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Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lobster Cream Sauce

dinner, lobster, pasta, seafood, travel By December 10, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

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During my trip to London in September, I was able to take a short day trip to Paris. While I was in Paris, I had the best meal of my trip at a restaurant called Auberge Nicolas Flamel. If you are visiting Paris in the near future, I highly recommend adding a meal at Auberge Nicolas Flamel to your plans. Auberge Nicolas Flamel is a unique restaurant built into Paris’s oldest standing home, the former home of alchemist Nicholas Flamel (to the Harry Potter fans, yes, he was a real person).

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During my meal here, I had my favorite dish from this trip, lobster ravioli served in a cardamom-infused sweet potato emulsion. Once I returned home, I wanted to create a dish inspired by this meal that was adapted to both my skill set (i.e. novice pasta maker) and my budget. What I came up with essentially turned the original dish inside out. In my dish, fragrant sweet potato ravioli is served with a lobster cream sauce. The pasta dough recipe has been adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe found here.

To make the ravioli, begin by preheating your oven to 350° F. Peel and cube two to three large sweet potatoes. Place the cubes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle approximately two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and half a tablespoon of melted salted butter. Mix together half a teaspoon of ground ginger, a quarter teaspoon of ground white pepper, and a half teaspoon of kosher salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the sweet potatoes. Zest and juice a lemon and season the sweet potatoes with both the zest and the juice. Finally, use your hands to toss the sweet potato cubes in the seasoning mixture, until all of the cubes are evenly coated. Roast the sweet potato cubes for forty-five minutes to an hour until soft.

Allow the sweet potato cubes to cool. Then, combine the sweet potatoes, a half teaspoon of kosher salt, three quarters of a cup of milk, a quarter teaspoon of ground cardamom, and half a tablespoon of melted butter in a food processor or high-powered blender. Transfer the filling to a sealable container and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. This filling can be made a day ahead and actually freezes well.

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When you are ready to assemble the ravioli, make the pasta dough by mixing together two and three-quarter cups of all-purpose flour and a quarter cup of semolina flour together on a clean work surface. Shape the flour into a mound and use your fingers to create a small well in center of the mound. Add four large eggs to dough by cracking or pouring them into the well you created. Sprinkle two tablespoons of minced, fresh sage and a teaspoon of kosher salt over the eggs. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the eggs in the well. Use a fork to mix together the eggs, olive oil, sage, and salt.

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Add four large eggs to dough by cracking or pouring them into the well you created. There are only three eggs in the picture, because once a started to work the flour into the eggs, the ratio of liquid to flour was off. Sprinkle two tablespoons of minced, fresh sage and a teaspoon of kosher salt over the eggs. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the eggs in the well. Use a fork to mix together the eggs, olive oil, sage, and salt.

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Form the dough by using your hands to draw the flour into the well in the center. Once the mixture forms a dough, knead the dough for approximately ten minutes until smooth. Wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least thirty minutes.

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Once the dough has rested, cut the dough into six pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest of the dough under the plastic wrap. Using a floured rolling pin, roll a piece of dough into a rectangle just thin enough to feed it into the largest setting on your pasta roller. Feed the dough through pasta press once, using your other hand to guide the dough coming out off the press. I used a pasta press attachment for a KitchenAid® mixer to make this recipe. If you are working with a hand crank machine, the maneuver is essentially the same. You will just need to get a momentum going with each pass, before moving your free hand from feeding the dough into the press to guiding it out.

After the dough’s first pass through the machine, fold the dough in half (top to bottom) and run the dough through again at the same width. Adjust the machine to the next narrowest width and repeat the same process. Continue adjusting the machine to a narrow width, one notch at a time, and repeating this process, until the dough is semi-translucent.

Cut the long strip of pasta dough into two shorter strips. Use a spoon to scoop out a small dollop of filling and place each dollop approximately an inch apart on one of the strips of pasta dough. Beat an egg in a small bowl. Then, use a small brush or the back of a spoon to brush the egg wash in a square around each portion of filling. Take the other strip of dough and place it over the dough with the filling on it.

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Use your finger to seal each ravioli around the filling. Then, use a knife or a rotary pastry cutter to cut out each ravioli. Sprinkle or brush the raviolis lightly with flour and place them to the side on a lightly floured plate or baking sheet.

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Put on a pot of heavily salted water to a boil and prepare your ingredients for your sauce. While the water is coming to a boil, begin making the sauce by making a roux. Melt three tablespoons of salted butter in a large sauté pan on medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, incorporate four tablespoons of all-purpose flour into the butter with a flat whisk. At this point, add the raviolis to the water and cook for five to seven minutes, until the outer edges of the raviolis are done.

While the ravioli mixture is cooking, cook the butter and flour mixture until it is a caramel brown. Then, reduce the heat of the sauté pan to low and whisk in one and a half cups of whole milk, a half of a cup of heavy cream, one teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon™ lobster stock concentrate, one teaspoon kosher salt, a quarter teaspoon black pepper, a quarter teaspoon white pepper, an eighth of a teaspoon of hot smoked paprika, and one minced shallot.

