About Johanna

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Chicago/Aurora, IL, United States
I am just like so many busy moms out there. I want to create great meals for me and my family where the food brings us together at the end of a long and hectic day. I want to empower moms to feel like they are able to make Great Everyday Meals by using simple, accessible, and inexpensive ingredients and basic cooking techniques. It’s more about family and less about slaving away in the kitchen cooking. I have been a restaurant industry professional for about 10 years and have a great passion for cooking. I will share tips, recipes and techniques that I have learned to arm everyday cooks with the foundation to simple yet great tasting cooking! Johanna M. Cook

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Broccoli & Chicken Pasta


If your house is any like mine during the week, it is completely hectic and busy! Between work projects, school projects, laundry, and attempting to make the house look semi-clutter free, preparing the dreaded week night meal can become such a daunting task for many parents (mostly moms). A trick I often use specifically to help me make delicious and quick meals during the busy week is always keep frozen vegetables stocked in the freezer. Frozen veggies are great, especially in the winter months when some fresh veggies aren't as great as they would be in the abundant spring and summer months. Frozen veggies are frozen at the peak and height of their best so they keep their vitamins and bright and vibrant colors. Some of the frozen vegetables in my freezer at the moment are Stir-Fry Mixed Vegetables, Broccoli, Choppped Spinach, and Vegetable Medley (cauliflower, broccoli, onions, yellow squash and zucchini), and Peas.

This meal is a simple pasta dish using any short-cut pasta like penne, fusilli, or macaroni, frozen broccoli, fresh Roma tomatoes and chicken breast diced into cubes. Add a litle olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and thyme, red pepper flakes and salt and there you go...dinner!

READ THE FULL RECIPE IN TRIB LOCAL - NAPERVILLE

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recipe: Spanish Chicken Bake


Sundays are always a great day to cook. But some people, like myself work on Sundays and it's not always an ideal day to spend hours in the kitchen (although I often do!). This recipe is truly EASY and a complete no brainer. It only has 4 simple ingredients, not including the salt and pepper!! All you have to do is to pop it in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes and you come out with a delicious Spanish-style casserole for the family for dinner.





Spanish Chicken Bake

4 bone-in chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice
1 15 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 15 oz jar of green olives with pimento
paprika
salt & pepper

Heat a large pan with olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown skin side down first. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Do not cook the chicken all the way, the purpose is just to give it a nice brown color.

In a large casserole dish, place the uncooked white rice in the bottom and place the browned chicken on top. Simply pour the can of roasted tomatoes on top of the chicken and rice. Then, pour the jar of olives, including the olive juice in with the chicken, rice and tomatoes. DO NOT ADD SALT because the olives are already salty there is no need to add more.

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and serve!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mung Bean and Spinach Soup (Mongo)


You can't help but crave for hearty soups in the fall and winter seasons. This recipe is actually a classic Filipino soup made with mung beans. Mung beans are small, lentil-like split beans.

Mung beans are commonly used in Chinese cuisine, where they are called l? dòu (??, literally "green bean"), as well as in Burma, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Pakistan, India, and Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, they are called ??u xanh (again, literally "green bean"). They are generally eaten either whole (with or without skins) or as bean sprouts, or used to make the dessert "green bean soup". The starch of mung beans is also extracted from them to make jellies and "transparent/cellophane" noodles. Many people make the common mistake of thinking that the transparent wrapping of Vietnamese spring rolls is made from mung bean flour. However, it is actually made of rice flour, tapioca starch, water, and salt. In Filipino cuisine, meat is sauteed with garlic, onions, and bay leaves, then mung beans are added and cooked. Mung batter is used to make crepes named pesarattu in Andhra Pradesh, India. (WIKIPEDIA)

This soup is definitely hearty, delicious, easy and fantastic over fluffy Jasmine rice.

READ THE FULL RECIPE

Monday, September 27, 2010

Product Review: Jewel-Osco Professional Cookware for a PENNY

"Jewel-Osco Puts a New Twist on Loyalty Rewards Programs, Enabling Shoppers to Collect Professional Cookware Pieces for Just a Penny Each"

Rewards cards are all the rage as consumers are more conscious about which stores they will get the best deals. Everywhere I go, I am offered a rewards card. Rewards cards usually give customers free items after spending a certain amount, or give incentives for their next shopping trip. It's a win-win situation, especially if it's a place where you shop often.

