Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Calzones


Having had some dough left over from my Basic Bread with whey, I decided calzones would be the perfect to weeknight dinner to use up a faulty yeast dough, and was I ever correct in that assessment! I also used up some of my freezer/once-a-month-cooking goods so this came together amazingly quickly and easily and absolutely deliciously.

Makes 2 large Calzones

Heat in a small pan 1 cup of plain Tomato Sauce, add 2-3 Tbsp. Chili Powder, a shake or two of Cayenne Powder, Cumin, Salt and Pepper. Add 1 cup of Shredded Chicken to the 'Enchilada' Sauce.  Using half of the dough produced from the Basic Bread recipe, split into two equal portions and roll out to a circular shape. Fill each dough circle with half of the saucy chicken mixture, top with 1 cup Roasted Peppers and Onions (1/2 cup for each calzone) and sprinkle in plenty of Cheddar Cheese. Pinch edges of dough together to create a calzone or hot pocket and bake at 350* (177) for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and heated through. Enjoy with a glass of milk, or a margarita!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Bake Oats and Spent Grain Bars


I saw these No Bake Granola Bars on Pinterest recently and was confident I needed to give them a shot using up some spent grains. As is common with spent grains, they add a lot of moisture. I didn't perfect this, and should have actually prepared the Granola Bars without making so many substitutes so I could get a better feel for their texture/consistency and would have a better idea on how to adjust the recipe upon adding spent grains. However, I think were I to try again, I'd just add a bit more oatmeal - probably actually what the original recipe calls for and just add spent grains as if they were flaxseed, so a couple tablespoons or so - rather than trying to make a primarily spent grain bar - but then again, who knows, spent grains are more common in our household than oats.

Ingredients/Directions: (this is how I plan to try it the next time!)

In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups of oats, 1 cup of popped rice (or rice crispies other puffy cereal) and 2-4 Tbsp. Spent Grains. In a small pot, melt 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup Honey and 1/3 cup Brown Sugar over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce heat and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. Pour this mixture over oats, grains and cereal, mix well. Pour into jelly roll pan and pack it in TIGHT! Cool at room temperature 2 hours, wrap in plastic and continue to store at room temperature - the refrigerator will supposedly make them hard as a rock, no good.

Menu: Kimchi Fried Rice and Taiwanese Pancakes

If you're looking for a nice menu that's completely doable in the land of Kimchi, why not throw together a bit of Kimchi Fried Rice (I decided to cook by kimchi till it was a bit crispy, which made the air slightly toxic, but gave the dish added depth of flavor - similar to the way kimchi is cooked when you eat sam-gyup-sal) and serve some Taiwanese Pancakes on the side - guaranteed to satisfy your hunger!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Overnight Oats with Spent Grains

If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, sure as anything, you have seen Overnight Oats in adorable Mason Jars being posted all-over the place, and for good reason!

In an attempt to keep up with eating hearty, healthy, filling breakfasts, I decided to jump on the train and am incredibly thankful I did because this is quite possibly one of the easiest breakfasts I've made yet.


In a jar or small tuperware bowl, mix together 1/2 cup Rolled Oats, 2 Tbsp. Spent Grains, Sprinkle of Flaxseed, 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt and 2/3 cups milk. Let set overnight (or I've read a minimum of 30 minutes). In the morning serve with your choice of fruits, jams, spices, honey, peanut butter, etc. Make additional jars/bowls per mouth to feed. (Spent grains and flaxseed not required, most basic oats can be made with jut oats, yogurt and milk!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gypsy Soda Bread

Wanting to ensure we would have breakfast to look forward to on Monday and for a last chance using up some sour-home-made-yogurt-that-was-kind-of-like-buttermilk I hit my Kindle collection of cookbooks and searched for 'buttermilk'.  Many things turned up, but the one that sounded quickest and easiest was a Soda Bread from a cookbook about Gypsy Cuisine (although, if you read the Amazon reviews some folks don't agree about the authenticity of the recipes - I know nothing about traditional or non-traditional Gypsy Cuisine...but am still calling this Gypsy Soda Bread, sorry if you find such offensive)

From Gypsy Feast: Recipes and Culinary Traditions of the Romany People by Carol Wilson

Preheat oven to 400*F (204*C). In a large bowl mix 2 cups Flour, 1 tsp. Baking Soda, 1 tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar. Rub or cut in 2 Tbsp. Butter until well dispersed. Make a well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup Buttermilk, mix quickly until a dough is formed. Knead lightly on a floured surface and roll into a round about 1 1/2 inches thick. Mark the top with four cuts. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 20 minutes, until golden and sounding hollow when tapped.

