Daeji Galbi - Spicy Korean Ribs

For Christmas, Santa a.k.a best wifey in the world, gave lobster a Big Green Egg grill. This contraption is supposed to be a fancy shmancy smoker that will permeate our food with that wonderful charcoal taste we all love. I absolutely heart any and all foods cooked on a charcoal grill. I foresee many many meals from this egg. So really, the gift was for MEEEEE :)

Lobster and I had another cook off the day after Christmas for the fam. This time, we cooked ribs. I made Korean marinated baby back ribs while he made his famous ribs glazed with his secret sop. We don't need to talk about who won this competition. Who cares about contests, there are no real winners or losers. All that matters is you're able to spend quality time with your loved ones over a nice meal. Clearly, I was not the winner...stupid contest! It's only fair that he won since this is considered man cooking and I am a woman, therefore he won by default.

I don't have a recipe for lobster's ribs b/c he just wings it with whatever spices he feels like using that day, but they are always dee-lish. The following recipe is a traditional spicy korean rib dish similar to the one my mom makes. It produces a spicy flavored rib so if you want less of a kick, I would reduce the amount of kochujang. I found the recipe on a random website feturing Korean dishes and I was actually quite impressed because the flavors were spot on. I'm excited to try more recipes from this site to see how they compare to my mom's cooking. I'll be the guinea pig and letcha know when they're num num.

Daeji galbi - 6 servings
Adapted from here

• 5 lbs of pork baby back ribs
• 1 (1-inch) piece ginger root, minced
• 2 onions (pureed)
• 4 tbsp minced garlic
• 1 cup kochujang
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 3 tbsp sesame oil
• 1 tsp black pepper

Cooking Directions
1. If ribs are not separated, separate by cutting meat between the bones. Place in large bowl.
2. Puree onions in a blender as it is easier to marinade and spread on ribs
3. Combine all ingredients except pork ribs in large bowl.
4. Once ingredients are all mixed consistently, rub marinade generously over meat.
5. Cover and refrigerate 5 hours or preferably overnight.
6. Grill ribs over medium-high heat until done, about 8-10 minutes per side.
7. If cooked in an oven, preheat to 350 degrees. Spray cooking spray onto a baking sheet and place the ribs on it. Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the meat is so soft that it falls off the bone.

Double-Caramel Turtle Cake

Photo from Cooking Light website

Yield: 16 servings - 1 serving = 309 calories

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2/3 cup fat-free caramel apple dip (such as T. Marzetti's)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat bottoms of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour.

Combine boiling water and cocoa, stirring well with a whisk. Cool completely.

Place granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon 1 2/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 2/3 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons milk; cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Combine butter mixture and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until spreading consistency.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread top with half of frosting. Place caramel dip in a small zip-top plastic bag. Snip a small hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle half of caramel dip over frosting. Top with other cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake; drizzle with remaining caramel dip. Sprinkle with pecans.

Lobster two ways and zucchini fritters

**Herb-grilled lobster with grilled zucchini and a zucchini fritter

For Christmas Eve, I had lobsters with my lobster :) We had a lobster cook off!! We each cooked two lobster tails however we wanted and then we would decide who's dish reigned supreme. I made my lobsters in a white wine broth while he flavored his with an herb-butter and grilled them on his dalmation outdoor grill. And the winner was...that would be the person writing this blog :) Well, he did come in second though...out of two but who's keeping tabs.

**Lobster in white wine broth

For the zucchini fritter I grated one zucchini and squeezed out all the excess water from it and seasoned with salt and pepper, some feta cheese and green onion. I then sprinkled the top with some flour and one egg white to help bind the whole thing together. I got lazy and made three huge ones so the outsides were crispy but the insides were mushy. Next time I will make them much smaller so it's one even layer and crunchy all the way around.

Lobsters in a White Wine Broth (serves 2)
Adapted loosely from here

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 lobster tails
8 ounces chicken stock (1 cup)
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
lemon wedges
salt and pepper to taste
Crusty French bread

Preheat a large pot to medium and add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, add the sliced shallots, a little salt, and pepper then saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine, chicken stock and lobster tails. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the shells turn pink and lobster meat feels firm to touch. Remove the lobsters to a serving plate. Add parsley to broth, season with S&P. Serve with a lemon wedge and some crusty French bread.

Pumpkin Seed Dip

This is a great nutty, healthy tasting dip. It contains absolutely no oil, fat, or butter and it is still delicious. Since it's the holidays we have been consuming too many rich, fattening foods so I thought I would make something healthy. Plus, we need to save room for our cinnamon rolls tomorrow :) I had completely forgotten about this recipe until my friend reminded me about it the other day. Now I will be making it more often.

This dips consistency is similar to a baba ganoush. It is nutty, creamy and just the tiniest bit spicy. However, you can adjust the heat level to however hot you'd like to. The lime juice gives the dip some freshness as well. If you want to try something different for your next potluck party this would be a great dip to try.

Yucatecan Pumpkin Seed Dip
Adapted from here
Ha Si Kil Pac
Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for about 4 as a snack

1 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds
3 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tbs red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbs finely chopped parsley
Cayenne or chili powder
1/2 of a finely grated garlic
The juice of 1 lime

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spread seeds in one layer on a baking sheet and check after a 3-4 minutes. When you hear the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Don't let them darken past golden or the dip will taste bitter. Pour into a food processor, let cool, then grind to as smooth a paste as possible, scraping down the sides several times to ensure even grinding.

2. Roast the tomatoes. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Roast until splotchy-black and thoroughly soft, about 6 minutes per side. Cool. Peel and chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

3. Finish the dip. In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Stir in enough lime juice to give the mixture a dip-like consistency. Taste and season with salt and chili powder (usually about a scant teaspoon)

Cookies and milk for Santa

Since Christmas is tomorrow I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Santa :) Alright, I'm not that much of a dweeb. I really made these for lobster's grandparents. But since I was baking the cookies anyway, I took the opportunity for a cute photo-op too.

These cookies are gargantuan!!! Gargantuan and yummy. To get the full effect of how large these cookies really are, I will show you:

**I told you they were LARGA!!

Although they are frighteningly large, they taste GOOD!! The recipe is from cook's illustrated and they took about 13 minutes to cook. The edges were set but the middle of the cookie still looked raw so when I took them out of the oven I left them on the baking sheet for another five more minutes. The end result were crispy edges and a soft gooey middle of yummyness. If you like a crispy cookie, I would suggest cooking them until only one inch of the middle looks raw.