Jewel-Osco is currently running a program in the 175 Jewel-Osco stores in Chicagoland. Under the program, customers who shop with their Jewel-Osco Preferred Customer Card between August 26 and January 12, 2011 will receive a reward sticker for every $10 spent on eligible purchases. As the stickers are collected, they can be redeemed at the participating stores for eight different peices of Thomas Professional Cookware at the cost of only a penny each! The stickers can be redeemed through January 26, 2011.

Chef Jason Paskewitz of Gemini Bistro in Lincoln Park is also participating in the promotion, providing shoppers with cooking tips and recipe ideas for the various cookeware pieces. "When you cook for your family, you create memories that last a lifetime,"Chef Paskewitz said. "Many of the things I love to cook today are inspired by the wonderful foods I grew up with - from simple fish dishes to spaghetti and meatball paninis on garlic bread to everyday classics like roasted chicken with mashed potatoes. The cookware available at Jewel-Osco is easy to maintain; it lets you cook the foods you love like a professional without having to worry about the upkeep."


The piece I was able to cook with was the 11" non-stick stir fry pan w/ lid. Although it is called a "stir-fry" pan, I used it to make chana-masala, an Indian dish using chick peas braised in spicy and traditional Indian spices. It's a very versatile piece of cookware as you can use it to deep-fry, braise, stir-fry and even to make a smaller batch of soup. The cookware is also oven safe for up to 460 degrees without the lid, and 350 degrees with the lid. For those who religiously shop at Jewel-Osco for their grocery needs, this program is for you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food Company Review: Jewel-Osco and Wild Harvest chicken tortilla soup recipe



As more and more consumers are becoming aware and conscious of the food products they are eating and feeding their families, food companies are responding to the demand by providing people with more natural and organic choices in supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.

The wild harvest® brand of organic and natural foods from JEWEL-OSCO addresses consumers’ growing preference for organic and natural products, as well as their demands for value, selection and convenience. The wild harvest brand includes many products across numerous grocery categories, including dairy, eggs, fresh produce, meats and dry grocery items such as pasta and sauces, cookies, crackers and cereal.

Wild Harvest® is one of Jewel-Osco's private brands. Consumers used to think of private brands as the "generic" store brands. However in today's economy, people are finding that purchasing private brands vs the "designer" brands are more cost effective and in reality have the same high standards of the leading brands. Brand managers work closely with consumer focus groups and food scientists to create brand experiences that continually over-deliver on consumers’ expectations for quality and value, leading them to seek out JEWEL-OSCO stores for its Private Brand products.

For more information on Wild Harvest® Organic, visit www.wildharvestorganic.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE WILD HARVEST CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP RECIPE

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recipe: Grilled Chipotle Chicken Tenders w/ Avocado & Roasted Corn Salsa




July 4th celebrations across the country are under way and it is all about the all mighty barbecue. This recipe for grilled chipotle chicken uses chicken tenders for quick and easy barbecuing, but it can easily be substituted with chicken wings, drumettes, breasts and even a whole chicken for roasting. The marinade used in this recipe is simply a chipotle salsa from well known Chicago celebrity chef, Rick Bayless and his Frontera Foods franchise of all-natural products. It can be found in almost any grocery store in the area. I found this one in Dominick's on Route 59 and 95th Street.

In keeping with the Mexican theme, a great accompaniment to the spicy chipotle chicken, is a cool and refreshing avocado and roasted corn salsa. Salsa has evolved from the "normal" salsa found in Americanized Mexican restaurants across the country to a more gourmet salsa. Today, salsa can be made with fresh mangoes, pineapples, avocados, and citrus just to name a few.

READ THE FULL RECIPE

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Food Festival: VEGGIE FEST 2010



Chicago hosts some of the best festivals in the country. The heat of the summer attracts millions of people to food and music festivals all over the city and suburbs. Probably the most well-known summer food festival is the Taste of Chicago, which boasts cuisine from some of Chicago's best restaurants accompanied by live tunes played by popular bands and musicians.

