chicken, chorizo and shrimp paella

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My favorite paella is a squid ink paella from Duende in Oakland, CA.  It’s so rich and heavenly!!!  I’m actually kind of obsessed with squid ink these days.  My co-worker was suggesting we do a food challenge using squid ink since we both love it so much but I don’t think I’m quite up for that yet!  But I do love some paella.  My boss has a paella pan and tells me these amazing stories about how he has paella parties… but I have yet to score an invite!  The family and I ate a great paella at a street festival this past summer and my son was sold!

It was a little chilly here in the Bay Area and I kinda wanted something warm and satisfying.  The kids are on spring break and have spent the last 4 days with my cousin who was visiting from D.C. Hubs worked from home today so there was no after school rush to get to.  I decided to make this easy home version of paella that doesn’t require a paella pan.  It might not taste like some of the restaurant paellas I’ve had but it hit the mark – we all enjoyed it.  Well, except my daughter who found it to be too spicy for her tastes….tonight.

Easy Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp Paella

adapted very slightly from iowa girl eats

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • pinch of Spanish saffron
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb chicken breasts, chopped
  • 6oz Mexican chorizo
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • dash of chili powder
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (i used peas and carrots because that’s what i had in the freezer)

Directions

  1. Bring chicken broth and saffron to a boil in a small saucepan then turn heat to low and place a lid on top to keep hot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add chicken, chorizo, and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until chorizo and chicken are cooked through, 5 minutes, breaking chorizo up as it cooks. Add garlic then saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, paprika, and chili powder then saute until tomatoes are softened, 3 minutes.
  3. Add rice and hot broth to skillet then stir to combine and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then lower heat and simmer until rice has nearly absorbed all the broth and is just slightly al dente, 13-15 minutes. Stir in shrimp and peas then place lid back on top and let skillet sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste then serve.

 

korean beef patties (동그랑땡)

IMG_2091[1]Korean food is my comfort food. It’s also my family’s comfort food but I rarely cook it at home.  When I first started cooking, I learned by watching Rachael Ray and Food Network 24-7.  At the time, there were not many resources in English for Korean food.  The ingredients were unfamiliar to me and I couldn’t even translate some of the ingredients!  Since then, a wealth of Korean cooking resources have emerged and I’ve utilized many of the recipes.  But it’s still not what comes easiest to me.  Since I rarely cook it, I also find it challenging because I feel like i have to prepare so many components when it come time to actually make it.  It’s mentally exhausting.  But on some days, I know my family would really love to sit down to some Korean food so I put aside my own issues and cook it.

When I lived in LA and my oldest was just a baby, I met a group of Korean-American moms.  We came together, shared meals, ideas, recipes and had lots of playdates.  Making friends as an adult can be challenging but I felt really blessed and lucky to find community and support with these women.  One woman, in particular, became a very good friend to me.  Our sons were close in age and got along well.  We lived fairly close to each other and we shared a love of cooking.  She was funny, beautiful, supportive and so dedicated to her family, especially her son.  There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.  And… she was an amazing cook.  Though her time on this earth was cut brutally and unfairly short, I had the honor of knowing her and she made such an impact on me in the short time we had together.  She had this way of encouraging me to try new recipes by saying “It’s so easy – you can TOTALLY do it.  You want me to show you? Want to come over and I’ll walk you through it??” I have a few recipes (which I know I’ll share here) that are staples in my kitchen because they are so delicious and because I got them from her.

This Korean beef patty recipe is one of them.  She had a blog of Korean cooking and was working on a cookbook as well.  I miss her presence in my life but think of her often, especially when I make dishes from her kitchen.  Bo, I know you are smiling down as I write these words… I think of how you must have typed your posts just as I’m doing now and it makes me smile, thinking we share something years after your passing…

Try these, they’re the closest rendition to my own grandmother’s version that I’ve ever had.

Dong Geun-ran Ddengs – Beef Cakes – (동그랑땡)

Recipe and photos c/o Korean Cuisine

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped squash
  • ½ cup chopped chives
  • 3 eggs
  • Korean pancake mix (or just plain old flour)
  • 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder

First get your beef and vegetables ready. Don’t feel limited to using these EXACT vegetables…use what you have! I’ve used mushrooms, green onions, and a lot of other stuff too before and it tastes fine.

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I used a mandolin to shred my vegetables, then I just took a knife to roughly cut it up into small bits. It makes the job a lot easier if you have a mandolin on hand.
After the vegetables are chopped and ready season it with 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder and mix it up well using your hands.

Add about 1 pound of beef and mix it well again using your hands.

