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November 2011

Morris Thai and Van Gogh’s Ear Cafe Union, New Jersey Food review

Oct 25th, 2011

It’s that time of year.  Re-current training got its creep on once more and I’m ill prepared.  I really don’t wanna do the damn thing.  Mostly cause this foot is still bothering me and who knows if it’s gonna let me get through door drills.  Think I’ll pop a pain killer to get me through.  I have an inner battle going on with the stigma that comes with pain pills.  But I have to re-qualify.  I just have to.  So it’s justified I guess.

I flew in a day early to hang with my original Jersey girl, Sarojanie.  We worked at Continental way back in our primitive days.  Where the cool thing to do on reserve was Boston shuttles on an MD-80 and deadheading to smaller cities like Buffalo in first class on a 737 was still the norm before the regional jets took over.  My have times changed.

There were always 3 things that happened when we flew together.  Thing number one.  We always flew Boston.  Thing number two.  We always seemed to rush to our next plane late cause we were too busy fartin around the terminal.  And thing number three.  We always got stuck riding the “ghost ship” where the the back of an MD-80 was supposedly haunted and the lav light always went off no matter how many times it was fixed by maintenance. But that didn’t cover the faint ghostly voices crews heard from the same lav. And how Sarojanie would be freezing back there next to the tail cone while the call light was steady going off.  It freaked us out.  I’m dead serious.

I landed in Newark and waited for her to get me.  I was looking forward to it too.  The plan was to ride into Long Island.

We left Jersey and got on the Goethals into Staten Island. She briefed me on her soon to be ex and all the antics he’s been up to.  I probably shouldn’t be talkin smack, but this guy has been actin a fool ever since way back in the day.  He engages in pure asshole-ism.  It’s like a soap opera every time I hear one shady story after another.  Glad she is cutting him off after all the shenanigans he’s pulled.  But what I love about her is that through all the pain, she’s got the utmost faith that this is just a stepping stone towards her path to happiness.   It takes a courageous woman to break free from the riff raff.   I’m proud of her!  Truly!

Long car rides, coffee and engaging in conversation=free therapy. That’s what it’s all about!  We caught up on each others lives and talked about the usual airline biz.   All while passing Staten Island, Brooklyn,  Queens and Long Island towards Mineola.  Two hours went by in a blink, but we were stuck in slow traffic. Surprised?!  Not. Our final destination was still over a half hour away and it wasn’t even rush hour yet.  Sarojanie cursed up a storm in her Jersey accent about  New York traffic.  Her temper always makes me laugh.  I just love when “all out Jersey” comes out of her when she drives.   This predicament meant canceling our previous engagements and turning around to drive all the way back. Perfect!

We got back on the Verrazano  just in time to catch  the  falling sun.  It was dinner time!  And I was red to go!

We dropped her son off to the parental units and headed off to Union to scout out potential places to eat.  Union is like a bigger version of Plymouth.  Except the cool part is that it’s only a short Path ride to the city!  Jealous!  She talked about Morris Thai cafe and how it made a debut on the Food Network.   So I let her take me to see what all the hoopla was  about.  We started with spring rolls.   I usually hate these but they were the best I’ve had at any Asian Restaurant so far.  We got chicken satay.  Then ordered Pad Thai and Fried Red Snapper over Asian chili sauce.  Don’t let the picture scare you cause this was the bomb!

It was peaceful there. Although Saroj told me during lunch rush, it’s packed with businessman. I’d rather have the former setting. We ate our dinner in peace and it was nice and intimate.  Just the way I like.

Our bellies were full but we were good to go for coffee and dessert.  We went straight across to Van Gogh’s Ear Cafe.  We were greeted by an out door patio with summer lights strung above the tables leading towards the cafe.  It was quite welcoming.   There were fluffy couches, lined bookshelves, a coffee bar, cozy chairs and a stage.  We settled in on a couch and ordered some lattes with whipped cream.

Then some more gluttony with Tiramisu.  I could’ve eaten three more it was so good.

One of the more relaxing parts of the evening was listening to the Acoustics of Michael Glazier. Come to find out he performed on abc’s “The View”.  This makes me miss living in such close proximity to New York City.  All the fantastic artists and bands.  This was one of my faves of the evening.  “Wonderwall”  so I recorded him…..

