Showing posts from 2015

Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

If you're bored with sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, here's an interesting twist on the classic sweet potato side dish for Thanksgiving.  I personally like sweet potatoes that are seasoned more on the salty side; so you get that sweet and salty combo.  Like sweet potato fries, I feel there's no need to add cinnamon or sugar or marshmallows.  So when I came across this recipe 5 years ago, I knew I had to try it.  It's been very yummy and I've brought it to my family's Thanksgiving twice now.
I came across this recipe of all places in the Bryan, TX electric's quarterly mailer, the "Texas Co-Op Power" November 2010 edition.
Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potaotes Ingredients 6 medium sweet potatoes (try picking rounder shaped sweet potatoes of similar sizes)olive oil8 oz. goat cheese, softened (cream cheese may be substituted)1 tsp. salt1 tsp. chili powder1/2 c. cilantro, minced2 tbs. butter, softened1 chipotle pepper from can, minced1/4 c. adob…

Pork Chops with Crispy Sweet Potatoes with Apple Cider Reduction

So I got a little overzealous with my fall enthusiasm and had about 2 pounds of apples to use before they got all mushy this week.  Bust out the sweet potatoes, and sage, and pork chops!

This was an easy and deliciously filling weeknight meal and it made our house smell really good.

Pork Chops with Crispy Sweet Potatoes and Apple Cider Reduction
Recipe inspired by Curtis Stone's Cider-Dijon Pork Chops

4 thin-cut bone-in pork chops3 tbs. olive oi2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" long slices1 onion, sliced into wedges2 small Fuji apples, sliced in wedgesabout 10 sage leaves2 tbs. butter1 tbs. Dijon mustard1/2 c. apple cider vinegarsalt and pepper Directions:

Preheat a sheet pan in the oven at 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes, onion, apples, and sage leaves in 2 tbs. olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread mixture on pre-heated sheet pan and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, turning ingredients o…

Fettuccine Carbonara

Although the weather has failed to reflect it here in Texas, fall is here!  That means I get to start hiding under layered clothes.  Bye bye, bikinis!  I'm already starting to crave the hearty meals; stews, pastas, casseroles, chilis; that accompany the change of seasons.  That being said, we recently came back from a trip out-of-town and I had to pull something together from the pantry/deep recesses of my freezer because my lazy butt didn't want to go grocery shopping after sitting on an airplane and at airports for the last 5 hours.  So here comes dinner's savior: Fettucine Carbonara!
I almost always keep some bacon and shredded parmesan in the freezer, some eggs in the fridge, and some type of pasta in the pantry.  Picked off some of the last leaves of Italian parsley from my herb garden and, Voila! Dinner! This recipe comes courtesy from my friend Laura's parents.  In a bind, I replaced white wine with sherry and subbed fettuccine for rigatoni and it turned out gre…

Caribbean Shrimp Salad

In August, my family went to Turks and Caicos for my parent's (1 year) belated 35th anniversary.  It was a beautiful time.  Thanks to my brother-in-law and sister, we stayed at an amazing resort where we had two personal chefs and two attendants.  Our meals were prepared to our liking each day, and though we gorged ourselves on food, it was all rather healthy and tasty.  Reid and I were sure we'd come back 10 lbs heavier, but he actually lost weight and I stayed the same.  We've both been trying to be more conscious about living healthier, working out and eating better so this was a delightful reminder that we can eat really well, but still be pretty healthy.  It inspired me to make some lighter, but flavor-filled foods when we got back, nice and tan ;)
In Turks and Caicos, we enjoyed a lot of conch salad, as it was conch season.  The chewy, salty conch was complimented well with a lemon juice and oil dressing and lots of fresh veggies.  Upon returning, I found out it'…

Chả Cá (Vietnamese Tumeric Fish with Dill)