Since I like my cookies to be of a normal size, I saved half of the batter and put it in the fridge to cook for later. I used one heaping tablespoon for measurement and I enjoyed the consistency of the cookie much more. Hope you likey!!

Cook's Illustrated Chocolate Chip Cookies - 8 GARGANTUAN cookies
¾ plus 2 tbs cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
7 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
¼ plus 2 tbs cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 t table salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks (I used dark)
¼ cup plus 2 tbs chopped pecans or walnuts

Whisk flour, baking soda together and set aside. Heat 5 tablespoons of butter in skillet. Cook while swirling pan constantly until butter is dark brown and nutty. You'll see little brown specks throughout. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl, Add remaining 2 T of butter and stir until completely melted. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg. Whisk until mixture is smooth with no lumps remaining. Let mixture stand for 3 mins, then whisk for 30 secs. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using spatula or wood spoon add flours mix until just combined, about 1 min. Add chocolate chips and nuts. This recipe makes 8 large cookies. With ice cream scoop, scoop 8 mounds of dough on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone pad. Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes.

Soon Dubu Jigae & Khong Na Mul

WINNER, WINNER, Soon Dubu dinner!!!!

Holy mole, this was actually pretty good if I do say so myself. I can't believe I actually made my first Korean meal today-without any mommy supervision. Sigh...such a disgrace I am. I've blogged about forty American recipes and finally made one from my motherland tonight. Well, at least now I can play catch up! :D

Although my mom is the best Korean cook I know, she never made us soon dubu while we were growing up. Therefore, I had to concede and search the Internet for a recipe. As you can imagine, there are a ton of different recipes for soon dubu with a ton of different variations. Some of the photos didn't look like the right consistency, some were too light in color and some just looked plain scary. Finally my search ended when I found this website. It helped that there was a video too.

After making the soon dubu, this recipe seems more of a method then anything. I found I had to adjust and eyeball the seasoning and amount of broth to the way I like it. Lobster can't handle spicy food...clearly he is not Korean...so I had to tone down the amount of red pepper used. I also increased the amount of fish sauce too. The fish sauce really seemed to help this jigae give it that "Korean" taste. This was my first time using fish sauce, I bought "Three Crabs Viet Huong" brand and it flavored the broth nicely. All in all, for my first time making soon dubu I would say it was a success.

Note: I didn't like the consistency of the soup so I thickened it with a bit of cornstarch. I put one tablespoon of cornstarch and added a little water to help dilute it, then added half a cup of water. I then added it to the soup one tablespoon at a time until it reached the right consistency, which took about four tablespoons. I probably could have done more but I was too chicken and thought it might thicken too much.

**After just eating this I noticed it starts to taste better the longer is sits b/c the flavors start to meld together. If you have time try to make it a few hours ahead.

Soon Dubu Jigae - 2 large servings
12 dried anchovies
1/3 cup of kelp, half onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 shiitake mushrooms
100 grams of beef, 1 cup of mixed seafood, 3 shrimp
2 green onions, 1 green chili pepper
2-5 tbs of hot pepper flakes
olive oil, sesame oil, 2 tubes of soon du bu
2 tbs of fish sauce, and 2 eggs

Prepare stock to make tasty Soon du bu:
Pour 5 cups of water into a pot and add 12 dried anchovies after removing intestine part. Add half onion, some dried kelp (about 1/3 cup), 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, 5 cloves of garlic and boil it over high heat.
Approximately 10 minutes later, lower the heat to low medium heat and boil it for another 20 minutes.

Set aside the stock and take out the mushrooms and chop them into small pieces.
Heat your earthen ware (or ceramic pot) on the stove and put 2 ts of olive oil.
Chop 100 grams of beef and put it into the pot and stir it.
Add the chopped shiitake mushroom and stir it.
Add 2 tbs – 5 tbs (1/4 cup) of hot pepper flakes and keep stirring for 1 minute.
2 tbs—mild
3 tbs—medium
4 tbs—hot
5 tbs (1/4 cup)—suicidal hot ! : )
Pour 2 cups of the stock you made. It will be sizzling. Add 1 cup of mixed seafood and 3 shrimp.
Add 2 tbs of fish sauce.
Cut the 2 tubes of Soon du bu (soft Tofu) in half and squeeze it out into the pot and break the tofu with a spoon several times in the pot.
When it boils, add 2 chopped green onions and 1 green chili pepper.
Crack eggs and drizzle some sesame oil before serving.
**I did not use any seafood or egg and it was still nummm

Khong Na Mul (Korean bean sprouts side dish)

I used a 8 inch skillet and covered the entire bottom of the pan with bean sprouts. I then added about half a cup of water and sprinkled some salt. Make sure you are not completely submerging the bean sprouts in water, just a little water underneath them is good to help them steam. Let the water come to a boil then put a cover on it and let it steam for about 3 minutes. If the bean sprouts have a distinct "smell" still then they are not ready and need to cook some more. Check to see if the bean sprouts have turned opaque, if not then bring water back to boil and steam for another minute or so. Bean sprouts should still retain some crunch and not be mushy. Season with S&P, finely minced/grated garlic, korean hot red pepper and a dash of sesame oil. Sorry I can't give you exact measurements, but taste as you go. When adding the red pepper the bean sprouts should turn a nice light red hue. Enjoy!!!

**If you would like to make the recipe for the spinach, you can find the recipe here. I forgot to note in the recipe that I also added finely minced garlic too.

