Happy February!

I was going to start with Happy New Year but considering a month has already gone by in the new year, I changed it to Happy February!  The end of last year felt like a mad dash. I don’t know why, nothing particularly busy was happening but it just felt like I was rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.  I’ve been able to feel a little more sense of control since the new year and I decided to become more active in the few cookbook clubs I had joined last year.  I was mostly a lurker, wanting to participate but never getting my act together enough to do it.  I was cooking a lot of simple or semi-homemade meals and cooking started to become a chore for a bit.  But I’m proud to say that I made many delicious things in January and I’m super motivated to keep up with these supportive and engaging communities.

So, this languishing blog finally has some content! Yay!

The first thing I made was for the Food52 Cookbook Club.  The book was Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 by Julia Child and I made the Tranches de Jambon en Piperade.  Basically ham with tomato?  I don’t know because I took Spanish, not French but I was looking to use up holiday ham that I had in my freezer and I didn’t want it to taste like holiday ham.  By January, I think we’re kind of all done with holiday food and we want to move on, right?? This was a perfect way to repurpose the ham so that it didn’t taste like the holidays.  It was really simple and a great weeknight meal.  The family was a bit skeptical about ham with tomato and bell peppers but I won them all over with this dish!

tranches de jambon

The book is a classic, so please do check it out.  I got my copy from the library.  I hope to share more of my cooking adventures through my cookbook club posts.  I am in one Baking Cookbook club (next post) and it’s going to stretch me because although I’m a proficient beginner baker, I’m definitely on the newbie side of baking. My daughter is a great helper and we’ve committed to doing the baking cooking club together this year.

Stay tuned for more cookbook club entries. I hope I stick to this plan!!

Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Quiche


What the heck. How can it be November already?  I don’t even know where to begin to catch you up to where I’m at now but I attribute a lot of my absence to the fact that my son played summer baseball this year and all of a sudden, I didn’t have much of a summer break!  I work full time and between working and activities, I count on summers to cook laborious meals and spend hours in the kitchen.  But between baseball and increasing dance commitments for my little one, that time is cut short.  When fall came around, my son started middle school and got on the flag football team!  So it’s been go-go-go again.  To be honest, all summer and fall, I feel like I’ve been throwing food on the table instead of preparing and enjoying it.  Meals have become somewhat of a challenge on some days.  So yes, I am like millions of moms out there trying to get a decent meal on the table with very limited time and lots of hungry family members!  I’ve had to go back to my semi-homemade roots, getting lots of rotisserie chickens for easy, pre-cooked meat and super simple dinners.  But you know what?  Being on the sidelines, cheering for the kids… that’s what they will remember.  They will remember eating together, even if it’s pizza or stale nachos or my go-to meal of curry and rice.  And that’s the whole point of this right? To encourage you, wherever you are on your cooking/eating journey to keep at it!  Not to show perfection or “this is how you do it”. I’m right in the trenches with you! This quiche was made when we were home early one night so I had some time but it didn’t require fuss – I could help kids with homework and projects.  But we were home so I could let it bake.  Putting it together was simple- just took a little bit of time in the oven.  Turned out to be so beautiful that I would definitely make this to take to a potluck or a friend’s house!  Hope to update you some more about life’s happenings but until then, enjoy this quiche!


Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Quiche

recipe from Betty Crocker

  • Prep 20 min
  • Total 1 hr 30 min
  • Servings 6


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2  cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 package (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 ounces) smoked salmon, flaked
1 package (10 ounces) frozen asparagus cuts, thawed and drained
Note: I used fresh asparagus – see note on bottom for blanching info.
1 cup shredded Havarti cheese or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
3 eggs
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


