Sunday, December 11, 2011

Croque Monsieur

One of my favorite movies to watch while I am just hanging out or cleaning, or just need some background noise is "It's Complicated".  Partially, because I love watching all the food that they make in it!  Primarily, the part where Meryl Streep is making a small dish for Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin comes in and finishes it off because it is soooo good!  What is this yummy creation that she makes?  Well, it is called a Croque Monsieur, and as I did some research, I found out it is the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich. 

In France, from what I understand, the sandwich is made using bread similar to our basic loaf of white bread, but when I watched the movie, part of what I loved about it, is it looked as if she used a rustic french bread, one of my favorties out there.  Also, the ham is sliced very, I made a few revisions, as well as simplified it.  A typical Croque Monsieur will have a bechemel type sauce poured on top, but I wanted this to be something I might be able to make with items I have on hand...

Croque Monsieur

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On one side of:

1-2 slices of rustic french bread

Gently drizzle, on one side of the bread:

Olive Oil

Sprinkle, on the oiled side of the bread:

Salt & Pepper

On the other side of the bread, spread:

A light layer of butter

On the buttered side of the bread, add:

A generous layer of very thinly sliced ham
2 slices of lorrain swiss cheese

Optionally, sprinkle some more salt and pepper on the top of the cheese.  Place the open faced sandwiches on a baking sheet (I used my metal round pizza pan, because it has holes through the bottom to allow air to crisp up the bottom of the bread).

Bake for about 5 minutes, then check the sandwich.  You may need to keep it in the oven for up to 15 minutes; it depends on your oven.  If you would like, broil for about 2 minutes to get a crisp on top.

Serve with a side salad, just to add some greens :-)

Note: I made this for Matthew for lunch one Sunday while we watched football, and he was a big fan!  A definite success!!!

Back to Basics: Lentil Soup

I have several recipes I used to make in college that are easy, inexpensive, and I typically created because I had the items on-hand.  With the winter coming on, this is one of my favorite recipes to make for the weekends I lock myself in to do work, clean, or just relax with the television or a good book.  Easy to make, albiet a bit time consuming, I find it even better as leftovers than the day of.  Fantastic on it's own or over rice, and maybe a bit of your favorite cheese on top!

Back to Basics: Lentil Soup

In a saucepan, on low or medium low heat, sweat:

1 whole red onion, finely sliced

Approximately 6 to 7 minutes. 


1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery

Soften the vegetables; don't be afraid to simply lower the heat a bit, cover the pot, and let the steam do the work! 


1 cup lentils, picked and rinsed
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

Stir to combine.  Increase the geat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer for about 15 minutes. 


1/2 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground garam masala

Continue to cook until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 minutes total.  If you are planning on serving it over rice, you are done.  If you are planning on eating it as a soup, you may want to take this one step further, take a cup out, and blend it.  Pour it back into the saucepan and continue to heat on low for another 10 minutes.

Note: This is not something Matthew would eat, but it is one of my favorite simple dishes I can have on-hand for a quick lunch, or sitting with my feet tucked up watching a movie. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sage Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Onion Sauce

It was a long Thursday during a week I actually didn't have to travel for work, so I invited my friend Megan to try out some recipes!  It had been a while since I had tested anything out, and I was ready to get back into the kitchen.  This was a recipe given to my by my friend (and newlywed) Micheal Dunham.  As always, I did change some things around, but the basic recipe is the same.  One more time I didn't take pictures (I just could not find the camera!), so I had to steal Michael's...sorry!  But...soooo good!!! 

In a 10 or 12 inch pan, lay:

1 medium sweet Visalia onion, sliced

to cover the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sage.  Add:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced

to cover the onion slices. You will probably have to overlap the sweet potatoes a bit, which is fine.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sage.  Add:

1 bottle inexpensive white wine, preferably Chardonnay


1 lb chicken breast, sliced into strips

over the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle generously with sage and poultry seasoning.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook for 10 minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Re-cover pan and continue to cook approximately 5 minutes.

Remove potatoes; add to the plate of chicken.

Transfer onions and broth they are sitting in to a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the mix through a fine sieve, pressing with a spoon to separate as much liquid from the pulp.