Pesto-Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

As per Valentine's tradition, the hubs and I whipped up some fantastic eats in 519 Kitchen this past, I realize this past weekend was not Valentine's Day. In fact, Valentine's day has long come and gone. However, we were hosting lovely friends on Valentine's Day and went out for spicy Korean chicken. Shortly after Valentine's day, we were soaking up the broth of Pho Noodles and the warmth of Southern Vietnam.

Then we hosted more friends.

Then we started school.

And we needed to adjust to the new semester. So, Valentine's Day traditions were put on hold.

Good things come to those who wait. Such as chicken, stuffed with homemade Pesto and Ricotta.


Start with two chicken breasts (or some kind of butterfly, fillet ? not entirely sure as that cut is not available in the land of Kimchi) and carefully slice in half to create four thin fillets. Pound the chicken breasts out to about 1/4 inch or less with a meat mallet or canned food item of choice. Season breasts with salt and pepper and procede to stuff as you like, we used some 'ricotta' (from the semi-failed yogurt-making operation) and Walnut-Basil Pesto before rolling and tucking. Next, dip the rolled chicken into a bit of milk (or buttermilk/failed yogurt) and Italian Bread Crumbs. Bake in a preheated oven of 450*F (232*C) for 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Enjoy with rice or bread, and your favorite person(s).

Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta


As part of our Valentine's-cooking-together-tradition, I whipped up this special treat while the man pounded out some chicken and prepared it to be baked.

At one of my favorite restaraunts in Laramie, I had the good fortune of ordering a sandwich which showcased balsamic vinegar soaked onions, they were amazing and I decided they would be double amazing if said, balsamic vinegar soaked onions were carmelized on the stovetop (medium-low heat, bit of olive oil for about 20 minutes, lots of stirring, finished when their sticking to the pan). Throw those into a bowl of quartered cherry tomatoes, drizzle with additional olive oil, season with salt, pepper and fresh basil - to-friggin-die-for.

Enjoyed this condiment of sorts on top of the not-perfect-but-delightfully-edible Basic Bread (with whey).

Basic Bread - with whey

If you've done any soft-cheese making or drained any yogurt (home-made) or otherwise of it's excess liquid, then you've surely found yourself with a jar or two full of whey while the curds compose the cheese or Greek style yogurt you were likely after.

But what about the whey? What can you do?

Other than pouring some into a dish for any 4 (or 3.5) legged creatures sharing space with you and your family, why not substitute the whey for the water or milk in most bread recipes?

For the hubs and I's recent Belated Valentine's Tradition, I whipped up a batch of Jamie-Oliver's Basic Bread Recipe, substituting whey for water, and other than having dead yeast, the bread turned out just fine...

Have you done and cheese or yogurt making and ended up with leftover whey? What are your favorite uses for the whey?

Herb Cubes

Saw this on Pinterest.
Chopping fresh herbs.
Throwing them into ice cube trays.
Adding water, oil or butter.

I've done similar with pestos and food-processed roasted green chilis.

I love the freezer. And Pinterest. And fresh herbs.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easy Thai Coffee

I first enjoyed Thai Coffee while enjoying the company of my dear friend SJ while lounging around the original 519. I wasn't a big coffee drinker at the time, however, it turns out that adding sweetened condensed milk to things really gets me going.

Now, traditionally, I believe Thai Coffee is made with half-and-half or cream rather than sweetened condensed milk. More specifically, the cream is infused with the strong yet pleasing flavor of cardamom before being added to strong brewed coffee.

It is not easy to get cream in South Korea, not impossible, just not as easy as walking to the bottom of the hill.

Also, I like SJ's version better.

