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


  • 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


  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.

Rice Cake & Dumpling Soup (Manduguk)

Rice Cake & Dumpling SoupThis is a soup usually prepared for New Year’s and special occasions.  This is quick and easy to make and can be prepared in less than thirty minutes.  Great for cold days and we love it when we’re feeling under the weather.  Mandu is Korean for dumplings.  We haven’t mastered making our own dumplings but that is on the Cooking Bucket List.  This recipe uses vegetable dumplings that you can find in the frozen food aisle in any Asian specialty store along with the rice cakes.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
10 min. 15 min Easy 4


  • 2 C  rice cakes
  • 15 pieces of dumplings
  • 6 0z.  beef (chopped in small chunks)
  • 6 C  water
  • 1 tsp  soy sauce
  • 1 TBS  garlic (minced)
  • 2-3 green onions (chopped)
  • 1  small onion (chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 seaweed sheets


  1. In a large pot, add beef, garlic and soy sauce and cook until the beef browns.
  2. Add water, dumplings, and rice cakes.  Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk eggs.  Cut up sheets of seaweed into small long strips
  4. Add salt and pepper for flavor and then add in eggs, onions, green onions and seaweed.
  5. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes or until dumplings are done.

Gift of Giving (Experience Series Part 5)

Gift of Local

Shopping local and supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs supports the local economy too!  Many of the products and services you buy from local businesses are unique.  There are many entrepreneurs on the web that make their products such as  You find many great and creative gifts at this website, if you’re not crafty yourself.

Our town has a local nonprofit ran theater that shows independent films

Try using ThinkLocal, where you can find local businesses, restaurants and events near your city or your state.

Tomato Based Tortilla Soup

Photo by Ellie Hausman

This is not your average tortilla soup. Most recipes are chicken broth based and do not have any tomatoes at all. I enjoy this easy and cheap version just as much, mainly because it was our family’s version of tomato soup. Instead of chicken soup when we were sick, we either ate this or Green Chili Stew (coming soon to the Serving Wench). Spicy food is delicious and can clear the sinuses! I love putting all the additions on top! Every person can design their own soup and taste profile. Enjoy!

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
10 min. 35 min. Easy 8


1 large yellow onion chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium can sliced black olives

1 46 oz. bottle of Spicy Hot V8

2 ½ cups chicken broth

3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

¼ lb. thick cut bacon

6 green onions

1 avocado

Corn tortilla chips

Cheddar cheese

Sour cream


  1. Heat up large pot with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Sauté chopped onion until soft and translucent, about 5 min. Stir in minced garlic and cook for about 1 min. (Remember to not let garlic burn)
  2. Add V8, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Let come to a boil then immediately turn down to a low simmer.
  3. While the soup cooks for 15 min, cook bacon to a crisp and chop up the avocado, green onions and cilantro. Put these ingredients aside for toppings. Once bacon is cool, chop and set aside.
  4. A few minutes before serving add olives to the soup. You are done cooking!
  5. In your serving bowl lightly crush a small handful of tortilla chips and top with cheese then add the soup. Top with your choice of all the additions (don’t forget the sour cream).

White Bean and Potato Soup

Photo by Ellie Hausman

There is something so classic and comforting about a potato based soup to me. This one is unique because of the balance of sweet from the carrots and the fragrance of the dill. The vegetarian version just leaves out the bacon and is also extremely good. I hope you enjoy this simple, cheap and delicious meal as much as I do.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
10 min. 35 min. Easy 6


2 medium carrots, shredded

1 tablespoon butter

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons dill weed

1 can (15-1/2 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained

4-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sour cream

Pepper to taste

4 strips thick-cut bacon


  1. Cook bacon until slightly crispy and set aside to drain and cool
  2. In a large saucepan, sauté carrots in butter for 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add and stir in the broth, potatoes, garlic and dill while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. While waiting chop the cooled off bacon
  5. With a slotted spoon, remove half of the potatoes to a bowl; mash with a fork. Return to pan. Stir in the beans.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sour cream, bacon and pepper; add to soup. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until heated through (do not boil). 


Photo Taken by Nicole Ramos

This dish takes a bit of love and care to make, but oh so worth it in the end.  What makes a true gumbo is the file powder, which is made from sassafras leaves.  It has a distinct flavor and smells almost like eucalyptus.   It’s sometimes difficult to find in the grocery stores, but I’m so glad (but it’s also dangerous) that they opened up a Penzey’s Spice store down the street from me!!  I’ve already planned on reorganizing my kitchen to see how many new spices I could stuff in my cabinet…

Have no fear if you can’t find this seasoning.  Due to undeniable cravings and a need, no really a NEED for gumbo, I’ve made it without the file powder and it’s just as tasty.  There are many variations out there and I even have seafood gumbo recipe, but this recipe contains some chicken, Andouille sausage and shrimp for a nice mixture.  Gumbo can be served alone or with rice, but it’s amazing with the Green Chili Cheese Cornbread!

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
25 min. 2 ½ hrs. Intermediate 6-8


  • 3 lg.      boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 TBS   Cajun seasoning
  • ¼  C     vegetable oil
  • 1 lb.      andouille sausage
  • ½  C     all-purpose flour
  • 5 TBS   butter or margarine
  • 1 lg.      onion, chopped
  • 8 clv.    garlic minced
  • 1          green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • ¼ C      Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ C      parsley (coarsely chopped) plus some for garnish
  • 4 C       water
  • 5          beef bouillon cubes
  • 1          (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
  • 4          green onions, sliced, white and green parts
  • ½ lb.     jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
  • 1-2 tsp  Filé powder


  1. Chop up the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery, set aside in small bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Season and then brown chicken on both sides and remove (about 3 min. on each side). Add the sausage and brown for 3 min., and then remove.
  3. Lower the heat to medium.  Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
  4. Slice up sausage and chicken.
  5. Return the pot to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure to cover the vegetables in the roux and then add Worcestershire sauce, a little more Cajun seasoning to taste and the parsley.
  6. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly, until the bouillon is dissolved.
  7. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
  8. Add the stewed tomatoes, stir and at that time cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp, some more chopped parsley and filé powder.  Add enough filé to thicken and flavor to your preference.
  9. I recommend that you keep the filé powder near the guests, so they may thicken their gumbo to their preference also.