My Sis: Pooping Machine to Pretzel Baker


This is Alexis. My 10-year-old sister/mini-me.

 She was born when I was almost 15, so I watched this girl grow from a pooping machine–to a tattle tale–to a little baker and craft addict that she is today.

Once a month I invite her over to spend the night for some sisterly bonding. We dine out, take her to do some fun kid activity (this time we chose dodge ball trampolining) and bake.

In the past when “we’ve” baked together, I would demonstrate how to measure flour or to beat an egg properly, but she’d lose interest and end up in the living room to make “crafts”–taping long pieces of paper together with one of my wrapped tampons on the end–as a toy for our cat. (Yes it’s weird. But tampons are the cat’s fave and there’s no stopping her.) To see what I mean, see figures 1-3.

Figure 1: Alexis finishing up kitty's tampon toy. Kitty, to the left, watching from afar.

Figure 2: Tampon toy close up, already disheveled with bite marks.

Figure 3: Tampon toy in action, kitty lurking in the shadows.

So… I gave up trying to bake with Alexis and instead supported her “craft making” as a hobby. (Thankfully, she took up knitting and made a nice scarf for the cat instead.)

But this last visit, something suddenly changed. She insisted that we make soft pretzels and coffee cream brownies, and that “we have to go to the store now to get flour, butter and whipping cream, and chocolate chips, and and and…”

Well excuuuuuse me, little missy. But being the amazing big sister that I am, I complied. Yes, I was skeptical that once we got in the kitchen history would repeat itself. I gave it a chance because my mom told me that Alexis recently baked an apple pie all by herself, and my dad said that she has been baking so much that with his gallbladder issues he can’t possibly eat everything she makes–so he was forced to put a stop to it.

And thankfully, they were right! Phew. Alexis dominated the kitchen and those pretzels. She recently discovered baking tutorials on YouTube, which revived her interest for baking. Apparently watching her big sis give a baking tutorial IN PERSON doesn’t cut it. Oh well.

Now that she’s an independent baker, I just need to get her trained on cleaning up a mess…

Homemade Soft Pretzels

This recipe is from Alton Brown, Food Network, and got 5 star reviews: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe/index.html

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Pretzel salt (We used Fleur de Sel)

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.

Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

The dough just after mixing.

The dough after it has risen 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

It might seem like a lot of baking soda...because it is.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 to 12 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope.

Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Freaking. Yum.

So Loco for Loco Moco


Last summer a group of friends and I rented a house on the Oregon Coast for a weekend. Naturally,  we had late nights and a generous amount of drinking planned. After a long drive, a late dinner and a few beers at the local brewpub, My friend Traci said Loco Moco sounded good for breakfast the next morning.

“Huh? What’s that?” I asked. I had never heard of it before. Apparently I was missing out on something serious–something that could cure hangovers, extreme hunger, crankiness…and possibly even depression. We already had most of the ingredients on hand: hamburger patties, eggs and rice. The only thing that was missing was gravy. The little market in town was closing in 5 minutes, and Traci was determined to get there in time.  We had barely finished paying our dinner bill, and she was already speeding down the street to buy packages of brown gravy. Or maybe I was driving…so I guess I sped down the street while she jumped out of the car and into the store before they locked the door and our hope for Loco Moco would be lost forever.

Anyway…

Loco Moco is a Hawaiian dish that can be made in a variety of ways using bacon, spam, ham…the possibilities are endless. The basis of the dish is a big pile of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, topped with a fried egg (best when slightly runny in the middle), then topped with a generous helping of brown gravy. Genius, I say! GENIUS! Why hadn’t I tried this before?! So simple yet so versatile. It’s excellent for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or an afternoon snack. Or maybe even dessert because it’s just that good.

After months of talking with Traci about Loco Moco and how we were going to have them “immediately,” and photo messages sent to my phone of Loco Mocos she was enjoying around town without me, I finally got invited over to Traci’s for dinner. And let me tell you, I ate white rice like I never ate white rice before. And I smothered it in that gravy, alternating bites of macaroni salad with bites of gravy-hamburger-egg-rice. I don’t think I slept well that night. And the next day, I ran 9 miles. But it was worth it.

If you really want to, you could try healthifying this a bit by using brown rice; and we used 93% lean ground beef. If you’re a runner like me–I assure you–you will have bounds of energy for your run the next day after this meal.