Smash a tablespoon or so of Cardamom pods before adding them to no more than a cup of coffee, let set for a day or so - throw in a small stick of cinnamon if you desire.

Using a French Press (or I suppose any other coffee preperatory system), brew a serving or two of Cardamom Coffee, fill a mug or glass with a touch...or more...of sweetened condensed milk, add coffee and ice if you so desire (I usually take mine hot) and enjoy a deliciously spiced cup of coffee!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Do you appreciate alliteration?
I do.
Buttermilk. Blueberry. Breakfast.
I should call it Bread, rather than cake.

Did I tell you I had some mishaps with my second-batch of yogurt? Nothing too dramatic, but a lot of seperation of curds from whey and sour tasting, runny yogurt-milk, rather than beautiful creamy yogurt.

However, thanks to our dumpster diving days and a ton of Extended Shelf Life recipes and an understanding that food is usable a lot longer than we normally give it credit for, even if smells a little funky or isn't perfect, convinced me that nothing needed to be tossed.

Whey could easily be fed to the dog or used in bread items (which it was later in the week), curds could be drained and used as a soft cheese (which it was later in the week) and runny-yogurty-milk that tastes a little sour could be used as buttermilk...which it was, for this Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake Bread


Recipe barely adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Preheat oven to 350*F (177*C) and prepare a single round pan or square pan with oil or butter, set aside. Cream together 1/2 cup softened Butter with 2 tsp. Orange Zest and 7/8 cups Sugar (that's the same as 3/4 cups minus 2 Tbsp.) Add to this creamed mixture 1 room temperature egg and 1 tsp. Vanilla, beat until well combined. Toss 2 cups of fresh or forzen blueberries with 1/4 cup Flour. Next, mix together 1 3/4 cups Flour, 2 tsp. Baking Power and 1 tsp. Salt. Add flour mixture to the creamy butter mixture alternating with 1/2 cup buttermilk. Fold in blueberries. Sprinkle batter with 1 Tbsp. Sugar before baking 35-45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before enjoying or save for breakfast the following morning.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Being the 'grandma' that I am, my heart is rejoicing in having recently 'canned' some vegetables in my own home. Although I haven't invested in the full extend of canning materials while living in South Korea, I am well versed in the art of preserving and wanted to try my hand at refrigerator pickles in an attempt to use up some fresh dill, as well as to simply enjoy a crisp, tangy, non-sickly-sweet pickle.

The process was quite easy and my results have been delicious. However, the original recipe called for heads of dill that had recently flowered, but not gone to seed...I did not have these nor want to wait. I should have added additional dill to compensate for flavor and done a bit more chopping of the herbs as my pickles are strong on vinegar, light on dill. Regardless, in a land of sweet pickles as a side-dish to pizza, having some cucumbers that are powerful and tangy is all right by me!


The original recipe is for a more major canning operation than I intended to conduct, therefore, I will give measurements as the pertain to a single quart (or two pints) of refrigerator pickles, I obviously did a bit more and ended up with about 4 pint-ish jars. As I don't have canning supplies here, the majority of my jars are simply cleaned and re-used jam jars, pasta sauce jars, etc.

Sterilize as many jars as you plan to use. For a single quart you will need 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 cup of Water, 1 1/4 tsp. Pickling Salt (I used the best 'solar' something or other sea salt I could find in a Korean super market), 2-3 cloves of Garlic, 2 heads (or 2-3 Tbsp. freshly chopped) dill, and 1 tsp. black peppercorns. Place these spices into the quart jar (or split between two pint jars). Stuff the jars with cucumbers either sliced or speared according to your personal preference. In a small pot, simmer together the vinegar, water and salt until salt dissolves. Add brine liquid to quart jar leaving 1/2 inch of head space before putting a lid on them and letting them cool at room temperature. Enjoy the next day as an afternoon snack!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Savory Pesto Rice Bowls

Earlier this month, I made a sweet little Breakfast Rice Bowl that was a perfect start to the morning.

Then I saw this post on Pinterest. Savory Oats. Hmmm.

Then, I had a batch of Walnut Basil Pesto in the fridge.

That's all it took.

At night, I'd wash my rice. In the morning, I threw it into the rice cooker with water, started it to go, took a shower. Stretched and did my hair.

