Monday, February 28, 2011

Bagel Chips

I love carbs, so naturally I love bagels.  I used to mourn when they got stale but now I rejoice because I can make bagel chips!  I brought a huge container of these to work and they were gone within 4 hours.

Bagel Chips

Stale savory bagels (at least two days old, but make sure they're not moldy), not pre-cut
Olive oil
Garlic powder

1. Cut bagels vertically so you have small, round bagel chips, approximately half a centimeter in width.  Try and make sure they're all about the same size so they bake evenly.  You and your bread knife will be best friends after this.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.
3. Put the bagel pieces in a gallon-size plastic Ziploc bag, then add olive oil (approx 1/2 to 1 tbsp per bagel, but you can adjust it based on your preference.)  Mix it around so all the chips have olive oil on them; they shouldn't be drenched.  Once they're coated, add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Shake the bag to evenly distribute the spices.
4. Place the bagel chips on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for approximately 9 minutes or until lightly browned.  Baking time will vary based on the size of your bagel chips. 
5. Let the chips cool and then enjoy!  They should be nice and crunchy.  If they're a little on the soft side put them in the oven for another minute or two- you can check this pretty soon after you've taken them out of the oven.

*You can mix the olive oil and spices together first and then mix them in the plastic bag.
*Alternatively, you can brush each bagel chip with the olive oil mixture on both sides, but I'm too lazy to do this.
*You can also mix them in a bowl, but just make sure you can visualize the chips so they have the right amount of olive oil on them.
*Feel free to add other spices for different tastes! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Korean Side Dishes- Spinach and Spicy Cucumber Salad

I love eating Korean food, but since there aren't that many Korean restaurants in the Northeast I've had to make it myself.  It's not as good as what we get in Garden Grove, but it's good enough anytime we need a fix.

Two of my favorite sides are seasoned spinach and spicy cucumber salad.  The spinach works well in bibimbap, and the spicy cucumber salad is more like a cucumber kimchi.  One of my friends got me a Progressive grater set to help me slice the cucumbers and I am forever grateful!  If she lived closer I'd make her Korean food anytime she wanted it. 

Thanks to Jenny Kwak, author of Dok Suni, for the recipe!  Many more to come.

Seasoned Spinach

1 pound fresh spinach
1 tsp Coarse salt

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame salt
1 tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp minced scallion
1 ½ tsps red pepper sauce
1 ½ tsps vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

  1. Prepare spinach by cutting off the roots and separating the leaves
  2. In boiling water, dissolve 1 tsp of salt and blanch the spinach for no more than 1 minute.  Turn the spinach over once in the boiling water and strain immediately.  Rinse thoroughly with water.  Keep aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for seasoning the spinach.  Then add the spinach and toss with your hands in a massaging motion.

Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 ½ pounds Kirby or Korean Cucumbers
2 tbsps coarse salt
1 ½ tbsps red pepper flakes
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame salt
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar

  1. Slice cucumber into thin rounds.  Use a food slicer to make it easier.  In a mixing bowl, evenly sprinkle the coarse salt on the cucumber.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes.  The salt not only helps to season the cucumber but also to absorb the water from the cucumber.
  2. Strain the cucumber.  (use a wire strainer, putting a heavy object on the cucumber to press out excessive water.)  After the cucumber has been strained, keep it aside in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame salt, garlic, sesame oil, and sugar.  Then combine the dressing with the cucumber and toss, using your hands to mix in the seasonings evenly.  Serive it whenever you like, but keep it chilled.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baked Potato & Hard-boiled eggs

This sounds like the worst breakfast/dinner/snack I could come up with, but I just wanted to catalog these two recipes.  They're really easy but I wouldn't have thought of them myself!  I like this baked potato recipe because it doesn't require copious amounts of aluminum foil.  I like the hard-boiled egg recipe cuz it hasn't failed me yet.  I needed two hard-boiled egg yolks (of all things) for a recipe today, so it came to my rescue.  This totally proves that cooking/baking isn't necessarily intuitive.  I need help with even the simplest of things!