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Get some flour or Korean pancake mix ready in a large bowl and scoop up 1 TB of the meat mixture at a time and using your hands try to form them into small, flat little patties.

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Coat them thoroughly in the pancake mix and set aside. I actually had to do this in two separate batches because I ended up with a lot of beef cakes. And YES, this gets very messy…which is why I only make these a few times a year.

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In another bowl, crack 3 whole eggs and mix it up really well. Dip each piece of coated beef cake into the egg mixture and then fry it on a frying pan. I found that using a spoon makes transferring the beef cakes a lot easier without breaking them apart.

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Make sure you use enough oil to cover the whole pan and then some. Let the beef cake fry on each side for at least 2 minutes. Each time you do another batch, clean off the frying pan with a wet paper towel and start off with fresh oil.

bacon and egg stuffed biscuits

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My usual weekend morning ritual is taking all the leftover veggies and meats from the week and making them into a scramble before putting them into a tortilla.  Breakfast burritos – easy! I love it. It really helps reduce food waste and each week it takes on a slightly different taste.  But my kids do get tired of it (oh, poor them) and when we have visitors staying with us, it gives me an excuse to make something different. My cousin is visiting us this week and it was the perfect reason to bust out these bacon and egg stuffed biscuits!  Thing is, I usually make 8 biscuits because that’s what is in the can. This week, I thought it might be a little short so we opened a can of crescent rolls to supplement and the consensus was that we loved the crescent roll biscuits even better!!  I’m converting to the crescent rolls from here on out.  It’s lighter and the proportion of bread to eggy filling is just right!

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Biscuits

Makes 8 stuffed biscuits

Ingredients

  •  Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 can refrigerated flaky layer biscuit dough
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 small pieces, at room temperature
  • 8 slices bacon
  • ½ Cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the bacon into ½-inch pieces. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the grease from the skillet.

Meanwhile, peel 4 biscuits in half along the layers. Place each piece in a greased muffin cup, pressing onto the bottom and up the sides of each cup.

 

Add the eggs to the skillet with the bacon grease, cook and stir over medium heat until the eggs are set. Add the cream cheese and gently stir until melted. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the bacon and Cheddar.

Spoon some of the egg mixture into each biscuit in the muffin pan. Peel the remaining 4 biscuits in half along the layers. Place each piece over the top of the egg mixture, pushing the edges down into the muffin cups.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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bbq chicken french bread pizza

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Getting kids involved in the kitchen can be a test of patience mostly for the adult.  Things that take me a few minutes will most likely be doubled or tripled if I have the kids help.   But my kids love helping in the kitchen and like many sources say, kids are more likely to eat what they help prepare.  My weekdays are a bit hectic but on some days, I have just one kid with me at home while the other one is at a practice.  I use that as an opportunity to get some rare one-on-one me with them in the kitchen. This week, my son decided to help me make these bbq chicken french bread pizzas.  He cut the bread, I cooked the chicken and he simply assembled the rest.  My daughter came in right at the tail end, just in time to sprinkle some cheese and all of a sudden it became family cooking time!

My kids started cracking eggs and chopping things with a paring knife at 5 years old.  My son’s been expressing more and more of an interest to cook after watching “Worst Cooks in America”? I’m not familiar with the show but apparently it’s made quite an impression on him! My hope is that we’ll be able to spend a lot more time together in the kitchen this summer.  This was a great weeknight meal!

BBQ Chicken French Bread Pizza

recipe from Damn Delicious

Total Time 25 minutes

Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup KRAFT Original Barbecue Sauce, divided
  • 1 (1-pound) French bread loaf, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes; set aside.
  • Place bread, cut-sides up, onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread remaining 1/4 cup BBQ sauce evenly over the bread slices; top with chicken, red onion and cheeses.
  • Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with additional BBQ sauce and cilantro, if desired.

chicken parmesan ravioli

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Happy National Ravioli Day!  I used to read a newsletter that listed national food days and I became a huge fan!  I like reading the daily food/drink to be celebrated and if it’s within my power, I celebrate it!  Our day started early, at 5am, so that my daughter could go to her dance competition.  When I woke her up, she popped her eyes open and said “Yay!”  I often look at her and wonder whose child she is!!!  No matter how excited I am for certain things, I would never say yay at 5am! She danced, we stopped to get jjajangmyun on the way home and then mama took a long nap!  When I woke up, I wanted to cook something simple and then I remembered it was national ravioli day!  Frozen ravioli? Easy! Since I was refreshed from my nap, I decided to bread some chicken and make it a chicken parm style ravioli dinner and it was ooey gooey and delicious.  The picture up there basically is why I don’t take a lot of food pictures – I like to make delicious food but it doesn’t always look so pretty on the plate!  But if it is satisfying, I don’t care so much about how it looks.  But I know sometimes you want to see the end result so there it is!  Don’t just take my word for it, try this out!