Thank you, Traci, for a great dinner and being my “guest chef” for this blog post!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

LOCO MOCO

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

Cooked white rice (About 1 cooked cup per person, which would be about 2-3 cups of uncooked rice. It’s good with a lot of rice, but that’s just me…)

1 pound ground beef

4-10 eggs (you need at least one egg per person, but some might want two or more)

1/4 of a medium onion, finely diced

A few dashes of Montreal steak seasoning (optional)

32 ounce carton of beef broth (or about two cans)

1 cup water

1/4 cup flour

olive oil or butter for frying eggs

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

In a large bowl mix ground beef, diced onion, steak seasoning and a little bit of salt and pepper.

Form into patties.

Over medium heat, fry hamburger patties until they are cooked through. Set aside.

Add beef broth to the pan that you cooked the hamburger patties in, making sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add worcestershire sauce and bring to a light boil. Turn down heat to medium low.

Mix some of the water and flour together, making sure it’s not pasty or thick. The flour should dissolve in the water. Don’t use the whole thing at once. We started with about a half cup of water with a few tablespoons of flour mixed in well, and added it to the beef broth. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and see if it thickens. If it still isn’t thick enough, mix a few more tablespoons of the flour and water together and add to the gravy until you get the desired consistency. You may need more or less of the flour and water called for in this recipe. Once the gravy reaches your desired consistency, add pepper to taste.

In another small pan, fry eggs in a drizzle of oil and/or butter to your desired doneness. We fried the eggs over easy so the yolk could ooze over the meat and rice. Not everyone likes it that way. Your call.

Assemble. Put hamburger on top of rice, then the egg on top of the hamburger, and gravy over the top.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Serves 4-6.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.inspired2cook.com/2009/09/30/hawaiian-macaroni-salad/

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

about half of a 1 pound box of macaroni or ditalini noodles

1 carrot, grated

1 celery stalk, chopped finely

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup milk

1 tsp of brown sugar

handful of shredded cheddar

3 boiled eggs, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, chop celery and shred carrot.

Add carrot and celery to pasta and toss together. Mix in vinegar. Add half of the egg slices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk and brown sugar. Add to pasta and mix in well. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with remaining egg slices.

Serve, and pig out!

Bravo, Traci, Bravo! 🙂

Baked ‘Tatoe Chips


I came home from work one night last week and saw Novin slicing away at an incredibly large russet potato. When I found out he was making potato chips, I was skeptical. He had made baked potato chips from scratch before, but they turned out to be nothing more than very thin, oven-roasted potatoes.

Somehow, this time he nailed it. They are light, crispy, slightly salted, and everything that a potato chip should be–but not fried in grease! Since we inherited a large bag of Oregon-grown potatoes from a friend, I’ve eaten these darn things almost every day this week, per my request. I’ve had poor Novin hand-slicing and slaving by the oven every night–except Tuesday he turned me down–so I had to double up on the dark chocolate chips to satisfy my cravings.

Well, we used up all our russet potatoes and now there are only red potatoes left. And yes, out of desperation, tonight I will be experimenting with red potatoes to make chips to eat with my pulled Spicy BBQ chicken sandwiches…more on that later.

This recipe should make enough chips for 2-4 people, depending on how big of a chip monster you are.

Ingredients:

1 giant russet potato

salt to taste

PAM (non-stick) spray

Slice potato into super thin slices like so:

If you have a mandoline to slice the potatoes so they are all the same size, you are lucky! We do it the manual way...

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Novin smiles while he works.

We use a silicone baking mat to help prevent sticking. Sprinkle salt on the sheet/mat. Arrange potato slices on baking sheet so none are touching. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they are slightly brown and crisp. Make sure to check on chips every 5 to 10 minutes as some will bake faster than others and need to be removed.

I love salt and vinegar chips, so we mixed some white vinegar with a pinch of salt and dipped each chip as we ate. But if you want to be professional about it, pick up some vinegar powder and sprinkle on the chips. Enjoy!

Feeding a Crowd with Vietnamese Salad Rolls


I’ve been feeling lately like marathon training has isolated me from friends and social contact, so this last weekend I decided to have a party. I didn’t really have a particularly good reason to throw a party, but I like to cook and I like to entertain. I figured it was the first week of fall…and my cat’s 3rd birthday…so that was all the reason I needed. So I did what I normally do when I throw a party: cook a ridiculous amount of food, and send the leftovers home with my guests. My original plan was to make “fall” foods, but when I researched recipes, everything involved squash or apples, which I then voted against. Instead, I chose a menu with warm, spicy foods that still make you feel cozy but not like it’s Thanksgiving day.

