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.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Steak & Tzatziki Pita Bites

I was recently invited by Chobani to share a recipe using their product. I knew I wanted to make something with their Greek yogurt, and the first thing that came to mind was Greek tzatziki sauce. 

I had a fresh pomegranate on my counter, so I knew I wanted to use it in the recipe with some other Mediterranean flavors. My kids love when Fall comes around, and we have plenty of pomegranate at home in our kitchen.

There's so much to love about Oregon in the Fall, and in our family that means the sound of weekend college sports on the television, beautiful pink-ribbonned sunsets, and me in the kitchen making snacks for game day while the husband and daughters cheer on their favorite college teams, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Oregon Ducks.
The steak and tzatziki pita bites were a big hit with them.

Tzatziki is a great, creamy herbaceous sauce that we've enjoyed in many Mediterranean restaurants. I had been wanting to make my own, so I decided to make mini pita bites with steak, mint, dill, and pomegranate. I made a big platter, put them down in the living room, and everyone was able to grab and eat. If you're tailgating at the game, you could even make it an assemble your own with regular sized pita or the mini ones that you precut for your guests.

Check out the Chobani site for more awesome recipes using Greek yogurt. Very inspiring!

Friday, October 9, 2015


I love shirataki noodles because they don't require cooking, and you can use them just like you use any "Asian" rice or "Italian" pasta noodle. They come in fettuccine, angel, spaghetti, and macaroni shapes. I have seen all of them in stores except for the macaroni shape. They're usually in the refrigerated section near other tofu products. The brand I usually buy is House Foods. These noodles are gluten free and contain 20 calories per package.

Flat iron is my favorite steak to cook with at home. I make it for dinner often, so the leftovers get thrown in with the noodles for a quick lunch. In Vietnamese restaurants, you can order vermicelli noodle bowls with chicken, shrimp, pork, or spring rolls. I grew up eating these vermicelli bowls made by my mom at home, so over the years I started making them myself. When I discovered the easy shirataki noodles, they became a staple in my home. I spend many mornings at Barnes and Noble drinking caramel lattes, reading the latest cooking magazines and cookbooks, so by the time I tear myself away, I'm usually starving. (I hardly ever eat breakfast because I'm not usually hungry in the morning.) This is a very common lunch at home for me!

Fresh herbs like cilantro and green onions make any Asian noodle dish more "Asian," so this noodle bowl gets tons in it. Much more than what you see above, but I didn't wanna cover up all the meat and the noodles until after the picture. You can serve it with nuoc cham, the traditional Vietnamese sauce, or with nuoc mam gung, which is the same thing but with fresh ginger. Ever since I had this sauce at Pho Van with the duck soup and salad last week, I've been craving more of it!  

For the recipe, click here:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Serrano Ham and Cheese Wrapped Nectarines

This two - bite tapa has many possibilities. It can be made for get togethers. It can be brought along in your picnic basket that you're taking to the coast. It can be packed in your child's school lunch. And, it can be packed inside your carry on bag for that picnic on the plane!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I just moved to Portland about a year ago, and it's been really exciting to have access to fresh, local Pacific Northwest fish and seafood! Back in the landlocked state of Arkansas, I frequently cooked with flash frozen Ahi tuna to the temperature of rare to medium rare. When I saw the albacore tuna at the grocery store, I Googled it to see how it was cooked. I was excited to see that it's cooked like Ahi! Quickly seared on each side...and done!
I love cilantro, so I love to put chimichurri on just about any protein that I cook in my kitchen!
I've made the chimichurri a little on the chunky side for this post, but it can also be processed longer for a smoother consistency. 
Today is National Daughter's Day, and this recipe was made for my daughter Gianna for her after school snack. The albacore tuna came from Lummi Island Wild, our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest. As I sampled and tasted, and she devoured, it was looking like we'll be regular fans!

The portion I made was 6 ounces, and the cost was 6 dollars. That's a nice price for some lean, delicious protein! I love the affordability of local and fresh fish.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Beef Short Rib Banh Mi

Our household is consumed by soccer every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. So, I've learned that those are great days to use my slow cooker, better known in the South as The Crock Pot. 
Beef short ribs smell soooo good when you brown them, then add them to your slow cooker for 6 hours on low. Two forks easily shred the meat.
We prefer a Paleo lifestyle about 80 percent of the time, but occasionally will break bread together. Not just any bread, though. Usually a crusty baguette that we squeeze in the store before buying, to make sure it has just the right amount of give that we prefer. One touch, and we know its crustiness to softness ratio.