A newer festival burst on the scene in Chicago, particulary Naperville five years ago, Veggie Fest. Veggie Fest is a FREE festival with live music, local restaurants showcasing their vegetarian menus and workshops with health professionals. This festival is not just for vegetarians nor does it try to convert carnivores into eating only vegetables. It's about showing people that a living a healthy lifestyle is fun and do-able.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food Company Review - Sugar Monkey Cupcakes



In most recent years, cupcakes have been all the rage. So many boutique cupcake shops have been popping up and people cannot get enough of them. It's size helps to satisfy a sweet tooth craving without having to purchase a whole entire cake. Some people even opt to have cupcakes at their weddings instead of the traditional wedding cake! In addition, cupcake shop owners and bakers have come up with the most creative and fun flavors to keep customers interested and coming back for more.


Sugar Monkey Cupcakes on 28 W. Chicago Ave in downtown Naperville is a small, quirky and fun cupcake shop. The walls are adorned with pink and brown stripes with 2 small café tables and chairs placed right in front of the bakery case filled with their homemade creations for people to drool over. Their cupcakes are made with no preservatives and all natural ingredients. The cupcakes are also much denser than what most people are used to, and the frosting is made from scratch with the simple ingredients of real butter, sugar, eggs, milk, flour and real vanilla.

READ THE FULL STORY

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spring Veggies and Beef Soup


Spring vegetables are colorful, delicious and sweet. In this recipe, the soup is made with beef pre-cut from the grocery store, usually made for stews. Another great cut of beef to use in this soup is the thinly sliced, "sandwich" beef, referring that it can be used for Philly steak sandwiches. Because it is thinly sliced it cooks at a very short amount of time and is reminiscent of the Pho style, Vietnamese soup. This recipe uses the chunkier cut of beef, but feel free to mix it up. Use chicken, salmon, or just vegetables...Whatever your heart desires!

READ FULL RECIPE

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Food Company Review - ONEIDA, LTD.


The National Restaurant Association Show was attended by all sorts of restaurant executives and proprietors to find the out the latest in food trends and innovations. As I strolled down the endless isles of booths, I started to think of the what the everyday home cook, like myself, can take away from such an event.

I came across a section of the floor dedicated to restaurant quality dinnerware, glassware, utensils and equipment. One company, ONEIDA, stood out to me. Home cooks everywhere know the name Oneida as it's dinnerware has been a household name for decades. What I did not know was that it also supplies fine (Purple Pig, Chicago) and casual restaurants and is the one of the world's largest marketers for stainless steel silverware/flatware, and has been around for 130 years. These people really know their stuff!


Oneida has launched their newest collection, Chef's Table, to help home cooks frame their culinary creations with restaurant style pieces for their own kitchens. This is great for cooking and entertaining enthusiasts, as the collection is streamlined, classic, elegant, and most of all durable. Perfect for the busy lifestyles we all live. Oneida originated in the mid-nineteenth century and since has grown to be one of the most recognizable brands in the world. You can find their collections at Target, Macy's and Dillards, and http://www.oneida.com/ just to name a few. Oneida has collections fit for every budget without sacrificing quality and style. The Chef's Table Collection comes in three different styles, hard square (pictured), soft square and round. The idea of bringing restaurant quality and style in dinnerware to the home cook only makes sense as more and more people are cooking at home and have a better understanding of all things culinary. With that, not only do people want to cook like chefs, they want their kitchens to feel and look like gourmet meccas, and Oneida is helping to fill that need.

I have worked in restaurants for years and I can say that I would be proud to serve my family and friends  food on these place settings.Oneida's products are as solid as they once were, and it's great that they have modernized their collections for todays modern lifestyles and tastes.

Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken w/ Herb Roasted Purple Potatoes


Dinner time for the modern family, and especially the modern mom, has become a chore that so many do not look forward to because of the anxiety it brings on to the cook of the household. The question, "What's for dinner?" has become a question many moms are fearful to answer because they too are asking themselves the same question, with no luck of finding the answer.

