Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand...what an interesting, unique and ridiculously delicious place!  Now, there are things I love about Chiang Mai and some that I found extremely disappointing if I'm being honest.  I tend to get very high expectations based on what other people say...one of the reasons I never go to the movies to see blockbusters that everyone is raving about, I'm always disappointed! I think the same thing happened with Chiang Mai...at first. Everyone I knew told me how amazing it was and kept describing it as a "town" with a medieval-like wall around it, amazing markets and lots of historical and beautiful temples.  Now, technically that is all true...but to me those words conjured up an image of a small town that I would ramble through at leisure as I wistfully fingered silk at the markets.  Enter the reality of Chiang Mai.  This "town" may be up North nestled in the hills of Thailand, but town it is not...it is a big, crazy bustling city!  Horns honking, tuk tuks two-wheeling around corners, air thick with smog and dirt and oh so many people!  Of course, it's not Bangkok...but you expect Bangkok out of Bangkok and this is not what I was expecting out of Chiang Mai.  Yes there is a wall around the city (which is beautiful...especially at sunset), more beautiful temples than you could ever imagine and even an amazing and huge Sunday market (the normal nightly market, not so interesting!) where you can wistfully finger fine silk scarves...there will just be a lot of noise and commotion around you as you enjoy all of these things.  But if you set your expectations correctly, as I did after a day of adjustment, Chiang Mai is a fantastic place.  Particularly because of the food! So onto the food we go!  
Weekly Menu: February 26 – March 3, 2012
Sunday: Garlicky Red Lentil Soup
Monday: Grilled white fish with lemon sauce, rapini and brown rice
Tuesday: Leftovers: Soup
Wednesday: Blue cheese & spinach stuffed chicken with  roasted carrots & parsnips (DIY)
Thursday: Leftovers: stuffed chicken
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Easy Huevos Rancheros
This red lentil soup we're making on Sunday is one of our all-time favorites.  So simple but so yummy.  The recipe I've linked to looks almost exactly the same, except I would finely chop the carrot in the same size of the onion instead of slicing the carrot as the recipe says.  You also may want to double the recipe...it never seems to make enough.

We made this fish recipe a few weeks ago and it was so simple and yummy that we decided to make it again this week.  The chicken on Wednesday is a DIY dish inspired by some blue cheese we've had in the house for a while.  I'll just butterfly some chicken breasts, lay them open and pound them until about 1/2" thick  spread some blue cheese along the inside lay some spinach on top, close it up sprinkle with salt and pepper and then sauté the chicken in a bit of olive oil until cooked through.  For the carrots and parsnips I'll slice them into matchsticks, toss in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Rest of the week is easy breezy...leftovers and one of our favorites breakfast for dinner on Saturday.  
Coriander Chicken Tostadas

This is one of those recipes that has been hiding in my binder for a while....over a year to be exact.  So when I stumbled upon it recently we added it to a menu and boy are we glad that we did!  Christian actually made it since I was running late but he says it was pretty darn easy for how gourmet and delicious it turned out.  We did decide to cheat slightly though...we used canned low-fat refried beans instead of making them ourselves, but it worked out just fine for us!

The recipe can be found here, on the Epicurious/Bon Appétit website from January, 2011.  Perfect for this time of year since fennel is in season!

Pacific Catch

 

I keep waiting until a time where we actually eat in at Pacific Catch instead of ordering out to take a good photo and tell you about it, but I've decided enough is enough and it's time to share!  Pacific Catch is by far our favorite take-out place...we order it in at least twice a month, which is saying a lot for us since we prefer to try new places and are rarely repeat customers!

So what's so great about Pacific Catch?  They have fantastically fresh seafood, great flavor combinations and super high-quality ingredients.  I order the same exact thing every time (which again, is crazy for me!)...not because the other bites I've had aren't delicious as well but because I genuinely crave this dish pictured above (it would be even prettier if not in a take-out container!).  So what is it?  It is the Japanese Wasabi Bowl with Poke and half brown rice/half salad (instead of the full white rice order it usually comes with).  So freaking good!  Ridiculously fresh Ahi, avocado, fresh ginger, micro greens, wakame salad, shredded nori all lightly dressed in a soy wasabi sauce.  Don't let the wasabi in the  name fool you, it's not super spicy.  Mix it all together sit back and eat some of the most guilt-free yet satisfying take-out you've ever had!  

Weekly Menu: February 19-25, 2012
Sunday: Pork Phanang Curry
Monday: Sautéed white fish with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts (DIY)
Tuesday: Leftovers: Curry
Wednesday: Homemade wheat pasta with tomatoes, basil & parmesan (DIY)
Thursday: Leftovers: Pasta
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Spinach, mushroom omeletes & honey toast (DIY)
Right around this time last year we were preparing for our big trip to Thailand so we were thinking it's about time to make the Pork Phanang Curry that we learned to make when we were in Chiang Mai.  We've made it a few times since returning, but it's been a few months now so good homemade Thai food is in order!  This recipe is pretty simple and super authentic...delicious!

