SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE

Sometimes I’m super lazy and do the unthinkable…make something NOT completely from scratch. I know…it’s embarrassing. Like, how could I? It’s like why did I even bother attending culinary school if I am NOT cooking everything from scratch? I wish I could say it was because I was busy running my empire today but unfortunately, I managed to waste my day shopping with my mother instead. The good news…I scored a cool vintage tea set today and some cool vintage fabric. The bad news…husband will be coming home to a dinner made with jarred spaghetti sauce. The good news…when you throw wine and lots of vegetables in your pre-made sauce and simmer it for about an hour, it’ll actually taste gourmet and the husband won’t even know. What he doesn’t know, won’t kill him. I know…bad wife strikes again. xoxo.

Today’s ingredients. I know…I’ve got a jar of Prego here and yes, the spaghetti noodles aren’t made from scratch!

The aromatics. I also like sneaking in vegetables into my meals although there’s no need to “sneak” in vegetables since the husband is constantly bugging me to put more vegetables into our diet.

This meal couldn’t be easier. You saute the ground beef first and then add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic.

You then add the wine and pasta sauce and just cook this for at least an hour. Your spaghetti will then taste like it’s a bit fancier than the fact that it’s just a jar of spaghetti sauce. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Source: Lo Huynh (4 servings)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound ground beef
tt sea salt
tt freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ each yellow onion, small dice
1 each carrot, peeled and smaill dice
1 stalk celery rib, small dice
1 cup merlot/cabernet savignon
24 ounces your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce
¼ cup water

16 ounces spaghetti, cooked al dente

Garnishes:
1 tablespoon parsley, finely minced
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
1. In a dutch oven, heat the extra virgin olive oil over high heat.
2. Add the ground beef, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until brown.
3. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the onions are translucent. This should take about five minutes.
4. Add the wine and reduce until au sec, which means cook until the red wine liquid has reduced to basically nothingness or dissipates.
5. Add the jarred spaghetti sauce to the pot. Add 1/4 cup of water to the jar and swirl it around to get the last bits of sauce from the jar and pour this into the pot.
6. Cover the sauce with a lid and let this simmer over low heat for about an hour.
7. Serve with al dente spaghetti and garnish with chopped parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

HAWAIIAN STYLE RIB EYE STEAKS

For a special occasion, I recommend making this steak. Romance the crap out of your partner with this meal. If not, make it for yourself and fall in love with yourself again. Or just make it and eat it. It’s really good!

The rib eyes!

Cook the marinade in a small sauce pan and marinate the rib eyes for a good 24 hours.

Sear the rib eyes in a nice cast iron and then finish in the oven.

Hawaiian Style Rib Eye Steaks

Source: Lo Huynh (2 servings)

Ingredients:
2 8 oz. Ribeye steaks, about 1″ thck
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet cream butter

Marinade:
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4″ medallions
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. In a saucepan, heat the pineapple juice, brown sugar, apple cider, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
2. Bring to a boil and let cool.
3. Once cool, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the marinade.
4. Place your rib eyes in a ziploc bag and add your marinade to the bag. Marinade for 24 hours.
5. Take your rib eyes and bring to room temperature by leaving it out on the counter for about 15 minutes.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a cast iron pan and let it get hot over high heat.
7. Sear your rib eyes for about 2 minutes each side, or until your rib eyes have a nice sear to it.
8. Top the rib eyes with the sweet cream butter and if you want it more well done, finish it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple minutes or until desired doneness.
9. Let the rib eyes rest for five minutes before serving.
10. Serve with a nice twice baked potato.

BANH CUON {STEAMED RICE ROLLS}

I will admit that this is a bit time consuming to make but the results are definitely worth it for me. Then again, I think cooking is a labor of love and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Also, make sure you use a good non-stick pan. The first time I made this, I used a cheap non-stick pan and the batter just stuck to the pan. I HIGHLY recommend Calphalon’s Unison SLIDE non-stick pans. I’m pretty anti non-stick pans cause the thought of the teflon scratching off freaks me out but I’m glad I just bit the bullet and purchased these Calphalon pans. It definitely made making the banh cuon a piece of cake!

Prep the garnishes.

Cook the filling.

Cook the banh cuon in a good NON-STICK pan.

Flip the banh cuon onto a cutting board and wrap it up.

Roll it up like a burrito and serve with the garnishes.

