Avocado Toasts with Poached Eggs

I love brunch!! Breakfast is awesome, but it usually ends up more about efficiency than execution or awesomeness.  My typical breakfasts are a rotating cycle of yogurt and granola, oatmeal, apple slices and peanut butter, and smoothies.  Ya know, easy things that take less than 5 minutes and fuel you up in a sufficient & efficient manner.  They may do the trick on a week-day morning, but none of these items are “brunch worthy.”

Brunch should be moderately more time consuming, have a slightly impressive presentation, require guest participation/customization, and be easy to serve in large quantities.

Pancakes, waffles, or french toast bars are brunch mainstays with good reason!  Customizable toppings mean there is something for everyone. And, if you whip out the griddle, you can crank out some serious volume!  Or there is always the egg casserole option (the spongy Easter brunch tradition and my least favorite).  Who can forget the classic omelette bar, but lets face it, it’s hard to make omelette orders for a large group!

Enter the Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs.

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A post on a recipe where the 3 main ingredients are in the title seems a little unnecessary, but I love this dish as a brunch for so many reasons!  First, this recipe is impossible to mess up….  Ok, well maybe not impossible, since poaching eggs isn’t always as easy as it sounds.  Secondly, everyone can participate in its creation by delegating the toasting, chopping, and assembly.  When everyone is gathered around my kitchen island working on a component of the meal, it feels like the event is more about the coffee, tea, and company than it does about the elaborate prep-work of an intentionally impressive spread.  I love this approach whether its family who comes over all the time or new friends who aren’t an sure-footed in the environment – nothing breaks the ice like teamwork.  Depending on the crowd, the dynamic may differ but the result is the same: a low key, low pressure brunch.

Delegating this meal is simple.  I usually poach the eggs and delegate the other tasks, but if in the presence of an egg poaching pro, I am happy to step aside!  Cutting crusty french bread and slicing avocado are both simple, delegate-able tasks.  So is manning, checking, and flipping the toast slices under the oven broiler.  Final assembly and seasoning is a snap! With a couple words of instruction, my kitchen-challenged brother was topping these with the final seasonings like a pro!  Sometimes I wonder why I bother with elaborate menus and impressive spreads.  This is more fun and just as tasty.

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Even if you have a large crowd, this recipe will work!  A large cookie sheet and the broiler of your oven, allows you to toast many servings at once.  If you need to poach eggs in batches, a shallow baking dish like a 9×13 covered in foil will keep the eggs the right amount of warm, or stick the 9×13 in a 200 degree oven if you are concerned.

On a tangental note: One quick word to those who feel that all toast is created equal.  I am here to bust that bubble and tell you that only a French-style crusty loaf will do.  No sandwich bread.  Not even nutty, seedy whole wheat (although in other circumstances, I love whole wheat toast).  Do as the Parisians do and make a special trip if you have to.  With simple dishes like this, quality matters even more!

Avocado Toasts with Poached Eggs

Servings: Totally customizable, but the quantities below are based on 4 servings

Serving suggestion: one egg per toast, two toasts per guest

Total time: 10 minutes (unless working in batches for large group)

  • 1 crusty loaf of bread, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 large avocados
  • 8 eggs (I prefer the taste of grain-fed, organic brown eggs)
  • Water
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika

In a large skillet, add enough water to measure a depth of approximately 3/4-1 inch.  Add in 2 tsp. vinegar and bring to a slow simmer and cover pan.

While water is being brought to a simmer, arrange toasts on large baking sheet.  Move oven rack to upper position.

Chop avocados into thin slices or mash, if you prefer.

Poach eggs. Use a large kitchen ladle to cup the egg while immersing in the water.  Keep egg inside ladle to help it keep its shape during the first few seconds of poaching.  Do not crowd the pan.  My skillet can cook about 4-5 eggs at once.  Depending on the size of your group, this will likely require working in batches or using two large skillets to prep eggs.  Watch eggs closely and make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Eggs will cook the most quickly with the lid of the pan on.  After about 90 seconds flip the eggs.  And cook for around 30 more seconds.  Transfer to foil covered 9×13.

While eggs are poaching, use the broiler to make the toasts.  Flipping after the top side is sufficiently toasted.