Our society which has become accustomed to instant gratification and instant results, and has unfortunately viewed food in the same manner. Hence the explosion of the fast food industry, premade frozen and boxed (unhealthy) foods and the decline in home cooked meals. Many moms today have a very difficult time creating great homemade meals because they feel it takes too much time. Unfortunately, our youth is at the receiving end of this drama, and many moms and dads alike, want to finally end this vicious trend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

English Rows Farmers Market

Farmers market season is finally upon us! For those of you who are avid cooks and fresh and local food enthusiasts, this is a great time in Chicago. Almost every community has farmers markets, and Naperville is no exception.


The Route 59 corridor in Naperville is home to some of the best restaurants, the Westfield Fox Valley Mall, countless retail stores, golf clubs, and some of the most exclusive subdivisions in the west suburbs. One of these great and unique upscale living communities is English Rows. English Rows is an upscale townhome community which mimics that classical Victorian English design and is overlooking the Tamarack Golf Course. Residents here have discriminating tastes and want to stand out from the norm. The English Rows community also boasts a Towne Center walking distance to the townhomes which is also home to Tommy Nevin's Irish Pub, Koobies Coffee, SereniTea, and Vino100 Wines, and the English Rows Farmers Market.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Saturday, May 22, 2010

National Restaurant Association Show 2010

On Saturday, May 22, 2010, the event anticipated by many restauranteurs and food companies kicked off at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The NRA Show is a showcase of dozens of food related exhibitors who want to sell their services or products to restaurant companies big and small. People from all over the world, with all different kinds of restaurants come to see the latest food trends and apply many of the ideas they have found in the show in their own restaurants. Everything from the most up-to-date point of sale software, to the newest frozen yogurt machines and flavors, plateware, bread, and soda, you name it, if it can be utilized in a restaurant, it's there. In addition, famous chefs like, Chicago's very own, Rick Tramonto of TRU, Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, Osteria di Tramonto and RT Sushi Bar & Lounge, held a book signing for those interested in purchasing his books.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rigatoni in Sausage Ragu


My husband LOVES Italian sausage. It's one of his favorite things to eat. So, I thought on this slow Saturday, that I would make him a great pasta dish using ground Italian sausage.

Most neighborhoods today have wonderful local Italian and world grocery stores where you can find great ingredients for your menu at home. In the fresh market where I live, they sell Italian sausage (mild and hot) already out the casings. This is especially great for making sausage ragu. Also, because the ragu was going to be thick and chunky, I wanted to use rigatoni pasta to be able to hold up to the thickness of the sauce. Plus, I love it when the sausage and tomato chunks get stuck inside the rigatoni!

Rigatoni in Sausage Ragu

1.5 lbs of (mild or hot) Italian sausage - out the casing
1 yellow onion - diced
5 Roma tomatoes - diced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 TBL of kosher salt
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
TBL of chopped flat leaf parsley
3 TBL of olive oil

Heat a large pot with salted boiling water. In a deep saute pan, heat olive oil in high heat. Saute the onions and dried oregano until the onions are translucent. Add the sausage and break it up into smaller chunks, and brown. Once the sausage start turning brown (at this point, add 1 cup of red wine if you desire), add all the tomatoes and scrape any and all the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. The tomatoes will begin to break down and the juices from the tomatoes will start to turn into a sauce. Add the salt and red pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to medium - medium/high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta for 6-8 minutes, or until the pasta is almost al dente. Take the pasta out while it still has some bite and cook it the rest of the way in the ragu. This will ensure that the pasta has all the great flavors of the ragu and the sauce will thicken even more. Add 1 ladle of the pasta water in with the ragu to help the pasta and meat sauce toss easier.

Turn the heat off. Toss in the grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with the parsley and serve.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MORE Magazine's Reinvention Convention - Chicago, IL



"More is the leading voice of today’s sophisticated, affluent and accomplished woman, who is enjoying the richest years of her life, sharing news and advice on beauty, fashion, health, career, travel, money and relationships from her distinct perspective." -More Magazine
________________________________________________

This past Monday, I was invited by a fellow blogger to attend MORE Magazine's Reinvention Convention held in Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, as press to cover the event in my blog. Before this convention, I did not know much about the magazine besides the seldom glance at the cover in the local grocery store's magazine isle. Also, let me preface this article by saying that I do not by any means perceive myself as "press", although I have had dreams of becoming a magazine writer ever since my failed attempt at finishing college with a magazine journalism degree from Columbia College (Chicago). So, it was to my very pleasant surprise to have been invited under such circumstances.

