Jun 252012

My friend Rose made this sauce several times. The recipe below is what she used most often.

1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (I used two cups or more!)
1/3 cup water – probably a full cup
2 cloves garlic, minced – I used a whole bunch of this!
Tamari soy sauce – I used equal parts of this, the sesame oil, and brown sugar
sesame oil
Dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. tamarind paste OR 2 Tbsp. lime juice – I used a full lime with the zest also, with the Ginger in a tube
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce (more or less to taste) -I used cayenne papper
1/3 cup coconut milk -I used a full can of “Thai kitchen” coconut milk
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth.
Serve warm or at room temperature with my Thai Chicken Satay, as a dip with fresh veggies, with fresh spring rolls, or other Asian finger foods. Or combine with noodles to create a Thai-style noodle dish or cold noodle salad. Enjoy!

Note: This sauce tends to thicken as it sits – just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator (keep up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter).

Mar 062011

This is another dead-simple casserole that I whipped up a few days ago when friends were coming over and I wasn’t sure that we’d have enough on hand to eat.


  1. One half of a bag of egg noodles (about 6 oz.)
  2. One can (411 g, 14.5 oz.) of french-style green beans, ideally no salt added—with liquid
  3. One can (227g, 8 oz.) of button mushroom stems and pieces—with liquid
  4. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 500 g (1 lb)
  5. One can (298 g, 10.5 oz.) of cream of mushroom soup
  6. One can (298 g, 10.5 oz.) of cream of chicken soup
  7. dried poultry seasoning, to taste
  8. garlic powder, to taste
  9. dried onion topping, to taste


In a large casserole, layer in order:

  1. egg noodles
  2. green beans and liquid
  3. mushrooms and liquid

Liberally douse the chicken breasts with seasoning, on both sides. Layer on top of the noodles, beans, and mushrooms. Cover with both cans of soup, smoothing the mixture to cover everything underneath. Top with optional dried onions. Cook, uncovered, in the oven for 80–90 minutes at 175 ºC (350 ºF).

Note that due to the cans of soup, the sodium count for this recipe will be pretty high. If you can find lower-sodium varieties of soup, use them instead.

Feb 202011


In a largeish soup pot, add ½–¾ stick (4–6 Tbsp) of butter. Heat on low until the butter has almost completely melted.

Add 5–6 cloves of minced garlic, or more if you really like garlic.

Rough chop one or two packages of mushrooms and add to the pot.

Increase the heat and cook until the mushrooms give up their moisture and start to brown.

Add a generous handful (about ⅓ cup) of flour and stir until absorbed.

Add one cup or so of good chicken stock and stir until nearly at a boil.

Add one cup or so of milk and stir until nearly at a boil.

Lower heat to simmer. Add fresh-ground nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste.

Cook until the desired thickness is achieved. You can also add some cream (a few tablespoons) near the end to help thicken, or just cook longer.

Feb 192011

My Favorite Homemade Burritos

Well, mostly homemade :)

I was born and raised in the great state of Michigan. When you say “burrito” to us, we think of a mess of seasoned beef, tomato salsa, loads of cheese, sour cream, and soft tortillas. We call ‘em “wet burritos” for a reason. This recipe really builds on the standard make-at-home burrito, based on a packaged seasoning mix. You can make your own if you have the cumin, paprika, cayenne, and so on… but I’m lazy.


  • 450–500g 95% lean ground beef (about one pound)
  • One medium cooking onion, diced finely
  • 2–3 T olive oil
  • One 0.8 L (about 28 fl. oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • One packet of Trader Joe’s Taco Mix (you can use any medium-hot taco seasoning mix)
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Chili Powder to taste
  • Dried oregano flakes to taste
  • Refried beans
  • Burrito-size tortillas
  • Finely-shredded Mexican cheese mix
  • Salsa (heat to your preference)
  • Sour Cream


Pour the olive oil in a really large skillet and turn the heat on the medium-high. Finely chop your onion (I use one of those whack-choppers—I’m lazy, remember?) and add it to the now-hot oil. Sauté for about one to two minutes. When the onions are sizzling, add the ground beef and break it up so it can start browning. Pour about one third of the seasoning packet in now and mix it in with the beef and onions. Cook for a minute or two. Add the entire can of diced tomatoes, including the juice, and stir everything up. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes. While it’s doing that, add the other seasonings and enough of the seasoning packet to total about half. The stuff from Trader Joe’s is pretty piping hot, so if you like your Mexican food stomach-searing hot, go ahead and add more. I supplemented the packet with the seasonings I had on hand and I think it was a good mix.

