Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chorizo-Stuffed Jalapenos


Go Cowboys!  =)


Here's a prefect, tasty tailgating treat.  Another recipe in honor of Lisa Fain's cookbook, "The Homesick Texan" that was recently published.  I found this recipe in the Dallas Morning News a week or two ago and couldn't wait to try it knowing it would be a hit with the family.


I used Jimmy Dean's spicy, pork sausage instead of chorizo, which worked well.  We will definitely be making this again.  Thank you Lisa...I can't wait to get your cookbook!


12 medium jalapenos
1/4 lb Mexican chorizo, cooked and drained of excess fat
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature 
2 oz goat cheese, room temperature 
1 TBSP chopped cilantro 
1 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp ground cumin 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 tsp cayenne 
1 tsp lime zest (green part only) 
Salt to taste 


Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
Cut each jalapeño in half lengthwise. (You may want to wear rubber gloves while working with jalapeños.) With a knife or spoon, scoop out the seeds and white pith and discard. Set jalapeño halves aside.


Mix together remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Fill each jalapeño half with about 2 teaspoons of cheese filling. Place stuffed jalapeños on the prepared baking sheet and place under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes, or until brown and bubbling.





Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rustic Chicken Caesar Salad


This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver's.







With one's own versions of the classics, like Caesar salad, it's not about changing things entirely, it's about respecting the original recipe while enhancing the flavors and textures where you can. Jamie's twists for this salad are to use chicken legs, not breasts (which tend to be dry), smoky pancetta and crusty, rustic croutons to suck up all the juices. This is a fabulous rendition of a classic salad with just a hint of attitude...and it's versatile, as you can serve it hot or cold.

Use your imagination, if you have any other unusual salad leaves, edible flowers or herbs lying around, throw some in to make it a little less predictable.








4 whole free-range or organic chicken legs, skin on
1 loaf ciabatta bread (about 9 oz), cut or torn into 1" cubes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices pancetta or bacon
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz can of anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained (or I like to add the oil to the EVOO for the dressing)
3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a few shavings to serve
1 heaping TBSP creme fraiche
1 lemon, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 or 3 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken legs in a snug-fitting roasting pan with the pieces of torn-up bread*. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is well coated, then lift the chicken legs slightly up to the top, so they sit above the bread*.  This way, the bread will soak up all the lovely juices from the chicken, giving you the best croutons*. Put the pan into the preheated oven.  Baste chicken and croutons* with juices and/or olive oil frequently.

After 45 minutes the chicken should be nicely cooked. Take the pan out of the oven, drape the pancetta or bacon over the chicken and croutons, and put back for another 15 to 20 minutes for everything to crisp up. The chicken legs are ready when you can pinch the meat off the bone easily. When they're cooked, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for the chicken to cool down slightly.

Pound the garlic and anchovy fillets in a pestle and mortar until you have a pulp. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, lemon juice and 3 times as much extra-virgin olive oil as lemon juice. Season dressing, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Pull the chicken meat off the leg bones...you can use 2 forks to do this, or your hands and tear it up roughly with the croutons and the bacon. Wash, spin-dry and separate the lettuce leaves, tear them up and toss with the chicken, croutons, bacon and creamy, cheesy dressing. Top with some Parmesan shavings.

*I found it's best not to have the croutons placed under the chicken as those turned out soggy.  Next time I would add the croutons during the last 30 minutes of roasting the chicken because some of them became a little too crispy and crunchy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

French Onion Soup


There's nothing like a hot bowl of ooey-gooey French onion soup.  Turn this rich soup into a full meal by serving this with your favorite salad or sandwich. 


1/2 cup butter
4 yellow onions, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and fresh, ground pepper
1 cup red wine or 2 TBSP Calvados, Applejack, or other brandy
3 heaping TBSP all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced into 1/4" thick slices, toasted
1/2 lb grated Gruyere cheese
1 TBSP chives, chopped


In a large Dutch oven or pot melt butter.  Add onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper.   Stir often, until the onions are a rich brown color and well caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Add wine; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated.  Discard bay leaf and thyme.  Dust onions with flour and stir.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add broth bring to a boil; simmer for an additional 15 minutes.  Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls.  Top each bowl evenly with 2 - 3 baguette slices and top with the cheese.  Place bowls on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Put under the broiler until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve piping hot.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Banana Pudding




This is a Southern classic dessert.  This tuned out so creamy and delicious with the combination of textures with the pudding, bananas and Nilla wafers...a true taste sensation! 