Since MORE Magazine's target audience, as stated in the first paragraph, was for affluent and accomplished women over 40 years old, I had no idea what to expect from the convention being that I am a 29 year old, young mother, with 3 kids under the age of 10, still trying to find my place in my chosen career and definitely not (yet) affluent by our society's standards. However sophisticated, I did not feel that I would fit in. So, I was very interested about what I was going to take away from this conference.

Upon entering the event, I was greeted with a check-in table with a line of very well dressed ladies, with ear pieces and great big smiles on their faces. I was told to check in at the press area where I received a press badge. Let me tell you that at that moment, I suddenly felt all the old dreams I once had of becoming a magazine writer rush back in my veins. Even though I knew that I did not write for a publication, and all I had was this little known blog about my love for food and family, I did not care. It felt awesome! So, as I walked with my blogger friend into the grand ballroom, I began to feel truly excited about the conference.

The emcee for the evening was Lee Woodruff, a funny and witty co-author of the best-selling In an Instant, and an ABC's Good Morning America contributor. You might know of her best from the inspiring story about her husband, Bob Woodruff, an ABC co-anchor of World News Tonight, who while reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. She spoke about her life in those difficult times and how she stayed strong for her husband, children and herself. It was a great introduction of what was to come.

Keynote speakers included Dara Torres, a 12 time swimming Olympic medalist, who at 41 years old,  faced a comeback in the 2008 Olympics and won 3 silver medals despite the media's criticism of her older age. She spoke about her memoir, Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage In Your Life.  Here I was, feeling very insecure about my youth and inexperience, surrounded by very well put together (older) women, with more money, more accomplishments and carrying purses worth as much as my mortgage payment when I really started to listen to Dara's message. She achieved this great goal of being in the Olympics at the age of 41. Not only did she compete in the Olympics, but received 3 silver medals! Her whole life, she devoted herself to her passion and talent. And at every stage in her life, she accomplished great things. So, no matter what age you are, young, old and in between, your dreams are at different stages also. The point is to always follow your heart and use your talents to achieve the goals you have set for yourself, and once in a while you'll be surprised at how you can exceed even your own expectations and blow everyone away.

The second keynote speaker was Dana Delaney who currently appears as Katherine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives. She is a single, talented actress who spoke very openly about sexuality and her craft. She was a nice addition to the group since she brought a vibrant attitude and spoke about how happy and satisfied she is to be single at her age. It was wise for More to invite her as a speaker as there are many women who are just like Dana, who are happily single or divorced and are satisfied in their careers. This was very refreshing to listen to and all the women particularly enjoyed her question and answer with Lee Woodruff as she spoke about her experiences in tantric breathing.

The closing keynote speaker for the day was none other than the very inspiring, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founding chair of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She was recently appointed by the World Heath Organization to Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control. It was so awesome to hear her speak about the "power of one". Her idea about the power of one is simple. Every person, in his/her own community, family, workplace and circle of friends, has the power to make a change for any cause. Her commitment to end breast cancer to her dying sister, "Suzie", as she lovingly called her, brought her to do such great things to help find the cure for this disease. And everyone has the power to do great things if they choose to do so.

The convention also broke out into smaller sessions with speakers focusing on finance, social media, career reinvention, health, fitness, sex and beauty. It was a well rounded group of fabulous women who were experts in their field and who brought real knowledge and great advice for women of all ages. I was particularly excited to get the chance to listen to, meet and get a book signed by Jean Chatzky, an award-winning journalist, motivational speaker, and financial editor for NBC'S Today, contributing editor to More and a columnist for The New York Daily News. I always enjoyed watching her on Today on NBC and knew best from her financial advice.

At the end of the convention, I felt so inspired by these "older" women. So many times in my personal life, I have sort of envied the confidence and experience of these women. They even look better than I do! What I learned from a day spent at the More Magazine's Reinvention Convention was that all this does come with age and I cannot rush my own process. My own life's journey will take me into great successes and trials. As long as I follow my heart, my passion, my knowledge and continue to learn, I will become even more confident, more successful, and more passionate as the years come.
















