“Healing” Panang Curry 2 Ways — Traditional and Soup

Panang Curry Soup


Traditional Panang Curry with Shrimp

(Becky, the Mama.)

A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically.  (Or worse, “My child will never…..”)   And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.

For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I  forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.

I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above  plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus.  By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all.  (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)

My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.

In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.

First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks.  The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties.  It  contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch.  It was love at first bite.  It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.

It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe.   I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.


Panang Curry with Shrimp

Panang Curry with Shrimp

“Healing” Panang Curry Soup

Serves 4


1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).

1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)  — use 3/4 c  if you prefer to make the thicker curry version

½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)

1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)

1 t. brown sugar

Soy sauce or sea salt  to taste

1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)

1 large clove garlic

1 T. olive or coconut oil

1 T. butter

2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)

1 c. loosely packed, torn kale

1 fresh chopped tomato

2 sliced green onions

Slice of lime

Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish

Protein of your choice:  grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2  to 1 cup depending on preference.  I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I  like the veggies taking center stage in this soup.  You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein.  For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)


Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through.  Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.

Variation:  To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes.  Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry.  You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale.  Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry.  To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.

Panang Curry Soup




This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
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The Title: “healing” Panang Curry Soup
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Breakfast Oatmeal

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Oatmeal topped with Maple Cinnamon Coconut Milk. Scrumptious!

(Rachel, the daughter)

Jackson, my almost one-year old is becoming a little boy with a mind and will all of his own.

This morning while feeding him his breakfast of sweet potato oatmeal with coconut milk, he flat out refused to take a bite. He locked his lips, grabbed the spoon from me, sloshed his oatmeal around, then offered me a bite. I obliged with a convincing “Nom, nom, yumm, yumm,” lip-smacking display as I pretended to take a bite. Then I offered him a bite. He didn’t buy it.

Again, he held the spoon to my mouth. I took a little bitty nibble off the end of the spoon and offered him the same. He took one teeny tiny nibble, then lifted the spoon back to my mouth. “Fine, I’ll take a bite and you’ll see how delicious it is,” I told him. So I took a big bite and was surprised at how delicious it actually was. I smacked my lips and let out a genuine “Nom, nom, yumm, yumm,” and offered him another bite. He cleaned his spoon and proceeded to finish the whole bowl.

So Jackson, apparently, has decided, If she won’t eat it, I’m not eating it. I don’t blame him. Some things people feed babies are just offensive. Thankfully, I mostly stick to this rule anyway, often just giving him a serving of whatever I’m eating.

I liked the breakfast I had made for Jackson so much that after he cleaned his bowl, I went back to the stove and made myself a version of his sweet potato and coconut milk oatmeal.

This could be enjoyed in any of it’s three stages, 1) off the stove top as a bowl of warm oatmeal, 2) as a breakfast bake with a crunchy pecan pie topping, or 3) with a drizzle of coconut maple syrup poured on top. Any version will have you saying “Nom, nom, yumm, yumm.”

The casserole is perfect for bringing to a friend (everyone brings dinner, but what about bringing the most important meal of the day to a new mom or family in need?), or to a breakfast meeting. It’s dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free (if you don’t use soy milk and you use soy-free Earth Balance), and can easily be made gluten-free by using gf oats and omitting the wheat germ.

Delicious on it’s own, but taken to a whole new level of yumminess with warm maple cinnamon coconut milk drizzled on top.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Breakfast Oatmeal

Makes two large servings (as a main entree) or four smaller servings


Sweet Potato Oatmeal
1 c. water
1 c. milk or unsweetened nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/4 t. salt
1 c. old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 c. cooked sweet potato*
1/4 c. golden raisins (optional)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. maple syrup

Pecan Pie Topping
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 T. wheat germ (could omit or replace with a few more pecans if you don’t have on hand or to make gluten-free)
1 T. soy-free Earth Balance (or butter)
1 T. brown sugar

Maple Coconut Drizzle
3 T. Coconut Milk (full fat from a can)
1 T. maple syrup
1/4 t. cinnamon

*Next time you’re baking sweet potatoes, bake an extra one, mash it up and freeze it in ice cube trays. Pop them out and store in a plastic baggie to have on hand for recipes like this any time you need them.


1). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Stir in oatmeal, reduce to medium heat and add the remaining ingredients.Cook for about 7 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (You could stop now and serve this as is and it would be delicious.)

Pour the oatmeal into either oven safe individual serving bowls (divided) or a small casserole dish.

2) In a small bowl, use your fingers to combine pecans, wheat germ, brown sugar, and Earth Balance. Sprinkle it over the top of the oatmeal and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy on top. (You could stop now and serve as is and it would be delicious, a perfect dish to bring for a potluck breakfast.)