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Cook the mixture for three to four minutes whisk continuously until the sauce thickens. Then, add two minced garlic cloves and the zest of one lemon to the sauce and cook for an additional two minutes. Turn of the heat on the sauce, drain the pasta, and then add the raviolis into the sauté pan. Stir to coat the ravioli in the sauce. Plate and serve with a sprinkle of minced, fresh sage.

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Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lobster Cream Sauce

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lobster Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • Filling:
  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Pasta Dough:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine ground semolina flour
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Lobster Cream Sauce:
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tsp of Better Than Bouillon™ lobster base
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • Zest from 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. To make the filling:
  2. To make the ravioli, begin by preheating your oven to 350° F. Peel and cube two to three large sweet potatoes. Place the cubes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle approximately two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and half a tablespoon of melted salted butter. Mix together half a teaspoon of ground ginger, a quarter teaspoon of ground white pepper, and a half teaspoon of kosher salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the sweet potatoes. Zest and juice a lemon and season the sweet potatoes with both the zest and the juice. Finally, use your hands to toss the sweet potato cubes in the seasoning mixture, until all of the cubes are evenly coated. Roast the sweet potato cubes for forty-five minutes to an hour until soft.
  3. Allow the sweet potato cubes to cool. Then, combine the sweet potatoes, a half teaspoon of kosher salt, three quarters of a cup of milk, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne, and half a tablespoon of melted butter in a food processor or high-powered blender. Transfer the filling to a sealable container and store in the fridge until you're ready to use it. This filling can be made a day ahead and actually freezes well.
  4. To make the ravioli:
  5. This pasta dough recipe has been adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe found at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/ravioli-dough-recipe.html
  6. When you are ready to assemble the ravioli, make the pasta dough by mixing together two and three-quarter cups of all-purpose flour and a quarter cup of semolina flour together on a clean work surface. Shape the flour into a mound and use your fingers to create a small well in center of the mound. Add four large eggs to dough by cracking or pouring them into the well you created. Sprinkle two tablespoons of minced, fresh sage and a teaspoon of kosher salt over the eggs. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the eggs in the well. Use a fork to mix together the eggs, olive oil, sage, and salt.
  7. Form the dough by using your hands to draw the flour into the well in the center. Once the mixture forms a dough, knead the dough for approximately ten minutes until smooth. Wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least thirty minutes.
  8. Once the dough has rested, cut the dough into six pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest of the dough under the plastic wrap. Using a floured rolling pin, roll a piece of dough into a rectangle just thin enough to feed it into the largest setting on your pasta roller. Feed the dough through pasta press once, using your other hand to guide the dough coming out off the press. I used a pasta press attachment for a KitchenAid® mixer to make this recipe. If you are working with a hand crank machine, the maneuver is essentially the same. You will just need to get a momentum going with each pass, before moving your free hand from feeding the dough into the press to guiding it out.
  9. After the dough's first pass through the machine, fold the dough in half (top to bottom) and run the dough through again at the same width. Adjust the machine to the next narrowest width and repeat the same process. Continue adjusting the machine to a narrow width, one notch at a time, and repeating this process, until the dough is semi-translucent.
  10. Cut the long strip of pasta dough into two shorter strips. Use a spoon to scoop out a small dollop of filling and place each dollop approximately an inch apart on one of the strips of pasta dough. Beat an egg in a small bowl. Then, use a small brush or the back of a spoon to brush the egg wash in a square around each portion of filling. Take the other strip of dough and place it over the dough with the filling on it.
  11. Use your finger to seal each ravioli around the filling. Then, use a knife or a rotary pastry cutter to cut out each ravioli. Sprinkle or brush the raviolis lightly with flour and place them to the side on a lightly floured plate or baking sheet.
  12. To make sauce and assemble dish:
  13. Put on a pot of heavily salted water to a boil and prepare your ingredients for your sauce. While the water is coming to a boil, begin making the sauce by making a roux. Melt three tablespoons of salted butter in a large sauté pan on medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, incorporate four tablespoons of all-purpose flour into the butter with a flat whisk. At this point, add the raviolis to the water and cook for five to seven minutes, until the outer edges of the raviolis are done.
  14. While the ravioli mixture is cooking, cook the butter and flour mixture until it is a caramel brown. Then, reduce the heat of the sauté pan to low and whisk in one and a half cups of whole milk, a half of a cup of heavy cream, one teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon™ lobster stock concentrate, one teaspoon kosher salt, a quarter teaspoon black pepper, a quarter teaspoon white pepper, an eighth of a teaspoon of hot smoked paprika, and one minced shallot.
  15. Cook the mixture for three to four minutes whisk continuously until the sauce thickens. Then, add two minced garlic cloves and the zest of one lemon to the sauce and cook for an additional two minutes. Turn of the heat on the sauce, drain the pasta, and then add the raviolis into the sauté pan. Stir to coat the ravioli in the sauce. Plate and serve with a sprinkle of minced, fresh sage.
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Cider-Brined Pork Loin

