Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce is made in a slow cooker, may change your life

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce is made in a slow cooker, may change your life

I am not going to waste time with chit chat, I just need to tell you about this chicken in curry sauce immediately. 

Now, I'm not going to claim that this is super authentic curry, or that I have deep skills in this area of cuisine. I don't. But I've had really good curry, and I was eager to recreate it at home recently. I found a couple recipes on Pinterest that used a slow cooker, and though I have a somewhat love-hate relationship with the appliance, I figured a creamy, flavorful, stew-like meal would hold up well. 

Man, it really did.

First Christmas cookie recipe of the season: Grandma's simple shortbread

First Christmas cookie recipe of the season: Grandma's simple shortbread

Hi, friends! It's been a while. It's that time of year. I am making it up to you by sharing a cookie recipe. My husband and I have already begun making Christmas cookies, and I have already begun my annual ritual of eating at least two per day. 

This is one of those recipes I make every year, because it holds a special place in my Christmas-loving heart. They are the cookies my Grandma Stark was famous for.

Fruit pie or nut pie? Make one of each for Thanksgiving: Salted Caramel Chocolate and Cranberry-Strawberry Crumb

Fruit pie or nut pie? Make one of each for Thanksgiving: Salted Caramel Chocolate and Cranberry-Strawberry Crumb

Sometimes you want a fruit pie: squishy and jammy and best eaten when still warm, dollop of whipped cream slowly sliding off the hot pie (more on that below). But sometimes you want something richer, sturdier, chocolatey-er. I was determined to find a great pie in that category this year, maybe a nut pie like pecan, perhaps an all-chocolate French silk number,  or something full-on coconut.

What I discovered was a loaded pie that sounds like it should be Way Too Extra, full of (deep breath) coconut and caramel and chocolate and pecans. But it works, and it's exactly what I was looking for. It's also really easy to whip up at the last minute, for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

Turn leftover pie crust into this Brussels Sprout, Walnut and Goat Cheese Tart

Turn leftover pie crust into this Brussels Sprout, Walnut and Goat Cheese Tart

HALP I AM DROWNING IN PIES.

Recently, I made four pies in the name of crust testing. Shortening + butter or all butter - which is best? I learned I prefer all-butter, but adding some shortening does make the crust easier to roll out and braid. Yes, I said braid. Because the next phase was testing crust decorations, all in the name of producing a stunner that could go on the cover of this week's Tampa Bay Times food section. With all that under my belt, I turned to personal pies, the ones that I wanted to serve this Thanksgiving.

But this post is not actually about pie. It's about what to do with any leftover crust you will inevitably have if you're making your own. Try a tart!

Here's what I'm making for Thanksgiving

Here's what I'm making for Thanksgiving

Happy One Week Till Thanksgiving! Also know as How Is It Already the Middle of November, Why Isn't It Colder Florida You Are Lame, Can My Fridge Fit a 16-pound Turkey, etc.

There's a lot going on. I'm trying to nail down my final Thanksgiving menu right now, so I can start prepping. My husband and I are going to my parents' house, but I'm in charge of menu coordination. Everyone pitches in on the sides; hubs does the turkey. I always get overwhelmed, usually about 45 minutes before the turkey needs to come out of the oven. Making lists helps! So here goes.

Make this Three Cheese Bread now, use it in a bunch of ways for Thanksgiving

Make this Three Cheese Bread now, use it in a bunch of ways for Thanksgiving

I feel like a majority of my life is spent trying to convince other people that making bread at home is easy and something everyone must do. Do you think I have a better shot at this, now that it’s the holiday season? Well, let’s give it another try. 

Making a loaf of homemade bread now can have a lot of payoff come Thanksgiving Day (9 days!). Take this Three Cheese Bread, which could be cut into cubes and used as the base for stuffing, sliced and used to make sandwiches with the turkey leftovers, or cut into squares and served with some honey butter right on the Thanksgiving table.