Pour the onion liquid back in tot the pan, put onion pulp to the side for use during the meal.  Reduce the onion liquid to approximately a 1/2 cup. Wisk in:

3 Tbs butter

until melted. Turn off the heat. Add chicken and potatoes to sauce, and coat.  Plate up by layering a plate with the potatoes, then the chicken, then pour the remainder of the onion sauce on top. 

I served it with warm pita bread. 

To try: put some of the onion pulp mixture on a piece of pita bread.  Add a slice of sweet potato and a piece of chicken on top of that.  It really was yummy, and a thought of how to maybe use this dish to create small tapas or appetizers (with a tooth pick through the center).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Update: Sesame Peanut Noodles

Like I said, different noodles needed...otherwise, his quote "The sauce was spot on!"


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

While it was hot as Hell, and we had no air-conditioning (yes, I love you all, but I will continue to remind you that I have had no air for more than a week during the heat wave from Satan!) So yesterday, I wanted to make the Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles from Big Bowl, because they are the what Matthew orders EVERY time, and I was hoping, maybe, I can make something almost a good, if not better :-) Well, I forgot to stop and get one ingredient from the Oriental store down the street. Honestly, even if I had, I don't know that I would have physically been able to make it in the, I made it today!

And, gosh darnit, it was so good!!!  Remember, the sauce makes 3 cups, and you can keep it for future pastas.  I only used one cup today, because I still need his successful feedback :-)

FYI, if you are interested in Big Bowl recipes, they are located here:


  • 2 cups fine peanut oil
  • 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup freshly brewed Chinese black tea
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil



Heat the peanut oil in a pan to nearly smoking. Add the peanuts, stir once and turn off the heat. Allow to sit about 10 minutes in the oil until the peanuts are a light golden color. Remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon to a food processor and reserve the oil.

Grind the peanuts to a coarse paste. Don't worry about how coarse it is.  Once more liquid is added, it will blend together better.

Add ¼ cup of the reserved oil, a splash of the tea, the ginger, garlic, chili peppers, salt and sugar and continue to grind. Add the soy sauces and vinegar and grind some more.

Remove to a mixing bowl and stir in the oils by hand. Stir in the remaining tea, slowely, and in small portions, until the sauce is smooth.

Serve over Chinese egg noodles that have been cooked and drained.

Bok Choy

I purchased the bok choy at CostCo, and Matthew did not believe I was going to use them...they would sit, they would be thrown away, and with the heat the way it has been, they almost were!  However, this lovely day, with cooler weather, allowed me to cook again!  So, here is the recipe, simple and flavorful, with little oil and lost of flavor!

This is based on the recipe from

I prefer using recipes from other recipe blogs, as I know they have been tested and tried by others, and posted by someone that believes they are worth posting.

Bok Choy Recipe


1 1/2 pounds bok choy or baby bok choy
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons broth
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Start by trimming the stem off - don't trim too much - just the end. Cutting the thick stem off will ensure that the bok choy cooks evenly. Separate out the leaves, keep the tender center intact and clean under running water. Drain.

2. Finely mince garlic and grate fresh ginger. Grating the ginger helps break up the tough fibers!

3. Place wok or frying pan on your stove and pour in the cooking oil. Add the garlic and ginger. Turn the heat to medium-high. Let the ginger and garlic gently sizzle in the oil.

4. When the aromatics become fragrant and light golden brown, add the bok choy leaves. Toss very well to coat each leaf with the garlicky, gingery oil for 15 seconds. Pour in broth. Immediately cover and let cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Use tongs to remove from the pan and add to a plate or bowl.  The difference will depend on whether or not you want any of the broth added to the dish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

White Sangria based on Ellie Krieger's Healthy Appetite

Well, our air conditioning is out, and I had invited my friend Megan to dinner, so I really needed a refreshing beverage!  I decided on Sangria; something I had not had a in a long time, and never made!  The White Sangria I made was perfect, based on a recipe by Ellie Krieger.  I am sure to make it for more summer events...especially if it stays this hot all summer!!!