Creamy sweet potato oatmeal with a crunchy golden pecan topping. Serve it as is or jazz it up with a drizzle of warm cinnamon maple coconut milk.

3) Combine coconut milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds. Drizzle on top of oatmeal right before eating.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Breakfast Oatmeal
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-w9
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

Pina Colada Shrimp Kabobs

Pina Colada Shrimp Kabobs

(Becky — The Butter Lovin’ Mama)

Those who know me well know that I have a tough time remembering where I put things.  It isn’t early onset dementia, unless it set upon me at age thirteen. For me, the arrival of puberty came with an extra dose of ditziness that has never gone away.  So if I ever do slip into true senility, I’m not sure  anyone will actually notice. 

Just this past week I was serving lunch to some girlfriends and confessed, “I’ve lost my kiwi.” 

“Is that a euphemism for ‘you lost your marbles’?” one gal asked.

“No,  I wanted to serve you all a special dessert with strawberries and kiwi, but I have no clue where I put the kiwi.  So strawberries it is!”

The mystery kiwi showed up a few days later, nestled near the  small potatoes in the pantry.  As my husband was searching in that very same pantry a few hours later, he hollered, “I found a glass of tea on a shelf in here!”  I lose glasses of tea and cups of coffee so often that I rarely bother looking for them.  I just make another cup or glass, sure that eventually the missing ones will show up.  But who knows where? Or why?  

This week I bought an entire bunch of celery and believe it or not, also lost that.  Three days later I found it: in my computer bag.  The stalks were a little limp, but still salvageable.  (Just don’t tell my daughter I said that.) How it got there?  No clue.  The things I do unaware, astound even me.

Functioning with a brain like this is a bit of a challenge, some days more than others. On days when I’ve “lost my kiwi” (speaking metaphorically now), I sure don’t need a long complicated recipe for dinner.  This recipe for pina colada shrimp is one of my new favorite go-to meals for otherwise complicated days.  It is super fast, just a few ingredients, incredibly easy and so yummy, you’ll want to lick the platter clean.  Sweet/salty, rich and creamy…it will take you to Hawaii in your mind.  It pairs perfectly with a side of rice pilaf and a bright green veggie like broccoli or asparagus. (Just make sure you store your green veggies in the crisper and not in your computer bag.)

Becky’s Pina Colada Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 2-4 depending on appetites, and size of shrimp


24 medium shrimp, raw, peeled. (Thread six shrimp on each of 4 skewers.)

2 slices of fresh pineapple cut in about 1 inch pieces (canned will also work, but not quite as tasty as fresh)

4 t. coconut oil

4 t.  soy sauce

1/2 c. pineapple juice

1/2 c. coconut milk (From a can, usually near Asian aisle at grocery.  Get full fat, not the “lite” kind.)

2 t. brown sugar


Mix soy sauce and pineapple juice in a large measuring cup,  to make a marinade.  Pour 1/2 the marinade over the shrimp kabobs (in a large shallow pan) and let sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Reserve the rest of the marinade for use later in the recipe.

In a grill pan or large skillet, heat the coconut oil on the stove top to medium high. Lay marinated shrimp on skewers in the pan, alongside the pineapple pieces.  Cook shrimp until pink and turn over.  Turn over the pineapple when it gets golden brown marks on it.  Cook until both sides of the shrimp and pineapple are done.  Remove shrimp and pineapple to a plate and cover to keep warm.

In the same skillet or grill pan, add the remaining marinade along with coconut milk and. brown sugar.  Heat until bubbly and creamy. 

Arrange shrimp kabobs and pineapple on a serving plate (as shown in picture) and pour sauce over all.  You can also put on a bed of rice if you like, and decorate with broccoli flowerets or other bright-colored steamed veggies around the edges.


Skip the skewers and saute shrimp and pineapple together in a pan, mix with sauce and serve over rice. Garnish with toasted coconut and chopped macadamias or cashews.

Vegans &  Vegetarians: Alternate pieces of firm tofu or vegan meatballs or sausages with slices of red pepper and sweet onion in place of shrimp.  Marinate and proceed with recipe above. Garnish with chopped macadamia nuts.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Pina Colada Shrimp Kabobs

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-m0

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

Quicky Sticky Jasmine Rice & Mango

Becky's Quicky Sticky Jasmine Rice & Mango

Yesterday was my birthday, which means I’m only two years away from being able to answer the question, “Do you qualify for the senior discount?” in the affirmative.

The first time I say, “Yes, I’m officially old” to the kid behind the counter, you can be sure there will be salty tears stirred into my 20% Off Cup o’ Joe. (I know, the fact that I refer to coffee as “Joe” already dates me somewhere pre-WW2. But I thought I’d start practicing speaking Old People Talk. I want to get a leg up on fitting in with the AARP’s version of high school seniors as we gather in packs at the mall — before it opens, wearing sensible shoes and fanny packs, to walk around it ten times.)

