Weekly Winner: Pretty(dang) Perfect Pork – With Pasta!

chinese porkMy love of pork knows no bounds.  I’m also pretty dang fond of noodles in any way, shape or form.  Put them together with a zingy little sauce and keep it all relatively low-calorie and healthy so that I can feel good about eating it, and I’ve found myself a “Winner, Winner, Piggy Dinner”!

Chinese Pork and Noodles comes from Food Network Magazine and has renewed my love with pork tenderloin.  I always think it’s the “safe” choice so I tend to look elsewhere – pork butt, chops, ribs, bacon.  Too often the tenderloin can be dry and not very flavorful.  The spiced hoisin marinade and glaze certainly takes care of that problem and the fact that it is the tenderloin makes it a cinch to prep and cook. I am officially back on the “tenderloin bandwagon”.

Chinese Pork and Noodles

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 heads baby bok choy (about 12 ounces), leaves separated
  • 8 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Sliced scallions, for topping


Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 475 degrees F. Set a wire rack on a foil-lined baking sheet; set aside. Mix the honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Cut the pork in half crosswise and prick all over with a fork; rub with 2 tablespoons of the honey-hoisin marinade, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place on the wire rack.

Roast the pork until the surface looks dry, about 10 minutes. Remove 3 more tablespoons of the marinade to a separate bowl and brush all over the pork (save the remaining marinade for topping). Return to the oven and cook until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F, 16 to 18 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bok choy and boil until crisp-tender, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Drain thoroughly, then toss with the sesame oil and season with salt.

Slice the pork. Divide the noodles among shallow bowls. Top with the pork and bok choy. Drizzle with the reserved honey-hoisin marinade and top with scallions.


Weekly Winner: Potpie Problem No More

IMG_0359I have a serious “love-hate” relationship with Chicken Pot Pie. On one hand, I adore it — the flaky crust, the comfort factor, the creamy luscious filling.  On the other hand — I hate making it!  I’m not a pastry person so I’m always looking for a pre-made option.  It’s also very difficult to portion out and making single portions with individual crusts is beyond tedious.  What to do, what to do???  The answer?  Make a soup out of it and top it with a cheesy, fluffy biscuit.  Problem solved.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Potpie Soup has made it possible for me to have chicken potpie whenever I want!  The fact that its made in the slow-cooker is a bonus inside of a bonus!  The recipe comes from PureWow.  All I can tell you is, this is a game-changer.  I’m not sure this recipe could be any easier and it is definitely amazingly tasty.  The website said it best.  “PureWow”.  My chicken potpie problem no longer exists.  Full disclosure:  I did make two substitutions:  I don’t see why in the world I’d use canned corn and peas if I have frozen.  I think frozen is way better. Therefore I simply used the equivalent amount of frozen.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Potpie Soup

Serves 8


1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

1 pint cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 sweet onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

One 15-ounce can peas, drained 15 oz. frozen peas

One 15-ounce can corn, drained 15 oz. frozen corn

½ cup heavy cream

⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

Biscuit Topping

One 16-ounce package refrigerated biscuits

1 large egg

1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh chives


1. Make the Potpie: In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine the chicken breast, mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery, flour and garlic cloves. Add the broth, bay leaf and thyme.

2. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook until the chicken is tender, about 7 hours.

3. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas, corn and heavy cream. Cook the soup until warmed through, about 30 minutes.

4. Make the Biscuit Topping: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Separate the biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water; brush an even layer over each biscuit. Top each biscuit with shredded cheese.

6. Bake until the biscuit is fully baked and the cheese is golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then garnish with chives.

7. To serve, ladle the potpie into bowls and top each with chives and a biscuit.

Weekly Winner: Corny Carbonara with a Kick

If I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite pasta dish (which would be like choosing your favorite child, or favorite cheese – yeah, impossible!) I would say pasta carbonara would have to be it.  If I’m at a restaurant that has pasta carbonara on the menu, there is a very good chance I’m going to order it. I am not, however, a purist when it comes to carbonara.  I have no problems with tinkering as long as the basic components are there: string pasta (preferably bucatini) egg yolk, bacon or pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmesan.

So when I came across this recipe for Spicy Corn Carbonara on Pure Wow, I was hooked.  This is so good.  Not only good, downright luscious.  I imagine it will only be better this summer when the local fresh corn is at its peak.  Regardless, I will be making this — a lot.  While some homes have “house wines” or “house salads”… this will be my new “house pasta”  Bon Appetito!