I made coconut lemongrass grilled chicken, thai curry soup, honey garlic turkey/chicken meatballs, a chili-apricot grilled pork tenderloin, a pickled napa cabbage salad, and potstickers. (I found myself racing around the kitchen all day that I didn’t have the energy to photograph everything or keep track of the ingredients I used.)

I realized the only thing missing from this Asian-themed dinner was Vietnamese salad rolls. So I asked my beloved half-Vietnamese friend Alex to come over as my “guest chef” and make them for me so I could blog about them and make her famous. Well, she agreed, and she was at it for about 3 hours while everyone else just relaxed, ate, drank and made conversation. Sorry Alex, but we greatly appreciate it!

The beauty of salad rolls is that you can fill them with basically anything you want, they’re super easy to make, and great when feeding a crowd of people. Just be sure to prep all your vegetables and meats before people show up to make the process easier. Otherwise, you’ll end up like Alex here, busy at work while the rest of us were stuffing our pie holes. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 package thin rice noodles (package might say rice threads, found at Asian grocers)

1 package rice papers (or tapioca papers, found at Asian grocers)

1 bell pepper, any color you like best

a bushel of cilantro, cut off stems and use only leaves

carrots, shredded or thinly sliced

your favorite lettuce (we used romaine)

cooked shrimp, cut lengthwise

1 large piece of ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks

1 package fried tofu, sliced into thin pieces

mint leaves

thai basil leaves

Slice and prepare vegetables, shrimp and tofu.

Remove lettuce stems, reserving only the leaves, like so:

Meanwhile, in a pot, boil water and cook rice noodles until soft. Add warm water to a large bowl or pot, big enough to dip in rice papers. To assemble a salad roll, dip one rice paper in the warm water.

Put on a flat surface. Layer on shrimp, bell pepper, tofu, carrots, ginger, cilantro, mint and basil, then noodles onto one side of the wrapper. Don’t put in the middle of the wrapper, but in the outer quarter of one side. Don’t fill the rolls too much or they will be harder to roll and keep intact.

Tightly roll the end of the wrapper (closest to the filling) over the filling. Make sure the wrapper is tight enough over the filling so it won’t fall out. Next, fold each of the two sides over the filling (like an envelope). Roll rice paper like a burrito. Serve with peanut sauce. (Should make at least 20 rolls)

You can try this peanut sauce recipe from Allrecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/the-best-thai-peanut-sauce/detail.aspx

Enjoy!

Great work, Alex!

Adrienne approves!

No salad roll for the birthday girl, just a kitty food cake.

Our kitty's birthday party (one and only) guest, Valentino. All dressed up in his party wear! But kitty was too busy hiding in our room to even come down to socialize. Rude.

Boneless Buffalo Wings. “Put the food in your mouth, not up your nose.”


PJ’s housewarming…continued…the final recipe of the “series”…with guest chef BJ…

Boneless wings. What a perfect invention for the lazy eater like me.  I know there are some of you out there who will have an opinion on this, but: I hate any food that takes work to eat. Like: ribs, crab/lobster and chicken wings. I guess “hate” is a strong word. I love those foods. I just don’t have the energy to fight the meat off the bone, or out of the shell. When these foods are involved, it’s my mom or Novin’s job to feed me like a baby bird. I just want direct food-to-mouth action without getting my hands dirty, or pieces of chicken wing up my nose.

And that is why the boneless wing is so perfect. An oxymoron, yes. But difficult to eat? No. And you can keep your hands clean for important things–like holding your beer.

Ingredients: (serves 10-15 people; scale down ingredients for smaller serving; 2 chicken breasts feeds 2 to 4 people)

6 chicken breasts

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3 cups flour

1 to 3 T salt

1 T cayenne

1 T chili powder

1 T paprika

vegetable oil for frying

Slice chicken breasts in bite-sized pieces like so:

In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Add chicken pieces to egg mixture and evenly coat.  Put flour, chili powder, salt, paprika, and cayenne  in another large bowl and mix well. Remove chicken from egg mixture and add to flour bowl. Toss chicken in flour to evenly coat.

