Sunday, May 29, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. Ya'll know what Secret Recipe Club is and how it works. All the members make another blogger's recipe (in secret) and reveal on a particular day. Normally we split into 3 groups, but sometimes we do special weeks where you can get matched with folks from other groups. This month has 5 Mondays so we get to have an extra fun themed reveal day. Since today is Memorial Day, we were all charged with making something you could bring to a picnic or BBQ.

This week, I had the pleasure of browsing Adventures in All Things Food by Andrea. She has a great blog with plenty of recipes and crafts that fit in with her wonderful farm life. I wanted to go with something a little different for this week so I opted to make her Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. I absolutely love rhubarb and I saw it at the store for the first time this season. As much as I like traditional bbq or grilled items, this sounded far more delicious and something totally different to bring to my friend's potluck.

Thanks Andrea for this wonderful recipe!


  • 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 5 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Mix together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice and cornstarch in a large bowl. Place into a large baking dish
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Quickly cut in butter and spread topping over fruit
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until lightly browned and bubbly. Enjoy plain or with ice cream or really, any way you'd like. 

One Year Ago Dutch Baby
Two Years Ago Orange Olive Oil Cake
Three Years Ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years Ago: Kaleidoscope Cookies

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Jian Dui (Red Bean Stuffed Sesame Balls)

One of my husband's favorite things whenever we go to dim sum is the sesame balls that end the meal. I always preferred the egg tarts to end the meal, bu this is his favorite. That's one of the things I miss most about California...the dim sum (and the Mexican food). Ever since I moved to the East Coast, I miss little things from back home like this. We tried getting dim sum here one time and we arrived at 11:30am on Sunday and the restaurant wasn't even half full. That's how we knew it wasn't going to be good. If you don't have to arrive by 1030 to wait half an hour for your table (and you're so hungry that you go to the Russian bakery across the street) then it isn't a real legit Sunday morning. At least, this is how we always did it when we went to dim sum. I used this Recipe and it was absolutely fantastic. Just how I remembered

I'm going to miss Virginia when we leave in about a month, but we're also in for our next great adventure. I can't wait to be close to our families, close to a place that really feels like home, close to our Cal Bears and close to all the foods I've missed. It will be good to get home.

Until then, you can all make some Sesame Red Bean Balls.

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet glutinous rice flour
  • 70 grams sugar
  • 100 mL water (more as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • red bean paste
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • oil for frying
  1. In a small bowl, mix together 2 large Tbsp of the rice flour with 10 mL of your water to form a smooth, stiff dough. Drop dough in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, moving as needed. Remove to a bowl of cold water to cool
  2. In a different bowl, mix together remaining rice flour, sugar, baking powder and water. Break up the pre-cooked dough into small pieces and mix that in as well, kneading until everything comes together in a smooth mass. You can add more flour or water as needed.
  3. Divide dough into 20 pieces. Fill each piece with 1 tsp red bean paste, roll into balls and set aside.
  4. Dip each ball in fresh water and roll in sesame seeds. 
  5. Heat oil to 300 degrees Fahrenheit in a small deep pot. Deep fry sesame balls until well browned on all sides. Remove and let drain on paper towels.
One year ago: Dutch Baby
Two Years Ago Orange Olive Oil Cake
Three Years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years ago: Kaleidoscope Cookies

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Swedish meatballs

I've always loved Swedish meatballs as a great main dish with potatoes (as seen here) or as a fun party appetizer. I never liked spaghetti and meatballs when i was growing up, but perhaps that's just because I only had bad quality meatballs that were always dry and spongy.

These meatballs aren't dry at all. They are very moist, delicate and easy to make. They're better than the ones at IKEA (although I do love the IKEA meatballs for how cheap they are... and the cinnamon rolls too). They are perfect with a little veloute and some lingonberry jam (though if you can't find lingonberry, a tart cranberry sauce or cherry sauce will work too).

This recipe was adapted from Serious Eats, because when I have very little reference on how to make something, I feel like they are an amazing jumping off point. That's how I always got a great recipe for ultra crispy roast potatoes, but I will save that for another post.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork shoulder
  • 3 slices soft wheat bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, minced (half raw and half sauteed)
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, nutmeg and allspices
  • 3 Tbps unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a few drops of fish sauce
  • roasted potatoes and lingonberry jam for serving
  1. Mix bread with milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes until bread is well soaked
  2. Sautee half a minced onion in a little butter until soft. Leave the other half raw.
  3. Add onion, bread, eggs, meat, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice to a bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cook a small amount of the meat to adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Shape meatballs and fly until well browned on all sides. Finish in the oven if needed.
  5. In a large skillet, melt butter and cook flour in it until it smells nutty. While whisking, add chicken stock and simmer until chickened. Add a splash of fish sauce and vinegar just to add depth.
  6. Toss meatballs in sauce and serve with jam and potatoes.
One year ago: Kiwi Sorbet
Three Years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years ago: Whole Wheat Spinach Bread

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Chicken and Pumpkin Chili

It's Secret Recipe time of the month again. Secret Recipe Club is always my favorite time of the month. As you all know, Secret Recipe Club is a great group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal it on the same day. This week its group C's turn. We also have a bunch of wonderful new people in Group C since group D is on temporary hiatus. I had the pleasure to read the blog of one of our new Group C members.

You all know April over at Angels Homestead. If I remember correctly, she used to be the leader of SRC. She lives with her husband on a three acre homestead in Indiana. It sounds so beautiful and pastoral and oh so different than life as I know it. I would love a week to walk in her shoes and see a different side of things. I love my city life, but sometimes I feel the pull of a country life begin to grow.

