Kimchi Chigae (Kimchi Stew)

Photo by The Serving Wench

Photo by The Serving Wench

After watching Despicable Me 2 (watch it!), I wanted, ever so badly, to have minions.  I mean, who wouldn’t really?  If I had minions to help me in all aspects of my life, then I could sit around watching episodes of Archer and plot what dishes I could conjure up.  Well…I might do that already.  Okay honestly, I probably would be playing with my minions and showing them off at work.  So, in essence it would probably be counterproductive.  I still feel like Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 telling Pepper Potts, “I want one.”

With life’s many demands, I finally got to have a weekend off and get in the kitchen.  To those of you that have time to be in the kitchen everyday or at least three times a week, I envy you wholeheartedly.  This dish is quick and truly simple to make.  Which is helpful in my crazy schedule.  This recipe calls for pork belly, but bacon will do.  I love spiciness!  So you can make this as spicy as you want by adding more kimchi juice as you prefer.

I’ll be honest, I don’t much about the history of kimchi but I can describe it in three words: smelly, delicious and can go with anything!  Okay that last part wasn’t a word ,than let’s say a phrase, but seriously I could put kimchi on ANYTHING?  Kimchi on burger, kimchi on sandwiches, kimchi on pizza…  So, I’m sure you get the idea.  I heart kimchi.  If you haven’t tried it, please do.  It may not be for everyone, but you might be just missing out.

*You can make this dish vegetarian by leaving out the meat altogether*

Prep Time: Cooking Time: Difficulty: Servings:
10 min 20 min Easy 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 oz. pork belly or bacon
  • 1-2 C   chopped kimchi
  • 1 tsp   red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS  red pepper paste (gochuchang)
  • 1          white onion
  • 2          green onion stalks
  • 2 TBS  minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a package of tofu
  • ¼ C     kimchi juice
  • 2 C      water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice up the onions, cut the green onions in one-inch length and cut up tofu in squares.
  2. In a pot, add in pork belly, garlic and white onions on medium-high heat.  Cook until pork is halfway done.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except the green onions and salt and pepper).  Bring to a boil on high (For approximately 10 min).
  4. Reduce heat to medium heat; add in green onions and salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Cook for at least five to ten minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of rice or over rice.

Chicken Florentine Casserole

picture by the Serving Wench

picture by the Serving Wench

WARNING:  This recipe is not healthy.  There is no way around it.  I could have tried healthier alternatives but in all my research for vintage 60’s dishes, it seems that butter and heavy cream was big.  Go big, or go home, right?  Well, in my continued excitement of the pending premiere of Mad Men, I had to be true what they served (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  Casseroles seemed to have been big in the sixties for entertaining and taking over to friend’s homes.  I’m not big on casseroles and neither was my mom, so this was definitely an experience for me.

This dish was fairly easy to make, but took many steps.  I poured through several recipes and finally decided on one.  I modified it quite a bit.  I love garlic, so I definitely increased the amount used, I wanted to add rice to this dish, but ate it all.  So plan B was to add pasta.  I love to use fresh herbs when I can, but you can substitute dried basil and thyme as the original recipe requested.  It was definitely delicious and look to learning other casserole dishes.

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min. 1 hour Intermediate 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pkgs.  frozen spinach (thawed & drained)
  • ½ stick butter (unsalted)
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • ¼ C (plus 1 TBS) flour
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth*
  • 2 C penne pasta
  • 1 pkg of prosciutto (8 slices)
  • shaved parmesan
  • Salt & pepper

*chicken broth can be substituted for white wine.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season and brown chicken.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray non-stick spray on a casserole pan.  Pour pasta in the dish, covering the bottom.
  3. In a large sauté pan, over medium to medium low heat, add in 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of garlic, basil and thyme.  Stir constantly.
  4. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir well.  Add in spinach and ¼ cup of heavy cream.  Stir well and cook until spinach becomes bright green (about six minutes).
  5. Top the cooked spinach on top of the pasta, covering the whole pan.  Top the spinach with the chicken pieces.
  6. In the same sauté pan, add the rest of the garlic, the rest of the butter and the ¼ cup of flour.  Blend until smooth.
  7. Slowly add in the chicken broth and the rest of the heavy cream.  Stir constantly until sauce thickens (about 15 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. As the sauce is simmering, thin slice the prosciutto.  Add these pieces to the sauce.  Mix well and pour the sauce over the whole dish.  Be sure to cover the pasta as well. Sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe was adapted and modified from southernfood.about.com.

