Weekly Winner – Not only 5-spice, but definitely 5-star pork

5Spice PorkWhat’s better than one type of pork product in a dish?  Yep, two!!  Ground pork AND bacon … sign me up!  I’ve loved this dish for years and when I made it last night, I was sure I must have dubbed it a “Weekly Winner” already… but apparently not.  Chinese Egg Noodles with Five-Spice Pork is quick, satisfying, and pork-a-licious.  It is the perfect dish to curl up on the couch with on a cold night, which is exactly what happened last night.  I have yet to find authentic fresh Chinese-style egg noodles but have used fresh egg fettucine each time and love it.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Chinese Egg Noodles with Five-Spice Pork

Serves 4


1/3 cup salted peanuts
1/4 lb. bacon (3 to 4 thick slices), cut in thin strips
2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
3/4 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 lb. fresh Chinese-style egg noodles


Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl. Put the bacon, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the food processor and pulse to finely chop.

Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon mixture and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon until the bacon renders most of its fat and darkens somewhat, about 4 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high and add the pork, five-spice powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses all of its raw color, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion whites, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar. Keep warm over low heat.

Cook the noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and put in a large bowl; toss in the pork mixture. Portion among 4 bowls, sprinkle with the peanuts and scallion greens, and serve.


Weekly Winner – A Bowl of Luscious, Stinky Goodness

onion soupThis week’s Weekly Winner is not a recipe for people who do not like onions.  I’m not talking about a little onions, I’m talking about onions in all variations – leeks, shallots, big ol’ Vidalias … you get the idea.  It is also not for those of you who are looking for a quick soup to whip up on a moment’s notice.  This recipe is not hard, but it takes time — a lot of time.

Having said all that, if you have the time, and you are not afraid of our smelly friend Allium Cepa (onion) then by all means, forge ahead with this recipe.  It is Creamy Carmelized Onion Soup and I adore it.  It is luxurious, smooth as silk, soul-satisfyingly rich and the perfect thing to make on a day like yesterday, when you are waiting for the first big storm of the winter season to hit.  Alas, we did not get any snow as predicted, but I was comforted by this wonderful soup.  Be warned, your entire house will smell like cooked onions for days.  Mine does.  I don’t mind.  It’s worth it.    I got the recipe from Martha Stewart Living years ago.

Creamy Caramelized Onion Soup

Serves 6-8


6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 pounds (3 to 4) leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed well and coarsely chopped

5 garlic, thinly sliced

7 large shallots, about 14 ounces, thinly sliced

2 large Vidalia onions, about 20 ounces, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

3/4 cup dry white vermouth

4 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock

Coarse salt

1 cup heavy cream


Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, shallots, and half of the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are deep golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Add vermouth, stock, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Let cool. Puree onion mixture in batches in a blender until smooth, about 3 minutes per batch. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cover, and set aside.

Return onion puree to saucepan. Stir in cream. Reheat over medium heat, stirring, until heated through but not boiling. Season with salt, if desired. Serve, topped with caramelized onions.

Weekly Winner: The Perfect Risotto

photoRisotto.  Creamy, luscious, warm, soothing, and gooey.  Really, what’s not to like?  And I do love risotto and always thought I was a bit of a purist about it until I discovered this recipe years ago.  I still make it regularly and I still consider it my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m still willing to try any and most recipes out there for risotto — but I always seem to come back to this one.  The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.

Just a note here, almost every risotto recipe says that the whole adding broth and stirring process only takes 20 minutes and that risotto can be completed in 23 minutes.  LIES!  I have never had a risotto that didn’t take at least 45 minutes — and that’s just for the rice.  It is a bit of a labor of love but really, stirring isn’t that hard and you had to open wine for the recipe, so sip, stir and savor.  It will be worth it!

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Bitter Greens


4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)

2 teaspoons sugar

8 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 cup Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice

1/3 cup white wine

2 cups arugula leaves

3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind


 1. Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sugar to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until onion is golden. Place onion mixture in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Removing casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add chopped shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Arborio rice; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in white wine; cook 45 seconds or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup hot broth; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in reserved onion, arugula, and remaining ingredients.