But before I hit the ol’ double nickel birthday, I’d like to give anti-aging my very best shot. I am friends with and have worked with brain doc and Public Television guru, Dr. Daniel Amen. His latest book, Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, is packed full of research, stories and tips to stay young. If I were forced to sum up the entire book in two points, it would be:

1) Eat nutrition-packed, brain-healthy food. (Colorful fruits and veggies are our best friends in the anti-aging/anti-disease corner.)

2) Exercise. (Walking 30 minutes a day five times a week wards off dementia like a miracle drug.)

In August, I started a regular exercise routine, and though I am no where near svelte, I like the endorphin rush from moving in the morning, know I’m getting blood flow to my brain, and feel my endurance improving. Thanks to my Darling Daughter the Vegan, I’m discovering all sorts of yummy, creative ways to put more antioxidant-rich plant-based foods into my day. Yesterday, I decided to start my new birthday year off by becoming an EOD Vegan: Every Other Day Vegan. Periodically, I’ll report in and let you know if I’m aging backwards or losing any of my ample backside.

Thai food is one of my favorite vegan-friendly sources and last week I enjoyed a lunch of two amazing hot-spicy curries with my friend Lucille. When the waitress asked if we’d like to try Sticky Rice and Mango, since the mangoes are in season and “oh so sweet!” – we were game. And boy, am I glad we were. Fresh sliced mango with a side of almost translucent slightly sweet “sticky rice,” with a warm creamy coconut sauce over all, was delicious.

Making Thai sticky rice involves more time and contraptions than I’m willing to give or buy, but we adore Jasmine rice that I make in my $13.00 rice maker purchased at Wal-mart.

My cheap little beloved rice maker

(Commercial here: rice makers are awesome! You just pour in the rice and water, flip a switch and no burned rice, just perfect little fluffy grains, and all in about 15 minutes.) So I invented the following “Quicky Sticky Jasmine Rice & Mango” recipe – which I liked just as well as the original Thai dish. It makes a light, sweet ending to a Spring or Summertime meal.

Quicky Sticky Jasmine Rice & Mango

Serves 8


1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice (Jasmine rice imparts an amazing aroma and taste.)
1 ¼ cup water
1 can coconut milk, full fat (will be divided)
2 T. organic sugar
4 small mangos
Optional: 2 T. shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, divided.
¾ t. salt, divided
About 8 mint leaves for garnish


Into rice cooker (or pan, if you are cooking the rice on the stove top), put jasmine rice, ½ t. salt, water and ½ cup coconut milk and 1 T. coconut if you like. (Use mostly the liquid portion of the coconut milk to go into the rice, saving the majority of rich cream that rises to the top of the can, for the sauce.)

Into a small sauce pan, pour the rest of the coconut milk/cream from the can. Add 2 T. sugar, and if desired, 1 T. of shredded coconut, and ¼ t. salt. Stir and heat until creamy hot and sugar is dissolved. Set aside to let warm slightly.

Peel and slice mangoes, arranging them on pretty plates. You can cut them any way you like, but as you see in the picture, I cut them near to the seed, in two halves, then sliced the halves but keeping the shape intact. The dish in this pictures is enough to serve two, so I used one small mango for two people.

When the rice is done, ladle about ½ cup of the sweetened warm coconut milk over it, and stir. This will help make it “sticky.”

Pack the rice, about 1/3 cup or so, into a small cup (I used a Japanese tea cup that I first sprayed with vegetable oil), carefully turning upside down onto the plate next to the sliced mango.

Rice packed into small cup, ready to turn upside down on plate

Ladle some of the coconut milk over the rice and drizzle on mango as well. Serve any leftover coconut sauce on the table to let the guests serve themselves more if they like. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Variations: Try with other tropical fruit like pineapple or banana. Berries would also be yummy.  Makes a delicious light breakfast as well. Try with brown Jasmine rice.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Quicky Sticky Jasmine Rice & Mango
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/18/quicky-sticky-jasmine-rice-mango

Refreshing Mandarin Orange & Pineapple Cake (Vegan Friendly)


One warm day when my daughter Rachel was about fourteen, she bounced in the kitchen and said, “Mom, you have GOT to get the recipe for this cake called ‘Refreshing Cake’ that Cricket’s mom made today. It was cold and full of fruit and not too sweet, and creamy… and I want it for my birthday cake.”

Cricket was one of Rachel’s best friends, and luckily her mom was the sweet-natured recipe-sharing sort,  so her recipe for “Refreshing Cake” (made with cake mix, eggs, pudding mix, a cup of oil, canned fruit and Cool Whip) showed up not only at birthdays, but was our go-to Spring and Summer dessert for family gatherings.

