Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Mario Batali makes some great tasting food. I’ve followed this Cacio e Pepe recipe before & it was delicious. It incorporates 2 things I love, Cheese & Black Pepper. This time, I added 5 more ingredients to the recipe just because I wanted to. They are not necessary, but boy was the pasta mmmm mmmm good when it was done. This is my interpretation of Cacio e Pepe mixed in with everything else I love. Come on, who doesn’t love more cheese & BACON!!! Oh yeah, and all the mushrooms add a delightfully earthy taste to the pasta.

Cacio e Pepeadapted from Mario Batali

Ingredients:
1 pound spaghettii
1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 bags of Enoki Mushroom (cut ends off & wash)
1 box of Beech Mushroom (cut ends off & wash)
3 Slices Muenster Cheese
5 Slices of Bacon
2 Plum Tomatoes (thinly sliced)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
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Boil a pot of water to cook your pasta. Follow instructions on the box to make al dente pasta. Reserve one cup pasta water. Drain the rest in a colander & rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Heat up a little olive oil into a large frying pan. On medium heat, add garlic & cook it down for a minute. Then add Enoki & beech mushrooms & sprinkle with sea salt to season. Cook until they are all soft.

Add the butter & pepper. Evenly mix until butter is melted.
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Add your pasta & mix. Then add your cheeses. The Muenster gets a little clumpy, so try to break them apart with your spoon. If the pasta is a little dry, you can add a little of the pasta water you had saved earlier.

In a separate frying pan, cook your bacon until they are cripsy. Drain all oils & blot excess on a paper towel. When it is cool to the touch, rough chop them.

Arrange plum tomatoes on top of pasta. Cover pan for 2 minutes to steam the tomatoes.

Finally, sprinkle bacon on top, and you are all set.

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ENJOY!

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Paleo Beef Cabbage Roll Recipe

I will call this a (Con)fusion Beef Cabbage Roll. Why?

I basically combined a predominantly European dish (stuffed cabbage) with a Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage) & stuffed it with a Spanish/Portuguese filling (empanada filling).

Guess what? It was absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch. You will need to like cumin, otherwise you will have to substitute with another spice. Omit the cheese if you want this to be Paleo.

Paleo Beef Stuffed Cabbage Roll adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen & Dee Dee Pujols

Ingredients:
1.5 lb (24oz) Napa Cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 lb (24oz) Ground Beef
1 tablespoon garlic salt (I used 1 tablespoon garlic powder plus 1 teaspoon sea salt instead)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices Muenster Cheese, cut each slice into 8 pieces (omit if Paleo)
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Boil a pot of water with enough space to immerse your entire cabbage head.

Core the cabbage with a knife to loosen all the leaves. Put entire head into boiling water. Boil for ~8-10 minutes (depending on how large your cabbage head is). When the cabbage is soft, drain in a colander & let cool.
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In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef & garlic salt.  Cook until the beef is cooked through. Drain the grease & put beef in a clean bowl.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, oregano, sea salt, garlic & black pepper. Mix everything together until thoroughly combined & cook for 5 minutes. Add the beef & combine with the sauce over low heat for 5 minutes. The mixture should be moist.
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Overlap 2 pieces of cabbage on a plate. Add 3 small pieces of cheese. Add 2 heaping spoonful of the beef. Roll the stem in towards the middle. Fold sides to the middle. Then, roll up to secure.
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And there you have it. This tasty bundle of goodness.
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Enjoy!

Asian Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe

This was a really fast & easy recipe to follow. I only marinated the chicken for 30 minutes (while I prepped the broccoli & mushroom) & it turned out very tasty.

Asian Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe adapted from Chow.com

Chicken Ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (I omitted this)
6 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds chicken thighs (removed skin & fat)

Veggie Ingredients:
10oz white mushrooms
1 lb broccoli crowns
1 package Beech mushrooms
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
5 cloves finely chopped garlic

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
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Place everything except the chicken in a zip-lock bag & combine.
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Remove the skin & fat from the chicken. Wash & pat dry with paper towel.

