I have been craving Coconut Chicken Soup for weeks, but could not bring myself to walk down to my local Thai restaurant and spend $7.00 on a small bowl of soup. I looked around for some recipes and found this one from foodnetwork.com.

1 quart chicken stock

1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife

3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn

1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, rinsed

4 limes, juiced

1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilies, and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.

Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, lime juice, and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into a soup tureen or individual serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger, or lime leaves.

What! This recipe was way over my head (and my small kitchen). I still decided to give it a try. My first challenge came when I stepped foot into Kroger. Where do I find these ingredients? I spent about an hour walking around trying to locate the items and finally gave up. I ended up not using lime leaves or Thai chilies. I also did not buy any cilantro for a garnish.

All went according to plan as I started cooking. This recipe used a lot of dishes and pans! All in all, it came out ok. I had never used fresh ginger before and ended up with more of a ginger soup with a slight coconut flavor. Final cost was $9.64. Not too bad considering it made a lot! However, I don’t think I will do this again. Does anyone have an easier recipe?

Runtime Error?

April 29, 2008

Does anyone know why I would be getting a Runtime Error when I try to save a document in Mircrosoft Word? I have tried to Google it and had some luck. It told me to check my COM add ins. I did everything it said, but I did not see a place to disable the add ins. I have a couple blog posts I want to share with you, but they are stuck in MS Word! I am going to spend as much time tonight fixing the problem as I can. Until then, have fun playing the stupid pig game!

http://www.stupid.com/games/feedthepig/

Angel’s BBQ has the link on their website. Be careful, it can get addictive!! (Both the game and Angel’s BBQ)

Pizza Dough and Sauce

April 22, 2008

First of all, I need to apologize to all of you for my lack of posts. I have been running around like a crazy person for the last couple weeks. I realized, thanks to some emails and posts, I never gave you my pizza dough and pizza sauce recipe! How can you make home made pizza without dough and sauce!

The dough recipe I use makes a nice thick crust. I originally found it for make two pie, but have adopted it to make one large pie. I have a pizza stone that has a diameter of 15 inches. This barely fits into my small apartment size oven! If you do not have a pizza stone, I recommend getting one. If you don’t want to buy one, I have heard that unglazed tiles can be used. You can place the tiles side by side to create a pizza stone. This might be useful to my construction friends that have easy access to tiles. As far as the dough recipe goes, this is what I use…

  1. Follow the directions on your yeast package. This normally is putting the yeast into warm water (100-110 degrees) and adding sugar (1 teaspoon). When the mixture at least doubles, it is ready.
  2. Put 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the yeast mixture and about ¾ cup water.
  3. Stir this mixture just to make to soft. (might need more flour)
  4. Take the dough out and kneed it on a floured surface. Don’t do it for too long, about 5 minutes. (Don’t be afraid to use more flour!)
  5. Oil a bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl to with plastic wrap and let it sit till it at least doubles in size.
  6. Punch it down and it is ready to go!

Pizza Sauce is really a personal preference. I like mine with a little extra garlic. If you go to the store you will find many different pre-made pizza sauces. I find all of these very over priced! A basic pizza sauce that can be customized started with this basic recipe…

  1. 6 oz of tomato paste (luckily this is one can)
  2. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  3. ½ teaspoon basil
  4. ½ teaspoon oregano
  5. 1-2 medium cloves of garlic
  6. ½ teaspoons of salt
  7. ¼ cup of olive oil
  8. ½ cup water

All you have to do it mix the ingredients together and you have a wonderful pizza sauce. Feel free to change the amounts of any of the ingredients. For example, I like to add more garlic and oregano to mine. I found that the water is just used to make the texture right.

Let me know if you give this a try! I have always had great luck with this!

Any Ideas?

April 18, 2008

Sorry I have not posted much this week. I just got back from Jacksonville Florida, where I was at a conference. I learned a lot, but time to get back to business.

I was thinking about giving Solitary Refinement a make over. What would all of you like to see on this site? I was thinking about adding some side bars with links and other good stuff. What do you like or dislike about the site now? I need some feed back to make it better. Any ideas would be great. Thanks!!