Monday, May 17, 2010

For the Kiddos - Chicken & Alphabet Soup


Spring in Chicago has been gloomy, wet and chilly lately and I was in the mood for some comforting, homemade soup. As I was cruising down the grocery store isles with my list of things and ingredients to buy for the week, I was also trying to find inspiration, specifically in the pasta section. Pasta is just one of those comfort foods that so many people go to, especially on chilly and gloomy days. As I was scanning all the different types of pastas, I came across alphabet pasta. Right then and there I had an OMG moment!

Why haven't I thought of this before? Almost everyone I know has great memories of eating alphabet soup as a child. I remember being so mesmerized by all the letters floating around in the broth. I don't even remember the last time I have eaten alphabet soup, and more importantly I don't ever recall my kids ever eating alphabet pasta. I don't even think they know it exists! I had to buy it and make them a great chicken noodle soup using this pasta. Even better is my toddler, Sofia, who's learning her letters is going to be so excited to eat her letters!

This soup is so incredibly simple to make, you'll be wondering why you'd ever buy the canned stuff ever again!

Chicken & Alphabet Soup

2 cups of alphabet pasta
4 cups of chicken broth
2 bay leaves
3 stalks of celery - diced
1 carrot - diced
1 small onion - diced
1.5 cups of shredded chicken
1 TBL of canola oil
salt & pepper


Heat a large pot with canola oil and saute the onions, celery and carrots just until they start to sweat and release their flavor. Pour the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add 2 tsp of salt and 1/2 a tsp of pepper. Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked shredded chicken and heat through for about 3 minutes and serve.

TIP: This soup is great using left over rotisserie chicken!



Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fried Egg Rolls


I must admit, there is something deliciously awesome about a greasy little egg roll. The problem with making these great rolls is the time it takes to prep all the ingredients and roll each and every one. On Mother's Day, after my husband and kids treated me to a fabulous brunch at the golf club, I decided to return the favor by making homemade egg rolls. Boy, were they excited!

There are various versions of the egg roll. The typical Chinese egg roll is made with a thicker wonton wrapper. The Filipino version, Lumpia, is made with a thinner wrapper. The filling also varies in different parts of Asia. Some make a filling mixed with cellophane rice noodles, cabbage, ground  pork, and shrimp. What's great about the filling is that it's purely subjective. You can julienne zucchini, leeks, shiitake mushrooms and use that as your filling. Virtually, whatever you desire can be wrapped in wonton skins and deep fried! My recipe is pretty typical. I use Savoy cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, celery and ground chicken.

Tip: Make a big batch and freeze for the future. Freeze them separately on a cooking sheet and place in a freezer bag once it's been completely frozen.

Fried Egg Rolls

1 head of Savoy cabbage
1 - 10 oz bag of shredded carrots 
8 oz of shiitake mushrooms - thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery - thinly sliced
1 - 8 oz bag of bean sprouts
1 lb of ground chicken (you can use ground turkey, ground pork, ground beef or minced shrimp)
3 TBL of soy sauce
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 TBL of kosher salt
3 TBL of canola oil
1 - 12 oz package of wonton wrappers
1 egg - beaten with 1 tsp of water

Heat a large saute pan on high heat with canola oil. Brown the ground chicken in the pan and break chunks into small pieces.  Add the salt, pepper, ground ginger and red pepper flakes. Once the chicken is browned add all the vegetables, except of the bean sprouts. Toss the vegetables in with the chicken and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and bean sprouts and saute for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool.
On a flat and dry surface lay out a wonton wrapper, like a diamond. Take about 2 tablespoons of the cooled filling and place it on the wrapper about 1 inch from the lowest point.

Carefully take the right and left sides of the wrapper and fold it towards the center. Take the bottom point, and slowly fold it up, tuck it in and roll. When you get to the end, brush the last point of the wrapper with the egg wash mixture to secure the egg roll.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Deep fry in a deep fryer or a pot filled with about 2 cups of canola oil, heated to at least 360 degrees.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Soy Braised Chicken




Soy sauce is as important to Asian cooking as balsamic vinegar is to Italian cooking. It's basically made by fermenting soy beans. Soy sauce is an important flavouring ingredient in so many kinds of Asian cooking. And just like balsamic vinegar, there are even varieties of soy sauce that are rare and very expensive.

