Monday, December 11, 2017

Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant

Sometimes, you tire of heavy Holiday foods. I mean...not really a lot. But there's gotta be like, ONE, meal where I don't crave thick slices of ham and full-fat egg nog. Spiked with a bit of rum.

...anyway. I was NOT referring to my own holiday let-loose diet. But on the off chance you want some veggies. And if you can get your hands on some eggplants still good from fall harvest then this recipe is a winner. winner. Eggplant dinner.

I wrote this post SO LONG AGO that I'm not sure where I sourced the original recipe or idea. Possibly Martha Stewart Living subscription circa 2011? 2012? I stay on top of my blog, as you can see ;)

Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce

Serves: 2


  • 2 large Eggplants
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage
  • 1 quart baby bella or white mushrooms, cleaned
  • Italian parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Set aside to drain.
  2. Remove sausage from casing.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until no longer pink.  Add sausage into a large mixing bowl to cool.  In wiped out pan, sautee mushrooms and then add to mixing bowl with sausage.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 375*F with grill shelf on top 2/3rds.
  4. Cut eggplants vertically (hamburger style) and scoop out about 1 c. of flesh with seeds.  Roughly chop eggplant flesh.  Wipe out previously used large pan and set on medium-high heat.  Cook eggplant flesh for about 5-10 minutes.  Add to mixing bowl.
  5. Combine quinoa into mixing bowl and stir all contents together.
  6. Set up a sheet sheet and place eggplant halves cut side up on the sheet pan.
  7. Spoon in contents of mixing bowl into eggplant halves.  Bake for 20-40 minutes or until lightly brown on top.
  8. Serve with chopped Italian parsley on top.
Optional: yogurt dipping sauce:
Mix together:
    • 1 c. greek yogurt
    • 1 tsp. dried dill
    • 1 tbs. finely chopped cucumber
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • squeeze of lemon
    • 1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pho Tai Chin Recipe, Brisket and Eye of Round Beef Pho

I have only made pho on my own a total of two or three times ever.  Mostly because making it means committing to having a giant pot's worth and babysitting the broth either overnight or the entire day.  But, it was starting to feel like fall recently and so, I bit the bullet.  Plus, we had help in town to finish up some of it!

Pho bo, or beef pho, is relatively simple to make.  Probably the hardest part is acquiring all the ingredients and scheduling some time to make the broth.  And having a giant pot.  I bought all the ingredients at my local Vietnamese grocery store and it costs less then $30!!! Can't beat that.  Although braving the parking lot and streets in Chinatown are no joke.  I literally had to translate Vietnamese/English for a lady who hit an old man's car while trying to back out of her parking spot. They were trying to file a police report as I was walking into the grocery store and flagged me down to help.  Thank goodness APD has a translator on staff because my Vietnamese ain't thaaaaat great.

-side note-I bet you pictured the lady being the Asian one...but you are wrong.  It was an African-American young woman who backed into an older Vietnamese guy. Who did have insurance.

Simmering beef bones and brisket with charred onions and ginger plus some key Vietnamese herbs and spices is the key to a flavorful broth.  And it made the house smell amazing.  Why hasn't anyone thought of making a pho-scented candle?
J/K, someone has thought of it: Pho Scented Candle

  • 1 onion
  • 1 5" piece of ginger
  • 1 pre-made spice packet like Old Man Que Huong Pho Bac Spice Seasoning 1.5 oz or:
    • 5 star anise
    • 6 whole cloves
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 tbs. coriander seends
    • 1 pod cardomom
    • 1 tbs. fennel seeds
  • 5 lbs. beef bones (knuckle and leg bones)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. salt
  • 1 chunk of rock candy*
  • 2-3 tbs. of fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • stems of cilantro (see below)
Arranging bowls:
  • vermicelli noodles (look for "banh pho" on the package), prepared as per package directions **
  • eye of round beef, thinly cut across the grain ***
  • reserved brisket from broth, sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper
  • white or yellow onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water, then drained
  • shallot, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water, then drained
  • fish sauce, if needed
  • green onion, chopped
  • cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
Let each eater personalize bowls with:
  • thai basil
  • culantro (ngo gai)
  • fresh bean sprouts, washed and dried
  • lime wedges
  • Sriracha and hoisin sauce
*rock candy can be found at an Asian grocery store.
**if available, I prefer fresh noodles, sometimes found at select Asian grocery stores
***if you cannot find this or ask a butcher to do it for you, freeze the meat to enable thinner slicing

