Family Traditions

The time I’ve spent in the kitchen these past years is ever-evolving.  I’ve cooked Paleo dishes (inspiration to this blog), Asian dishes (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese), vegetarian dishes, Vegan dishes… I enjoy it all.  The funny thing is that  I actually never enjoyed cooking while growing up.  I liked helping out here and there, but left most of the cooking up to mom (she even packed my lunch for work when I was living at home and working after college…).  One of my favorite childhood memories is making wontons with my dad.  It didn’t happen too often, but when it did, it was really exciting and I always loved helping out.  My dad would mix the meat filling and we’d all gather around the small wooden table in the kitchen, grab a spoon, and start wrapping the wontons!  We had to make enough for dinner for the family and always made extra batches to freeze.

I was at H-Mart the other weekend with my dad and came across the wonton wrappers.  This immediately triggered the memory of making these together with dad.  I tossed the wonton wrappers to my cart and gathered additional ingredients for the wontons.  I made them for dinner that night and made an extra batch to freeze (just like what my parents would do).  Bjorn and I enjoyed them, but the true test will be what my parents think.  I’m planning to make the frozen batch for my parents when they come over next time.

Wontons

Makes approximately 50 wontons

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 10 medium shrimps, peeled and deveined, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 (5 oz.) can of sliced water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and diced
  • 1 tablespoon, sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon, oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon, soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon, salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon, sugar

Other:

  • 1 (16 oz.) pack of wonton wrappers
  • 6 cups, chicken broth
  • 1 scallion stalk, chopped
  1. For the filling, add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.
  2. To make the wontons, lay the wonton wrapper in front of you, so it resembles a diamond shape.  Using a small spoon, scoop about a teaspoon of the filling and place in the middle of the wonton wrapper.  Fold the top corner to the bottom corner to make a triangle.  Press firmly around the filling to seal the wonton.  Fold left and right sides downward – the final product will sort of resemble a nun and her hat, haha (see photo).IMG_6499
  3. In a large pot, over medium high heat, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add wontons in (about 10 at a time) and cook each batch for about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve as wonton soup or over noodles.  Add chopped scallion for garnish.

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Herb Garden Dreamin’

I love fresh herbs.  One of my goals this summer is to start a small herb and vegetable garden.  It’s going to be a learning experience for sure… I can work it in the kitchen, but not so much in the garden.  I can’t even keep my bamboo plants alive and those do not even require watering.  Surprisingly, Bjorn has the green thumb.  A few summers ago, he planted basil, tomatoes, and green peppers! It was wonderful.

The key to keeping rosemary nice and fresh is to wash it, wrap it in a damp paper towel, and store in an airtight bag.  The rosemary that I bought two weeks ago is still amazingly green and vibrant!

This meal took me about 45 minutes to prepare (including the mashed cauliflower), but less than 5 minutes to consume.  Yes, it was really that good.

Honey and Rosemary Glazed Pork Chops

Serves 4

  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Mix honey, rosemary, and olive oil in a bowl.  Brush generously onto pork chops.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium to high heat, cook each pork chop for 5-6 minutes on each side.
  3. Serve with your favorite side dish (obviously mine is mashed cauliflower).

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Crock Pot Love – Part 2

Last night’s dinner is today’s … breakfast?

Yep, you heard me right.  Not leftovers for lunch or dinner, but leftovers for breakfast.  Typically, we think a big breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and butter.  Oh, and a nice tall glass of O.J.  Don’t get me wrong; I love those types of meals, but am a bigger fan of  a healthy and protein filled breakfast.  Please also put a hold on the high fructose corn syrup (24 grams of sugar in 8 oz of O.J.!!!!).

Today’s breakfast was last night’s crock pot dish.  A day later, this crock pot dish is much tastier, juicier, more flavorful.  After I cut up the pork last night, I placed it back in the sauce from the Crock Pot and it’s been sitting in there ever since, soaking up the fantastic flavors.

Heated this baby up in the microwave, fried an egg, and topped with slices of buttery avocado.  Had this with a cup of Jasmine tea and I’m ready to start my Sunday!

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Photo below captures one of the best loose leaf teas from Teavana and my favorite – The Perfect TeaMaker!  You place the leaves inside, add boiling water, and let steep for a few minutes.  When done, place the apparatus on top of a mug and the tea will flow right into the mug!

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Crock Pot Love

Middle of January in New England.  Temperatures hitting the single digits all week.   A long down jacket with fur-lined hood has become my best friend and main accessory.  Winter has officially arrived.  And thus, my relationship with the crock pot has been rekindled.

The concept of the crock pot is amazing.  You prep all of the stuff before you step out for the day, leave it on for several hours, and come home to a wonderful surprise – the whole house is filled with a fantastic aroma and you have a delicious meal awaiting.

This pork crock pot dish has a little bit of everything; the salty chicken broth, sweet craisins, tangy balsamic vinegar, and savory pork make for an excellent meal for those cold winter nights.

Pork Tenderloin with Craisins

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Organic pork tenderloin (approximately 2.5 lbs)
  • 1.5 cups of Craisins
  • 1 can of chicken broth (14 oz)
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  1. Season the pork tenderloin with sea salt and black pepper.  In a large skillet over high heat, drizzle olive oil and sear the pork tenderloin.  This helps to seal in the juices and the flavors.DSC02213
  2. Place pork tenderloin into crock pot.  Add chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and Craisins.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
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Dust off that slow cooker!

I love the fall.  It’s my favorite time of year.  It would amazing if we could move somewhere where the weather is like this 365 days a year… That would be perfection.