Sage and Sausage Stuffing with Crispy Hazelnut Crust for Thanksgiving

Sage and Sausage Stuffing with Crispy Hazelnut Crust for Thanksgiving

Anyone else thinking about their Thanksgiving menu yet? My husband and I are celebrating on a couple of different days this year, and one of those days is next Sunday, so I wanted to get a head start on some Thanksgiving prep today. The challenge: stuffing. Stuffing is one of those things I'm never super excited about initially, because I feel like there are only so many ways to make stuffing taste different, but then I remembered it's just an excuse to spoon a bunch of bread into your mouth! Let's get started.

A Sugar Spice Latte to make for the holiday season

A Sugar Spice Latte to make for the holiday season

My hot take: Just about every beverage is better warm, and especially coffee. I opt for hot lattes and just about any other coffee drink over cold ones 90 percent of the time, even when the temperature outside is creeping on 100 degrees.

I love lattes because you can make them much hotter than you can regular coffee. Sure, regular coffee starts out all steamy, but add a dollop of creamer and a packet of sugar, and you’re three stirs away from a lukewarm cup. No, thanks. A latte is espresso mixed with hot milk. But it’s not even the espresso I prefer over regular brewed coffee; it’s the steamed milk. Guys, I even have a small milk steamer at home, so I can make some foamy, steamy milk at a moment’s notice.

I love trying new coffee recipes at home. One of my recent creations is this Sugar Spice Latte ...

How to use a bunch of basil

How to use a bunch of basil

Last night, my husband walked into the kitchen from the backyard with an arm full of basil. He plopped it on the kitchen counter, where it sat bright green and super fragrant, taking up almost the entire counter.

We have had this "problem" for years now, ever since we started growing basil in the small backyard of the first place we ever lived together. Basil grows like crazy. If you think you can't grow things (it me), buy a basil plant and water it every once in a while and it will flourish. But then it keeps flourishing. Until you have enough to line your entire kitchen counter. 

So I decided that instead of freezing it or putting it in the fridge then forgetting about it till it turns brown, I should figure out a way to smartly use it up. 

Farmers market season means Ginger Vegetable Stir Fry

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It’s farmers market season in Tampa Bay! We take what we can get here in Florida, where fall mostly means highs of 85 degrees (ugh) and slightly less humidity. But it also brings the outdoor markets, where you can discover some produce gems if you're looking in the right places.

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I stopped by St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market recently and came across the Little Pond Farm tent, selling produce from the farm in Bushnell, Fla.

They mostly had greens - spinach, arugula, thick collard-looking stalks. But tucked throughout the damp bags of lettuce were other treasures. For one, patty pan squash, a squat, fat version of the vegetable that comes across as a big sturdier and less watery than their longer counterparts. Plus they are just flat-out adorable.

Next up: a couple knobs of light pink baby ginger (do I only buy foods that are cute?, I began to wonder), a bit less pungent than the full-grown stuff but still delightfully gingery. And near the register, I found pea shoots, delicate little tendrils that come from the pea plant and offer just a hint of that flavor.

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At home, I figured these would all do well in a stir fry of some sort. I chopped up the ginger with some garlic, a quick way to boost flavor in just about any dish. And I decided to load the thing with lots of veggies — you can use really whatever you have on hand — and Asian flavors.

The dish would be good with some soy-glazed chicken on top, but it’s not really necessary. I plopped a last-minute garnish of pickled red onions on top, which I tend to have on hand in my fridge and you should too because honestly they are perfect and vinegary on anything.
 

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Ginger Vegetable Stir Fry

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 cup diced squash, any kind
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup chopped broccoli
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil, or 2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup cooked brown rice, or other grain like farro or quinoa
Handful of fresh pea shoots
Pickled red onion, for garnish
Add ginger, garlic and olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, until very fragrant. 
Add squash, and stir, cooking for about 1 minute. Add carrots and broccoli and stir again. Add soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil or tahini, and peanut butter, and stir well to coat the vegetables. Cook for about 8 minutes to let the flavors combine and the vegetables soften. 
Stir in cooked brown rice, then turn the heat off. Divide mixture among serving bowls, then top with pea shoots and pickled red onion.
Serves 2 to 4, depending how hungry you are.