Spicy Corn Carbonara

Serves 6 (so they say, however in our house it was more like 4 servings)


4 ears corn

2 strips bacon, diced

1 red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti or linguini, but bucatini is best)

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Chives for serving


  1. Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer kernels to a bowl and firmly scrape the knife against the cob to release any liquid.  Discard the cobs.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and it’s very crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Season with the salt and red pepper flakes and reserve over low heat.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.  Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  5. Stir the pasta water into the corn mixture.  Raise heat to medium and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.  Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Add to the skillet and toss well to coat.  Add the Parmesan, plenty of black pepper and reserved bacon and toss to combine.  Garnish with the chives.


Weekly Winner: Whatever You Call It – It’s Tasty!

What constitutes a salad? I know there are “entrée” salads and “side” salads and “grain” salads. But what, exactly makes said dish a “salad”? These are the deep thoughts and nagging questions that keep me up at night. (OK, actually nothing keeps me up at night – I sleep like the dead. But it makes for a good post so just go with it.). The dictionary tells me that it has to be a cold dish to be a salad, but if that’s the case, what about warm potato salad? Is it the dressing that makes a plate or bowl of ingredients into a salad? I honestly don’t know. And you know what? I don’t care, either. When I can compose a dish this drop-dead gorgeous, interesting, and healthy and…. oh yeah, crazy delicious… then you can call it whatever you want.

According to Cooking Light Magazine, this is Chicken with Broccolini and Farro-Beet Salad. According to me, however, it was a spectacular dinner. I did make just a couple changes to the recipe. First of all I had regular broccoli on hand rather than Broccolini so I used that. Secondly, I did not buy raw beets and microwave them — I bought already cooked beets and used that — ain’t nobody got time to cook and peel beets if you don’t need to! Also the recipe calls for pre-cooked farro. Really people, just cook your own, it takes no time at all and is far tastier. Hey, but other than that I followed this recipe exactly!

Chicken with Broccolini (or broccoli) and Farro-Beet Salad

Serves 4


2/3 cup water

2/3 cup plus 1-1/2 tsp cider vinegar, divided

1 cup vertically sliced red onion

4 small red beets, trimmed (11 oz) [or one package pre-cooked red beets]

3/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1-1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided

4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided

12 oz broccolini, trimmed [or regular broccoli]

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves

1 (8.5 oz) pkg precooked farro (such as Simply Balanced) [or cook your own!]

2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced

Chopped fresh dill


  1. Bring 2/3 cup water and 2/3 cup vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add onion; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. While onion stands, pierce beets a few times with a knife; wrap in a large piece of microwave-safe parchment paper. Microwave at high until tender, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly; rub off skins with a paper towel. Cut beets into wedges. [if using pre-cooked beets, simply open package and cut into wedges — see? Isn’t that much easier? You can use this time to cook your own farro which only takes about 15 minutes]
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Combine garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt; rub over chicken. Add 1 Tbsp oil to pan; swirl. Add chicken; cook until done, 6 minutes per side. Place on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into slices
  4. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add broccolini, and cook until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  5. Place garlic in a mini food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add parsley; pulse until chopped. Add remaining 5 Tbsp oil, remaining 1-1/2 tsp vinegar, and 1/2 tsp salt; process until well blended.
  6. Heat farro according to package directions. Combine beet wedges, farro, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Divide farro mixture and broccolini evenly among 4 plates; top evenly with onion, orange slices, and chicken. Drizzle each serving with about 2 Tbsp parsley sauce; if desired, sprinkle with dill.

Weekly Winner: Entering the Weird and Wonderful World of Dal

The more Indian food I try, the more I learn about it which makes me realize that I love Indian food, which makes me want to try more Indian food which puts me in this exhausting, never-ending, delicious cycle of discovery. Which brings me to this week’s entry Spiced Dal with Fluffy Rice and Salted Yogurt.

I have heard of dal but honestly was not entirely sure what it was. Come to find out it is both the dish itself and the ingredients that go into it. Dal refers to any pulses (lentils, beans, etc) that are simmered with spices and other goodies into luscious goodness. That final dish is also called Dal. I found this recipe in Bon Appetit and the look and the sound of the dish immediately intrigued me.  But then I became confused because it was featured in an article entitled “Healthy-ish”. Really? This is about as healthy as I eat — no “ish” about it. There is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about in this recipe and its filling enough you really can’t eat too much of it.