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Top the toasts with around 1/8-1/4 avocado per slice of toast and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Add one poached egg to the top, another sprinkle of salt and petter, and a generous sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Serve immediately!

 

 

 

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo

Question: Now truly, who doesn’t love a good Fettuccine Alfredo?

Not many people I know.

Question: Who loves the massive amounts of calories and empty carbs that typically accompany this dish?

Hmm…. I don’t see nodding heads.  Me neither.

The truth is that I love Alfredo sauce, and since I’m italian, I think my veins are even made out of pasta.  But, in this land of healthy eating, Alfredo sauce and pasta don’t get a seat at the table.  Until now…..

Pull out that immersion blender and get ready to puree some spinach, kale, avocado, and a little plain yogurt or low fat sour cream.  Because my friends, not only is this dish healthier, but it is also easier!!!  No finicky consistency to worry about here!

And what about the noodles?  Whole wheat fettuccine or linguine noodles are easy to come by these days (these are what I usually use), or treat yourself and go for traditional fresh hand-cut fettuccine noodles (for extra deliciousness!).

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Well if this isn’t the strangest mishmash of ingredients known to man, then I don’t know what is.  Oh my goodness!  But, please, please, don’t judge this book by its  very, very green cover because I cannot even explain how tasty this dish is.  Although it is mostly vegetables, it tastes nothing like vegetables. I promise!  Its just creamy, saucy goodness over here.  It is the unicorn of pastas: healthy and tasty!  Excuse me while I slurp up some more noodles.  *Sauce dripping from chin.*

I feel like a formal introduction is probably necessary here.  Ya’ll meet the guilt-less pasta dish that is kid, vegetable-hater, picky-eater, & picky-husband approved.  Now that we are all acquainted…..

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo

Total time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 as a main, 4 as a side

Special Equipment: Immersion Blender

  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed chopped flat leaf kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water, one tbl. at a time
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbl. butter
  • 2 tbl. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or low fat sour cream
  • 1 avocado, lightly mashed
  • 8oz. whole wheat fettuccine or linguine noodles (cooked to al dente)
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large skillet, add spinach, kale, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, about 1/2 of water.  Cook on medium with lid closed,  tossing occasionally until greens have turned a nice dark green color.

Transfer greens and all cooking liquids to a heat proof mixing container.  Using immersion blender, blend until smooth and well integrated (or use a traditional blender).  This will take less than a minute.

Reduce heat to low, and using the same skillet melt the butter.  When melted, whisk in flour.  Slowly whisk in blended greens mixture.  Add more water if necessary.

Remove from heat and add avocado.  Blend with immersion blender until combined.  Then mix in sour cream or yogurt.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Finally toss sauce with noodles and top with parmesan cheese.   

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Warm Mushroom Tapenade

Why did the mushroom get invited to the party? …… Because he’s a fungi!  *Cue cheesy, bad joke pity laughter.*  But seriously, why have a party without mushrooms?  They are a great solution when you have vegetarian guests.  They soak up flavor wonderfully while adding a unique flavor profile to any dish.

I love mushrooms.  A lot.  Part of the reason is their versatility.  The seasonal varieties are numerous.  The fungi family offers a variety of textures and tastes, ranging from a mild accompaniment to a dominant flavor.

If we want to look at it another way…. You are eating something that is a part of folklore on multiple continents (i.e. toadstools and fairies).  Who doesn’t want to eat something so adorable that it has its own built-in hat?  I cannot think of any other food with such visual diversity.  Fungi can be the beautiful lacy pieces of art like chanterelles, the ugly but highly favored black truffle, the smooth meaty portobello, or have the textured cap of a morel (my favorite!).

On the off chance that you don’t have a wild mushroom patch teeming with truffles, chanterelles, and morels…. This dish uses the boring but much easier to find grocery store variety.  You can use either full sized portobellos or the baby bello variety.  Both will work wonderfully.

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And, you can make this with full sized portions for a vegetarian main course or on mini toasts as an appetizer!  Yay, for easy multi-function recipes!

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Warm Mushroom Tapenade

Servings: 12+ appetizer sized servings, 2-3 main course servings

Total time: 25 minutes

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps (or about 2 cups baby bellos), chopped into 1/2 square pieces
  • 1 bunch of broccolini, cut into thinner pieces and the length halved or quartered
  • 2 tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2-3 tbl. vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 4-6 slices of Crusty Bread toasted or crostinis (mini toasts)

Preheat oven to 375.

