburn, New York, my only concept of Mexican food was the drive-thru menu at Taco Bell.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

All through my childhood I thought “Mexican food” meant odd smelling greasy ground beef with a choice of soft or crunchy taco. If my mom ever had a hankering for something from “south of the border”, it meant she would have to make two trips; one to Taco Bell for her, and one to the Burger King across the street for my sister and myself. The only thing Taco Bell ever had to offer that I had any interest in was their sweet and greasy Cinnamon Twists, the American bastard cousin of the Churro, that I’d happily munch on while we rode across the street to get some “real” food at the BK.

Although I pride myself in being an adventurous eater now, as a kid I was anything but, and my mom was well aware that cooking tacos at home was also a no-no. My sister and I both made it perfectly clear that “Mexican food” (ground beef with seasoning packet and crunchy shells from a box) was not welcome in our home.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I went vegetarian in high school (all the cool kids were doing it) I did end up learning to love Taco Bell, and my usual order consisted of a Chalupa Supreme with refried beans instead of meat. To this day, if I ever find myself in line at the Bell, this is still my go-to order. Even though I eat meat now, I’m not a huge fan of theirs, so I’m more than happy to stick with the beans instead.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Considering that I grew up only a few hours from the bright lights of the big city, I’m really not sure why my hometown was so completely devoid of any authentic Latin food or culture (or ANY food or culture other than American or Italian). I don’t think it even really occurred to me that Taco Bell wasn’t “authentic Mexican cuisine” (Or that Hong Kong Buffet wasn’t “authentic Chinese cuisine”) until I started watching the Food Network in high school and learned there was more to the world of food than was available in my little slice of the world.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Of course, taking culinary courses in college opened my eyes to a whole new world of flavors and cuisines, and there were even a few mediocre Mexican restaurants near my school. It wasn’t until moving to Brooklyn though, that I was finally able to taste actual authentic Mexican food, made by REAL Mexicans! Imagine my surprise when I learned what a real chalupa looked like!

There was a small family owned tortilla factory down the street from my first apartment here, and shortly after I moved in they opened a little lunch counter with amazing tacos on fresh tortillas that could be bought for a song. Eventually the tacos caught on with the 20 year old hipster set and their lunch business blew up and turned into a full scale restaurant business. I practically lived off of those tacos for my first few years in Brooklyn.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here’s the thing about “authentic” Mexican taco recipes though… This isn’t actually one of them.
You may have already guessed this after seeing the Pfeffernusse, apfelkuchen, & kugelhopf recipes in my repertoire, but… I’m not Mexican.
If I want the real deal I need only to walk around the corner. If I’m making my own at home though, I feel like I’m allowed to take a little poetic license, especially now that I know what a real taco actually tastes like!

I will say this though; Cilantro, though not necessarily in this form, is about as traditional an ingredient for tacos as you can find. Fresh lime juice and the pungent bite of raw onion, both of which you’ll find in the red cabbage slaw, are also integral parts of authentic Mexican tacos.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilling is an amazing way to get tons of flavor into your food without adding a ton of fat or salt or sugar. Of course, it’s also summer so I’m always looking for an excuse to cook outside. I’m a charcoal man myself, but if you have a gas grill you can add a smoking box with your choice of wood chips to help get that wonderful smokiness into your food.

If you don’t have a grill, or you’re making this recipe six months in the future when your grill is buried under six feet of snow, you can definitely skip the skewers and roast the chicken strips under your broiler. You might even be able to sear them in a heavy skillet, but the pesto may want to stick to the pan rather than the chicken.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Authentic or not, it doesn’t get much better than soft white corn tortillas filled with smoky tender grilled chicken, vibrant summery cilantro pesto, creamy ripe avocado, and crunchy cabbage with biting raw onion and bright tangy lime juice.
Not bad for a gringo eh?

For the best flavor I like to make the pesto ahead and let the chicken marinate in it for a few hours. I’d recommend that you make the slaw ahead too so all the flavors have some time to hang out together and get nice and friendly.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Pesto and Red Cabbage Slaw

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh cilantro, lightly packed
1 jalapeño, sliced and seeded (2 if you like heat)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 limes, divided
1 to 2 additional limes cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 shredded red cabbage (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 ripe avocado, sliced
12 to 16 white corn tortillas

Slice chicken breasts into thin strips with a very sharp knife. I find that putting them into the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes beforehand firms them up and makes them easier to slice.

To make the cilantro pesto combine garlic, cilantro, olive oil, juice of 1 lime, salt, & pepper in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Transfer to a large bowl with sliced chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or overnight if desired.

To make the red cabbage slaw, combine the shredded cabbage, diced onion, and juice of 1 lime in a medium bowl. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or overnight if desired.

I find that skewering the chicken makes it easier to flip and keeps it from falling through the grill grates. If using wooden skewers make sure to soak them in water for an hour before use so they don’t burn up.

Thread 4 or 5 chicken strips onto each skewer and try to leave as much of the pesto on them as possible. Grill the skewers over a medium to high flame until just cooked through, flipping once. This should only take 4 or 5 minutes per side but that will depend on the heat in your grill. Since the chicken is sliced thin it will dry out if overcooked.
Warm your tortillas over the grill too, just until soft and warm, about a minute per side.

Assemble the tacos with a few chunks of chicken, a sprinkle of red cabbage slaw, a couple slices of avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Serve with additional lime wedges if desired.
I recommend about 3 tacos per serving, 4 if you’re hungry.