"A study by National University of Singapore shows that Chinese dark soy sauce contains 10 times the antioxidants of red wine, and can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.[13] (However, it is unlikely to be used in nearly as great a quantity as wine.) Soy sauce is rich in lactic acid bacteria and of excellent anti-allergic potential.[14][15]"  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_sauce

Today, I made Soy Braised Chicken. It's a Filipino dish called Adobong Manok. To braise any protein basically means that you will be cooking the meat in a liquid in low heat until it is fork tender. This type of cooking is used to make pot roast and coq au vin, just to name a few. I guess this is the Filipino version of coq au vin :). This dish has only a few ingredients, chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, onions, bay leaves, garlic and pepper, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Basically, you throw everything in a pot, let it simmer for about an hour and then serve it over fluffy pillows of delicious jasmine rice. The authentic Filipino version does not use sweet potatoes. But I like the contrast of it's sweetness, and I love it for it's nutrition. This will definitely spice things up in your home.

Soy Braised Chicken

1 package of  "pinwheel chicken"
2 cups of water
10 oz bottle of low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of whole black peppercorns
3 garlic gloves - chopped
2 bay leaves
1 onion - chopped
1 yellow potato - chopped
1 sweet potato - chopped
2 TBL of vegetable oil

Heat a large pot in meduim-high heat with vegetable oil. Brown all chicken pieces. Not all the chicken pieces may fit at the same time, so brown 3-4 pieces at a time. When all the chicken pieces are browned, put them all back in the pot and add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, soy sauce, water, vinegar, black peppercorns and potatoes.

Bring to a boil, then simmer at low heat, uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the chicken and potatoes are fork tender. There is no need to add salt, as the soy sauce is already salty. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve on top of hot jasmine rice.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wanna-Be Cooking Show


Today is little different than previews posts, as I won't be posting a recipe, but simply sharing my experience. The thought of blogging about my experiences for all the world to read was ridiculous to me in the beginning. As I started to find out about people's blog websites (I was mostly interested in cooking/food blogs), I realized that it was actually a great way to share my love of food and cooking to others. When I went on my maternity leave, I thought that blogging about my recipes would be a great way to share, not with the world, but my closest friends and family about my cooking experiences professionally and personally. Plus, it was just the creative outlet I needed while sitting at home just waiting to burst with my third child.

Anyone who's known me, even have just met me recently, will know that I have a great passion for food. It's in my blood. It's therapeutic. It's creative. It's delicious (most of the time). Since I started this blog, more and more people started to become interested in what I was doing, especially mothers. Here I am, a mom of 3 kids, one of who is an infant, working full time and trying my best to manage it all. It's not a far-fetched idea. I'm not the only one doing it, and I know that I've got company. So, as I post each recipe a few times a week, people realize that these are actual meals I am serving to my family. It's not just some production to make fancy food, take pictures and post it on a website. It's real food that I've prepared while the toddler is in the living room watching TV, my 8 year old on the kitchen table asking me about his math problems, and an infant screaming in the background while my husband attempts to calm her down with a bottle of formula. Real life that so many others are living.

Today, this past-time has become very important to me. Now, it's more than just a creative outlet. I want to share with people, especially mother's, that making great food doesn't mean you have to sacrifice time and money. Believe me, I've got a strict budget for both! Feeding my family and friends is important to me. It's how I show them that I love them, and I care. And I want them to taste the love in food I make. I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way. So, now as I embark on this new journey as Momma Cuisine, I hope that you all can join me in this great adventure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pasta w/ Jumbo Meatballs


I love pasta. It's a great comfort food. However, the typical spaghetti and meatballs in many households have become jarred and frozen conconctions thrown together in a pot. Don't get me wrong. I use a lot of jarred tomato sauces for times that I don't have the time and energy to make sauce from scratch (and that's often). But nothing will ever compare to the homemade version. Making sauce from scratch can be intimidating. The key is to let it simmer long enough that all the flavors meld together to make outstanding flavor. My sauce has an ingredient that people might find odd in a pasta sauce, but it helps to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes and give it a hint of sweetness. SUGAR. Yes! Sugar. This is also the reason, besides trying to throw in some veggies for the kids, I add carrots. When cooked, carrots have a sweet taste that also lends to the slight sweetness in the sauce. It's not often that I make pasta and meatballs from scratch. But when I do have the time to make it, my kids and husband are sooo happy to indulge in this homy, comforting and delicious dish. How could your family not appreciate this from you? :)

