Thai Basil Chicken – Why Order Takeout?

Note: So, sometimes, when you work a ton and then get the HEADCOLD THAT WOULD END YOU, it’s really hard to write witty and illuminating blog posts. Sorry for the lapse, but I’m back on the wagon. Or off the wagon. Whichever one is the good one, I’m that.

To write this post, I’m going to have to admit a couple of things.

Number one: I love the internet like a fat kid loves cake (read: fat kid = me).

I love the internet. It’s one of the most entertaining things I can do relatively cheaply in my own time. I have an addiction to StumbleUpon, which is similar to Pinterest, I guess, but without all the broken links. When I am in need of a good ol’ fashioned time-waster, I click through StumbleUpon, liking things to save them for later perusal. This is where I get a lot of my best ideas, recipes, tutorials, and such.

I have close to 1200 likes. That is too many for a reasonable person to have. Witness my time-wasted shame.

Number two: I love Thai food beyond any reasonable normal human amount.

I think my love of Thai food came about in college from a very strange rule – the SPU cafeteria didn’t serve any sort of meal in the evenings on Sundays. It was sort of a nice way to give the food workers the night off. It seemed pretty inconvenient at the time, but as I look back on it now I think of all the wonderful times I had eating out with then-boyfriend C and our best friend Cynthia. I think of how much of the city we saw riding around on buses and eating in little hole-in-the-wall Mom and Pops  and fancy-ish downtown haunts (we definitely had ourselves some Cheesecake Factory on occasion). I know that some of the best college memories I have come from Sunday night dinners.

Anyway, once upon a time we walked from campus to Thai food in Fremont, and my world was opened. One Massaman curry later, Thai food became king in my heart.

So (here comes the tie-in. I know you were waiting for it), I was clicking around on StumbleUpon, and I found this post: Basically, this article explains that Thai Basil Stir fry, pad kra pao gai in Thai, is the Thai equivalent of a cheeseburger and fries. It’s the homegrown comfort food that any restaurant in Thailand should be able to make passably.

Now, the article had some guidelines for how the dish should be put together, but no real recipe. Pretty disappointing, right? Never fear,dear reader, Bonnie comes to the rescue! Combining what I learned about the dish and a couple similar recipes, I have created a great, simple, quick weeknight meal that is literally ready in ten minutes or less (plus however long it takes for your rice to cook).

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Oh Basil. Get in my mouth.

The only trick here is to add the signature basil after removing the pan from the heat. The residual heat from the pan should be enough to release the flavor without wilting the leaves and losing the basil deliciousness. It will look like a ton of leaves, but use a free hand – girl can never have too much basil in her life.

Thai basil can be a little hard to find but here is my Seattle shopping guide: Safeway is a no-go, Fred Meyer sometimes does. QFC always stocks it, but if they run out you can run over to Ballard Market on 15th and just north of Market. I would be downright shocked if you couldn’t  buy Thai basil at Met Market or Whole foods, but I haven’t looked yet. It’s worth the run around, because in the end you will have this:

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This is what is for dinner. Right now.

THAI BASIL CHICKEN (serves 2)

2 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 onion, diced
a few Thai ghost peppers, or a pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium if available)
1 or 2 packages of thai basil, or reg basil if need be, trimmed from stems
1 egg per serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, sauté until tender, about three min. Add chicken and heat until cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, and Thai peppers or red pepper flakes.
Add garlic, sugar, fish sauce, and soy. Allow to boil and reduce until thickened and sauce-like. Remove pan from heat. Add basil leaves.
Meanwhile, add 1 tsp oil to a small fry pan over medium heat. Fry egg until white is set and yolk is runny.
Serve over rice (jasmine tastes best, I think), topped with egg.