Chả Cá is a fish dish originating from north Vietnam.  Tumeric marinated fish is grilled table-side, which was always fun for me as a kid.  The fish is served with rice noodles, peanuts, and plenty of dill!  All these great flavors combine to make a delicious, yet light, bowl of savory, crunchy, satisfying goodness!  For our last visit to Houston, I had my mom teach me how to make this dish.  Here's her version:

4 catfish fillets, cut in 1" pieces 1 tbs. rice flour 2 tbs Greek yogurt 1-2 tsp ground tumeric 1 inch galangal, ground in a mortar and pestel  1 tbs vegetable oil 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste (mam tom)
Marinated for at least 4 hrs.  Bake at 400 for 5-8 minutes or until browned. 
Fry in oil with  1 cup fresh dill 1 cup green onion, cut in 1" long slices until fish is crisp, about 2-3 minutes. 
Serve with: Black sesame chips (banh trang) Vermicelli noodles Roasted peanuts Nước mắm  Mam tom (shrimp paste mixed with lime juice and equal portions sugar and rice …

Caprese Pasta

I have basil overload in my garden right now.  After making a bunch of pesto, we've been making caprese salad almost every other night.  This caprese pasta was a way to incorporate the basil, tomato, mozzarella and balsamic tastes of the salad into a dinner meal.  The sauce was a little sweet, so it is a bit different than what I would typically make.  This is great warm, or as a cold pasta salad (chop the mozzarella and toss with rest of cooled ingredients instead of melting).
Caprese Pasta Ingredients: 1 lb. penne pasta1 c. balsamic vinegar1 tbs. brown sugarsalt and pepper1 tbs. olive oil1 pint baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved1/4  cup packed basil leaves1 16 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced in 1/4" slices
Directions:Boil pasta according to package directions.While pasta is cooking, combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced about a half, about 6-8 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.In straight-si…

Twix-Style Ice Cream

Nothing goes hand-in-hand quite like hot summer days and ice cream.  I love ice cream.  I probably have an unhealthy addiction to ice cream.  But it's not like I can help it.  It's in my genes!  My dad's family used to own an ice cream shop in Vietnam.  I look back fondly to the moments my dad and I shared watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and eating ice cream after dinner when I was younger.
One of my favorite things on ice cream is a nice, ooey-goeey melty salty caramel sauce.  So let's make some caramel chocolate ice-cream!  The sweetness of the ice cream and chocolate go well with the salty caramel flecks.  This recipe was inspired by this Tasting Table recipe for Snickers ice cream.
Twix-Style Ice cream Ingredients: Caramel: 2/3 c. sugar3/4 c. heavy cream, heated but not boiling1/2 tsp. sea salt
Ice cream base: 1 c. whole milk3/4 c. sugar1 tsp. vanilla2 c. heavy cream5 large egg yolkspinch of salt
Mix ins: 2 packages of Twix bars, chopped1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chip…

Beet and Chickpea Galette

My vegetable garden this year provided me with lots of beets and carrots! So beside roasting them, I found this Martha Stewart recipe for a beet and chickpea gallette.

I love beets, but they can sometimes taste a too much like dirt.  This recipe was a great way to use lots of beets and has a freshness of flavor that is really nice.  I use a food processor to shred all the vegetables, but you could also use a box grater and get a great work-out!

and warning, like this hilarious Portlandia skit, beets will make everything red.  Don't worry, it's not an emergency, it's not blood, it's just beets...