Throw the chicken into the zip-lock bag & lay flat. Flip the bag around after 15 minutes to ensure the other side gets marinated as well.
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While you are waiting, wash & cut the broccoli & mushrooms. Put into a foil pan. Drizzle with olive oil & mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with sea salt & black pepper. Then, drizzle balsamic vinegar over everything. Sprinkle chopped garlic on top. Put into oven & bake for 25 minutes.
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After 30 minutes of marinating the chicken, pour all the contents into a pan. Ensure the chicken is in one layer.
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Bake the chicken for 20 minutes, then flip them over & bake for another 20 minutes until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees F.
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Pour the chicken sauce into a bowl. Use a spoon to skim off all the oils & fat. Serve chicken with broccoli & mushrooms with the sauce on the side.
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Enjoy!

Tender Pork Spare Ribs Recipe

I’ve never made spare ribs before, so this is totally an experiment for me (just like everything else I attempt to cook)! I bought the spare ribs & then decided to search for a recipe that included ingredients I already had on hand. This is how I cook. I don’t like to go out to buy more ingredients. I adjust the recipe to what I already have. If I don’t have it, I either omit it or substitute it with something else. Maybe this is the reason why my food never turns out looking like the pictures. :-/

Well, let’s see how these spare ribs turn out.

Ingredients:
Tender Pork Spare Ribs – adapted from All Recipes
1 rack pork spare ribs, fat trimmed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoons paprika
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

The original recipe called for fajita seasoning. I had taco seasoning on hand, but then took a look at the ingredients. It was filled with tons of crap that I would not want to serve my family, so I omitted it. All those strange chemicals really scare me especially when you are putting it into your body. I’m trying to be proactive about what I eat & how to cook healthier for my family. It takes more vigilance but it’s definitely not impossible. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. I really don’t want to be a preservative or monosodium glutamate (aka MSG).
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Wash your spare ribs & pat dry with paper towels. Trim off excess fat.
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Mix all all your seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Then, rub the mixture on both sides of the ribs evenly. Place into a foil pan & Cover with foil. Leave in the fridge 24 hours to marinate the meat.
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Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F. Cover the ribs with foil. Bake for 3 ½ to 4 hours until the meat is tender.
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Carefully take the pan out & pour the drippings into a saucepan. Set the ribs to the side. Cook the drippings over high heat until the sauce thickens 5-10 minutes. Brush the thicken sauce over one side of the ribs.
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Preheat oven to the broiler setting & set the oven rack to approximately 6 inches from the heat source. Place the ribs back into the over & broil for 4 minutes until the sauce is lightly caramelized.
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Take the ribs out of the oven & flip it over. Brush the sauce over the other side & broil for another 4 minutes. If you have remaining sauce, brush it on top of the ribs & you are ready to serve.

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Let the ribs rest a few minutes before cutting them.

Zucchini
Roasted Zucchini

2 large zucchini
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Paprika

Wash & chop the zucchini in half. Then slice them on the long side. Place them in a large bowl & add olive oil & season with salt, pepper & paprika. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer & bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
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Roasted Garlic Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes
5 cloves of garlic, minces
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

Wash & peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into little cubes. Place them in a large bowl & add minced garlic, olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer & bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Very Quick BBQ Sauceadapted from Food.com

2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

ENJOY!

Mango Shrimp Summer Roll Recipe

Mango Shrimp Summer Rollsadapted from Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 tsp fish sauce (substitute with soy sauce)
1 tsp freshly grated lemongrass
freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp sugar
36 small sized shrimp, shelled and de-veined
2 bundles of Rice/Mung Bean Vermicelli
15 round rice papers (8″ diameter)
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned cucumber
4 oz bean sprouts
2 mango, sliced into thin slivers
1 small bunch of Thai Basil Leaves (optional)
1 bag (7oz) of Enoki Mushroom (optional)

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Grate lemongrass. Boil water & quickly drop the bean sprouts into the water. Take it out after 30 seconds. This is to ensure any bacteria/gems are killed off. Rinse with cold water & let dry in a colander.
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Peel & de-vein the shrimp. Mix the fish sauce, lemongrass, pepper & sugar in a bowl & add shrimp. Marinate for 10 minutes.
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Grill the shrimp in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon coconut oil on high heat until cooked through, ~2 minutes. When the shrimp is cool enough to handle, use a knife, cut each shrimp down the middle of its back so that you have two identical halves of shrimp. This makes the shrimp thin enough to wrap evenly.

Place 2 bundles of vermicelli into boiling water. Stir & make sure it cooks for a few minutes until tender (~2-3 minutes). Strain the water & cool the vermicelli with cold water to stop it from cooking.

