Pork Tacos

– johanna | April 12th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Pork Tacos

I made pork loin one Sunday for dinner with the intentions of utilizing the leftovers through out the week in various dishes. In our home leftover meat is reincarnated in three ways: tacos or enchiladas, salad, soup, stir fry, and occasionally on pizza. These taste just like the tacos served at our favorite Mexican cantina. You can use the same recipe with beans for a vegetarian version.

1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
About 4 cups leftover diced pork (or use fresh if you have no leftovers, just increase the cooking time)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying
cilantro, lime, & shredded cheese to garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and saute the onions until translucent. Add the diced pork and sprinkle with the seasonings; stir well to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes on medium heat until thoroughly warmed.

In a separate pan, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan on medium-high heat. Fry the corn tortillas 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with pico de gallo.

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Beef Wellington

– johanna | December 7th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Photo property of: Honest Cooking

Ever since the first time I watched the infamous Gordon Ramsey dish up beef wellington on Hell’s Kitchen, I have long desired to know what the succulent entre is all about. Over the years I shyly took a peek at the recipe wondering if I am daring enough to execute it. Well, the time came to once and for all tackle this one. I decided to treat my mom-in-law to a grand English dinner for her birthday. She has had a tough time the few months and was in need of good nosh and pampering.

I did not go with Chef Ramsey’s recipe. Instead I found a simple list of ingredients for Beef Wellington by Ruby Moukli via Honest Cooking and adapted it slightly. I, nearly knowing nothing about meat, asked my friendly butcher to help me out. Does beef tenderloin really cost that much or was the man ripping me off because the market was on strike that day? The beef tenderloin unfortunately is pricey. Yet, Beef Wellington is definitely something you have to try at some point in your lifetime. So it is well worth the splurge for a special occasion.

I had some issues wrapping the fillet. My dough was too large so there was an excess of flap on the ends and I completely forgot to brush the inside with egg. The bottom was very soggy. I used a deep casserole to cook the Wellington in but I added two sausage links because they needed to be cooked before their life came to an end. So even though the tenderloin hardly produced juice the sausage could have wrecked havoc on the crust.

I have heard you can wrap the wellington right after sealing the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes, then take out and brush with the egg, and refrigerate another 10 minutes before cooking. Supposed to help with soggy bottoms.

Mine may have looked like a train wreck but it was absolutely superb. My niece and I could not keep our hands off the left over filling and crust.

Source: adapted from Ruby Moukli via HonestCooking.com
Serves: 6
750g (1lb 10 oz) thick beef tenderloin filet
1 onion, chopped finely
175g (6oz) chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely
350g (12oz) puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Good pinch of thyme (fresh or dried)
1/2 cup dry sherry or broth (optional)
Salt/pepper to season

Preheat oven to 220 C/425 F.

Heat a heavy pan over high heat. Smear 2 Tbsp of the butter all over the filet, then season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides, 1-2 minutes per side. Place beef in roasting pan uncovered and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the duxelles by heating the oil and the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large pan. Sauté garlic, onion and mushrooms until they begin to soften. Add sherry (if using) a splash at a time and wait for it to cook out before adding more. Add in parsley and thyme, then season with salt and pepper. When it’s all browned nicely (about 15-20 minutes), remove from heat and let cool.

When meat has baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven, cover with tin foil and let cool. Pour the juices out ,set aside to make gravy later.

Roll out pastry dough into a rectangle, just large enough to wrap the meat in. Beat the egg and lightly brush the entire surface of the pastry with it. Spoon about 3/4 of the duxelles over the surface of the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches. Place the beef in the middle and spoon the rest of the duxelles onto the top of it.

Wrap the sides of the pastry over the filet. Pinch the edges together and use any remaining or excess pastry to patch up gaps or make decorative shapes.

Using a sharp knife, make two slices in the dough.
Brush the remaining egg wash over the entire Wellington. Place back in the roasting tin, on a wire rack if possible, to help guard against a soggy dough. Bake for 30 minutes for medium-rare, 40 minutes for well done. Check frequently and if it’s starting to brown early, cover with foil.

Remove the Wellington from the oven and let rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing into thick (1 1/2 inch) with a serrated knife.

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Black Bean Enchiladas

– johanna | October 5th, 2012

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Main Dish

Over the past year I have been taking a more vegetarian approach to cooking.  It is not that I am going vegan or anything, not yet anyway. Meat is just so darn expensive. The hurdle, when subbing meat with beans or vegetables, is getting a thumbs up from the picky eater club (aka. husband and kidlets).