 Thanks to Alton Brown and Gluten-Free Girl for the recipes!  

The Baked Potato Recipe  from Good Eats (Alton Brown)


  • 1 large russet potato (If it looks like Mr. Potato Head(r), you've got the right one.)
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt


Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.
NOTE: If you're cooking more than 4 potatoes, you'll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

Hard-boiled eggs from Gluten-free Girl (just from dialogue with her husband, The Chef)
“Start with cold water, a splash of vinegar, six eggs. Bring it to a boil. Turn it off. Let it sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over them. You’re done.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy

Usually February is the choice month for showing love but around here it's October.  October = birthday month so I find myself making W's favorites, no matter how unhealthy.  I think he first got hooked on biscuits and gravy at our college brunch and since then he's been a fan of any kind of Southern breakfast.

Please make sure you have plenty of friends around to help eat this!  We reheated the gravy a few days later and it was good (with a little milk to thin it out) but the biscuits don't do as well.  They're fantastic the day you make them.

Thanks to Kelly from Eat Make Read and Laura from The Cooking Photographer!

buttermilk biscuits  from Eat Make Read

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup (2 oz.) homemade butter (or store-bought), very cold and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (or more) homemade buttermilk (or store-bought)
Special equipment: a 9-inch cake pan or cookie sheet
Makes 8-9 biscuits

1. Preheat the oven to 500°.
2. Lightly grease (or spray with cooking spray) a 9-inch cake pan.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary.
4. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. The butter pieces should range in size from a large pea to a little lentil.
5. Add the buttermilk, gently stirring until the dough starts to come together. You will have a fairly wet dough.
6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for one to two turns. Roll or pat out to about 3/4-inch thickness.
7. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out as many biscuits as you can, taking care not to twist the biscuit cutter into the dough. Re-roll the scraps as necessary.
8. Place the biscuits into the cake pan, letting the sides touch.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.

 Sausage Gravy 
from the Cooking Photographer
1 package Jimmy Dean All Natural Regular Pork Sausage
4 tablespoons butter, diced
3 tablespoons extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups milk

Break up sausage into a very large skillet or wide bottom pot. Cook over medium high breaking apart the sausage into small pieces. When no longer pink and well cooked remove the sausage from the pan leaving the grease behind and set the meat aside. Add butter and oil and stir occasionally until the butter is melted.

Next, add the flour and cook for 3 to 4 minutes stirring frequently. Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne. Rub the thyme between the palms of your hands to crush it while adding to the pan. Slowly stir in the milk and bring it to a simmer stirring constantly until gravy is thickened to taste. Add the sausage back in and cook for a couple minutes to warm through.

Season with more salt and pepper if needed and serve hot over biscuits.

Monday, February 21, 2011


For a friend's recent milestone birthday (aka his 30th) he rented out a house in New Hampshire and invited all his friends to come hang out for the weekend.  As a thank you and birthday present I offered to make dinner for everyone and asked what he wanted.  He asked for jambalaya which was fortunate because I had a pretty easy recipe that's gotten good reviews.  We've made this a couple times for Meals for Moms (but omitted the cayenne cuz we thought it might be too hot) and the new moms liked it, too.  I usually don't put rice in it- I make rice separately and have people pour the jambalaya onto it.  It's a little more soupy that way but still well received.

Thanks again,!

Easy Cajun Jambalaya
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8 ounces kielbasa, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute chicken and kielbasa until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Season with cayenne, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until onion is tender and translucent. Add rice, then stir in chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Almond Pound Cake

W loves pound cake and he was pleasantly surprised when I told him I was making one from scratch.  I ran out of vanilla extract and sugar, so I had to modify the recipe with whatever I had on hand.  I should probably make sure I have enough vanilla extract cuz I think almond extract is an expensive substitute.

