Showing posts from 2016

Easy Bake Christmas Cookies

When you have a 3 week old, you make super duper easy semi-homemade shortcut Christmas cookies. Made peppermint brownies by adding peppermint extract and crushed peppermint to store bought brownie mix, store bought chocolate chip cookie dough, and poor man's turtles (pretzel+melted Rolo+M&Ms). 

Mom's Bourbon Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

I'm really bad at posting great holiday recipes until it's too late.  I'm just not that good of a food blogger.  But posting ON THE ACTUAL DAY? Does that count? HEB is open until 2pm so if you're still looking for a last minute Thanksgiving dish to bring to a dinner or add to yours, here it is!

Mom's Bourbon Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

4 lbs. sweet potatoes3 green apples, peeled, cored and sliced6 tbs. butter1/2 c.dark brown sugar1/2 tsp. kosher salt1 tsp. cinnamon1 tsp. ginger1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg1 &1/2 tsp. vanilla2 tsp. maple syrup1/4 c. bourbon1 c. toasted pecans or chestnutsoptional: 1 bag mini marshmallows Directions:

Roast and peel sweet potatoes in a 375*F oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Slice in 1/4" thick rounds.In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Lower heat to a simmer and add vanilla, maple syrup, and bourbon.  Simmer until sugar is dissolved.Preheat oven to 375*F.  In a la…

Fully Loaded Mashed Cauliflower

In my quest to find lower carb substitutes, I learned that cauliflower can be made into ANYTHING. Although whether it should or not remains to be questioned.  You want to eat rice? Make cauliflower rice! You want to eat pizza? Make cauliflower pizza crust! You want to eat mashed potatoes? Make mashed cauliflower!  You want to eat crackers and hummus? Just eat cauliflowers.  So basically, since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I've bought a head of cauliflower every week at the grocery store.  I love that cauliflower is super cheap

I'd posted this on my Instagram account a few weeks ago, and I hadn't planned on posting about it since it is so stupid simple, but lots of people were interested in it so here goes:

Fully Loaded Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower florets1/2 c. shredded cheese2 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled3 tbs. butter2 tbs. Greek yogurt1 tbs. ranch dressing mix (optional)salt and pepper, to taste1 green onion, sliced

Shortcut 'Nem Nuong': Vietnamese Meatball Spring Rolls

Nem Nuong are traditionally Vietnamese grilled pork meatballs or patties.  They can be eaten over a bowl of vermicelli noodles or rice, over a simple salad of greens and herbs, or rolled up in rice paper wrappers.  Basically you have the meatballs + some format of rice (vermicelli noodles, rice, rice paper wrappers) + lettuce + herbs + some kind of crunchies.  When making the spring rolls in rice paper wrappers, they are dipped in a savory peanut/hoisin sauce.  Nem nuong cuon (rolls) are super refreshing and tasty and a great alternative to anyone tired of shrimp filled spring rolls. 

Because making them actually does require a lot of different components, I learned a trick from my mom to get dinner on the table on a weeknight, after work, on time, and....I use store bought chicken teriyaki and pineapple meatballs from Costco! Ok, I admitted it! I didn't actually make the main part of this dish.  But that's what makes this so great! It's so delicious and you still have to…

Butchery 101 at Austin's Sustainable Food Center

The other night Reid and I did something a little different for date night.  We attended a butchery class held by the Sustainable Food Center! It was a lot of fun.  I've been trying to get Reid to go to a cooking class with me and so I sent him a list of different classes around town.  If you are interested in a cooking class in Austin, I'd definitely recommend the following resources:

The Sustainable Food Center The SFC building is really nice! and the class was great! Class prices can range from free to $70/person depending on the class.  I think we paid about $40 each to take the butchery class.  They have an adjacent community/teaching garden on the east side.  Class topics range from bee keeping, gardening classes, knife skills, tamale making classes, etc! Kitchen Undergound  I want to try a class out here.  A few of my fellow AFBA bloggers teach classes with Kitchen Underground and they have a variety of interesting and unique classes. I like that they offer Indian and Chi…