The first time I made black bean enchiladas it was not my intention to make them meat free. I got sidetracked and forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer over the weekend to thaw. Come Tuesday night (Mexican cuisine night) I realized my blunder. Needless to say my black bean enchiladas were a huge hit not only with my kids but the neighbor kids as well.

1 can cuban black beans with peppers and onions
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
10 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 recipe enchilada sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the black beans (if using unseasoned black beans drain and rinse first), lime juice, and cilantro.

Make the enchilada sauce.

Cover the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan with a thin layer of enchilada sauce. Spoon some of the bean mixture onto a tortilla. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of cheese. Fold the tortilla in thirds then place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with each tortilla.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the bean enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

– 1 can black beans. Season with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
– Add 1/2 cup chopped yellow and red bell peppers and 1/4 cup chopped onions.

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Seasoned Tilapia Fillets

– johanna | September 14th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Normally, I season fish with a little lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. One particular night I needed to spice things up a bit. It was a hard week for everybody so dinner needed to be relaxing and yummy. This recipe for seasoned tilapia fit the mood perfectly.

This recipe states the sauce is enough for two fillets. I was able to season five fillets perfectly by combining all the ingredients into a sauce first.

For the kids, I lightly brushed the fillets with the seasoning. Just barely enough to give the fish some flavor. They are a tad finicky when it comes to spices. Although, they can gobble up Chevy’s salsa with no complaints.

Source: Just in a Pinch
2 (6oz.) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried parsely flakes
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Place fillets in a greased 11×7-inch baking dish.
Brush fillets with mayonnaise. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; sprinkle over fillets.

Cover and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-8 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with a side of quinoa and steamed vegetables.

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Steamed Pork Buns

– johanna | August 31st, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

If you are looking for amazing Korean recipes Maangchi’s website is THE place. So far every recipe I have tried has been absolutely delicious. Steamed Pork Buns are no exception.

Steamed pork buns are sort of like a stuffed dumpling. They can be baked in the oven. The result is just ok. Like a loaf of bread, the baked dough is drier with a crisp outside. Ultimately you really want to try to steam them for a lighter fluffy dumpling. I do not own a steamer but I found my canning pot works perfectly.

Pack any leftovers for lunch the next day. They taste fine cold or warm in the microwave or oven.

If you are interested in learning Korean visit the Talk to Me in Korean website. It really makes learning the language simple.

Source: Maangchi

1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 ts sugar
3 cups flour
In a large bowl add water, yeast, salt, oil, and sugar. Mix well until yeast is fully dissolved.

Add flour to the yeast water. Mix with a wooden spoon, then knead for 2-3 minutes.

Set aside in warm place until the dough doubles in size.

After the dough has risen, knead it again for 1 minute to remove any extra gas. Set it aside in warm place with the lid closed for 30 minutes.

Vegetable Filling:
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups chopped white mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the onion, carrot, zucchini, green onion, and mushrooms.

Sprinkle salt over top and mix it up by hand. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Squeeze the excess water out.
*tip: using cheesecloth will make this easier. Wrap the chopped vegetables in cheesecloth and gently squeeze the water out.

Meat Filling:
14 oz ground pork
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a mixing bowl, place: pork, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and pepper.
Mix it by hand and set aside.

In a heated pan, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and sauté the chopped vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Transfer them to a large bowl.

Heat up the pan again, and cook the seasoned pork for 3 minutes until fully cooked.

Put the pork into the bowl with the vegetables and mix it all up.

Split the dough into 16 smaller pieces.
Take a few dough balls and put them on a floured cutting board.

(The rest of balls should be in the bowl with the lid closed, to prevent them from getting dried out.)

Roll out each ball into a disk 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
Place a disk into your palm and add 2-3 tablespoons of filling mixture to the center of it.

Lift the edges of the disk up around the filling, then press the edges together to seal the filling snugly inside the bun.

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, until you’ve made 16 buns.

Put 6-7 cups of water in the bottom of a large steamer and place each bun on the rack.

*tip: Place cheesecloth or cotton cloth on the steamer rack before adding each bun. Baking cups also work well. When you place the buns on the rack, leave a 1 inch gap between them because they will get bigger when steamed.

Wait for 20 more minutes to let the dough rise even more.
Bring to a boil over high heat, and steam for 20 minutes.

Dipping sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup chopped onion
Chopped green chili pepper
Roasted sesame seeds

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl.
Add some of onion, green chili pepper, and sesame seeds.