Scrambled eggs with shallots, tomatoes, mushrooms, thyme and cheese

Ooooh, I just made a delicious breakfast for myself. Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I've made eggs. This was sort of a "kitchen sink" attempt at making them b/c I just threw everything I had in the fridge into them. Since I was just cooking for myself, I didn't make much of a dent with the leftovers we have in our refrigerator, but it was GOOD. I first sprayed pam and a little bit of "I can't believe it's not butter" into the skillet, diced up a tiny bit of shallot, threw in one finely diced mushroom along with two grape tomatoes (seasoned with S&P) and then three egg whites. (seasoned a tiny bit more with just salt) When the eggs were about 3/4 of the way done, I stirred in a little bit of fresh thyme until fragrant and then dotted the top with laughing cow's "french onion" cheese and scrambled the eggs some more until they looked done. Then voila, my masterpiece was finished. It was the perfect consistency-not too dry or runny. Next time though I will take the seeds out of the tomatoes to ensure the eggs will not be runny. I then finished off the meal with a fuyu persimmon. It was a yummy, quick, balanced, and healthy breakfast. Such a big change from the normal cereal I have for breakfast. I was a happy girl :) It's amazing what brings a smile to my face

2009 Christmas Dinner

Wow, I can't believe it's already Christmas. This year has definetely been a memorable one and it has just flown by. I can't believe 2010 is right around the corner.

Tonight I had my girlfriends over for our annual Christmas dinner. Usually we go out to a restaurant but I thought it would be fun to have a potluck this year. The above photo is a cake one of the girl's brought. We ate him after the meal but left his face intact since he was too cute to eat. The penguin looks very much like other characters I have decorated around my house for the holidays.

I cooked the entree and made Cook's Illustrated Stuffed Pork Loin, and it was very tasty. They always seem to know what they're doing. I have never butterflied a pork before and it was a bit challenging. I messed up a little but you couldn't tell because everything was rolled up nice and snug...so no one was the wiser. We ate this along with another friend's green beans and roasted potatoes-which were equally delicious. It was a night of good eating spent with great friends :)

I modified the recipe to cook it in the oven. The original recipe cooks it on an outdoor grill. The original recipe can be found here

Grilled Pork Loin with Apple-Cranberry Filling

This recipe is best prepared with a loin that is 7 to 8 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide. To make cutting the pork easier, freeze it for 30 minutes. If mustard seeds are unavailable, stir an equal amount of whole-grain mustard into the filling after the apples have been processed. The pork loin can be stuffed and tied a day ahead of time, but don't season the exterior until you are ready to grill.

Serves 6

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 large shallot , halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups dried apples (packed), 4 ounces (I used 1 cup dried apples and /2 cup of raisins)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (packed), 2 1/2 ounces
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds (I used dijon)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Pork Chops
2 1/2 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast (see note above)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. FOR THE FILLING: Bring all ingredients to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Push mixture through fine-mesh strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Return liquid to saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes; reserve glaze. Meanwhile, pulse apple mixture in food processor until uniformly coarsely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer filling to bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes while preparing pork. WHEN GLAZING PORK IF IT SOLIDIFIES, THEN PUT BACK ON HEAT AND IT’LL MELT AGAIN.

2. FOR THE PORK: Butterfly meat to even 1/2-inch thickness. Season only inside liberally with salt and spread apple filling in even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border (illustration 4). Roll tightly and tie with twine at 1-inch intervals. Then Season outside liberally with salt and pepper.

4. Roast in 425 F oven until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 133 degrees, 55 to 70 minutes. Rotate pork every fifteen minutes to ensure even browning and so it stays moist. (I did not rotate mine so the bottom cooked the most and got a little dry) Brush roast with half of reserved glaze; flip and brush with remaining glaze. (You may need to reheat glaze briefly to make spreadable.) Continue to cook until glaze is glossy and sticky, about 5 minutes longer.

5. Transfer roast to cutting board, loosely tent with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. (Internal temperature should rise to about 145 degrees.) Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, removing twine as you cut. Serve immediately.

French Apple Tart

This is a delicious light flaky dessert. It's adapted from Ina Garten's recipe. The first time I made this tart I did not use the entire half cup of sugar to sprinkle over the apples. I think it just depends on how tart your apples are. I could not force myself to use that much sugar. Although, when I think about it now, I probably could have b/c the tart was not overly sweet but it was still yummy.

The next time I make this tart I will have to remember to not sprinkle the sugar on the pan I'm going to put into the oven. By doing that the sugar around the tart caramelized and burned. Also, I think if I tuck the edges of the tart in a little bit it will help the edges not cook too fast and burn.

UPDATE: I just saw this episode again and Ina reinforces that you MUST use the entire 1/2 cup of sugar so the apples can brown and caramelize.

French Apple Tart - makes one tart

For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Braised Pork Shoulder and Roasted potatoes

This recipe produces the moistest, tenderest, FLAVORLESS pork :( Thank goodness we had some barbeque sauce to eat it with. That saved the entire meal!! I braised a pork shoulder and served it with roasted potatoes. If you'd like to try the recipe you can find it here. The potatoes were very yummy and healthy for you. None of this fatty, artery clogging butter and sour cream junk...no, no we had to save room for the cookies I baked all day.

The potatoes were simply roasted with some S&P and herbs. I lined a baking sheet with foil then sprayed pam, seasoned the potatoes with garlic powder, salt, freshly cracked pepper and some fresh rosemary. Roast the potatoes cut side down. First, I put them in the oven at 325 along with the pork. When the pork was done cooking, I cranked the heat up to 450 for the last 8 minutes and they puffed up and were charred on the bottom...they tasted like french fries. I also re-sprayed them with PAM when there was about 8 minutes left because they were looking a little dry. (don't know if that's necessary next time though) After a few more minutes of roasting, they puffed up, were charred on the bottom and were delicious.


Chocolate Crinkles

My sister and mom came over the other night for a girl's night in. We ate ribs, made by lobster (mom's favorite) and watched a movie. I also made these crinkles for dessert. They tasted pretty good but would have been GREAT if they were just a bit sweeter. I've seen these cookies floating around the internet and I knew I had to make them b/c they're so irresistibly cute...although mine looks rather lonely since he's just by himself. Since I have an obsession with all things cute and little, these fit the bill. I had never eaten one before and the best way I can describe them is that they're a cross between a soft cookie and a brownie. All in all, I would make these again but with an overflowing half cup of sugar.

Chocolate Crinkles
Adapted from here

4 tablespoons

(56 grams) unsalted butter
8 ounces (225 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1 cup (110 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls (3-4 hours or overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Place the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. With lightly greased hands, roll a small amount of chilled dough to form a 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter ball. Place the ball of dough into the confectioners sugar and roll the ball in the sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Gently lift the sugar-covered ball, tapping off excess sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue forming cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. (If you find the dough getting too soft for rolling into balls, return to the refrigerator and let chill until firm.)

Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centers are still soft. (For moist chewy cookies do not over bake. Over baking these cookies will cause them to be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked. (They were still good for the next few days after)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

This is Julia Child's famous Beef Bourguignon recipe. I've been wanting to make this ever since I saw Julie and Julia. We had this over the weekend and it was a lovely comforting meal since it was cold and rainy outside. It was hearty, rich, and just the essence of comfort good. Serve this with some bread to soak up the sauce. The meal was a team effort: I made it and the photo is courtesy of the lobster.

Lately, lobster and I have been cooking many meals together and it's been so fun hanging out in the kitchen. Him drinking glasses of wine and me sniffing them and getting equally buzzed. (I have the Asian red face alcohol gene) I never realized how much money you can save cooking at home. Therefore, I have decided to cook something almost everyday. You would think cooking at home would be healthier and make us thinner. I believe I am causing the polar opposite effect and although our savings are expanding, so are our waist lines....I think. I don't know, I've been avoiding a weight scale like the plague. Alas, so many recipes...such little will power...oh dear God...I'm going to have to go to the gym :(

• 3 ounces bacon, solid chunk
• 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 ½ lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced
• 1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
• 1 tablespoons flour
• 1 1/2 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
• 1-2 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
• 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
• 1/2 sprig thyme
• 1/2 bay leaf, preferably fresh

For the braised onions
• 9-12 white pearl onions, peeled
• 3/4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3/4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup beef stock
• salt & fresh ground pepper
• 1/2 bay leaf
• 1/2 sprig thyme
• 1 sprigs parsley

For the Sauteed Mushrooms
• 1/2 lb mushroom, quartered
• 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1. First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve.
2. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" think and 1 1/2" long.
3. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
4. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
6. Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.
7. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
8. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
9. Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
10. Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
11. In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
12. Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
13. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
14. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
15. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
16. Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
17. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
18. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind.
19. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
20. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.
21. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
22. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
23. For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained.
24. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
25. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.
26. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
27. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
28. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
29. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
30. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.
31. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
32. To Finish the Stew:
33. When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
34. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
35. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
36. Skim the fat off the sauce in the saucepan and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
37. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
38. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
39. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
40. Taste for seasoning.
41. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
42. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
43. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.
44. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.
45. 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

***I skipped steps 1-6 and saute'd the bacon in the casserole dish first. I also omitted washing out the casserole dish and throwing out the vegetable. I simmered the stew for three hours and the sauce was the perfect consistency so there was no need to do all the extra steps.

Since we were eating this the next day, I also threw in the onions and mushrooms after the casserole was done cooking and mixed them into the stew. So next time, I don't think I will take the extra time to cook the onions separately, I think if you threw them in the casserole dish for the last half hour with the peels off they will hold up just fine and not turn into mush. Although I have yet to try it so don't take my word for it :)

Ginger Cookies

WOW these are good!!! Hence the exclamation points! These are stop what your doing, run to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients and make this kind of good. For Christmas, I'm baking cookies for lobster's grandparents so I've been looking for recipes online. This one is from Cook's Illustrated, so you know it has to be good. I've also been on the hunt for a chocolate chip recipe, but there's about a bajillion on the internet so I'll have to do a little more research for that one. If the chocolate chip cookies are as good as this one I'll be blogging about it very soon.

This is the first time I've ever made ginger cookies from scratch. Needless to say, there is no longer a reason to buy them from the store EVER AGAIN...EVERRRRR!!! These cookies had the right amount of spicy kick to them and the texture was phenomenal. Soft and chewy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside...nummmmmmmm. I was enjoying them so much I almost forgot to take a picture. Hence the half eaten cookie :)

Since there's just two of us, I always end up making half the recipe and giving away most of them. Slowly but surely I am making those around me mirror the physique of Santa Claus. Hey, I'm only looking out for their best interest. It's been a cold winter so everyone could use a bit of extra insulation.

I halved the recipe which made 11 cookies, minus the one in my tummy. ENJOY!!!

Soft & Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated
Full version here

2.5 tbs sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
1cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2.5 tbs packed dark brown sugar
1/2 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses, light or dark

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in a shallow, wide bowl.

Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.

Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball. Roll ball in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake if you want the cookies to be soft and chewy.

Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely

**I baked two cookie sheets at the same time so mine took about 13 minutes. I checked the cookies often the last two minutes and pulled them out just as the edges were a little set.

Thanksgiving 2009

I realize my Thanksgiving entry is a bit late, but it's okay because all the recipes I'm posting were soooooooooo nummy. Tried and true mos def!! Recipes I can go back to over and over again. Recipes I can pass down to my children to share with THEIR children for years to come. Recipes that are so good you'll devour and start your diet tomorrow kind of good. Okay I'm done blabbering :)

After SEVERAL attempts and having lots of guinea pigs to experiment on, I finally found a WINNER!!! I made three different pumpkin pies within the week before Thanksgiving to find the perfect one. You may think it's a little extreme, but it was our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds and we were hosting. Therefore, unappetizing food was not an option.

I tried the Libby's famous pumpkin pie recipe...blegh! Not enough spices and tasted very mealy. The second pie recipe I found online was tasty but was not your "traditional" pumpkin pie per se like this one is. It was much lighter and custard like. More of a danger zone for me since it was so light and fluffy I felt myself being able to eat more and more of it. But the following recipe ended up the winner and what I served for Thanksgiving. It was well received nonetheless.

The following is a list of the winners:

Cook's Illustrated pumpkin pie

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (see note)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

1. For the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 12 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Foolproof Pie Dough
- makes one 9-inch double-crust pie -

The trick to this pie crust is the inclusion of vodka. Eighty-proof vodka, which is 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, adds moistness to the dough without aiding in gluten formation since gluten doesn't form in ethanol. Although the recipe includes 8 tablespoons of liquid, the alcohol vaporizes during baking, resulting in a tender crust that only contains 6 1/2 tablespoons of water. Because of the extra liquid, the dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require up to 1/4 cup more flour.