Banh Cuon {Steamed Rice Rolls}

Source: Lo Huynh (2 servings)

Ingredients:

Nuoc Mam Cham:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lime juice or white distilled vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce {Rooster/sriracha brand}

Garnishes:
½ bunch cilantro , chopped
¼ pound Vietnamese ham, cha lua, thinly sliced into half moons
1 cup bean sprouts, blanched
1 each Persian cucumber, julienned

Hanh Phi {Fried Shallots}:
2 each shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
or
2 tablespoons pre-made fried red onion

Filling:
½ pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup wood ear fungus, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained, and chopped
¼ each yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rice Crepes:
1 package Banh cuon flour, follow directions on package
or
1 cup rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:
1. Make the nuoc mam cham by mixing all the nuoc mam cham ingredients together. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Prep the garnishes and set aside. Blanch the bean sprouts by bringing a pot of water to boil, add the bean sprouts, and then quickly remove and drain.
3. For the hanh phi {fried shallots}, thinly slice the shallots. Over medium high heat, in a small sauce pan, add the 2 tablespoons canola oil and add the sliced shallots. Cook the shallots until it is golden brown and crispy. Remove the shallots but leave about 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in the pan. Set the shallots aside.
4. In a bowl, mix all the pork filling ingredients together.
5. In the sauce pan that the shallots were fried in, over high heat, add the ground pork filling mixture and saute until the pork is brown and fully cooked. Set aside.
6. For the crepes, follow the directions on the banh cuon package. Also, use only half the package if you’re only cooking for 2 servings.
7. If you want to make the banh cuon batter from scratch, whisk the 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch, 2 1/2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon canola oil in a bowl until throughly mixed.
8. Over medium high heat, in a nonstick pan, lightly oil the pan. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter and swirl to coat the pan. Cover the pan and cook for about one minute. Once the crepe is cooked, flip it onto a cutting board. Start on your next crepe.
9. While the new crepe is cooking, add the filling to your cooked crepe and roll it up like a burrito. The rolls should be somewhat translucent.
10. Continue cooking the crepes this way until you finish the batter.
11. Serve the banh cuon by topping it with the hanh phi {fried shallots}. Garnish with cilantro, blanched bean sprouts, julienned cucumbers, and Vietnamese ham {cha lua}. Serve with the nuoc mam cham on the side.

GORGONZOLA AND BACON TWICE BAKED POTATOES

When I don’t feel like serving my steaks with mashed potatoes, I like to serve a nice twice baked potato instead. I know…cause it’s so different. Although making a twice baked potato is basically twice the work of serving mashed potatoes, but it’s so worth it!

Gorgonzola and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

Source: Lo Huynh (2 servings)

Ingredients:
1 large Russet potato
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
tt sea salt
tt freshly ground black pepper

1 slice bacon, cooked until crispy
1 tablespoon gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sweet cream butter
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

Directions:
1. Bake the Russet potato for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Let the potato cool for fifteen minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and place in a metal bowl. Set the potato skins aside.
3. Roast the garlic cloves by drizzling it with the extra virgin olive oil, seasoning it with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, wrap in foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about thirty minutes. Set aside.
4. Cook the bacon either by baking it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenehit for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s crispy or cook it over stove top until it’s crispy. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
5. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, cook the milk, 1 tablespoon sweet cream butter, rosemary, and roasted garlic cloves until the butter is melted and the milk is hot. Strain the milk mixture.
6. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of scooped potato flesh and mix.
7. Add the crumbled bacon and crumbled gorgonzola and mash everything together.
8. Stuff the potato shells with the potato mixture and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

CROCK POT CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

This is definitely one of my uber FAVORITE soups to make in the crock pot. It’s so easy yet so crazy good! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Put all the ingredients except for the cilantro into a crock pot.

Eight hours later, deliciousness ensues.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Source: Lo Huynh (6 servings)

Ingredients:
2 each bone-in chicken breasts
6 cups homemade chicken stock
½ each yellow onion, diced
1 cup frozen sweet white corn
1 each carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 each tomatoes, diced
2 each bay leaves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
tt sea salt
tt freshly ground black pepper
3 each corn tortillas, cut in half and then into 1/2 inch strips

Garnish:
1 bunch cilantro , chopped

Directions:
1. Put all the ingredients EXCEPT for the cilantro into a crock pot.
2. Cook on low for eight hours.
3. Remove the chicken breasts after eight hours, pull the meat from the bones, discard the bones, and put the meat back into the crock pot.
4. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro into the crock pot and gently stir.
5. Serve the soup with some more fresh chopped cilantro as garnish.

