Wednesday, January 4, 2017

M&M Blondies

I rarely ever crave or create desserts, but these chewy bars are so worth the lifetime on the hips. I developed the craving when my friend Dan posted a picture of his M&M cookie from a bakery in Dallas. I searched all of Portland, and never found a single M&M cookie. So we made these.

When I Googled M&M blondie recipes, the one that caught my eye immediately was from my favorite Iron Chef Michael Symon. The year that I started blogging, I was creating recipes in my kitchen that I had built, where I had chosen every detail. My friend Scott had design credentials from a school in New York, and he'd taken me on a shopping spree. In one afternoon, he laid out all of our finds to make my new house a comfy home.

I was quite passionate about cooking new things, and I loved sharing the recipes. My older posts are amateurish, but they were fueled with excitement. I never cared who read, but friends were telling me they loved my posts, even though they didn't cook.

When I decided I was tired of outside sales, my husband let me quit my job. It came with a price. We had to sell our house that I loved. When I lost my dream kitchen, I lost a little of that food blogging love. I buried all my feelings away and lost myself every single day at Barnes and Noble. I read cookbooks in their entirety, looking for something to keep me going. The two books that I remember were from chefs Michael Symon and Sam Talbot

The Sweet Life is about Sam's life as a diabetic. I loved his voice in the book, and I was inspired to share my own voice in the same manner. I started cooking with shirataki noodles, and I never forgot the moment he had the best pork chop of his life. I was hoping he would win this season's Top Chef, and I was shocked when he made his exit. I hope to visit his new restaurant Pretty Southern in Brooklyn.

The other book I loved that year was Michael Symon's Live to Cook. Here's hoping I'm back in my dream kitchen again soon so that I can live that dream again. It didn't happen in 2016, but I'm optimistic about the possibility in 2017! Happy New Year! You can find his M&M Blondies recipe here: M&M Blondies

Friday, December 16, 2016

Reverse Seared Steak

There are so many ways to cook a steak. I found that in my Meatbook group on Facebook, many of the members loved this method. I checked it out, and here's what I found!

The ribeye was about 16 ounces, or a pound. I also cooked another alongside it.

The result was a perfect medium rare in my book.

I used a thermometer, but maybe it's out of date. Because most recipes I found for medium rare said 125 degrees was the target temperature.

I chose to use ghee for searing because it is clarified butter that is great for high heat, and some think it has healthy benefits for you. 

  • 2 steaks, about a pound each (mine were ribeyes)
  • Marinade: I use about 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp liquid aminos, tons of granulated garlic, & a pinch of turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Place the steaks on a foil lined pan.
  3. Insert thermometer, and cook until the temperature rises to 125 degrees (about 18 minutes.)
  4. Prepare a pan over high heat with the ghee. Sear each side about 90 seconds until browned.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A good pozole takes hours to make from scratch. But 30 year old Chris Bailey has mastered the base for us in the Portland area using all natural, vegan ingredients, saving you hours in the kitchen. When you taste the perfected flavor with the best hominy you can find, you'll want this in your regular dinner rotation.

I've met Chris twice now, and I've bought many jars of his Pozole to the People since. I love buying local products, especially when I get the chance to interact with the owners to hear their story. This traditional soup from Mexico is something that you can easily incorporate into week nights with the addition of your favorite proteins, or veggies to bulk it up a bit. 

Chris has a couple of pop ups coming soon, if you're in the Portland area. Friday, December 9th, you can check out his pozole at New Seasons in Happy Valley from 5 - 7 p.m. There will be a full bar of toppings, so go by and try it for yourself. Then Wednesday, December 14th, you can check out Pozole to the People at the Portland Mercado. For more details, find them on Instagram.

If you can't make either event, you can find Pozole to the People at New Seasons, Whole Foods, Green Zebra, and more! Check out their web site to see: where to find Pozole to the People. For my recipe, keep reading.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Braised Chicken Thighs with Marinated Artichokes

I found this recipe in the October issue of Food and Wine last month, contributed by Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy. We've made it twice now, and it has become my older daughter Gianna's favorite chicken dish. My variation was made with limes and peeled garlic instead of lemons and the halved head of garlic. Pictured below is the halved version of the recipe.

Now that my husband is back at work in Alaska, meals at home will be more geared towards my own taste. When he called to let me know they wanted him back, I immediately dropped the slow cooker cookbook that I'd been reading, and dove right into Bon App├ętit. While he likes thin fried pork chops and spaghetti on a regular basis, I prefer to experiment with new dishes that are generally more blog worthy.

"What do you think about your dad heading back up for 4 weeks?" I asked Gianna. "I am starting a show about my life when I get older!" she said. "Like The Goldbergs?" "YES!!!!" We had just left a restaurant where the hubby was his usual animated self expressing every thought that came to mind, pretty much on a rampage, while I sat without hiding my discontent and total dissatisfaction for the bad service that we were receiving. 

"Are there hidden cameras?! Are we in a reality show that I don't know about? Is that why you guys act the way you do?" I play dumb, driving, as if I have no idea what she's talking about.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Slow Cooker Pho

The slow cooker is so perfect for making pho. If you can find precut eye of round, that makes the task even easier!

There's a restaurant in Portland called Pho Kim. One day, my daughter Sasha saw their car in the parking lot of our New Seasons. They have a personalized license plate with the name of their restaurant on it. She was asking me why my husband didn't come with me to pick her up from school. I told her he was exhausted from flying home from his job in Alaska, so he was napping.