Well dessert and music at Van Gogh’s ear came to an abrupt end and my visit with Saroj was coming to a close.  Her hospitality is top notch, bar-none. I’m glad I got to spend quality time with her.  It’s been too long.

The next morning, I got up and finished re-current training and flew back home….

I’ll leave you with a view of the sunset from the R.J. on the commute back to DTW.  I had my head stuck literally to the window taking pics and blinding the disgruntled  flight attendant and the rest of the cabin with my flash.  Haha.  Haters!  Let’em hate!  Til next time!

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Stewed Beef with Swiss chard and mushroom sauce over noodles

I was trying real hard to prime my imagination for dinner, but this weather had me out of sorts. I didn’t know if I should be happy or sad about this blistery rain.  And the winter advisory on top of it.  Some might call me demented, but I really do like when winter introduces itself with a bang.  There is something about hunkering down when it gets cold with a blanket, fire, movie and some good old comfort foot.  Nothing beats it when you are in the mood for that kinda thing.   I was really wanting to make a cozy chicken noodle soup for the occasion, but going to the grocery store to get the stuff I needed wasn’t an option in this weather, and since I didn’t have what I needed, I was left to my own devices.  That meant relying on the key staples in my pantry.  So I pretty much winged it as with many recipes I cook.

I ended up slow cooking a roast in the crock pot.  It turned out pretty good if I I must say so myself!!  My Daughter helped and I even let her pick the noodles out.  She chose macaroni.  Great choice!

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pound beef Chuck Roast

1/2 pound button mushrooms

3 cups Swiss chard or spinach

1 can cream of mushroom

1 can of beef broth

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbs cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

1 pound of cooked noodles any kind

I first started off my mixing a can of cream of mushroom soup and beef broth with a wire whisk.

Place my chuck roast into a crock pot and poured the mixture over the roast.  Set on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Cut the button mushrooms in half and added them to the crock pot for the last half hour of cooking.  This is where my daughter loves to help.  She gets out the butter knife to cut the mushrooms.

 I added  Swiss chard to the crock pot the last fifteen minutes of cooking.

Then added cornstarch to cold water and poured into crockpot to thicken.  Added salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot cooked noodles.  And there ya have it! This was so good and cozy for the weather we are having.  I added it to my arsenal of recipes.  I think  next time I will add a splash of red wine to the crock pot.  I think that’d make it go off even more!

Re-united and it feels so good!

Here we are.  The three musketeers kickin it old school.  Except with coffee and Lumpia instead of beer and Taco bell.  We had nothing on our agenda besides catching up and reminiscing about our hayday.


Jodie, Jeff and I were inseparable for a while. We pretty much still are.   Their coolness level is at a 10.

I’ll give you a quick briefing.  Most people agree for the sake of agreeing. …. Not us.  We’re the best of friends with a lot of trash talking involved. We challenge each others thoughts, keep each other grounded, fight like cats and dogs and it doesn’t really matter because in the end, we know we can count on each other.  Jodie and Jeff are like the stable brother and sister I never had.  Thank god for divine order.

I’ve known these two since childhood.  And Jodie has been in my life since Kindergarten.  Knowing her so long has it’s perks.  Like how I’ve come up with my own language she’s branded Jingenese.  And she’s the only one that can decipher it.  So if you can’t understand me, get with her.  She’ll translate.  Haha

Her family is like the surrogate American fam. I never had. I always looked forward to going to her house.  Her entire clan lived within 2 blocks of each other.  They hung out on the porch swing, played solitaire and talked from afternoon til night.  So simple and so meaningful.  Something I think our society has lost.  To engage with each other in simple conversation.  But instead, many of us engage in front of a flatscreen.   Lame!  The disintegration of relationships.  Err!  I’m going off on a tangent now.  Let’s focus.  Where were we? Oh yes, my best friends.

There is something to be said about these two. I always look forward to conversation with them.  Jeff calls on his way home from rush hour in San Diego talking trash in his usual manner about the 2 hour traffic jam and his command.  While Jodie calls me sipping on her morning cup of joe.  I always look forward to our morning convos’.  It always starts my day off right. Sometimes we even three way each other to catch up on our trash talk just for the sake of trash talking.   So simple. But yet there is such a special connection there. Corny yes I know.  But it’s what we do.  It’s what best friends do.  Talk, engage in each others lives, and genuinely care about one another.  I guess going off on my tangent a second ago had a connection after all.