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Cut the dirty ends of the Enoki mushrooms. Wash them under cold water, while separating the strands because they tend to stick together. I seasoned it with a little salt, pepper & olive oil & cooked it in a frying pan. It will release a lot of water. When the mushrooms are cooked down (no longer stiff), they are ready. Discard as much water content from them as much as possible.

Cut your carrots & cucumber into matchstick sized pieces. Take 10 basil leaves & chiffonade them into smaller pieces. Now all your ingredients are ready to assemble your summer rolls.

In a clean fying pan, boil a few cups of water. This will be used for the summer roll skins. Turn off the heat once it starts boiling. Find a large round dish to prepare you rolls. Have another large plate handy for your completed rolls. Take a summer roll wrapper & place into the hot water in the frying pan. It will soften into a pliable sheet. Carefully pull the sheet out & put onto your prep plate.

Here, you will start building your summer roll. Add the shrimp, then layer with the vermicelli, a few slices of the mango, then carrots, cucumber, mushroom, & basil. I rolled the bottom over the filling first, then folded the right & left sides in, then tightly rolled the bottom up to the top. Put the finished product on our finished plate.

Mango Puree – by Me
1 mango (remove skin & pit)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
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Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Add more water if the puree is still too thick. This is easy to make & makes your food look so pretty (& tasty, too)!

Fish Dipping Sauce: Nuoc Cham – Recipe courtesy Corinne Trang, Authentic Vietnamese Cooking, Simon & Schuster, 1999
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup lime or lemon juice (~1 lemon)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 or more bird’s eye or Thai chiles, seeded and minced
1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced, and rinsed (optional)
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Mix all ingredients together & let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. This sauce is so tasty with the summer rolls or even just over vermicelli or rice.

ENJOY!

Dill Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe

I was browsing Fairway market & came across some fragrant dill. I love the smell & taste of dill so I grabbed it & put it into my basket. Now what will I make with the dill? This is usually how I food shop. I never have any ideas of what I’ll be making until I see one ingredient that I love. Then, I go on a hunt to see what would go well with that ingredient. I know, I know, I’m not very efficient at this food shopping thing, but it is fun when you have time to wander. The supermarket is like the adult version of a candy store for me. I love supermarket shopping!!! I figured dill goes well with potatoes, but I chose sweet potatoes instead since they are a healthier option.

Dill Roasted Sweet Potatoesadapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients:
4 medium Sweet Potatoes
5 whole Garlic Cloves
4 tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 large bunch fresh Dill (lightly chopped) (~ ½ cup)
½ teaspoon Paprika (optional)
½ tablespoon Lemon Juice (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degree.

Line baking sheet with foil.

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Rinse sweet potatoes. Peel skin off. Dice into 1 inch cubes & place into large mixing bowl.

Mince the garlic & add to the bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, dill & toss until everything is evenly coated. Optional: Add paprika & drizzle lemon juice & mix. I like the added lemony taste.

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Lay the potatoes on your baking sheet in a single layer & bake for 35-45 minutes until tender.

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Easy, fast & healthy. That’s the way I like my food.

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ENJOY!

Garlic Dill Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Garlic Dill Mashed Potatoes by Me

Ingredients:
6 medium sized Red Potatoes
5 cloves minced garlic
½ cup of milk (more if still dry)
½ stick of salted butter (more if you like it creamier)
½ cup fresh dill (washed & rough chopped)
1 teaspoon Salt (add more for taste)
1 teaspoon Pepper (add more for taste)

Wash & clean your potatoes. Use a peeler to peel the skin off. Cut the potatoes into smaller pieces. I like to cut them in half, & then cut each section into 6 pieces. Put the potatoes into a microwavable bowl & add a damp paper towel on top. Cook in the microwave for 8-10 minutes. I used the automatic Potato setting on the microwave.

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Unpeel the skin off your garlic. Using a garlic press, crush your garlic. If you don’t own a garlic press, you can finely mince your garlic.

When the potatoes are ready, use a potato masher or a fork to mash. They should mash easily. If not, then the potatoes need to be cooked longer. A fork takes forever to mash, so I would highly recommend a potato masher.

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Add the butter, milk, garlic, salt & pepper & incorporate into the potatoes. If it still feels dry, add more milk. Add the dill last & mix until incorporated.
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ENJOY!