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Five Reasons You Should Be Watching Major League Soccer

C’s birthday is the Fourth of July. As I work at a coffee shop within walking distance of Gasworks Park, i.e. Ground Zero for fireworks celebrations in Seattle, I haven’t been able to celebrate his special day properly for a couple of years. Nevertheless, in an effort to be the BEST WIFE EVER I purchased C a Match Pack of Sounders tickets as his birthday gift.

Match Packs are an awesome deal – you buy 4 tickets for $15 each (regular tickets start at about $35). The tickets are extra cheap because they open up the third tier seating for games that are anticipated to be very fun and competitive, such as the rivalry game between the Sounders and the Portland Timbers.

When I bought the tickets, I expected to just sort of tag along with C at the games, feigning interest politely while C screamed enthusiastically in an adorable way.

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Enthusiasm personified

What I ended up doing is screaming, blue and green chalked hair streaming wildly, waving my “Seattle ‘til I Die” emblazoned scarf, because Goddamit, Ref,  DID YOU NOT SEE THAT HANDBALL???

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THIS IS WAR PAINT

In other words, after learning a few simple rules, you too can become a part of the amazing world of major league soccer, even if you don’t see yourself as a sports fan.

Rules are pretty simple – get the ball in the net, without using your hands, aggressively roughing up other players, or kicking the ball out of bounds. It can’t just be a long-distance kicking match between goalies, because it’s against the rules to pass to a player that is past the last defender. You have to kick it past them and run to it or dribble it around them.

There, that’s all you need to know to begin your enjoyment of a game that is central in pretty much every country in the world except this one.

“But,” you ask me skeptically, “why should I care? That’s some crazy fringe sport that only lunatics enjoy. And Good Lord, nothing even happens. Why?”

Let me tell you.

5. Two Words: Handsome. Players.

Okay, so this is mostly for my ladies. But seriously, look at this guy and tell me that you don’t want to watch him run around for 90 minutes or so until he gets sweaty and his (gorgeous) hair flops charmingly over his forehead.

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Beautiful, Perfect Brad Evans

Unlike American football players, soccer players don’t wear helmets or pads, so you get to see eleven sexy, wiry dudes play in charming knee socks unimpeded by fiberglass.

Full disclosure – sometimes soccer players have really amazing hair

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So… Beautiful…

and sometimes they have EXTRA STUPID  hair.

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Why??

Watch at your own risk.

4. Traditions

The fans at soccer events are amazing. They make enormous banners called tifos that cover the entire endzone section. They are fan sponsored. They are clever. Gaze upon the glory:

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We Shall Defeat Thee, Portland

Also a cool and charming part of the game is the fan scarves. Cheaper than a jersey, scarves are a fun spirit-laden accessory that also serves as a celebration tool. There’s basically nothing quite as satisfying as celebrating a particularly impressive goal than by whipping your scarf around in the air with 45,000 other fans.

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Perfect Scarf for this Seattle girl

There’s other great stuff too – World Cup qualifying and tournament play evokes the same nationalism and sentimentality as the Olympics, except it’s not a forgone conclusion that the US will qualify so every game is incredibly high stakes. I hugged a stranger at a bar when we qualified for Brazil 2014 and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Soccer is part of an international tradition of crazy, enthusiastic fans, but really, there’s no better place to see that happen than here in our beautiful Emerald City.

3. Low Score ≠ boring

One of the biggest objections I hear to soccer is that it must be BORING to watch a bunch of guys run around and never make anything happen, for a draw or a 1-0 result. Low scoring games are just DULL, right?

Wrong. Soccer has incredibly fast-paced, athletic games. Because each goal is so hard to get, every goal can sway to tide of the game. I’ve seen good teams find their way out of trailing by two points, but it is hard to do. Really hard. Every single goal or even goal scoring opportunity is incredibly important.

Soccer is so fun to watch because there is always something happening. All respect to good ol’ American Football (in fact, Seahawks’ star quarterback Russell Wilson is a soccer fan as well!), but I get kind of tired of watching you set up for plays, running into each other, moving forward a couple yards, and doing the same thing again. Baseball is the absolute master class in dull sports, and yet there is a baseball game playing in every divey sports bar on the planet.