White Sangria

1 (750-ml) bottle white wine
1/4 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cup Sprite

Sugar (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)

1/2 medium unpeeled orange, sliced 
1/2 unpeeled apple, sliced
1/2 unpeeled pear, sliced

In a pitcher combine the wine, Cointreau, orange juice and Sprite. Taste. Add the sugar in small doses, only if you feel the recipe needs more sugar.  Add some lemon juice, only if you feel you need a bit of sour.  Add the fruit, and chill (at least 30 minutes). Serve over ice.

Verdict: SO YUMMY!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Angie's Truffle Salmon & Orzo with Asparagus

I don't find many recipes I like from others, but when Angie posted that she made this dish on Facebook, I knew I had to try it!  (Pictures to come soon)  FYI, there were no leftovers...we ate everything!  The dinner was a-mazing, and, better yet, EASY!  I highly recommend it when you are trying to impress a date, making dinner for family, or for a dinner party (you will eed to increase the amounts for a dnner party, though :-)).
1 bunch asparagus
2 cups orzo
2tbsp extra virgin oil
4 cloves garlic ( peeled and sliced) (I used more; I LOVE garlic!!!)
1 cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (I doubled this (1/2 C.))
3-4 tbsp grated pecornino Romano (I doubled this (1/2 C.))
2 tbsp black truffle butter (eh, 3 wouldn't hurt anything except your wallet :-))
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste

In a pot bring to boil chicken broth (32oz) + equal amount of water some salt. Place asparagus in for about 1-2 minutes and remove and place aside. Cook orzo in same broth for about 7-10 min drain. Trim the stems of asparagus and cut rest diagonally.

In a medium pan heat olive oil sauté garlic until aromatic add asparagus and then cooked orzo. On medium low heat add heavy cream truffle butter stirring constantly. Add the cheeses until melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a beautiful serving bowl and top with shaved Parmesan.

Bake salmon at 350 coat the fish with black truffle oil and garlic salt and cracked black pepper bake until fish is done about 20-30 min ( until flaky). When fish is baking Angie also puts a teaspoon of truffle butter on top as it's cooking.  I added a bit more :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creamy Pasta e Fagioli

Matthew and I went to dinner at the famous Kim and Ellory's back in the winter of 2009 (wow, Kim, can you believe it was that long ago?!?!?!) and Kim and Ellory's daughter, Veronica was in from Italy, and she introduced me to my first taste of Pasta e Fagioli, which happens to be a family recipe.  I had never had Pasta e Fagioli before, and it was fantastic, and I have been trying to make it ever never turned out as good as theirs, even though Veronica was kind enough to give me their recipe.  Well, after trying it a number of times, I found a recipe I like, using a combination of their recipe and a recipe from, my go to site for so many of my here it is, creamy, with a little bit of bite and a lot of flavor!

Creamy Pasta e Fagioli

In a large saucepan, bring:

3 c. low sodium chicken stock
1-4 oz. slice of prosciutto

to a boil.  Add:

1/3 c. orzo

until half way done to al dente, about 4 minutes.  Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl.  Pick out the prosciutto and dice it, putting it aside.  Reserve the orzo separately, as well.  Using the same saucepan, heat to a medium heat and add:

3 oz. pancetta, diced

Heat, stirring occasionally, until browned.  Add:

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 6 minutes or so.  Add:

1 T. tomato paste

Mix together until combined.  Add:

Strained broth

Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.  Discard the rosemary sprig and bay leaf.  Put half the broth mixture and half:

1 can cannellini beans, drained and washed

into a blender, and blend until smooth.  Put the blended mix back into the pot, and add the remaining beans, reserved orzo and chopped prosciutto.  Cook until heated through, and orzo is al dente, about 4 minutes.  If you want so more creaminess, add some:

Crumbled Goat Cheese

On top of each bowl.  This is not required, but I loved it!  Sooooooooo yummy!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Cream (based on Food and Wine magazine)

I had to make some changes to this one, as I did not have any regular breadcrumbs.  I think they came out better because of them, since regular breadcrumbs tend to be very heavy.  Let's get to it...they are fantastic!!!

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Cream
In a small bowl, whisk together:

1/2 C. sour cream
1/4 C. mayo
2 T. drained bottled horseradish

Put in the refrigerator; this is the sauce. 