Weekly Winner: Bubbly, Buttery Chicken

1210p107-champagne-browned-butter-chicken-lChampagne, Butter, Bacon — need I go on?  Seriously, what else does one need for a tasty meal.  Perhaps something to put this tasty trio onto or in?  Cue this week’s winner:  Champagne Browned Butter Chicken.

There is very little you can do to chicken that I do not like.  I find the combination of chicken and wine is fabulous and while I adore coq au vin, I’m always a tad turned off by the purplish hue.  Also, I’m a big fan of the bubbly.  Never met a glass I didn’t like (as long as it is not sweet, and not bastardized by the addition of orange juice).  So get rid of the red wine and substitute Champagne in this dish and you have all the tasty goodness without the freakish color.

This yummy dish comes from Cooking Light Magazine and the absolute best part is that it only requires a cup of champagne — what you do with the rest is totally up to you!  I did make one big, important change to this recipe.  The original recipe tells you to cook the bacon, reserve the drippings to brown the chicken in — but save the bacon for another use.  Seriously??  How can adding the crisp bacon to the final dish be a bad thing?  Who actually reserves cooked bacon for another use?  The only other use I can think of is for snacking during cooking but no, I just added it to the final dish and highly recommend that you do the same.

One note on the picture.  Not sure whether to blame the blurriness of my photo on my rush to dig into the dish or the disposal of the rest of the Champagne, but decided it best to use the photo in the magazine.  Mine was close, trust me!

Champagne Browned Butter Chicken

Serves 6


2 slices center-cut bacon

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 1 3/4 pounds)

6 bone-in chicken drumsticks, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, quartered

1 pound button mushrooms, halved

1/4 cup brandy

4 shallots, halved

3/4 cup no-salt-added chicken stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

3 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

12 baby carrots with tops

1 cup Champagne

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Place 2/3 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken lightly in flour; shake off excess flour. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; swirl to coat. Add half of chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and chicken.

3. Add potatoes to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in brandy. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 30 seconds), stirring occasionally. Return chicken to pan. Add shallots and stock; bring to a boil. Place peppercorns and next 3 ingredients (through parsley) on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges; tie with butcher’s twine. Add bundle to pan. Bake, uncovered, at 300° for 15 minutes.

4. Trim carrot tops to 1-inch; scrub carrots. Add the carrots to pan. Bake an additional 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from pan; keep warm. Discard herb bundle. Place pan over medium-high heat. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until mixture reduces to 2/3 cup (about 11 minutes).

5. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add butter mixture to reduced wine mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve with chicken and vegetables. Garnish with reserved chopped bacon, fresh parsley and thyme.

Weekly Winner – Best Use of Leftover Turkey

Creamy SW Chicken SoupOK, I seriously meant to post this right after Thanksgiving as I actually made it the day after.  But, you know how things go this time of year.  So anyway, with all the extravagance and overindulgence of Thanksgiving, this soup made the perfect, cozy Friday dinner.

The recipe came from Cuisine at Home magazine and is for chicken, but hey, when life gives you an abundance of leftover turkey, you gotta make do.  Actually I think it was much richer and tastier due to the turkey than chicken would have been.  Either way, a great soup.  Definitely not for the faint of cream or the lactose intolerant among you!

Southwestern Cream of Chicken  (Uh, or… Turkey) Soup

Makes 8 cups


3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 poblano chile, seeded and diced

½ cup diced onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp hot chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

6 Tbsp flour, divided

3 cups whole milk

1 cup beer

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup dry converted white rice

3 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Lime slices for serving


Melt butter in a large pot.  Stir in bell pepper, poblano, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander.  Sweat mixture until peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in 3 Tbsp four to coat vegetables; cook 2 minutes.  Whisk in milk, beer, and broth until smooth.  Bring mixture to a simmer.  Stir in rice; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Combine cheese with remaining 3 Tbsp flour in a resealable plastic bag; toss to coat.  Add cheese to soup a handful at a time, stirring to melt completely before adding the next handful.  Add chicken (or turkey) to heat through – 3 to 5 minutes.

Garnish each serving of soup with lime slice.