Cracked Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin with a Pineapple Chipotle Glaze

Picture by the Serving Wench

Picture by the Serving Wench

I will never be an artist. Ever.  My paintings or drawings are just glorified stick figures.  I get lucky with that one perfect photo, but that is after a million takes.  However, cooking is where I can just be me.  I zone out in the kitchen.  I love to entertain and feed others because there is that small part of me that I’m sharing with you.  There is a certain intimacy that comes from food.  There are times where an artist loses inspiration and for writer’s it’s called “writer’s block”.  What do they call it when a cook has lost his/hers touch?  I don’t have a name for it but it pretty much means get your butt back in the kitchen.  I’ve poured over many other food blogs, magazines, Pinterest boards, tweets and I envied the time and dedication they had.  Finally, it was like a light switched hit me (yes hit me, okay maybe I ran into it).  In a single moment I had remembered why I loved cooking so much and why baking is therapeutic to me.  Amongst the daily grind and the focusing so much on school and work that I forgot (essentially) about me.

Do what you love and never lose sight of who you are.  For when you do, everything you do thereafter, has no meaning or purpose.  Yes, it was a pretty gnarly run in with the light switch, to lead to an existential moment.  Inspiration and ideas starting flowing and so my kitchen is constantly a mess, my phone notepad app is filled with random ideas.  I’m sure some of the things I’ve thought are not original and that somewhere in this blogosphere there are replications of my ideas but hey, food is art.  The only thing that matters is how it makes you feel in the end.

Today’s post consists of a pork tenderloin seasoned with a cracked peppercorn blend.  You can find several different cracked peppercorn blends at your local grocery store. For this recipe, I chose a blend that contained onions, garlic, salt and peppercorn.  I’m fascinated by the fusion of sweet and spicy.  I thought a pineapple-chipotle glaze would be a good complement to pork.

Prep Time: Cooking Time: Difficulty: Serving Size:
5 min 1 hour Easy 4

INGREDIENT:

  • 1          1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 TBS  cracked peppercorn seasoning
  • 1 can   (8 oz.) diced pineapples
  • 1 C      packed brown sugar
  • ½  tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp  ground ginger
  • ½-1 tsp  ground chipotle peppers

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.  Season the pork tenderloin well and generously.  Cook the tenderloin between 35-50 minutes.  *Depending on the directions of the package for the tenderloin, cooking times and temperature will vary.
  2. To make glaze, combine all ingredients into a blender and liquefy.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (or until it thickens.)
  4. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  5. When pork is done, slice it up and serve on a plate and drizzle glaze on top.

Asian Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Cantaloupe Salad

IMG_0929Originally I found a version of this recipe in a magazine, and what really drew my interest was how easy it looked. For years I had been under the impression that cooking game hens was a lengthy process. I was delighted to discover that game hens can be found frozen in most grocery stores, usually for a cheap price. These glazed hens are delicious and can be easily made on a weeknight. I do recommend having butchers twine on hand in the kitchen, as well as purchasing your hens the day before so that they can defrost in the fridge overnight. Please enjoy these spicy, tangy, sweet and delicious hens!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
25 min 40 min-60 min Intermediate 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cornish game hens, roughly 1 ½ lbs each, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (Sambal Oelek brand can be found in most grocery stores)
  • ½ small cantaloupe
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cucumber
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 500°. Thoroughly rinse off hens in cold water then pat dry. Season the hens all over with salt and pepper then truss with butchers twine. (If you need help trussing there are some great videos available on YouTube)
  2. Place hens in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. While the hens are roasting, whisk the chili sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt together. Set half on this chili mixture aside in a bowl to use on the salad.
  4. Baste hens with the remaining chili mixture, and then continue to cook until the hens register at 160° on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, which should take 20-30 more minutes.
  5. While hens cook, peel and thinly slice shallot and the cantaloupe.  Peel, seed and thinly slice the cucumber. Combine the cucumber, cantaloupe, shallot and toss with the remaining half of the chili mixture dressing.
  6. Once the hens are done, use kitchen shears to cut the twine and serve the hens with the salad, drizzle any juices from the roasting pan over the hens and salad as a finishing touch.
  7. Enjoy!

Pot Roast

Pot RoastThis dish reminds us of the those days playing with our neighborhood friends until sundown.  Our moms yelling at us to come in for dinner.  We’re tired but gleeful of the amazing adventures that we just encountered and on the kitchen table was our restoration.  Our rejuvenation.  Back in those days, life had boundless opportunities and endless possibilities.  Pot roast is just another one of those timeless and classic home-cooked meals that reminds us that food feeds much more than the body…it feeds the soul.