When the buns are cooked, turn off the heat and remove the lid to prevent water from the top of the lid from dripping over the buns.

— if you do not have a steamer you can use a large canning pot or stock pot. Place pint sized jars or glasses in the pot, open side down. fill the pot with water 1-2 inches below the top of the glasses. Place a canning rack or metal plate, small enough to fit inside the pot, onto of the glasses. Put the pork buns in muffin tin liners. Place on top of the rack/plate. Cover and bring to a simmer. cook buns 20 minutes.

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Homemade Condensed Chicken Soup

– johanna | August 10th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

I finally found a homemade substitute for condensed chicken soup. I am so thrilled that I can finally make a family favorite Easy Crock Pot Chicken again. I will have to try it with another favorite recipe Monterrey Chicken with Stuffing.

This recipe is the best I have found so far. It is both fresh and flavorful. Skim through the variations at the bottom of this post for a gluten free version.

Source: Tammy’s Recipes

1 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock*
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder**
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder***
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (or less; taste to test)
1/4 teaspoon parsley
dash of paprika
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour

In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings for a minute or two (longer if using fresh onions or garlic).

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.

Makes 3 cups (about 2 cans of soup)

– *chicken bouillon + water: you might want to add a little extra seasonings and some bits of chicken.
– If using a good rich chicken broth, you probably won’t need any chicken in it.
– **diced onions (boil with broth for a few minutes).
– ***fresh minced garlic (boil with broth for a few minutes).
– Gluten free version: use gluten free broth (if not homemade). Replace flour with a mixture of brown rice and corn starch. Or use no more than 1/8 cup of corn starch in place of the flour.

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Turkey Meatballs

– johanna | June 22nd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

In the past when planning the weekly menu I always have one night reserved for  kids preference. Together they had to come up with that nights menu. Now that they are a little older and more involved in the cooking, as well as planning of the meals, they each have their own night. My son loves Tortilla soup and so for his dinner choice he chose to serve Tortilla Soup. Problem was I forgot to pick up the chicken while at the grocery store. I did however have a package of ground turkey in the refrigerator. So we improvised and made turkey meatball tortilla soup instead chicken. We browned the meatballs then added the onion and remaining ingredients, substituting a can of diced tomatoes for the salsa. The soup was instantly devoured by a hungry family.

2 pounds Ground Turkey
1 cup of diced portobello mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 4 minced cloves
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 egg whites

Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees.

In a mixing bowl add mushrooms, turkey, and seasonings. Mix in the egg whites until all ingredients are combined.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Roll meat mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. Makes about 20-24 meatballs.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until cooked throughly.

– Place a 1/2 cube of Monterey Jack cheese in the center of each meatball.

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Crispy Southwestern Chicken Wraps

– johanna | June 1st, 2012

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Main Dish

My friend was looking for something delicious to make for dinner and stumbled across Crispy Southwestern Chicken Wraps. We were both salivating as we stared at the picture. These wraps are super fast to make and a frugal way to use up left over chicken and rice.

Normally I have a container of plain Greek yogurt in the refrigerator. The past two week I switched to vanilla just for a change of taste. I like to use plain Greek yogurt in the place of sour cream in most recipes because Greek yogurt has more protein, and less fat than sour cream. On this particular day I resorted to using a little cream cheese in the place of the sour cream. The burritos were fine. If anything they were just really creamy. So in emergencies cream cheese is ok. But next time I will make sure I specify plain yogurt on my shopping list rather than just yogurt.

Source: Adapted fromMels Kitchen Cafe
*Makes 6 wraps*
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded cheese (combination of monterey jack and sharp cheddar)
Sour cream (optional)
6 burrito-sized flour tortillas

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla.

**If using sour cream dot the cheese with about 1-2 tablespoons of sour cream before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the center**

Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open.

Optional: brush the tortillas all over with oil.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

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Korean Tuna Pancakes (Chamchijeon)

– johanna | April 27th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer, RECIPES - Main Dish, RECIPES - Snacks

Lately we have been learning all we can about South Korean customs. Such as it is bad luck to pour your own drink and always take your shoes off before entering ones home. Respect is of utmost importance in South Korea. The formality of Confucianism dictates so. It is a belief in a code of honor that is viewed as old fashioned by newer generations.