Chicken should be dry, like photo on the top. If it looks like photo on the bottom, it needs more flour coating.

Add chicken pieces to a deep fryer. BJ fried her boneless wings at 355 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Toss wings in your favorite wing or BBQ sauce.

She's delirious from all this cooking!

BJ by the end of the night...good work, Beege!

“Fire-butt Spanish Rice”…don’t ask, just give it a try ;)


PJ’s housewarming party…continued…with guest chef BJ for this side dish.

You might not want to ask why I titled this recipe “Fire-butt Spanish Rice.” The name should say it all.

BJ likes to cook food with a lot of heat. She puts Tabasco sauce on EVERYTHING, to the point where you feel offended. Was the food I just cooked so bad that you had to mask the taste by burning your tastebuds off, just to get the food down your throat, BJ? OK well maybe I’m over dramatizing.

I like this recipe as-is, with a little pain, but it will taste just as good if you cut down on the hot stuff. For this recipe BJ spared the Tabasco and used ghost chile sauce…the hottest pepper in the world. The ingredient amount below will feed a large group of people as a side dish (we fed 10-15 with some leftover). Just scale down ingredients for a smaller portion. This also works well as a main dish.

Ingredients

4 cups cooked rice

olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of your pot or pan

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 bushel cilantro, roughly chopped

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup frozen corn kernels

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. cumin

about a teaspoon-ish or more of chili powder

about a teaspoon-ish or more of cayenne pepper

A few glugs of hot taco sauce (about 2-3 T to be safe)

About half a tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (BJ used Holy Jolokia ghost chile sauce, which can be purchased on amazon.com)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add cooked rice and mix well. Add tomato sauce and taco sauce and mix well into rice.

The little childrens like to help.

Aww sowwy Fawkes, this is too spicy for the puppy..

Add black beans, corn and spices. The last few minutes of cooking add cilantro. Enjoy! If you still don’t know why it’s called “Fire-butt Spanish Rice,” well…you will tomorrow. 🙂

Steak Fajitas taste like Kraft Handi-Snacks? Call me crazy!


Housewarming party menu…continued…featuring my friend PJ as guest chef for this recipe…

Do you remember those plastic packets of crackers and highly processed cheese that you used to eat as a kid? You know the ones, with the little red stick to scoop up the said “cheese”? I believe they’re called Handi-Snacks.

Handi-Snacks!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but these steak fajitas taste like that cheese. And I mean that in a wonderful, delicious way, the taste nostalgically bringing me back to elementary school. I know it sounds crazy to say that marinated steak tastes just like fake cheese, but please give it a try and tell me if I’m right. If it doesn’t, well I promise it’s delicious anyway. There’s a good chance that I’m just cheese-deprived due to my allergy of milk products, and hallucinating the taste. Or it could be the fact that I haven’t had a Handi-Snack in at least 15 years. Ultimately, you can be the judge.

Fawkes wants to be the taste tester...

Steak marinade

2 pounds flank steak

4 to 6 cloves garlic

1 T paprika

1 to 2 T cayenne

3 T olive oil

1/3 cup water

1 T kosher salt

1 to 2 T liquid smoke (a few glugs of it says PJ)

3 juiced limes

1/2 T pepper

1 T light soy sauce

1 to 2 T worcestershire sauce

Fajita veggies

A few red/green/yellow/orange bell peppers, sliced thin

1-2 onions, thinly sliced

1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced

drizzle olive oil

Put all marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag and marinate overnight. Let meat come to room temperature before grilling.  This will ensure more even cooking. Grill meat to desired doneness (we prefer medium or medium rare). This will depend on the thickness of the meat and cooking ability of the grill.

PJ’s technique: I just keep poking the meat with my finger, until it feels done (feels medium-rareish). If it feels like pushing on your cheek, it’s rare or raw. If it’s like pushing on a desk or dense foam rubber, it’s well done.  If it’s somewhat soft, like pushing on the front of your chin, then it’s medium rare.

When cooked to desired doneness, take the meat off grill and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

While meat is resting, saute onions in pan with olive oil over medium-high heat until soft. Add bell peppers and jalapeno and saute until they just begin to soften but are not mushy.  Serve with sliced steak pieces, tortillas and guacamole, or the Spanish rice coming soon in my next blog….stay tuned.