In a large bowl, combine:

1/4 C. mayo
1/4 C. Panko bread crumbs
3 Scallions, including green tops, chopped thin
1/4 C. Chopped fresh parsley
Pinch Cayenne
Sat and pepper to taste

Once all combined, add:

1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked free of shell

Make sure you don't over mix the crab; you want the large clumps to stay together.  Shape the crab mixture into patties, approximately 1/4 - 1/2 C. rounds.  Coat the patties with the remaining 3/4 C. bread crumbs and pat off the excess. 

In a large frying pan, heat:

3 T. Oil

Over moderate high heat.  Working in batches, if necessary, fry the cakes until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes.  Turn and fry until golden brown on the other side, about 2-3 more minutes longer.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with horseradish sauce.

1/2 C. sour cream
1/2 C. mayo
2 T. drained bottled horseradish
1/4 C. Panko bread crumbs
3 Scallions, including green tops, chopped thin
1/4 C. Chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked free of shell
Pinch Cayenne
Sat and pepper to taste

Pan-Fried Salmon with Citrus Vinaigrette (based on Food and Wine magazine)

This is such a simple dish; I love it!!!  The vinaigrette can be used for any thick white fish, it is just an easy citrus sauce that I know I will use over and over again!  I can't say enough about how good this it!!!

Pan-Fried Salmon with Citrus Vinaigrette

In a small saucepan, combine:

1/4 C. fresh orange juice
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
2 T. fresh lime juice

Simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature.  Once it has cooled, whisk in:

1 medium shallot, minced
2 T. snipped chives
1/4 C. Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat:

1 1/2 T. Oil

Until the oil is shimmering.  Season the salmon fillets on each side with:

Salt and pepper

Add both fillets to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until browned and just cooked, about 3 minutes per side. 

Tranfer the salmon to plates and spoon some of the citrus vinaigrette on top. 

Roast Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Shallot Sauce (based on Food and Wine magazine)

I have been slacking lately, but I have made some fantastic dishes (well, some made with the husband :-)) and am very excited to share!  So, even though I promised to post a while back, I have several recipes made in the past few weeks coming!  This one starts them off!  I do have to say, the sauce itself was lacking...I was expecting more, coming from Food and Wine magazine, but it was...okay...the lamb, however was fantastic!  I do have to say that had a lot to do with the fact that Matthew helped; he can just touch the meat and know the temperature...he also was the one that cleaned it, as I did not know that I was supposed to ask the butcher at the store to do it (if he even would), here it really is pretty easy, you just have to remember to watch the meat.

Roast Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Shallot Sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  If the rack of lamb has not already been trimmed, make sure to get the fat trimmed away from the tops of the bone; as close to the meat as possible.  Maybe trim some of the fat off the meat, but not a lot, as it will keep the flavor (we trimmed a bit too much off).

In an ovenproof skillet, heat:

1 T. Vegetable Oil

Until shimmering.  Season:

2 1/2 lb frenched rack of lamb


Salt and pepper (make sure you season it well; I didn't, and we needed to add more after the dish was plated)

Add the lamb to the pan, fat side down, and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes.  Turn the lamb fat side up and cook for two minutes longer.

Note: Make sure it is on a high enough heat and sears well.  You want a good brown crust.

Transfter the skillet to the oven and roast the lamb for 20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125 degrees for medium rare.  Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.  Pour off the fat in the skillet and make the sauce.

Mustard Shallot Sauce
In the skillet the lamb was cooked in, add:

2 tsp. Oil


2 sliced shallots 

Until soft.  Add:

1/4 C. chicken stock

Bring to a simmer.  Off the heat, add:

1 T. Whole grain mustard
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Thyme leaves 

As I mentioned above, the sauce was a bit lacking.  I would have added more Dijon mustard, maybe up to a whole tablespoon.  It just was not as mustard-y as I had anticipated it to be. 

Even though it was not perfect, and maybe you can find another sauce you like better (I am going to check for more sauces when we decide to make lamb again, and will post if I find something better). 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Christmas Cookies

My mom makes wonderful cookies, and I have been using her recipe for a long time.  The frosting, however, is mine, although I am sure many people use it, if not something similar, since it is simple and straightforward.  Beautiful cookies, a lot of fun, and something to do with the kids!

