Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Sunday, June 26, 2011

David's Homemade Potato Chips

David makes the best homemade potato chips ever!  These are great served by themselves as a snack or serve as a side dish to fish and chips, hamburgers or most anything.

2 large russet potatoes
Vegetable oil for frying
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, to taste

On a mandolin or with a sharp knife, cut the potato into thin slices.  Add enough oil to a pan to make it a couple inches deep; heat oil to 300 degrees.  Carefully add the slices 1 at a time to the hot oil. Using tongs or spatula, constantly move the slices in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Remove the chips with a spatula, allowing some of the excess oil to drain off. Move the finished chips to a paper towel lined bowl.  Sprinkle the chips with creole seasoning, while hot and shake the bowl to evenly distribute the seasoning.  Transfer the chips onto an ovenproof pan and keep in a warm oven until all the batches have been fried.  Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain 300 degrees and continue slicing and frying the potatoes in small batches. Serve warm with ketchup on the side.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thai Basil Chicken Soup with Asparagus and Mushroom Filled Crepes and Thai Basil Butter on Toasted Baguette

These recipes were all very interesting and a fresh combination of flavors.  It's worth going to the effort of making your own crepes, so that you can make them thin and light.  The store bought crepes are too thick.  Make sure the filling is good and cooled off before assembling the crepes, because they will fall apart if the mixture is the least bit warm. I often times make some of these recipes independent of each other.  


1 whole chicken, (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems and caps separated, reserving caps for crepes
1 celery stalk, cut in half
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in half
1 medium onion, skin removed and cut in half
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
1 bunch fresh Thai basil, stems and leaves
1 TBSP smashed fresh ginger
1 red Thai chile split, seeded if no heat is desired
Peel of 1 lime
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP black peppercorns

Red finger chile, optional
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
Kosher salt
Leg meat, reserved from Thai Basil Chicken Broth
4 plum tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch triangles
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1 lime, cut into quarters
Fresh Thai basil, stems and leaves
Asparagus and Mushroom Filled Crepes, recipe follows
Thai Basil Butter on Toasted Baguette, recipe follows


Egg Crepes
1/4 cup butter
1 TBSP finely minced fresh ginger
6 eggs
1/3 cup 2-percent milk
1 tsp sesame oil

3 TBSP vegetable oil
Shiitake mushroom caps, julienned (from Thai Basil Chicken Broth recipe)
3 TBSP vegetable oil
1 bunch asparagus, thick ends removed, spears blanched in salted water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch fresh Thai basil, washed, rinsed and leaves picked
1 cup butter, melted on low heat and cooled
1/2 baguette, toasted and cut into 4 pieces

For the Thai basil chicken broth:

Place the chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrot, onion, lemongrass, Thai basil, ginger, Thai chile, lime peel, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a large pot. Cover with cold water, approximately 2 to 2 1/2 quarts. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, uncovered. Skim the top, removing the impurities throughout the cooking process. Cook for 1 hour at a low simmer. Remove the chicken from the pot. Remove the leg meat, pull into pieces and reserve for soup garnishes. Remove the remaining chicken and reserve for personal use. Strain the stock into a clean pot.

For the Thai basil chicken soup garnishes: Bring the stock to a boil. Add the chile, if using, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Season the mixture with salt. Add the pulled chicken meat, tomato, and cucumber. Serve the soup, piping hot, garnish with green onion, sesame oil, lime, and Thai basil.

To make Asparagus and Mushroom Filled Crepes:

For the egg crepes: Place 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl. Add the ginger, eggs, milk, sesame oil, and salt, and whisk well. Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Dab a paper towel in the remaining melted butter and coat the pan. Ladle a thin layer of crepe batter in the pan, coating the bottom evenly. Once the batter begins to bubble in the middle, flip the crepe and cook for 3 to 5 seconds on the other side. Remove the crepe from the pan and lay on a dry kitchen towel. Repeat the process with the remaining crepe batter.

For the crepe filling and assembly: Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute the shiitake mushroom caps over the medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt, and pepper, set aside.

Place one crepe on the cutting board. Place 2 spears of asparagus lengthwise, on one end of the crepe. Place a single layer of shiitake mushrooms over the asparagus. Roll the crepe beginning at one end. Place another crepe on the cutting board and roll the finished crepe inside. Cut the crepe on a diagonal into 3 pieces.