After a few minutes of bubbling on medium-high, turn the stove down to high simmer and let it cook until most of the juice has evaporated—it took me about fifteen minutes, all told. Stir it occasionally to check on the consistency of the mix and sample to make sure it tastes the way you want it to. When there’s still enough wetness to keep the mixture moving easily around the skillet, but not so much that there are pools, you can turn the meat off.

Build your burrito however you like, but I like this way: start with a big ole’ flour tortilla. Smear some tasty refried beans in the center lower half of the tortilla. Add some shredded cheese—not tons, but enough to sort of cover the beans. Then spoon on the meat mixture. Add enough that the tortilla will be plump, but not so much that it can’t maintain structural integrity. Fold it up and over. If you’re hungry, make a second one now, too. Once that’s assembled, liberally douse it/them with more shredded Mexican cheese and spoon salsa on top—enough for a decent coating, but not so much that it won’t heat in the microwave. Pop the plate in the nuker and heat for about a minute on medium-high, to help melt the cheese and warm up the salsa. Add sour cream (I didn’t say this was HEALTHY, people), sit down and dig in.

You should be able to get six to eight burritos out of this recipe.

Feb 182011

3 T butter
3 T olive oil
3–4 medium-small cooking onions, chopped roughly
6 T crushed garlic (I use a brand that basically amounts to cubes of garlic purée)
2 T crushed ginger (by the same people who do the garlic)
Garlic powder to taste
12–15 black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
One largish sprig of fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
2 large (32 fl. oz. or so) containers of chicken broth or stock
2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into roughly ¾ inch cubes—use whatever chicken you have on hand, between ¾ and a pound or so
One container of “baby bella” pre-sliced mushrooms
One large can of sliced button mushrooms, with liquid
About ⅓ C diced green bell pepper
Two large stalks of celery, diced
About ⅓–½ C diced carrots
About 8 oz. cole slaw mix (add more or less to taste)
Lots and lots of ground black pepper
One Knorr chicken bouillon cube
Various dried poultry-complementing herbs, to taste

I added things in order of what takes the longest to cook to the shortest, cooked on high for about five hours, then low for another two. It’s good day one, but much better on day two and following.

Feb 162011

I had a bunch of leftover rice and two boneless, skinless chicken breasts that needed cooking, so I sliced the breasts into 2cm strips, plopped them on a bed of rice on the bottom of a 2 quart casserole, covered them with garlic powder and pepper, then two cans of cream of mushroom soup and two cans of French-style green beans. Cook about 45 minutes or so at 350 ºF.

Feb 162011

Start with two medium yellow potatoes, cut into 2–3mm slices. Line the bottom and sides of a ~2 qt casserole with them. Next, roughly dice two stalks of celery and arrange evenly across the potatoes on the bottom. Take two 2 cm-thick (or so) pork chops and season them with garlic, salt, and lots of pepper. Place in the casserole. Finely chop about ⅓ C of carrots and drop on top of and beside the pork chops. Spread one can of cream of potato soup and one can of cream of mushroom soup around the pork chops and veggies. Add one large can of mushroom pieces, including the water. Add more garlic and pepper, pop in the oven at 350 ºF for about an hour or until the pork is fully cooked.

Feb 162011

Approx. 500g (1 lb) beef stew meat, cut into 3cm-ish cubes or so
1 T. butter
3 medium cooking onions
About 8 oz. carrots
About 8 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
One medium-large parsnip, chopped into chunks about the same size as the carrots
Potatoes (I used about 1 C. each “baby” red and yellow potatoes, cut into roughly 1cm cubes)
3 large celery ribs, chopped about half the size of the carrots
Beef stock (about six cups; adjust to the amount of meat and veg you have)
2–3 T. flour
1 package sliced button mushrooms
1 package sliced “baby bella” mushrooms
1 packet “slow cooker beef stew” seasoning (or just toss in tons of beef-enhancing seasoning—I was lazy this time)

Slice about half to two-thirds of one onion about 2–3 mm thick and sautée in a pan with the butter. While the onion cooks, coat the stew beef with a little flour and add to the pan when the onions start to caramelize. While that’s all cooking, roughly chop the rest of the onions and add them to the slow cooker along with the garlic, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and celery. Add the caramelized onions, meat, one package of mushrooms, stock, and seasoning and turn the cooker on high. Cook for about three hours on high; mix in the flour and add the rest of the mushrooms. Cook for another hour or two on high. You can eat it the same day, or let it sit overnight and thicken the sauce.