Monday, July 15, 2013

Breaded Asian Pork

I love having a food processor and I love experimenting with new flavors I can add to my protein.  I found myself getting bored with the same old recipes involving chicken.  I wanted to branch out and experiment with a lot of different flavors by creating my own glazes, sauces, and rubs.  When I threw this dish together, it came out surprisingly delicious.  I hope you enjoy it!  Love having Kyle as my guinea pig.  I know not all of my recipes have pictures but I promise to upload them when I cook them again, which will be soon! There are some grocery items that you must always have on hand in your fridge and in your pantry. Here is a list of what I always have in my kitchen on top of staples such as sugar and flour:

Plain bread crumbs
heavy cream
Green onions
White or yellow onions
Tomato Sauces, Diced tomatoes, Tomato paste
Chicken Broth, Beef Broth
Chicken Stock
Corn Starch
Rice Wine Vinegar


2 lean thick cut pork chops boneless (about 1 inch thick)
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce
2 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of green onions chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce until consistency is like a runny paste.  
  3. Brush all sides of the pork with the sauce and cover with bread crumbs
  4. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, brown the pork chops until the bread crumbs are a golden brown.
  5. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes
  6. Serve with ginger rice

Recipe for Ginger Rice

2 cups of steamed rice
2 tablespoons of minced ginger
1 carrot thinly sliced and julienned (short and thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon of white rice

  1. In a small skillet, melt the butter and add in the ginger and carrots.  Toss and heat for about 5 minutes
  2. Mix the ginger and carrots into your steamed white rice

Barbara's Meatloaf

When I think of meatloaf, I think of Kyle's mom.  She makes the best meatloaf there is.  I have made some of my own adjustments to the recipe, but it still has that taste which reminds me of home.  This is NOT the healthy version.  I have made a healthy version using either the leanest ground beef or ground turkey.  Either way, its up to you!  This recipe can feed about 4-6 people


2 pounds of ground beef or ground chuck (80/20)
2 teaspoons of black pepper (season to taste)
3 teaspoons of salt (season to taste)
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
5 slices of bread
3 tablespoon Ketchup
3 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 can of tomato sauce (if you can find the tomato sauce specific to meatloaf, get it!  Hunt's seasoned tomato sauce for Meatloaf is excellent)
1 small onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 green bell pepper diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar
Loaf pan

  1. Preheat your oven to 350
  2. Make your breadcrumbs by placing the bread in a food processor and pulse until "sandy"
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onions, bell pepper, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, eggs, ground beef, ketchup, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and half of the tomato sauce.   Mix well with your hands.  If you don't like to get dirty then you can use the KitchenAid.  
  4. Put your meat mixture in the loaf pan and place in the oven
  5. Meanwhile, take the last half of the tomato sauce and mix with brown sugar in a  small bowl
  6. Bake for 50 minutes, take the pan and drain excess fat/grease.  Top with the remainder of the tomato sauce mixture and return to oven.   Bake for another 10 minutes, let sit for a few minutes and serve!  

Herb Crusted Salmon for Two

Salmon is something that is easy to cook especially baked.  You can play around with flavors, try wrapping in foil, or just bake a simple salt and peppered filet in the oven for 15-20 minutes.


2 salmon filets
3 slices of bread
2 teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley or 5 sprigs of fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tablespoon of butter
Large stove to oven skillet

Make the bread crumbs:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a food processor put in the bread and spices.  Pulse until all mixed.  Add in half of the melted butter and pulse.  Keep adding butter until you get a good consistency like wet sand.  
  3. Spread out the bread crumbs on a foil lined aluminum pan and toast in oven for about 3-5 minutes
  4. Take the bread crumbs out of the oven.  Salt and Pepper the filets and lightly brush each salmon filet with mustard.  Don't forget the sides too!  
  5. Heat up a large skillet on medium high heat and add ~ 1 tablespoon of butter.  Place in salmon filet and cook for about 2 minutes flesh side up.
  6. Remove from heat and flip salmon over.  Coat each filet generously with bread crumbs.  
  7. Place skillet in the oven and cook the salmon for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crawfish, Sausage, and Shrimp Etouffee

