Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spicy Soba Noodles

A good friend back in California recently expressed his concern that all we seem to eat around here is dessert... Now, without drawing attention to the chocolate mousse I have chilling in the fridge or the bag of gummies I'm currently snacking on, I'd like to appease his concern with a healthy and delicious meal I came up with last night: Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken.

I used a couple different recipes as my inspiration - adding some ingredients, omitting others. It works hot or cold (we ate it cold for lunch today and I almost liked it even better!), it's good for dinner or lunch, as a side-dish or main course. Soba (buckwheat) noodles fill you up without weighing you down (like after a big pasta dish), and they're good for you without tasting like health food.

So.... RK, my friend, this one's for you:

Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken
(makes approx. 6 servings)

For the sauce:

1/3 cup soy sauce
3-4 tsp chili-garlic paste
1tbsp lemon juice (plus several round slices of lemon for the chicken)
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp honey
1 tsp cayenne pepper (plus more for sprinkling on chicken)

For the noodles:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 inch piece peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced
10-12 oz Soba noodles
salt (for boiling water, and chicken)
3-4 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
oil for pan

Preheat oven to 375. Arrange chicken in baking dish, placing them on top of lemon rounds, sprinkle with salt, cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of soy sauce. Bake for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Once cool enough to handle, shred/slice into bite-sized pieces.

In a skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium heat, shaking/stirring often until just golden. Place in bowl, set aside.

Combine soy sauce, chili paste, lemon juice, olive oil, honey and cayenne. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sautee garlic, ginger for about 30 seconds, then add onion and cook until tender. Reduce heat to medium, add cabbage and scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, until tender, but still slightly crisp. Add about half the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.

While cabbage is cooking, cook soba noodles in salted boiling water (they cook fast - only about 5 minutes needed), drain, and rinse with cold water, and drain again. Combine soba noodles with vegetable mixture and add chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add additional sauce to taste.


(... and then go get an ice cream cone for dessert :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another weekend

Dinner with friends. A surprise visit from my sister-in-law. Sunshine. Ice cream cones. Not bad....

my little turtle buddies at the restaurant



first blossoms

study break

there's a gorgeous sunset happening back there
Didz has exams this week, and after that his formal classes are officially done! After that he has a few assignments and projects, a trip to China, internships all summer and beyond that is a great mystery.... Time is flying by and we're excited to see what lies ahead. He's been working so hard, I can't wait til his schedule lightens up and we can enjoy weekend afternoons on sunny patios together. 

But for the time being, we're enjoying every moment (and ice cream cone), and trying to soak it all in while we can.... Have a wonderful week! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bits of Our Weekend

As usual, the weekend flew by too quickly... and it would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite moment. Spending Friday afternoon with friends eating cupcakes and reading in the sunshine? Going out for Thai? The amazing massage my dearest friend Kirsten booked for us? Going for a lovely stroll through town and getting ice cream with Didz? The weekend was a melange of lovely little snippets.... perfect little moments that I won't soon forget...

cupcakes in the sunshine
salad with chicken breast for lunch
new fave ice cream flavor: ferrero rocher
I've noticed a trend since the weather has been changing - old people, young people, school kids, parents - EVERYONE has been walking around town with ice cream cones. It's the cutest thing. Once the weather warmed up juuuuust enough, all the ice cream shops around town opened for the season and everyone is all about it. Didz and I (in an attempt to fit in with the locals, of course) have happily joined in.

Hope you had a fabulous weekend!  

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday... it was also, magically, was the first picture perfect spring day we've had this year. I didn't do anything special, but went for a nice long walk around town soaking in the sunshine. It felt like the whole world was outside... every last inch of grass at the park was occupied by people lounging, all the outdoor cafes were bustling... I'm pretty sure everyone played hooky from work and school to spend the day in the sun. It was wonderful!

In the evening a few friends came by to drop off a gift for me - such a great surprise! (Thanks again, guys!) Didz made dinner (and did the dishes, too!) - but there was no wild party or evening out because poor old Didz had to study for an exam.... We'll make up for it this weekend, though, as the birthday celebrations continue. I did however, bake myself some cupcakes (because what's a birthday without sweet treats?). I thought about just making one, though the thought of dividing a recipe in twelfths gave me a headache... so what the hell, I made all 12 and am in the process of dying a slow, cupcakey death as I devour every last one.....

