Pasta with Tomato Butter Sauce

I made this pasta dish when my girls invited their friend who is vegetarian for dinner. I happen to chance upon a video on Youtube featuring this meatless pasta dish. It looks easy enough to make with just a few simple ingredients.

To make start by cutting in half 3 pints of cherry tomatoes and set them aside. Then chop a medium-sized onion.

Get a large skillet and place over medium to low heat. Add a stick of butter and saute your onion until soft and translucent. Then add your tomatoes and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for 25-30 minutes over low heat. Make sure to stir it once in a while to prevent it from burning.

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While tomatoes are simmering cook your pasta according to the package directions. I used spaghetti pasta but fettuccine or linguine would also be good options.

After about 20 minutes you can see the sauce thickening a bit and the skin of the tomatoes softening and starting to burst. Gently press the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon while stirring. This helps the flavor of the ingredients to blend well. Before the end of cooking time add 1 cup of pasta water and stir. Then add your pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add about a quarter cup of basil leaves that has been torn to pieces. Add more pasta water if needed and top with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

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I was a bit skeptical when I started making this but after tasting the end product my mind was blown away by the taste and flavor of this pasta dish. You would not even notice that it is meatless.

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Asparagus Fries

The first time I had asparagus fries was at Barn Joo a Korean gastropub on 35th in New York City. It reminded me of Zucchini fries which I also love. I usually get a pack of asparagus from Sam’s Club. It’s a 2 lb bag and I have a little less than half a bag left so I decided to make this before it goes bad.

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To make wash your asparagus and set it aside. Place in a shallow container 1 cup all-purpose and add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. garlic powder. Mix until everything is combined. In another container beat 2 eggs. In a third container mix 1 cup panko bread crumbs with 1 tsp. paprika.

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Dredge your asparagus in the flour. Then dip in the beaten eggs. Last coat it with the panko breadcrumbs mixture, make sure to press firmly to coat. Repeat with the remaining asparagus.

Get a skillet and pour about an inch of oil. Place over medium heat. Fry your asparagus in batches until golden brown about 2 minutes. Drain in paper towels.

Serve with a dipping sauce of mayo and ketchup, we also like to dip it in Chick-fil-A Sauce.

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Bicol Express

Bicol Express is one of the Filipino dishes that use coconut milk. Coconut milk or kakang gata in Tagalog is widely used in Southeast Asian cooking. I hardly ever cook with coconut milk since I grew up in a household that isn’t overly fond of eating food made with “gata.”

This dish is a favorite of my husband and he would always get this at the Cafeteria-style Filipino restaurant in our area. Since their Bicol Express is too spicy for me to handle, I made this so I can adjust the level of heat and amount of chiles in the dish.

Get a large saucepan and place over medium to high heat. Add 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil and saute 6 cloves of minced garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant add 1 medium-sized chopped onion. Cook until onions are translucent. Add 1 1/2 lbs pork butt cut into cubes. Stir and cook until no longer pink and has turned a bit brown on the edges. Place 2 Tablespoons “shrimp bagoong” and stir fry everything for about 2 minutes. Pour a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water, and let this come to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking at a simmer for 35-40 minutes until meat is tender and coconut milk has thickened. Make sure to cook at low heat so that the coconut milk will not curdle. This will give your sauce a creamy consistency. Then add 1/2 cup chopped “siling haba” or Korean green chili peppers and 2-3 pieces thinly sliced Thai chiles or siling labuyo. You may add more if you want it spicier. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

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Korean Vegetable Pancake

This is a family favorite and one of the easiest to make when we are craving some Korean food. It’s also versatile; you can add anything you fancy: meat, seafood, or veggies.

I just buy the Korean pancake mix at my local Asian grocer, and I particularly like this brand.