cider, dinner, pork By November 25, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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I have a confession to make: I am addicted to brining. In addition to being my favorite way to prepare poultry, this recipe for a cider-based brine is my absolute favorite way to prepare a pork loin. The cider-based brine keeps the pork loin moist as it cooks, and the apples cooked in cider provide a ready-made side dish. The brine, spicy honey, fresh thyme, and mustard in this dish help create a delicious balance of sweetness, saltiness, freshness, and heat. This dish is also surprisingly quick to pull together after the pork loin has brined overnight. With a little planning, my cider-brined pork loin makes a great weeknight meal.

To make the brine, you will need…

2 bottles of hard cider

2 cups water

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

4 crushed garlic cloves

2 tbsp hot honey

1 tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp whole allspice

1 tsp whole cloves

To make the pork loin, you will need…

1 pork loin

1 bottle of hard cider

3 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme

2 tbsp salted butter

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

To make the brine:

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In an eight-quart saucepan, combine all of the brine ingredients. Cook the mixture on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved. Allow the brine to completely cool and then transfer the brine to a plastic container with a lid or a large sealable, plastic bag. Add the pork loin to the brine and store the container or bag in your refrigerator for approximately twenty-four hours. If you put the brine in a plastic bag, store the sealed bag in a bowl to prevent spills or leakage onto your fridge shelves.

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To prepare the pork loin:

Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse any excess brine off of the meat. For food safety, clean your sink and the area around it with a disinfectant after doing this. Rinsing off the pork could cause contaminated water to splash on the area around the sink. So, be careful and clean up.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Mix together 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground mustard, and 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika in small bowl. Lightly coat the outside of the pork loin with the spice mix.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium high. When the butter is melted, swirl the butter to coat the pan. Sear the pork loin in the butter for a few minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and remove the seared pork loin from the skillet and place on a plate to the side.

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Turn the heat on low and deglaze the skillet using the bottle of cider. Add the apples and three crushed garlic cloves and coat in the cider sauce. Once the apples and garlic are coated in the sauce, turn off the heat and return the pork loin to the pan. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan. The layer of apples will act as a roasting rack that will ensure the pork loin roasts rather than poaching in the liquid.

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Roast the pork loin and apples in the cast iron skillet for approximately 25-30 minutes. The exact cooking time will vary based upon the weight of the pork loin. The internal temperature should be between 145°F and 160°F, when measured with a meat thermometer, per USDA guidelines. I would recommend aiming for the lower end of the 145°F-160°F range, because pork loin has a tendency to dry out. Allow the pork loin to rest for five to ten minutes. Slice the pork loin against the grain of the meat and serve.

Cider-Brined Pork Loin

Cider-Brined Pork Loin

Ingredients

    For the brine:
  • 2 bottles of hard cider
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp hot honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • For the pork loin:
  • 1 pork loin (approximately 2-3 lbs)
  • 1 bottle of hard cider
  • 3 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Instructions

    To make the brine:
  1. In an eight-quart saucepan, combine all of the brine ingredients. Cook the mixture on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  2. Allow the brine to completely cool and then transfer the brine to a plastic container with a lid or a large sealable, plastic bag. Add the pork loin to the brine and store the container or bag in your refrigerator for approximately twenty-four hours. If you put the brine in a plastic bag, store the sealed bag in a bowl to prevent spills or leakage onto your fridge shelves.
  3. To make the pork loin:
  4. Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse any excess brine off of the meat. For food safety, clean your sink and the area around it with a disinfectant after doing this. Rinsing off the pork could cause contaminated water to splash on the area around the sink. So, be careful and clean up.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  6. Mix together 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground mustard, and 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika in small bowl. Lightly coat the outside of the pork loin with the spice mix.
  7. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium high. When the butter is melted, swirl the butter to coat the pan.
  8. Sear the pork loin in the butter for a few minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and remove the seared pork loin from the skillet and place on a plate to the side.
  9. Turn the heat on low and deglaze the skillet using the bottle of cider.
  10. Add the apples and three crushed garlic cloves and coat in the cider sauce.
  11. Once the apples and garlic are coated in the sauce, turn off the heat and return the pork loin to the pan. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan.
  12. Roast the pork loin and apples in the cast iron skillet for approximately 25-30 minutes. The internal temperature should be between 145°F and 160°F, when measured with a meat thermometer, per USDA guidelines.
  13. Allow the pork loin to rest for five to ten minutes.
  14. Slice the pork loin against the grain of the meat and serve.
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District 12 Wild Boar Sausage Stuffing

dinner, game, sides, stuffing By November 19, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

Tomorrow’s the day! Mockingjay Part 2 is opening in U.S. theaters tomorrow night. In honor of the final film, I have created a dish inspired by the woods of District 12 and Katniss’s favorite cheese buns. Wild mushrooms, wild boar, and fresh herbs add a new twist to this adaptation of my mother’s traditional cornbread stuffing recipe.