Soccer is the kind of game that makes me nervous to get up to get a beer because I could miss seeing the game-changing header. It’s pure unaltered suspense. The game constantly hangs on the edge of a knife – you never know when the right player will be in the right place to make a break away. In football, once a team gets in the Red Zone, you know it’s time to pay attention. In baseball, it’s bases loaded and two outs.

In soccer, it’s every gaddanm moment.

Just like that.

2. Be an Ambassador of Awesome

Recently, C and I were jonesing for some hot wings, so we drove up to Lynwood to snarf down Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the Bosnia-Herzegovinia vs US game (at 11 in the morning). When we made our first goal in that game, C and I screamed for joy and high-fived each other – while everyone else in the sports bar looked at us like we were nuts. Hooooo Boy, they thought, look at those insane soccer fans. But after it became clear that our boys were out there fighting hard and they might actually win, two tables leaned over to us and asked us about the game. They joined right in with us to celebrate the winning goal and high-fived us on the way out.

That’s one of the coolest parts of being a soccer fan – you get to be an ambassador of the sport, just by loving something you love.

Admittedly, being a soccer fan in Seattle makes you part of one of the biggest soccer fan bases in the world. The Seattle v Portland game sold out Century Link Field. Almost 68,000 fans cheered on the Sounders as they fought in the Cascadia Cup Rivalry.  Seattle’s fan presence would make them the fifth highest attended team in the English Premier League, which is pretty darn impressive, since EPL is roughly analogous to the NFL over there.

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Seattle ’til We Die

Of course, the Sounders play in a bigger stadium than most MLS teams  – Portland sells out their stadium on the regular at about 25,000 and would probably sell a ton more if they could.

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RAVE ON

However, in the US, soccer is still relegated to a “fringe sport,” for hipsters to look down their noses at mainstream sports raking in the dolla-dolla bills. I for one, think it’s become more than that, even in just the last few years. For example, MLS attendance is roughly comparable to NHL attendance. In fact, Sounders average attendance (43,180) nearly doubles the average attendance of the highest attended NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks (21,776).

So why is it so bloody hard to watch soccer on TV? Why on earth should you have to have Fox Soccer channel or ESPN  3 or go to a very specific bar  to be able to see two teams with play-off potential duke it out for a first-place placement in front of a crowd of 50,000 plus fans?

Because the television contracts for sporting events were drawn up several years ago, and they definitely place soccer on the fringes of airtime. The good news? Those contracts are being renegotiated next year, so we may see quite a bit more airtime for MLS, especially on the West Coast.

1.    The Players love you back

Say what you will about Sounders fans (and believe me, the rest of the league has something to say about us), we just LOVE the sport. The Emerald City Supporters stand the whole game in the south end zone, beat drums and chant, leading the entire stadium in cheers that can be heard even on television.

We have an awesome pep rally called March to the Match in Occidental Park, complete with Pep band and normally a well-known local artist. Sometimes, majority shareholder Drew Carey makes an appearance. Then, a sea of fans march up to the stadium, singing and waving flags the whole time. It’s an amazing spectacle. You can tell, these are fans that love the team.

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But the players love us too. At the end of every home game, win lose or draw, the whole team gives a salute to the fans. Half of them walk off the field stripped to the waist because they gave away their jersey to a fan.

I was fortunate enough to meet our keeper Michael Gspurning, in my coffee shop. He was awesome. I thanked him for playing a shut-out. He thanked me for coming out to the match. We took a picture. He could probably tell that I fangirl shook the entire time, but he didn’t say anything. C tweeted him, and he tweeted back.

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These are the players we have. They love playing soccer, and they love playing it here in Seattle.

In Conclusion

Soccer is so fun. It really really is. Go to a game. The energy is infectious. This is a game that still needs you support.

SEATTLE ‘TIL I DIE!

