Balsamic Brown Sugar Brussel Sprouts

Does the world need another brussel sprouts recipe? Most definitely not. But is this a food blog? Yes. And did I make brussels for dinner the other night? Yes. So am I going to share out yet another brussel sprouts recipe? You betcha.

Ingredients

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Brown Sugar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450°.
  2. Half brussel sprouts.
  3. Mince garlic.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss brussel sprouts with the minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just enough olive oil to coat all the brussels, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  5. Spread brussels out in a single layer on a baking pan. Toss in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. This next step depends on how sweet you want your brussels. You have two options. Pick one! Don’t do both.
    1. Just a touch of sweet: do a quick drizzle of balsamic over the brussels. Stir them around on the baking pan, sprinkle brown sugar over all of them.
    2. In mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Mix until you have a paste. Pour in brussels, toss until even coated. Add back into pan.
  7. Bake for another 10 minutes.

The trick to a really crispy brussel sprout is to start really dry. Frozen/defrosted brussels will get steamy and soggy before they cook. Make sure you get non-frozen brussels and dry them really well after washing. Then keep them as spread out as you can on the baking tray – flat sides down to start.

Serve as a side and voila! Crispy delicious brussel sprouts. Sometimes we top them off with a bit of parmesan or cracked red pepper if you’re feeling extra. I’ve made these twice this week already. A well roasted brussel sprout is easily in the top five best veggie dishes, right?

Happy Eating!

Brown Butter Lemon Pasta

Bon Appetit, March 2020, Issue, Pg. 77

When I think pasta, I think creamy. Creamy, cheesy, gooey carbonara. For some reason, I always forget how good a simple pasta can be. Sunday afternoon, Bee and I sat down and sifted through all my issues of Bon Appetit to pick out this week’s recipes to try. This six-ingredient pasta caught our eye because – 1) it looked easy peasy and 2) I still had way too many leftover lemons from baking a Vegan Lemon Loaf a week ago.

LINK TO RECIPE

Slicing lemons and grating parmesan

My lemons were a little two ripe and it made it hard to get them cut super thinly, but they still tasted delicious either way. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten the rinds cooked like this before, I usually toss them away like any other garnish. This pasta was so butter-y though that it did need that tangy pop of lemon.

Browning lemons and butter in the pan

The recipe called for a short-tube pasta. Unfortunately, with everyone panic-buying pasta, the closest thing I could find was some penne. No problem though, these ended up just the right amount of al dente. Bee was a big fan of the texture – firm and a little chewy.

This is where I fudged up a little. After adding the pasta water to the brown butter, the mix looked so thin and I worried (even though the recipe explicitly told me this would happen and to wait). Instead, I decided to add more parmesan – conveniently forgetting that the parmesan was salty. So oops, a teensy bit over-seasoned.

At the end of the day, still a solid recipe. Probably better if I had listened to directions and possibly gotten the right pasta. That being said, it was still nice to change up the pasta game with something a little zestier. Quick to whip up and so much better than an out-of-the-bottle pasta sauce.

Things I learned:

  1. There is such a thing as too much cheese – especially when it’s a salty parmesan

Bee’s Score: 3.5-4 / 5

My Score: 3 / 5

Happy Eating!

Orange, Almond & Apricot Biscotti

You know the best thing about having sisters? It’s like having mandatory friends – friends who visit and bring you food. You know what’s even better than a sister? A little sister who likes to bake, which mine does. Hallelujah! Baby sister Bee was in town a few weekends ago to deal with some grad school applications and she brought me up some fresh baked biscotti!

When she was just a little tot in elementary school, I remember her attempting to bake lemon bars by herself one Saturday morning and being absolutely crushed when they came out terribly. So adorably sweet. Such terrible, terrible burnt lemon bars.

Well, she’s come a long way from those days! Because these biscotti were absolutely addicting. They were dense and doughy but crispy on the edges. Each bite was chock full of crunchy almond bits and chewy sweet pieces of dried apricot. They probably should have been a bit crispier, but Bee says she may have over done it with the orange juice. Remind me to tell you another time why we always called her the juicer growing up!

I killed about four of them and then decided later that evening that they would go great with jam. So cue some last minute midnight jam making! Nothing fancy – I had a bag of frozen mixed fruits (namely strawberries, peaches and pineapple) that I use for smoothies. I threw some of those in a pan with some orange juice, a bit of stevia, and some cinnamon. Soften, smash, reduce and voila! Jam!

I let it cool in the fridge overnight and treated myself to some biscotti and jam with my coffee the next morning. Yum! Anywho, if you don’t have a little sister to do your baking for you, try out this recipe she used: Orange, Almond & Apricot Biscotti.

Some tips from baker Bee if you do:

  • Bake at a higher temp. It takes much longer to golden than expected.
  • Measure out your juice.
  • Cut smaller pieces on the diagonal if you want to get the full 24 slices.
  • It’s a super sticky dough. Get ready to put use some elbow grease.

Happy Eating! xo.

