walking a fine line

I have a confession to make.  You see, Todd and I gave up ice cream for Lent.  This is a huge struggle for me because I love ice cream.  It’s also a huge challenge for me because ice cream seems to be taunting me.  Last weekend in Chicago, the restaurant my sister and I had dinner at had a dessert that included  salted caramel ice cream, I couldn’t wait to try it…until I realized I’d have to wait until Easter.  The next day, we went to a grocery store that was giving away free samples of the most amazing sounding Nice Cream.

Lavender Vanilla AND  Carrot Cake!?  Oh my gosh, they all sounded amazing, but I resisted.

And then at brunch the next morning, a case of Palazzolo’s Gelato – my favorite!

All of those beautiful gelatos and still I resisted.

Then, today at work, my friend Mary brought me a cup of pomegranate frozen yogurt.  With sprinkles.

Frozen yogurt isn’t technically ice cream, right?  Yes.  I ate this.  Every last spoonful.  Todd told me it was okay but that I was walking a fine line – I’m so dangerous!  Thank you, Mary, for the fro yo and for never making me feel guilty when I’m in the mood to push the limits.

As soon as I left work, I headed to the jeweler to pick…(drum roll please!)…Todd’s wedding band!  That’s right, I got his and mine will be ready to pick up on Saturday so we’re almost as good as man and wife.  What a crazy feeling!  Todd tried it on when I got home and we both had a moment of mild freak out because it is weird to see a ring on a finger that has never worn one before.  A good kind of weird though, only 38 days until that ring will become a permanent fixture on Todd’s left hand.

While I was at the mall I did a little browsing for myself and, even though I tried to resist, I ended up at J. Crew.  I can’t help myself, I love their clothes and almost always walk away with something new.  Today was no different, I found a cute little sundress that I can wear on our Mexican honeymoon.

¿Te gusta? (Notice my new bag in the corner, fun!)

After the mall, I rushed over to the Funky Buddha for a Shake your Asana class.  I love this class!  They play music the whole time and Cindy, the instructor, really gets us sweating and does a great job of keeping it interesting and stretching us out.

I dragged my sweaty self home after class and made a quick dinner.  Just a can of soup, bagel crisps and some cheese.  Nothing fancy but I was loving my Chicken Tuscany soup!

After a day of work, running some errands and powering through a Shake your Asana class I am one tired girl.  Thank goodness that the Top Chef: All Stars season finale is on right now.  I love this show!  It’s the perfect way to relax on a Wednesday night.

Did you give anything up for Lent?

Have you had any moments of weakness if you did?

hmp: pad thai

So tonight’s dinner, the first dinner of my Homemade Meal Project (HMP for titular purposes) was Pad Thai.  Pad Thai has recently become one of my favorite dishes and I’ve wanted to find a recipe to try at home for ages.  Today was finally the day!

 

I based my Pad Thai on this recipe from Savory Sweet Life:

Pad Thai Recipe
Serves 1-2 ppl.

Pad Thai sauce ingredients:
4 cloves of minced garlic
½ cup of palm sugar
1 ½ tbl. white sugar
1/3 cup of fish sauce
½ cup of tamarind juice concentrate

Pad Thai noodle stir fry ingredients:
Dried rice stick noodles – ¼ of the package
1 egg
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 tbl. of vegetable oil
¼ cup of red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup of mung bean sprouts
1 cup of carrots, match sticks
¼ cup of green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
¼ cup of cilantro
1 ½ cups of either thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu
¼ cup of toasted peanuts chopped.
Lime wedge

Directions:
To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm and white sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.

To Stir fry the noodles,
Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.

Heat 3 tbls. oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw chicken, pork, beef, tofu or shrimp for 3-4 minutes. Remove meat/tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat up 3 tbls. of oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tbls. Of Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tbl. of sauce and fry another half minute.  Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!


I made a few tweaks to the recipe, the main one being that I used pre-made sauce.  I had very good intentions of making my own but Meijer didn’t stock any of the ingredients the sauce called for.  WorldFoods Pad Thai Sauce was a great substitution and in the long run, a time saver.

I also used pre-minced garlic which is a real lifesaver.  I hardly ever chop my own garlic since discovering this amazing product.  It saves a ton of time and effort and saves your fingers from smelling of garlic for day.

One other slightly large tweak was that I didn’t use any meat.  I like pad thai with chicken just fine but really love it with just the noodles, veggies and egg.  Such a simple, tasty dish.

Oh and I left out the bean sprouts…ick.

*I don’t love this picture but I’m wearing the awesome birthday apron that Todd for my from Anthropologie.  I love their aprons!  If you’re in the market for an apron, check their’s out.

Matchsticking the carrots was the most time consuming job.  Next time I’m going to search for pre-cut carrots of raid a salad bar somewhere.  But they turned out pretty and add such a great crunch to the dish.

 

Cutting all of those veggies was worth it though.  After chopping, Todd was helping me toast up the peanuts and we had a small dance break.  There’s nothing like cooking and having a mini dance party with the guy you love.

This was also my first time using a wok we received as a wedding gift.  Yes, we decided to go ahead and use some of our wedding gifts before the wedding but only after writing thank you notes.  What’s the point in making a perfectly good wok sit in the box when I’m making pad thai?

Love that wok!  Not even one onion dropped over the side, a definite improvement over our normal skillet cooking.

The pad thai turned out really well.  Next time I might add a little spice to it but other than that, it was magnifico!  I’m glad I finally made time to cook this up at home.

 

My love of food is rivaled only by my love for new clothes.  I’m a girl, I can’t help myself.  A box arrived for me today and it was full of clothes and accessories that I ordered from GAP and Banana Republic.  I somehow contained my excitement until after dinner and can’t wait to try out all of my new goodies!

Not a bad little night so far.  Time for marriage mentoring homework.  Tonight’s topic: conflict resolution, wish me luck!

What are some of the best shortcuts you take when cooking?

Do you usually make recipes as is or change them to your tastes or skill level?