  • Heat oven to 425°F. Mix flour, sugar and onion salt in medium bowl. Beat oil and milk in measuring cup with fork until creamy. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture; stir until dough forms.
  • Pat dough on bottom and side of ungreased pie plate, 9×1 1/4 inches, or quiche dish, 9×1 1/2 inches. Sprinkle salmon over crust. Cut off bottom one-third of each asparagus spear; reserve top spear portions. Chop asparagus ends; sprinkle over salmon. Sprinkle cheese evenly over asparagus.
  • Beat eggs, whipping cream, dill weed, salt and pepper in medium bowl with wire whisk. Slowly pour egg mixture over quiche ingredients. Arrange reserved asparagus in spoke fashion on top of quiche.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake 40 to 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of aluminum foil after 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Expert Tips

  • Use 8 ounces of fresh asparagus spears (about 25) for the frozen, blanching spears first. To blanch, place spears in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until bright green; immediately rinse with cold water.
  • Garnish servings of quiche with additional fresh dill weed.


beef and cabbage stir fry




There are many factors that go into my decision making process when it comes to my family’s dinner. One of the biggest factors in terms of choosing what to make for dinner is Time. I often have 30-45 minutes to get a complete meal on the table; sometimes more but often it’s less. Another deciding factor is Budget. I love to find recipes that are both wallet friendly and taste amazing. Yes, it has to taste great but that’s a no-brainer. When I come across a meal recipe that satisfies both those criteria, it is definitely a keeper. This is one of those recipes. It came together easily and so quick that I hardly needed anything that wasn’t already in my fridge/pantry. It had that comforting feel of take-out Chinese food but without all the grease and heaviness (and sometimes, MSG) that take-out Chinese food can come with. At first my kids saw an overwhelming mound of cabbage and they were hesitant to dive in but in no time they were at the bottom of their bowl, jockeying to see who would get the leftovers the following day. My friend and I were discussing the advantages of a “bowl” type dinner. One bowl – a layer of rice, protein and veggies and DONE! If done right, it can be fast, balanced and tasty. I already love using that model for burritos and I foresee that it will continue to be a staple in my 2017 dinner planning in the form of a bowls!

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

recipe from Budget Bytes

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ head green cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ Tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • ½ lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
GARNISHES (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  1. Prepare the stir fry sauce first. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sriracha, and brown sugar. Set the sauce aside.
  2. Shred the vegetables so they are ready to go when you need them. Cut one small cabbage in half, remove the core, and then finely shred the leaves of one half the cabbage (4-6 cups once shredded, save the other half for another recipe). Peel two carrots, then use a cheese grater to shred them (1 cup shredded). Slice three green onions. Mince two cloves of garlic. Peel a knob of ginger using either a vegetable peeler or by scraping with the side of a spoon, then grate it using a small-holed cheese grater.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add the cooking oil, ground beef, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the beef until browned (about five minutes).
  4. Add the cabbage and carrots to the skillet and continue to stir and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted (or fully wilted, if you prefer). Stir in the prepared sauce and the green onions. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha, then serve.

curry doria


I’m a Korean-American girl. I grew up eating a mixture of home cooked Korean meals and restaurant-bought or homemade Midwestern, American meals (at friends’ houses) along with processed American food. I think I’m adventurous and pretty open-minded about flavors. But something that trips me up sometimes is fusion food. Especially a fusion of the Asian and American flavors. Sometimes it works well like korritos (Korean burritos). Flavorful meat with kimchi instead of salsa…that works for me. Kimchi pasta? It was strange at first but I’ve since come around. But putting white, Asian sticky rice with cheese on it, I have a harder time reconciling those flavors.  To me, white rice and cheese don’t really go together! But I saw this recipe for curry doria and I was thoroughly intrigued.  My family LOVES Japanese style curry.  It’s their ultimate comfort food.  In fact, after holiday meals, they often want a simple bowl of curry rice the next day, as if to cleanse their palates. I was feeling a bit adventurous one day and didn’t want to make the same ol’ curry rice and came across this recipe. I thought at the very least, maybe the family would like it, even if I didn’t like it. But we all loved this dish! It was warm, comforting and familiar…but the cheesy topping reminded me of a casserole or baked pasta. Not what I’d pair with the white rice underneath but they really did complement each other!