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vodka , cold
2 tablespoons cold water

1. Process 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp.

Non traditional pumpkin pie
Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie
- makes one 10-inch pie -
Adapted from by Sweet Melissa's Baking Book by Melissa Murphy.

1 prebaked 10-inch pie shell
One 6 x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, sliced thinly, and coarsely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree

1. Position a rack in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ginger, crushed cinnamon sticks, heavy cream, and milk to scalding. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring back to scalding.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until pale yellow. Whisk in the hot ginger cream, little by little, until combined. Strain the mixture into a clean pitcher and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, briefly whisk the pumpkin puree until smooth. Slowly whisk in the ginger custard until incorporated.
5. Pour the pumpkin custard into the prebaked pie shell. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until set-the center is no longer jiggly. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
6. The pie keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature overnight. For longer storage, it keeps wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (the crust will suffer slightly from the chilling).

This recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetit. You can find the recipe here. I adjusted to my taste because when I originally tried the recipe the ginger was overwhelming and the cranberries tasted a little chalky. Here is my revised version.

Cranberry sauce - 8 servings

1 12-ounce bags cranberries
½ cup of sugar + ¼ cup sugar to taste for seasoning
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 ½ teaspoon grated orange peel

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mash the cranberries against the side of the pot. Then add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar to taste depending on how sweet you like it. Cool. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) - longer it simmers better it tastes

Cook's Illustrated's Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4 to 6. Published November 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Note that this recipe calls for starting the potatoes in a cold oven. Choose potatoes that are as even in width as possible; trimming the small ends prevents them from burning. If you prefer not to peel the potatoes, just scrub them well before cutting.

3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium), ends trimmed, peeled, rinsed, and cut into 3/4-inch thick rounds (see note)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter , unsalted
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon table salt

Ground black pepper

1. Whisk 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, and 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves together in small bowl. Toss potatoes in large bowl with oil, salt, and pepper to taste until evenly coated. Line 18- by 13-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes in single layer on baking sheet and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Adjust oven rack to middle position and place potatoes in cold oven. Turn oven to 425 degrees and cook potatoes 30 minutes.
2. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully remove top layer of foil. Return potatoes to oven and cook until bottom edges of potatoes are golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove baking sheet from oven and, brush potatoes with half of glaze, flip slices over with thin metal spatula, and brush with remaining glaze. Continue to roast until bottom edges of potatoes are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes longer. Remove from oven; let potatoes cool 5 to 10 minutes; transfer to platter and serve

Cook's Illustrated's Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs - serves 4

Note: This recipe yields crisp-tender beans. If you prefer a slightly more tender texture (or you are using large, tough beans), increase the water by a tablespoon and increase the covered cooking time by 1 minute. To serve 6, increase all of the ingredients by half and increase the covered cooking time by 1 to 2 minutes. Do not attempt to cook more than 1 1/2 pounds of green beans with this method. For our free recipe for Sautéed Green Beans with Tarragon and Lime, go to www.cooksillustrated.com/december.

1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
4 ½ medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
1 ½ pound green beans, stem ends snapped off, beans cut into 2-inch pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup water
Sprinkle all around with juice from lemon (eyeball it)
1 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Combine butter, garlic, and thyme in small bowl; set aside. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Add beans, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. Add water, cover, and cook until beans are bright green and still crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high, and cook until water evaporates, 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Add butter mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until beans are crisp-tender, lightly browned, and beginning to wrinkle, 1 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer beans to serving bowl, toss with lemon juice and parsley; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately

Chunky Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from brown eyed baker website

**These are sooooo good. They are VERY rich, gooey and chocolatey so I only made half the recipe and munched on them all week.

For the Crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar

3 large eggs
¾ cup corn syrup OR substitue 1/3 cup of agave nectar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chunks in a bag!)
1½ cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. For the crust, mix together the flour, butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Press into the baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.

3. For the filling, beat the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a wire whisk. Stir in the chunks and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.

4. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if you live in a warm/humid area with no air conditioning).

Chicken and Beef Fajitas

Tonight was mexican night. I'm getting a kick out of planning our menus for the week and I'm trying to switch up the meals so we don't get bored eating American food all the time. You would think being Korean, the house would be perfumed with the lovely lingering smell of kim chee jigae, kim chee fried rice, and kim chee everything and anything. Hmm...maybe since tonight was Mexican night I could've made kimchee galbee tacos. Alas, I've come to the conclusion that I'm afraid of cooking Korean dishes. My biggest fear is that the food will taste horribly and won't be as good as my mom's :( Hopefully I'll get over it and blog about some Korean meals soon.

Anyway, this was a good meal. Fajitas are about as Mexican as I'll get. I think I'll even go as far as making enchiladas - but that's more of a Spanish dish anyway. This recipe is from Cooking Light website. It was a good, well balanced meal. Two in a row for me!!! It was nothing to write home about but it was a nice spin to what would normally be a not so healthy dish. I like to sneak in less fattening meals as often as I can so lobster won't know he's actually eating well. I made this for lobster and my brother and they both thoroughly enjoyed it...HA!!! They didn't even realize it was good for them. Lobster cooked the meal on his dalmation out in the freezing cold. Cold for Californians (is that even a word?) is anything below 70. My definition on the other hand is any time I have to crawl out of my snuggie...best gift EVERRRR BTW!!! Anyway, back to the meal, would I make this again...hmmm probably. Is it something I'll be craving in my next few months of endless blogging...not so much.

Beef and Chicken Fajitas
8 servings

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
• 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 (14.25-ounce) can low-salt beef broth

• 1 (1-pound) flank steak
• 1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast
• 2 red bell peppers, each cut into 12 wedges
• 2 green bell peppers, each cut into 12 wedges
• 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into 16 wedges
• Cooking spray
• 16 (6-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
• 1 cup bottled salsa
• 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• Fresh cilantro sprigs

To prepare marinade, combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
To prepare fajitas, trim fat from steak. Score a diamond pattern on both sides of the steak. Combine 1 1/2 cups marinade, steak, and chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Combine remaining marinade, bell peppers, and onion in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Remove steak and chicken from bag; discard marinade. Remove vegetables from bag; reserve marinade. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan; set aside. Place steak, chicken, and vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 8 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Wrap tortillas tightly in foil; place tortilla packet on grill rack the last 2 minutes of grilling time. Bring reserved marinade to a boil. Cut steak and chicken diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Place the steak, chicken, and vegetables on a serving platter; drizzle with reserved marinade.