This recipe uses a crock-pot for easy cooking.  Make it in the morning and it’ll be ready for you by the time you get home from work.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 8 hours Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 lb.  chuck roast
  • 3  russet potatoes (skinned and cubed)
  • 1 pkg.  baby carrots
  • 1 lg.  onion (sliced wegdes)
  • ½ C  red wine
  • 1 TBS  cornstarch
  • 2 tsp  house seasoning or steak seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 bouillon cubes
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 TBS  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS  vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pour a glass of wine and sip. (to test the flavor *wink, wink*)
  2. Cut up onions and potatoes and set it aside in a small bowl.
  3. In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, heat the oil.  Season the chuck roast on both sides with garlic. (Approximately 3-5 minutes on each side)
  4. In crockpot, stir in half of the vegetables (onions, carrots and potatoes) with a ¼ C of wine, cornstarch and a little bit of salt and pepper.
  5. Place the seared pot roast atop the vegetables. Pour on top the remaining juices and garlic over the roast and vegetables.
  6. Add in bay leaves, sprinkle Worcestershire sauce across the roast and the bouillon cubes.
  7. Top with rest of the vegetables and pour the remaining ¼ cup of wine on top.
  8. Set your crockpot on low and cook for 8 hours.
  9. Pour yourself another glass of wine and wait for your house to fill with a great aroma.

Gift of Giving (Home/Family Series Part 1)

Hostess with the Mostest

Do you have a family member that just loves to entertain?  Make her an unique serving platter.  Check this out from one our favorite DIY blogs Wit & Whistle.  Buy a white porcelain serving platter, some chalkboard paint and bake it.  This gives a simple but useful dish that any hostess can label what they’re serving.

Make your own coasters using tile pieces from Home Depot or Lowes.  You can custom make these to any host/hostess’ interests!

For more DIY gift ideas for the home, check out Wit & Whistle or our DIY board on Pinterest.

Sonoran Dogs

Photo Taken by: Nicole Ramos

Sonoran dogs are a bit of a treat here in the southwest.   I have to have a million napkins around because I tend to make a mess.  There’s just no way of getting around it when this dog is chock full of onions, tomatoes and pinto beans.  This is definitely the southwestern version of a chili dogs and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make.  My favorite way to eat these bad boys is with roasted jalapeños and cucumbers on the side.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
10 min. 10 min. Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg.    all beef hots
  • 8 strips  bacon
  • 8              bolillo rolls
  • 1 C          Mexican Queso Blanco or Cotijo
  • 2              tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 lg.        onion (chopped)
  •                 Ketchup
  •                 Mustard
  •                 Crema or thinned out mayo (thin with lemon juice)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. On the stove, heat up the pan to medium heat.  Wrap bacon slice completely around the hot dog.  Cook until the bacon is crispy, which is about 8 minutes.
  2. Slice bolillo rolls (if not available in your area, you can use hot dog buns) and sprinkle cheese inside the bun.  Place in the bacon-wrapped hotdog and top with tomatoes, onions and condiments.

You’re not limited to just onions and tomatoes though.  Feel free to add whatever you feel will make it taste good.  If I’m in the mood, I’ll add a little sliced avocado or eat my dogs with grilled green onions.

Homemade Chili

 

Photo by Nicole Ramos

Texas style chili can be a great way to use up ingredients from the fridge and pantry. It is a comforting dish that always reminds me of elementary school. This is because we had “Frito Pies” for lunch sometimes. If you don’t know what a “Frito Pie” is, then you are missing out! Basically it is chili layered over Frito’s (or corn chips) topped with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and onions. I recommend trying it next time you make chili! I like to make this chili recipe from scratch (i.e. with dried beans) if I have the time, and if not I don’t have the time canned beans are ok too.  For those who haven’t had experience using dried beans there are a few different ways to prepare them. I like to soak the beans that I’m using overnight, covered in the fridge, and then cook them for about 1 ½  hour in salted water with a few whole cloves of garlic before I put them into the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. There are so many methods for preparing dried beans though that I recommend just trying a few out to find which you like best.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
40 min 4 hours Intermediate 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. of dried beans (Kidney, black or pinto) soaked and cooked

1 ½ lb. Ground beef

3 cloves Garlic

1 Yellow onion diced

1 Red bell pepper diced

2 Stalks celery diced

2 Carrots diced

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 can Sliced black olives

1 28oz can Diced tomatoes

4 Tomatoes diced

2 tsp. Tomato paste

Chili Spice mix:

4 Tbsp. Chili powder

3 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Cayenne pepper

1 tsp. Paprika

2 tsp. Oregano

Directions:

  1. In a large pan sauté onions with olive oil until transparent. Add ground beef and season with salt and 1 Tbsp. of the Chili spice mix. When the beef is browned on the outside add the celery, carrots, bell pepper and tomato paste. Stir until combined then cover and let cook over low heat for 20 min, stirring occasionally.
  2. While that cooks, add the tomatoes, garlic and beans to the crock pot to start warming up.
  3. Add the meat and the olives to the crock pot and combine. Add enough water to cover everything as well as 1 Tbsp. of the Chili spice mix.
  4. Let cook on high heat for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Keep the salt and spice mix nearby to season more as needed.
  5. Enjoy!