It's another Smitten Kitchen recipe- this woman is culinary gold!
Cream Cheese Pound Cake  (with my modifications)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia brand cream cheese*, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract (vanilla would be fine, of course.  SK uses 1 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 almond)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch tube pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Alternately, you can use a 12-cup bundt pan, and simply butter and flour it.
2. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, almond, then the flour and salt all at once. Beat just until incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 hours.
4. Place the pan on a cake rack and cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.  ( I served it warm and it was delicious that way.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pecan Pie alternatives

I like pecan pie but I also like being different.  These two recipes are nice spins on traditional pecan pie.  People generally feel less guilty about eating dessert if it's in a smaller portion size, so the tartlettes might have an edge on regular pecan pie.

Thanks to Chocolate Chip Trips for the recipe!
Pecan Tartelettes
  • 2 Eggs, Slightly Beaten
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
2. Using a 2in diameter cookie cutter, cut 16 rounds of pie dough. Lightly press into a buttered muffin pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, syrup, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. Pour about 2-3 Tablespoons in each mini pie shell. Be careful that the filling doesn't flow over the shell.
4. Spread 2 Tb pecans in each shell.

Bake at 375 deg F. for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Remove each tartelette onto cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Whole Wheat Pie Crust (adapted from Land O'Lakes)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 2 to 3 Tbs ice cold water
1. Combine flour and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with fork just until flour is moistened.
2. Shape dough ball. Flatten slightly. Wrap ball in plastic food wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

 The second recipe is a little on the sweeter side and it's from Cooking for Engineers:
Chocolate Pecan Pie

The recipe is formatted differently, so go directly to the site. Thanks, Michael Chu!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spinach Dip

My friend C is a dietitian, and she does her best to make recipes healthier when possible.  Sometimes this results in disaster (which she never serves us) and sometimes it results in major success.  She made spinach dip for us and I couldn't get it out of my head because it was so good.  I called her the other day to get the recipe, so this is a rough copy of her version.

C's Spinach Dip
1 container fat free sour cream
1 box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
half a red onion, chopped
1 packet of veggie dip

Mix ingredients together, serve with chips (tortilla or pita work best since it's a heartier dip)

I am not a dietician, so I made a fattier version.
Tracie's Spinach Dip
1 bag of fresh spinach, rinsed
1 16 oz container of sour cream
1 packet onion soup mix
half a red onion, chopped

1. Boil a pot of water.  When it's boiling, toss in the rinsed spinach and blanch for ~1minute.  Immediately drain the spinach in a colander and run it under cold water so all the spinach is cool to touch.  Take the spinach in handfuls and squeeze out the excess water (the spinach is gonna reduce in size significantly). Once you've gotten all the water out of the spinach, roughly chop the spinach.  You can skip all of this by using the frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and drained.  Just make sure you get all of the water out of it.
2. Combine spinach, onion soup mix, red onion and sour cream.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the flavors meld.  Serve with tortilla/pita/bagel chips/raw veggies.  We also put this on a baked potato to mix things up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

Part of my job on the cardiology floor was to monitor patients' heart rhythms while they were getting tests done.  It was stressful if the patient's condition was a little precarious, but most of the time it was just a precaution.  I ventured down to MRI one time and noticed that one of the MRI techs had made pumpkin dip for the rest of her coworkers.  I didn't try any but I asked for the recipe since it smelled great.  She graciously printed a copy for me and I made it for my coworkers to celebrate my preceptee's last day of orientation.  My coworkers liked it so much that I ended up printing copies for them, too.

Making sure the cream cheese is softened is KEY.  Microwave it (out of the foil packet, of course) or leave it out at room temperature to get the consistency you need.  I omitted the orange juice and it still tasted fine- I think it's more for color than taste.  I served it with graham crackers, apple slices, and honey wheat pretzel braids.

Thanks to the MRI tech and Sue from Allrecipes!

Pumpkin Dip


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate


  1. In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes

Yesterday we invited people over for dinner, and I promised dessert.  I was already obligated to make cupcakes for W's coffee break at work, so I tried to find the perfect cupcake recipe.  It was impossible!  There are five hundred billion recipes for cupcakes!!