Then fried an egg. Threw some rice in a bowl, topped it with Pesto, Mozzarella Cheese, a few Cherry Tomatoes and my fried egg - hearty, delicious and savory breakfast - no complaints!


Orange Creamsicle Rice Pudding

I've been really diggin' on Rice Pudding lately. It's just so warm and fluffy and comforting. And easy. And creamy.

There's been a few Pinterest posts of Orange Creamsicle inspired dishes, and that my dear friends, got me to thinking.

With some day old rice and a lone orange sitting on our counter tops I was quick to get out a sauce pan and start grating the orange peel. And I'm oh-so-glad I did!



In a small pot combine 1 1/2 cups cooked Rice, 1 1/2 cups Milk, 1/3 cups Sugar (I used brown, most recipes call for white) and 1/4 tsp. Salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, 1 Egg, beaten and the zest of One Orange. Cook an additional minute. Before serving remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. Butter and 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. If you have some white chocolate, I think it'd be divine on top in shreds or small chunks. Or, if you want to up the sweetness factor, I think a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk would be heavenly. Even without those additions, this is a warm dessert that is sure to please!


Walnut Basil Pesto

Fresh too easy.
But delicious.

Traditionally, Pesto is made with pine nuts. They are available in South Korea. But not at my local little market at the bottom of the hill. So, I opted for Walnuts because the author of Green Kitchen Stories had done it and so would I.

I cannot recall the exact measurements, but I believe it was roughly equal parts walnuts, basil and Parmesan, enough olive oil to create a thick sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

I've been enjoying this as part of a breakfast dish I'm excited to tell you about, but for now, this is all you get!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Re-Make: Chilie Sour Cream Breakfast Quesadilla

Having enjoyed Chile Sour Cream Pork Layer Enchiladas two nights in a row and having a smidgen of sauce leftover, I was quite happy to make up a quick and delicious Breakfast Quesadilla on Saturday morning.

For each quesadilla I simply scrambled to eggs, spread some sauce on half a large flour tortilla, scooped in the eggs, sprinkled with cheese and threw into the skillet until the outside was crisp and the inside was warm, gooey, cheesey and delicious!

Leftovers are friggin' fantastic when you can reuse them for new dishes!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quick Beer Brownies


The day after St. Patrick's day we had, sitting in our home, just over 1/2 cup of flat Home-brewed Porter from a friend. I had earlier seen a recipe for brownies using beer in place of water - using a brownie mix obviously. I had also recently seen a Korean brownie mix at my local mart and was itching to give it a shot.

I went down to the mart, paid my 3,000 won for a mix and headed back up the hill to work some translation magic. Without too much effort, I quickly realized these brownies were designed to be baked in a microwave (which is AWESOME for expats in Korea without an oven) But, I obviously wanted to use my oven, so I just assumed I'd put them in for the normal baking temp 350*F (177*C) and normal baking time 10 minutes.

So, a quick whisk of the mix and just over 1/2 cup of dark Porter I threw the brownies into the oven and soon had a warm rich brownies to share with our friend the home-brewer and...our own bellies...obviously!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Colcannon and Guinness Sausage Gravy

Closet Cooking lead to the majority of my St. Patrick's day cooking inspiration. Following Sour Cream Banana Bread (which was intended to hold me over while preparing this Colcannon and Gravy before our Iron Chef: Guinness St. Pat's Party) I took a look at his recipe for Bangers and Colcannon with Guinness Onion Gravy before making some adjustments and creating a pork gravy to accompany the colcannon since Bangers are not readily or affordably available in South Korea.

Colcannon - Ingredients/Directions:
Boil a large pot of peeled and cubed Potatoes (I used 8-10 small-medium potatoes) until fork tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet cook 1 small package of Bacon or 4-5 slices until the fat is rendered. Season the bacon with salt and pepper and add 1 Tbsp. of Butter until the butter and bacon fat is foamy. Add 1/4 of head of cabbage that has been thinly sliced and coat in the greasy goodness. Cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Add 4 sliced Green Onions and cook about 3 minutes before setting aside until potatoes have finished cooking and you have added sour cream, milk and butter to taste. Then mix the cabbage and the potatoes together, serve with gravy. (If you're waiting for guests, it's possible to keep this mixture warm in a slow-cooker.)