On a baking dish sprinkle broccolini with the olive oil, sprinkle with S+P, and toss.  Place in preheated oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the greens half way through.

On stovetop, melt butter on medium low heat in a large skillet.  When butter has melted, add chopped mushroom.  Stir to coat with butter and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt and the dried sage.  Increase heat to medium.  Place the lid on skillet to sweat the mushrooms for about 3-5 minutes.  When water from mushrooms has begun to pool  and mushrooms have softened slightly, add the white wine and allow to simmer for 5-8 minutes.  If it looks dry, add the extra broth or water.  When done, the mushrooms should still hold their shape.

When broccolini is done roasting in the oven, remove and throw into skillet to coat with mushroom cooking liquids.  Serve immediately on full size toasts as main course or mini-toasts as an appetizer.

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Easy Buddha Bowls

Have you tried Buddha Bowls?!?  Vegetarians and vegans everywhere are saying a resounding, “Yes!”  With good reason!  Buddha Bowls and their endless variations could be the dish that turns me back into a vegetarian.  Who needs meat with these flavor-packed and oh-so-versatile babies?!  While I don’t know if my husband would be willing to give up meat entirely, even the self proclaimed “meat-eating viking man” likes these.  Just don’t tell him I told you!

My complaint and I think a lot of people’s complaint with most healthy vegetarian and vegan main dish options are simply that they aren’t that filling.  When you are married to a 6’3 giant, you contemplate these things like, “Will cupboard rummaging occur after this meal?”  If the ingredient list leads me to believe that 30 minutes later I or someone in the house will be reaching for a snack, then I won’t make the dish!  This recipe is NOT one of those.  It is a vegetarian and vegan friendly and FILLING!  It is a totally satisfying mixture of protein, whole grains, veggies, and spices.

Oh, I haven’t even told you the best part yet!!  It can be make in around 20 minutes!  The trifecta of delicious, nutritious and fast is a sure-fire way to land on our regular week-night meal rotation, and these Buddha Bowls tick all the boxes. Essentially, the tasty, healthy, and quick trifecta is the other  version of the trinity in our house.  If you work full time and/or have kids and wear the chef hat, then you know how truly rare this combination can be.

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In addition, it can be easily customized to your family’s preferences.  You can make it with a whole slew of grains, proteins, and veggies.  My typical go-to preferences are brown rice, garbanzo beans (chick peas), and broccoli, but there are dozens of other options! Just to name a few:

  • Quinoa or a baked sweet potato can sub for brown rice
  • Black beans or tofu can sub for garbanzo
  • Brussel sprouts or cauliflower can sub for broccoli

Oh, and how can I forget the sauce on top!  Our favorite topping for is my Peruvian-Style Green Sauce.  This sauce is nothing special really.  Its only the most versatile sauce around and in my opinion, the most delicious part of any dish it graces.  (Note: If you use this sauce the Buddha Bowls are no longer vegan.)  The subtle creaminess, freshness, and spice in the green sauce are the perfect accompaniment to this dish!  With that said, there are of course other possibilities!!  For example:

  • Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
  • Green Goddess Dressing (I like Trader Joe’s brand.)
  • Tahini and/or Tzatziki
  • A Burre Blanc sauce (Especially, if you make the Buddha Bowls with Quinoa!)

So friends and family, boys and girls, if you have not been properly introduced to the wonders of Buddha Bowls, get ready to be acquainted!

Easy Buddha Bowls

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 large main dish servings

  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets (or about 1.5-2 cups of another veggie)
  • 1 can of chick-peas, rinsed (or 1.5 cups of other protein)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. curry powder
  • 1.5 cups of cooked brown rice (or alternative)
  • A few tablespoons of Peruvian Green Sauce  (or other)

Pre-heat oven to 375.

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Spread broccoli, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 tbl. olive oil on large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Add chick-peas, curry powder, another sprinkle of salt, and the remaining olive oil.  Mix all the ingredients to combine and bake for another 13-15 minutes.

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To plate, top brown rice with veggie mixture, and green sauce (or other).  Serve immediately:)

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Peruvian Roasted Chicken

A few days ago, I posted the Peruvian Green Sauce.  Today, meet the chicken the sauce is designed to accompany.  This chicken is a Sunday night dinner, company-worthy feast.  Serve it along-side some roasted veggies and you have a meal your guests will rave about.