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To make this recipe you will need…

A wild boar roast (approx. 1.5 lb)

0.5 lb of pork belly

A meat grinder (or a butcher willing to grind the pork belly and wild boar for you)

7-8 cups of wheat bread cubes (I used 1.5 loaves of roasted garlic and cheese bread)

1 batch of your favorite cornbread recipe (mine filled one cast iron skillet)

Olive oil for drizzling on bread cubes

5 celery stalks (diced) and inner celery leaves (minced)

0.5 lb wild mushrooms diced

6 tbsp salted butter

1 medium onion diced

1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

4 cups chicken stock

1.5 tsp black pepper

2.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp white pepper

0.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

The day before you plan to make this recipe, you should begin preparation by making the cornbread, making the croutons, and grinding the wild boar roast and pork belly. Cube the wheat bread and drizzle the cubes with olive oil. Spread the cubes out on some sheet trays and toast at 300 F until golden.

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To make the sausage, cube the boar roast and pork belly. Use a meat grinder to grind the pork belly and boar together. Season the sausage with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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The following day, assemble the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Brown the sausage in a cast iron skillet.

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Once the sausage is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan, leaving the fat behind. Add six tablespoons of salted butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted, add the onions, celery, and mushrooms to the skillet, seasoning the mix with salt and pepper.

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Cook the mixture until the onions are translucent. Then, add the minced parsley and celery leaves. Remove the mixture from the heat two to three minutes after this final addition.

In a large bowl, crumble the cornbread with clean hands. Add the toasted bread cubes, the veggie mixture, the browned sausage, and the chicken stock. Season the stuffing mixture with 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 2 teaspoons sea salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine ingredients.

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Put the stuffing into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Cover the stuffing with foil and bake at 400 F for 45 minutes. Uncover the stuffing after 45 minutes and bake for an additional 15 to 30 minutes until golden.

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Butterbeer Breakfast Rolls and the Warner Brothers Studio Tour Leavesden

breakfast, Dessert, travel By November 14, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Hello everyone! Welcome to the updated fangirlkitchen.com!

Today I am continuing my series of London posts. While I was in London, I took a day trip to Leavesden to take the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. The Harry Potter books and movies feature in several of my childhood memories. I have fond memories of rushing to finish my schoolwork in grade school, so I could return to reading one of the earlier books. Around that time, I also created a Hogwarts student costume for Halloween accessorized with some of my books with hand decorated paper Hogwarts textbook covers.

As I got a little older, the midnight book release parties were highly anticipated events. While I always had a great time at those release parties, the best memories from those evenings are the moments at the end of the night, getting the books and taking them home to read until I could no longer manage to keep my eyes open. Devouring those crisp new books into the wee hours of the morning are some of my fondest childhood and teenage memories.

I loved seeing the stories brought to life in the Harry Potter films. While the movies were not always true to the books, I still feel like the incredibly detailed work that went into building Harry Potter’s world is simply amazing. If you are traveling to London in the near future, I highly recommend taking the tour. For those of you not planning on traveling to London in the near future, I am sharing some highlights and a recipe for Butterbeer Breakfast Rolls, inspired by my visit. The dough is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Roll recipe found here. The recipe can be found at the end of this post.

greathall

makeup

wardrobe1

yule ball

The Leaky Cauldron

The Leaky Cauldron

The Fat Lady

The Fat Lady

Mural from Gryffindor Common Room

Mural from Gryffindor Common Room

Gryffindor Common Room

Gryffindor Common Room

gryffindordorm

The Gryffindor Dorm

Entrance to Dumbledore's Office

Entrance to Dumbledore’s Office

Dumbledore's Office

Dumbledore’s Office

Hogwarts Gates

Hogwarts Gates

Potions Classroom

Potions Classroom

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Hogwarts Stairs and Portraits

Hogwarts Stairs and Portraits

Hagrid's Hut

Hagrid’s Hut

Quidditch

Quidditch

The Burrow

The Burrow

Weasley Clock

Weasley Clock

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Borgin and Burkes

Borgin and Burkes

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Butterbeer Ice Cream in the Backlot

Butterbeer Ice Cream in the Backlot

Godric's Hollow and Hogwarts Bridge

Godric’s Hollow and Hogwarts Bridge

chess

Number 4 Privet Drive

Number 4 Privet Drive

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

Creature Shop

Creature Shop

Art Department

Art Department

Hogwarts

Hogwarts

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For the dough (makes enough dough for 4-5 pans- this dough freezes really well using the instructions in The Pioneer Woman recipe linked above):

10-11 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 quart whole milk

1 cup vegetable oil

5 tsp of dry active yeast (or 2 small packets)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp butter flavoring

1 tbsp caramel flavoring

1 tbsp spiced rum

Butterscotch Icing and Filling for One Pan:

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup butterscotch chips

1 tbsp vanilla extract

7 tbsp salted butter

1/4-1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tsp ginger

   To make the dough, combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, rum, butter flavoring, caramel flavoring, and the sugar in a saucepan. Scald the mixture, then allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast and proof. Add the first eight cups of flour to the mixture. Let the mixture rise for one hour. After the first rise, add two more cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix the additions into the dough. You may need to add an third cup of flour. The amount of flour you need to add in this step will depend on the humidity of your individual location. The dough should not be too firm, but it should be stiff enough to roll out into a rectangular sheet. Store the dough in the fridge in a covered container until ready to use. I would recommend using it within one or two days.

