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Vietnamese Style Salad Rolls


I’ve been meaning to try these for awhile now and here they are! Super easy to prepare, just requires a little love and care for forming/rolling.

I filled mine with: (made two rolls)
– blanched vietnamese noodles (I think they’re called ‘bun’), takes about 5-7mins to cook then rinse with cold water for 1-2mins
– 1/2 avacado, sliced
– 8-10 shrimps – cooked cocktail style, for a minute and ran under cold water to stop cooking,
– some spring greens

I couldn’t wait to try them so for dipping sauce, I used bottled Thai chili chicken sauce. They were delicious as expected, no need for seasoning. The shrimp was slightly salted as is (I bought mine frozen), and the chili sauce was sweet and tangy – so good!

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Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

Yum! I’ve used this recipe a few times (all with diff mods of course) and it’s been fantastic. Super easy, the key is to keep it marinating overnight to let the flavour absorb and keep juicy. Here’s . I’ve been replacing the peppers with two dried chili’s (seeds, stems and all) and it’s still not spicy (will have to bump it up for more heat). I used my own all spice mix as well.

Last few times cooking, I’ve baked them at 300 for 1.5-2 hours for 8-12 drumsticks, pulled them out and covered them in aluminum foil, letting the meat rest for about 15-20mins so the juices don’t run out. When we were just about to serve, we crisp them up on the BBQ for a little smoke and crunch on top – fantastic.

For this, I served it with kale chips. Super easy, 1 bunch of kale + 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cut them in 3″x2″ pcs and lay them out on a baking sheet (don’t crowd them). Bake at 350deg F for 10-15mins until crisp. Salt and season (I used cayenne) as you’d like. Ta da!

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Thanksgiving Bonanza

For thanksgiving this year, we hosted our first family gathering at the Leung-Wood house. A total attendence of 14 people (plus left overs for a some who couldn’t attend), it was daunting. After weeks of prep, I was proud to present a menu aimed to satisfy all my guests. Everything from chicken stock for mash potatoes to bread for stuffing and biscuits was homemade.

No need for appies when you have a full entree and dessert lined up, so let’s get to it.

Menu items included:
1. Biscuits with gravy
2. Cornbread with honey butter*
3. Pan fried brussel sprouts with bacan and garlic*
4. Mushroom gravy green bean casserole
5. Candied yam topped with marshmallows
6. Roasted garlic mash potatos with bacon and cheddar
7. Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage (ok, you got me, I didn’t stuff my own sausage; but I did bake my own cranberry walnut bread and stew my own chicken stock)
8. Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone in
9. 18lbs turkey*
10. Fresh cranberry sauce
11. Gravy
12. Pumpkin pie
13. Pecan pie*
14. Pumpkin coffee cake
15. Cranberry Orange short bread

*I was particularly please with these dishes!

Recipe was from Joy of Baking website. Easy to follow and came out great. I ended up with about 16 biscuits, 2″ diameter cookies, 1/2″ in height before baking. I baked a batch a week or so ahead of time, let them cool for about 2 hours and threw them in a ziplock before they were stored in the freezer. The morning of, I pulled them out of the freezer to defrost. Just before dinner I heat them up on the top rack for ~5mins at 400F to warm and brown the crust a touch.

Cornbread with honey butter*

Pan fried brussel sprouts
The recipe from Epicurious was fantastic as is. The only change I would have made was to make more, the dish ran out after the first plating! I didn’t add in pine nuts in mine though.

Roasted garlic (for mash potatos)
The secret to my garlicy mash was to roast whole garlic and make garlic butter out of it ahead of time to let the garlic infuse with the butter (then potatoes). To roast the garlic butter, chop off the head of the garlic, leaving skin on, pour 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil (grape seed oil has a higher smoking point), and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil before baking it at 400F for 45 mins. Let them cool down before squishing them out of their pods – ready for butter!

