Penne alla vodka

Adapted from hapa nom nom

Ingredients:

  • 5 large tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a shallow ‘X’ in the bottom of each tomato. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. Peel the skins off and slice the cooled tomatoes in half. Dice the tomatoes small, and let drain over a colander. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the vodka, and return the pan to medium heat. Cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, a pinch of crushed red peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  2. Generously salt a large pot of boiling water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain well and immediately add the pasta to the sauce. Add the cream and stir until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Divide among bowls, sprinkle with parsley and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!

My sister and I first made this back when I was in graduate school, and she had started working in the city. It was a blast, we got tipsy, and it tasted wonderful. I tried recreating it again on my own, and it tasted nothing like I remembered, and not very good at that. Ten years later, I suggested we try to recreate it again. If only I had had the presence of mind to snap a shot of when the my sister, ever so carefully, set the pan en flambé. ^_^ The guests loved it.

~Jessica

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Tex-Mex chicken burrito (bowl)

Adapted from Mexican Please and My Latina Table

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup pico de gallo or fresh salsa (I chopped a Roma tomato and Vidalia onion to make one quick)
  • 1 14-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6-7 chicken thighs, seasoned, baked, shredded
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • 1 1/3 cups cooked white rice, warmed
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)
  • Guacamole, for serving (whenever possible)
  • sour cream

For the Guajillo Salsa:

  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Onion (white)
  • 2 cloves garlic (large)
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika

For the baked Mexican chicken:

  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 juice of 1 lime (about 3 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 white onion, sliced (substituted from jalapeno — baby can’t handle too spicy)
  • 6-7 chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (I used peanut oil)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup pico de gallo and peppers if you have on hand (we didn’t); cook until the mixture starts to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the beans and 3/4 cup water; bring to a low boil, then stir in the chicken and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt.
  2. Heat the tortillas as the label directs. Arrange the rice horizontally in the lower half of each tortilla, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on all sides. Top evenly with the cheese, chicken mixture, sour cream and the remaining pico de gallo.
  3. Fold the bottom edge of each tortilla snugly over the filling, tuck in the sides and roll up tightly. Cut the burritos in half and serve with guacamole.

For the Guajillo Salsa:

  1. Roast the tomatoes, onions, and garlic together on a frying pan until slightly browned. 
  2. Put the tomatoes, onions, and garlic into a blender with the spices, the chicken stock, and the whipping cream and blend until smooth. (No blender, hence the orange sauce with tomato and onion you see in the photo — great topping for leftovers!)

For the baked Mexican chicken:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, garlic powder, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, cilantro and sliced onions.
  2. Place chicken thighs in the bowl and toss marinade over thighs. Mix well together. Let the chicken marinade in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or overnight. (We did it promptly.)
  3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken thighs skin side down and cook until skin begins to get crispy and slightly light brown, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Flip thighs over, transfer skillet to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste and garnish with more cilantro and onion slices if desired.

My sister Jennifer likes easy to make meals, as a mother of two. She had some chicken thighs defrosting in the fridge, ready to go, so I tried to go extra authentic Mexican on this Tex-Mex favorite. I used the spice mixture from Isabel Eats to bake the chicken 35 minutes. Next time I’ll make the arroz rojo properly. To make the Goya black beans, I followed the back of the can recipe. So really this was three separate recipes: the baked Mexican chicken, the Guajillo salsa, and the black beans. Not bad for Spring Break full on meal.

~Jessica

Garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes

Adapted from The Cooking Jar and Together as Family

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • Fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thin slices.
  2. Place garlic, oil, butter, salt, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl and mix well. Throw in sweet potatoes and toss until well coated.
  3. Lightly butter a baking dish and arrange coated sweet potatoes into a spiral. Sprinkle with a little parmesan if you like.
  4. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Serve the garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes warm and sprinkle with thyme if desired.

Jennifer picked out a recipe she wanted to use 3 sweet potatoes she had on hand, for a dinner we were invited to. These definitely needed to be cooked longer, or cut thinner. My bad! Next time I’ll do slices, which bake deliciously and look fancy as heck. Also, plastic is evil — avoid at all costs.

~Jessie

Ravioli carbonara

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, cubed (I used bacon)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 pound ravioli (spaghetti is better!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put bacon in a large skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fat renders but bacon is not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to your serving bowl; reserve the drippings.
  2. Add eggs to your serving bowl; whisk to blend.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving around a 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  4. To egg mixture, immediately add spaghetti, 2 tablespoons pasta cooking liquid, and 1 teaspoon guanciale drippings; toss to coat. Working in 3 batches, gradually add Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Add lots of black pepper (around 2 teaspoons). Toss until the sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Divide among bowls (or don’t). Garnish with Pecorino.