For those of you who are looking for even more of a hack, try pre-breaded frozen chicken as a topper!  When I first started to cook, just the practice of making a meal every day was enough pressure.  I often made chicken parm that way and worked my way up to making the chicken from scratch.  Wherever you are in your cooking journey, you can make it work!

Chicken Parmesan Ravioli
recipe from Cassie Craves

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into chunks
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 package frozen cheese ravioli
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
Shredded parmesan cheese
1. Place the breadcrumbs, flour, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in a plastic freezer bag. Dip the chicken chunks in egg, then add to the bag and shake to evenly coat.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Fry the chicken in batches until crisp and cooked through. Remove to a baking sheet and place in a warm oven while you prepare the rest of the meal.
3. Meanwhile, heat the spaghetti sauce over gentle heat in a medium pot. Cook the ravioli according to package directions; drain.
4. Return the ravioli to the hot pot. Add the heated sauce, the reserved chicken pieces, the chopped mozzarella, and most of the basil. Stir gently to combine.
5. Sprinkle each serving with additional basil and parmesan cheese.

zucchini and beef sloppy joes

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I remember having sloppy joes as a kid – like many American foods, I tried it first in a lunchroom and not in my mom/grandma’s Korean kitchen.  My mom cooked almost exclusively Korean food but once in a while she’d surprise me by cooking something like lasagna and to this day, I have no idea when or how she learned to make it but she figured it out and it was pretty good!  My mom’s attempt at sloppy joes involved a Manwich can.  I honestly don’t even know where she learned about Manwich but one day I was telling her I liked sloppy joes and soon after that, I found it on the table.  I think she made it like twice in my whole life but I remembered it!  Now that my kids eat lunch at school, we go through the school menu every month and each kid tells me which days they want to buy lunch at school and which days they want me to pack.  Recently, they both got really excited when I told them sloppy joes were on the March menu.  They seemed so excited that I wanted to make them a version at home!  I saw a recipe that had zucchini in it and then I kinda added bits and pieces from other recipes I’ve liked and tried a new version of it tonight. It went over REALLY well!  Husband wanted it on the record that he didn’t like the clove flavor at ALL but the kids loved my version and said it was way better than the school one (whew!)

 

zucchini and beef sloppy joes

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 anaheim chile, diced (I would use jalapeno but its too spicy for daughter)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 lb. ground beef
6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper
Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, pepper, onion and zucchini in oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add beef and saute until browned.  Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, until thickened.

 

asian style pork

This has been a crazy week!  Actually, this spring season is pretty crazy. My son’s baseball season just started this week and it’s also competition time for my daughter’s dance studio and she’s tacked on softball as well!  Every day of the week the kids have some activity.  Some days they both have activities so we are in a flurry of drop offs and pick ups.  So how do we eat together?  Well, sometimes we need to just eat take out. And some nights, we eat very late (like 7:30pm) but those are the things we do so we can sit around the table together as a family.  After being on the go all week and stressing out about daughter’s first dance competition of the season this coming weekend, I wanted to end the week with a really quick and easy meal.  Every time a new season of sports begins, it takes us a minute to adjust to the pace but we’ll get there.  This week was a trial and it beat us all down, especially me!  So to satisfy the family, I knew they would want rice. White, sticky, Korean style rice.  And I had some pork chops in the fridge that I needed to use up so I threw this all together and it disappeared into happy mouths and stomachs! It’s a 2 step recipe – try it!

Asian style pork

  • 1 lb. pork ( I had pork cutlets)
  • 1 tbsp  oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp sriracha  (adjust this to how spicy you like things)
Instructions
  1. Mix together the soy sauce, honey, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger and sriracha. Pour over pork chops and let marinade for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add pork chops, without marinade, and cook for about 5 minutes on the first side- let it get golden. Flip the pork chops and pour the remaining marinade over them. Cook another 5 min on this side.

Note: See how in the picture there are slices of pork?  Usually I’m in such a hurry that after I cook pork almost through on both sides, I will cut the meat up with kitchen shears in the pan so it will cook faster and I don’t have to cut the meat at the table for the kids.  Do I do this when I cook steak? No! But in a dish like this where the marinade really takes on more of the flavor than the pork, I’m fine with it! It’s a weekday cooking hack for myself!

I usually make the rice first so it has time to cook and set before I start in on the meat. I do this anytime I’m cooking any type of rice!

