February Tour Stop Recipe #2

28 02 2009


I have a new favorite soup!  Arroz Caldo from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.  OMG WH and I loved this dish so much we can’t wait to make it again.  It was a new experience for me, cooking with fresh ginger and bouillon cubes, but it was a lot of fun and so delicious.  Arroz Caldo is a perfect meal on a cold/rainy/snowy/cloudy day when you just want something to warm you through.


Here’s what Joelen had to say about one of her favorites:

“I chose this as a favorite because it’s also another dish from my childhood. It’s comforting as many chicken and rice dishes are from other cuisines & cultures, only with a Filipino spin.”

Again, I halved this recipe and only substituted cooked chicken tenderloins for the rotisserie chicken.


  • 5 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2  onion, chopped
  • 1/2  c. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • oil for sauteing
  • 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 extra large chicken bouillon cubes
  • 3 to 4 chicken tenderloins, cooked
  • 3/4 c. rice – sushi, jasmine or long grain
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 handful sliced green onion


  1. In large dutch oven, saute garlic, onions, mushrooms and ginger in cooking oil. Cook until onions are softened.
  2. Add chicken to pot and heat through.
  3. Add rice and stir to coat with oil.
  4. Add black pepper and bouillon cube.
  5. Add chicken stock and stir.
  6. Let it cook over low to medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  7. Add lemon juice and sliced green onion about 5 minutes before serving.

Check out Joelen’s original recipe here!

P.S.  Joelen has added another event to her blog!  It’s called Brunch and Barter and makes me wish I lived in Chicago and could participate!


February Tour Stop: Recipe #1

25 02 2009

Here’s the avatar you’ll see on each post for Tour Stops!  Thanks again to Lisa of Lime in the Coconut for designing this!



I loved this recipe that Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures shared with me as one of her favorites.  For such a great taste it was amazingly easy.  And considering the fact that I don’t totally love Asian food, I really enjoyed eating this.  WH was excited about it too and I will definitely be making this again.  I divided the recipe for the 2 of us and omitted one ingredient, but overall I stayed true to the original recipe.


Here’s why Joelen chose this recipe as one of her favorites:

“As an avid lover of Asian cuisine, my favorite Chinese dish is Mongolian Beef. The very first time I learned how to make it was as a child watching the television show, Reading Rainbow. My parents made their own version so I learned a version that appealed to me.”


Mongolian Beef


  • 1 bunch green onion, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb lean beef, sliced thin
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • (1/4 cup oyster sauce — I omitted this)


  1. Season sliced beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  2. Sprinkle cornstarch over beef and toss to coat. Set aside.
  3. In hot pan saute garlic and onion in cooking oil until softened.
  4. Add meat and brown.
  5. Add (oyster sauce and) soy sauce; stir to coat.
  6. Just before serving, add green onions and toss.

Check out Joelen’s original recipe here!

February Tour de Food Blogs Stop!

23 02 2009

I finally have time to post!

We have officially made it to our  Tour de Food Blogs February stop!  But first, some housekeeping:

#1 — This is my 100th post!!!  I’m pretty excited to have made it this far and that it coincides with a Tour stop!

#2 — I’ve decided that I will be making Tour posts during one week each month instead of spreading them out over the month.

#3 — Lisa of Lime in the Coconut has generously made some avatars for the tour!  I will be unveiling those soon.  Thanks Lisa!!

Okay, now it’s on to the Tour stop!

This month I got to learn more about Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.  And WOW was there a lot to learn.  If simplicity was the theme of last month’s stop, then “adventure” is truly the only way to describe this month’s blog!  Joelen is one busy lady and I have to say I am extremely impressed with all of her Culinary Adventures!

Raised by parents who were caterers, Joelen’s first cooking memory is of her parents preparing for an event:  “They’d sit me on the counter … where they were prepping ingredients … and I would practice my counting skills and naming colors with the ingredients on the table.”  Since then Joelen has developed her culinary skills in an enjoyable way.  “I haven’t had any formal training, however I know by doing and spending years in the kitchen,” she says.  “What I enjoy most about cooking is learning something new each and every time.”  Fortunately for us, Joelen decided to start a blog in January 2007 as a way of sharing “[her] passion from [her] culinary point of view”.

Cooking is truly a passion for Joelen and it shows in her blog.  Joelen does more than just share recipes.  By her own admission, “there are quite a few things” going on at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.  In addition to hosting local events such as Wine & Dine, Foodie Films, and Chef Spotlight Dinners (more on those later), Joelen posts to her blog several times a day.  Her posts range from techniques taught during one of her culinary classes to recipes she grew up on.  Still, Joelen’s least favorite thing about having a blog is “not having enough time to blog everything I’d like.” It’s incredible to know Joelen has even more to offer considering that in addition to her events and MeetUp group (more on that later too), Joelen also works full time in corporate human resources.