I don’t how people do it without friends like these.  Matter of fact, I know these two are gonna read this blog and say, “yeah, she’s right. We are the shit” lol.  I remember Jodie’s momz take on friendships.  It went something like this,……. “Ya know, when you come into your thirties, you really get to know who your true friends are.  Just wait.  You’ll see.”  …..What a wise soul.  What she said has been hard wired into my system for a while now  and man she was right on point.

Thank you God for blessing me with lifelong friends like Jeff and Jodie.

Since Jeff only comes in town a few times a year.   Our gatherings are far and few between.  I decided to fry up some Lumpia for our special night.

Before I begin, Let me first start by saying that making Lumpia is like an art form. Once you have it mastered, you can bang’em out with a quickness.  Freeze them and when you have company, pull them out, fry them and you’re set with spring rolls that will have your company sprung.  If you ever had these before, you know these beat any restaurant quality spring roll.  So you’re welcome for the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 package of raw cole slaw mix or a pound of shredded carrots and cabbage.  Either / or

1 medium onion chopped fine

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 package spring roll wrapper or Lumpia wrapper from Asian store (thawed)

For the Sauce: ( vinegar dip aka suka)

1/4 cup vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

I start off my chopping my onion and garlic.

Then I Julienne my cabbage and carrots or put them through the shredder on my cuisinart.  Most of the time, I buy a package of raw cole slaw mix and call it a day for this step.  It makes my life a whole hek of a lot easier.

I sautee the onion and garlic.  Then add the ground beef until brown.  Add salt and pepper.  At then end, I add the package of cole slaw mix or in this case I actually chopped cabbage and carrots.  But this is where I am usually lazy so I buy the cole slaw mix.  Cook for another 2 minutes until it slightly wilts.  Re-season with salt and pepper to my liking.

Set the mixture aside to cool for about 15 minutes

Beat an egg and have lumpia wrapper thawed at room temperature

I place a wrapper with the pointy side of the square facing towards me. Then take a spoonful of cooled mixture and place towards the bottom like pictured above.  Spread out the mixture slightly with your fingers.

Then begin by wrapping it like a burrito. First fold the bottom end up.

fold both sides over……

Roll it all the way up, tucking and tightening as you go. That is the key!  Leave the tip exposed like so.

Dab a little bit of beaten egg on the tip to seal.  You can also use plain water but I think the egg does a better job of sealing.

Here is how it looks like before frying them…..

It will take a few practice runs to get them lookin like your restaurant quality spring roll

After you are done rolling them, you can freeze them for later or fry them in 2 to 3 inches  of cooking oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  And serve with sweet and sour or you can serve them with suka, a traditional Filipino dipping sauce usually made with rice vinegar, garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  But you can use plain white vinegar  if you don’t have the rice vinegar.  Enjoy!

Left over Thanksgiving Turkey Pot pie

How Grateful Art Thou!?

Another year, another Thanksgiving.  And I’m a shite ton grateful.   I look forward to coming together and celebrating with friends and family.  I get all teary eyed and nostalgic.  Cliche’, yes, but I can’t help but brag about the wonderful people that’ve  touched my life.  One can never forget. At least not me.

The rendezvous point was at my momz.  The night called for football, karaoke and mahjong.

Here in is the football part of the evening.  Whoop!   This is where my husband camped out all night, handsome as ever.  I could just eat him up.  And this was my one sneak cuddle moment  before he got into the zone.   I didn’t wanna break man-code, by getting all mooshy on him!  This is where I get snarled at if I continue.  He doesn’t ask much of me besides not to bother him when A & M football is on.  So I try my hardest to oblige. I left him in peace.  He is the patron Aggie poster boy. Loyal to the end no matter what!  I love his loyalty!

Then, came the Mahjong part.  Let’s first start off  with 2 of my  O.G.’s. – Ann and Jeff.

 Ann’s been in my life since the first grade.  And Jeff, well, this cats been in my life for 22 years now and our friendships are still going strong.  They, along with a few select others, have been in my life since childhood and have definitely left their imprint.  If you’re blessed enough to still have friendships like these in your life, then you know the feeling of closeness that comes with it.  I’m very selective about the people I spend time with now a days.   I don’t like the company of plastic personalities.  And I can sniff fakeness the moment I walk in a room.   It’s a downer to come across people who you thought were cool only to find out otherwise. Especially when they talk bad about others.   It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  If one can talk trash about others, they can certainly talk trash about you.   So it’s refreshing to hang with besties like Ann and Jeff where honesty and open communication with friends come naturally.   They always have  a way of putting things into perceptive.      There isn’t  a drop of plastic that runs through their veins.  And for that, I truly believe God has given them many blessings in return.  True gems in my book.  Always will be.