I saw we had some eggs batter left over from breakfast brioche french toast, and I didn’t want to waste so… this recipe came to me. Sister and brother-in-law raved over it. I probably could have drained a little more of the pasta water to have a less liquid sauce.

~Jessie

Pickled onions

Inspired watching New Scandinavian Cook, recipe by Nordic Food Living

Ingredients:

  • 3 red onion, sliced
  • 4dl (2 cups) 10–12% ättika (Swedish white vinegar)
  • 100g (0.5 cups) sugar
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves (optional)

During the holidays, I had time to make pickled red onions after I watched this Swedish chef make a few simple sandwiches. He added pickled onions on top of it, so I tried it at home — it’s as simple as he said — just add salt, then vinegar (I put in apple cider vinegar which is a little sweeter, but healthier, than white vinegar). When I made a liverwurst sandwich on a wheat roll — no mayo, mustard, or any condiments, just liverwurst and pickled red onions — it was tasty with just two simple things put together.

Directions:

  1. Pour the sugar and the vinegar into a bowl and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Clean a glass jar using boiling water. This will kill all bacteria and make sure that the onions stay fresh longer.
  3. Slice the onions and put them in the glass jar.
  4. Pour the vinegar/sugar mixture in the jar and add some pepper grains.
  5. Place the jar in the fridge for some hours and they are done. Keep the jar refrigerated.
  6. Tip: Serve them as topping for burgers, hotdogs or just as a side dish for pork.

Next time you make a chicken or turkey sandwich with tomato, lettuce and pickled onions, you can try this recipe too!
~Kai-ling

Bao-zi

A recipe from Steamy Kitchen but this recipe comes from Magic Ingredients YouTube

“Baozi (Chinese: 包子), or bao, is a type of filled bun or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) dumpling in various Chinese cuisines.” ~Wikipedia

Ingredients:

  • all-purpose flour 400g little bit more than 2.5 cups
  • 160 °F – warm water 250g ( 1 cup)
  • water 250g 1 cup
  • Sichuan peppercorns 1g 1/2 teaspoon
  • star anise 1g
  • big green onions 200g – 3 of them
  • salt 6g = 3/4 teaspoon
  • ground pork 500g
  • Sichuan peppercorn powder 1g = 1/2 teaspoon
  • white pepper powder less than 1g = 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 egg white

Directions:

  1. Dough – Mix all purpose flour and warm water, knead for 3 minutes then cover let it rest for 20 minutes, then knead it again so it looks smooth … let it rest for an hour.
  2. Filling – I boil a small pot of water on the stove then put the first 3 ingredients in the pot, cook for 15 minutes, after it cools off then pour in a big bowl with pork in it, add salt, pepper, egg, stir in a circular direction one way only …. after 5 minutes then add chopped green onions …. difficult task for me because it’s my first time to make this, I watched Youtube so I learned how to shape them like a pro, mine doesn’t look professional but not too ugly I think.

Recipe was for soup dumplings (xiao long bao), but I did not want to make soup (as it takes more work and time). I used ground pork. The hard part was that this was my first time making this recipe. They are not pretty like what is sold in stores, but once I practice a few more times, then they will be better probably. I only used half of her recipe, because it was my first time and I did not want to waste flour if I messed up. I used a non-bleached flour, therefore it was not as white as what is sold in stores. I need to learn more about kneading dough, because she made it look so easy, I think she has a lot of experience…
~Kai-ling

You-tiao

A recipe from The Woks of Life or the YouTube from Magic Ingredients

“You-tiao, also known as Chinese fried churros, Chinese cruller, Chinese oil stick, Chinese doughnut, and fried breadstick” ~Wikipedia

Ingredients:

  • all purpose flour 2 1/4 cup / 350g
  • cold milk 1 cup / 250g
  • baking powder 1 tablespoon / 10g
  • baking soda 1/2 teaspoon / 3g
  • salt 1 teaspoon / 6g
  • oil 1 tablespoon / 12g

Chinese fried sticks did not come out as big as chefs made it; I need to practice more on kneading! A deep-fried strip of dough eaten in East Asia, my children grew up having it as 燒餅油條. You-tiao are normally eaten at breakfast, but as my children never grew to like soy milk, they would just have it with the sesame seed wrapper (shao-bing).
~Kai-ling