Beet and Chickpea Gallette
recipe from Martha Stewart 

4 medium beets, peeled and grated1 russet potato, scrubbed and diced3 carrots, peeled and grated1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped1/2 c. floursalad greensgoat cheese1 tbs. lemon juice2-3 tbs. olive oilsalt and pepper, to taste Directions Boi…

Anniversary dinner at Counter 3. FIVE. VII

It was our second anniversary this month and the husband treated us to a wonderful meal at Counter 3.five. VII.  The concept behind the restaurant is pretty awesome.  It's the diners sitting right there at a U shaped counter with chefs on the other side.  There is nothing separating you from the chef, diners can watch their meals being made and interact with the creators.  So that explains the counter part of the name.  The 3. five. VII refers to set course meals of 3, 5, or 7 focusing on what is in season.  The menu changes seasonally and there are options for wine pairings, as well. We had a really amazing time.  Reid and I had the seven course meal without pairings.  The food was refreshing, contemporary, and innovative.  The chefs were friendly and welcoming.  And the presentation was beautiful.  It was such a treat and a wonderful experience to be able to watch the chefs prepare the meals; watching how every little detail and component came together with such precision, atte…

Asian mini meatballs in lettuce cups

I tried this recipe from Martha Stewart and it turned out really well.  I've made it a few times since and it's really simple and delicious.

Mini Asian Meatballs in Lettuce Cups
from Martha Stewart


1 lb. ground beef12 cloves garlic3 tbs. peeled ginger3 scallions, chopped1 tsp. fish sauce1 tsp. salt1 tbs. sesame oil1/4 c. Greek yogurt1 tbs. lime juicelettuce cups, chopped roasted peanuts or almonds, sprigs of cilantro, sliced Thai chilies for garnish Directions

Place garlic, ginger, and scallions in a food processor and pulse until chopped.Combine beef, garlic/ginger/scallion mix, and fish cause in a medium bowl.  Form into mini meatballs.In a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium high heat.  Cook meatballs about 5 minutes each batch.In a small bowl, mix yogurt and lime juice.  Serve meatballs in lettuce cups with yogurt sauce and garnishes.

Sausage and Plantains

I learned about this dish from one of my veterinary school friends, Christina.  She brought it as lunch one day and all the rest on the rotation smelled how amazing it smelled and had to know what it was.  Sausage and plantains!  It is a very popular Central American or Caribbean dish.  I even had the girl checking me out at the grocery store tell me her grandma makes the same thing when she saw I was buying plantains.  It certainly a super easy weeknight meal, as it takes about 10 miinutes and involves two ingredients.
If you use yellow plantains, they will taste more like potatoes when cooked.  The more ripe the plantains, the more sweet they will be.
Sausage and Plantains Serves 2 Ingredients 3 plantains, sliced at a bias3-4 links of sausage, any variety of choice, sliced at a bias1 tbs. coconut oil Directions
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heatAdd sausage and cook for about 5 minutes.Add in plantains and cook for 2-3 minutes per side.

Paris part deux

Some more pictures of us doing tourist-y things and eating more good food.  One day we went to visit Reid's co-worker out about 40 mintues outside of Paris. His wife owns a fromagerie (cheese shop) and we got to visit the shop, eat a giant cheese plate out of my dreams, followed by a delicious home-cooked meal of roast lamb, carrots, whipped potatoes and strawberries with gruyere whipped cream.  Then we went on a quick hike in the woods by their house.  I wish my French had been better so I could've gotten a description of all the different cheeses a little more detailed than 'goat cheese' or 'cow cheese' or cheese with truffles.
We also spent almost every day eating macarons.  We visited La Duree (our favorite) multiple times and also Piere Herme.  I think I could eat French macarons in Paris all day, everyday. 


Reid and I went to Paris in April to visit my grandmother and for my grandfather's death anniversary.  It was a good visit.  My grandmother was very happy to see everyone.  Of course, we ate lots of great food.  My cousin, Celia, her cousins own a microbraiserie called Le Triangle.  We visited it one night and it was very good.  One cousin is the chef, and we ate a very creative tasting menu.  The other cousin's husband brews beer.  The girl cousin runs front of house.  The three of them make up the 'triangle'.  Microbreweries are pretty new and uncommon in Paris, and their restaurant is the first to serve food.  
Of course, we visited lots of patisseries and also visited the farmer's market by my grandmother's apartment in mouffetard.