Our 12 year old son has been begging me to make this ever since he saw the Nilla wafers enter our home.  You can serve this warm or cold, I learned Dylan prefers his cold like he gets at school.  =)


3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup flour
dash of salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
45 Nilla Wafers, divided
4 - 5 bananas, sliced


Heat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of a double boiler.  Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk.  Cook, uncovered, over boiling water 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.


Reserve 12 wafers for garnish.  Also, reserve 1/4 cup of sliced bananas that has a little lemon juice mixed with them to keep them from turning brown.  Spread a small amount of custard on bottom of 1-1/2 quart baking dish.  Cover with layers of 1/3 EACH of the remaining wafers, bananas and remaining custard.  Repeat layers at least 2 times.


Beat egg whites on high speed of mixer until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spread over custard, sealing well to edge of the dish.


Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cook slightly.  Top with reserved wafers and bananas just before serving

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mom's Chicken Tetrazzini








My sweet Mom has been making Chicken Tetrazzini for "years and years and years..." =)   My kids especially love this dish because it brings back all kinds of special memories of being at MaMaw's house.


This recipe can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Next time I make this I will divide into two baking dishes, because this makes a lot of food.  I will bake one and freeze the other for another time.  This is comfort food at it's best!


4 lbs chicken breasts, roasted, boned, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz spaghetti, cooked
1 large white onion, chopped
1 - 2 celery ribs and leaves, chopped
2 sticks (8 oz) of butter plus 2 TBSP, divided
1 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 lb Velveeta cheese, broken up
1 (10-3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
5 oz seasoned croutons, crushed


Saute onions and celery in 2 TBSP butter for a minute or two, until onions start to become translucent.  Set aside.


For the sauce, melt 2 sticks of butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.  Slowly add flour,  mixing well.  Add milk while continuing to stir. When the roux is smooth add Velveeta cheese; stir until smooth and the cheese has melted.  Add the can of mushroom soup; mix well.


In a large pot or bowl mix cooked chicken, spaghetti, onions and celery.  Pour the cheese mixture over the chicken, spaghetti and veggies; mix well.  Pour into a large casserole dish and cover with crushed seasoned croutons.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes or until croutons turn golden in color.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reuben Sandwich


My favorite sandwich has got to be the Reuben.  Piled high with corned beef, slathered with a coarse and grainy Dijon mustard, overflowing with tangy sauerkraut...It's so good!  


You can use pastrami or smoked ham instead of the corned beef.  Coleslaw is an excellent substitution for the sauerkraut, especially with pastrami. 


I'm not a fan of Russian salad dressing, but I'm including a recipe anyway, because I know many people are.  We used rye and pumpernickel swirled bread, although it had a tendency to fall apart a little bit, but they still turned out amazing!



Butter, softened
Russian dressing (recipe follows, optional)
Dijon mustard (optional)
8 slices rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
2 cups drained sauerkraut
1 lb thinly sliced corned beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Butter rye bread, then flip over and spread each slice with about 1 tbsp. of the dressing or Dijon mustard. Top 4 of the bread slices with 2 slices Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup sauerkraut, and 1/4 lb. corned beef each. Season with salt and pepper.  Top each of those slices with 1 of remaining slices of bread, dressing side down.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and, working in batches if necessary, add sandwiches in a single layer. Cook, flipping once and occasionally pressing the sandwiches down with a spatula, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Serve immediately.

Russian Salad Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP chili sauce
1 TBSP finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp finely grated yellow onion
1/2 tsp drained grated horseradish
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste




Put mayonnaise, chili sauce, parsley, onion, horseradish, Worcestershire, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste into a medium bowl and stir well to combine; set Russian dressing aside.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Artichoke Gratinata



This is a great side dish to accompany any cut of meat.  You must try this recipe if you're a fan of artichokes, which our entire family are huge fans.  This dish is super easy and not having to prepare and cook the artichokes was quite nice.  


This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.



3 TBSP olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley leaves
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala wine (Marsala wine is wine made with both red and green grapes)
2 TBSP butter
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Warm the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts, parsley, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until the artichoke hearts are starting to brown at the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the artichoke mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

Melt the butter in the same skillet used to cook the artichokes. In a small bowl mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan and top the artichokes with the bread crumbs. Bake until the top is golden, about 10 minutes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad




In my search for a way to use the leftover roast beef we had, I came across this recipe that was adapted from Cooking Light Magazine that looked delish.