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To make prepare your batter by mixing 1 1/2 cup pancake mix with 1 to 1 1/4 cup cold water and an egg. Mix until just combined. To these add your grated or chopped vegetables. I used cabbage, carrots, zucchini, king oyster mushrooms, onions, and spring onions. Mix until vegetables are coated with the batter.

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Get a large non-stick pan and place over medium heat. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Scoop 1/2 cup of your vegetable mixture onto pan. Fry until crisp and golden brown on the bottom. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is brown and cooked to your desired crispness. You may need to add more oil to your pan. When done place on a paper lined plate. Finish cooking remaining batter.

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For the dipping sauce, combine 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil and some ground pepper.

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Purple Sweet Potato Fritters

I wanted to use up the sweet potatoes that have been sitting on my kitchen counter so I made fritters out of them this week. My family loved it so I thought of turning it up a notch and replacing it with purple sweet potatoes.

For this recipe, I used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. To make peel and grate two medium-sized sweet potatoes and 1 small carrot and place them in a bowl. Add 1 small onion finely chopped, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Mix everything together until well combined.

Take a small pan and add about 1/2 an inch of any neutral oil. Place over medium heat, once the oil is hot drop a heaping tablespoon of your sweet potato mixture. Fry for 1 minute or so, flip, and cook until brown and crisp on both sides. This takes so little time to cook so be careful not to burn it. I served this with the “Chick-Fil-A” dipping sauce I got at my local Target. You may use sweet chili sauce or a yogurt mayo garlic sauce too, the possibilities are endless.

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Bulalang (Tagalog Pinakbet)

In my family we call this Bulanglang or Tagalog Pinakbet. Ilocano style Pinakbet is never sautéed but is simply steamed or simmered in onion, tomatoes and ginger and flavored with bagoong na isda (fermented fish sauce), this according to a good family friend who is from Ilocos Norte. Bulanglang is sautéed in garlic, onions and tomatoes and seasoned with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste).

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This is an updated version of my recipe for Pinakbet. The original one I featured on this site was a bit dry. I just added a little bit of water and cooked it for a few minutes longer but not too long for the vegetable to become too soggy.

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Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

It’s undeniable that we love pasta. It’s one of the things I prepare when I don’t know what to make for dinner. It’s easy to prepare and versatile. My mom makes a mean lemon garlic shrimp pasta and it’s from her that I got this recipe.

For this recipe, you will need a box of linguine or fettuccine, 5-6 cloves garlic, about 1 lb of shrimp, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1- Tablespoon capers, salt and pepper to taste, parsley and 1-2 lemons.

To make, cook your pasta according to the package direction. While pasta is cooking, place a wide skillet over medium to high heat, add butter and olive oil. When the butter starts to melt add your finely minced garlic. Cook garlic making sure not to burn it. Add shrimp and cook until firm and no longer pink about 2-3 minutes. Stir in your capers. Place your cooked pasta and toss everything to combine. Add the juice of a lemon and its zest. Season with salt and pepper. You may add about 1/4 cup of pasta water when you think the pasta is a bit dry. Adjust seasonings to your liking, you may add more lemon juice and salt to taste. Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

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Whole Roast Chicken

I made this the other night upon husband’s request. Now I’m wondering why I never make this often enough. I frequently make baked chicken using drumstick and leg quarters since that doesn’t really take much time and preparation. I guess we just got used to the fact that it’s so convenient to buy a store bought one from Sam’s club or Costco and the other chicken places around town.

To make get a whole broiler chicken, I got mine from Whole Foods since that is where I buy my poultry. Clean and pat this dry with paper towels. Preheat your oven to 425F.

Get a couple of potatoes about 4 medium sized ones, scrub clean and dry and cut into chunks. Peel and cut 2-3 carrots and 1 big onion. Arrange all your vegetables in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper and add a couple of sprigs of thyme on top or whatever herbs you like. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

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Take your chicken and stuff the cavity with half a lemon that is quartered and a couple of cloves of peeled garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with melted butter about 1/4 stick. Then generously season with salt and pepper. Lay your chicken on top of the vegetables. Remember to tuck in the wings under. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear when you pierce the leg and thigh. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Gamjatang (Korean Pork Bone Soup)

This is my first blog post after more than a year of hiatus. A lot of things has or has not happened. Our lives may feel that it has come to a standstill at times because of the pandemic but we still continue to move forward and find ways and things we need to be grateful for.