Boiling Crab Seafood Boil Recipe

If you’ve ever been to a Boiling Crab, Kicking Crab, The Crab Shack or any similar restaurants, you’re probably pretty familiar with the giant mess that is a cajun seafood boil. Funnily enough, despite being so heavily marketed as a Southern, Louisiana cuisine, these seafood shacks are very closely tied to Vietnamese American families. An influx of refugees ended up in the Southern states post-war. The social, hands-on casual style of the seafood boil is something that resonates quite strongly with the Vietnamese. We’re all about any type of finger food that you can slowly work through with a beer at your side surrounded by friends.

Ironically, I had no interest in Boiling Crab until college. (Too many shrimp heads, which baby Jeannie found gross). But then I tried it and went through a food phase where it was all I wanted every time I ate out. Unfortunately, the neighborhood I live in now doesn’t have a convenient one around for miles. Not even one close enough to deliver. So I had to make do. While this isn’t perfect, the recipe’s close enough to hit the spot!

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Ingredients

  • 1lb Shrimp shell-on
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 corn (I use the sweet frozen ones)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red curry
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A little bit of louisiana hot sauce if you want it spicier. You can also just add more cayenne pepper.

Instructions

1.  Bring pot of water to boil.
2.  Throw potatoes in for 10 minutes.
3.  Add corn and a couple minutes later, shrimp.
4.  Once shrimp turns pink, immediately pour whole pot out into a strainer. If you overcook the shrimp, it gets really hard to peel.
5.  Add butter and garlic to pot.
6.  Once the butter is all melted and the garlic has gotten soft, mix in all your spices.
8.  Add extra seasoning to taste.
9.  Combine shrimp, potato and corn in a big bowl with the sauce.
10.  Shake it up and eat!
Happy Eating!
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Vietnamese Braised Pork & Eggs | Recipe

My momma is probably one, if not the biggest, reason why I grew up to be such a food addict. Almost all my memories with her growing up took place in the kitchen or around food. She loves to cook. Sure, she had her traditional Vietnamese staples, but she also tried to recreate any dish she enjoyed or found intriguing (thanks Food Network). We had fish tacos every weekend for three months until she was satisfied with her recipe. Ha! But today’s recipe is not one of those. This is actually one of those aforementioned traditional Vietnamese staples. It’s something she would whip together on a regular ‘ole day and it was never a point of excitement as a kid.

Having grown up and moved out, it’s somewhat of a rarity to eat it now. It’s not commonly served in Vietnamese restaurants and definitely not at the trendy ones you can find on the westside. It’s a homecooked family meal through and through. Without further ado, here’s Mama Nguyen’s thịt kho trứng, or in other words, braised pork and eggs.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb. of fresh pork belly or pork ribs
  •  6 to 8 eggs
  •  1 can Natural Coconut Flavored Soda (COCO RICO)
  •  Salt
  • Sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Cooking oil

Directions

Let’s get cooking!

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, but leave the eggs in the pot for another 5 minutes.  Then, place the eggs in a cold water to cool them down. Peel the eggs and use a tooth pick to poke a few holes all around each egg. We want all the delicious seasoning to be able to seep in.

thit kho 1

Next, rinse off your cut of pork and pat it dry with a paper towel. Cut the pork into approximately one and a half inch squares. Sprinkle with some salt and black pepper.

thit kho 2

Okay, so flip on your stovetop fans or open a window because it’s time to make our caramel! Which inevitably leads to some smoke rising off and if you’re in a teeny tiny Los Angeles apartment like me with the world’s most sensitive smoke alarm, you’ll want to pop a window or two.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of sugar to the dry pot and cook on high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar melts into a light brown liquid.

thit kho 4

Quickly, stir in all the meat so the caramel doesn’t burn on the bottom. Caramel goes from delightful to smoky burnt rather quickly, so if you think you’re going to be a bit slow with the meat, feel free to flip off the heat, stir the meat in, then turn it back up.

thit kho 6

When all the pieces of the meat turn light brown,  pour in the full can of coconut soda and two cups of water. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper and one tablespoon sugar. Cover the pot.

thit kho 7

As soon as the pot begins boiling, uncover it and skim away all the white foam off the surface. Add in the eggs and cover the pot once more. Bring the heat back down to low and let the dish simmer for about an hour, hour and a half – or until the water reduces almost to the bottom of the pot. This step largely depends on personal preference. If you like thicker sauce, allow it to cook for longer. Just know that leaner cuts of meat can dry out a little if you do. If you like a thinner, wetter sauce, take it off the heat sooner.

thit kho 10

As always, season to taste as you go! This usually is enough for our family of five, so share with friends or you’re set with meal prep for the week. Traditionally, this dish is paired with rice (Mama says nothing beats white rice) and a pickled vegetable dish. Recipes for how to make those coming soon! Until then, happy eating!

Modifications

Keto? Swap out all the sugar for stevia or erythritol and you’ll be good to go. Stick with the fattier pork belly to longer sustenance. You can get diet coco rico or maybe try a coconut flavored sparkling water instead, though you’ll have to up your other sweeteners to compensate for the sugar.

Want it even lower cal? Switch out pork belly for a much leaner cut like the rib or shoulder even.

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