Unlike the sauce, this chicken does not fit in with the quick and easy category.   The meat is best when marinated 24 hours ahead of time and the bake time is over an hour.  Although it requires some time management, it is an easy to execute recipe.  And considering the impressive presentation and tasty reward, it is an awesome option for a dinner party without an overly cumbersome meal prep!

I have played around with various Peruvian Roast Chicken marinate recipes.  All were very good, but none were the “Wow!” I wanted.  Luckily my best friend lived in Peru and has a collection of this classic recipes variations.  From her suggestions, the recipe became the “Wow!” I was looking for.  With or without the green sauce, this recipe yields a moist and flavorful result with perfectly browned skin.

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Yes, I know the chicken is upside down.  It all tastes the same in the end;)

Lazy Girl Tip:  Shhhh!  I always make one extra chicken because this recipe makes excellent sandwich meat!  On any given day, my husband has a turkey sandwich for lunch.  Mayo, black pepper, turkey, and spinach.  Everyday.  Without fail.  Because I am a snob and stay away from processed foods, I’m not purchasing the processed grocery store variety lunch meat and even though, I make a special trip to an organic butcher.  Even with the fancy-pants butcher’s deli meat, the quality is relatively whomp-whomp.  So if I’m roasting one of these chicken anyways, why not stick another in the oven and use the meat for sandwiches throughout the week?!  The result will be much better quality and will yield even more amazing chicken sandwiches!  You can look like a winner to your family and the lack of extra effort will be our little secret;)

Peruvian Roasted Chicken

Servings: 3-4

Active time: 10 minutes       Total time: 12-24 hours (includes marinating)

Special equipment: Blender or Immersion Blender

  • 3 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbl. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 4-5lb. whole chicken

Except for the chicken, combine all ingredients in a blender or bowl if using an immersion blender.  Blend until smooth.

Remove giblets from chicken and rinse cavity and exterior of the chickenwith water.  Pat dry.

To marinate chicken, gently separate the skin from the meat and pour and massage about 2/3 of the marinate under the skin.  Rub the remaining marinate on the exterior of the chicken.  Place chicken in an air tight container in the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours prior to baking.

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees prior to baking.

Place the marinated chicken in a lightly oiled dutch oven or baking dish uncovered.  Bake for 20 minutes to turn the skin a nice golden brown.  Reduce temperature to 375 and continue baking for an additional 1 hour and 10-20 minutes or until juices run clear.  Baste the skin with the juices and marinate periodically while baking.  This will keep the bird moist and prevent the skin from over drying and cracking.  If skin becomes to brown, cover with lid of dutch oven or lightly cover with foil.

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When done, remove from oven and allow chicken to sit in juices for 5 minutes prior to carving.  Carve and serve immediately!  (Don’t forget the green sauce!!)

Note: If you made an extra chicken for week-day lunches, you have two storage options.  Either leave it whole and tightly cover with foil on a platter or carve slices and place them in an airtight container (This is what I usually do).

Enjoy!

Peruvian-Style Green Sauce

One of the things that coincides with choosing to live in a smaller and older home is that just about every piece of furniture, shelf, nook and cranny must serve double duty – everything must have multiple uses, functions, or purposes.  Our eating space in the kitchen has storage cabinets under the seats.  The “bench” in our living room is really a trunk that stores our collection of DVDs.  The hall closet is both coat closet and home to our vacuum cleaner. Our home is an exercise in function over form.  Utility over glam.

Any purchase contemplated elicits a “where would I store it?” or a “do we have room for this?”   Needing a new pair of running shoes requires retiring an old pair to Goodwill because there is only one running shoe designated slot on my shoe rack.  My husband’s love for (and collection of) down winter jackets have become a source of contention with closet space at a premium.  I am the queen of donating clothes I don’t wear because I simply do not want them to take up extra space.

Regardless, I wouldn’t trade out little cottage bungalow’s charm for the world.  I love our cozy little slice of town.  Moreover, I love the intentionality it forces us to practice.  In this world of “bigger is better” and excess is the new normal, I prefer to live our lives on a smaller scale.  There are very few items, if any, not in our possession that we truly need.  So in general, if we don’t need it, we don’t buy it.