April has a bunch of great recipes on her blog, including allergy friendly ones. I was in love with her vanilla wafer recipe for homemade banana pudding and I was 100% sure that I would make the Pan Fried Hominy and pair it with pork chops and okra. I was sure it would happen...and then it rained for 2 weeks straight. Two weeks at 50 degrees with not even a ray of sunlight. After one week of rain, I knew I needed something else and I thought her Turkey Pumpkin Chili would certainly do the trick.

This was delicious and totally different. The pumpkin was understated and it was the perfect spice level. Just top it with a little sour cream or pepperjack cheese and it's absolutely perfect. Normally, I make chili from dry beans, but the use of canned beans makes this a wonderful weeknight meal that comes together in less than an hour. I changed things up a little by using chicken breast instead of turkey (because it was on sale) and fresh roasted chilis instead of canned, but the spirit is the same.

Thanks again April for this wonderful recipe!

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 lb fresh anaheim chilis, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cans navy beans, rinsed
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • sour cream and cheese for serving
  1. Poach chicken breasts in chicken stock until cooked through. Remove, pull chicken and set aside. Roast chilis over a fire, peel, deseed and chop. Set aside.
  2. Sautee onion and garlic in a little oil with spices until fragrant and soft. Add pumpkin, chicken stock, beans and chilis. Simmer for 20 minutes to bring flavors together. Add chicken and simmer 15 more minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Serve chili with sour cream and cheese.
Two Years Ago: Sparkling Lemon Limeade
Three Years Ago: One Pan Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago: Shrimp Scampi

Monday, May 9, 2016

Blackened Tilapia Tacos

Fish tacos have got to be one of my favorite "Mexican" foods even though baja fish tacos (or especially the cajun blackened fish tacos) are about as tex-mex as you get. But these are super delicious and make a pretty light dinner. They don't feel heavy like Mexican food normally feels, most likely due to the lack of cheese and the presence of a great vinegar based coleslaw. If you make the cajun spice mix well in advance (this makes almost a whole cup of spice mix, so you'll have it for a while) you can throw this recipe together in a pinch. The spice mix is also great for a bunch of other more traditional cajun/creole recipes like gumbo or jambalaya. 

Since we'll be moving back to California at the end of the summer, I've been trying to expand my repertoire of southern dishes so I can bring them home with me. It's taken me a while, but I've learned to love collard greens and (never thought I'd say this) grits while I've lived in Virginia. Damn, I am certainly going to miss good shrimp, grits, greens and bbq when I move back. I even like okra now. I never thought I'd see the day when that would happen.

I'm not normally a fan of Emeril and his recipes, but I must admit, this amended version of his bayou blast is really on the best spice mixes out there.

Ingredients for Cajun Spice Mix
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dry thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • dried lemon or orange zest (or add a little fresh to whatever you are using it on)
Ingredients for Fish Tacos
  • Tilapia or other firm what fish 
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Any vinegar based coleslaw
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • mayonnaise
  • Cajun spice mix
  1. Generously rub the fish fillets with cajun spice mix.
  2. Cook with neutral oil in a pan until well blackened on both sides, finishing in the oven if necessary for thicker fillets
  3. Meanwhile, chop one chipotle chili and mix with 1/4 -1/2 cup mayonnaise (depending on your spice preference). 
  4. Build fish tacos with tortillas, chipotle mayonnaise, fish and coleslaw. Serve with rice and beans if desired

One Year Ago Rocky Road Brownies
Two Years Ago Beet and Goat Cheese Ravioli
Three Years Ago Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years Ago Shrimp Scampi

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Barbacoa Beef Tamales

Happy Cinco de Mayo all. Lets try to celebrate with something a little more authentic than queso and chips, but just as tasty. These tamales are absolutely fantastic. Tamales are always a lot of work, so it's best to make them 30 or 40 at a time. They freeze really well and reheat in 2 minutes in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel.

The filling of these tamales can be any juicy braised meat. I used a barbacoa braised beef in the style of everyone's favorite e coli inducing restaurant chain. It's great to make this beef one night, have it for tacos or burritos and then make the leftovers into tamales. I'm normally not a fan of Mexican style tamales because they tend to be dry (I enjoy El Salvadorian style tamales much more...I will post a recipe for that at a later time). I used the Rick Bayless recipe for tamal dough and it is wonderful.

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef Recipe
  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped small.
  • 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce
  1. Sear the meat on all sides in a large pan with a little oil and set aide.
  2. Transfer all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred with forks, mix with sauce and serve. 
  • 3 1/2 cups masa flour
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups meat filling
  • corn husks (at least 30 that are 6 inches wide. double up if they are smaller)
Directions for Tamal Dough
  1. Soak corn husks in hot water for at least half an hour until soft and pliable.
  2. Reconstitute masa flour with water. In a large bowl, mix shortening with salt and slowly add the reconstituted masa while mixing. 
  3. Add one cup of broth while mixing and continue to mix until it's light and fluffy. If you drop a dollop of dough in water it should float.
  4. Add more broth as necessary until mixture is the texture of light cake batter (but not runny). Refrigerate for one hour and re-beat again until same light texture is reached
  5. Lay out a corn husk and spread a few tablespoons of dough on the husk in a 4 inch square. Spread a little meat in the middle and bring the long sides of the wrapper together to encase the meat in the dough. Fold up the bottom of the husk and tie with a string to keep everything together. 
  6. Steam upright in a closed pot for about an hour to an hour and a half until the husk pulls away from the dough. Serve with slaw and salsa and hotsauce and all sorts of delicious things. 

Three Years Ago: One Pan Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago: Shrimp Scampi

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