Monday, January 18, 2016

Chicken Stuffed Avocados

Here's another another guest post by my favorite baby brother, Chef Hans.  He's all grown up and doing complicated business things beyond my pay grade. 

Hi everyone, I’m back again with another guest post, and I’m excited to bring y’all my chicken stuffed avocados!

As a finance major at UT Austin, part of studying business and training for Wall Street is doing stock pitch competitions. My last stock pitch was particularly exciting since I found the stock that my team ended up pitching.
So for Chef Uy’s portfolio-savvy audience, I’m sure you’re all very curious on the winning stock? Was it a tech start-up destined to be the next Apple or an advanced drug company curing cancer? Nope …. it was an unassuming avocado producer called Calavo Growers. To illustrate how good stock picking is done, here is an in-depth, jargon-filled excerpt from my team’s decision-making process.

Chef Hans: Guys, I think we should pitch Calavo Growers. They grow avocados.
Teammate 1: So if we pick this stock, we’ll make an entire PowerPoint decorated with a bazillion avocados??
Okay, we actually did a lot more work than that. Our team spent many late nights in the finance lab slaving away in front of Excel and Bloomberg terminals. Thankfully, all our hard work paid off because my team won, so we’ll move on to New York this April for a national stock pitch!
Naturally, I had to cook something scrumptious with avocados. I decided on this recipe (adapted from Fed and Fit) because it uses some of my favorite ingredients, coconut milk and lime, and it’s really easy to make. I used up every avocado in Mom’s fridge, but it was totally worth it. :D

Chicken Stuffed Avocados

2-3 chicken thighs
5 avocados
olive oil
chicken broth
4 garlic cloves
1 can coconut milk
½ tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 limes, juiced

Sautee the garlic with the olive oil in a wide base pan until the garlic is browned. Season the chicken with a pinch of the salt before sautéing each side on the pan over medium/high heat for about 2 minutes. Pour enough chicken broth into the pan to just cover the thighs, then put a lid on the pad and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred using two forks. Add the cumin, chili powder, salt, and black pepper to the chicken and stir together.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Halve the avocados and remove avocado seeds. Stuff each of them with the chicken and then bake on the sheet for 5 minutes.

For the cream sauce, stir the can of coconut milk with the lime juice and cilantro. Drizzle the sauce on the avocados once they come out of the oven. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup with Feta and Coconut

B's roommate (a fancy writer) recently asked me "Have you ever blogged about about leftovers? Why don't you write about leftovers?"

I thought why not. Not the sexiest topic but relevant to everyone - like doing chores and paying taxes. Hence, my Dissertation on Leftovers today.

For the linguists - leftovers are the edible parts remaining after dinner (not to confuse it with the inedible parts called waste). According to Wikipedia, "The ultimate fate of leftovers depends on where the meal was eaten, the preferences of the diner, and the prevailing social culture."

Can't get more dramatic than your household's social norm determining the "ultimate fate" of your leftovers. Will you be merciful and eat it? (Perhaps, it's the food would enjoy being tossed out more...)

In our house, mom is the queen of leftovers. We have a separate freezer in our house for storing leftovers ... and other foods, as nobody in the family has any idea what mom keeps inside, including mom herself. We eat anything and everything.

New dishes made from leftovers are very common in world cuisine, given the fact that refrigeration and reliable airtight containers didn't exist until recently. Thanksgiving is infamous for leftovers, so I bring you... Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup.

Ok, don't worry the soup itself isn't from Thanksgiving but this soup is made from nonperishable ingredients  - canned pumpkin, frozen butternut squash, chicken broth - which I've accumulated in between interview season during the holidays and wanted to use up. Mission accomplished. Recipe loosely adapted from Ina Garten

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onions, chopped
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk, plus extra for garnish
feta cheese and fresh thyme, to garnish

In an oven/ toaster oven, preheat to 400 F. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the butternut squash and roast for about 25 min until toasted.

Heat the oil in a stockpot, add and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree, roasted butternut squash, chicken stock, and spices. Cover and simmer over medium - low heat for about 15 minutes. Add coconut milk to thicken; add more to desired creaminess. Use an immersion blender or carefully pour soup into a blender (let soup cool prior, so it doesn't damage the blender) to puree the soup. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, adjusting spices as preferred.

When ready to serve the soup, top generously with feta cheese and add a few sprigs of thyme. Enjoy!
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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dulce de Lovely

Matching to residency, getting married, getting my M.D., moving to a new home? That's the goals! Let 2016 be the year of the Natticakes! Here's a special guest poster to kick off an exciting new year - my sister, Chef Stephanie (aka Sherbet). 

Hi everyone, this is Chef Stephanie with my first guest post! I’m Natalie’s younger sister and her baking partner when she’s home.

It's New Year’s Eve, and we're waiting to watch for the Ball to drop on TV.  All we needed was a shot (or two) of alcohol to celebrate the New Year. And since it’s New Year’s Eve, we also needed some caffeine to stay up later than usual... my caffeine of choice: coffee.

It's an understatement I'm obsessed with coffee. We just went to the city coffee festival not long after New Years and that was like heaven. I had waited over a year for this festival since I was working last festival in 2014; in 2015 it was rained out (to my great distress) and then it got rescheduled to early 2016.

This coffee cocktail recipe (from my Dessert Cocktail Swatchbook) is aptly called Dulce de Lovely.
Going back to the last day of 2015, in the end, the dessert cocktail did its thing. We stayed up past midnight…and crawled into bed around 2am New Year’s Day.  Happy New Year!

Dulce de Lovely*

Splash of half and half (or milk)
Dulce de leche (or caramel syrup)
½ cup of hot black coffee
2 oz kahlua
2 oz vodka
Whipped cream

*Makes 1 serving

In a saucepan over medium heat combine half and half and ducle de leche, stirring until combined. Stir in coffee, kahlua and vodka. Pour into warmed mug and garnish with whipped cream. Enjoy!

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