So what exactly is this busy blogger up to?  Here’s a brief run down, but I suggest you spend some time at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures and discover it all for yourself.  You won’t be alone:  Joelen reports an average of 400 hits per day.  Read on to see what others are checking out:

First, there’s the blog which serves as home for all the special events and giveaways Joelen hosts. Then there is the MeetUp group.  Joelen is the organizer of over 1200 Chicago Foodies at “What’s Cooking Chicago”.  From that group, she hosts several events.

Chef Spotlight Dinners invites foodies to try recipes of a chosen chef.  Those in Chicago are invited to a potluck dinner to share dishes.  Past Chef Spotlight Dinners include Julia Child, Health Conscious Chefs, Chicago Chefs and most recently, African-American Chefs.

Wine & Dine occurs monthly where the group highlights a specific cuisine and drink.  Another potluck dinner includes an educational presentation on paired wines and cocktails.  Wine & Dine has included Fall Eats & Reds, Tailgating & Zinfandel, and Brazil’s Carnivale.

Foodie Films pairs the fun of movies with food.  Think Chocolat.

Tasty Tools is an event that involves bloggers more directly.  Each month Joelen announces a new tool.  Participating bloggers make dishes using the tool and then post about their experience.  Past tools have included Dutch ovens, scoops, and food processors.

Foodie Freebie Friday is just what it sounds like.  Free stuff on Fridays!!  Every week Joelen posts a giveaway of items that Joelen likes or that highlight Chicago.  A few weeks ago the giveaway was Crate& Barrel.  Can you say fabulous?

Clearly this blogger is busy!  You really must visit her blog to see it all for yourself.  Everything is organized very well and is easy to navigate.  The look of the blog is fun and playful, very well laid out.  You can access all events and features using the left sidebar.  Across the top is a navigation bar that will lead you to Joelen’s bio, link to her MeetUp group, an incredibly well-organized and easy to use recipe index, blog awards, and other miscellaneous links.  You really can’t go wrong here.

With all this going on, you might be asking where else does Joelen get her inspiration.  Clearly, she is inspired by movies, chefs, and different types of cuisine.  But there’s more.  As far as cookbooks, Joelen says “I go through phases with cookbooks depending on my mood or time of year.  These days it’s Ina Garten’s cookbooks.  They are fresh, simple, and straightforward.”  When asked what her favorite cooking blog is, Joelen was very descriptive of a blog called [eatingclub] Vancouver written by sisters.  Here’s what Joelen had to say about it:

“[The sisters] are of Chinese descent and grew up in Manila, Philippines who now live in Canada. Perhaps it’s their Asian background, as I am Filipino who married a Filipino Chinese guy… maybe its partly because they currently reside in Canada as I am a Canadian citizen living in the US… but their culinary viewpoint draws me in. Everything they make triggers memories of my childhood with the various ingredients they use, the techniques they share and the foods they blog about… I admire them for blogging about dishes that not many other bloggers blog about. It’s truly a unqiue blog unlike no other and I have a great respect for what they both do. “

I encourage you to head on over and check out Joelen’s latest adventure.  You’ll find so much worth reading and exploring.  I’ll leave you with a taste of some of Joelen’s expertise.

Quick cooking tip: Fried Rice

Many friends and family ask me for my fried rice recipe. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use COLD, day old rice. Friends try making it with fresh, hot rice and it just doesn’t work as well.  Also when I make fried rice, it’s not because I specifically plan on it, but rather because I need to use up random ingredients on hand. Growing up, fried rice was how we used up leftovers and anything goes!

Stay tuned for my experiences with some of Joelen’s favorite recipes.  Thanks for sharing with us Joelen!

Barefoot Bloggers — Spaghetti & Meatballs

18 02 2009


Well, this recipe for Real Spaghetti (I used fettuccine) and Meatballs  was interesting for me.  I had a really good time making it.  The recipe was very easy and yet made me feel like I was really accomplishing something great in the kitchen.  That seems to be a recurring theme with many of the Barefoot recipes.

So I really had a good time cooking, but I just wasn’t into the taste.  I don’t why, but I just didn’t enjoy the meatballs.  I liked the sauce okay, but couldn’t eat the meatballs.  I think I like a smaller meatball and I probably have a preconceived idea of what meatballs taste like and this wasn’t it.


WH seemed to enjoy the recipe although he did say it “tasted like a recipe Barefoot Contessa would make”.  I’m not sure what the means but he makes that comment a lot.  He isn’t the biggest fan of Barefoot Contessa (I swear he’s a good person!)


