Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

To me, Pad Thai has got to be one of the greatest things on the planet. I am a big fan. I am the 12-year-old girl to its Justin Bieber.

It is also something that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I’ve held off until now, because I am the first person to admit I know nothing about Thai cuisine (other than it is awesome). Many of the recipes I’ve found included a laundry list of ingredients; I have no idea what most of them are and I have no idea where my nearest Asian grocery store is (I live in the middle of nowhere and our ethnic food scene  ranges from Chinese Take Out to Standard Italian Restaurant).

So you can imagine how overjoyed I was when I found this recipe. “No weird ingredients”….which translates into stuff I can find in my supermarket.

I did wonder, “Will it be good? Are the “weird ingredients” really what makes or breaks the dish?”

Perhaps they are…. but my Pad Thai still came out really delicious!

The only major changes I made was that I think I doubled the amount of Siracha (if you can’t stand the heat, don’t eat in my kitchen), I added bean sprouts (yum) and I added the peanuts into the stir fry about a minute before I took it off the heat.  It gave the dish a slightly nuttier taste, which I like.

As previously mentioned, I don’t know the first thing about Thai food. I think that more authentic Pad Thai dishes have a more mild peanut taste and that their more Americanized counterparts taste more strongly of peanut butter.  If this deduction is accurate then I would recommend that people who like Pad Thai to scream PEANUTS should add more peanuts. I found the peanut flavor to be somewhat subtle.

Also, I needed to cook my noodles for more than 1 minute when I added everything together. I probably cooked everything for an additional 10 minutes, but I am not sure I soaked my rice noodles in enough water, so I perhaps that is why.

When serving, make sure you put some lime wedges on the plate. Not only is it pretty, but squeezing them over the noodles gives a really nice last hit of flavor!

I really like to make my own Asian dishes, because I know that you can run into a lot of MSG with take out. Especially when something is so easy and fun to make, why not? Give it a try and let me know how yours came out! I’d love to hear feedback.

As always…

Happy Eating 🙂

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup served with a Cheese Quesadilla.

Black Bean Soup served with a Cheese Quesadilla.

When I troll the internet for recipes I generally stick to what I know. Something that I’ve tried before or at least something that I know what I’m aiming for when it comes to seasoning. I’m a big fan of tweaking recipes to your preferences, but I don’t like to give recipes a complete facelift, unless I am reasonably confident in what I’m doing.

I love black beans. Love, love, love them! I also love Mexican food. I could eat it every day and my love for it would only grow. I had heard lots of good things about black bean soup, but had never had it myself. That would generally make me hold off on making something…. though it was going to take more than “not knowing what I’m doing” to keep me from taking a swing at this meal. Since I never tasted black bean soup before, you might be wondering, “How did she  know which recipe to pick?”

I didn’t. I took a wild leap of faith and decided to go with Progresso’s recipe. It can be found on the back of their can of black beans (I posted it below for you anyway). I ended up liking the soup very much and have every intention of making it again in the future. I was not 100% happy with the flavor profile though. I should really go out and order black bean soup so I get a better idea of how the professionals do it.

If you have read some of my other posts, then you know I have intense issues with cumin. I did go out and buy some (reluctantly). I staunchly believe that sometimes you have to use seasonings you don’t love to help build amazing flavors. Example? Indian curries! I love ‘em. Do they have cumin in ‘em? You betcha! Can I taste the cumin? No. Is the cumin doing something to build that flavor? Absolutely. So, without any more ado, I halved the amount of cumin in this recipe.

I also did not add carrots (you gotta go with you gut, and my gut wasn’t in the mood for carrots) or salsa (forgot to buy it). I was a HUGE fan of the corn in the soup. Apparently corn is not usually in black bean soup, but it was definitely my soup’s MVP (after the black beans, of course). The corn added a nice texture and little hint of sweetness. I strongly recommend giving it a try.

Lastly, this recipe called for a lot of chicken stock. I only added about 3/4 of what the recipe called for because I didn’t want to dilute the flavor of the black beans too much. I don’t think adding the remaining stock would have made an improvement, for me, taste wise.

I also garnished my soup with some chopped cilantro and a handful of shredded Mexican blend cheese. If you give it about 30 seconds, the hot soup will start to melt the cheese. Swirl the half melted cheese into your soup and then enjoy (As if you’d have any other choice)!

I served my soup with a simple cheese quesadilla. This was my play on soup and a sandwich. Dip the quesadilla in the soup and I promise it will make you the happiest of campers. Oh my yum!

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear alternative seasonings for the soup.

Happy Eating 🙂

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion,
 chopped

1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)

2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup)
 (I didn’t add any carrots)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp ground cumin
 (I used half a tbsp)

1/4 tsp pepper

3 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth (I used 36 oz of chicken broth)

4 cans (15 oz each) black beans, drained, rinsed

1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel sweet corn, drained

1 jar (16 oz) mild picante or salsa (forgot to buy some)

  1. In 4-qt saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook onion, celery, carrots and garlic in oil 5 min, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder, cumin and pepper, cook 1 min.
  3. Stir in broth, 2 cans of the black beans and the corn. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, place remaining 2 cans black beans and the picante in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth. Stir into boiling soup mixture.
  5.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 min. Serve with chopped cilantro, if desired.