  1. Grill or broil the onion halves and peeled ginger.  You want a nice char around the outer layers of onion and the ginger to be slightly soft to touch.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.  This is essential for imparting that distinct pho flavor.  I had Reid do this on our outdoor grill, but I also did this on the top rack of my oven, in a top rack sheet pan for about 5 minutes on broil.  I've also done this on the naked, clean stove grill, but that works better if you have a gas range (works well on electric, too, but grilling or broiling is easier/less likely to set off your smoke alarm)
  2. In the biggest pot you have (no really, I use my crawfish boiling pot...needs to hold at least 8 quarts of water),  parboil the beef bones.  That means bring the water to a boil, then dump everything over a strainer and run a little cold water over it.  This helps get the 'yuck' off the bones and make the broth taste cleaner.
  3. After you scrubbed the pot out a little, place bones, onion, ginger, and brisket in and add about 5 quarts of water and 1 quart of chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. While you ware waiting for that, in a separate large pan over medium-high heat, roast the contents of the spice packet or actual spices.  Tie in included bag or in cheesecloth and place in large broth pot.  Add rock sugar, salt, and fish sauce
  5. Bring to a simmer.  Skim off scum from top of broth every ~30minutes to an hour.
  6. After 1-2 hours of simmering, remove brisket and spice packet.  Reserve brisket for later.
  7. Continue to simmer broth for an additional minimum of 2 hours.  Sometimes I let the broth simmer all night.  Continue skimming off scum.  Remove all large bones (you can reserve to eat if people like to eat marrow or cartilage/ligaments). Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large (but not humongous) pot.
  8. Cool slightly before refrigerating for minimum of 5 hours.  Remove most of fat solidified at top.  I like to save about 1-2 inches diameter worth of fat for flavor.  
  1. In each bowl, layer vermicelli noodles, sliced brisket, and raw eye of round.  Add a shake or two of pepper and a dash of fish sauce if desired.  Add sliced onions and shallots and green onions.
  2. When ready to eat, ladle over broth and SERVE IMMEDIATELY.  This keeps the vermicelli noodles from expanding too much and becoming soggy.
  3. Serve alongside bean sprouts, herbs, lime wedges, and Sriracha and hoisin sauce.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

So, in my previous Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie post, I gushed about how much I love my slow cooker. And it's because of genius things like being able to make Chex Mix in it!

And then you get a house that smells of Chex Mix. MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm!

As if the microwave method of making homemade chex mix isn't easy enough, you can now make it in your slow cooker. In all honesty, making it in the microwave is way easier but like I said before, you can make your house smell like chex mix!

You can customize this recipe to any version of Chex mix you prefer, but I like the OG recipe that comes right off the back of the boxes of Chex.

I, personally, really like my Chex mix to have only Chex pretty much. I really don't much like the pre-made bagged versions of Chex Mix because it just doesn't taste as good. And I end up picking out all the Chex to eat first anyway. Then I have a sad bag filled with rye chips and pretzels and weird bagel chip things.

Ok, the cheddar bagged Chex Mix is pretty good

Slow Cooker Chex Mix

  • 6 c. various Chex cereal (corn, rice, wheat)
  • 1 c. pretzels
  • 6 tbs. softened butter
  • 2 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt (I make my own*)
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder

  1. Combine butter, sorcestershire, seasoning salt, garlic powder and onion powder in the ceramic, removable portion of the crock pot and microwave until butter melted, 30 seconds x 2 OR turn slow cooker on low and stir until melted.
  2. Fold in Chex cereal and pretzels
  3. Cook on Low setting for 3 hours or until browned, mixing every 15-30minutes to prevent burning.
  4. Cool in a single layer on parchment paper laid out on the counter.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Brownies

So, as previously mentioned I'm totally Basic and love PSLs (pumpkin spice latte's for those of you without an addiction). Fall is my excuse to get fat and eat pumpkin spice errrrrrrthing.