We're keeping the rest of the week pretty simple with all DIY dishes so feel free to wing it like we'll do or look up some recipes for fish and pasta dishes online.  We have lots of homemade whole wheat pasta dough in our freezer so we'll thaw it out, cut it into spaghetti and make a homemade sauce based on the brilliant Bon Appétit tips for how to make a perfect pasta dish...no recipe required. Seriously, once you master this technique you'll never need a pasta recipe again.  It's that good and versatile!  Chritian's heading up to Sacramento to pick up a bike on Saturday so I'll just make myself a quick omelet with honey toast for dinner.  Nice and easy with minimal dishes.
Weekly Menu: February 12-18, 2012
Sunday: French Chicken in Vinegar Sauce with with Pepper-Spiked Polenta
Monday: Slow Cooker Confetti Split Pea & Smoked Sausage Soup
Tuesday: Valentine's Day: Mussels South of Two Borders with salad, bread and chocolate-dipped strawberries
Wednesday: Leftovers: French Chicken
Thursday: Leftovers: Split Pea Soup
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers: frozen vegetarian cassoulet from last week
This French Chicken recipe is one of our all-time favorites...of course it doesn't hurt that it's served over creamy and delicious polenta either!  The key to making this chicken amazing is to use high quality aged basalmic vinegar.  It should be the thick and syrupy kind, not the thin watery kind we all grew up using.  Once you use the good stuff, you'll never go back, I promise!

We've been on a slow cooker kick lately since we've both been really busy...this week it's a split pea and smoky sausage soup. Christian doesn't love split pea soup, but I do...so I keep trying to find a recipe that he will fall in love with as well!  For Valentine's Day we like to keep it simple and intimate at home.  Last year we had a really nice dinner with tomato-cilantro mussels, salad, bread and chocolate dipped strawberries so to be honest we're just going to do the same thing again this year!  Switching it up to a new mussels recipe, but otherwise pretty much the same deal.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

We're finishing off the week by reaching into our freezer for some leftovers from last week.  Nice and simple but still homemade.  Just how we like it.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone....I hope you have a great day filled with laughter and love!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, which means you need some sweet treats to celebrate with your loved ones!  One of my favorites for the holiday is chocolate dipped strawberries.  Light but decadent and a rare enough to feel special...well at least we don't eat them very often, not sure how much chocolate dipped strawberry eating goes on in your house! Now, there are plenty of fancy and sophisticated recipes for chocolate dipped strawberries, but this is my DIY version.  Easy enough to make on short notice with ingredients we often have in the house.  Okay, so maybe not everyone tends to have a stash of chocolate chips on hand at all times, but we do for some reason.  He he!
Weekly Menu: February 5-11, 2012
Sunday: Superbowl!  Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
Monday: Vegetarian Cassoulet with Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Halibut with Lemon Sauce, Bulgur & Mustard Greens
Wednesday: Leftovers: Cassoulet
Thursday: Coriander Chicken Tostadas with Grilled Fennel
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers: Chicken Tostadas
Oh, the big day is here!  Time for lots of screaming at the T.V., nervous drinking and indulgent eating while we watch our Pat's in their 7th Super Bowl.  Since I'm a New Englander I actually want to watch the game, which means that I need relatively easy food for our Super Bowl party.

So for Super Bowl Sunday I'm making some ridiculously good (and somewhat healthier than wings) Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs since I can make them in advance and then just cook them off at the last minute.  I'll also probably make a slow cooker Mac & Cheese, chips and homemade guacamole decorated like a football field and put out a veggie plate.  Add some beer, bubbly, Pat's gear and good friends and you have yourself a Super Bowl party!

To make up for the Sunday indulgence we're trying to keep the rest of the week relatively light.  So instead of a traditional meat-laden cassoulet we're making a vegetarian version and then a nice, simple fish dinner with healthy grains and greens.  Then we're finishing the week off with a bit of Mexican flair....this recipe calls for homemade refried beans, which are easy enough and yummy but feel free to use low-fat canned ones if you're in a rush.

Go Pat's!
SavoryGirl on Check, Please! Bay Area

KQED is re-airing the Check, Please! Bay Area Season 6 Opener featuring yours truly this weekend! The schedule for the re-airings is below (Friday, Saturday & Sunday!), but I've also included a link to the online episode in case you miss it.

So if you haven't seen "my" episode before, take a look and let me know what you think! Are you going to my restaurant recommendation, Saha ASAP?!  If you ever doubted my reviews before this should give you a bit more confidence...SavoryGirl knows good food!