Finally at 5pm I decided to check one of my favorite websites: Smitten Kitchen.  I looked at a couple recipes and then saw this one: Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream
Happy Valentine's Day to me!  It was love at first sight.  And at first bite.  *happy sigh*  One friend ate three of them. 

I didn't have enough time to make the mint cream so I served it with Bailey's Whipped Cream instead.  It was delicious, and the extra whipped cream went well with strawberries.  W's work cupcakes were dusted with powdered sugar since he felt funny about bringing in something with alcohol. 

As much as I enjoyed the challenge of finding a great recipe, the best part was sharing dinner and dessert with friends.  Thanks for sharing Valentine's Day with us!  And thanks to Smitten Kitchen and Cupcake Project for posting recipes.

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) (86 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (97 grams) sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth.  Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.

Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack, embrace it) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.

From Cupcake Project:
Bailey's Irish Cream Whipped Cream
  1. Whip heavy whipping cream until it looks like whipped cream.
  2. Mix in sugar and Baileys Irish Cream until just combined.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chinese Steamed Fish

The first time I tried to make this dish I went all out.  I bought a fish that had been swimming in a tank mere hours before we consumed it.  The Asian grocery store scales it and everything so all I had to do was follow the recipe.  It seemed simple enough, and I was patting myself on the back for being so Chinese.  W was gonna love it!

Of course that fairy tale ended as soon as I started seasoning the fish.  I think I was adding salt or something on the outside and I swear the stupid thing jumped a little.  I, in turn, jumped a mile and swore really loudly (I don't swear often, I promise).  I stuck it in the fridge until I had the nerve to finish prepping it.  The fish tasted okay, but it wasn't the tender, flaky, steamed goodness that I had wanted.

I finally decided to attempt the recipe again, but this time I used cod fillets.  What can I say?  I'm an ABC.  The results were better, but I probably over-cooked it a little.  We still ate all of it, and I think with practice it'll be a nice staple.  I wish fresh seafood was more readily available, but at least I can improvise.  There are probably simpler ways to prepare this but I appreciated the details of this recipe.

Thanks to Steamy Kitchen for the recipe!
Chinese Steamed Fish

1 pound whole fish (or fillets 1″ or thicker) yields the best results
4 stalks, scallions – cut into 3″ lengths
3″ piece of ginger – slice into “coins”
small bunch of cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine to pour on fish prior to steaming (or any cooking wine like dry sherry)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper if you don’t have white)
fresh chilli – thinly sliced (optional)
2 stalks, scallions – cut into 3″ lengths
2″ piece of ginger – finely julienned to the skinniest, thinnest strips you can possibly manage without a microscope
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Equipment: shallow pan to hold fish & large pot or wok for steaming. If you don’t have a fancy steamer or steamer insert, take a shallow-ish bowl and invert to use as a stand. Or…3 shot glasses inverted.
1. Clean & Stuff: Clean your fish, pat dry. Season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Take half of (A) and stuff inside the fish. If you are using fillets, skip this.
2. Make your bed: Take the other half of (A) and lay it in a shallow pan. If using fillets, just use all of (A) for the bed. Lay the fish on top of the bed. If fish is too long, cut in half. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine on top of the fish.
3. Steam: Add 2″ of water to your large pot, cover and boil. When it is boiling, uncover and wipe the inside of the cover clean of any condensation (all this condensation will drip back down on your fish, diluting the flavor) Put your fish pan inside, propped up with a small inverted bowl. Steam the fish on medium (see below for cooking times).
  • Whole fish 1 lb: check at 12 minutes, add 2 minutes for every 1/2 lb
  • Fillets 1″ and thicker: check at 10 minutes, add 2 minutes for every 1/2″ more thickness
  • Fillets less than 1″: check at 7 minutes
  • Super thin fillets: check at 5 minutes
Check to see if its done at the times indicated.  Poke your chopstick at the flesh near the top fin. If flesh flakes easily near the top fin, then its done. If flesh sticks together still, then add 1-2 more minutes to cooking time. For fillets, just gently poke at the flesh in the middle. Timing really depends on the thickness of your fish.  Also check to make sure you haven’t run out of steaming water.
4. Aromatics: Towards the end of the steaming process, you’ll want to start preparing the aromatics that garnish the finished dish. Take a microwave-safe bowl, add (B) and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside. When fish is done steaming, carefully lift the fish out onto a serving platter, discarding all of the cooked cilantro/ginger/scallions and the fish juice in the pan. Pour the hot (B) over fish.
Now we’ll work with (C): In a separate pan or wok, heat up cooking oil until you see smoke. Add the ginger and scallions, fry for 10 seconds to “pop” the flavors. Pour this cooking oil + herbs over the fish. You’ll hear a very satisfying sizzle!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beef Noodle Soup