As you would imagine from my hard-working, multi-function furniture, I love when objects – and foods – truly are “earning their keep”…. which leads me to this splendid little green number.  It is part sauce for roasted chicken or veggies, part veggie dip, and part salad dressing.  But, I promise you, it is 100% delicious.

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Seriously now. This stuff is the bomb-dot-com.  I have no problem expressing my love for it with cheesy sayings (see previous sentence) because after making it, I spent the next weeks wracking my brain for excuses to make it again and again.  Lucky for me, there are many (see links at bottom of post)!

I make a big batch and use it throughout the week, or you can always freeze a portion of it.  The recipe below is enough for approximately 2 different usages – depending how liberally it is applied in each.

Peruvian-Style Green Sauce

Active Time: 10 minutes   Additional time: 2o+ minutes chilling 

Special equipment: Blender or immersion blender

  • 1 small jalapeño roughly chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 small anaheim pepper roughly chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  •  1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbl. fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients, except for olive oil, in blender or bowl if using an immersion blender.

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Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Then slowly drizzle in olive oil while continuing to blend.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 5 days.  The finished product will seem really runny initially but will thicken while chilling.

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Hello, yummy green sauce.

Here is are a couple recipes that puts this sauce to work!  (More to come!)

Thai Shrimp Soup

Going back to last weekend, we did new year’s weekend big.  And by “big,” I really mean that we fell asleep before midnight and had a relaxing, wonderful weekend.  But in other more exciting news, Seattle finally was having snap of winter appropriate weather!  Cool, clear, and crisp Pacific Northwest winter days are some of my favorite weather in the world.  Period.

So in light of the weather, which was a nice respite from the mild, gray, wet days we are so accustomed to, we seized the day!  As such, our day started out with a run around the lake (see cool, crisp Seattle wonderfulness below), coffee, and way too long perusing a book store.

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You may not know this, but with cool and crisp days comes a certain culinary protocol.  You see, these days require a specific type of meal at the end of the day: something of the warm, fragrant, and delicious variety.  And not wanting to break protocol, we made this Thai Shrimp Soup.  Warm? Check!  Fragrant? Check!! Delicious?  Check!!!

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Think coconut milk, ginger, seared shrimp, and curry paste simmered to warm mildly spicy perfection and topped with the freshness of lime juice and cilantro.

For this recipe you must buy the raw, jumbo variety of shrimp – nothing pre-cooked.  Most grocery store seafood departments offer these deveined and already cleaned.  If you have ever deveined shrimp before, you know how tedious it can be.  So, when available, I save the time and purchase the deveined kind!

If raw shrimp scare you, don’t let them!  I put shrimp in the “fool proof” category because they tell you when they are done by turning that nice shrimpy color of pink.  When pan-frying shrimp (as you will do for this recipe), my rule of thumb is to turn those little guys over as soon as they turn pink on one side.  They will get too tough if you over-cook them.

Thai Shrimp Soup

Serves: 4-6

Active time: 30-40 minutes   Total time: 30-40 minutes

  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, deveined, tails left on
  • 3 tbl. butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbl. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbl. red or yellow curry paste
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • Approx. 4 cups of vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 cup. cooked rice
  • Juice from 1 lime, fresh
  • Small handful of cilantro

Melt butter on medium high heat in bottom of large sauce pan. Season shrimp with salt and pepper on both sides.  Working in bathces, cook shrimp in melted butter just until lightly pink on each side and no longer translucent.  DO NOT overcook the shrimp!  Set cooked shrimp aside.

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Reduce heat to medium and add olive oil.  Add garlic, onion, and red pepper.  Place lid on pan. Cook until slightly tender, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and cook for about 1 minute longer until fragrant.  Then, add the curry paste mixing it well with the veggies. Stir in the coconut milk and add 3.5 cups of vegetable stock.  Increase to high heat to bring pot to a boil stirring occasionally.  Once boiling reduce to medium-low and simmer until thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.  The thickening step should take 10-15 minutes.  If soup gets too thick, add in the reserved 1/2 cup of stock.

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Once mixture is thickened add shrimp and cooked rice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately topped with some lime juice and cilantro.

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Voila!  The perfect conclusion to a chilly winter day!