 

 

 

eat together…

I used to have a Xanga account. For years, I blogged about dating, I blogged about wedding planning, then I blogged about pregnancy and parenting until my community moved on to Facebook.  I share/d things on Facebook but missed writing more detailed thoughts about topics that were important to me.  My husband would ask me once in a while if I wanted to blog again and in my head, I wanted to… but thinking about what kind of focus I would want my blog to have would ultimately stop me because I couldn’t really express clearly what I wanted to write about.  But recently, I was chatting with a friend and basically went on and on and ON about family dinners and how important it was to my family.  I literally just kept talking about it even after my friend agreed that it was a good thing.  And casually, I said, “I guess I’m pretty passionate about it”.  A lightbulb then went off in my head. Yes, I am passionate about families coming together to share meals.  Friends coming together to share meals.  Folks coming together to share meals.  It allows a space for people to share, open up, reflect and discuss their day.  I personally love to cook and I work full time.  I cook 4-6 nights a week.  It takes effort and it’s not always easy and sometimes we order a lot of take out but the effort is usually there and I want to share easy recipes and encourage others to cook as well.

I looked back at one of my Xanga entries and here it is, from 2012:

July 12, 2012

family dinners

Over the years, people have asked me how I can work full-time and get dinner cooked (usually from scratch) for my family.  A good friend of mine actually just asked me this a few days ago.  The answer is simple – I make it a priority.  More so than cleaning (which I dread).  Like many other moms, I juggle balls and the ball I choose to drop all the time is cleaning. But I don’t drop the cooking ball because I actually like it.  I recently read an article in Good Housekeeping (geez, is this what my life is about now??) that really resonated with me.

Here is one excerpt:

‘Everyone has his or her own criteria for what defines a successful family dinner. These are mine:

1. Every member of the family is accounted for and seated, facing the others.
2. There is a wholesome meal on the table.
3. Everyone is eating (more or less) the same thing.
You may have other variables, like having the TV off and no punches or peas thrown between siblings, but the three above are the biggest for me. If I can honestly say that I’ve hit two of these three, then you better believe I’m marking it down in the Successful Family Dinner column. That means it counts even if everyone is at the table eating a Domino’s pizza. If Mom and Dad are eating grilled mackerel while their kids are seated next to them chowing down on turkey burgers, that counts, too. If only Dad is there, but everyone is eating grilled double-cut lamb chops and kale salad, you can also feel pretty good about your dinner situation.’

The part that really makes me proud is that i do it on a budget. It’s not always easy, but I stick to a pretty strict grocery budget and I usually do not go over. When we were going through financial difficulties last year, it was my stockpile of strategic proteins in the freezer that pulled us through that time. I do not plan a week’s worth of menus in advance. I used to do 4-5 days worth when I was starting out , to get the hang of it but now I can menu plan in my head 1-2 days. Sometimes it just works out where I can plan 4-5 days worth but it’s not necessary for me anymore.I can list a bunch of tips to help but frankly, I find that you have to WANT to do it. If you’re serious about it, you’ll make it happen. It takes a bit of foresight sometimes and it takes a bit of sheer will at others. But in the end, it’s so gratifying to sit down at the table with the food that I’ve prepared with my own hands. My kids mostly eat what I cook better than any fast food/restaurant food/take out that we put in front of them. They don’t’ usually have seconds of store-bought food but there have been MANY times where both kids have had 3 helpings of my home cooked meal. And although I like to cook complicated things for a challenge, I often have one hour from start to finish. From starting to break down that whole chicken (yes, I buy it whole to save $$) to hitting the table, I usually have 1 hour. 
all that being said,  i realized something about my kids – they eat more tortillas than rice!  my kids are full korean american and yet eat korean meals maybe 2-4 times a month.  i usually have something that can go in a tortilla ALL the time and our weekend breakfasts are usually an egg scramble with veggie leftovers and meat from the week prior, wrapped up in a tortilla. it’s what my son expects on the weekends….

  • try it out. on a weeknight!  start with baby steps – one planned meal a week.  then maybe you’ll go to two. 
  • i started out by cooking one meal a week and only the main dish.  bubba cooked the side (rice or noodle).  i couldn’t even imagine how to put together a whole meal, let alone do it multiple times a week. but a good friend kept encouraging me to take baby steps and sure enough, i just became more confident because i was doing it so much.

I’m pretty much doing the same things as 4 years ago, I menu plan about a day or two ahead and I am still on a budget!  I’m probably a little more creative and less stressed about it than I was even 4 years ago but I’m happy to say I still practice most of those things.  I hope in this space, I can share recipes that work for me and DON’T work for me and perhaps even encourage others to eat together…. 🙂