Cranberry apple stuffing with english sausage
For cranberry walnut bread recipe, visit my previous blog.
1. Toast ~ 10 slices of bread in toaster or oven until crisp on both sides. Cut into cubes.
2. Dice 1.5 cups yellow onions. Brown onions and 1 lbs of pork sausage links (casing removed). Breaking up big chunks into bite size pieces.
3. Add 1 stalk of diced celery, 3-1/2 tablespoon sage, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme and 2 cups of peeled and diced apples. Cook for 5-10mins until well mixed.
4. Mix in 1 cup of dried rough chopped cranberries with two cups of chicken stock. Place into roasting pan and wrap with aluminum foil.
5. Bake in oven at 300F for 1-1/2 hours. Add more stock as necessary (until desired tenderness).

Brown sugar maple honey glazed ham with bone-in
With one oven and over 10 dishes to cook and/or reheat, I knew I had to purchase a precooked ham. This was actually just half a ham.
To prepare, I pulled it out of the fridge an hour ahead to let it set to room temp. So by the time it got it’s turn in the oven, it didn’t have to heat up as much (good way of saving yourself a few extra minutes – oven space is precious during big feasts). Before going in the oven, I covered it was brown sugar and wrapped it tightly with aluminum foil to reheat @ 325 ~ 15-20mins. Then, I uncovered it, made slits of cross hatching and smouldered it with maple syrup and honey. Put it back in the oven @ 400 for another ~ 20mins to broil. Tender and flavourful. Yum!

18lbs turkey
Original method of cooking came from my aunt, who taught my mom, who taught me. (It’s that good!) Bathed it with 3 pots of boiling water (outside and inside the cavity, after removing giblets and such). Lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Lathered it in butter (brought to room temperature to ease greasification process. Toss it in the oven @ 325F for 8-10mins/lb. When ready, insert chopstick into thickest part of turkey (breast and drumstick); juices run clear, you’re golden. Cover with aluminum foil and cloth to let the moisture settle and run back into the meat; otherwise, all the juices will leak as soon as you make your first cut. I let mine sat for 2 hours. It was the juicest turkey I’ve ever had and still hot!

Fresh cranberry sauce
Dissolve 1 cup white sugar into 1 cup orange juice. (I used orange juice to add some sweetness and cut the tart with some tang). Add 12oz (1 bag) of fresh cranberries, cook & stir until cranberries begin to break down. Voila!

Pecan pie
I made this a couple days ahead of time. After cooling it completely for a few hours, I popped it in the freezer until the morning of. The day of, I pulled it out of the freezer and let it defrost at room temp while tightly wrapped in Suran. By dessert time, it was ready for us to devour.
I was actually told this was the best pecan pie he/she (can’t remember) has ever had!
Refer to previous blog for crust recipe

Pumpkin coffee cake

Cranberry Orange short bread

More to come…

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Artisan Bread Series

Cranberry Raisin Walnut Loaf
Adapted from this recipe

Few modifications:
– let biga starter riser @ room temperature for 4 hrs, then refrigerated overnight for ~ 12 hrs
– used 2 cups of warm water for dough
– used 1-1/2 cups of lightly chopped dried cranberry and raisin combined, 1 cup of lightly chopped walnuts; did not have any orange zest
– put dough in lightly oil coated large pot with glass lid, let dough rise in warm oven (heated to 170degF for a few seconds, to give slightly warmer than room temperature, and turned it off) for 3 hours
– couldn’t decide which rack would center the loaves: baked bread for 15 mins in middle lower rack, then rotated 180 deg (front of loaves now facing back of oven) moved up one setting to middle upper rack for another 15 mins to get even baking. (In the future, I will probably leave it in the middle upper rack since the top is domed, so less surface will be closer to the heat. Also, checked the temperature after 30 minutes and it was well over 190degF, will adjust baking time next.)
– placed bread on cooling rack over top of sink and cooled for ~30 mins (it wasn’t completly cooled, but I was anxious to see how it turned out); sliced it, let it cool down completely then put one in a Ziplock freezer bag and froze it

Cheddar Jalapeno

Adapted from this recipe

More recipe testers and tips still to come!

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Soft Shell Tacos


Home made soft shell flour tortillas recipe
My only suggestion is to use warm/hot water to make the dough more pliable (which is what I did).


