Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

November 16, 2017

Beef and Barley Stew

Just in time for winter! Also, I just started reading this fantasy series called the Farseer Trilogy and there’s nothing like a good fantasy novel while eating bread and stew. And a slab of cheese. And perhaps some wine.



  • 1.5 lb beef chuck
  • 1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 small celery root*, diced (~1cup)
  • 2 small/medium carrots, diced (~1 cup)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup hulled barley**
  • salt. lots of it.
  • black pepper

*feel free to substitute with regular celery. I like my stew chunkier so I use celery root. Has the taste of celery but with better texture and substance.

**pearled barley has a better texture. Chewier. Firmer. Also takes longer to cook. Follow cooking instructions on the bag so you know how to adjust for cooking time.

Fresh herbs are of course the better option, but I don’t have them lying around often and it requires an herb sachet so that they don’t turn into unsightly green slime in your finished product. Feel free to serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley if you like. Another note, DO get the beef chuck. NEVER prepackaged “stew meat”. Yuck. Chuck is not great for steak as it has a lot of connective tissue. But in a slow cooking stew, all that connective tissue that would otherwise be stringy and tough on a steak melts into a wonderfully silky stew.


  1. Cut beef chuck into thumb size pieces. Not too small or it’ll get rubbery and hard when browning. Salt generously. Heat large dutch oven over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add 1tbs oil. Add meat in batches and brown evenly on all sides. Never crowd meat or you’ll steam it instead and get grey yucky meat. Searing gives it a nice brown crust and adds flavor to the stew later on.
  2. Remove meat and add carrots and celery(root). Salt generously again. Saute for 5min or so until browned but not soft yet. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add onions and garlic. Stir until just soft and garlic is fragrant. Season with parsley/thyme/rosemary/bayleaf. Salt and pepper.
  4. Add chicken stock and scrape up brown bits from bottom of the pot.
  5. Bring to a low boil then turn down heat to simmer and add beef back in. Cover and simmer (NOT boiling. No big bubbles) 2 hours. Stir at the half way point.
  6. Add veggies back in and simmer for another 30 min. (Add barley in at the same time if you’re using pearled barley.) Taste and salt if necessary. Keep in mind you’re adding a lot of starch soon, so err on the side of a bit too salty.
  7. Add barley and stir once, cook 15 min or as per package instructions.
  8. Turn off heat and check on barley. If it’s still a bit chewy, keep cover on pot and set aside for 10min.
  9. Serve with crusty bread. And cheese. And a glass of wine. And of course, a good book.
August 2, 2017

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

Perfect for little ones! Uses very little sugar but has just the right amount of sweetness. Adapted from epicurious.


  • 3 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry (important! soggy muffins are gross)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (or a heaping cup of turbinado)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cups melted butter or oil, or some combo (I did 1/3 cup butter, 2/3 avocado oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecan or walnuts)
  • 1 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, vanilla, sugar, oil. Then mix in zucchini.
  3. In separate bowl, mix flour, salt, spices, baking soda.  Slowly add mixture to large bowl with zucchini.
  4. Fold in raisins and nuts.
  5. Butter up a 12 cup muffin pan. Fill cups until almost full. Bake 25min or until toothpick comes out from center clean. Set aside and cool. **also fills 3.5 mini muffin pans. 5x8x3 loaf pan also works, but bake 50 min until top of loaf cracks and small knife inserted in center comes out clean.
July 18, 2017

Quick Weekday Pasta Sauce: Fresh Mushroom and Herbs


  • 1 package mushrooms, sliced
  • fresh herbs (I used what I have, chives. sage is a great alternative. or tarragon)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup+ chicken stock
  • 1 tbs butter
  • salt and pepper


  • Heat skillet over medium high. Once pan is hot, add a tsp of cooking oil and heat until shimmering. Saute mushrooms and shallots until just soft. Add garlic, herbs, butter, saute another 3 min or until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add white wine and let it cook off. 3-4 min.
  • Add chicken stock and more butter if you want a richer sauce. Adjust consistency with chicken stock.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

You’ll want to start your water for the pasta first. This sauce cooks quickly so the pasta should be done just in time. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Toss and miss over medium low heat until well coated. Ravioli works great too. Especially butternut squash ravioli and sage if you have it!

Optional: add a few handfuls of spinach into the pan when you add the pasta. Toss unil spinach is wilted.

