Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beef and Mozzarella Lasagna (without ricotta)

I like to keep my lasagna simple. This version is quick and easy with very few ingredients, including no boil lasagna sheets. I also make it in an 8 inch square pan, which is perfect for our family of four. I've played around with no ricotta lasagna in the past, but this time I've decided that shredded mozzarella and asiago are the way to go.

I've had delicious house made ricotta from The Hive in Arkansas, and from Portofino in Portland, but I haven't yet found any in stores that I would use in my own pasta dishes. If anyone knows of any great local ricotta, I'd love to add it to our home Italian charcuterie routine. Let me know!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Calamari Tacos

I had some really delicious calamari tacos at Por Que No Taqueria in Portland, so I was inspired to make my own at home! The calamari is not battered or fried, but seasoned with chili seasoning and broiled instead. Por Que No also does not batter their calamari, and they have our undying devotion.

Do you like calamari and tacos as much as we do? I love calamari so much, the guys at the seafood counter at New Seasons know me well!

 If you are a calamari or squid lover, let us know! For the recipe, click on.....

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beef Minestrone

Happy New Year!! So much has already happened in the new year, I've hardly been able to sit and write a post. But I've got plenty of great food pictures stored on my computer, so I'll be sharing those with you as often as I can! 

We're super excited because we're moving into a new house right by my daughter's middle school, and the kitchen has great lighting! There's so much packing to do, but surprise....I've found time to blog again!

Today I'm sharing our version of minestrone because it's one of my husband's favorite soups. And he's been home and off work for what seems like an eternity. I was once hosting lunch at a doctor's office, explaining my husband's oil work three weeks on and three weeks off, and one of the ladies said, "Oh is that how you make a marriage work?" It's our thirteenth year of marriage, so if we get through this one, that five year wait for a ring will be worth it. My friend Jayne even said, "If one more of our friends beats Thanh down the aisle, she's gonna kill them!" She knew me well.

The Italians have many different versions of minestrone soup. Ours is made with our favorite soup vegetables, ditalini pasta, and ground beef. 
A bowl of minestrone goes great with a grilled cheese. Our favorite version lately has been freshly baked sliced sourdough with smoked provolone or sliced mozzarella. Cooked slowly on medium, getting just the right amount of toasting on the outside while the inside is perfectly melted. 

For our version of minestrone, click below.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sticky Rice

I grew up eating sticky rice at home, usually with a light sprinkling of mixed sugar and salt, and sometimes with the addition of ground peanuts or cashews. It was a snack I loved, made by my mom. But she hadn't made it in a while. And now I'm in Oregon, while she resides in Arkansas. It took some time for me to figure out which rice was the sticky or glutinous variety, but I finally found the time to figure it out. After going years without sticky rice, I finally had to make it for myself.

I have never seen sticky rice packaged as sticky or glutinous rice, only as sweet rice....

Because I'm cookbook obsessed, and I average 3 per day with 2 grande hot green teas, I recently found a new recipe for preparing it in a way that I had never tried. Sometimes I feel guilty that I get to do this almost everyday. To avoid that feeling, I add cooking magazines to my pile of books and swear to make good food for my husband when he gets home from work. And maybe I'll volunteer for a good cause soon.

So I was reading Lucky Peach's 101 Easy Asian Recipes because I love anything Momofuku or David Chang related. This was how they suggested making sticky rice. (Sweet rice.) It's a great read!

If you want to try sticky rice in Portland, you can buy it at Fubonn at their little mini cafeteria line where it's served with chicken. You can also have it in dim sum places like Wong's or Ocean City where it's wrapped in banana leaf and stuffed with Chinese sausage.

If you want to make it yourself, find the recipe here:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chili Powder Seasoning Mix

I'm so excited to share a recipe from a book that my friend Vivi Anne recently designed and edited! She worked with her mom Lilly Robbins Brock to create it. It's full of fantastic recipes, gift ideas, and helpful tips to know around the kitchen. This is the time of year to give gifts to loved ones, friends, neighbors, and colleagues at the office. Oh, and don't forget about teachers, bus drivers, and other administrative staff if you have kids in school. Just make sure your school doesn't frown on homemade gifts..

