Thank you for visiting my website. Truly, I do appreciate it. My free time and stress reliever is cooking for my family, friends, and everyone in between. The recipes you find on this site are those that I have either created, been part of, or those that I simply enjoy and have made my own in some shape, form, or other.
My focus has always been on comfort food, because at the end of a long work day, you want something comforting. I currently am the father of three children, and married to a wonderful wife of thirteen years. There is nothing fancy with these recipes, just simple, and I will admit, not so simple ingredients, and a simple kitchen corner I can call my own.
I learned early on that cooking and bringing family together was very important. After all, this notion of being together at dinner time was instilled early on by my parents. There are many memories of being in the kitchen with my parents, watching them cook, or preparing meals, or those home cooked smells while waiting for dinner. My parents who worked full-time, always had home cooked meals during the week, with the exception of Friday nights where we would enjoy a Wisconsin fish fry, and often on late afternoons on Sunday, where we would order Ann's pizza.
I tend to cook by making things up. As a home cook, I think you have to take chances, and add or subtract ingredients that make up a dish, and make them your own. Remember to taste, and taste often. If a dish has potential, try it again, and make it your own.
You should also note that I do not count calories, or break down recipes into grams of anything. To me, that's a bit boring. My philosophy is that if the food is good, eat it, and eat it in moderation. Life is just too short not to enjoy good food.
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I love coming up with new recipes, and this past weekend was one of those times. I particularly enjoy family dinners on Sundays. There is something about that day when we can all come together and enjoy a meal together. Granted it is extremely important for me to have everyone come together every day for dinner, but I realize that is not always possible with work schedules. So as I have been trying to eat more healthy throughout the week, meaning for vegetables, I decided to come up with this lightly sauteed Thai curry asparagus.
I recently fell in love with this curry paste when I made Khao Poon and there was something about the sweetness that I fell in love with.
4 oz can sweet Thai Noodle paste
1/4 cup of water
1 bundle of asparagus, washed and trimmed
3 kaffir lime leaves, optional
1 Thai chili, lightly bruised, optional
salt to taste
Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the Thai noodle paste and give that a good stir, cooking for a couple of minutes to waken all of the paste.
Next add in the water, kaffir lime leaves, salt, and chili. Give another good stir. Add in the asparagus, and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until your desired tenderness. I still like my asparagus with just a slight crunch. Next, just plate and serve.
The end result is a perfect vegetable dish with that sweet curry flavor. Serve alongside with some rice for a perfect side dish. I hope you enjoy!
Hands down one of my favorite soups is probably Khao Poon. It is a Norther Thai or Lao soup that is not only super easy to make, but it makes a bunch and screams comfort. It is not a spicy soup, however you can make this as spicy as you want, not only with the broth, but accompanying it with Thai chili peppers. I wanted to make this one for my wife this past weekend because it reminded me when I was laid up with cancer over the summer and my friend Matt stopped by with a batch of Khao Poon that his wife had made. Not only talk about a great friend, but a really comforting bowl of soup during a not so comforting time.
Now my wife is hooked on this awesome soup as well. It’s an easy sell, trust me.
The cool thing about making this batch is when I was shopping for some ingredients at a local grocery store, is the owner had asked me what I was cooking. I said ‘Khao Poon’, and he was a bit startled and said ‘You know how to make that?’. He asked me about what ingredients I was using and suggested a couple of different things, one being banana blossom. I was intrigued to say the least as it is something I have never used before. So while walking out of the Asian grocery store, I was on my way to making a great batch of Khao Poon.
1 cup of banana blossom, very thinly sliced, optional
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 cups bamboo shoots, roughly chopped
1 whole lime
Thai chilies, optional
Shredded green cabbage
1 cup bean sprouts, per serving
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Khao Poon rice noodles, cooked al dente
Start by adding your chicken to a stock pot and cover entirely with cold water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Skim off any scum that floats to the top and discard. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. This will not only be the chicken that we let cool, shred, and pound a bit, but what is left will be the stock that we use for our soup. Win, win.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the stock, and let it completely cool. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin, and then start shredding the chicken. Once the chicken is shredded, take about half of it and add it to your mortar. Take your pestle and begin pounding the chicken. A few good moments of pounding is all you should need.
Ok, now onto the next step.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the oil and let it come to temperature. Next toss in the shallots, garlic, and thinly sliced galangal. Let this cook for a minute or so, then add in both of the curry pastes. Give this a good stir, and don’t be alarmed if this stuff starts popping at you.
Cook the paste, stirring along the way, for about 2-3 minutes, then add in all of the chicken. Give this another good stir, incorporating all of the paste into the chicken. Next add in the coconut milk. Give another good stir, and then pour all of this into the chicken stock. Stir well, bring the stock back onto medium heat, and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat by half, and then add in the banana blossom, bamboo shoots, and fish sauce. Give another good stir and cook for about 45 minutes.
During this time, make your noodles. Cook them for about 8 minutes, then strain them and rinse them in cold water. Once the water is strained, and the noodles are cooled, take a handful and wind them up into bundles. Repeat until all noodles are in nice bundles.
Have your cabbage, limes, chilies, and herbs ready. Raise the heat on the soup and bring back to a boil. Take a couple of bundles of noodles, or just one, and place in the bottom of a large soup bowl.