So that’s that.  Moving onto a brief overview of Mah-jong.   This is an ancient Chinese game similar to rummy.  There are many provinces in China that has a version unique to its region.   This brings back waves of nostolgia.  I remember my mom and dad playing with family and friends until the break of dawn.  There was always room for mah-jong on Saturdays.  It was happy memories.  Mahjong  came with plenty of  food, cheer, laughter, and cousins to play with.  And that always stoked me out.

I, personally, have been slow to learn how to play.  When I found out however, that there are many variations of the game. I was like what a relief.  My relatives had me going crazy for a moment there. Simply because they always made things up as they went along and never taught me the exact same way twice. I thought “Oh, this makes more sense now”.   I tried teaching one variation I learned on you tube last nite and that didn’t work so much.  My mom was patient yet talked trash in Ilocano for teaching my version all the while shaking her head at my confused friends who were still stumped after an hour of playing.  Gosh, I love her.  LOL.  Somewhere along the way, I got trumped.  She took over and taught us her way.  Which was way easier than mine.

Now, my mom knows a few different variations as well and I swear, every time she tries to teach me, I feel like I’m playing a whole different game.  So when she saw how much we were having trouble, I think she simplified and taught the  “Mahjong for dummies” way.

I am a proud Filipino and I love my heritage and whenever she plays, she starts to reminisce. She would talk about hiding American soldiers in their homes during the Japanese occupation in WWII, setting up a communications base for the G.I’s, stories of dancing for the Queen and her fathers logging business and his journeys to Cagayan, Tuguegarao.  I love it when my momz talks about this because she seldom does.  And I think her history is so interesting.  I would love to go back in time and walk a mile in her shoes.   She told us how my grandfather, who owned the logging business in the P.I.,  had Chinese workers and they taught him mahjong and he in turn, taught my mom their version.

I went back home and watched more variations of the game on the internet, I learned it was a Taiwanese version she decided to teach us last night.

Here she is,  schooling us.  My mother is still smart as a whip when playing.   It brought her much joy to teach us and talk about her life experiences with the game.  And this in turn brought me tremendous joy.  Makes my heart full just talking about it!

We, broke for a snack.  And gorged on leftovers!

Today, I decided to make a super simple Turkey pot pie with our leftovers.

Ingredients:

2 cups turkey meat, cubed

Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough

1 can Camp-bells cream of chicken

1 cup leftover turkey gravy

1 package frozen mixed veggies

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 cup water (optional)

1 egg white

I took 2 cups of leftover turkey meat from Thanks giving and cubed it.

 

Put turkey into a bowl, added frozen veggies, cream of chicken, leftover turkey gravy,  thyme and pepper.  Mix well.  Note, my husband did not like the filling thick so you can add up to a 1/4 cup.  Make sure you eyeball it so it doesn’t get too thin.  I would otherwise just leave the thickness the way it is,

Place bottom of pie shell in pie pan

Pour filling and place top crust over pie. Pinch with thumbs or press fork around edges to seal crust.  Make slits in center of pie and brush with egg whites.

Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown

I played around with a few different recipes this evening so I baked a few individual pies with a recipe my neighbor gave.  My family was partial to this one so here it is on my blog!  Enjoy!

Recipe: Simple Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving

Let’s play a fun game of good idea/bad idea. ……….

Bad idea My husband asked if I wanted to fly to Texas this week for Thanksgiving and I immediately got irritated just entertaining the idea of traveling with my family on the busiest travel week of the year.  This is coming from yours truly, who works as a flight attendant, and hardly anything travel related stresses me.  Knowing our luck, we would get stuck on standby for days on end.  Plus,  I’d rather go there for Christmas anyways. I am really dreading going anywhere beyond our front door.  Not because I don’t wanna see loved ones, I really do.  But I’d rather just enjoy the fulfillment that Thanksgiving brings as stress free as possible.