Arrange about 1 ounce steak, about 1 ounce chicken, 3 bell pepper wedges, and 1 onion wedge in a tortilla; top with 1 tablespoon salsa, about 1 teaspoon sour cream, and 1/2 tablespoon cilantro. Fold sides of tortilla over filling. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information
(serving size: 2 fajitas)
Calories: 407

**To heat up the tortillas I placed a stack inside the pocket of two damp paper towels and put then in a casserole dish. I then covered it with a lid and stuck it in a 250 degree oven for twenty minutes.

Firecracker Salmon with Spicy green beans and mushrooms

This was an easy, light, healthy meal. If you notice, there is no picture attached b/c I burned the top of the salmon :( therefore, it was not worthy. Nevertheless, minus the black charred bits this was delicious. I found both of these recipes on this website and it did not disappoint. This meal comes together in a flash and is great for a weeknight meal. Plus it feels healthy so you can eat more :) OR do what I do and eat cookies since you've saved all those calories from eating healthy. Makes sense to me in my little world.

I only marinated the salmon for two hours so I would recommend marinating it the full 4-6 hours next time. Think I'll try it on a milder fish too so I can taste the flavors more. Since salmon is so meaty it can distract you from the other flavors sometimes...goodness, I am becoming a blogging nerd.

For the green beans I did not need to use a lot of oil since I cooked them on a non-stick skillet. I added mushrooms b/c I had some leftover and omitted the sriracha sauce b/c I didn't have any on hand. It was still just the right amount of heat. I also eyeballed the amount of sauce to pour over the green beans and didn't use the entire amount. Enjoy!

Grilled Firecracker salmon

2 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Place salmon filets in a medium, nonporous glass dish. In a separate medium bowl, combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and salt. Whisk together well, and pour over the fish. Cover and marinate the fish in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. (can also re-heat marinade bring up to boil then simmer 5 minutes an drizzle on top)

2. Prepare an outdoor grill with coals about 5 inches from the grate, and lightly oil the grate.

3. Grill the fillets 5 inches from coals for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part, or until fish just flakes with a fork. Turn over halfway through cooking.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving Calories: 307

Spicy green beans - 2 servings

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 pound green beans
4 scallions
3 medium cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of Sriracha (more or less depending on your tolerance level) I use more because I like them spicy!

*Note-Make sure everything is prepped and ready to go before tossing anything in the pan. It will take just a few minutes to cook everything. It will go by quickly.

1 .Combine the soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, Sriracha and red pepper flakes in a bowl and whisk until combined.

2. Mince the garlic, and cut the scallions however you see fit. I like the diagonal cut, but that’s just me.

3. Place the iron skillet over high heat for at least 5 minutes.

4. When everything is chopped and ready, toss in the oil, swirl until it coats the bottom of the skillet, and add the green beans. Cook until they are tender, about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so. It will look like you’re murdering them, but be patient. It will work.

5. Dump in those neatly cut scallions and cook until they are gnarly. About another 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

6. Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, about 5 to 10 seconds. Then add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for another 20 seconds or so, and then turn off the heat, and plate.

Light mac and cheese

Adapted from here

1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni (or another small pasta noodle, if you prefer)
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen pureed butternut squash
2 cups skim (or 1% lowfat) milk
1 1/3 cups low/reduced fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 4 ounces)
2/3 cup low/reduced fat Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup part skim or fat free ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered (sometimes called “dry”) mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons low/reduced fat parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and generously coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and once boiling, add the macaroni; cook until tender but firm, (only about 5 to 8 minutes). Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large squash chunks with a spoon until it is defrosted.

Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar, monteray jack, and ricotta as well as the salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir well to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to the baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl and then sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes until the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Makes 8 side dish servings. Per Serving: 284 calories

What to do with leftover turkey?!

After you've eaten turkey sammies, ham sammies and more mac and cheese then you can think of, it's great to find a recipe that takes your leftovers and changes them into an entirely new eating experience. I found this recipe on food network and it was super clever and tasted fantastic. It was my first time making soup and dumplings and the results were great!!! It's nice to have a light meal after a glutinous three days of eating in my case :( I followed the recipe exactly except genius here threw out the turkey carcus so I used a mix of chicken stock and chicken broth. I also added more turkey b/c the ratio didn't seem like it called for enough turkey. I will definetely be making this again next year with all the leftovers...count down begins :D

Turkey Vegetable Soup with stuffing dumplings - 6 servings

Carcass from one 12-14 pound roasted turkey, picked clean
2 large onions, one quartered and one chopped
4 peeled carrots, 2 coarsely chopped and 2 sliced
4 stalks celery, 2coarsely chopped and 2 sliced
6 garlic cloves, 4 smashed and 2 chopped
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat
1 cup leftover corn kernels


Put the turkey carcass, quartered onions, coarsely chopped carrots and celery, smashed garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to just cover, about 2 quarts. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and strain the solids from the broth. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve; you should have about 10-12 cups broth.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper together until smooth. Add the stuffing and mix until well combined; cover and reserve.
Wipe the stockpot clean with a paper towel. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the sliced carrots and celery, thyme sprigs, and reserved broth and bring to a simmer; cook vegetables are just soft, about 10 minutes.

Roll level tablespoons of the dumpling mixture into balls with wet hands (see note) and drop into the simmering soup; cook until dumplings float, 3-4 minutes. Gently stir in the turkey meat, corn, and season with salt and pepper, and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately.

Note: Moistness of stuffing can vary; if the dumpling dough is too soft to roll, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it is firm enough to hold its shape while rolling

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Who knew healthy could taste so good. I will definetely be making this dish more often, they were yummy in tummy. Everyone thought the tofu was ricotta cheese. The rolls did seem like they were lacking some sauce so I served some more on the side. I also could have cooked the noodles a little longer. I cooked them just a little short of al dente because I thought they would continue to cook when I baked them, but I was mistaken. Nonetheless, they were still good. I'll just have to make a note to myself for next time. I was actually able to get three extra rolls when I made this. Since I had some leftover I was able to freeze some and eat it later in the week. YAY...two-fer. I need to find more recipes that are freezable. Try it...I promise no one will be able to tell it's good for them, even if they're a tofu hater.
I've had this recipe for so long I don't know where I found it on the internet. Sorry to whomever the original owner is...but thanks!!