Add some bean sprouts, and cabbage, and give a good squeeze of lime. Ladle in a generous amount of khao poon, and top with come bird eye chili. Get your spoon and chop sticks ready! Face down, grab some noodles, slurp, and repeat. It’s all about texture (and flavor) in this bite. You get the crunch of the cabbage and sprouts, the tenderness of the chicken, and my gosh that coconut curry flavor! If you are looking for a flavor bomb, and a comforting soup year round, then this is the one. Hope you enjoy!
There are not many ideal times to cook and blog during my work week, primarily because by the time I am done with preparing and cooking for the family, it is dark and the photos are just not that great. I usually get over that fairly quickly and accept that is just how it goes down during the work week. This is one of those photos that are not at all very good, but let me tell you the flavor of this Tawainese fried chicken was pretty amazing. It was one of those quiet times at the table where everyone had their mouths to the fork or just crushing a sandwich loaded with this Tawainese chicken. This is fairly simple to make, and it one that can take on a marinade overnight, or simply for a hour, and then a bit of frying and boom! You have dinner.
Ingredients for the Marinade:
15-20 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
Ingredients for the sauce:
1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup dark sesame oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp corn starch
2-3 cups of canola oil
1 1/2 cups of corn starch
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 cup white pepper
Start by blending the garlic, ginger, soy sauce and wine. Blend until smooth. Add this to a sealable plastic bag or bowl, and toss in the chicken. Give it a good massage and this marinade at least one hour, but preferably longer.
When the chicken is done marinading, strain the marinade and get rid of rid. To another bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch. Add in the chicken pieces and get them nicely coated. Let that sit for a bit while he heat up the oil.
Get the oil in a fry pot and bring this up to about 375 degrees.
Once the oil comes to temperature, add in bits of chicken being careful not to overcrowd, and depending on how big or small you cut these, they are only going to take a few minutes. Cook them until nice, golden and crispy, then remove with a spider or slotted spoon and onto a paper towel lined plate. Season immediately with some of the white pepper, as well as some salt.
Repeat until the chicken is done cooking.
The last step before digging in is to make sure your basil is dry because you are going to fry it. For those who never have taken this step, it can be somewhat overwhelming because it will splatter and look like it might overflow, but only for a couple of seconds. Remove the basil after the sizzling has stopped and remove them with a slotted spoon.
Mix the sauce, then add this to a large skillet on medium heat. Stir to let the sauce thicken, then add in the chicken and lightly coat with the sauce.
Now it is time to plate. Add the chicken to a bowl or plate (sauce and all), shower with the shallots and top with the fried basil leaves.
I frequent a local Mexican Taqueria probably twice a week. Please don’t judge me. There is something about the vibe, the people, and the food that completes my day. I often kick myself when I leave from these lunch spots because I typically default to tacos. I love tacos, and again, please don’t judge me. But while I wait for my tacos, which doesn’t take long at all, I gaze at what others are ordering, and then I question my order. One particular week I was just stunned by this bowl of soup that a couple of locals ordered and I had to question my waitress as to what they ordered. As I always do, I make every attempt to use the Mexican language that I took for about 10 years of my life, and found out that it was a Mexican shrimp and fish soup.
Heck, I did not even pay attention to my tacos during my lunch. I was paying attention to the soup that these locals were slurping, and eating. They were pulling out whole, cooked, shrimp while at the same time slurping on this delicious broth and taking down tender vegetables. I was all over that stuff and decided to make this Mexican shrimp and fish soup for my weekly soup.
This soup reminds me of comfort and simplicity, and it is loaded with this awesome seafood flavor. It’s a true delight.
1 tbsp canola oil
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 whole onion, diced
6 Mexican pulla peppers, seeds and stems removed
14 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes, diced
6 cups of vegetable stock
3 whole carrots, cleaned and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, and cut into bite-sized chunks
Start by heating the oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add in the onions and sweat those down for about 7 minutes, stirring along the way. Toss in the garlic and whole chilies. Give that another good stir, and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the fire roasted tomatoes, and about a cup of stock. Stir, then add this mixture to a blender.
Blend until smooth, and strain the mixture back into the soup pot. This will remove any of the chilies that did not blend.
Add in the carrots, potatoes, and fish fillets. Stir, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let this cook until the potatoes are slightly tender.
During this time, make the rice if you are going that route. I always see the locals at the Taqueria eating their soup with some rice, and warm tortillas. They know what’s up so that is the route that I take.
Once the potatoes are tender, add in the whole shrimp, shells and head. Yep, the whole thing. If you are not into that then by all means just use cleaned shrimp. I like the experience and flavor so I keep them whole, but clean them of their dirty vein before throwing them in.
Let those shrimp poach for a few minutes. They don’t take long. Then get your ladle out and get that soup into a bowl. Make sure you get everything. The fish will fall apart so don’t worry. Shower some fresh cilantro and lime juice on top, and serve alongside some hot Mexican rice, and get a few tortillas ready as well. The result is a soup so comforting on a cool day. It’s really a perfect seafood soup and one that I was glad to gaze at during my lunch last week. I hope you enjoy!