I used my darling friend Sigita's amazing Sigicakes recipe - and while they're certainly not as pretty as her perfect little cupcakes, they taste absolutely divine... I'm willing to bet even Sigi herself would think so! 

Thank you to all of you who sent birthday love yesterday... I wish we could all celebrate together and you could help me eat all these cupcakes! Sending you all a virtual hug and a glass of champagne! xo

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I feel like crepe.

Yesterday, Didz had a mid-day meeting, so I was on my own for lunch. I was out running errands and decided to grab a quick crepe from my favorite little walk-up crepe/waffle/panini stand. I ordered a ham and cheese crepe, sat down at one of the two tables they have on the sidewalk and feasted. I know we're not leaving Belgium for a little while, but already it's one of the things I'll miss most.... I should probably make the most of it while I can and go back for a sweet crepe for dessert today :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bits of Our Weekend

Our weekend didn't quite work out as planned... the surprise trip to Milan Didz had planned for my birthday had to be postponed (long story involving Didz's upcoming trip to China, the necessary visas and his passport being out of his hands).... So instead, we checked a couple things off our Brussel's To-Do List that we'd been meaning to do, including a lovely lunch at the top-floor cafe of the Musical Instrument Museum (stunning city views from there... even though it was grey and cloudy), a visit to the Magritte Museum*, and then some shopping to fill out our afternoon. A Sunday evening dinner and drink with our buddy Robbie and then curling up to watch The Thomas Crown Affair (it was too fitting after going to the Magritte museum) closed out the weekend.... It was no Milan, but but it was wonderful.

The Musical Instrument Museum

Tasting a new-to-us organic beer

Didz didn't like it

City views

The stunning side-entrance to the Magritte Museum

Delicious apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and mango custard

Didz got me birthday shoes.... love. love. love. 

I hope your weekend was lovely and delicious and almost as good as a weekend in Milan, too! 

*Mia, remember going to the Magritte exhibit at LACMA in Los Angeles 6 years ago? I couldn't help but think of that lovely afternoon while cruising through the Magritte Museum.... and to be honest, the LACMA exhibit was better than the museum here. This felt too stuffy and curated - not as playful as the exhibit in LA where they created a surrealist landscape throughout the galleries. When you come visit we can go back and compare and then critique it over a glass of wine :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Audra's Amazing Carrot Ginger Soup

The other day, I received an email from a friend back in California with a recipe for the perfect cold weather soup. At first, I laughed, because winter doesn't exist in LA my friend was probably writing to me from the beach... honestly, what does she know about chilly weather and the need for cozy comfort food?? But after reading the recipe over, I realized she was on to something and I absolutely had to make her Carrot Ginger Soup.

It was gingery and delicious and I don't think she'd mind if I shared it with you....

Audra's Amazing Carrot Ginger Soup

8 cups chicken, or vegetable stock
2 pounds fresh carrots, peeled
3 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and thoroughly cleaned
1 yam, peeled
4 stalks celery
4 tablespoons butter
1 (3 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pint heavy cream (optional)

In a large (HUGE) pot bring stock to a boil.

While stock is heating, chop all the veggies into small pieces (approx. 1/2 inch cubes)

In a large (again, HUGE) saute pan, over medium-high heat, melt half the butter. Saute the veggies with ginger and nutmeg for approximately 15 minutes, or until the veggies are browned. Add remaining butter as needed.

Add sauteed veggies to stock, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature, then puree in a blender. If you have an immersion blender, no need to wait for it to cool completely, blend away directly in the pot (***Audra's super handy trick: Thread the immersion blender through a paper plate, then blend. It keeps the splatters off the counters, and your favorite shirt... I didn't have a paper plate, and my favorite shirt now has orange polka dots***)
Add salt and pepper.

To serve, reheat, ladle into bowls, then drizzle one tablespoon of cream into each bowl.


(a few little notes: I nixed the celery, mostly because I forgot to buy it, but also Audra noted that it didn't really add that much flavor to the final product. I upped the ginger and pepper, and substituted the cream for a light topping of spring onions)

Thanks, Audra! Miss you and that California sunshine... xo