Whenever we have some kind of curry leftover, I always have to beg the kids to please NOT take it to lunch but to instead wait until the following evening to eat the leftovers. Their mouths and stomachs want it so badly but I know the smell of a curry lunch at school could cause lots of unwelcome comments and/or wrinkled noses!! I tell them even if THEY don’t care, we should still be conscious of other people eating their lunch. As an elementary school student I would never have dreamed of taking something so “exotic” to my school for lunch. I’m glad my kids live in an area where it wouldn’t cause bullying or ridicule, just some comments about stinkiness and pungent smells!  I hope you give this a try. Even if it seems a bit of an unlikely pairing, it’s quite delicious!

Curry Doria

recipe from Just One Cookbook, minor tweaks by me

Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 30 mins
Total time 40 mins
  • 3 cups short grain rice
  • ½ large onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Tonkatsu sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup Mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to the broil setting.
  2. Cook rice.  I use short grain and cook it in the rice cooker!
  3. Mince the onion, celery, and carrot into even, small pieces.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and the bay leaf.
  5. Saute minced onion and celery over medium high heat until they are almost translucent.
  6. Add carrot and cook until tender.
  7. Add the meat and break it up, stirring occasionally. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Season dish with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Add the curry powder and broth. If the liquid doesn’t cover the ingredients, you will need to add more broth or water.
  9. Cover with the lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and skim off the scum from the top, if any. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes.
  10. Add the tonkatsu sauce, ketchup and 1 Tbsp. of the butter. The meat mixture may be a bit on saltier side but you’ll put putting it over rice, so make sure it’s well seasoned. Cook and reduce the sauce until you see the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes, and turn off the heat.
  11. Use butter or cooking spray to grease the sides and bottom of the baking dish. Place the steamed rice on bottom of the dish and then layer the meat on top of the rice.  Top with both cheeses and sprinkle panko on top.
  12. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted and you see nice char on top.



instant pot dduk guk (korean rice cake soup)


I have anxieties when it comes to new appliances. I feel like I need to really know how to use it before I can try it on my own.  When we have new appliances, my  husband is the type to just turn it on and go with his intuition.  I read the manual!!  When I got my Instant Pot, I had heard good things about it but I was very apprehensive about this thing that could (in my imagination) blow up on me!!! It took me a few months after I bought it to even take it out of the box and then I watched a few tutorials on youtube on how to use the darn thing so I could have an overview of how the darn thing worked.  One day, I decided to just try it and make ribs of all things and it turned out great! While watching more tutorials and reading more recipes, I got a better sense of my Instant Pot.  And I loved it!  Baked potato? No problem! Jook? Yes!  One pot pasta that saved my butt during soccer season? Absolutely!  It was definitely worth the purchase.

I stayed up a little late on New Year’s Eve and had some champagne so I set my alarm and decided to try Instant Pot to make the beef soup part of the traditional Korean rice cake soup (dduk guk) that is often served on New Year’s Day.  The plan was to then move it and finish the final steps on the stovetop, adding the rice cakes and potstickers (mandoo).  Well, I also happened to win tickets to my first NFL game (Go Niners!) so I was under some time constraints.  The meat came out so well, that I decided to just throw the still semi-hard rice cakes into the instant pot and hasten the results.  I could not find a single recipe online for this and had no guidance – just a gut feeling. So I threw them in, added some time on the pot and gathered everyone for the bowing ceremony.  After we bowed, I had my husband cook up the mandoo that we were adding to the soup and I started the quick release.  OH NO.  Sputtering white liquid everywhere!  Like the mishaps on the facebook Instant Pot group!  I panicked and started imagining disintegrated rice cake soup inside.  I didn’t know what to do but keep cleaning up the volcanic -like liquid.  Did I mention my MOTHER IN LAW is visiting ??? And she’s a tough critic?? OMG, no pressure.  Well, I fearfully announced that I may have ruined our New Year’s meal and waited for the pressure to go down. Apprehensively, I finally opened the pot to find the rice cake floating on the top- not a mushy mess ! Yay!!  I served it up and everyone said it was the best dduk mandoo guk they have ever had.  WHOA and WHEW!