With the crisp Autumn weather comes a specific craving for a warm and comforting dinner after a long day of work.  Nothing says warm and comforting better than a fantastic meal cooked in the slow cooker.  This recipe features some of my favorite tools in the kitchen – a crock pot and a mandoline.  You don’t necessarily need the mandoline for this recipe, but the crock pot is a must!

And also, the best thing about a slow cooker is that dinner is ready when you get home.  The aromas that fill the house when you come home from work are just heavenly.

Slow cooked pork tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork loin (boneless)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (this is where my mandoline came in handy)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 14 oz of chicken stock (or any other stock of your choice)
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

1.  Trim any excess fat on the pork loin.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.

2.  In a skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle with olive oil and sear the meat on all sides so that it becomes a nice golden brown color.  Remove from skillet and place in slow cooker.  Searing the meat before placing it in the slow cooker allows it to retain the flavors.  Also, it gives the pork a nice golden brown color that you can’t get if you just place the raw pork loin in the slow cooker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Using the same skillet, drizzle olive oil and add in garlic, onions, chili powder, and cumin.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

4.  Add the apple cider vinegar.  Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Add the stock to the skillet.  Mix well.  Remove from heat and pour contents over pork loin in the slow cooker.

6.  Add the can of diced tomatoes to the slow cooker.  Add the bay leaves and season with sea salt and pepper.  Give everything a good stir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.

8.  When serving, discard the bay leaves and shred the pork with a fork.  Serve alone or atop Cauliflower rice.

A love for basil, sundried tomatoes, and stoneware

As the days of summer were coming to an end, I made sure to pick a bunch of fresh basil from my mom’s garden.  I love the combination of basil and sundried tomatoes, so decided to make this delicious Italian inspired stuffed pork chop.  Since I had to bake these pork chops, I decided to throw some sliced squash in the pan to roast to complete the dish.

I also used my beloved Pampered Chef stoneware baking pan.  I LOVE STONEWARE!!! Every chef should own this fabulous piece of cookware.  You only wash stoneware with water – no soap!  You want the pan to get really seasoned from all of its use.  Mine is getting there…. slowly, but surely.  I can’t wait till it’s nice and brown and dirty 😉

Stuffed Pork Chops
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops (boneless)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 squash, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. In a skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil and saute onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil leaves, mushrooms and tomato paste.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the other ingredients are tender; approximately 6 minutes or so.  Set aside the “stuffing” to cool. (Note that you don’t have to use the exact amounts I’ve listed above – a chef should always feel free to play around with the ingredients based on personal preference)
  2. Drizzle olive oil on the pork chops and season both sides with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (F).
  4. Once the stuffing ingredients have cooled, whisk in the egg.  It’s important that the stuffing has cooled because otherwise, the egg will cook as you whisk into the mixture (we don’t want this to happen).
  5. Scoop the stuffing onto half of the pork chop.  Fold the pork chop in half and use toothpicks so that the stuffing stays in.
  6. Place stuffed pork chops into the pan.  Surround with sliced squash.  You do not need to add any olive oil or seasoning to the squash; the juices from the pork chops will drip into the pan and will provide an awesome flavor.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pork chops are fully cooked.

Cauliflower “rice” obsession

I was truly amazed at how well the pork fried “rice” turned out.  Since I had the ingredients, I created a really simple dish – very little time and so simple to make – and well, just check out the photo yourself….. it tasted FANTASTIC.

Grilled pork chops with yolk-y goodness

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cauliflower head
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 pork chop
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 egg

1.  Prepare cauliflower rice.  See previous post for recipe.

2.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, add your olive oil, onions, garlic, and ginger.  Saute for about 3 minutes.

3.  Add in the pork chop and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes on each side (you can be to the judge of the timing based on the thickness of your pork chop)

4.  Remove pork chop (and onions, garlic, ginger) from the skillet.

5.  Turn your temperature down to medium.  Add a touch of olive oil and cook your egg over easy (you want the yolk to be runny).

6.  Place the “rice” on a plate, top with the pork chop, and finish off with the egg on top.

Cauliflower “rice”… Say what?

No grains on the Paleo diet.  This means…. no rice.  I’m Chinese.  How can you take rice away from me??  The answer is… you can’t.  And that’s one of the many reasons why it’s a semi Paleo kind of life.  I have white or brown rice probably once a week (usually on the weekends).  But during the week, I’ve found this amazing substitute for rice…. Cauliflower rice.  This recipe will change the way you look at rice.  Who would’ve thought that cauliflower could be a substitute for rice!

Did you also know that cauliflower is a superfood?  It’s packed with tons of antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber – plus it’s low in calories.  Some articles have mentioned it’s powers to fight cancer, too!  So think about it – Jasmine rice (which lacks a lot of important nutrients) or cauliflower “rice” (which is filled with tons of good stuff for your bod)?

Bjorn gives this – “Not bad!”  (This is a true compliment coming from a man that can eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)

Pork Fried “Rice”

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Half a head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 2 pork chops, chopped (Note: you can substitute this with any meat of your choice… beef, chicken, duck. Not just limited to pork)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 eggs, scrambled

1.  Steam or boil the cauliflower until tender (about 15 minutes).  Use a fork to check to ensure that the cauliflower does not get too mushy.

2.  While the cauliflower is cooking, put your skillet on medium-high and add olive oil, onions, garlic, and ginger.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the chopped up pieces of pork chop to the skillet.  Make sure you give it a good stir so that it picks up on the onion, garlic, and ginger flavors.  Add in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.

4.  Whisk the eggs and add into the mix, stir so it becomes scrambled.

5.  Once the cauliflower is done, drain the cauliflower and throw into a blender or food processor and chop until it reaches a rice like consistency (think cous cous).

6.  Add the rice like cauliflower into the skillet and mix all of the ingredients together.

7.  Sprinkle the scallions on top and enjoy!