The next thing I heard was her exclaiming the name of the restaurant. "What?!" I asked her? Did I just hear her curse her dad?

"Pho Kim!" She pointed at the license plate. I started laughing, and when she realized how it sounded, she did too. We're making fond memories in Oregon. 

Here's how we're making our own pho these days.

  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (about 2 inches long), peeled and halved
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 lbs. oxtail - I got mine at Fred Meyer
  • 2 lbs. beef marrow bones - also from Fred Meyer in the frozen meats section
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce - Red Boat brand is my favorite from Hong Phat
  • Pho noodles, fresh if possible
  • Thinly sliced eye of round
  1. Spray the onion slices and ginger with oil, then broil on a foil lined pan until slightly charred, about 10 minutes.
  2. Optional: toast the spices, then place inside a spice ball. The ball is not necessary, but it's how we did it growing up. 
  3. Place everything inside your slow cooker, cover and cook on high two hours. Then, reduce heat to low 6 more hours.
  4. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Or go to the next step.
  5. Remove the fat from the top. Keep cool.
  6. Warm the broth in a stock pot over high heat. Add the beef, using a spider skimmer, just until the beef is rare to medium rare.
  7. Add some noodles to a bowl, top with beef, and broth. Add garnishes such as green onion, cilantro, perilla, and rau ram. Hoisin and sriracha are also popular additions.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Slow Cooker Chili

Last week a visit with Erin of Platings and Pairings had me really ready to get back to blogging. We had a great time talking about blogging, bloggers, and food over Happy Hour. We also talked about the challenges, such as this time of year when it gets dark at 4:30 outside, and our natural light is gone.  

But this time of year is so mesmerizingly beautiful outside. The weather is perfect. The leaves are golden and red, the rain relaxes me as I listen to the downfall outside. I drive around and listen to John Mayer's Why Georgia for hours.

I found myself admitting to my friend Jenna that it's exhausting to cook full time at home for our family of four. Now that my husband is working in the Portland area, I'm back to cooking dinner at home every night, plus lunches that he can pack for work, plus lunches for the girls at school, plus after school snacks. Even when I tried to resort to a rotisserie chicken one night, the idea was not received well.

Alaska, can you take him back soon?

The slow cooker is perfect for this time of year. The kids are back in school with their soccer and volleyball practices and games, meaning so much running around. Also with the Crock Pot, I'm not standing over a stove. I can get it started and go run errands (aka, go meet friends downtown for lunch).

Chili is such a necessity at our house this time of year. The nostalgic loud sound of football is always on my husband's 60 inches of true love (his TV), requiring a delivery of chili served to his recliner so that he doesn't have to step away from his Fantasy Football stats. And he says I have it made?!

Does anyone else like chili dogs with cilantro? My sassy daughter Sasha would say, "Asian."

My husband was always the chili maker of our household, until we moved to Oregon and he couldn't find his Williams chili packet anywhere. After testing the spices in a few chili batches, we have settled on this recipe.


1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

2 lbs. ground beef
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth or water, according to the consistency that you like
1 12 oz. bottle of beer

  1. In a large 12 inch skillet, brown the ground beef.
  2. Drain, then add all ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on low 6 - 8 hours.
Note: You can adjust the amount of broth or water. My husband likes soupy chili, and I know other people prefer thicker chili.... People like me..... But oh well.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Baked Miso Glazed Salmon

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can eat wild Pacific Sockeye Salmon on a regular basis! There are so many health benefits, and we love lean protein. And the glaze of miso, sesame, and mirin make an amazing flavor combination!

I never had salmon until I arrived in Little Rock for my second year of college. I grew up in Southern Arkansas, eating catfish, black bass, and other fish that were caught in the lakes of the South. My mom was an expert at cleaning and cooking fish. We had it on a regular basis. Sometimes she steamed them whole with fresh herbs and wild mushrooms. Other times fried with a side of Vietnamese dipping sauce. We used our chopsticks to peel back the skin, grab a chunk of meat, and eat from shared plates. 

This style of eating drives my husband crazy. So I serve up fish individually in our family in healthy fillet portions on each plate. In college I waited tables in an Italian restaurant that had Pacific salmon flown in fresh, served up grilled or piccata style. The portions were 6 ounces at lunch, and 8 ounces at dinner. Over the years, I leaned towards salmon more often as our fish choice because of its nutritional benefits. Basically, it's considered to be brain food.

I also recently perfected the most delicious miso sesame glaze concoction. It started with an attempt at another recipe, followed by many adjustments and the addition of gochujang, a savory Korean condiment that really leaves a lasting impression on your palate.

 I first had miso in soup form in Japanese or sushi restaurants. When I learned that you can use it as a marinade and glaze, I was completely on board. Do you know how good it is for you? You can learn more about it from one of my favorites, Food Babe.

I decided to add white beech mushrooms to dinner, because I picked some up from the Asian market the other day. I love mushrooms for their delicate earthy flavor. They hardly need anything to make them taste good. I simply added some sliced green onion, a little coconut oil spray, and a dash of granulated garlic. Then I cooked them alongside the miso topped salmon.

They turned out beautifully. This recipe has been adapted from New Seasons Market, a locally owned grocery store in my home town in Oregon. I visit them on a daily basis to try their samples and recipes. I also buy lots of sustainable seafood from them.