No oil required for frying. After you flip them over to cook the second side, use a spatula to press down on the bubbles for even surface cooking. I used a warm wet towel to cover them while cooking up the rest, worked well.

For dinner, I filled them up with cut up strips of korean style short ribs with bean sprouts and caramelized onions, kimchi style romaine slaw, slices of cucumbers and hot sauce mayo. They were so good, even as leftovers for lunch the day after!

For breakfast, I tried sliced avacados, scrambled eggs with broccoli, red onions and tomatos (whatever I had in the fridge), dash of salt and pepper, and drizzle of ketchup and hot sauce. Amazing!


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Open Face Steak Sammie

Steak and eggs explosive

I usually serve this as a open face steak sandwich but I wasn’t as hungry last night and thought the steak and eggs will suffice.

Sear the steak on high to seal in the juices. After cooking the way you like ~10 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside on plate. (If you choose to go for a sandwich, thick cut sour dough works great – something that won’t get soggy too easily. Put that on the bottom of your steak.) Then, slice 1/8″ thick cheese – brie, camembert or st. andre pairs great. Put on top of steak. Carmelize finely sliced onions (~ half) with a couple cloves of minced garlic and a few sliced mushrooms (season with salt and pepper to taste), and place on top of cheese to melt. Finally, fry a sunny side egg on top. I like mine runny, the yolk acts as a sauce for the steak, makese my mouth water just thinking about it! If you’d like, add steak sauce on top of your steak (or side to dip), but I find the flavour from all the different toppings and cheese is perfect the way it is with a dash of salt and pepper.

I make this as a treat every couple months, never fails to impress. This is one of my favourite recipes!

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Arroz Con Pollo (Cuban rice with chicken)

Picture of leftovers from dinner last night, unfortunately all excess sauce has been absorbed. It was like runny lava last night, so much so that we had to soak in all the goodness with bread! (I knew I should’ve taken a picture then, but could not wait to devour my meal – oops!)

I’ve never had this dish before, but after watching it being featured in a show on the Food Network, I had to try it.

I mainly followed this recipe while comparing it to this one which seems to be slightly healthier (1 cup of olive oil less to be exact). Serves 4-6 adults.

This is my version:

• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 Tbsp cumin
• 2 tsp ground oregano
• 1 Tbsp butter
• 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 1 chicken breast
• 1 yellow onion, diced small
• 1 green bell pepper, diced small
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup brown rice
• 6 oz can tomato paste
• 1-1/3 cups chicken stock
• 10 green olives
• 1/3 cup frozen peas
• 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
• salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin and oregano in a pan over medium heat until the aroma releases. Remove mixture from pan after 1-2 minutes and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Brown the chicken (~5-10 minutes skin side down and 1-2 minutes on other side).

Remove the chicken from the pan and put aside.
In the same pan, add bell pepper, onion, and garlic to pan and cook until softened (~5 minutes). Add rice and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Stir in stock, and tomato paste. Cook rice ~10-15 minutes, test rice for doneness (~85% done, rice will continue to cook in oven). Return chicken back to pan. Bring to a boil.

Cover pan, and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Keep it covered and let it sit for 10 minutes. Uncover it and fluff up the rice.

I served them with blanched green beans to add more vegetables in our meal. With all the spices, the plain green beans worked wonderfully. I substituted brown rice for white rice and the timing was off, so in this recipe I added an additional 10-15 minutes to cook the rice before putting it in the oven. It smelled fantastic and tasted even better, I’d definitely use this recipe again!

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Best Texas Chili (no beans)

I’m not a fan of bean and never ventured into chili making for that reason. But for the superbowl this year, we had a chili cook off at work and I naturally had to participate. That’s when I found The World’s Best No Bean Chili (and it really was!). Needless to say, compliments all around! I made some adjustments to make it my own (and because I just used what I had). This is a spicy tamale, beware friends…

Here’s my recipe: 

1/2 pound double smoked bacon, diced fine

1 link of chorizo sausage, diced very fine

1 pound red onion, diced fine

5 pounds trimmed beef brisket, small cubes

1/3 cup dried chili flakes

1/2 head garlic, minced

1 large tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

12 ounce canned green chili

36 ounce Corona beer

28 ounce canned diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon coriander

6 ounce canned tomato paste

1 ounce dark chocolate

I bundled the chili flakes and cumin in cheese cloth and removed it before serving to avoid biting into whole herbs.