Without further explanation, here are AMAZING PUMPKIN SPICE BROWNIES!!!!!! Of course, you could just buy a box of brownie mix and add pumpkin pie spice but what would be the fun of that? Especially when you are juggling your 11 month old alternatively on your hip and handing him wooden spoons and bowls and letting him open all the cabinets so you don't burn him with a double boiler? --that's has recently come to my attention that sarcasm does not come through on texts, after offending multiple people : |

This recipe was adapted from the Cook's Illustrated Classic Brownies recipe

Pumpkin Spice Brownies
Makes about 24 brownies
Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated Classic Brownies recipe

  • 1 1/4 c. cake flour (5 oz)
  • 1 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 12 tbs. butter, softened
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 oz. dark (about 60%) chocolate chips
  1. Line an 8x10" baking dish with parallel sheets of aluminum foil and grease with a non-stick spray.  Pre-heat oven to 325*F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and ground ginger.  Set aside.
  3. Take a medium glass bowl and add butter and chocolate chips.  Boil a small amount of water in a small to medium pot.  Place bowl over pot and stir until melted.  Alternatively, microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each microwave time.  Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals until melted.
  4. Off heat, add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.  Add vanilla.
  5. Fold flour in thirds into chocolate.
  6. Spread brownie batter evenly into pan, shaking or tapping edges to smooth out top.  Use a spatula if needed to get into corners.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove brownies from pan by the aluminum foil 'sling' and cut into squares.  Eat immediately or cool completely over wire rack.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

I stumbled upon this idea a few years ago while I was surfing the internet for good slow cooker recipes. I can't remember the original source for the inspiration, but I think it was a blog that featured a slow cooker recipe for every day of the year! It might have been this one? A Year of Slow Cooking

Anyway, it was chock-full of awesome slow cooker ideas and recipes. I fell in love with my $20 CrockPot in Veterinary school. I bought a cheapie on sale at Target and started using it for the typical chilis, stew, soups, pot roasts, etc while I was stuck in class or clinics. It was so revolutionary for me to be able to come home to a hot dinner that was already made! It was fan-freaking-tastic!

So as I got a little more comfortable with the CrockPot I started to look for other was I could use it. Jambalaya, creamed corn, mac n' cheese, chex mix! The possibilities were pretty much endless. There were totally a few flops, but for the most part I was pretty happy with this new cooking tool.  So much so that I have yet to jump on the InstaPot craze (pressure cookers legit scare me).

One of my friend's Dad didn't quite understand the appeal. I remember when we were both talking about the awesomeness of slow cookers she mentioned her dad asked her why she needed one and what was the difference of just leaving a pot on the stove on low. Well, I think I feel a little more comfortable leaving the house with the slow cooker running vs. the stove or oven on. So there's that. And also, if you get a slow cooker with a removable ceramic insert, you can go straight from the fridge to the countertop cooking in the morning. And you won't have to worry about your house catching on fire. Or your dog or cat knocking a pot over while trying to sneak food.

I last made this slow cooker chicken pot pie a long time ago and one of my old roommates told me I needed to post the recipe. So here I am, a short 5 years later, posting it.

The key to this is to keep the moisture from building up in the pot. Otherwise your biscuit top will get soggy. This was a trick I learned from the Year of Slow Cooking blog: Place a kitchen towel under the lid and a wooden spoon between the pot and the lid to allow some steam to escape or get trapped. Now you don't have to do a separate step to bake the crust/biscuits! I hate additional steps when it comes to slow cookers. I mean, it kind of defeats the purpose of the slow cooker when I have to braise meat before-hand, or finish something off in the oven, etc!

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom condensed soup (8 oz)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced*
  • 2 carrots, diced*
  • 1 c. diced onion (about 1/2 a large yellow onion)
  • 1 c. frozen green peas*
  • 2-3 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 7 oz. mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 16 oz. can of refrigerated biscuit dough (about 8 biscuits)
*If you didn't want to cut up vegetables yourself, you can totally use frozen vegetable medley's in place of those
  1. Combine chicken, all vegetables, cream of mushroom, and spices in crock pot
  2. Layer biscuits over the top.
  3. Wrap the top lid of the slow cooker with a kitchen towel and prop it open over the pot with the handle part of a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook on low for 5-8 hours.
  5. Optional: if you like your biscuits extra crispy, you can toast those up a bit in a toaster oven or oven for about 3-5 minutes at 350F; or if you are super lazy like me and your whole plate got cold while you were trying to feed/clean-up your toddler and distract your dog, stick the whole plate of stuff in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tyson's Tacos

I made it back to my first Austin Food Blogger Alliance Happy Hour since having John and it was at Tyson's Tacos! One of my favs and I was able to make it because it's just down the street from work and home.  It was such a wonderful experience I thought I'd blog about it, even though I'm mostly just a recipe blogger.