So here’s the good idea.  Ive always wanted to go, go, go, go on holidays.  But I find myself slowing it down and frankly, I’ve been loving getting up on Thanksgiving mornings for the last few years and making our own tradition.  We’ve made it a point to relax in our p.j’s, watch the Macy’s day parade while putting everything on the stove I prepped the day before.  All while putting the last of the decorations on the tree.  

Bad idea, We were going to have the family come over our place, but I had to thoroughly re-assess this situation as well.  It’s too early to start entertaining for the Holidays in my situation.  Again, I loath the  frenzy.  That was a bust.

Good idea Instead, I think we’ll stick to what we’ve established. Spend quality time with each other, cook our dinner for lunch,  and join in on the fun at my momz later.  I don’t look forward to kicking it into high gear this week and I won’t.  I’m gonna take a lesson from my dog, nemo.  He’s gonna lead by example on turkey day like this…..

 He’s always keepin it real.  Straight up!

People who stress themselves out cooking like they’re the next iron chef on Thanksgiving are missing the point.  Taking it easy is my attempt to kick it down a notch and stop the anticipated madness.  I’ve been enjoying the intimacy that comes with celebrating part of the day with my immediate family.  There is more connection and meaning for me  this way.  Plus, I love joining in on the fun later. More food, family, friends, Mahjong, karaoke and football at my momz. Who wouldn’t be down with that?

I’ve planned a simple spread for Thanksgiving morning.  Mashed potatoes, veggies,  turkey, gravy and simple stuffing.  All  prepped the night before ready to go.  And with that, the holiday cranberry.  Here is a simple no stress cranberry sauce to go with our hassle free Turkey.

I rinse and pick through the cranberries to throw out any that are going bad.

I add 1 cup of orange juice to a small sauce pan and melt the white and brown sugar in it .

I pour the cran berries into the saucepan and add the grated orange zest.

Let cook for 10 minutes on medium and you may hear the cranberries popping.  This is normal.  Take off heat.  Will thicken upon standing.   Robert loathes canned cranberry, but really enjoys the fresh stuff.  Hope you do too.  Gobble, Gobble, Gobble !

By the by, I’ve begun prepping 2 days ahead so , I will re-post the finished product maybe on Turkey day!

Dot, dot dot, 2 days later. Here is the finished product.

Happy Thanksgiving and be safe ya’ll!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

1 zest of an orange

Dissolve both sugars in orange juice and add zest in pan on medium heat.  Pour cranberries in pan. Cook for 10 minutes.   Pour into bowl.  Sauce will thicken upon standing.

Apple Pie Recipe (picked from Erwins) MI

It was Tuesday, November 8th and school was out for voting.  This called for a fun day with the kids.  Now who would be game?  I called my peeps and of course, my O.G.,  Cheri, was down.

Erwin’s Apple Orchard was calling my name and her and I discussed making and freezing apples pies so I knew this would tempt her.  She showed up with a van full of kiddos and we packed ourselves in.  We took our sweet time, farted around for a while, played on some haystacks, petted animals, ate cinnamon donuts, and took the cliche’ pictures one would take when they went to an orchard.  By the time we got to the picking apples part of the morning, we were sweatin like hogs.   Guess I shouldn’t’ve worn my down coat.  When I got home later that day, I saw the high was 69 degrees.  Unseasonably warm.  Nice!

It felt like summer, but our surroundings told us something different.  Everything was going dormant for the winter.

There were no more hay rides.  No crowds.  No lines to get cider and donuts.  What a wonderful time.  Plus a bushel of apples were on the cheap.  That’s a bonus for the frugal gourmet like me.  I’m thinking more and more the best kept secret is going to the orchards late season.

We were able to drive our cars into the fields since there were no more hayrides.  It was us and only one other car of apple pickers in what seemed to be miles of majestic orchards.  I basked in it’s beauty.  It was like we had the place to ourselves.  We got lost looking for Jonagolds, but I think the best part for Cheri was baja’ing through the trails in her over sized low rider van.  LOL

What a nice, unexpected tour.

I was somewhat surprised that there were even any apples on the trees at all.  I’ve been to orchards where there were no more to pick even in mid October.  Good thing for late varieties.

We came across many trees that’ve come to the end of their prime and trees that still had so much fruit on their branches.  I can’t remember having that much fun going to an orchard in a long time. We jammed it out.  For real!

By the time all was said and done, it was only lunchtime and we were game for more exploring.  So we went to historic Northville on our way home.