"Healthy-ish" Pumpkin Muffins or Bread

I love fall flavors.  I think I already rambled on about that in my butternut squash soup post.  There's just something so comforting with fall flavors.  It's like getting a big, warm, spice hug.  I also love bread.  And muffins.  And pie.  And pretty much everything I'm not supposed to eat according to the nutritionist that is helping me manage my gestational diabetes.  I've been pretty good lately and hadn't baked anything recently,  but it was starting to get really hard to not fill my Sunday early afternoon with the oven on and tinkering with baking recipes.  So, I decided to try to 'healthi-fy' or low-carb-a-fy? a pumpkin bread recipe.

Pumpkin bread/muffins/cupcakes are pretty good for my diabetes since pumpkin has fiber and protein and beta-carotene, and only 8 g. of carbs per cup.  Basically, it's good stuff.  I'll even recommend canned pumpkin to some of my doggie patients that are having some GI issues (helps firm up those poops!).  I found…

"Healthy-ish" Banana Bread

I really enjoy baking, but having gestational diabetes has made it difficult to enjoy baking the usual things.  Banana bread is one of those things that I'll make once I have a few too-ripe-bananas and want to have breakfast for the week ready.   I have an old standby recipe that I have no idea where it's origins are from, except that the handwritten recipe is in my sister's handwriting and it's on a scrap of a flash card.  I altered this one to include some dark chocolate chips to compensate for cutting back the sugar and subbing whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose flour.  I also added some chopped walnuts for added protein/satiety.  Came out well.  I did add some cream cheese frosting to the loaf for Reid to enjoy.  Without icing, it still comes out to about 42 grams of carbs per serving (which is a bit more then the 30 g/meal I should be eating...).  But hey, I can satisfy myself with half a slice and 1 c. of milk.

"Healthified" Banana Bread

Cardamom Butternut Squash Soup

We had about 4 days of 'fall weather' about 2 weeks ago and it was amazing.  Fall is Reid's favorite time of year here in Central Texas.  On any good day/night he'll take a deep breath in and scan the sunset and declare, "Just another beautiful day in Central Texas!"  That is, of course, once we get out of the >100 degree brutality that is the summer here.  I really enjoy fall as well.  I like pulling out all my light clothing layers, and my cowboy or fashion boots from the back of the closet.  I like wearing a rain jacket with the hopes it will actually rain and then feeling like an idiot when it doesn't.  I like the smell of roasting squash like pumpkin and butternut and acorn and weird ones I've never seen before, and cinnamon, and nutmeg, and all those warm flavors.  So when we had those 4 days for fall weather a while back I loaded my grocery cart with butternut squash and grabbed my Dutch oven from the cabinet.

This butternut squash soup was …

Fresh Peach Pie

We are sadly coming to an end of peach season here in Central Texas.  I love a good, juicy, sweet, fresh peach.  Reid and I actually have 2 peach trees in our front yard that my dad planted around 2008 that we have managed not to kill.  Miracle!  This year we got a really good harvest from them.  Usually the birds or neighbors get to them before we do.  So back around July (before I was forbidden to eat pie by my gestational diabetes nutritionist) we picked about 1-2 lbs. worth of fresh peaches form our tree.  It was awesome.  Until I broke out in a skin rash. (I must be allergic to the fine hairs or splinters on the peach tree)

Our peaches are the small kind.  I think they are some French peach variety.  Real small and a bit firmer then what you'd find in Fredricksberg.  I blanched, peeled, cut and pitted them.  And made a pie.  It was a time-consuming, but relaxing Sunday project.

