the baker upstairs

12.07.2016

Coconut Curry Soup

Yum
This savory and flavorful coconut curry soup is ready in less than 30 minutes and so easy to make!

I have to confess, I have fallen off the wagon (yet again) when it comes to cooking meals at home. It's not that I don't want to cook at home... I like that we eat healthier food and we save money when I cook at home. But right now I have two (seemingly insurmountable) obstacles: I'm exhausted all the time, and there are just too many fantastic restaurants nearby. :) The first I could definitely improve on if I could make myself go to bed at a reasonable hour, but the second just gets worse by the day. Portland is such an amazing foodie city, and my list of restaurants to try is already a mile long. I mean, how can I be excited about cooking at home when Boxer Ramen, Grassa, and Lardo are all within a few miles of my house?

Right now I'm working hard on limiting myself to only one restaurant per week (although it's hard!) and I've realized for the millionth time that if I don't make my meal plan simple and easy, I won't stick to it. This coconut curry soup is the perfect quick and easy meal! It also tastes fantastic, which means I'll actually look forward to making it, instead of veering off into a restaurant parking lot on the way home. :) I used a rotisserie chicken, and it was ready in less than thirty minutes. My kids (who are generally not fans of curry) absolutely LOVED this soup and licked their bowls clean. You could definitely make it a little spicier with some sriracha, but I left it mild to make it a little more kid-friendly.
Coconut Curry Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce (optional *)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3-4 cups hot cooked rice (for serving)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper, and cook until softened. Add the chicken and cook until warmed through. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, pepper, salt, and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer 10-15 minutes. Serve hot over a scoop of rice.

adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
* A note on the fish sauce: It smells absolutely terrible, and I go through it so slowly that I can't use a whole bottle (or even a quarter of a bottle) before it goes bad, so I made it optional for this recipe. If you do have it, though, it adds a really great flavor to the soup! I wasn't convinced until I tried it for the first time, and now I'm a believer. :)

This savory and flavorful coconut curry soup is ready in less than 30 minutes and so easy to make!

11.21.2016

Homemade White Hot Chocolate

Yum
This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!

It's Thanksgiving week! Are you ready for the big day? To be honest, this Thanksgiving is going to be a weird one for my family. Usually we do a 5k with my family in the morning, have brunch at my parents' house, and then do dinner with my husband's family. This year, though, we are 700+ miles away from both sides of our family, and my husband will be working the night before. So I'll be cooking dinner for just the four of us and trying to wrangle the kiddos while he sleeps in the morning. It turns out that making new traditions is a little harder than I had thought! I've never made a whole Thanksgiving dinner before, so I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge, but I'll definitely miss joking around with my siblings and eating my sister-in-law's fabulous pie this year.

Thanksgiving always feels a little like the calm before the storm to me. Things are still pretty laid back, everyone is enjoying their time together, and we haven't slipped into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season yet. I'm looking forward to a fun, leisurely meal with my little family this week before we start getting excited about Christmas. This homemade white hot chocolate is the perfect after dinner treat to start that transition! It's fun and festive, and warm and flavorful. It's beautifully rich and smooth, and so delicious! We'll be enjoying ours with a slice of marionberry pie on the side, and (with any luck) a fire in the hearth. Hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and laughter (and a little hot chocolate on the side, too!).

This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!
White Hot Chocolate

for the hot chocolate:
3 cups milk
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
8 ounces good quality white chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

for serving (optional):
whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles

Add all ingredients to a medium pot over medium heat. Heat, whisking frequently, until the chocolate chips have melted and the hot chocolate is smooth. Do not allow the hot chocolate to boil. Serve warm with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy!

This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!

11.18.2016

S'mores Brownies

Yum
These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but my husband's new job is all night shifts. We've both done plenty of night shifts since becoming nurses, but neither of us has ever had a job that was exclusively nights. There are definitely some benefits to working night shifts - higher pay, more flexibility in his schedule, and some good friends he's made who work the same shift. At the same time, though, it is rough having him on a different schedule than the rest of the family for half of the week. He generally schedules all his shifts together so that we can have a better work-life balance as a family, and that really helps. By the time that third shift rolls around, though, he's usually pretty tired, so I try to send him with a treat to share to give him and his co-workers a little boost. I sent these amazing s'mores brownies to work with him last week, and they were a huge hit! They're so rich and decadent, so ooey-gooey and super flavorful!

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

It's well known that I love anything s'mores flavored, but these brownies are probably my favorite s'mores creation ever. You could obviously make them with a boxed mix instead of my homemade rich and fudgy brownie base, but the extra effort is definitely worth it.

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

Just a note - I think it's much easier to cut them if you let them cool completely, then chill them in the fridge for about thirty minutes. The marshmallows end up pretty sticky, so it's hard to cut through them when they're warm. I chilled them and then used a pizza cutter to cut them, and it worked perfectly. Happy baking!
S'mores Brownies

for the brownies:
1 cup butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups all-purpose flour

for topping:
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped graham crackers
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Hershey bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with foil or parchment and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in chocolate chips, and melt, stirring frequently. When there are no more lumps, remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Fold in cocoa powder, salt, and flour, and mix until barely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted one inch from the side of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate chips, and Hershey's pieces. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes, or until the marshmallows are browned and the chocolate is melty. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!
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