Mama's Cookie Recipe
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 C. flour
2 T. orange juice
1 T. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder

Note: When doubling recipe, double everything, except use 4 - 4 1/2 C. flour. 

Mix all ingredients together, refrigerate overnight.

Use any of your favorite cookie cut-outs!  Roll out at 1/4 of an inch or less.  This all depends on your favorite thickness of cookies.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

Leave overnight to cool before frosting.

Powdered Sugar

Pour some powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add a little milk, mix together.  Add a little more, mix, until you get the consistency you want (which should be enough to be a liquid, but not too liquidy to constantly fall off the cookies when they are sitting on the cookie racks).  It does take time to figure out the consistency you like.  Usually, my first cookie is my test, and I modify the frosting consistency from there.  Remember, if you are looking to add

Dip the cookie in the frosting.  Move around a little bit.  Flip, let the frosting move around while you are still holding it.  If all is good, place and leave on a cookie rack.  Repeat with the rest of the cookies.

Leave overnight to make sure the frosting sets.

Chocolate Piping
Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Melt the chocolate in the double boiler.  If you decide to add butter or anything, understand the chocolate will probably never set well.  Even after a week, it broke and got smooshed.
Use flavors and colors as you desire.  I have been using almond flavoring for my base, then piping with chocolate for the bells and stars.  Or, I used peppermint flavoring for my stockings (red), then regular for the white tip portion (use a piping sleeve and experiment with shapes).  I have used raspberry flavoring for the stockings in the past, but have found more people like the peppermint.  I used no flavoring for the Christmas trees. 

I use the wide piping attachment for the stocking top and pour it in 2 layers (one above the next).  I can give more detailed steps if the request is there. 

So I made 4 different types of cookies this year:

Christmas Stockings: Peppermint flavoring (taste with every dollop of is all to taste) for the red (red food coloring: add a few drops at a time until the color turns the shade of red you want).  No flavor for the white.  Piping for the white was the wide shape, starting at the top, drawing longways in rows, 2 rows for the size of my cookie.

Bells: Yellow food coloring, same as above.  I have used banana flavoring, but I have found the almond is most popular.  Use single dot piping attachment, thin lines around the bell, with a thick dollop of chocolate for the bottom if you want.  I ran out of chocolate, or I would have :-)

Stars: No food coloring.  I used almond flavoring.  Use single dot piping attachment, thin lines around the star, with a thick dollop of chocolate at each tip.

Christmas Trees:  Green food coloring.  No flavor.  Yellow food coloring for the strings across the tree using the single piping attachment.  Red hots for the "ornaments".

This is a long process.  I love it, but it takes a long time...minimum of three days, with all the overnights you have to wait for!  But I love it, it is a Christmas tradition; I hope it becomes one for you, too!


The most popular and most common food made is the varenyk, or perogi, as most of you know them.  The varenyk is actually from the root to boil, or "varyty", hence, varenyky.  This dish is very common in the Ukrainian community, and very common during the holidays.  I found my recipe from a blog that I received from Facebook: 

It was similar to what my mother would make.  It was fantastic, easy (as easy as varenyky could be :-)), and fun!  Most all of the recipe would be in your pantry, except maybe the potato? 

This was the first holiday we invited my in-laws to, and it was great...yes, I am late...too many recipes, not enough time!!!

Varenyky Dough

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix everything in a KitchenAid.  Roll it out as you would cookie dough.  It may be difficult...actually it will probably be difficult, as it likes to snap back while you are rolling...stay with it, you are doing well!  Once you have rolled it out to about 1/4 inch, if not less, take a round cookie cutter or large glass and create round pieces.

Varenyky Filling

Mashed Potatoes (only the potatoes, nothing else)
1 T. butter
1 T. milk
Salt and Pepper

Take the dough, put approximately 1 T. of filling in the middle and pinch the edges to make a half moon shape.  Make sure they are as well put together as possible.  It is possible that you will have a few that open up in the water when they are boiling...don't be sad, it happens...I was happy that it only happened for about 10% of the total that I made...that was FANTASTIC!!!