I do like to make my own pie crust if I have the time, and I made my own here, but you could just a…

Five-Spice Duck Breast with Blueberry Pan Reduction and Stir-Fry Bok Choy

So, I'm trying to be good on my gestational diabetes diet while still not getting bored of what I'm eating.  Reid and I went to the farmer's market yesterday and picked out some stuff I wouldn't usually buy.  I bought some duck breast.  I love duck, but have never cooked it myself.  The farmer at Belle Vie Farms  was more then happy to share with me some cooking tips.

Also picked up some bok choy and oyster mushrooms at the market, so I thought I'd do an Asian style duck breast.  I thought about doing a Hoisin sauce-style duck, but since this was the first time I'd cooked duck and really didn't want to screw it up, I actually looked up a recipe.  This recipe is inspired by the New York Times recipe.  It came out great!

Five-Spice Duck Breast with Blueberry Pan Reduction
Recipe inspired by
Serves 2

2 small Moscovy duck breasts, about 10 oz each2 tsp. Chinese five-…

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage

I was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It was a bit challenging for me to be OK with the news because there was just a lot of frustration. I was frustrated with my doctor for not really giving me any information, I was frustrated with the situation because I consider myself rather healthy, I was frustrated in general and didn't have my normal coping mechanisms available: food and wine. 

I work out a lot and I eat pretty healthy but I freaking love carbs. I literally made a shirt once in high school that said "I love carbs".   I could eat bread or rice or pasta everyday.  So being diabetic where I have to be more careful with my carb choices was really depressing to me. 
I'm in a lot better place right now. I am meeting with the perinatal specialist and nutritionist today where I will hopefully get a lot of my questions answered, I got to talk to several friends who went through it and calmed me down, and I've been reading every single thing the Amer…

Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Green Papaya and Beef Jerky Salad)

Goi du du kho bo, or Vietnamese green papaya and beef jerky salad sounds weird.  I know.  But I promise that there is nothing better on a hot summer day.  It literally involves no cooking and is cold and refreshing, while being pretty fulfilling.  Reid and his sister approved.  It's really good.

The ingredients are the only difficult thing about this.  I was in the LA area a few weeks ago for hubby's father's pHd graduation ceremony and we were staying in Anaheim about 15 minutes away from Bolsa Ave.  Bolsa Avenue, aka Little Saigon, in Orange County is a great community for Vietnamese immigrants and second generations.  It's probably the only place in the States that's better than Houston's Chinatown in what you can find.  Most likely due to the fact that LA has the #1 population of Vietnamese immigrants and Houston has the #2 biggest population.  Anyway, I took husband's family to breakfast/lunch on our last day there to Quan Hy restaurant.  It's one…

Soda Chanh, Vietnamese Limeade

There have been over 24 days in a row where the temperature has exceeded 100*F here.  I'm like 6 months pregnant? Don't ask me questions, I'm hot and my brain doesn't work.  Anyway, one respite from the heat is soda chanh, or Vietnamese style limeade.  Because, as I was reading in Real Simple magazine whilst waiting the hour for my gestational diabetes test at the doctor's office, nothing is better on a hot day than lemonade limeade.

Soda chanh is probably the drink I'll order out at a Vietnamese restaurant unless I'm enjoying some Vietnamese coffee (Cafe Sua Da) or it's winter and they have fresh warm soy milk.  May need to do a post on cafe sue da later, but since I'm preggos, and it's 105 freaking degrees outside, it's soda chanh time, baby.  Some restaurants don't make it right.  There should be a visible layer of sugar at the bottom.  You use the spoon to mix it all up, and sip it through a straw.  Ahhhhh!

Hubs has a soda stream to d…

Mom's Bun Bo Hue Chay (Vietnamese vegetarian spicy "beef" noodle soup)

After many requests from my sister and cousin, I finally documented my mom's vegetarian bun bo chay!  Get ready, this recipe is kind of intense and usually takes 2 days to make.  My mom makes a giant pot of it and the whole family eats it in the span of a day or two.  She freezes the broth for later use (if there is any left over!).  The flavor does enhance each time the broth is reheated, so it's usually better the second day and each subsequent time.  It's so good, I often prefer it to regular bun bo (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).