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Bavarian-style Soft Pretzels – Nostalgia Food

Because sometimes ya just gotta snarf a pile of pretzels and shotgun Harry Potter movies.

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It’s basically magic. So that’s make me a wizard, right?

When I was a kid, I used to take violin lessons about 30 minutes away from my sleepy Seattle suburb in a neighboring town. Lessons were at 11am, so there was generally a post-music stop at Auntie Anne’s for lunchtime goodness. Nine-year-old me was itching to try out making the perfect things at home. (As an aside, I really wish I had a picture of nine-year-old me to accompany this post. I was gangly, awkward, had a perm growing out; it was truly a thing of beauty. Sheer, unadulterated, pre-pubescent, awkward, beauty. You’ll have to use your imagination.)

I remember trying out pretzels with my mom. A modified basic bread dough, stretched and shaped, covered in butter and popped in the oven. Yum. Except…

The recipe we had left out a crucially important step. The step that transforms butter-coated, weird-shaped rolls into gorgeous soft pretzels. We ended up with what I have come to find out are considered “knots,” soft, twisted rolls.  Not bad, mind you, but certainly not Auntie Anne. Based on this pseudo-disappointing gastronomic childhood adventure, I securely placed pretzels in the “advanced” section of cooking and never looked back.

But then there was the internet. Numerous sources told me that pretzels were fun AND attainable, so I said “Shoot, I got this.” This is definitely still a labor of love and a tad time consuming. Bread dough needs to rise at least one hour and still requires shaping into that signature pretzel heart twist. I would place this firmly in the “intermediate” category.

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Fancy scale not required (but it helps).

The secret ingredient is baking soda. And water. It is vitally important to boil each pretzel in baking soda infused water until the pretzel rises gently to the surface of its own volition before baking. Through some wizard magic, the boiling causes the dough to develop a crust that limits the rising and forces the dough to maintain the signature twisted heart shape.

Of course, you could shape this anyway you want. Makes pretzels sticks, pretzel bites, pretzel candy canes for Christmas! Or you could spell out “PROM???” in pretzels and give it to your unsuspecting crush. You’re welcome for the idea, high schoolers who read my blog.

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Bavaria would be proud.

The recipe I use uses an egg wash instead of butter, which is an easy and lower calorie way to achieve that glossy pretzel finish. Conversely, skip the egg wash and top with butter after making for optimum sticking power. Try topping with grated parmesan and garlic or cinnamon sugar if you like.

I use the LORD OF COOKING (aka Alton Brown)’s recipe for pretzels, because he knows all and I am but a humble plebeian in awe of his might.  I prefer to pair them with my own recipe for spicy cheese sauce, because you basically can’t do nostalgia without processed cheese, am I right?

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Oh, the cheesy.

Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzels

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Directions
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Jalapeno Cheese Dip
From the Kitchen of Emeralds and Ampersands

1 Tbsp Oil
1 small or ½ large onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
16oz of an easy melting cheese, such as Velveeta, American, or Monterrey Jack, shredded or sliced thinly
¼-2/3 cup milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Red pepper flakes (opt)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeno, heat until softened. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese. Stir until melted. Add milk to loosen sauce to desired consistency. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh cilantro. If jalapeno fails to provide desired kick, add a few red pepper flakes to desired spice level. Serve warm with chips or pretzels. Dip reheats well in the microwave (but it likely won’t stick around that long!).

 

EDIT:

Mom came through with some awkward photos. For your viewing pleasure:

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Observe: American Girl doll, frizzy perm hair, Violin that I was WAAAAAY into. This is perfection.

Enjoy!

Doughnuts for the Not-so-Sweet Tooth

(Can you even believe it? My First “Real Girl” post!)

Recently, I found myself with a week of vacation from coffee land. With no discernible plan, C and I took to the road, namely I-90 and 1-84, to visit our dearest friend deep in Washington’s wine country.

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This is us.