Lasagna rolls – 6 servings
2 rolls each = 354 cal
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles, Ronzoni Healthy Harvest whole wheat
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained, rinsed and crumbled
3 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives (I left these out)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce, preferably lower-sodium, divided
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse, return to the pot and cover with cold water until ready to use.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add tofu and spinach and cook, stirring often, until the spinach wilts and the mixture is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in Parmesan, olives, crushed red pepper, salt and 2/3 cup marinara sauce.
Wipe out the pan and spread 1 cup of the remaining marinara sauce in the bottom. To make lasagna rolls, place a noodle on a work surface and spread 1/4 cup of the tofu filling along it. Roll up and place the roll, seam-side down, in the pan. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling. (The tofu rolls will be tightly packed in the pan.) Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the rolls.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Place the pan over high heat, cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; let simmer for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the rolls with mozzarella and cook, covered, until the cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Persimmon Bread

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.
Adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard.

3½ cups sifted flour

1½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 to 2½ cups sugar

1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature

4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey (substituted peach juice)

2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)

2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates)

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.
5. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too

Dried Fruit and Nut Stuffing

Dried Fruit and Nut Stuffing - makes about 6 cups - 10-12 servings
Published November 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

1 ½ pounds wheat bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , plus extra for baking dish
4 medium onion, chopped fine (about 4 cups)
2 celery ribs , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ teaspoon minced fresh marjoram leaves
1 ½ teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried apples , chopped fine
¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large egg + 1 egg white

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Spread bread cubes in single layer on baking sheet; bake until edges have dried but center is slightly moist (cubes should yield to pressure), about 15 minutes, stirring several times during baking. Transfer dried bread to large bowl and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.
2. While bread dries, heat 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add onion, celery, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in thyme, marjoram, and sage; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetable mixture, raisins, dried apples, walnuts to bowl. (If making one day ahead: put the stuffing in one large glass bowl and wrap tightly with plastic. Put bread crumbs in a separate container – can be made 24 hours before baking)
3. DAY OF: Let the stuffing stand at room temperature for 30 minutes . While turkey rests, set oven temperature to 400 degrees. Add 1/2 cup broth and toss gently until evenly moistened. Whisk eggs and remaining 1/4 cup broth together in small bowl. Pour egg mixture over stuffing and toss to combine, breaking up any large chunks; spread in buttered 2 qt. baking dish. Bake until stuffing registers 165 degrees and top is golden brown, about 15 - 20 minutes. Make sure the stuffing register 165 degrees. My stuffing was golden brown on top but it did not register 165 after 15 minutes.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Lemon Raspberry Cake - 12 servings

I'm so excited, my first blog since being married. The past month has been pure madness trying to get settled in our new place and living without a TV or fridge. We've been eating out every single night and as much as I love eating at restaurants, I can only take so much before I began craving home cooked meals. Since being married, I've come to the realization that your first year of marriage is much like your first year of college. You know how they say your first year of college you gain your freshman 15. Well, I think your first year of marriage you gain your newlywed 15...oh dear God...say it isn't sooooo :( Now that I no longer have to fit into a tiny little white dress I'm consuming everything in sight...sorry lobster. MUST LEARN TO STOP EATING WHEN FULL!!!!

Over the weekend we had our first dinner party. We celebrated my mom's 60th birthday. My goodness was it chaotic in the kitchen. We were both in there at the same time and we started running out of space. I ended up sitting on the floor whipping the frosting with my mixer, while he was asking me every two seconds where everything was since he didn't know where I placed things in the kitchen. But in the end, we were able to pull it off and it was a huge success. Lobster prepared a feast and busted out his new "baby," a fancy shmancy dalmation infrared grill. He made some baby back ribs, steaks, grilled asparagus, tomatoes, and some yummy beans. It was yum-oh!!! I on the other hand got to use my new toy too... a kitchenaid mixer...best appliance EVERRRRR and baked my mom a cake with it!!!!

I made a raspberry lemon cake and it was GOOD :) I was a little scared to try it b/c I thought I left the cake in the oven too long and it was going to be dry. Then, my frosting decides to melt by the time I had to spread it on the cake...hence the not so lovely presentation, but nonetheless it was numnum. The original recipe is three layers and feeds about 24 people so I cut the recipe in half and made it two layers. It's light and not too sweet. I'm really glad I decided to make a cake since people always feel so special when you go out of your way to make something just for them. All the hard work paid off in the end b/c when I gave it to my mom her eyes started to well up...so sweet. Happy Birthday mommy!

Perfect White Cake (makes two 9-inch cakes) adapted from here

3/4 cups whole milk
4.5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon of vodka
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 cups + 3 tablespoons cake flour, sifted, plus 1.5 tablespoons for the pans
1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into teaspoon-sized chunks and at room temperature, (I just cut these into the mixer as it was blending)

Set one rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray or lightly butter them. Line the pans with parchment paper rounds and butter or spray the parchment paper. Dust each pan with 1 tablespoon of flour. Invert the pans over the sink and bang out any excess flour. Using a whisk, mix the milk, egg whites, vodka, and vanilla extract together in a bowl and set it aside. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Using the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients together on the lowest speed for 5 seconds. (If using a handheld mixer, stir the dry ingredients with a large spoon.) Add the butter and increase the speed to 2 or mix on low speed of a handheld mixer. Mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add all but ¾ cup of the milk mixture and mix at medium speed (6 on a stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Add the remainder and mix for another 45 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans; spread the batter out to the walls and smooth out the tops. Bang the pans against the counter a few times to even out the batter.Put two pans on the upper rack and one on the lower rack. Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the pans to ensure even baking. Bake for another 7-8 minutes; a toothpick should come out clean. Cool the cakes for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then invert them onto a plate and back onto the rack. Let the cakes cool completely before assembling.[Once the cakes are cool, they can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days before assembling or frozen for 1-2 weeks – wrap each layer well in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before refrigerating or freezing. Before assembling, let the cakes come to room temperature.]