To make Thai Basil Butter:

Place the Thai basil in a blender and pour the melted butter over. Pulse quickly until just incorporated, ensuring not to bruise the Thai basil. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, place in the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove the butter from the freezer and whisk the mixture until well incorporated, return the Thai basil butter to the freezer. Once the butter has solidified, approximately 5 minutes, whisk again.

Transfer the butter to a container and place in the refrigerator or freezer. Spread the Thai basil butter over the toasted baguette pieces.

*Recipe courtesy of Roger Mooking from the Cooking Channel.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trout Spread

This is a wonderful spread to put on your favorite bagels, 7 grain toast or crackers.  We like to grill our trout with a little bit of wood chips on the side, so as not to have the smokey taste be too overwhelming.  I make this with our leftover trout all the time.

1 lb fresh trout fillet
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dill
pepper to taste
1 - 4 tbsp prepared horseradish (to taste)
3 - 4 tbsp Hellman's mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice

Season the trout with lemon pepper, dill and pepper.  Grill or smoke the trout fillet for about 30.  Let the trout cool.  Discard any remaining bones and skin.  In a bowl flake the fish and add mayonnaise, horseradish and lemon juice and maybe a little more seasonings if desired.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Radical Psychedelic Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

Now, how funkedelic are these?!  Not to mention a fun family project.  In honor of Father's Day we had to make these for our favorite Deadhead.  This also was a great find right before Dylan's 12th father, like son.  :)  The cupcakes are so beautiful after baked that it's tempting to not frost them.  

1 box yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1-1/3 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 box neon gel food color
cupcake liners
decorative toppings

Make cake batter as directed on the box using eggs, water and oil.  Divide the batter into 4 different bowls.  Add different food color into each portion of batter; mix while still leaving it swirly in color.  Once you have all your colored batters, layer them in blobs by the spoonful into the cupcake liners.  Swirl the top gently with a toothpick.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18 - 21 minutes.  Cool pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cool completely before icing.  Frost the cupcakes with your favorite frosting.  Sprinkle with fun, decorative toppings.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Meatball Sandwiches

Here's another great use of meatballs.  The best rolls to use are from Jimmy's Food Store on Fitzhugh and Bryan in Dallas.  Jimmy's is, by far, our favorite store in town.  Go check them out if you haven't already!

12 Meatballs, cooked
4 Conella Baking Company French Rolls from Jimmy's Food Store
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded


Toast the rolls in a warm oven.  Warm meatballs and marinara sauce in the microwave or on the stove.  Place 3 meatballs on each roll.  Top with marinara sauce and cheese.  Serve warm.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

An Italian classic and one of my favorites!  

1 TBSP chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 TBSP chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried basil leaves
2 tsp chopped  fresh or 1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves crushed
6 - 8 whole garlic cloves
1 - 16 oz can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
meatballs (recipe follows)
4 cups hot cooked spaghetti

Mix all ingredients except Meatballs and spaghetti in a 3-quart saucepan; break up tomatoes.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare meatballs; drain.  Stir meatballs into tomato mixture.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Serve over spaghetti and, if desired, with grated Parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti and Beef Sauce:

Omit meatballs.  Cook 1 lb ground beef, the onion and garlic in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until beef is light brown; drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients except spaghetti; break up tomatoes.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Spaghetti and Chicken Sauce:

Omit meatballs.  Cover and simmer sauce 1 hour.  Stir in 1-1/2 cups cut-up and cooked chicken or turkey; heat until hot.


You can serve meatballs as an appetizer, with spaghetti and marinara sauce or in a meatball sandwich.   

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all ingredients.  Shape into twenty 1 - 1/2 inch meatballs.  Place in a rectangular pan.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until no longer pink inside.

To Pan Fry:

Cook in a large skillet over medium heat about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until no longer pink inside. 

*Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sliders with Aged Cheddar Cheese

My daughters and I usually can't eat a whole burger, whereas the guys can chow down on one or maybe even two burgers, so sliders are the perfect solution to not waisting food.  You can have a wide variety of toppings like guacamole, fried onion rings, roasted jalapeños or switch up the cheese and use blue cheese or pepper jack.  The topping possibilities are endless.  If you don't want to use Brioche for the buns you can find slider buns at most grocery stores these days.  These are great with cheddar cheese fries:

Cheese Fries

3/4 lb ground beef
Pinch of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz aged cheddar cheese, sliced
6 slices Brioche bread, punched out with a 2-inch ring cutter
Arugula leaves or thin slices of ice burg lettuce
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
dill pickles slices

Preheat a grill or grill pan.

Put the ground beef in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands to combine. Take 2 tablespoons of the beef and shape it like a meatball. Flatten slightly and drizzle the burgers with oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the burgers on the hot grill. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn them over with tongs. Put about 1/2 oz. of aged cheddar cheese on top of the burgers, allowing it to melt. While that’s cooking, put the brioche circles on the grill. Toast them slightly on both sides, about 2 minutes total.

Put the toasted brioche circles on a platter. Top toasted bread with your favorite condiments. Put the burger on top (cheese side up), followed by an arugula leaf, a slice of tomato and a slice of dill pickle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roasted Mustard Potatoes

Serve these wonderfully fiery and zesty morsels instead of mashed or baked potatoes.  They're so flavorful you can do without the usual additions of butter and sour cream.

Light vegetable oil cooking spray
4 TBSP Dijon-style mustard (I prefer the more grainy, seedy type)
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
10 mediums sized red potatoes, halved

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Spray a roasting pan 3 times to coat with the vegetable oil.

Put the mustard, 1 tsp vegetable oil, paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne and garlic cloves in a large bowl.  Toss to coat the potatoes evenly.  Pour the coated potatoes into the prepared roasting pan, leaving a little space between them.

Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are fork tender.  15 minutes prior to taking the potatoes out of the oven, add onion, lemon juice and zest.

Un-Fried Chicken

The secret to the success of this recipe is to make sure that both the chicken and the buttermilk are very cold.  The preliminary soaking of the chicken will help the breading adhere and produce a crispy coating much like that of fried chicken.  I sometimes will dredge the chicken in the buttermilk and flour twice to ensure a crispier crust.  I occasionally like to serve this with roasted mustard potatoes (recipe to follow) because it's a healthier, tasty alternative to mashed potatoes.

You can make this recipe healthier by removing the skins from the chicken.  Also, you can substitute plain nonfat yogurt for the buttermilk.

Light Vegetable cooking spray
6 chicken drumsticks
3 whole chicken breasts, halved 
3 - 1/2 cups ice water
2 cups buttermilk

For the Breading:

1 - 1/2 cups dried Italian garlic and herb bread crumbs
1 - 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Tony Chachere's  Creole Seasoning
ground black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Coat a baking sheet with 3 sprays of vegetable oil.  

Put the chicken in a large bowl with the ice water.  Put the buttermilk into a medium bowl.  Set both bowls aside. 

Toss all the breading ingredients into a large, tightly-sealing plastic bag.  Seal and shake well to mix.

Remove 2 pieces of chicken from the ice water.  Roll each piece in the buttermilk.  Put the chicken into the plastic bag, reseal, and shake to coat thoroughly.  Transfer the breaded chicken to the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat the process until all pieces are breaded.  Spray the chicken lightly with the vegetable oil.

Place the baking sheet on the bottom half of the oven and bake for 1 hour.  To help turn the top of the chicken golden brown, broil for a minute or two, watching closely so as to not burn.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cheesy Bacon Jalapeño Poppers with Creamy Chipotle Cilantro Sauce

The poppers were rich, creamy and wonderfully spicy.  The chipotle cilantro sauce was a nice compliment of flavors with the cheese and jalapeño.  The poppers would work well for tailgating.  You could grill them up before leaving and then wrap them up in foil.

12 jalapeño peppers
8 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
12 bacon slices
12 skewers (soaked in water for at least 30 minutes if wood, so they won't catch fire)

Cut off the top of the jalapeños and scoop out the ribs and seeds, leaving the pepper intact.  Combine cheese and cilantro; mix well.  Stuff each pepper with cheese mixture, return the cap.  Skewer each jalapeño with the tip barely protruding through the top.  Wrap a slice of bacon around each pepper.  Grill on medium/high heat until bacon is crispy and golden brown in color.  