I chose to start writing again at an urging of a loyal reader. She recently saw a photo of a dish I made on my social media and asked if the recipe is up on this website. I regrettably said no and then decided there and then I should really start doing something about it. Believe or not I have several drafts of recipes written over the past year that remains unpublished. I will eventually get to that later. But for now I will just take this time to fulfill a promise I made.

Since the weather is starting to get chilly, I have been making soup dishes for dinner for the family. I wanted to try something new and this is what I decided on. My girls love Korean food and this seems to be up their alley.

Start by boiling about 1.5 – 2 lbs pork neck in a big stock pot. I used pork collar which has more meat but I believe pork neck bones would yield a more flavorful broth. Let this boil for a few minutes to remove scum. Then drain and wash your pot before putting back your meat (make sure to clean the pork bones in running water before throwing it back in the pot). Fill the pot with water until it fully covers your meat. Then add 1 whole onion peeled and chopped in half, 4-5 cloves peeled garlic, thumb sized ginger sliced, 2 stalks of green onion, and 1 tsp. peppercorns. Let this boil until meat in tender which could take 1- 1 1/2 hours.

While waiting for the meat to cook, prepare your vegetables. Peel and slice about 2-3 potatoes and parboil it then set aside. Clean and slice some Napa cabbage. I used some yuchoy and crown daisy leaves since I think bitter greens goes well will spicy soup.

For the seasoning, place in a bowl 1 Tbsp. gocharu (korean chili flakes), 2 Tbsp. doenjang (Korean soybean paste), 1 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean chili paste), 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, 3 Tbsp. Korean fish sauce or soup soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. water. Mix well and set aside. You can adjust proportion of chili flakes, chili paste and soybean to your liking. I believe that this is really a matter of personal taste.

When the meat is tender remove the meat and place in another pot. Strain the broth in a sieve. You should have at least 5 cups. Then place it in the pot with your meat. Add your potatoes and seasoning. Let this boil for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are done. Then add your greens and cook for a few minutes. I like to add the crown daisy at the last minute on top of my pot.

Serve with a cup of rice.

Egg and Tomatoes Stir Fry

As I’ve said before you only need few simple ingredients to create the best tasting dish. I’ve had eggs and tomatoes before but never realized that this scrambled egg dish is very much a comfort food for most Chinese immigrants since it evokes memories of home. The one I am familiar with and what is served at our house differs in texture since it’s more like scrambled eggs with tomatoes thrown in and onions are sometimes added into the mix. I wasn’t overly fond of it since the tomatoes can be a bit tart too.

When I saw a recipe for Chinese egg and tomatoes stir fry I realized that we have been making it the wrong way. This egg dish just looks so creamy and luscious that I got so excited to make some myself.

You only need a few ingredients to make this : 3 eggs, one large tomato, oil, sugar, salt and tomato ketchup.

First, wash and cut your tomato into large chunks. Then take a pan and heat 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Add your tomatoes in the pan and let it cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until it has released it’s juices. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ketchup. Add about 2 Tablespoons water and continue cooking until tomatoes are soft and sauce a but thickened. Remove from heat and place in bowl and set aside.

Get another pan and place over medium high heat, add 2 Tablespoons oil and then add your 3 beaten eggs. When the edges are beginning to set, pour your tomato mixture in the middle of the pan then start pulling the cooked eggs towards the center like you would cooking scrambled eggs. Continue cooking until eggs are set but not dry. Remove from heat and transfer onto a plate. Serve over steamed rice, though I am tempted to try it with some crusty bread.

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