Pasta w/ Jumbo Meatballs

For the meatballs:

1.5 lbs of ground beef
2 tsp garlic - finely chopped
3/4 cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 TBL of salt
1 tsp of pepper
2 tsp of fresh chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsely

For the sauce:

2 TBL of olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper - diced
1 carrot -diced
1 yellow onion - diced 
1 28 oz can of peeled & crushed tomatoes
1 TBL of dried thyme
1 TBL or dried oregano
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 TBL of salt
2 TBL of granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, parsely, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and egg. Form into large meatballs. 1.5 lbs makes about 10-11 jumbo meatballs.

Boil a pot full of water, adding 2 TBL of salt to flavor the pasta.

In a large, deep sauce pot, heat 2 TBL of olive oil in medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs. It is not important to cook the meatballs all the way through because you will be finishing cooking it in the sauce. The important thing is to give it a nice brown color and form a crust on the exterior of the meatballs. Once the meatballs have been browned on all sides, set aside.

In the same pot, add the onions, garlic, carrots and green bell peppers and saute in meduim-low heat. "Sweat the onions", meaning let it cook slowly so that they become tender and not burn and the flavors come out. Add the dried thyme and oregano. Because I am using dried herbs, it is key to let them bloom, so adding them early in the cooking process allows for that to happen. If I was using fresh herbs, I would have put them in after the tomato sauce was added. Also, dried herbs are more potent in flavor that fresh herbs, so use less.

After the vegetables have become tender, add the crushed tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer at low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, add 2 TBL of sugar and carefully place the browned meatballs in the sauce stirring it in with the sauce gently so that they do not break. Simmer it for another 15 minutes to let the flavors combine together. At this point, add the pasta into the boiling, salted water and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Take the pasta out and place it in a large pasta serving bowl. Drizzle it with a little olive oil to prevent from sticking together.

Trick: While the sauce is simmering, occasionally add a laddle of the salted pasta water (no more than 3) to allow the sauce to move around. The sauce will reduce because it is simmered for a long time, so it is important not to let it get too thick.

Laddle the sauce on the top of the pasta and carefully place the meatballs on top. Add grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsely for a nice presentation. Sit back and enjoy hearing all the "Oooohhh's" and "Aaaaaahhh's" at the dinner table. GREAT JOB MAMA!








Saturday, May 1, 2010

Roasted Trout Stuffed w/ Fennel & Citrus

It's Saturday and I rarely have the weekends off from work. So, I decided to get a little "fancy" and roast 3 whole trout and stuff it with fennel, honey tangerine, and lemon wheels. Fennel is a bulb that has a great licorice flavor. Essentially, this recipe only has 5 ingredients (not including s&p), trout, olive oil, lemon, fennel and honey tangerine. It's incredible how simple this is to make, but the presentation is just plain awesome! What a way to wow your guests at a weekend gathering in your home :).

Roasted Trout Stuffed w/ Fennel & Citrus

3 Whole Trout about 1 lb each (cleaned and de-boned by your fish monger)
1 bulb of fennel - slice thinly
1 honey tangerine - cut into half moons
1 lemon - cut into half moons
1/4 olive oil
salt & pepper


Line a baking sheet with foil or wax paper. Line up the fish parallel to each other and lightly drizzle inside with olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper. Gently stuff with fennel, and 3 each of the lemon and honey tangerine half moon slices, alternating the citrus for a nice presentation. Take the green leafy ends and also stuff it in the trout for a bright green color to add to the flavor and presentation.Whatever is left over from the fennel and citrus, place under the fish and all over the baking sheet to roast. Drizzle olive oil on the outside of the fish and fennel and citrus, and squeese 2 TBL of lemon juice over the entire sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes on 400 degrees.
THAT'S IT!!!