Quinoa Sausage Chili Crockpot Recipe

Venturing into the Crock-Pot world can be exhilirating or scary. I’ve never used one before, but upon closer examination, it looks pretty easy. There’s only 4 options on the dial: 4 hr, 6 hr, 8 hr or 10 hr. I mean, how can you really go wrong, right?!? Right?!? Well, if it’s up to me, I’m sure there’s a way for me to mess things up. 😀

Hubby mentioned he ate a quinoa chicken chili recently & thought it was yummy. So I found whatever was in the fridge & pantry to make a Quinoa Sausage Chili recipe. You knew I’m going to wing it, didn’t it? That’s my motto. Find whatever is around the house & use it. I really hate having to run to the store for this & that at the very last minute. And I like using up whatever is around the house first.

So here’s my take on the recipe. Hope you guys like it. 🙂

Quinoa Sausage Chili Crockpot Recipeadapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Ingredients:

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 (16 oz) bag of black beans (soaked in warm water overnight). Canned would be better, just rinse & drain the liquid.
1 (15 oz) can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup sliced orange & red baby bell peppers
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2 cups chicken broth (more if the chili is still dry)
6 links of sausages (remove casing & break up the sausage)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 teaspoons chili powder
2-3 tablespoons Hot Sauce of your choice (I used Royal Castle Pepper Sauce from Trinidad&Tobago, my favorite!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
Optional toppings of your choice – cheese, sour cream, avocados, and tortilla strips

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Rinse the quinoa (check to see if yours need to be rinsed, mine didn’t) and then add everything into a 6 quart slow cooker. Mix everything up a bit.

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Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.

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Garnish with the optional cheese, sour cream, avocados, and tortilla strips. I didn’t have any of that, so I just made a side of Garlic Dill Mashed Potatoes. Recipe for that to follow.

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The chili came out very tasty. In the future, I would saute the sausages in a frying pan first before adding it into the crock pot.

Warning: Please make sure you don’t touch the metal side of the Crock-Pot. My arm brushed it accidentally & I ended up burning my arm a little bit. I currently have a scar & blister which makes me an unhappy & scarred Munkie.

ENJOY!

Bun-ker Vietnamese Review

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you for all those men & women who have died serving our country. Make sure to spend time with you family & loved ones.

BUN-KER Vietnamese
46-63 Metropolitan Ave.
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Hours: Tue-Wed 5 pm – 10 pm, Thu-Fri 5 pm – 11 pm, Sat 12 pm – 11 pm, Sun 12 pm – 10 pm

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Bun-ker Sign Outside

I saw a friend’s FB posting for this restaurant, so I decided to save it to my list of Restaurants to Try.

After an unsuccessful time house-hunting, we worked up an appetite. We decided to head over to Bun-ker. The location was less than ideal. It was right across from a scrap metal yard. It was probably the only restaurant we saw in the vicinity. I guess it’s good for those that work in the area, but it’s definitely not a destination I would normally venture out into.

The menu is small but they offer 4 appetizers, 5 Banh Mi (Vietnamese) sandwiches, 8 main entrée dishes, 4 sides, one dessert & some beverage. They might have specials up, but that varies from day to day, week to week.

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Bun-ker Menu

Hubby opted for the Suon Nuong Xa – grilled lemongrass pork tenderloin, fried egg & rice for $10. Hubby liked the tender pork with the char-grilled, smoky flavor & the fried egg was a nice touch. Was it spectacular? Definitely not, but it was good. Would we come back for this dish? No, especially considering I’ve learned to make the same pork tenderloin at home now with this recipe.

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Suon Nuong Xa – grilled lemongrass pork tenderloin

I opted for the Tom Thit Ram – caramelized shrimp, bacon, ginger, garlic, basil & rice for $14.50. A few past patrons have recommended this online, so I had high hopes for this dish. When you’re presented with it, it doesn’t look like much food, but when mixed with the rice, it was pretty filling. Everything on this dish was caramelized. The shrimp was juicy & succulent, the bacon had a sweet nuttiness to it, there were caramelized bits of ginger & garlic, which I don’t think I would normally eat, but I ate it all up. This dish is on the heavier side with the bacon & grease, but it was so tasty that it was worth. I would definitely eat this again.

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Tom Thit Ram – caramelized shrimp

Overall verdict, the bill including tax & tip came out to about $35. This was more expensive than our normal Vietnamese restaurants that we frequent. Bun-ker is worth a taste if you are in the neighborhood or if you are passing through, but this is definitely not a place I would go out of my way to get to (unless I start to crave the shrimp again).