It’s a long drive, guys.

About the time we reached the “Palm Springs of Washington,” which is, I shit you not, what the tourism board of Yakima decided to put on their signs, I had seen quite a few local fruit stands. My hands were fair itching to get ahold of a flat of fresh, local peaches, if only to pare and freeze them to make a peach cobbler in December. Because peaches. Yum.

I never did get my flat of roadside peaches, but by the end of the vacation I had a much-coveted Costco membership. So, alongside half-priced gallons of gin and oil drums of mayonnaise, a flat of peaches was suddenly in my reach. And it was a thing of glory.

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Oh, the juicy sweetness

I then remembered a recipe I had saved several years ago –  Doughnut Peach Doughnuts (find the original post here ). I am not much a doughnut fan myself; my taste buds tend to swing sour or salty instead of sugary sweet, so if you’re about to skip this outright because doughnuts don’t rock your world, think again.

The peach is the doughnut.

Clearly, these are not doughnut peaches. This is my substitute for plain ol’ peaches.

Your peaches will take a delicious batter-clad journey from this:

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Peachy rings!

To the ultimate in peach heaven – crispy, juicy, sweet heaven.

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Oh. Good. Lord.

I wish I had a picture of C’s face as he ate these. I was too busy double-fisting these bad boys to grab the camera.

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I want to go to there.

In conclusion – try these. Substitute gluten-free beer and almond flour if that’s your thing. Just eat them.
Doughnut Peach Doughnuts

Adapted from Lunch at Sixpoint

3 peaches
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup beer
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 3 cups canola oil ( for frying)

For the Topping:

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Use a sharp knife to slice each peach in thirds around the pit, using care to keep the peach intact. Gently remove pit and discard. Stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the egg and the beer, and whisk until just combined. Dunk the peaches in the batter, coating each fruit. Heat the oil until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer (batter should sizzle and brown in a few seconds when dropped in oil). Transfer three peach rings into the oil, taking care to avoid oil splatters. In just a few seconds (5-10), the peaches should be golden brown. Flip peaches and allow them to brown to the opposite side. Remove them from the oil and transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain off excess oil. Repeat with the remaining peaches.
For the topping, mix together the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle some over each side of the doughnuts. Let the doughnuts stand until they are cool enough to eat, and then enjoy!

A day like no other

This is the day that I start this thing up. 

I haven’t had a blog since highschool, and let’s be real – that was kind of a long time ago at this point. I have been toying with the idea of blogging my adventures for awhile. It seems to me that there’s a lot of things I do that other people like to share in, whether it’s making a jersey tube dress out of fabric scraps, baking up some pretzels for dinner, or live-blogging a Sounders game from the stands.  This is where I’ll share DIY tutorials and tutorial reviews, recipes, life events, and occasional snarky musings.

I am Bonnie.

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This is me.

I went to a liberal arts college in Seattle and never left.  I studied voice and fashion, clearly the most practical of choices. Someday, I will go back to grad school to sing my guts out academically, but in the short term I sing with a professional choir here in my city. I am hoping to maybe get a cool blues-indie fusion project together soon,  because you know: music!
Weirdly enough, I have been doing a lot of stitching and dressmaking lately.  I really like in putting my hands into fabric and emerging with something complete. I love to work with my hands.

I am disgustingly happily married to C, my college sweetheart. 

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This is us

We live in a small one-bedroom in Ballard and dream about home-ownership in that “maybe-it-will-never-happen-but-a-girl-can-dream” kind of way. We are creators, C. and I. The whole apartment is full of his sketches and handmade furnishings, my recipes, scraps of fabric; a wedding dressed draped over a dress form in the corner.

Also, we are huge nerds. Observe:

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Whovians Rejoice!

This was my valentine from C. It says “Bonnie, I love you,” in Gallifreyan. You’re probably currently Googling that. It’s a Doctor Who reference. It is glorious.

This is my life. You come share?