This is my great recipe for hosting a group of about 10 people.  So yummy!  I made it for a work pot luck and got the stamp of approval from a native Louisiannan!  One thing I find hard to communicate in writing down my recipes is the amount of spices to put in.  Like most people, I just season to taste.  I will try my best to estimate the amount of spices but I will do it on the low end to be safe.  Nothing will ruin a dish like over spicing.  You can modify this dish with whatever protein you want.  If you can't get the crawfish skip it.  I'm lucky enough to have a mom that buys crawfish by the pounds, peels, and freezes them.  Whenever I come home, she always fills up one of those styrofoam coolers for me full of shrimp, crawfish, meats, and soups.  Again, customize this based on what you like.  The most important thing you get right is the roux.  For one party, I made a separate pot of étouffée with just sausage for the non seafood eater(s).  In this case it was for one of my girlfriends.  What!  I can't imagine life without seafood!  How can you dislike something that tastes so good???  


1 pound of shrimp deveined
1 pound of crawfish tails
1 package of andouille sausage -sliced or chopped depending on your preference
1 small-medium onion diced
2 bell peppers diced
4-5 stalks of celery diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 stick of butter
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 32 oz container of chicken stock
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce 
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons each salt and pepper 
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
steamed rice for serving
1/2 cup of chopped green onions for garnish

1.  In a large dutch oven or pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add in spoonfuls of flour until it gets to a peanut butter consistency
2.  Add in garlic, bell pepper, onion, and celery.  Stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
3.  Add in can of diced tomatoes and stir about 2 minutes
4.  Add in chicken stock and stir.  Add  in your spices.  Remember, start off with the amount described and adjust to taste.  I love it spicy so I add lots of hot sauce and cayenne pepper.  Again, be careful with the salt and don't be afraid to use the salt.  Add in shrimp and sausage and continue stirring until shrimp is cooked.  You want to add in your crawfish last since it is already cooked.  
5.  Serve over rice and top with green onions.   

*tip* if you want a thicker sauce you can melt some more butter in a small skillet and add flour to make more roux. Then, add into your pot. DO NOT try to add flour directly into the étouffée pot. You will get clumpy balls of flour in your etoufee! 

Linguine and Prawns in Pesto

I had a dish similar to this in Rome and it inspired me to make it at home.  I actually saved the restaurant's location on my iPhone maps.  I am hoping that when I go back to Rome, I will be able to find it again.  I know for sure it is on a small side street behind the Louis Vuitton store; and you know I will be stopping by there on the way!  I have to say it was the most beautiful LV store I've ever been in. They even served us expresso in Louis Vuitton shot glasses.  By the way, designer handbags are definitely cheaper there than in the U.S.  If you are planning on spending more than $500 it is worth the extra effort and paperwork.  At the store, you tell the cashier that you need to get the paperwork for the VAT.  You get a refund on a portion of the tax once you are the airport on your way home.  When we were departing from Rome, there was a booth inside after security where you get your  money back in cash.  Before you get in line at this booth, you need to go to the office to validate or stamp your paperwork on your purchases.  We heard that the lines could be long but we had no problems at all and it only took us about 20 minutes, so do allot time for that.  

Linguine and Prawns in Pesto Sauce


1 package of linguine pasta
1 6 oz container of Pesto sauce
1/2 pound of shrimp deveined and chop into chunks
1/4 cup of pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Parmesan cheese to top

1.  Boil pasta according to package directions to al dente, strain, and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water (make sure you time it so that the pasta is still hot because you will mix everything together)
2.  In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté shrimp until opaque; set aside
3.  Return drained pasta to pot and pour enough pasta sauce for pasta to have a "slippery" consistency
4.  Using some tongs, toss in pesto sauce, cheese, and shrimp
5.  Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and serve

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Easy Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce

This is my go to meat sauce recipe for lasagna, baked ziti, and spaghetti.  I used to enjoy baked ziti at that little plae in the mall food cort, Sbarro's.  It was a meatless sauce and I remember getting it all of the time during my lunch breaks.  I actually had two jobs at the mall - both retail.  My first retail job was at Paul Harris, a women's clothing store managed by one of my high school friend's mom.  I hated it.  I hated it because I had some pretty snooty managers; one of them being a girl I went to high school with.  Don't even get me started on high school mean girls...The second mall job was at Abercrombie and Fitch.  Oh yes.  I was 22 years old and rather enjoyed spending all of my paychecks on new clothes.  It was a vicious cycle.  The great thing was I was a tiny little thing.  I actually fit into  a size 0.  In A&F sizes that was probably really a size 00.  It's been 10 years since and I have managed to move up only a few sizes.  Miraculously!  Every now and then I get the comment, "It will catch up with you when you get older"  or "It will catch up with you once you have kids".  Well, I've been hearing it since I was in high school and I'm 32 years old now.  I've proven the first comment wrong (somewhat) thus far so we will see about the 2nd comment about having babies.  Thank God for Asian mothers.  My mom lets me know how much of a cow I am if I even gain 2 pounds!  So back to the recipe...I try to use healthy ingredients as much as possible.  Don't want it to catch up with me!


About 1 lb of ground beef (93/7) or ground turkey
1 can of died tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
2 small cans of tomato paste
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon of oregeno
1 teaspoon of basil or 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon of olive oil
  1. Saute onion and garlic in a large saucepan or dutch oven
  2. Add in ground beef and brown on medium high heat
  3. Add in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and paste.  Continually stir.
  4. Add in spices and seasonings
  5. Adjust to taste

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


Prepare the above meat sauce
1 package of spaghetti pasta cooke al dente (save about a cup of pasta water)
Parmesan cheese for garnish (I've also used Gruyere and Romano cheese)

1. Boil pasta according to package directions and strain.  Add pasta water in case it gets too dry.  
2. Top with desired amount of meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to liking.  



Prepare the above meat sauce
Lasagna noodles (Do not get the ready to boil ones!)
One container of ricotta cheese low fat
1 16 oz package of parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 eggs
1 16 oz package of mozzarella cheese

1.  Prepare the meat sauce and pre heat oven to 350 deg
2.  In a small bowl mix together the parmesan cheese, egg, parsley and ricotta cheese.  
3.  In a 13/9 inch baking dish, layer in the following order:  meat sauce, mozzarella, lasagna noodles,        spread the parmesan mixture on top of noodles.  Repeat with top layer being meat sauce.  You will top with mozzarella cheese about 10 minutes before done.  
4.  Bake for 45 minutes

*You can use ground turkey and turkey sausage instead of ground beef.  No limit on the amount of meat either!  

Baked Ziti


Meat sauce
About 10 slices of deli cut provolone cheese (don't be shy with the cheese!)
1 box of penne or ziti pasta
1 16 oz package of shredded mozzarella 
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
9x12 baking dish (you can really use any baking dish as long as everything fits, I've used a casserole dish, and a round Corning dish too)

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
2. Boil pasta according to directions 
3. Layer baking dish in the following order with appropriate portions: pasta, meat sauce, provolone cheese, pasta, meat sauce, 1/2 the mozarella, pasta, meat sauce, parmesan cheese. 
4. Bake for 35 min. Top with rest of mozzarella cheese and bake additional 10 min or until cheese is melted. 

A twist: after boiling the pasta, mix pasta, meat sauce, one 16oz container of ricotta cheese.  Bake the same time and top with mozzarella at end (last additional  10 min) no need for provolone or parmesan. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bruschetta with Roma Tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella

Bruschetta with Fresh Mozzarella

This dish is so simple and reminds me so much of our honeymoon in Italy.  Everything is so fresh and flavorful there.  The only downside about going in the summer or anytime it's hot is the lack of A/C you will find.  I did not find that bit of information in any of the Rick Steves travel guides.  Plus the lack of ice cold water and the fact that you have to pay for water at restaurants.  It wasn't that big of a problem because you could get an ice cold beer or a glass of wine for less than a glass of water.  Another neat fact about Rome:  All of the over 2,500 public fountains run cool filtered water.  I kept a water bottle in my bag and anytime I saw a fountain, I'd just fill up right there.
 Anyways, back to the dish...