The medley of flavors going on with this dish was fantastic.  It had a kick with the peppers and yet it had a sweet side that complimented each other beautifully.  The cooling basil and cucumber gave a blast of freshness to the palate.  Sliced mango would add a nice touch as well.  You could substitute the beef with cooked shrimp or chicken.  Serve with Sriracha on the table to kick it up a notch.


To switch gears and make this more of a Thai version you could make a dressing out of Thai green curry paste and rice vinegar.  


I love the versatility of this recipe, because the possibilites are endless.  



2 oz uncooked rice stick noodles
12 oz flank steak or leftover roast beef, cut into slices
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP Worcestshire Sauce
Cooking spray
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1/2 habanero pepper, minced or 1 whole jalapeño, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP fish sauce
12 basil leaves, chiffonade

bean sprouts
peanuts, coarsely chopped

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Coarsely chop noodles.

If using leftover roast beef skip the next two steps.



While noodles cook, freeze steak 5 minutes. Remove from freezer; cut across grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, garlic and Worcestershire; let marinate in the frig for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add beef; sauté 4 minutes.

Combine or layer noodles, lettuce, onion, cucumber, carrots, steak and habanero or jalapeno. Combine juice, sugar, and fish sauce; pour over noodle mixture, tossing gently. Sprinkle with basil, bean sprouts and peanuts.





Ninfa's Spicy Pickled Carrots


I've been craving those pickled carrots...you know...like the ones you get out of the can of jalapenos...oh-so-good, bold and spicy.  I found Ninfa's Restaurant's recipe on Lisa Fain's blog, "The Homesick Texan."  I've been fallowing Lisa for a couple of years now and her cookbook, "The Homesick Texan" has recently been released.  Congratulations Lisa!  You Go Girl!!

The carrots turned out to be crunchy bites of spicy goodness and is my new, favorite snack.  I couldn't find the red chiles as called for in Lisa's recipe so I used serrano peppers instead, plus, I added 2 - 3 tsp of crushed red pepper to help add more heat.  The Poole's, our friends and neighbors, gave us a bunch of fresh herbs, among them oregano, so I added a TBSP or so of fresh, chopped oregano in addition to the dried.


You can substitute green beans for the carrots.  To do so, blanch the beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes.  You want them just slightly cooked, but you definitely don’t want them limp. You want them to stay bright green and crisp.  Pour into jars and pour the hot brine over beans.  Let the flavors meld at least overnight.  I use the pickled green beans as a garnish in a spicy, bloody mary.  Reminiscent of our family train ride in Alaska. =)


1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white vinegar
1 ounce chiles de arbol, seeds and stems removed, halved
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1 pound carrots, cut into thin rounds
1/2 cup slivered onions
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, sliced

In a medium-sized pot, add the water, vegetable oil, vinegar and chiles de arbol. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Add to the pot the cumin, oregano, black pepper and salt. Continue to cook on medium for 5 more minutes. Add the sliced carrots, onions, garlic and jalapeño, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are your desired texture. Taste and add more salt if you prefer.

Cool and then refrigerate. Will keep for one month refrigerated.




Monday, September 5, 2011

Sara's French Toast


My kids especially love French Toast.  Here's Sara's version that is absolutely devine!

1 French baguette
2 - 3 eggs
1 TBSP milk or buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 TBSP butter
Maple syrup

Cut the baguette into thick slices.  Beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.  Place the baguette slices into a container, pour the egg mixture over the bread and soak overnight.  

In a large skillet melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium-high heat.  Place as many slices of the soaked bread and fry each side until golden.  Repeat with the other slices of bread and serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Vincent's Seafood Restaurant's Cole Slaw Recipe


Here's Vincent's Seafood Restaurant's (from Dallas) famous cole slaw recipe.  This is the best I've ever had and it was my Dad's favorite.  Very garlicky, tangy and crunchy goodness!  You could even add a little horseradish to further enhance the flavor.  I add extra shredded carrots and usually halve the recipe.  It's the perfect accompaniment for fish tacos or Memphis-style, pulled pork sandwiches.  I have very fond memories of my Dad and I having our father-daughter "date night" at Vincent's.  <3



1 gallon shredded cabbage, crisped (about two 1-lb bags)
1 quart water
2 c apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp salt
2 c mayonnaise
3 c vegetable oil
1 - 1/2 c freshly ground garlic, or to taste



Crisp the shredded cabbage by refrigerating it in the water overnight. The next day, drain well and dry.

Mix all the ingredients and let sit, refrigerated to blend the flavors for an hour.

Number Of Servings: 16