Perfect Housewarming Dessert: Oatmeal Carmelitas


PBJ

Friday night we celebrated the housewarming of our dear friend PJ. He just purchased a great house for entertaining and invited about 15 people over for dinner. He and his girlfriend BJ had an eclectic menu planned: boneless buffalo wings, steak and chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, eggrolls, salad, and oatmeal carmelitas. So I decided to show up 2 hours early, take notes and photos while they cooked, and feature them as guest chefs for my blog. Now I know that is a lot of dishes, and I lost sleep at night thinking about how to organize this blog post with so many dishes to cover. So I decided to cover my three or four-ish favorites: the boneless wings, the steak fajitas with Spanish rice and the oatmeal carmelitas–starting with dessert, of course.

(Disclaimer: This menu is not recommended for marathon runners in training the night before a long run. I barely made it to the port-o-potty before finishing mile 7)

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Oatmeal carmelitas are basically the best invention ever, combining melted chocolate, gooey caramel and a buttery, oatmeal nut crust. I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that carmelitas are the best thing ever or is the best thing ever. I think carmelitas are meant to be cut into individual-sized bars, which would mean that they are the best thing ever, in plural form. But when I eat them the whole thing remains intact…in a fork-direct-to-pan fashion. So I think for me it’s more accurate to use the singular form and say that oatmeal carmelita is the best thing ever, even if it sounds funny.

But ANYWAY, back to the point. I love oatmeal carmelita. I love it warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. The problem is I love it too much that I eat it until I feel sick. And then there’s regret…

So my advice is: Give them/it a try. But if you’re like me and inherited the Sweet Tooth Disease from your dad, make sure to actually cut them into small bars and just eat one or two. Not out of the pan. Put it on a plate, then leave the room. Maybe the building. And yes, I think STD (as in “Sweet Tooth Disease,” not the sexually transmitted kind) is a real disease. Lol.

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup melted butter

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I really like them with dark chocolate too)

1/2 cup chopped almonds (walnuts or pecans would work great too)

3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping (BJ is pretty liberal with this)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9×9-inch square pan. Combine the 1 cup flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, and melted butter. Mix to combine, mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes.Let cool slightly then sprinkle over the crust the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Mix the caramel ice cream topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour and drizzle over the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let bars cool before cutting (or eat warm directly from pan with ice cream on top if you don’t have to go running or leave the house the next day). Enjoy!

Mom Does it Best: Filipino Pancit and Thai Chicken Larb


Chef Mom!

Labor Day is supposed to be a holiday away from laboring, but in my family, we see it as an entire free day to cook! So for this blog, I thought it appropriate to feature none other than the best–my mom–as my next “featured guest chef.”

And when she cooks– she really cooks. Nevermind the fact that there were only 7 people to feed, she made enough food to feed a small country.

So I spent the holiday at my mom’s house, relearning how to make a few of her most famous dishes (I always forget!). She made chicken caldereta and pancit, both traditional Filipino dishes; chicken larb, a Thai salad; a spaghetti squash and carrot salad with a spicy vinegar dressing, a shrimp and vegetable dish and some sort of brothy soup…which were basically ignored because we were overwhelmed with everything else on the table.

Recreating her recipes isn’t exactly easy since she doesn’t measure out her ingredients, just tastes as she goes…so I did my best writing out her ingredient amounts…just be sure to taste as you cook!

Thai Chicken Larb

2 chicken breasts

1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced

2 fresh Thai chilis

2-3 limes

1 tsp oyster sauce

3 sprigs mint

1/2 onion, sliced thin

2 T toasted rice, ground

cracked pepper, to taste

1 9 oz bag sprouts

Instructions:

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Put on broiler pan and broil until no longer pink in the middle. Let chicken cool, then finely chop. Add to a large bowl.

Toast rice over medium low heat until browned. Be careful not to burn. Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor), finely grind rice. Add to bowl. Finely chop green onion, Thai chilies, and mint. Add to bowl.

Add oyster sauce, squeezed lime juice, sprouts and cracked pepper. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Salad can easily be adjusted to your taste by using more or less lime and oyster sauce. Serve with lettuce or cabbage leaves to wrap up chicken larb, and enjoy!