Once you make the varenyk, place them in a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper...this is very important...otherwise, they can stick, and then you lose a lot more than 10%...if it is cold, put them outside until they are frozen...otherwise, put them in the freezer.  Once frozen, you can keep them on a freezer bag and keep for weeks...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Smoky-Hot Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry (based on

I continue my Asian kick, although I changed things up and went back to Food and Wine magazine. I added a bunch of bell peppers, as the original recipe had no vegetables, and they were what I had on hand. Quick and easy...enjoy!

Smoky-Hot Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry (based on

In a medium bowl, toss:

1 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

Let stand for 1 hour. In a wok, heat:

2 tablespoons peanut oil


10 dried red chiles

Stir-fry them over moderate heat until they begin to darken, about 1/2 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a plate. Add:

1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise, and in half
1 yellow bell pepper, cut lengthwise, and in half
1 orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise, and in half

Stir-fry to slightly soften vegetables, but you still want them to be crisp, only about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan, transfer to a bowl.

Add half of the chicken; stir-fry over high heat until the chicken pieces are lightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the plate with the chiles. Repeat with the second batch.

Return the chicken and chiles to the wok. Add:

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger

Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Stir-fry until the chicken is lightly caramelized, about 1 minute. Add the vegetables, as well as:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons snipped chives

Stir-fry until the sauce is just thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Note: If you do not like a strong taste of ginger, cut the ginger in half, or even down to 1 Tablespoon. It was the one thing Matthew mentioned about the dish, otherwise, another success!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus

I will have many more recipes coming your way, but after making several asian dishes, I found that there are a few typical ingredients in all of them that I use in almost all of them...therefore, today, I made my own recipe, from scratch, all on my own, and I just had to post!

It was awesome, and I have no idea what Matthew thinks of it, yet, but it was so good, I had to post it immediately! It is made for 1 person with leftovers, or 2 people with no leftovers....

Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus

Pound out:

1 chicken breast

Mix together:

1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T. potato starch ( which is what I had on hand, although you can use corn starch)
1 T. rice wine (if you don't have any rice wine, a light white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc can be used as substitute)

Put into the refrigerator, while you cut:

1 bunch asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces (any vegetable will work... broccoli, bell peppers, whatever, this is what I had on hand)

Heat a pan with:

1 T. peanut oil

Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Not totally done, but close to it. Transfer to a plate.

Add to the pan:

3 dry chilies

Cook 30 seconds on each side. Cook no more than 1 minute on each side, or the chilis will burn. Transfer the chili to the plate with the chicken. To the pan add:

1 T. chopped garlic
1 T. chopped fresh ginger

Cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add:

1 bunch asparagus, chopped (or whatever vegetable you decide to use)
1/4 c. chicken stock

Cook for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan regularly. Add:

1 T. chili oil

Cook for about 30 seconds, until incorporated. Add chicken. Add:

1 T. soy sauce
1 T. light brown sugar
1 T. rice vinegar

Cook on low heat for approximately 3-5 minutes.

Serve with rice, or alone, if you are trying to decrease carbs.  If this is the case, add more of a variety of vegetables; you won't feel like you are missing the rice, at all! So yummy, as far as I am concerned!

UPDATE: Matthew liked it, but found it too spicy. I would remove the chili oil the next time I made this. Otherwise, the flavors were fantastic!

UPDATE: I have made this recipe so many times since I first published it; it is our go-to Asian dinner recipe.  I wanted to note a few things I have found:

  • If you don't want it to be spicy at all, simply eliminate the chilies and chili oil.  It won't change the flavor, just the heat.  
  • Something to notice on this recipe is that everything has a 1:1 ratio.  If you use 3 chicken breasts, just increase the potato starch and rice wine coating by 3 and the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar sauce by 3.  The garlic and ginger should be increased based on preference, which brings me to the next note...
  • My husband is not as big of a fan of ginger in dishes as I am, so although I may increase the amount of garlic I use, I always keep the amount of ginger the same, and sometimes less.  Although ginger is a key ingredient in Asian cuisine, if you reduce the amount you add, it won't ruin the dish.
  • Although I have it in the main body of the recipe, I want to emphasis to please experiment with the vegetables you use.  I have used matchstick carrot pieces, bok choy, red peppers, snap peas, green beans, bean sprouts, etc. 