If you are a fan of Caprese Salad then you can skip the carbs and just prepare it without the baguette and serve it cold.

This is a great baseline for any type of toppings you might want to add like shrimp or bay scallops.  Get creative!  I think one day I might try it with some cremini mushrooms.  

Makes 16 hor devours (using a 12 inch baguette)


1 package of fresh mozzarella 
1 baguette (I use whatever is freshest at the store - french bread, ciabiatta, focaccia, etc)
Fresh basil leaves from about 3 stalks (I love basil, so i use a lot of it!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
3 tomatoes, any kind (if you use grape tomatoes or cherry make sure you slice them half wise)
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch sections (some grocery stores even have a bread slicer you can use)  Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle a bit of olive oil on each slice, and toast for about 5-7 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, slice the mozzarella cheese and tomatos into about 1/4 inch pieces.  Coarsely chop the basil leaves.  
  2. Remove the toasted bread, and layer the mozzarella cheese, and tomato on top of each piece of bread.  Top with each with some basil leaves.  Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar and add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
  3. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is slightly melted/warm.  Enjoy!!!

*Note*  Sometimes I chop the tomatoes and basil to combine in small bowl with about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Then I refrigerate it and add it to the toasted bread and slightly melted cheese.  

Don't skip out on the mozzarella cheese!  It makes a world of difference.  Some recipes tell you to stack bread, tomato, cheese, then basil.  I like my cheese on top of the bread first so that the flavor from the balsamic vinegar soaks only into the tomatos.  

This is my version of Bruschetta with a variety of cherry type tomatoes and bay scallops.  I believe the flavor comes from the combination of the basil and balsamic vinegar.  For this recipe, I mixed the tomatoes with the vinegar and basil together then topped off the toasted bread and mozzarella with the mixture.  

I cannot wait to try it with heirloom tomatoes!  

Slow cooker pulled pork

Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork 

So I wanted to try planning out our dinners one week at at time, only going to the grocery store on Sundays.  I have tried this before and it works out great.  No more trying to decide where to eat, what we are going to eat, etc.  So for my first day of cooking I decided to go with pulled pork tacos.  Luckily the pork shoulder/butt was on sale at the local grocery store.  I think I read somewhere that they are not going to call them butts anymore.  Nothing like a good ole pork butt in my belly.  I got a decent sized 4.5lb pork shoulder for a little over 10 dollars.  The prep time only took me less than 20 minutes and then I waited... the result was a juicy, succulent, melt in your mouth flavor.  I am definitely going to make this again for a larger crowd.  I love hosting people and cooking but it gets a little cramped in our 2 bedroom apartment.  The hubby approved and could not stop picking at the meat when I took it out of the CrockPot.  

  • 1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (bone is ok, you can remove it later)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cubes of chipotle seasoning (this can be found in the ethnic food aisle or next to the chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow) thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of BBQ sauce
  1. Place the onions and the garlic evenly at the bottom of the slow cooker.  
  2. Pour in the chicken broth
  3. Drop in your two chipotle cubes
  4. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a small bowl  (sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon) and mix well
  5. Pat the pork shoulder dry on a cutting board and rub in the spice mix all over the pork
  6. Place the pork into the slow cooker and cook on high for 7 hours
  7. Remove pork from the cooker and place on a cutting board.  Shred using two forks.  Discard bone and excess fat.  Use a mesh strainer to separate the liquid and onion/garlic mixture.  Return only the onion/garlic mixture back to the cooker.  Place shredded pork back into cooker and add BBQ sauce to desired amount. 
I served the pulled work with warm flour tortillas, cilantro, and avocado.  It was absolutely delicious!  You can serve it on a bun with cole slaw too.  Other toppings for your tacos can include mango, pico, etc.