   To assemble one pan of the breakfast rolls, take a fifth or a quarter of the dough and roll it out into rectangle on a floured work surface. Melt three tablespoons of salted butter and spread it out onto the dough sheet. Then, liberally sprinkle light brown sugar across the dough. Finally, sprinkle half a teaspoon of ground ginger onto the rolls. Roll the dough into a log. Slice the rolls to fit the height of your pan. Just remember the rolls will keep rising, so leave a little space. Place the rolls into a greased baking pan and allow them to rise again for twenty to thirty minutes. While the rolls are rising, preheat your oven to 375 F.

   Once the rolls have finished rising for the final time, bake for fifteen to twenty minutes until golden brown. While the rolls are baking, make the icing. In a saucepan, melt four tablespoons of salted butter. Once the butter is melted, add sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch chips, one tablespoon of vanilla extract,and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly until the butterscotch chips melt.

    When you take the rolls out of the oven, pour the hot icing over them. Allow the iced rolls to cool and enjoy.

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Blogger Recognition Award!

awards, blogging By October 24, 2015 Tags: , No Comments

I was nominated for my first blogging award! Thank you to Skill Up Skillet for nominating me!

bloggerrecognitionaward2How the Award Works

Once a blogger is nominated, he or she is supposed to respond in a post following the award’s guidelines.

Guidelines for Nominees

  1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to
  2. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
  3. Write a post to show your award
  4. Give a brief story of how your blog started
  5. Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers
  6. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  7. Attach the award to the post (right click and save, then upload)
  8. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them
  9. Provide a link to the award post you creates

A Long Time Ago In a Blogosphere Far, Far Away…

   Ok, so not very long ago. Starting this blog was actually one of my New Year’s resolutions this year. I had wanted to start a blog for a while, but I kept putting it off for various reasons. Primarily, I was intimidated. I am not the tech-savviest person in the world. I also felt like I needed to be more of a cooking expert to start a food blog. I have been dabbling in all sorts of culinary projects since I was a teenager, but I am most definitely still learning as a cook.

Earlier this year, I realized I didn’t have to know the ins and outs of blogging or be a cooking guru to start. I could learn and grow as a blogger and cook as I went. More importantly, I needed an outlet to talk about and explore two things I really love, food and all things nerdy. This blog has provided me a great place to share and create dishes from my nerdy daydreams (am I the only one who creates dishes in her head when she’s bored?). I mean, what else can give you an excuse to make dozens of cupcakes to perfect flavors inspired by Disney World?

Advice for New Bloggers

   First, I feel a little weird offering blogging advice, since I have been blogging less than a year. However, there are a few things I think people considering blogging or just starting to blog should consider.

Just Start

The best piece of advice I could give to someone considering starting a blog is to just start. Find a good, free, user-friendly platform and start writing. Blogging is like any other creative process. You probably won’t start off amazingly well, but you can learn so much and improve as you go.

Research

You can never learn too much. Research as much as you can about blogging software, writing, and photography. There is an astounding array of websites, books, podcasts, and videos from which to choose on the topic of blogging. You should also keep learning about the subject at the center of your blog. While you should probably know a good bit about a subject before starting to write about it, you will never know everything. In my case, I am constantly trying to learn more about cooking and food.

Practice

You’re mother was right. You’ll never get better at something if you don’t practice. Start writing and taking photos, and keep doing it.

Persevere

You will screw things up. Know from the start that it is okay to screw something up. You just have to fix it and learn from it.

Relax and Have Fun

Write about something you love and don’t worry too much about the rest. If you’re not having fun blogging, you might want to reconsider your reasons for blogging in the first place.

Finally, I Nominate…

  1. Redbird Recipes
  2. the bona fide farm food journal
  3. Emerging Adult Eats
  4. Cooking Up The Pantry
  5. Patrons of the Pit
  6. Sinfully Spicy
  7. Knitter Nerd
  8. Geekritique
  9. Fig Jam and Lime Cordial
  10. Food on Fifth
  11. Funk’s House of Geekery
  12. The Glamorous Pan
  13. Theantiramen
  14. Disney Freak with a Bit of Mascara (Natalie Davis)
  15. Bake & Read

Thanks for reading!