We visited the old village and rouge river that runs through downtown…

This was the last picture I took of my son reflecting on the great day we had.  That or he was thinking about being the next karate kid.  Ah, to be a kid again.  I have to say it was a good day……

It’s 2 1/2 weeks later and I’ve decided to bake something.  After reading dozens of comments on Grandma Oples apple pie recipe on Allrecipes.com, my face just about turned blue.  Took some serious notes and made many changes.

Bugga was excited to help….

Dusted off the best birthday present I ever received.

My husband got me this apple peeler, corer and slicer last year and you would’ve thought I won the Lotto when I opened it.

I cut, peeled, cored and sliced.  Sprinkled cornstarch on the apples and mixed with my fingers..

Sprinkled cinnamon and a tiny pinch of all spice.  Mixed again.

Meanwhile, melted butter in a small saucepan on medium low.  Added the flour and incorporated for 1 to 2 mins.  Then added  water, brown sugar and white sugar.

In goes the vanilla.  I kept the heat on low to keep it’s viscosity going.

Brushed the bottom of a frozen pie crust with egg whites and pre-baked to keep it from getting soggy when filling goes in.

In a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 5 minutes and then turned it down to 350 for another five minutes.

Placed sliced apples in crust and poured the mixture over the top.

This is how it looks like before you put the top crust on.  Note: you can choose to let it cool and place a lattice crust over it.  Which I should’ve done but I was lazy.  Instead, I put an entire pie crust over the top and pinched the edges with my thumb to seal.

My daughter practiced her mad paint brushing skills and brushed egg whites on the crust.

Now my sons turn to sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  I couldn’t ask for better helpers! Let me tell ya.

I cut about six slits in the pie to vent and keep from exploding.  This makes a pretty star when finished.   Baked for an hour on an aluminum lined baking sheet to catch any drippings and boom!!!  Winner, winner-chicken dinner!!

Ingredients

1 frozen pie shell

1 refrigerated pie dough top

3 Granny smith apples cored, peeled and cut into thin slices

3 empire apples cored, peeled and cut into thin slices

1 stick butter

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of all spice

2 Tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 egg white

For the topping on the crust: mix 1 tsp.  sugar and 1/4 tsp before baking, sprinkle

Peel, core and cut into thin slices both empire and Granny smith apples and place in a mixing bowl.   Toss with cornstarch, cinnamon and all spice.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, brush frozen pie shell with egg white and bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn it down to 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Take out of oven and set aside.  In a small sauce pan, melt butter on medium low. Then add flour.  Stir to incorporate for 1 or two minutes.  Turn heat to simmer and add white sugar, brown sugar, water and vanilla.  Let melt all together until it becomes a caramel consistency.  Keep on low to keep mixture viscous.  Pour sliced apples into pie shell and then pour mixture on top of apples.  Place refrigerated pie dough on top. or you can place a lattice crust on.  Seal edges with thumb and Brush entire pie with egg white wash.  Then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake at 35o degrees for 1 hr on an aluminum wrapped cookie sheet to catch any spills.  This makes for easy clean up in the end.  If crust starts to brown too much then place aluminum foil around edges to prevent burning.

Fried Okra

My husband got me hip to fried okra way back when we started dating.  I quickly became a fan.  In Texas, you can find fried okra at dang near any restaurant you walk in.   That’s a plus for those of us who love it.  Today, I decided fried okra would go great with pork chops and baked sweet potatoes.  My kids always get excited about this and we have to guard the finished product or they will be long gone.  I prepped our meal  in advance for my husband to cook while I ran to the Grocery store.

By the time I got back, the fried okra was just about gone.  I asked where it all went and he said he let the kids snack on it as an appetizer.  Haha.  Robert and I were left with about 5 pieces. Oh well.  Can you blame them?  These things are addicting. I should’ve made more.  Somehow the kids always manage their way to the kitchen when we make this and pretend like they’re  swiper  the fox.

This is a short and simple recipe.  Hope you guys like it.  Here it goes…

Robert first introduced me to Tony’s Chachere’s seasoning when we lived in Tejas’.  Apparently if you are from Texas, this is a must have in your spice pantry.  This is what we will be seasoning our fried okra with.  I’ve grown rather fond of this over the years and  I find myself sprinkling  it on more and more  dishes.