BRAISED PORK CHOP IN A CALIFORNIA ANAHEIM CHILE SAUCE

There’s nothing to say much about this dish except that it’s crazy delicious. I highly recommend trying this out! And like all crock pot cookery, it’s always nice to come home to a home cooked meal just waiting for you.

Make the California Anaheim Chile sauce first.

Season the pork chops.

Pan sear the pork chops before putting them in the crock pot along with the chile sauce.

Eight hours later, you get the best braised pork chops in a most delectable chile sauce.

Braised Pork Chop in a California Anaheim Chile Sauce

Source: Lo Huynh (4 servings)

Ingredients:
3 each dried Anaheim chile
5 each garlic cloves , peeled and ends cut off
1 each yellow onion
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup chicken broth
tt sea salt
tt black pepper
4 each pork chops

Directions:
1. Lightly toast the California Anaheim chiles for about 3 minutes. Once the chiles are cool, remove seeds, stem, and veins. Soak the chiles in 1/2 cup boiling water for about one hour.
2. Roast the garlic cloves and onions in an oven at 350 degrees F for about thirty minutes, or until the garlic and onions have slightly charred edges.
3. In a blender, add the California Anaheim chiles, the roasted garlic cloves, the roasted onions, tomato sauce, chicken stock, oregano, cumin powder, cinnamon powder, honey, and sea salt to taste. Blend until a smooth sauce consistency.
4. Season your pork chops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. In a pan, add olive oil until pan is hot. Sear your pork chops until you have a nice golden brown color on both sides.
6. Place your pork chops in a crockpot and pour your California Anaheim chile sauce over the pork chops. Cook on low for about eight hours.
7. Serve with Mexican rice and black refried beans.

OVEN-ROASTED CHICKEN WINGS

Sometimes when I’m seriously craving chicken wings but not in the mood to fry them cause it’ll cause a mess and I’ll have oil splattered everywhere, I’ll bake them and surprisingly, they’ll come out pretty crazy good! This is how I like to bake my chicken wings and when I make them this way, it makes me feel like they’re actually healthy for me and then I’ll eat double the amount that I probably should.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Wings

Source: Lo Huynh (2 servings)

Ingredients:
12 each chicken wings/drummettes, wash and dry
2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
pinch paprika
pinch sea salt

Buffalo Sauce:
1 tablespoon sweet cream butter
1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
sprinkle garlic powder
sprinkle freshly ground black pepper

Other Sauces:
2 tablespoons bottled Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
2 tablespoons Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce

Directions:
1. Wash and dry your chicken wings/drummettes.
2. Mix the all purpose flour with the sea salt and paprika in a bowl and coat your chicken pieces in this flour mixture.
3. After dredging the chicken with the flour mixture, dust off the excess flour and lay the chicken pieces on a sheet pan lined with foil that has been brushed with some canola oil so the chicken wings do not stick to the foil.
4. Bake your your chicken wings at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. Remember to turn the chicken pieces halfway through cooking time so it bakes evenly.
5. Once the chicken pieces have a nice golden color, it’s done!
6. Toss the chicken wings/drummettes with the sauces of your choice. I personally like to coat 4 pieces with the buffalo sauce, 4 pieces with the teriyaki sauce, and 4 pieces with the sweet chili sauce.
7. Serve with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing, cut up carrots and celery, and coleslaw.

Buffalo Sauce:
In a small sauce pan, heat up the butter over medium low heat until it’s melted. Add the garlic powder, black pepper, and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Heat until sauce is hot and turn off heat. Coat your wings with this glorious sauce!

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Whenever I have some time, I like to make my own chicken stock. It obviously tastes so much better than the canned stuff and I like knowing exactly what goes into my broth. I like to add sugar when I make my stock but feel free to leave it out. The broth is pretty flavorful on it’s own. You can also get away with cooking this broth for two hours but I prefer to cook it for as long as I can, so I tend to let it simmer for about four hours.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Source: Lo Huynh (1 gallon)

Ingredients:
3 each chicken carcasses
18 cups water
2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut in half
2 bay leaves
6 whole black peppercorns
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1/2 bunch parsley stems
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, optional

Directions:
1. Put all the ingredients into a large stock pot.
2. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum.
3. Semi-cover the stock pot and simmer for 4 hours.
4. Strain the broth.
5. The broth can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple days and stored in the freezer for a couple months.