Pork Pot Stickers (based on The Take-Out Menu Cookbook) with Dipping Sauce

Matthew and I met at Stoney River in Deerfield, and this year it closed. It was a sad New Year's, but I enjoyed spending it with people that were part of the journey of our relationship. New Year's Eve was the last day it was open, so my friends and I decided to spend our evening there. However, they were coming over to my house before we went there, so I made a few appetizers. I was continuing to experiment with my new cookbook, The Take-Out Menu Cookbook, so I founda few recipes that looked good: Pot Stickers and Egg Rolls. The Pot Stickers turned out well, the Egg Rolls were okay, not a success in Matthew's book.

Below is the Pot Sticker recipe...they were all gone by the next morning, although Matthew finished them off late, after he came home...they are better fresh, in his opinion. I wouldn't know...I gobbled them up while they were still hot!

Pork Pot Stickers

In a large bowl, combine:

2 C. red cabbage, finely chopped
1 lb. gound pork
2 T. green onion, minced (mine were just finely chopped, and they worked out fine)
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. minced cilantro
1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T. fresh chives, minced
1 T. rice wine or dry sherry (I used rice wine)
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 garvic clove, minced

Work the ingredients with your hands until completely mixed.

Cover with a damp cloth:

1 (12-ounce) package dumpling wrappers

Place one wrapper on a work surface. With a finger dipped in water, dampen the edges of the wrapper to help it adhere. Place about 1 T. of the filling into the center of each wrapper and fold it in half. With your finger, dampen the two corners with water and fold to the center of the dumpling. Arrange the dumplings on a parchment-lined sheet pan, so as not to stick to the pan. Assemple the remaining dumplings in the same manner.

Heat a large frying pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat and add:

1/4 c. peanut oil

When the oil is hot, add the dumplings to the pan and fry them on one side until browned, approximately 3 minutes. YOu want some space between the dumplings, so don't add too many at a time. Shake the pan slightly to move the dumplings around during cooling and keep them from sticking. Add:

1 c. chicken stock

to the pan and cover the pan tightly so the pot stickers steam and cool through. Cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to a heated platter.

Dipping Sauce

In a small bowl, combine:

1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp. chile oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Let the sauce sit for at least 5 minutes to let the flavors blend.
Before serving, garnish with chives. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Round Tip Roast Leftovers

After making the wonderful rond tip roast, I knew we wouldn't want to continue to eat it the same way, night after night, until it was gone. So, instead, I made a fantastic sandwich...I used the roast I made earlier in the week, and put this together:

French roll
Sliced Tomato
Romaine or Head Lettuce
So yummy! A great use for leftover beef! Yummy all around!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back-to-Basics Round Tip Roast

It's been a while, and I have been cooking up a storm, but I have not been posting, so there are going to be a lot of recipes put up in the next few start, I went to the store and found round tip roast for a fantastic price!!! Although I wasn't planning on making that for dinner, I wasn't sure what I was making, so I thought, why not? I will figure out something once I get home. Soooooo...I searched the internet, but there really isn't much for recipes on round tip roast...what to do? Call my mother-in-law!!! Simple and very tasty, she helped me, again, get Back-to-Basics:
Note: All of this is "To Taste". There was little to no measuring.

Back-to-Basics Round Tip Roast
1-3.5 to 4 lb. round tip roast
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Chopped Garlic (I used the canned version)
  1. Put the round tip roast in a roasting pan.
  2. Pour a bit of oil on it and rub it into the roast.
  3. Add salt, pepper and garlic and rub until it in.
  4. Cover the roast and put it in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 325. Leave the roast in the fridge until the oven is ready.
  5. Uncover the roast. Put in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes per lb. for rare to medium-rare.
  6. Take out the roast and put on a piece of marble or wooden cutting board to rest for about 15 minutes or so.

Note: The roast will continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes after it is taken out of the oven. If it looks too rare, wait. It will cook a bit more after it sits on the counter.

This was FANTASTIC!!! Simple, easy and yummy…and great for leftovers! Leftover hoagie to come!!!