I bought about a pound of  fresh okra and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces and place into a bowl.

I beat an egg

Then I pour the egg onto my  okra.  Here is my son helping.   He loves to stir.  He’s an awesome, awesome little man and a wonderful kitchen helper.  We also added a dash of salt and pepper to the bowl at this point.

Then we added a cup of flour to a zip lock bag.

We added the okra to the  bag.  Or you can even use a grocery bag if you are out of zip locks.

Add a little air pocket to the bag and shake, shake, shake!

Add enough oil to a pan for frying.  I prefer a deeper pot with a few more inches of oil.  But hey, this is where the hubsters took over and  frying them in about an inch of oil will work just fine too.  Fry them until golden brown flipping once through the frying process.  Sprinkle with Tony’s seasoning and that’s a wrap!

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the finished produce since they were basically all gone by the time I got home.  So you’re gonna have to try them out and see  for yourself 🙂

Ingredients

1 pound of fresh okra

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup flour

oil for frying

1 gallon size ziplock

tony chachere’s creole seasoning

Serves 4

Procedure:  Cut okra in 1/2 inch pieces and put in large bowl.  Pour a beaten egg over okra.  Add salt and pepper and mix.  Place flour in ziplock and add okra to the bag.  Seal bag,  and shake until coated evenly.  Add 2 to 3 inches of cooking oil to frying pan.  Turn heat on high and let oil get nice and hot.  Add okra about 10 to 12 pieces at a time and fry on medium high until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with Tony’s seasoning and serve.

Filipino Arroz Caldo Recipe

We’ve made it all the way to the middle of November without being scathed by a cold or fever.  But with me and my  daughter coughing, and my son coming down with a low grade fever,  I’m thinking we might be on the verge of something nasty.  I think some chicken soup therapy is in order.  I was gonna make chicken noodle, but  I knew I had a better chance of my children eating a favorite of ours.   Arroz caldo best described is like the Greeks version of Chicken lemon rice soup.  Except better in my unbiased opinion. Lol’ing.   Filipinos describe it as a rice porridge.  It’s a hearty comfort soup when the cold weather kicks in. My parents always gave me Arroz Caldo as a kid during the winter when I was sick.  My father made this with whole pieces of  bone in dark meat chicken, the traditional way, which was putting uncooked rice in a pot and stirring constantly until he achieved a thick soup.  It’s the same method as making risotto except the end result is thinner.

This is exactly why I never tried making it.   I don’t like the high maintenance of having to hover over the stove for a long period of time.   So I was super excited when I found out how my Auntie Kristy made hers.  I once tasted hers and wanted to know how she made it.  So of course I interrogated her for the recipe.  She is always glad to tell me how she makes things, but she doesn’t measure so I have to memorize everything she says and go back and try it at home.  She told me she makes hers with day old rice which cuts the cooking time down tremendously.  She also gave other useful tips.  So when I made this at home, I was ecstatic that it turned out wonderful.  I brought it to a gathering and it was a hit.  Here is how I makey da zoup.  I hope I make her proud cause I tweaked a few things.

Note: you can adjust the measurements on this recipe depending on how much leftover rice you have.  Play around with it.  have fun!

1.) First things first, I pan fry 1 or 2 chicken breasts in a pan with a  tablespoon of oil with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Chop into tiny pieces and set aside

2.) Meanwhile, I saute minced garlic, chopped onion and a few dime size pieces of sliced ginger  with 1 tablespoon of oil in a large soup pot.

3.) I get out my day old rice and crumble it with my fingers to rid any clumps.  For this recipe, I cooked  4 cups of rice the day before which none of us ate, so I put it in the fridge.  It made roughly 10 to 12 cups of cooked rice.  I dumped it into my soup pot and added enough water just above the level of the rice. Then turned the heat on high.

4) Then, I added my chicken bouillon cubes, chopped chicken, chx stock, salt and pepper.

6.)  Once it starts to boil, you must stir it constantly.  Every  60 seconds roughly. And when it starts to thicken, maybe once every 30 to 60 seconds.  I find a wooden spoon works best.  Steel spoons cuts the rice up into a million pieces and you don’t want that.  Once it starts to thicken, add water 1 cup at a time, every few minutes until it evaporates and gets thicker.  Keep repeating and adding water, 1 cup at a time and stirring until it gets creamy and you have reached your desired consistency.  Adjust your salt and pepper to taste.  Fish out the ginger and serve with lemon wedges and chopped scallions for garnish

Note: you can adjust the measurements on this recipe depending on how much leftover rice you have.  Play around with it.  have fun!