Pork Guinness Gravy - Ingredients/Directions:

Begin by marinating ground pork in 1/2 can of Guinness, 3 minced cloves of Garlic, 1 tsp. Thyme, 2 Tbsp. grainy brown mustard, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. I let it marinate for one or two hours before browning in a skillet. Once the ground pork has cooked thoroughly add 1 chopped Onion and 1 cup chopped Mushroom, saute.  Now remove the meat and veggies from the pan, leaving the drippings in order to create a savory gravy. To pan drippings, add the remainder of the can of Guinness and sprinkle in two Tbsp. Flour. Quickly whisk together the beer and flour while on medium-low heat. Depending on the amount of gravy you desire, continue to add Guinness (or water) and flour until you have the perfect consistency, reintroduce the meat and veggie mix stirring together and ensuring the gravy consistency is as you would desire.

Sour Cream Walnut Banana Bread

Some of my yogurt didn't turn out that well. It was a bit more like sour cream than yogurt. But of course, I don't let that phase me, I just use that as inspiration, because truthfully, there are a lot of things I'd like to do with sour make Enchiladas...or Banana Bread!

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Mix together, 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Cream together 1/2 cup room temperatur butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar. To the butter/sugar mixture add 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt) and 3 mashed overripe bananas. Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Bake in a loaf pan at 350*F (177*C) for 60-70 minutes.

Menu: Roast Chicken and Pasta Salad


One of my favorite things to eat in South Korea is rotisserie chickens from the chicken truck. That's right, a truck (edit: many trucks), filled with a working rotisserie drive around and park throughout the city, offering freshly roasted chickens - better yet, you can get 3 small chickens for just 10$.

So the other night, the man went and got our three chickens which we ate with chopsticks while I boiled water and prepared some pasta. I then used the leftover dressing from this salad to dress the pasta, threw in some mushrooms and green onions and waited for the chickens to arrive.

Once the meal was finished, I set to work on making chicken broth in the slow-cooker.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chilie Sour Cream Pork Layer Enchiladas


This was delicious. So much so, we ate it two nights in a row. So much so, that the man and the Lady (annyeong) licked the plates clean.

I recently made yogurt. Two jars were exactly what I wanted my yogurt to be. Three jars were a little more sour and thick than I had intended, a little like sour cream, so I decided. Therefore, I searched for recipes that used sour cream and substituted my home-made sour-creamish yogurt.

There's a lot of parts to enchiladas. Don't fret. Just breath and take your time, the efforts quite worth it!


I began with the sauce which came together by melting 1/4 cup Butter in a small saucepan and then adding 1/4 cup Flour and stirring about 5 minutes to make a roux. (The author of my recipe inspiration states the key to roux is working the flour-butter mixture until  the flour smell resides). Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth before reducing the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups Sour Cream. Once sauce is well mixed, add diced green chilies from a can or fresh diced green chilies, salt and pepper all to taste.

With the sauce complete, move on to the meat filling. For this, I simply diced up one Onion, minced 2-3 Garlic cloves and sauteed them before adding a small package of ground pork and cooking it through.

Now, it's time for assembly. You can do the whole wrapped enchilada concept which will likely look more lovely, however, in an itty-bitty oven I've found the layered, casserole style dish is a much better option. For this, I just dip a corn tortilla in the cream sauce, place in the bottom of a small round casserole dish, sprinkle with pork filling and shredded Monterrey jack cheese until the dish is filled. Pop the dish in the oven at 350*F (177*C) and bake for 15 minutes with a cover and 5 minutes uncovered until golden and bubbly. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tomato, Basil and Pork Pasta


Bring some water to boil and prepare some pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown up some ground or finely diced pork, add a touch of oil and saute an onion and a few cloves of minced garlic before throwing in 2 cups of Tomato Sauce and heating thoroughly. Mix in pasta and one or two handfuls of fresh basil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, enjoy!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nutella Chocolate Chip Spent Grain Cookies

First inspired to use Spent Grains in cookies with the success of Choco-Chip Spent Grain Pumpkin Cookies, I quickly moved onto Peanut Butter Spent Grain Cookies. But these, my friends...these are the end all, be all of Spent Grain cookies and I don't know if another Pumpkin or Peanut Butter cookie will find it's place in our 'cookie jar.' Nutella is just too magical. And chocolate chips are always a plus.


Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (177 Celsius) Combine 2 sticks butter, 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cups white sugar until fluffy. Add 3/4 - 1 cup Nutella depending on flavor preference, 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking powder. Stir in 3 cups of Spent Grains (drained of moisture to the best of your ability). If the dough is too wet and sticky at this point (because generally spent grains hold a bit of moisture) add some flour and mix until you acquire a dough that can hold it's shape and isn't too wet, I usually add an additional 1-2 cups of flour. Next stir in at least 1 cup of chocolate chips and plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown and beautiful. This always makes a huge batch of dough, so it's also nice to simply freeze pre-made balls of dough so you can enjoy warm, chocolaty cookies any night of the week.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Basil and Parmesan Cream Scones


Have you heard? I have fresh herbs, growing in my kitchen...yeah, I thought so. Did you know? They are a constant source of inspiration? Yeah, I suppose that was a given as well. AND, I'm trying to be more deligent about eating breakfast...

Not surprised.

Well, did you know I have downloaded an unholy amount of free cookbooks on my Kindle? I have. And I'm trying to up the anty of using those cookbooks to inspire my cooking. I was particularly excited about  recent download of Super Scone Recipes - How to Bake Scones Like A Pro! Having a special love for scones made with heavy cream and a container of heavy cream anxiously awaiting use in the fridge, I quickly found a suitable recipe, threw in my own twists and came out with these delicious and savory Basil and Parmesan Cream Scones (I would have loved to add chopped walnuts, but didn't have any on hand at the time.)



In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups Flour, 2 Tbsp. Baking Powder, 1Tbsp. White Sugar, and 1/4 tsp. Salt. Make a well in the mixture and add  1/3 cup melted Butter, 3/4 cups Heavy Whipping Cream, and 1/4 cups Milk.  Stir slightly before adding one Handful chopped Fresh Basil and about 1/4 cup of Grated Parmesan. Incorporate all ingredients until you have a soft dough. Place dough on a floured surface and flatten to a 1/2 inch circle, cut into even triangle sections and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-13 minutes at 425*F (220*C). Enjoy with an evening meal or with a runny egg for breakfast.

Mustard and Fresh Dill Dip

I love, LOVE having fresh herbs. I think my life will never be the same. They are a) delicious and b) inspiring. As in, to make the most of them I need to constantly be thinking or searching for something new and delicious to make.

Working from this post by My Man's Belly I quickly had a delightful afternoon snack.


Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1-2 Tbsp. whole grain (or high quality) mustard and 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with chips, carrots, cucumbers or other veggies of your choice.

Egg and Rice Breakfast Burritos

The truth is, I'm not in love with my job   co-workers co-worker. And I'm working really hard to battle that, as in trying to be professional, as in trying to put my best self forward for the other co-workers and most importantly the students, because the truth is, I do love my job. I cannot get enough of my students participating and learning and smiling and laughing and having a good time.

But this space isn't for those kinds of observations. However, in an attempt to ensure I'm putting my best self forward, I'm trying to commit to having a fully nutritious and filling breakfast before I step into my work environment. A few days last week, that meant breakfast rice bowls. The last days of last week and the first days of this week, it means these egg and rice breakfast burritos.

I made 6 of them, wrapped them in foil and just after I finish doing my hair in the morning, I pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes while I do make-up and get dressed. Then, I have a hot and nutritious breakfast. And that's a really small way to ensure I at least start my day in the right direction.


Defrost one cup of Rice Pilaf and one cup of Roasted Veggies (or prepare a cup of rice and cup of veggies). In a touch of olive oil, brown about 1 cup of cubed Ham before adding chopped roasted veggies and garlic if you'd like for your morning meal. Meanwhile, whisk together 6-8 eggs and pour over ham and veggies, scramble until eggs are no longer runny. Assemble burritos in large flour tortillas with a bit of rice, small scoop of black beans and the egg mixture (or any breakfast filling you desire, I think next time I'll do the egg mixture and potatoes - no rice or beans), sprinkle on some cheese, roll and wrap in aluminum foil to be heated at a moment's notice.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home-made Yogurt

Home-made yogurt is...easy. and delicious.