Pancit (Bihon)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 onion, chopped

canola oil (enough to fill the bottom of the wok)

about 4 cups water

1 package pancit bihon mix (can be found at Asian groceries, see photo below)

3-5 T soy sauce

1- 14 oz package rice noodles (package might say “rick sticks”, can be found at Asian groceries)

3-4 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 shredded carrot (for color)

1 large chicken breast

salt

pepper

1 egg, for garnish

cilantro, for garnish (optional)

green onion, for garnish (optional)

Boil chicken breast in the 4 cups of water with salt and pepper until cooked through. Let cool. Shred chicken into small pieces. (Reserve water for noodles later)

Add oil to wok. When hot, add onion and garlic; saute for one minute. Add shredded chicken and saute for another minute or two. Add water that chicken was boiled in. Add pancit mix (shown in photo) and soy sauce. Push chicken to one side of wok then add noodles to liquid.

When noodles start to soften in the liquid, cut with scissors to shorten. Mix everything together until noodles are soft and fully absorb all of the liquid. Add cabbage and carrot, mix for another minute or two or until cabbage just barely begins to soften but is still crunchy.

Cooking for us is a family affair.

In a small pan, fry the egg. Slice thinly, and garnish the noodles with the egg slices. Serve with lemon wedges. (I like to squirt about 3-4 lemon slices on my own serving until the noodles are drowning in lemon juice, yum-o-yum. Not everyone will like it like that though, so just serve the lemon on the side)

Good luck!

Novin likes to sneak samples…

Salmon Patties and Baked Zucchini Fries


Today’s recipe was made by my boyfriend Novin, who is my first featured “guest chef” of many more to come…

Salmon patties are one of only two ways Novin will eat salmon. Up until a few months ago he refused to even taste one bite of salmon that I promised was delicious, no matter how it was prepared. I think he realized just how darn healthy salmon is and began experimenting with ways to make it “not taste fishy.”

Well, I think he was successful, and I ask him to make these on a regular basis. I think even fish-haters would like these. They’re simple enough to serve on a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve for dinner guests too. Thanks, Novin, for a great dinner!

Ingredients

1 pound coho salmon fillet, shredded

1 egg

1 T buffalo wing sauce (he used a spicy garlic wing sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings)

about ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs (seasoned bread crumbs add good flavor)

½ cup cornmeal

dash paprika

dash of dried dill

dash of pepper

dash of garlic salt

dash of cayenne

canola oil for frying

Shred salmon as demonstrated in photo below.

Add egg, seasonings and breadcrumbs. Mix all ingredients together well. (If the mixture is too moist, you can add more breadcrumbs. You want the mixture to be able to hold its shape when formed into a patty but not dry.) Form into patties, and coat each side with cornmeal.

Fry patties in a skillet (cast iron works great) on medium heat in a thin layer of oil, 2-3 minutes on each side, or until done in the middle.

Serve with lemon slices, or top with tartar sauce or this dill aioli:

http://www.grouprecipes.com/32176/mini-crab-cakes-with-lemon-dill-aioli.html

Makes about 2 servings. Enjoy!

Baked Zucchini Fries

Since we still have loads of zucchini coming out of our garden—and of course Novin doesn’t care for zucchini—I have to come up with ways to “hide” the zucchini in dishes or cover up the taste with sauces. I decided to try out baked zucchini fries, which I thought would go well with the salmon patties. If he didn’t like them, well…more fries for me I guess.

Now, Novin is the kind of guy who will at least try anything once. But to my surprise, he didn’t stop at just one fry! He actually seemed to enjoy them! Success! His only comment was, “They need more salt.” Easy fix.

For this recipe I didn’t measure out everything, just estimated. If you want to kick up the flavor of the fries, add cayenne pepper and paprika to the cornmeal/flour mix.

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini

about ¼ cup flour

about ¼ cup cornmeal

about ¼ tsp salt

about ¼ tsp pepper

about ¼ tsp dried basil

1 egg white

marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I used the toaster oven)

Slice zucchini into 1-inch wedges. In a bowl, coat zucchini slices with egg white.

In a ziplock bag, add cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper and basil (and cayenne and paprika if you choose). Put zucchini in the ziplock bag and shake until pieces are completed coated. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. Arrange zucchini pieces on baking sheet so none are touching. Spray zucchini pieces with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip pieces over and bake for another 10 minutes. For the last 5 minutes or so, turn on broiler and broil until pieces start to lightly brown.

Serve with marinara sauce to dip.

Makes 2-3 servings. These would also make a great appetizer for dinner guests, just double or triple recipe.