This may not seem like a very big deal to people but to recipe-following me, it was nothing short of a miracle. I’m proud of myself for taking a risk and trying it out and it worked out for me! So I’m going to share it with you.  It was nice to drink coffee and read a book while the Instant Pot did the majority of the work for me – the beef broth!  Thank you for all the people who have read my little blog last year.  It has been a fun journey for me and I hope to continue sharing my recipes with you in 2017!



Serves 6-8


1 lb. Beef (I used about a pound of chuck roast but any beef roast or stew meat or london broil is ok – even short ribs!)

1 package of korean rice cakes (often vacuum sealed packages)

4 Green onion/scallions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Sesame seeds

Drizzle of sesame oil

Salt and pepper

For garnish, 2 eggs and unroasted seaweed sheet

Note: My family enjoys this soup with mandoo and in a pinch, my husband picked up pork potstickers from Trader Joe’s and it was great! We used 2 packages for 6 people.


  • Soak rice cakes in cold water for 30 minutes..
  • Put beef in Instant pot and fill with water to fill line.  Close lid and close the vent to “sealing”.  Set on manual for 32 minutes.
  • While this is cooking, you can make the garnish.  Cut the seaweed into thin strips and cook the eggs evenly and thinly in a fying pan. Slice it into thin strips and set it aside. Some folks use just egg yolk – I’m lazy and just cook the whole egg.
  • Quick release once the time has ended.
  • Take out beef. Shred and mix it with green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, salt and pepper.
  • Reserve half of the seasoned beef for garnishing the soup at the end and put the other half back into the broth. (Note: I took out some of the broth at this point so I could add rice cakes and still be under the fill line).
  • Drain the rice cakes and add to the Instant Pot.
  • Let the rice cakes soften in the hot soup for a few minutes.

NOTE: If you’re making the potstickers, I recommend boiling them separately on the stove and adding them to the soup once it’s done. I have no suggestions on how to incorporate this into the Instant Pot!

  • Season to taste with salt. Start with a tablespoon and keep tasting!
  • To serve, ladle a portion of the rice cake soup in a bowl, add potstickers and top with reserved seasoned beef, egg strips and seaweed strips.

This is my first attempt at writing a recipe so please bear with me and let me know if anything is unclear or needs clarification!  I hope yours turns out like mine did.  My husband was VERY wary of having the rice cakes cook so long but it turned out just fine for us.  Remember to take out liquid before adding rice cakes!!!






baked bbq chicken sandwiches


So…times are changing and times are tough for so many.  It’s disappointing to see such a divided nation. As a parent I can only commit to raising socially conscious and aware children and I do my part by arming them with information, empowering them to stand up for what they believe in and not cave to what they don’t agree with.  My kids have had lots of questions about the election.  My son had questions about process and the act of voting. My daughter had questions about the candidates.  I waited until after work to vote so that I could take them and they could see the act of going to a polling place and voting.  But let’s be honest – they loved getting the stickers!  But afterwards I felt it was just as important for them to see my reaction to the election results, as it was to see the buildup towards it .  I told them how disappointed and upset I was but that clearly, not everyone felt the same way I did.  They were confused. I feel that perhaps they’ve been sheltered in this California bubble of progressive liberalism. When I shared with them stories of growing up in the Midwest and being teased for nothing other than being who I was, they looked at me like I was telling them a fairy tale or something.  Oh, my sweet, innocent children.  Perhaps they will be sheltered from any of that pain or ridicule in their lifetime but I think more than that, it’s a responsibility for them to know that not everyone else has it as easy as them or sees the world as they do.