But, don't let easy convince you it doesn't take a lot of time. Because, in fact, it's a lengthy process of waiting. But it's easy. You can do laundry, walk your dog, read a book, clean the bathroom, visit with neighbors, drink coffee and even take a nap or go to bed during the process. So it's easy. But lengthy.

I started with this recipe pinned by a friend of mine from Neo-Homesteading

This involves 3 steps...

First, heat 8 cups (1/2 gallon) of milk on the stove-top until the temperature reads 110*F (~43*C). When the milk reaches the required temperature add 2 Tbsp. - 1/2 cup of live, culture yogurt. Living in South Korea, I can't read the labels well enough to know if there is life in my yogurt, so I grabbed one that said Natural and translated as 'Fresh Cream Plain' flavor - it was sweeter than I anticipated, but worked perfectly and didn't cause my own yogurt to be sweet.

Second, transfer hot milk and yogurt mixture into sterilized glass jars. I don't think I really sterilized my jars, just boiled some water in the electric kettle, swished it a round and then dumped it out before adding the milk/yogurt mixture.

Third, incubate. Now is the lengthy part where you manuever a way to maintain the temperature of 110* for the next 8-24 hours. I used the crock-pot which involved me turning it on to low to preheat and then turning it on again for 5 minutes every hour to maintain the temperature and keeping it covered with a towel. Here is an extensive and complete post about other incubating methods.

Once it solidifies, you can let it cool a bit before placing in the fridge and get stoked to enjoy it for breakfasts and snacks.

Now, a few notes:

  • I found a blogger who did the whole process in her crock-pot, check it out, I might try it, but I'm not sure.
  • A lot of posts I've seen mentioned the yogurt didn't seem to set quite right or thicken up nicely. There's all kinds of suggestions, add more yogurt in the beginning, add gelatin, etc. I don't know why mine was as thick as it was...but it was.
  • Another blogger (crock-pot master from above) strained her yogurt to have a thick yogurt and the byproduct of whey. I've used whey in the past from Mike's cheese making - it's GREAT for animals and a great substitute in any bread recipe which calls for milk. I've also read of people freezing it as ice cubes and using it in smoothies to boost the nutrition level.
  • Two of my jars took less than 24 hours to thicken (I went to sleep thinking I had failed at yogurt making to wake up to 2 beautiful jars of perfect yogurt!) The other three took longer...not sure why and are a bit more like sour cream than yogurt, which is fine for me now...I think, but I'm a bit nervous that I just made extremely rotten milk @_@

Either way, rotten milk or not, home-made yogurt was far easier than I imagined it to be and I'm really looking forward to keeping it on hand!

For tips on making yogurt in South Korea and for some general lessons I've since learned, check out this update!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breakfast Rice Bowls

Some important things going on here in 519 Kitchen.

First of all, I made my own yogurt!
And it's amazing.
And it's easy...Although incubation is a long-going process.
And it's delicious.

Second of all, I've made time for breakfast.
Not just some lame toast.
Or a pastry from the convience store.
A hearty, nutrious breakfast so I can be at least one step ahead of the work grind.

I was inspired by a friend who recently told me she made a large batch of brown rice at the beginning of each week then ate it cold for breakfast, like cereal, with fruit and yogurt.

I was also inspired by the countless Pinterest examples of 'make-ahead' and 'freezable' breakfasts.

So, I combined the inspiration and got excited about my home-made yogurt and the result has been 4 mornings of delicious, hearty breakfast for me AND the hubs!

In true 'Pinterest' fashion, I seperated out the rice into individual servings so that step would be taken care of each morning. Then, each morning all I have to do is sprinkle on some flaxseed, spoon in some fruit (this week has been blueberries and bannas), drizzle with honey and scoop some yogurt on top before mixing it all up and sitting down in the big comfy chair to enjoy my morning nourishment and perpare my body for the upcoming day.