THE MOST PERFECT ANNIVERSARY

My three year wedding anniversary is tomorrow so this morning, I asked the husband if he wanted to hit Bottega Louie or Chaya Brasserie to celebrate or just have spaghetti at home.

He says, “Spaghetti.” And then follows that up with, “I don’t care what we do. As long as I’m spending time with you.”

I puked. Ugggghh…I’m envisioning my perfect anniversary dinner date to consist of grabbing Carl’s Jr. or hot dogs and watching Damages. xoxo.

*********

I broke down and will be taking the husband to Chaya Brasserie tonight. And by taking him, I chose the restaurant and he pays the bill. That’s married life for you, or at least my married life. I guess I felt bad when he said to me this morning, “We should go somewhere nice vs. just having spaghetti at home.” I responded, “Does money grow on trees?”

Best part of my morning was when I spotted this ugly wingback chair on a street corner and told the husband, “OMG…I need to pull this car around and grab that chair. It’s perfect.”

He looks in that direction and was like, “Uh…there’s a homeless guy next to that chair. I think it belongs to him.” I say, “Who cares? That chair will be mine.”

Husband just had this super scared look on his face. And I was like, “I was JUST kidding! I’m not gonna fight with a homeless guy over a dirty chair.”

Husband was like, “Knowing you, i wouldn’t be surprised nor put it past you if you did actually want to take that chair home.” And then he laughed and breathed a sigh of relief.

So I guess that’s my anniversary gift to the husband today…no taking home dirty things I find on the street.

My second anniversary gift to him will be not nagging at him today. I know, sometimes I’m the best wife ever. Uggggghh. xoxo.

*********

You know what’s a bad idea? When you decide last minute to hit a nice restaurant for your anniversary so you didn’t even bother dressing up today. So I’m wearing a pair of a pair of jeans that has six big holes in them…I think I can even see my underwear in one of my holes.

My hair is disheveled because I didn’t brush it this morning and I’m wearing a vintage Kid Loco t-shirt that is cropped with the sleeves cut off and has the words HUSSY on it and of course, I pair this outfit with my moccassins.

I’m going to hit Chaya Brasserie tonight for dinner and they will say to me, “We do NOT serve the LIKES of you.”

I will then give them a dirty look cause it’ll be exactly like the time I hit some fancy dress shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and say, “You just made a BIG mistake. BIG.”

Wait. That wasn’t me. Just a scene with Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman. Ugggghhh…xoxo.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

The first thing you’ll want to do is get that butternut squash ready for roasting. Just cut it in half, drizzle it with oil, and season with salt and pepper and bake it in the oven.

Always mise en place. Basically, get all your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking.

Always use homemade chicken broth. Your soup will taste so much better!

Cook the bacon and after it gets nice and crispy, set it aside to garnish your soup with it, if you’d like or do what I did. I ate it.

Saute your mirepoix {onions, celery, carrots, and roasted garlic} in the bacon fat.

Throw in the rest of your ingredients and let it simmer away!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Chicken Soup

Source: Lo Huynh (4 servings)

Ingredients:
¼ pound butternut squash, roasted and cut into 1″ cubes
4 cloves garlic, roasted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 strips bacon, cut into 2 inch pieces
¼ each yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 each carrot, peeled and diced
1 each tomato, diced
½ bunch kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme, remove leaves from stem
1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
½ cup ditalini, cooked al dente
1 tablespoon fresh basil
tt sea salt
tt freshly ground black pepper
tt parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions:
1. Roast the butternut squash and garlic cloves by drizzling with the extra virgin olive oil and seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground pepper at 425 degrees fahrenheit. Roast the butternut squash for about 30 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender. Roast the garlic cloves for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it looks golden.
2. Cut the butternut squash into 1″ cubes and set aside.
3. In a dutch oven, fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove the bacon from the dutch oven and set aside. The bacon can be used to garnish the soup.
4. In the dutch oven, saute the onions, celery, carrots, and roasted garlic in the bacon fat for a couple minutes, or until the onions get soft.
5. Add the tomatoes and thyme leaves and cook this for about a minute.
6. Add the chicken stock to this along with the diced chicken, roasted butternut squash, and kale.
7. Let this simmer over low heat for about fifteen minutes.
8. Add the cooked ditalini and fresh basil to the soup and cook for another five minutes.
9. Adjust the seasonings with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
10. Serve the soup with the bacon if you’d like and garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and more freshly cracked black pepper.