Generally most Koreans are warm and giving. They live by the age old traditions that when an elder enters a room you stand up. On the bus you offer them your seat. If someone is in need you help them. When accepting a gift use both hands to take it. And always be sure to say, “gamsa hapnida.” (Thank you)

The relationship between people of seniority is just as important. In fact, when adults speak to one another they use a formal form of speech; unlike when talking to a child or how youth of the same age converse. When addressing a person they always use the surname first. To call an acquaintance by their name would be considered informal and is frowned upon. For example, the name Eun Sun (first name) Park (surname) would be spoken Park Eun Sun. When familiar or given permission you can drop the surname. Interestingly enough even a slight inflection in the pronunciation of a name (similar to a nickname) is seen as informal.

When addressing a person of status always use their title or position first: including president, director, professor, doctor, Sunbea (senior at school). With permission a younger girl might use the term ‘Uhn-nee’ (meaning older sister) to address a female a few years older than she. A young male could call a female he is comfortable with ‘Noona’ (meaning sister). A female would call an older young male with whom she is close to ‘Oppa’.

Now on to the food! Maangchi’s tuna pancakes are amazing. My kids gobbled them all up. Do not let the word pancake confuse you. Jeon means pancake in Korean but it is basically a tuna cake. Like a crab cake. The onion and sesame oil are what what gives these little cakes flavor. I do not recommend omitting these ingredients as it would drastically change the taste.

Source: Maangchi
(Makes 6 small pancakes)
1 (5 oz) can of tuna
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons canola oil

Strain out the liquid from a can of tuna and place it in a bowl.

Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, sesame oil, and flour to the tuna and mix it well.

Heat oil in up a pan until hot.

Scoop a spoonful of the tuna mixture with a spoon and place it on the heated pan. Press slightly and round the edges with the spoon.

When the bottom is cooked golden brown, turn it over and cook until both sides of the pancakes are golden brown. About 3-5 minutes total.
Transfer the cooked pancakes to a serving plate and serve with rice.

Sauce: Mix the following ingredients
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
left over onions

** Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat in the microwave or panfry.

– Egg allergies: Egg can be omitted. No substitute needed.
– Gluten free: replace flour with corn flour.

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Korean Panfried tofu with spicy sauce (Dubu buchim yangnyumjang)

– johanna | April 20th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Lately I have been obsessing over South Korean cuisine. My interest began with the Korean series “Protect the Boss” by Boseureul Jikyeora. It is a quirky film about girl who wants to achieve her dream job in a corporate office. Problem is she is lacking the secretarial skills and a degree from a prestigious college.

What captivated my interested the most was a dinner scene at the Chairman’s house. The family members were picking up bits of food, with their chopsticks, from various bowls in the center of the table, and placing it on each others plates. The conversation was somewhat comical as they each loaded one another’s bowl with morsels they “just had to try”. There was so much excitement over the food with the belief that if they ate well they would have a happy healthy disposition. Moreover, it was the wisdom of the Grandmother who had insisted that the two feuding sides of the family join her for dinner once a week until they learned to tolerate one another. She counseled them saying, (English translation) “our friendships are built by this type of dinner.”

In that moment I was reminded that despite all the whining and frustration trying to make dinner and get everyone to the dinner table, there is a purpose. Thus, my interest was peaked to discover more about this far away place and the people who live there. I was curious what the dynamics of the family is like in South Korea.

The kids and I have enjoyed learning the language and the various customs of South Korean culture. They graciously accepted the Korean cuisine, thrilled to try anything placed in front of them, as long as they could use chop sticks.

I have not had fried tofu before; I mostly use tofu in soup. Yet, Korean tofu with spicy sauce is one of my favorite dishes by far. The sauce is very similar to a wasabi sauce in both flavor and heat. I reduce the red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon and it is still pretty spicy. For children you can eliminate the red pepper or greatly reduce the amount. I have even served the tofu with a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping.

Source: Maangchi
1 half package Tofu (about 10 oz)
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 to 1 teaspoon Hot Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 Green Onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
Roasted Sesame Seeds (optional)

Slice the tofu into bite size pieces (¼ inch thick rectangles); about 10 pieces. Towel off each piece with a paper towel.

Heat a pan with 1 to 2 tbs of vegetable oil. Add the tofu and lower the heat. Cook over low heat about 5-7 minutes.

When the bottom of the tofu looks golden brown, turn it over and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked tofu to a serving plate.

Meanwhile make the sauce:
In a small bowl mix: minced garlic, green onion, hot pepper flakes, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

To serve, spoon the sauce evenly over the tofu. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds just before serving. Serve with a side of steamed rice.

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