Serves 10

prep time 15 minutes cooking time 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 T cooking oil

10 cups of day old cooked rice

1 medium onion chopped fine

2 cloves minced garlic

3 to 4 dime sized sliced of ginger

1 or 2 chicken breasts  cooked and chopped into tiny pieces

2 chicken bouillion cubes

1 can chicken broth

1 1/2  tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fine black pepper

Water

lemon wedges

chopped green onion for garnish

Method:

Pan fry 1 or 2 large chicken breasts in 1 T of oil  with a little bit of salt and pepper, chop into tiny bite size pieces and set aside.   In a large soup pot, saute garlic, onion and ginger for 3 to 4 minutes in 1 T of oil.  Crumble day old rice in a bowl and add to soup pot.  Add just enough water until  it covers the top of the rice.  Add cooked chicken, chicken broth, bouillon cubes, salt, pepper.  Turn the heat on high.  Stirring every minute or so with a wooden spoon until it starts to reduce.   When the soup gets thick, add more water 1 cup at a time until it gets thick and creamy stirring constantly (every 30 to 60 seconds).  You can make your soup as thin or as thick as you like this way.   This will take roughly 25 minutes, maybe even longer depending on your consistency.  Fish out the ginger pieces. Adjust salt and pepper at then end. Garnish with chopped scallions.  Squeeze 1 lemon wedge into soup and serve!

Filipino Garlic Fried rice

For those of you who love fried rice, you’re in for a real treat.  I  made Filipino garlic fried rice and this stuff is slammin, I’m tellin you!  The garlic gives it a unique twist and it’s what makes this dish.  This is how us Filipinos make it.  It is custom to make leftover fried rice from day old rice.  Many do not use soy sauce in this dish, some do.  I am one that does.  My Auntie Sally use to make this for breakfast all the time and when I watched her make it, she doesn’t measure.  No surprise there. Why would she?  I don’t know any of my elders that do.  I think it’s considered a crime to measure in Filipino cooking.  When I ask my relatives to fork over measurements when I inquire about recipes, they look at me like I’m some kind of lepper.   I mean that in the nicest way of course.

I don’t measure when I make this dish either.  But for all intents and purposes, I painstakingly measured everything out this morning.  Not fun.  I started off with day old rice , about 7 cups.  Yes that’s a lot, but trust, my husband and children will have it eaten before I even sit down at the breakfast table.  Then I sprinkled  about  4 Tablespoons of water over it to rehydrate.  Next, I ran my bare fingers through the rice to separate any clumps.   Then, got out the star ingredient, garlic.  I used 6 cloves, minced.   I let it sit out for a few minutes so that the flavor of the garlic intensifies before I use it.  Plus, I just read in my EL magazine that if you wait  5 minutes after chopping garlic before using, it gives you the best cancer protective benefits.  Fun facts from Sarah!   I generally use about 1 clove of garlic for every cup of cooked rice.   Yes, I know that’s a lot too, but I’m not shy when it comes to my best friend garlic.  The more, the merrier.

I turn my heat on crank,  add oil to my hot wok  (you can also use a large saute pan if you don’t have a wok)   and add the minced garlic.  Saute for about 20-30 seconds. Do not let the garlic burn.   Just let it get light brown.  Then add your rice.  Keep on high heat while stirring constantly.  Then add just enough soy sauce to coat the rice very lightly until it turns the lightest brown.  Add it a few splashes at a time.   Then turn to medium high    I used about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of soy sauce and I even think that was a tad too much.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and a few dashes of pepper to taste.  Add more if you like it more spicy.  Keep stirring about five minutes.   Then serve.

My husband decided to make scrambled eggs and Texas Opa’s sausage with it.  It was a great accompaniment.

Ingredients:

6-7 cups of cooked, day old rice white rice

1 T oil

4 T water

5-6 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Serves 5-6

Procedure:  Add water to day old rice.  Crumble with fingers to separate.  Heat wok to high and add garlic.  Saute for 20 to 30 seconds.  Add rice while continuously  stirring.  Add soy sauce,  Stir.    Drop heat to medium high.   Sprinkle salt and pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot!

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