So. friggin. fantastic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fresh Mint (Fake Lemon) Lemonade

Has it come up yet that I received an AeroGarden for Christmas? Well, if not, just know that it's fabulous! And being able to add fresh mint, to my lemonade concoction is 100% fabulous!

Lemonade requires 3 things: Lemons, Water, Sugar.
Making a simple syrup by heating the water and sugar is also recommended so that your lemonade is evenly sweetened. Add a few fresh leaves of Mint and you're sure to enjoy a great touch of refreshment. If you're using 'fake lemon' maybe start out with less than the recommended amount and up the anty until you have a lemonade that suits your taste...obviously, fresh lemon would make the drink that much more enjoyable.

For more exact directions and the source of my personal inspiration, head on over here to Martha Stewart's website.

Asian Mushroom and Noodle Soup


Using this Food Network recipe as my starting point I threw together this Mushroom Noodle soup just a few nights ago. As is common in my personal cooking adventures, I made some adjustments based on what was available in my home and on what I was and wasn't willing to go to the store to purchase.

For example, I wanted to add Udon noodles. I had only a single person serving of said noodles. Regardless, I wanted noodles, but not a walk to the grocery store. So the resulting recipe featers a serving of udon noodles mixed with a serving of Ramen noodles, not necessarially 'ideal' or 'beautiful' but edible and fine and why not? Why not cook in such a way that allows us to be creative and lazy at the same time. The dish was nourishing and tasteful, all that matters after a long days work.

In a large pot heat 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil and saute 3-4 sliced or minced Garlic Cloves and 1 tsp. ground Ginger until fragrant and lightly browned. Add 2 qts. Broth or Tea (I'd recommend black or green or a hearty herb tea if you happen to have one), 3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce and 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (the udon I purchase comes with it's own sauce packets, I throw that in the pot and add soy and fish sauce per taste). Bring the stock to boil while you prepare any combination of 3-5 cups of mushrooms you fancy (I can give details on my own because I frankly don't know, one is thin, white and squeaky on the teeth, one is quite plump and some were dried). Simmer for about 15 minutes before adding choice or combination of noodles (udon or ramen) and continue to simmer 2-3 minutes until noodles are soft. If you'd like to add a bit of protien, whisk 2-3 eggs and slowly drizzle mixture into the simmering pot, let simmer with out stirring for 1-2 minutes. Stir, ensure eggs and noodles are cooked properly. Serve hot with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Roasted Pepper and Onion, Almond Pesto Pasta

This evening (that's right, this evening, as in, I'm posting a blog merely hours after having eaten the meal - I do believe that's a first) I went to work harvesting some fresh basil from my fabulous AeroGarden which was a Christmas gift from the man.

It's been a day of throwing fresh herbs into whatever I can, and I'm lovin' it! Hoping I can manage these greens well enough that they keep producing for me for a while at least.

Using this recipe from Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom, I created a dish that was truly satisfying and used up a number of ingredients I had on hand. I did, of course adjust the recipe to my availability of ingredients and personal tastes.

Here is what I came up with:Roasted Pepper and Onion, Almond Basil Pesto Pasta



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a small skillet toast 4 whole cloves of Garlic in 1/3 cup room temperature extra virgin olive oil. As the garlic begin to toast, throw in 1/3 cup of Almonds and toast a couple minutes longer. Transfer ingredients from skillet into a food processor and pulse until a rough paste is formed (add additional EVOO throughout the process if necessary). Next, add 1/3 cup of cubed Parmesan to the food processor, pulse. Repeat that process with 1 cup of roasted peppers and onions then again with 1 cup of fresh basil. During this time, keep your eye on the water and add 1 lb. of Penne Pasta once the water begins to boil and cook until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta water (or you can have 1/2 cup heavy cream available) and drain the pasta. In the large pot, mix about 1/4 cup of the pasta water with 1/2 of the Pesto, continue adding pesto and a bit more water until you have the desired consistency in the sauce (not too runny, but not to stiff either), toss in the pasta, serve with additional Parmesan and basil with a fresh baguette and bottle of homemade wine, bon appetit!
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