April 25, 2017

Oven Roasted BBQ Ribs


  • rack of ribs
  • dry rub
  • bbq sauce


  1. apply dry rub evenly. cover and refrigerate 2-8 hours.
  2. preheat oven to 250F.
  3. cover ribs with aluminum foil. bake on middle rack 2hr
  4. uncover. bring temperature up to 300. coat in bbq sauce. bake another 1-1.5 hours.
  5. optional: bring temp up to 500 (or broil), ~5m.
March 15, 2017

Beef Pot Pie


  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion or shallots, diced
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbs worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt/pepper
  • 3tbs AP flour
  • 1 15oz can beef broth
  • 1 package puff pastry, thawed (can take 30-40m)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a tsp of water


  1. Thaw puff pastry. Use two packages if you wanna be fancy and attempt a weave for the crust.
  2. Season ground beef with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium high, add a tbs oil or so and heat until shimmering. Saute beef until almost cooked through. A little pink is ok. Stirring as needed. Remove beef and set aside
  3. In remaining oil, add onions ad celery. Saute until just soft, ~2-3m. Add garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, caraway seeds and continue to saute, another minute or two, until fragrant.
  4. Add carrots, mushrooms, peas, tomato paste, and saute 7-8m or until carrots just start to soften (will still be a bit crunchy but outside will give way to pressure from a fork). Salt as needed.
  5. Stir beef back in. Stir in flour. Slowly stir in broth. Once mixture begins to thicken and bubble, turn heat down on low and simmer 20-30m.
  6. Preheat oven to 450F.
  7. Spoon beef into a large baking pan. Cut puff pastry into strips. Lay strips down on top of beef. Brush on egg mixture and place in oven. 30m or until crust becomes golden and poofy.

July 20, 2016

Baked Eggs with Lentils and Merguez

baked eggs1

Eggs for dinner? Suuurrre why not. I started making this in the morning, intending it for brunch. But it took until 7:30pm for me to complete it. Such is the life with a small human in the house.

NOTE: All measurements are approximate…taste your cooking as you go. Eyeball it. You don’t need to measure. 😀 Plus, aint nobody got time to wash measuring cups and sh*%.


  • 2-3 links of spicy merguez (lamb sausage)
  • ~1 cup red lentils, washed and drained (sift for stones!)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped*
  • 1/3 cup red or orange bell peppers diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • ~1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • pinch of sugar (to cut acidity of tomato paste)
  • ~1 cup chicken stock
  • Eggs

*I sliced on the diagonal, so it cooks faster. Red lentils tend to cook quickly. You don’t want crunchy sweet potatoes. This technique, I believe, is called “rolling wedges”. This is how I cut carrots, zucchinis, etc. Very useful.


  1. Remove sausage from casing. Heat dutch oven on medium high until smoking hot. Add a tbs or two of oil (I always use avocado for its high smoke point and lack of flavor). When oil is shimmering, add sausage and break it up with the edge of your spatula. Remove and set aside once cooked through.
  2. In remaining oil from sausage, add onions, bell peppers, garlic. Salt generously. (Depending on saltiness of the chicken stock and tomato sauce you’re using, you may want to salt lightly.)  Add seasonings. Continue to saute ~5m or until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add sweet potatoes. Continue to saute ~3m or so. Longer if you accidentally cut your potatoes too thick.
  4. Mix in tomato paste, tomato sauce, and chicken stock.
  5. Once tomato paste has dissolved, add lentils. Stir. Lentils should not be completely submerged. Add water/stock until it looks like ::this:: or a little drier.
  6. Bring to a slow boil. Turn heat to simmer, mix in sausage, and cover. Simmer for 20m or so until lentils are just soft. (I prefer al dente over soggy)
  7. Grease an 8” cast iron skillet (or if you have a deeper skillet you can use from beginning to end, no transfer is necessary) and spoon in lentil mixture. Using the back of a spoon, press down and create divots for the eggs. Crack an egg in each. Broil in the oven for 5m or so until eggs firm up to your liking.

baked eggs2

Tada! That’s it. Pretty easy to make, I just couldn’t get away long enough to chop veggies and tend to the stove until I put the little one to bed.

PS: I love my wooden spoon. Got it in Halifax this summer on our family trip. My dream (or one of many) is to start a wooden utensils collection. Does that make me weird?

Something so grounded and OG about using a wooden spoon.

And cast iron skillets.

And baked eggs.

July 6, 2016

We ❤️ Ube!

The offspring’s first taste of ube. I think he likes it. 