So when times are tough, I like to have these kinds of talks over a great meal where at least my meals can be comforting and simple.  The day after the election, I went to work and by mid-day, I realized how utterly exhausted and sleepy I was.  For me, that’s a tiny step towards depression.  I decided to take it easy and make a super easy meal to serve up that night.  The rotisserie chicken in this recipe saves time and effort.  As my friend would say, this dish is more assembling than cooking.  And that’s just fine.  Not everyone enjoys or wants to cook a meal every night but maybe they can handle assembling a meal!  That’s going to be my new encouragement for my non-cooking friends. Find things you can assemble!  Maybe by naming it something different, it won’t feel as intimidating.  Whether you cook or assemble, try this tasty dish out – it was loved by everyone in my family!

Baked BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

recipe from $5 dinners

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 5 minutes

Cooking Time – 8 minutes


  • 8 small Hawaiian Rolls
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Chips, as side dish
  • Fresh veggies, as side dish


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking liner.
  • Split the Hawaiian rolls in half with a knife and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine cooked chicken and BBQ sauce. Stir to combine.
  • Spoon the chicken mixture into the rolls. Top with shredded cheese and onion and the other half of the roll. Place all the sandwiches on the lined pan.
  • In a small dish, combine the butter and garlic. Brush over the top of the sandwiches.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes until cheese is melted.
  • Serve Baked BBQ Chicken Sandwiches warm with chips and fresh veggies.

smoky beef chili con carne

There are a few dishes that have a million iterations and even when I find an iteration that I love, I still have to keep trying new versions of the dish.  Burgers and sloppy joes come to mind but so does…..chili!  Right?  How many types of chili have you made? I’ve made many and most of them are great.  They’ve all been slightly different but  really delicious.  So the latest chili I made was this smoky beef chili.  It was flavorful and when coupled with cornbread, it was a huge hit with the family.  My son is the only one who doesn’t like avocado so he opted out of having it with his chili, but I thought the cool, creamy avocado was a perfect topper for this smoky dish.  I’ve been making things in my Instant Pot lately so I’m sure I’ll be trying chili in the Instant Pot soon enough. But there’s something about simmering a chili in my dutch oven on the stove that really appeals to me.
I’ve been a bit MIA lately but it’s just life! I hope now that soccer has dropped off, I’ll find more pockets of time to cook and blog.  This was one of my fears when starting this blog – what if I stop blogging just like I often stop writing in my journal?  But because I only do this for fun and to document what I’m cooking, I’m allowing myself a pass.  I do this when I can. It’s supposed to be for fun and it allows me to share what works (and what doesnt work) in my kitchen with you all.  My very own mini test kitchen, if you will.  Once I kind of reminded myself that there was no expectations or pressure to update this, I felt much more at peace about it.  Maybe my kids will look at this blog one day and remember all the dishes we shared around the table.  I hope they will.  I do want to get them back in the kitchen with me but right now is just not the season for that.  They are swamped with sports and homework which means I am too.  But I will keep plugging along and will keep eating, cooking and sharing with you all!

Smoky Beef Chili Con Carne

recipe from Creole Contessa

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8


  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 cups beef broth, low sodium
  • 1 cup red salsa
  • 1 cup green salsa
  • 1 cup hot tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, red onion, avocado to serve
  • For the Roux:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil


  • Mix seasoning blend together and set aside.
  • In a skillet add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add onion and chipotle pepper, cook 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Season with 1 tablespoon of seasoning blend, mix well.
  • Add meat to pan, break up meat and season with remaining seasoning blend.
  • Cook meat for about 8 minutes, drain oil from meat, add back to pan.
  • Add broth, tomato sauce, and salsas.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes more, stirring occasional.
  • Prepare the roux and add to pan, cook 5 more minutes and serve.
  • To Prepare the Roux:
  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, add flour and stir for about 4-5 minutes, until flour is slightly browned.