Creamy Chipotle Cilantro Sauce:

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse well to combine. Remove and place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: about 2 cups

The popper recipe is courtesy of Paula Deen and the chipotle cilantro sauce is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.  

Jalapeño Corn Bread

This is nice twist from regular corn bread, especially if you like your food spicy.

1 - 8.5 oz box "Jiffy" corn muffin mix
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped (optional) ("Sweet and Hot" is the best brand)
1/3 cup drained corn
4 green onions, chopped

Prepare corn bread as directed on the box.  Add all of the remaining ingredients.  Pour into a greased pan or muffin tins.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chili Con Queso and Carne Con Queso

Who doesn't love chips and queso...whether made with or without meat.  Serve with plenty of tortilla chips.  Perfect appetizer to serve while watching the NBA finals.  Go Mavericks!!  

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 TBSP flour
1 - 10 oz can Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilies
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP pickled jalapeños, chopped

Sauté onion in butter over medium-low heat until tender.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and stir.  Add cheese and jalapeños.  Cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted.  Keep warm in a small crock pot or on the stove in a small saucepan.

Carne Con Queso

1/2 lb hot pork sausage
1/2 lb ground beef

Brown meat in a skillet.  Drain fat.  Prepare the above recipe and add browned meat.  Keep warm in a crock pot or on the stove in a small saucepan.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homegrown Oyster Mushrooms Sauteéd in Butter

Hi...This is Kelly's husband, David.  One of the coolest sustainable ideas I've seen in awhile is the Back To The Roots Oyster Mushroom Kit.   Founded in 2009 by Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Aurora as a 100% sustainable urban mushroom farm, BTTR collects used coffee grinds from the coffee houses in Seattle and injects mushrooms spores into them once formed into a hard log.  The box arrives, and all you have to do is tear off the front part of the box, and mist it twice a day.  In about 10 days, you've got a ready-to-eat mushroom crop as fresh as you can get them!  Here is a link to their website so you can order your own:

Back To The Roots is on track to collect, divert and reuse 1 million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet's Coffee & Tea and as well as help families grow over 250,000 pounds of fresh food in 2011.  Not only are they a very cool and sustainable company, they have offered to give a 10% discount to anyone who buys a kit after reading my post!  Just use the discount code:  Mushrooms4me10 when you order.  Then, not only are you saving the environment, you're saving money!

Once you harvest your first crop, tear off the back and grow another crop.  Then, when you've grown a couple crops, break up the mushroom log in your garden as a nutrient-rich organic compost.  There are lots of things you can do with your oyster mushroom crop, but here is a tasty recipe I cooked up:

Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms

This is a very simple recipe.  Just cut your oyster mushrooms into slices and heat up 1/4 stick of butter.  Throw in the sliced mushrooms and spice simply with sea salt and pepper and a few other spices such as Old Bay and Tony Cachere's.  Saute for about 5-7 minutes and eat.

Sesame Chicken and Noodles

I found a similar recipe to this one online and improvised on the ingredients.  Sometimes I will add broccoli instead of the snow peas.  I find the broccoli soaks up the juices nicely.  The more veggies the better, in fact, this is a great recipe to help clean out the frig.

1 roasted whole chicken shredded
1 pound soba noodles, whole wheat spaghetti or rice stick
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/8 cup mushroom soy sauce

1/4 cup pasta or rice water
2 TBSP sesame oil
2 TBSP canola oil
1 TBSP rice-wine vinegar

1 TBSP lime juice and zest
1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBSP Tahini paste
splash of white wine
1 TBSP fresh grated ginger

1 TBSP garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp sugar
1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
1 cup carrots, cut into matchstick pieces

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (optional)
4 cups snow peas, trimmed and sliced on the bias
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
bean sprouts

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti or noodles as directed on the package. Drain, saving a 1/4 cup of the water to add to the sauce; rinse under warm water.
Meanwhile, in a wok whisk both soy sauces, rice or noodle water, sesame oil, canola oil, vinegar, lime juice, crushed red pepper, tahini paste and a splash of white wine; whisk until smooth.  Sauté 1/4 cup scallions and 2 tablespoons cilantro, carrots, bell peppers and snow peas.  Add chicken, noodles, snow peas; toss to coat and heat through
To serve, mix in sesame seeds and garnish with the remaining scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts.  Serve warm.