May 27, 2016

Miso Salmon


  • 2 Salmon filets
  • 2 tbs white miso
  • 1 tbs mirin
  • 1 tbs rice wine or sake
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • optional garnishes: sesame seeds, sliced green onion


  1. Marinate salmon in miso mixture for 2-3 hours in the fridge.
  2. Line baking pan with aluminum foil and brush with oil. Scrape off most of the miso and place salmon on pan. Miso is super salty. Less is more.
  3. Broil on high for 8m or until edges just start to bubble. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. Heat frying pan on high, add a tbs of oil, place salmon skin side down for 2 min or so to crisp up skin.
  5. Serve. (optional: top with sliced green onion)
May 12, 2016

Liver and Onion

I’ve been craving Luby’s liver and onion. Where can I get some in the north east? Do yankees eat liver and onion?

No pics. Too hungry and forgot. But liver isn’t a pretty dish anyhow. REALLY easy. Can’t believe I haven’t tried this before. Not to mention CHEAP.


  • 1 lb liver, drained in colander
  • 50/50 flour cornstarch mixture for dredging
  • paprika
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • milk (I’m using almond)
  • 2 large sweet yellow onions, sliced


  • Drain liver, then soak in milk for 30-60m.
  • Pat dry and season with salt, pepper, paprika on both sides. Dredge in cornstarch/flour mixture to evenly coat.
  • Heat large skillet on medium high. Add a tbs or so of oil. Saute onions until caramelized and soft. This may take awhile. Add some water to speed it up. Season with salt. Add a pat of butter if you feel up to it. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Reheat skillet. Add frying oil (I like avocado oil. Anything with a high smoke point works, but avocado oil imparts no flavor). Heat until oil is shimmery. Place liver in pan, spacing it out and avoid crowding. Fry for ~3-5 min each side, depending on your stove and liver thickness. Should be browned evenly with no blood bubbling up.
  • Serve and top with sautéed onions. Yum.
April 20, 2016

Creamy Butternut Squash Linguini with Fried Sage

IMG_6690Good to be blogging again! The Little Dictator is almost 6 months old and while I’ve been back in the kitchen for awhile now, I really haven’t found the time to write down and take pictures of the hodge-podge dinners I’ve been making…

This sucker took me almost an hour. Mainly because I had to make everything in batches with my tiny skillet and tiny bullet blender in my tiny kitchen. (OK, huge by New York standards but I’m still a Texan by heart and by habit.)

Adapted from this wonderful recipe on cookieandkate. And by adapted, I mean mostly copied. It’s good stuff! Didn’t need changes.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and/or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable/chicken broth (I used a little less)
  • 12 ounces whole grain linguine or fettuccine
  • OPTIONAL: shaved Parmesan, BACON…side of spinach…



  • Heat oil in 12 inch skillet or large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with sea salt and set the bowl aside.
  • Add squash, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  • Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Reserve the skillet. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Combine pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve pasta topped with fried sage, more black pepper and shaved Parmesan/Pecorino and/or smoked salt, (BACON?) if desired.


  • In hindsight, spinach linguini makes for some ugly presentation. For some reason I still think spinach pasta is healthier. Probably not true.
  • Save a few whole leaves of sage and fry it up for a nice garnish
  • Add chopped fried bacon after blending! (I like bacon. Can you tell?)
  • Onion and garlic can be chopped roughly. You’re blending it, so doesn’t matter. Squash is chopped evenly to promote even cooking.
  • Set aside broth/liquid before blending so you can tweak the final consistency of the sauce.  I liked my sauce thicker. Didn’t add pasta water, didn’t even use all 2 cups of broth.

Unfortunately, after all this work, I forgot to savor my meal and wolfed it down in five minutes. As most parents, I now have a habit of eating as fast as I can, even when the small human is asleep for the night. Le Sigh.

More pictures! Curtesy of RChang while I cleaned up the mess I made in the kitchen. He kept calling over to me “I don’t know… still looks like Jabba the Hutt to me..”


So I added some embellishments. IMG_6692

EDIT: 2/1/17 Tried this again but with a toddler running around these days, I had to find ways to cut down my cooking time. I added onions, whole garlic cloves, and cubed squash into a roasting pan and roasted on 425F for 20m or so. Tossed it all in a food processor and thinned it out with chicken stock. So much easier. And the caramelization from roasting adds a sweetness and depth that the original version didn’t have. Yay for lazy cooks!