Then Rachel grew up, married, and became a vegan, bravely waving good-bye to many of her favorite desserts made with lots of dairy and eggs.

I, too, became more health conscious in my own way. I grew up in the 70’s when our collective moms (prompted by TV and the health advice de jour) stocked the kitchen with the latest new-fangled foods: Fresca,  Tang (Why drink OJ from an actual orange when you can drink orange flavored sugar water?), margarine, IMO (A sour cream substitute. What those initials stood for is still a government secret.), saccharine, Mellorine (an artificial ice cream that melted into tile grout) and Cool Whip,  that luscious tub full of hydrogenated oil and air!

We were a generation of kids raised on NASA and  chemicals, basically eating astronaut food.

(I must hasten to add that my mother turned into something of a health nut in the decade of the 80’s, and has remained healthily and happily so ever since.)

But somewhere along the way to adulthood, I tasted real butter and ice cream (Blue Bell), promptly fell in love with the real McCoys, and began cooking with all things “natural.”

Now recipes with “artificial food” ingredients leave a slight chemical aftertaste in my mouth,  not to mention an ache in my tummy.

But with the coming of Spring, visions of that moist pineapple and Mandarin orange cake, with its pineapple-whippy-pudding frosting started dancing in my head again. Along with the thought, “I wonder if I could create a ‘real food’  vegan-friendly version of this cake that doesn’t taste like fruit flavored mashed tofu and lentils?”

I’m pleased to say that with a quick trip for a couple of specialty items at Whole Foods, I produced a Refreshing Cake that is not only chemical free, organic and vegan… it tastes better than the original to me. No weird aftertaste, no achy tummy.  Just a pure “real food” moist, yummy cake.

It would also make a great make-ahead cake for Easter lunch or dinner. A little preview tip: two cans of whole full fat coconut milk will need to go in your fridge overnight before making the recipe. This allows the “cream” to solidify and rise to the top so you can skim it off and whip it!

Becky’s Refreshing Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Cake

Serves 9 to 12, depending on size of pieces


Some of the ingredients for “Better for You” Refreshing Cake

For Cake:

Dr. Oetker’s Organic Vanilla  Cake Mix,  (This mix has no dairy or eggs in the mix, so if you don’t add any, it can be vegan.)

4 eggs (Vegans use egg-replacer equal to 4 eggs.  You can click on link for recipe or buy “egg-replacer” in a box at most health food stores.)

1/2 c. coconut oil

1/2 c. applesauce (you may also use another 1/2 c. of canola or coconut oil instead, but applesauce makes it lighter in calories)

1  11 ounce can Mandarin Oranges with juice

For Frosting:

2 16 oz. cans full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in fridge. (You will only use the coconut cream that rises to the top.)  If you prefer dairy,  you can use 1 c. whipping cream instead.  Or 1 can of coconut cream and 1/2 c. whipping cream combined which is what I use most often as it seems to render the best of both!

1/2 c. vegan vanilla pudding mix (I used about half a package of Mori Nu vanilla pudding mix. If you aren’t vegan you can use any 3 1/2 oz. package of instant vanilla pudding mix.)

1 28 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 c. raw organic sugar or agave nectar

2 t. good vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cake,  mix the organic cake mix with eggs or egg-replacer of your choice, coconut oil and applesauce. When thoroughly blended, fold in mandarin oranges with juice,  breaking gently as you stir. Pour batter into an 11 by 13 inch pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cake springs back to touch in the middle. Cool and refrigerate until cool to the touch before frosting.

Refreshing Cake before frosting

Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream as you would cream until it has the consistency of whipped cream.  (Or if you prefer to use dairy, whip 1 c of heavy cream. I often use half coconut cream and have whipping cream.)  Add 1/2 c. of vegan pudding mix (save rest for another cake, another day:)  and continue to beat.  Add vanilla and 1/4 c organic sugar or agave.   Fold in the can of well-drained can of pineapple.  ( Really squeeze the juice out, pushing pineapple against the colander holes.)   Keep in fridge until you are ready to frost.  If frosting feels too thick, add a little pineapple juice until it has the consistency of easy-to-spread, slightly stiff,  whipped cream. If too thin, let it set in fridge for up to an hour and it should thicken.

Whipped Coconut Cream with Pineapple folded in

When the cake is chilled,  frost with coconut-cream-pineapple frosting. You may want to garnish with a little flaked coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge until you are ready to serve. I think this cake tastes even better the next day or two as flavors have a chance to chill and mingle.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Refreshing Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Cake (Vegan Version)
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/04/refreshing-mandarin-orange-pineapple-cake