Tyson himself hung out with us and told us his story and the story of Tyson's Tacos.  Tyson and his family had run a restaurant in Mexico, but left when Mexico city was starting to get a little too dangerous.  He opened Tyson's which was a bit of a strange idea coming from Mexico as tacos aren't a restaurant food in Mexico, it's more of a drunken late night street food indulgence.  Another cool thing about Tyson's Tacos is that the menu is customer-driven.  Taco combinations are made after customers who are able to rack up enough of the reward points.  And he won't say no to a weird taco combination, even if he would never have thought about offering a weird cheese-type substance you would've never found in Mexico (apparently nobody appreciated Tyson's legit quest flamed so it was replaced with a more Tex-Mex version).  And if you want Takis on a breakfast taco of eggs, cheddar, bacon, potato they'll do it! I learned about that whilst pregnant with John!

Reid and I used to stop by Tyson's Tacos as a reward for me after our OBG appointments.  And I weirdly craved fake cheese/spicy foods like no other when I was pregnant.  I couldn't get enough hot Cheetos or spicy Funions or Takis! And adding something crunchy on a B is for Bacon was just amazing.

So thank you Tyson's Tacos for hosting an incredible AFBA happy hour.  Everyone needs to check out them and their super creative menu, awesome outdoor patio, dog-friendly neighborhood place.  Oh, and did I tell you that musicians play a tune on their mandolin you get a free taco?!

Oh, and they are now TWENTY-FOUR HOUR!

I love this place!
The Prince Taco
Tex-Mex Style Queso and Prince Tacos, served with their awesome sauces
Their sauces are fiery! Take this stuff seriously
Brisket Taco
Unfortunately, I didn't snag a picture of my favorite taco of the night, the Crispy Duck. I guess I was too busy stuffing it in my mouth!
Pay Tyson's Tacos a visit at
4905 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78751
Tyson's Tacos
so good...ate all the tacos!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Super Easy Ravioli Lasagna

I was perusing Food & Wine or maybe it was Epicurious...or Food52...who knows.  Anyway, it was one of those foodie websites/e-mails that I torture myself with every day when I came across this ravioli lasagna idea.  I had seen something similar on Pinterest but sometimes I don't trust Pinterest.  Those beautiful pictures of food are sometimes very deceiving.  I've been burned before with what looks like awesome recipes on Pinterest turning out as complete flops.

Has this ever happened to you?

Well, this ravioli lasagna is NOT the case of the Pinterest fail.

It was a recipe win!

A weeknight, super easy, semi-homemade winner winner ravioli lasagna dinner.

A kind of feel guilty posting the recipe here because it's not really a recipe...
More like some instructions on layering store-bought stuff.
Well, the roasted vegetables I made.  But I think the recipe I originally looked at also said you could purchase these from the deli area of the grocery store if you wanted to even skip that step.

Super Easy Ravioli Lasagna

  • 2 cups diced roasted vegetables (I have used half a red onion, 1 c. butternut squash and 2 small zucchinis one time and another time I used half a yellow onion, 2 small sweet potatoes, and 1 small zucchini)  You can use your imagination/whatever is in your pantry or you can even buy roasted veggies from the deli/prepared counter of the grocery store)
  • Three 9 oz. packages of refrigerated spinach and ricotta ravioli
  • One 24 oz. jar of marinara pasta sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: 1 tbs. grated parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. Roast vegetables-(Skip this step if you bought your veggies!) Preheat oven to 425*F.  Toss vegetables with 1 tbs. olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast on a pan for 20-25 minutes, turning the vegetables half-way through roasting.  Set aside as you prepare the lasagna
  2. In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a thin coat of the pasta sauce.
  3. Layer ravioli, about 1 c. pasta sauce, 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
  4. Then layer ravioli, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and the roasted vegetables
  5. Finish with a final layer of ravioli, pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese.  Top with optional parmesan cheese and oregano
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot throughout and cheese has melted.  Remove foil and allow to bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and further melted.
Note: you can also freeze the lasagna before baking and keep on hand for a quick freezer meal