If you have a holiday get together with family or neighbors and you serve chili, why not send them home with the spice mix that you used to create it? For years, we always used Williams Chili Seasoning for our chili at home. But since we've lived in Oregon, we haven't seen any around the stores we frequent! So, it looks like my next batch of chili will be made with the mix you see above!

For more great recipes like this one, check out Food Gift Recipes From Nature's Bounty: Easy & Delicious Recipes to Make & Share for Every Occasion. You'll find more recipes for seasonings, dry rubs, cookies, cobblers, cake, pie, muffins, and many more inspiring year round goodies! 

For the chili powder seasoning mix, you can find it right here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beef and Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

When my husband's home from the freezing cold Arctic Slope, I tend to pamper him with hot, hearty meals like beef and rice stuffed cabbage rolls. He loves ground beef, and the tender cabbage makes a great parcel with the addition of fluffy rice and rich tomato sauce.

I don't recall ever having had this dish in a restaurant. It just seems like one day many years ago, I just started making these, and my husband requested it often. Seventeen years ago, when he left White Sands Missile Range to join me in Little Rock, I had a big cookbook where I looked for things to cook him. There were no pictures, and I'm not sure if this recipe came from there, but it's possible. The book was called Joy of Cooking. I grew up cooking Vietnamese meals at home with my mom, so the book was my attempt to cook American meals for my American boyfriend.

Back then, I was less food obsessed. I had no Food Network or Cooking Channel. I may not have even had cable. I only used my computer for college essays, and the Internet was something my roommate Ginger showed me from her office at the medical center so we could check our horoscopes. Oh AOL.... 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bone Broth with Asian Herbs in the Slow Cooker

Bone broth is big in the paleo community, which I follow pretty closely. The first time I ever heard of bone broth was when I read Nom Nom Paleo Michelle Tam's cookbook. You can find her recipe here. Then I found the Asian style of bone broth from the Steamy Kitchen site. I'm a big fan of both ladies, especially Michelle because I met her when she came to Portland to partner with Gregory Gourdet in a paleo brunch at Departure. She was super nice!

Above you see the "before" picture. They say that bone broth is really good for you. If so, great! If not, it still tastes really good, is expensive to make, and serves as a base for great soups. And since it's fall, I'll be making lots of this all season long!

I like to bundle my herbs for easy removal afterwards, so less has to be strained, and I don't have a bunch of chopped stuff floating around everywhere. My pork bone broth has dried shrimp, a whole head of garlic in a tea ball, cilantro, green onions, and ginger. A dash of turmeric, black pepper, and ground coriander also topped everything before filtered water covered it all.

Then, you see the "after" picture. I used tongs to remove the bigger pieces. The pork neck bones yielded a healthy amount of marrow, and after cooled, very little fat. The broth was nicely gelatinous.

Above was the pork broth that I made over 28 hours. It's perfect for one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes, Hu Tieu. You can order a really legit bowl from Pho An on Sandy if you're in Portland.

The six hour chicken broth that I made looked a lot lighter. I added some Red Boat fish sauce, ground turmeric, ground coriander, some chopped green onions, and chopped cilantro to make the Asian tasting broth. It makes a great sipper!

I get my bones from New Seasons or Natural Grocers here in Oregon when I can because I like to cook with the best quality, local ingredients as often as possible. I plan to start a tradition of buying a rotisserie chicken from New Seasons weekly so that I can use the carcass for making bone broth with it. Theirs is grass fed, local, hormone-free and antibiotic-free.

In Arkansas, I chose The Fresh Market and Whole Foods for the best quality of meats. If anyone knows of direct producers that I can buy from, please comment and let me know!

For more information about the benefits of making bone broth, check out Wellness Mama.