Pineapple and Ham Pizza

April 14, 2008

I think I am finally getting this pizza thing down! I really let the dough rise a long time before punching it down. I added a lot more garlic to my sauce, and was very generous with the toppings. This one is a pineapple and ham pizza. I put the toppings under the cheese just to try something different. I found having the cheese on top kept the topping in place when I cut it. What do you think?

Starland Farmers Market

April 10, 2008

Great news for all of you that live in Savannah. The Starland Farmers Market will be open again starting April 26th! They will be open from 9am till noon every Saturday. Last year I found some awesome vegetables and fruit for great prices. The best part is everything comes from local farmers and growers. It is not as big as the Garden City Farmers Market, but is more convenient for anyone that lives Downtown. If anyone wants to go drop me a line and I will join you. Here is a link if you want to take a look.

After I finished writing this post I remembered a fun story from my last trip the the Farmers Market. I bought some okra and was going to fry it for a special dinner side dish. The last time I had cooked fried okra my Father had helped me out. I thought I could remember how he did it, but I was so wrong! I cut all the okra up into the perfect little slices and started to add salt. I guess I went way over board on the salt! The first small batch that came out of the frying pan was so salty that I had to spit it out. I tried adding sugar to cut the bit, but even that did not work. I think I ended up washing all the okra again and frying it. It was still very very salty. This year I will try and get my Father’s recipe. I don’t know what he does, but it is the best fried okra I have ever had!

Go Up Young Man!

April 9, 2008

As most of you know I have a very small apartment. Space is at a premium! I was looking around my kitchen the other day trying to figure out how to add more storage space. Every drawer and cupboard was full. Then I remembered reading some articles about how to maximize space in a small apartment. It said to always “look up”. Space on walls and ceilings are rarely used and can hold lots of items. I saw that I had the perfect wall for a pot rack. I had never bought a pot rack before and had no idea how much they cost. Boy, I sure was surprised when the first one a saw was $1,500! I thought maybe I had made a mistake on this idea. The more I searched I finally found some very well priced racks. I really did not want to spend very much. I finally decided on this one. For only $19.99 plus shipping I had a nice 30 inch bar rack.

This has freed up so much space in my drawers. I know it looks like it is only holding a few pans right now, but that opened up 1 whole drawer for me to use for other things. I also like the way it looks. It is very easy to install. Just make sure you use anchors or find two good studs to secure it to. You would not want your pots and pans to fall off the wall!

I found this recipe on Cheapcooking.com and decided to give it a try. It sounded real easy and different for chili. I have never found chili difficult, but the less clean up the better. Not only was this dish easy, it also tasted great. I decided to double the recipe because I wanted to give Mr. and Mrs. P some. I think they both liked it as well. Here is the recipe (not doubled)…

1 pound browned ground beef
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/2 cup salsa (or more if you like it saucy)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

Condiments

grated Cheddar cheese
sour cream
diced onion

Mix all the chili ingredients together. Simmer on the stove for 30 minutes or cook in the crockpot on low for 2-6 hours. (It’s pretty flexible.)

It is also very cheap! Here is the price break down (doubled)…

2 lbs ground beef $3.78

30oz black beans $1.04

30oz kidney beans $1.04

½ cup taco seasoning $0.78

Salsa $2.00

30oz tomato sauce $1.00

Cheddar cheese $1.99

Sour cream $1.16

Total $12.79

Doubling the recipe made a lot! Luckily that gives me plenty for lunch during the week. I also skipped the diced onion as a condiment. Here it is…

I sure liked it!

Some Links

April 4, 2008

As a try to get things back to normal here, I thought I would share some helpful links with you. I came across this great website call cheapcooking.com. There are some good recipes on the site as well as other helpful information. I have also fell in love with cooking whole chickens. I am still having a hard time cutting them up though. I found this video on PBS on how to cut a chicken up. I also stumbled across this website call The Simple Dollar. It has some good ideas on how to save money. What am I going to be doing this weekend? This!

A New Couch!

April 3, 2008

Well, technically it is a love seat, but I still love it! I needed something better than a futon to sit and watch TV. I took the advice of Mr. P. and went to Big Lots. I found this love seat on sale and am very happy with it.

This is just first of many changes I will be making to my apartment. On the list are new bed sheets, pot and pan rack for the kitchen, new shower mat, and a fresh paint job. These should keep me busy for some time.

The couch has been a great purchase. It is very comfortable and looks great in my apartment.