Anyway, thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake for choosing this recipe, which you can find here.  I really did enjoy cooking this meal, just unfortunately didn’t enjoy eating it.  Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Chicken Tacos

17 02 2009


When planning a week’s worth of dinners, I try my best to vary the protein we eat each night and I try not to repeat the same protein two days in a row.  I am not usually successful.  We like chicken.  A lot. We like pork, but I still haven’t mastered it so it’s not usually on my menu.  We like beef too, just not that much.  And I’m not good at large cuts of meat like steaks, so we normally eat ground beef which is not always the greatest thing ever.

Last week I had 2 recipes to cook that involved beef so I had to find chicken recipes to balance it out.  Not wanting to repeat too much, I took my time looking for a good recipe.  I’ve come to be pretty good at Mexican recipes and wanted to find something involving Mexican flavors and chicken.  I just couldn’t find something that struck my fancy but I did think about how easy and delicious the Pulled Chicken BBQ in the slow cooker is.  Man I really love that recipe…

Light bulb.


I could make pulled/shredded chicken tacos.  We had tortillas and sour cream that needed to be used and I just had a hankering for chicken tacos.  So I set out to create my own recipe.

This was a first for me and while I based the amounts of the ingredients off that BBQ recipe, this was really just me throwing stuff in a bowl because I thought it was Mexican.  It turned out really good and I actually could add more of the Mexican flavor next time.  I was worried about making it too hot (I’ve had some bad experiences with Mexican spices in the past hehe).  Also, the BBQ recipe calls for fresh onion and garlic, but I was in a hurry to get this started so I used garlic and onion powder.  Definitely try it with fresh ingredients though (see recipe).  You should also throw in fresh diced peppers for extra flavor.  All things I will try next time!


WH was pretty impressed with my creation and I must say it was fun to figure it out myself.  So here is my recipe for…

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Serves 2


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c. diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa verde (you could probably safely use 3 Tbsp. for an extra kick)
  • 3/4 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 loose Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 clove, minced)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder (or 1 small onion chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • salt to taste
  • Taco fixings


  1. Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker. (If using fresh garlic and onion, arrange those in the bottom of the slow cooker and place chicken on top.)
  2. In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients.
  3. Pour over chicken thighs.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours, until chicken is fork-tender and pulls apart easily.
  5. Remove chicken from slow cooker.
  6. With two forks, pull apart the meat into shredded chunks, return to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  7. Cover and leave on the KEEP WARM setting until ready to serve.
  8. Build your chicken taco!

Adapted from Slow-Cooked Pulled Barbecue Chicken

Baked Spaghetti/Ziti

5 02 2009


The same night I made Garlic Knots, I also tried my grandma’s recipe for Baked Spaghetti.  I love baked pasta except when it gets hard and crunchy in the oven.  WH has said he isn’t a fan of Baked Spaghetti but would eat another type of pasta.  For that reason, I substituted penne pasta for spaghetti.  WH said it reminded him of Baked Ziti, which I’ve never made before.  So this is my grandma’s (we call her Mema) recipe for Baked Spaghetti but feel free to substitute any kind of pasta you like.

The final product turned out pretty good and went well with the Garlic Knots.  I enjoyed cooking with sausage for the first time and thought the flavor was delicious.  As long as you cover up all the pasta with sauce or cheese it shouldn’t get hard or crunchy.

Mema’s Baked Spaghetti

Serves 6-8


  • 8 oz. uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped green pepper
  • 14 oz. jarred, meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 c. shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions & drain.
  3. In a large bowl beat the egg, milk, and salt.
  4. Add spaghetti and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer to greased 13×9 baking dish.
  6. In large skillet cook beef, sausage, onion, and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
  7. Drain fat and add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and mis well.
  8. Spoon over spaghetti mixture.
  9. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted.
  11. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Source: [FF]

Garlic Knots

5 02 2009


I baked fresh garlic rolls!!  I saw a recipe on Annie’s Eats back in November and put it on my list of recipes to try for a time when I felt a lot more comfortable with baking fresh anything-that-required-yeast.  I was inspired by Karen @ Loves to Eat who told me about her first time baking bread.  Her story gave me to confidence to try these rolls the other night.

Letting the dough rise

Letting the dough rise

Like some of the Barefoot Bloggers’ recipes, I always thought “classic” dishes or recipes from scratch would be so difficult.  Really, for me, the hardest part is being patient.  You have to give yourself a lot of time and be prepared to wait for these delicious rolls.  They are so well worth it.

Dough rolled out to form knots

Dough rolled out to form knots

WH and I both LOVED these rolls and ate the leftovers for several days.  I truly recommend the recipe; please see Annie’s blog, as I believe she found it on another blog and adapted it.  I followed her recipe exactly and everything worked out perfectly.  Enjoy!

Knots ready for the oven

Knots ready for the oven