Meg

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Biscoff Butterscotch Blondies

Dessert, travel By October 12, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

At the beginning of September, I traveled to London and Paris. I had an amazing time and took over 600 photos. I will slowly be a few recipes inspired by my trip. Today’s recipe was inspired by a dessert I had at the BBC Good Food Festival.

Once I returned home, I started working on recreating the delectable Biscoff Butterscotch Blondies from the Tray Delicious Booth at the BBC Good Food Festival. These fudgy bars have taste similar to butter pecan ice cream. After a few flops, I arrived at this copycat recipe.

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2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cookie butter (Biscoff spread highly recommended)

1 egg

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp milk

11 oz butterscotch chips

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer. Add the egg, vanilla, and cookie butter to the batter. Mix until combined. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing to completely combine each addition. With the second cup of flour add the milk and baking powder to the batter. Mix until smooth. Finally, on a low setting, mix in the butterscotch chips. Spoon the batter into a 10″ x 10″ greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow blondies to cool before cutting them.

 

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Dark Swan Creamy Parmesan Black Rice with Crab

dinner, seafood By September 24, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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Today’s recipe is a perfect combination of food geek and pop culture geek. This dish was inspired by the Once Upon a Time season five previews of Emma’s Dark Swan persona. I wanted to create a beautiful and delicious black and white dish. I thought black rice would be the perfect, and the crab and parmesan cheese would provide great color contrast. Finally, I topped the whole dish off with feather-shaped parmesan crisp.

This dish was also heavily influenced by Massimo Bottura’s recipe Risotto Cacio e Pepe (found here) that was featured on the Netflix series Chef’s Table earlier this year. This is not meant to be a true risotto, hence the name creamy parmesan rice. Not only does it not use arborio rice, but it also not as creamy has risotto. The black rice keeps a nice al dente texture within the creamy sauce that is created in this recipe. Bottura created this recipe following an earthquake in Italy damaged several wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, in order to use the damaged wheels. For the food geeks reading this, I cannot recommend the Chef’s Table series enough. Actually, stop reading this and go watch it now. I’ll wait.

When you are ready to try your hand at this recipe,you will need…

4 cups shellfish or chicken stock ( I used Better Than Bouillon’s lobster base)

3 cups parmesan broth (prepared as directed by Massimo Bottura’s recipe linked above)

1 1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

2 1/2 cups black rice

3 lemons

2 shallots, minced

7 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 tsp black pepper

7 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup parmesan cream

1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 tsp fresh sage, minced

1 lb lump crab meat

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

1 egg white

Mix the shellfish or chicken stock, parmesan broth, water, and one cup of white wine together and bring to a boil. In a separate pot, melt three tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once the butter is melted, add one of the shallots and four of the garlic cloves and cook until shallots are translucent. Add the rice and toss the it in the butter, shallot, and garlic mixture. Toast the rice for two to three minutes. Then, slowly add the liquid to the rice, stirring as you go. The liquid does not have to be completely absorbed before each new addition. As I said at the beginning, this is not a true risotto.

IMG_1542Finally, add the juice and zest of one lemon and the sage to the rice. Cook the rice in a covered pot until all of the liquid is absorbed. When the liquid is absorbed, finish the dish with two tablespoons of parmesan cream, a quarter cup of grated parmesan, and a quarter teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper.

While your rice is cooking, make your parmesan crisps. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix half a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano and the egg white together with a fork. Form the cheese mixture into the desired shape on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Grind some black pepper over the unbaked crisps. Bake until golden brown.

IMG_1549When the rice is almost ready, melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add the remaining shallots and garlic cloves. Add the sea salt and cook for a few minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the remaining half cup of white wine. Add the the juice from two lemons and the remaining parmesan cream. Cook the sauce for five minutes.

IMG_1545Add the crab and cook for an additional five minutes. Finish the crab adding the remaining black pepper and one teaspoon of fresh parsley.

IMG_1547Plate with the black rice and crab with the parmesan crisps and more grated parmesan. This recipe will serve four to six people.

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Treats from the Tardis: Jammie Dodger Tart

Dessert By September 19, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

IMG_1533Hello and Happy Doctor Who Day! I have created the perfect dessert recipe to follow your fish fingers and custard. This tart is inspired by the Jammie Dodger, a brand of British packaged shortbread sandwich cookie (biscuit) filled with raspberry-plum jam that doubles as a weapon against Daleks. This tart version features shortbread crust is filled with a homemade raspberry-plum jam with crumbled shortbread on top. I’m not sure it could fool a Dalek, but it is a pretty tasty dessert.

To make the Jammie Dodger™ tart, you will need…IMG_1501

4 plums

24 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen

2 lemons

2 lb sugar plus 1 1/2 cups sugar

6 tbsp pectin

3 cups flour

1 tbsp vanilla

2 1/2 sticks (20 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Start by making the jam. Wash the plums, remove the pits, and cut the plum into eighths. The best way to pit the plums is to use a paring knife to cut through to the pit all the way around. Twist and pull the fruit apart. Remove the pit with your fingers. Add the cut plums, raspberries, the juice and zest of two lemons, two pounds of sugar, and six tablespoons of pectin to a large stockpot. Toss the fruit in the sugar and let sit for a few minutes before heating. Bring the mixture to a boil on medium-low heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half (around forty-five minutes).