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

3 1/2 egg whites
¾ cups+ 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and whisk the mixture until it reaches 140 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry – the mixture will turn thick and white and all the sugar should be dissolved – this should take about 5 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and, with the whip attachment, mix on high speed (8) until the whites are fluffy and cool, 10-12 minutes. Once the mixture is cool, add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing well before adding more. The mixture will start to look curdled after you have added about 3 ½ sticks of butter. Don’t worry – just add the rest of the butter and keep mixing until it comes together and is smooth. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed (2) for 5-7 minutes – this gets rid of air bubbles, thereby making the frosting smoother and more even when you apply it to the cake.[You can store the frosting in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 weeks. When you are ready to use the frosting, let it come to room temperature, then whip it on medium-high speed until it becomes light and fluffy and then beat with the paddle on low speed to remove air bubbles.] Once it is a smooth consistency you should work pretty quickly b/c if the frosting sits out too long it becomes runny and difficult to spread.

Lemon Curd

3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and slightly chilled

Add the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest to a small saucepan and whisk well. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 6-7 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. (I accidentally skipped this part and it turned out fine. While stirring continuously, add the butter a few pieces at a time, adding more butter when the previous addition has been fully incorporated. After all the butter has been added, cover the lemon curd with a large piece of plastic wrap, making sure to press the plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd so as to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to thicken.

To assemble the cake, place the first layer bottom side down. Spread all of the lemon curd on top of the cake. I then smashed some raspberries and spread them on top of the lemon curd. Take the other cake layer and invert it bottom side up, so the flat side is on top. Spread frosting all over the top and sides of cake. Top with raspberries in the middle and serve. If you are not serving it immediately, put it in the fridge then let it sit out at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Grilled Panzanella

Grilled panzanella – 6 servings

Good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 large ripe tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 large basil leaves
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3 large pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3 large pieces
1/2 small ficelle or ciabatta, cut into 1-inch thick slices and sprinkle with parmesan cheese too


Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grilling rack with olive oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Place the cucumber, tomato, basil and capers in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together. Set aside.
When the grill is ready, brush 1 side of the onion slices and the peppers with olive oil. Place them, olive oil side down, on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Brush the other side with olive oil, turn them over and continue cooking an additional 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the grill and place on a cutting board. Slice the peppers 1/2-inch thick, separate the onion rings and add them both to the cucumber mixture.
Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil and toast them on the grill until golden. Add them to the cucumber mixture. Pour the reserved vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss together. Serve warm.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

I found this recipe from smitten kitchen, which is the first food blog I've ever followed. It's a beautiful blog full of lovely photos and yummy recipes. The photos are almost as gorgeous as this site...which is basically the equivalent of food porn in which people like me go a little OCD. WARNING...If you like photography and love to cook, do not click on that link...it's addicting!!!

I'm realizing the older I get, the more I enjoy pork. I used to think pork was just fatty bacon and never heard of it referred to as the "other" white meat. When cooked properly it has a hint of sweetness and it's VERY delicious. When I say properly, I mean when it's not bone dry. I'm telling you...instant read-thermometer is a wanna-be chef's best friend. You'll NEVER have over-cooked meat ever again!!!

This is a very simple recipe that comes together in a flash. If you're really in a rush, I don't think brining the pork is necessary. I've made pork chops plenty of times and this is the first time I've ever brined them. Honestly, I didn't see too much of a difference although I did find the pork to be a little more salty when brining them. However, that could have been from the fact that I didn't use the dijon mustard called for in the recipe which would have given a nice tangy contrast to the saltiness perhaps. Anyway, this recipe is very good and I served it with simple roasted potatoes.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 4

CI notes: This recipe was developed using natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution) will work as well. If using enhanced pork, eliminate the brining in step 1. The bread crumb mixture can be prepared through step 2 up to 3 days in advance. The breaded chops can be frozen for up to 1 week. They don’t need to be thawed before baking; simply increase the cooking time in step 5 to 35 to 40 minutes.

Table salt
4 boneless center-cut pork chops
6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.
3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.
4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.
5. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

**I cooked mine on a cooling rack so they would get extra crispy and crunchy on both sides. Sometimes when you cook them directly on a baking sheet the bottom side gets soggy.

Kim-bap (Korean sushi rolls) & Boiled spinach

Wow, I am just a lean, mean, blogging machine. I've posted five recipes over the span of two days...and they've all tasted really good. I'm getting all my blogs in now b/c I won't be cooking that much before the wedding. Today, I went over to my mom's and we made kim-bap, which is the Korean version of a California roll. The ingredients she uses are rice, bulgogi (marinated beef), yellow radish, egg, and spinach. (In the future I will post a recipe for the bulgogi - so many things to cook, such little time) Today we also put in sesame leaves which added a nice clean fresh taste. But feel free to add whatever you like, sometimes she'll also put in kim-chee, long julienned strips of sauteed carrots or fish cake.

Oooh...ahhh....the kim-bap tower

The only recipe I was able to get was for the boiled-marinated spinach b/c she already madethe bulgogi before I got there. The rice you use with this dish has to be a little seasoned as well or else the kim-bap will taste too bland. My mom season's hers with sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds and salt. The rice should not taste too salty but have just a little bit of flavor. The reason being when you combine all the ingredients together for the kim-bap, if the rice has too much flavor the entire roll will taste salty.

Again, since this is my mother, she eye-balls everything so my suggestion would be to season and taste as you go. The only requirement is that you must buy real spinach packaged in budles. You can't make this dish with those pre-washed ready-pac baby spinach in bags b/c you won't get the right consistency. Enjoy!

Boiled spinach

Bundles of spinach
Roasted Sesame oil (dark colored)
Roasted sesame seeds
Garlic, finely minced to taste

Fill your sink with water and swirl the spinach around so all the grit falls to the bottom. Drain the water and repeat about two more times or until there is no more dirt coming from the spinach. Bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly blanch the spinach in batches. As soon as the spinach begins to wilt just a little, quickly remove it and run it under cold water. If you let the spinach wilt too much it will become mushy. Then squeeze out most of the water from the spinach and put into a clean bowl. Season with salt, roasted sesame seeds, garlic, and sesame oil and you're done. (I would give each ingredient one good turn around the bowl as a start)