Start with a large skillet. Put in your bacon, sausage, onion, and garlic; then, sear beef brisket. Put it all in a large stock pot.

Add all other ingredients and bring your large stock pot up to a boil. Reduce your heat to a low medium and cook 2+ hours stirring your pot every 10-15minutes (to ensure your chili does not stick). After two hours reduce your heat to a low simmer and cook two more hours, stirring often.

I served mine with a dople of sour cream (to lower the heat indensity and give it a bit of freshness) and sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. As a previous chili hater, I have now been converted, this recipe is fantastic and o soo delicious!! (Blogging about it is making my mouth water, I will have to try this again very soon… and get pictures!)

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Going German: Jaegher schnitzel with spatzles

(Can you spot the one piece of broccoli way in the back?)

I was watching a show on The Food Network the other day (either Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or You Gotta Eat Here) when I developed my craving for hammered meat and egg noodle with mushroom gravy.

I used the following recipes for inspiration and actually stuck to it pretty closely (as it was my first time making both).

Spatzle (with nutmeg)

To serve 6 people, I doubled the recipe and found it perfect.

Pork schnitzel

For the schnitzels I bought 8 pieces of pork center loin chops, about 3/4″ thick (4.5″ x 3.75″ size). I butterflied them (to the best I could, some just turned into two pieces), used a meat tenderizer to hammer them out to about 1/4″ thick. Floured on both sides, egg wash (I used 2 large eggs, I would recommend 3), and covered them with crushed corn flakes (excellent if you like extra crispy!).

And Jaeger, which is a fancy name for mushroom gravy.

I did a bit of freehand pour for the beef stock so might’ve added too much, I found my gravy to be too runny. Added extra flour to thicken it up, but still not ideal. I found the spices (including salt) not to be overwhelming (more on the bland side which is great because I try to watch my sodium levels). To serve my guests, I put out a salt and pepper shaker for those who wish to indulge. For sides, we had a jalapeno and cheese focaccia and Bratwurst boiled in beer extra taste then pan seared for some crunch. Oh, and broccoli for vegetables. Delicious, if I can say so myself!

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Perogies, perogies and perogy pizza

A few weeks ago, we were inspired to make our first homemade pizza (including dough) and topping it with ham, pineapple, and FRIED EGG! The dough didn’t rise as much as I anticipated so I decided to try again. This time, it was fantastic! But instead, we made our own version of Boston Pizza’s spicy perogy pizza. I based my recipe off of this one but I made a few variations. It was fantastic! Too bad we finished it before I was able to snap a picture of it. I will have to try it again and post it later. But here’s the recipes: pizza dough (super easy and great; however, I replaced half the flour with whole wheat flour for some fiber); for the toppings I used:

Pan fry potatos by adding all ingredients in pan on medium:
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 medium red skin potatoes, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
garlic powder
parsley flakes
dried red chili pepper

Assembly pizza by adding:
1/3 cup sour cream
cooked sliced potatoes (from above)
mozzarella cheese, shredded
5 slices cooked crisp bacon, chopped
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

After baking, add:
dollop of sour cream
1-2 green onion, chopped



A week later, I made home made perogies. I used this recipe as a reference, and naturally, I made a few adjustments. Here’s mine:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup cold water
1/2 pound bacon
5 pounds baking potatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

After boiling the perogies, we fried them up with some Kielbasa sausage, red onions and garlic. Topped it off with sour cream and fresh green onions. (Eric fried an egg on top and used ketchup as well, not bad!) Hello comfort food, fantastic!

The recipe made about 6-8 servings, so I froze rest… will have them for time to come!

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