IMG_1506While your jam is simmering, you can make your shortbread dough. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and completely mix in before beginning to add the flour. Add the kosher salt and the flour to the dough one cup at a time. Completely mix in each cup of flour to the dough before adding the next cup. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and put it into the fridge for at least an hour.

IMG_1513When your jam is ready, remove the pot from heat and let cool for 10-20 minutes. Work the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Put your finished seedless jam in the fridge to continue cooling and setting.

IMG_1516When your ready to assemble the tart, begin by pre-baking your shortbread crust. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Break off pieces of shortbread dough and shape it into a tart pan with a removable base. Puncture the dough several times with a fork.

IMG_1519Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and use pie weights or another pan to weigh down the dough. Bake the crust at 350 F for twenty minutes.

IMG_1523Take the remaining shortbread dough and press it into a rectangle on a small baking sheet. Pierce the dough with a fork and bake for twenty minutes at 350 F.

IMG_1525At the twenty-minute mark, remove the crust and cookie sheet from the oven. Spread a thin layer of the jam over the cookie. Return the cookie to the oven for ten minutes. You will chop up this large cookie slab to sprinkle on top of the tart later.

IMG_1527Fill the crust with the jam. Cover the edges of the tart crust with foil to prevent overcooking.

IMG_1530Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place the tart pan onto the foil-covered cookie sheet or place the cookie sheet on the rack below the tart pan in the oven. This will prevent drips from burning onto the floor of the oven. Return the tart to the oven and bake for an additional twenty minutes. When the cookie slab has cooled enough to touch, cut it into strips, and roughly chop the strips into cookie croutons. When you remove the tart from the oven, sprinkle the cookie bits over the top to finish the dish.

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Treats from the Tardis: Fish Fingers and Custard (and Chips)

dinner, seafood By September 18, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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As Whovians everywhere gear up for the Doctor Who premiere on Saturday, I decided to create a few recipes for the occasion. The first recipe is for what has become the quintessential Whovian recipe, fish fingers and custard. Inspired by the eleventh doctor’s bizarre taste in snacks, there are several versions of this recipe on the Internet ranging from sweet interpretations to Alton Brown’s unflinchingly accurate version complete with homemade minced fish fingers. This version involves two of my favorite pairings, fish and chips and french fries and aioli. In my version, I have made battered cod tenders, double-fried french fries, and a lemon-garlic aioli “custard”.

To make this meal, you will need…

3 cups white rice flour

2 bottles of blonde beer

2 tbsp, plus 1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder

3 lbs russet potatoes

2 lbs cod fillets

3 pasteurized eggs, plus 1 pasteurized egg yolk

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 lemons

1/8 tsp ground cayenne

1 gallon of peanut oil, for frying

Start by making the aioli. Actually, let’s pause and have a conversation about raw eggs and salmonella. I am not a medical professional. I am just someone who loves to cook. There are serious health risks associated with consuming raw eggs (i.e., salmonella poisoning). Using pasteurized eggs reduces the risk, but it does not eliminate it. I have decided that I am personally comfortable with the risk. That does not mean you should be. I am a random person on the Internet. Take my opinion with a grain of salt. I encourage you to do your own research and make a decision for yourself and your family. Here is a helpful place to start. However, I would not recommend this recipe for children, the elderly, or someone with an otherwise weak immune system, as these groups are in the most danger in the event of salmonella contamination.

If you are cooking for one of these groups or are just not comfortable consuming raw eggs, you can still have an awesome custard dipping sauce. To make a raw egg free version, mix together 1 cup of regular store-bought mayo, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and a few pinches of turmeric or a few drops of yellow food coloring (to mimic the color of the egg yolk). To make the original recipe, combine 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp cayenne in a blender or food processor. Turn on the blender or food processor on low. While the machine is running, pour the olive oil in slowly into the open top.

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The aioli will be ready when it is the consistency of mayo. This should happen pretty quickly. Spoon the aioli into a bowl, cover, and place the aioli in the fridge to chill.

Now, you’re ready to prep your potatoes. Scrub the potatoes, slice them into strips, and place the strips in a large bowl of heavily salted water.

IMG_0656Once you’ve got your potatoes prepped, heat the oil in a large pot and prep the batter for the fish. In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, beer, 1 egg, 2 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of pepper, 1 tbsp of garlic powder, and the zest from one lemon. Leave the batter to rest. The oil should be ready by now. Check the oil by carefully dropping a pinch of salt into the oil. If the oil immediately bubbles when the salt hits it, then the oil is ready. While the batter is resting, blanch the fries in the oil (first fry). While you clearly will not need a deep-fryer for this step, I highly recommend a metal spider tool over a slotted spoon for placing food in the oil and taking it out of the oil. You can get these from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon for under $10.00. As always, use extreme caution around hot oil.