But its weird. Make no mistake, this is not your usual Tuesday lunch. The flavors shouldn’t go together but they do. You have the earthy, spiced (but not spicy) dal itself (in this case yellow split-peas) with the sweet, pickly red onions and topped with salted plain yogurt. Seriously weird. Seriously wonderful. This, darling, was a darn delicious dal.

Spiced Dal with Fluffy Rice and Salted Yogurt

Serves 4


2 Tbsp ghee, virgin coconut oil, or vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1-1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 lime

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds, rinsed

Pinch of sugar

1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

Cooked Jasmine or basmati rice (for serving)

Freshly ground black pepper


  • Heat Ghee in a medium pot over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, just to take the edge off the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates, about 1 minute.
  • Add split peas, coriander, turmeric, cardamom and the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, tunic split peas are very tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 12-14 minutes. Season with salt. Cover with a lid and keep dal warm over low heat while you make the toppings.
  • Finely grate zest from lime into a small bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice into bowl (you’ll have about 2 Tbsp). Add red onion, sugar, and a large pinch of salt and toss, squeezing onion with your hands to help it soften quickly.
  • Mix yogurt with 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl; season with salt.
  • Serve dal over rice drizzled with salty yogurt and topped with onion and pepper.

Weekly Winner: My New Thing to Put in a Pita – Turkish Kofte

This will not win any photographic awards, but dang, these little patties are tasty! I am a fan of meatballs – I don’t care what country they come from or really, what they’re made out of (within reason, of course). If it’s a ball of meat cooked until crispy on the outside and tender and tasty on the inside, I’m there. Give those meatballs some sort of luscious sauce and put it in a sandwich and you’ve got a fan for life here. That’s how I feel about these Turkish Meatballs (Kofte).

The recipe comes from Milk Street Kitchen and without a doubt, they are the moistest, most flavorful meatballs I’ve ever made. That is due, in no small part, to the pita and yogurt that are mixed into the meatballs, and the herbs that are heated in olive oil before being added to the mix. All of this combines to make a quick, fun, exotic dinner.

Turkish Meatballs (Kofte)

Serves 6


3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp dried oregano

8-inch pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces) plus extra for serving

1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1/4 cup water

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves (1 oz) finely chopped

1-1/2 lbs 90 percent lean ground beef

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper


  • In a small bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp olive oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the torn pita, yogurt and water, then use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil-shallot mixture, the mint, beef, salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly mix. Divide into 12 portions and roll each into a smooth ball. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and use a metal spatula to press into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cook over medium, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs register 140F and are well browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

Lime-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1-1/2 cups


1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

3 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.

Weekly Winner: Way Beyond Basic Basil Beef

Yes, I’m still obsessed with my new cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die by Jet Tila. This is the very first thing I made out of the book but the second one I’ve written about. I thought starting with Spicy Basil Beef would be the perfect place to start because it’s a dish I’m familiar with and I had all the necessary ingredients.

I have probably made four or five versions of this dish before, but no more. I have now found the definitive recipe. I can now throw all of those away. While the other versions were all perfectly fine and some were even darn tasty, this new riff blows all others out of the water.

This dish is quick, easy and ultimately satisfying. You can also temper the spice level by simply altering the amount of chili paste and Thai chiles (or serrano) that you use.

Spicy Basil Beef (Pad Krapow)

Serves 4


3 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

2 Tbsp oyster sauce

4 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp chili paste in soybean oil

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-3 serrano or Thai chilies, sliced

3 cups lean ground beef

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, sliced

1-1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, picked off the stem

1/2 tsp white pepper


  • Combine the sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and chili paste in a small bowl and reserve.
  • Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When wisps of white smoke appear, add the garlic and chilies. Cook them until the garlic starts to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the ground beef, flatten against the pan and cook undisturbed for about 45 seconds. The beef will start to brown; turn over once, press flat against the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Break up the meat into gravel-sized pieces and drain any excess liquid.
  • Stir in the onion and bell pepper and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the reserved sauce to the wok and combine the ingredients thoroughly for about 1 minute. Add the Thai basil and cook until the beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are slightly tender. Finish with white pepper.

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