Bun bo Hue is a specialty of the central region of Vietnam, where my dad's side is from.  You won't find it as commonly as pho or bun (vermicelli bowls) in most Vietnamese restaurants.  This is a soup that is a labor of love and family and spicy-tolerance.  My ong noi (paternal grandfather) used to make the best bun bo hue!  Now my Aunt Angelique/Co Be makes a cleaner, tasty bun bo Hue which she luckily taught my sister so the tra…

Banh Bot Chien, Vietnamese Fried Rice Flour Cake with Eggs

Banh bot chien is a Vietnamese street-food of crispy and chewy rice cakes surrounded by an omelet-style amount of eggs, green onions, and pickled radishes.  It is probably one of my most favorite things to eat.  There is a 24-hour Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant in Chinatown called Tan Tan and in my opinion, makes the very best banh bot chien.  My childhood was filled with Tan Tan's banh bot chien.  We'd often eat lunch there with my family and their friends after an early morning tennis match (that I probably got dragged along to).  Banh bot chien was the carrot on my stick on those super early mornings.

And it is extremely similar to Chinese jianbing, which according to this Tasting Table is the next big trend. I vaguely remember gobbling down some jianbing at a street stand one late night after clubbing…

Bà Ngoại's Pâté Chaud Recipe

I don't think I ever realized how great of a childhood I had.  Every summer when I was in elementary school, my mom would take my sister and me to visit her family in Paris, France.  I remember waking up to the smells of fresh baked mini croissants and pâté chaud and pain au chocolats wafting in the bedroom from my grandmother (bà ngoại)'s tiny Paris apartment kitchen.  I didn't know it at the time, but my mom would later tell me that bà ngoại would wake up at 4am just to make us that special breakfast.  Lately I've been feeling really nostalgic and my bà ngoạidoesn't really remember me so I wanted to remember her in a way that I could.  I visited her last summer in Paris and although her physical health is still pretty good, I don't know if she remembers me and those memories we shared.

Pâté Chaud is a Vietnamese-French meat-filled pastry.  If you've ever had a Chinese bao zi (steamed pork bun) think like that, except instead of a steamed outer soft bun, a …

Watermelon and Mint Sorbet

It's the summertime! And here in Austin, it's hot!  Watermelon is in season and the mint in my backyard has not yet had a chance to be demolished by my fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream.
So I bought a little personal sized watermelon at the grocery store, cut some up to refrigerate and enjoy left over and was still left with a lot that wouldn't fit in my tupperware.
Enter, the Blendtec.  Popped the rest of the watermelon in there with some fresh mint, lemon juice, sugar and triple sec and had a tasty and refreshing dessert for later.


3 cups watermelon1 tbs. fresh mint1/4 c. sugar1 tsp. triple sec or vodka, can omit1 tbs. fresh lemon juice Directions:

Throw everything in the blender and blend.Freeze or refrigerate until sorbet-yUse a fork to carve out sorbet or spoon depending on consistency.

Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)

Ga ro ti, or Vietnamese roasted chicken, is one of the easiest recipes.  This recipe was actually the first thing my mom taught me when I'd moved off campus in college and would soon have my own kitchen to cook in.  It has 4 ingredients.  That's it.  And you need a pan.  Doesn't get that much simpler with Vietnamese cooking.  Also, it doesn't take like, 5 hours to make.

The sauce, although photographically uninteresting, is really really really good.  Coco Rico, a Coconut soda (Puerto Rican soda available at Fiesta and other places), is caramelized with TONS of garlic and Maggi to make this really awesome, sticky, sweet, salty sauce.  It's almost like the French 40 clove garlic roasted chicken in the proportion of garlic it uses.  The dark meat of the chicken makes it almost impossible to dry out, too.  My mother's recipe used drumsticks, but I've cut the recipe down in size to feed 2 and subbed chicken thighs which I find a little tastier and more versatil…