IMG_0659You don’t want to completely cook the fries at this stage. The fries will be done when they have begun to look puffy. When they reach this stage, scoop them out with the spider or a metal slotted spoon and place the blanched fries on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Cover with the blanched potatoes with more paper towels and put them aside.

IMG_0670Once your fries are blanched, prep the cod by cutting the fillets into small strips.

IMG_0672Dip the fish into the batter. Use a spider or a slotted spoon to put the battered fish into the oil. Fry until golden brown.

IMG_0675Once the fish is ready, return the potatoes to the oil in batches to crisp them. As you remove the fries after their second fry, season them with salt (and other spices, if desired). Once your fries are ready, everything is ready to serve.

Coming Soon: A Jammie Dodger™-Inspired Tart for Dessert!

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Eat In Tonight: Grilled Chicken Noodle Bowl

chicken, dinner By August 18, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

Not the most exciting title, but I was not sure what to call this dish. This delicious dinner is one part ramen and one part stir-fry. Ramen-fry just sounds a little too silly, so I’m sticking with the name noodle bowl. Despite its lack of an exciting name, this dish is full of amazing flavors. So, say goodbye to delivery or, if like me and you live in an area with a dearth of delivery choices, skip the drive. To make this dish, you will need to start by marinating two pounds of chicken tenders for at least for an hour or, preferably, overnight.

Spicy Soy Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp gochujang (can be found at Walmart or grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp pickled ginger

      Mix all ingredients in a bowl or a gallon freezer bag. Add the chicken, and toss the chicken in marinade to coat. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Grilled Chicken Noodle Bowl

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When I staged the ingredients shot for this recipe, I managed to forget the noodles. For a noodle bowl recipe. So, they get their own picture.

2 lbs marinated chicken tenders

1 lb julienned carrots

1 bunch cilantro

1 daikon radish, peeled and shredded

4 heads of baby bok choy

1 hot pepper (chef’s choice)

4 cloves of garlic

2 in piece of fresh ginger, minced

1 bunch of green onions

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 medium white onion

8 oz frozen edamame

8 oz package of sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 lb of rice noodles

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp gochujang

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

64 oz chicken stock (Swanson’s Thai Ginger Stock recommended)

    Start by prepping your veggies. Remove the seeds from bell peppers and hot pepper. Slice the bell peppers and dice the hot pepper. Peel and shred the daikon radish using a box grater. Slice the onion. Remove and reserve the green tops of the baby bok choy. Chop off the roots of the bok choy. Finely slice the remaining crunchy ends. Put these veggies to the side until ready to use. We’ll call this veggie batch 1. Mince the garlic cloves. Peel and mince the fresh ginger. Take the bok choy greens and chiffonade them. Set aside this batch of veggies aside until ready to use. We’ll call this veggie batch 2. Finally, cut off and reserve the white ends of the green onions and slice the green ends for garnish. Now that you’ve got all of veggies prepped, these next steps will go smoothly.

    Put on a kettle of water to boil (for the noodles). I followed the rice noodle cooking tutorial found here. After you put on the kettle of water. You will want to start you broth. Pour the chicken stock into a large stock pot. Add the shitaki mushrooms, a small bunch of washed cilantro, the white ends of the green onions, and half of the garlic. Bring the broth to a boil and, then, reduce to a simmer, while you make the rest of the components.

IMG_0545   While the broth is simmering, stir-fry the veggies and grill the chicken. Start by preparing a spicy soy sauce for the veggies. Whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, gochujang, the remaining garlic, and the ginger. Put the sauce aside. Put the chicken tenders in a grill pan or on an outdoor grill. These will cook for around 10 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders over half way through the cooking time. When the chicken is done, the meat should be white and the juices should run clear. Once the chicken is cooking, heat the canola oil in a wok. When the oil is hot, add veggie batch 1 to wok and pour the sauce over the veggies. Use a large spatula to toss the veggies in the sauce. Try to keep the veggies on the sides of the wok to prevent the veggies from steaming. Cook until bell peppers and onions are soft, around seven minutes. When veggie batch 1 is ready, spoon the veggies out the wok onto a plate. Add veggie batch 2 to the wok. Cook for around two minutes. Then, add back veggie batch 1 and turn off the heat.

IMG_0549IMG_0552    Prepare your rice noodles as instructed in the tutorial linked above. Strain the chicken stock, and you are ready to assemble your noodle bowl. To assemble the bowls, add the noodles to a bowl and pour the stock over them. Then, slice the chicken. Add the chicken and stir-fried veggies to the bowl. If desired, garnish with green onions and sriracha. And you’re done. Okay, so maybe that isn’t as easy as take-out. But, if you made it this far, you just made this.

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     And in my opinion, that’s way cooler.

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