One of my brother's favorite dishes is beef noodle soup.  We always go to Mandarin Noodle House when he's home to eat it, and one year I tried to make it when he visited.  Unfortunately I added too much tomato and didn't start it early enough, so it wasn't as good as I had hoped.  He showed his love for me by eating it anyway.

Every other time I've made this I've had great results.  I usually use miso instead of Chinese bean paste and I don't add cilantro (personal preference).  My only other tip is to not use too much tomato.  Eesh!  I usually throw this in a slow cooker to stew for ~6 hours on low, but you can easily use a Dutch oven or some other pot on the stove.  The house always smells delicious when we make it.

Thanks to Tasty Meals At Home!
Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Rou Mien)

What You Need
  • 2 lbs Beef Shank/Short Ribs and Beef for Stewing (Optional)
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 Whole Onion
  • 5-6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 big pieces of ginger
  • 3-4 stalks of Green Onion
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Bean Paste
  • 5-6 Star Anise pieces
  • Noodles
  • Spinach
  • Cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce (Dark and Regular)
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 5 cups of water
What to Do
First start by washing your beef under cold water and removing any excess fat. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and flash boil your meat in order to remove any excess membranes/harmful/particles from your meat. This makes your final soup clear and cleaner.
Next, cut your onions, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic into semi-large pieces and begin frying them in a big pot with some oil. We like to use vegetable oil but any will do.
After your vegetables have been cooking for a few minutes, add in the Chinese Hot Bean Paste and incorporate everything. After getting some color on your vegetables, add in the beef and star anise.
Cook everything for another minute or two and add in your dark and regular soy sauce (half cup each). Next cover everything with water–add enough water to cover the soup. You can use 1/2 water and 1/2 beef broth if you want a more meaty flavor. You can also adjust the water levels later if the soup is too salty.
Finally add in some green onion, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
It will take at least 2hours to cook everything, 4-6 hours of stewing for the best results.
We like to cook the stew the night before actual serving so that all the flavors can come together. On the day you want to serve everything, just simply bring the broth to a boil, cook some Chinese noodles and spinach and assemble!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's chili in here

I love chili.  Growing up I happily ate canned Stagg chili and my dad would make it from "scratch" for our annual New Year's Eve party.  I ate it with spaghetti (chili mac Steak'n Shake style), with macaroni, on hot dogs, on burgers, with Fritos and nacho cheese (this is bliss, btw)- basically any acceptable way.

During my first year of marriage I learned that chili isn't hard to make.  And when the chili is flavorful enough, you can replace turkey for beef and no one knows any better!  I've made it with several different chili powders and my favorite so far is one I got at Penzey's.  They have at least 4 different kinds, so I'm sure I'll make it enough to try them all.

I usually add diced green and/or red bell peppers for color, and sometimes I'll use black beans instead of kidney beans.  I made a vegetarian version and added summer squash instead of turkey.  I wouldn't recommend putting this on burgers or hot dogs cuz it's more soupy, but you could always add less water and make it thicker.  It's a pretty versatile recipe, and luckily my husband loves it any way I make it.

Without further ado: Simple Turkey Chili from


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (28 ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can canned kidney beans - drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Stir in onion, and cook until tender.
  2. Pour water into the pot. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic. Season chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.