It’s Impossible To Screw Up A Burger!

Every time I make a burger, I think of those shows like Kitchen Nightmare or Restaurant Impossible and when the restaurant can’t even make a decent burger I think to myself, no wonder you’re about to shut down! Seriously, making a good burger is so simple.

What you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef (80-85% Lean)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cheese (optional)

Directions:

Form the ground beef into patties however big you want them, but make sure you don’t pack them too hard or over work the beef, then take your thumb and put an indentation on one side of each patty (this helps them from shrinking). In a small bowl pour as much of the seasonings you want in, I always pinch a little bit and lick it to make sure it tastes good and is not too salty. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over both sides of the patties. If you’re cooking them in a pan like I usually do, cook them on each side for 2-3 minutes (this depends on how thick your patties are and how done you want them to be). If you want melted cheese on your burgers during the last minute of cooking put a slice of whatever kind of cheese you like on the patty and cover with a lid. You’ll get the perfect burger every time!

Creamy Polenta Cups for Breakfast

Yesterday, I went to the farmers market here in Downtown Sacramento. Although the farmers market in San Francisco is more fun to go to, Sacramento has the better produce. The coolest thing about this farmers market is that there are two that go on literally a block away from one another. The bigger, more commercial market, is the Certified Farmers Market and the other is the homegrown farmers market. The latter is amazing, you’ll find Asian produce such as bitter melon, extremely hot Thai chili’s and small eggs that were laid for the first time by young hens, at dirt cheap prices! I happened to purchase the small eggs, a whole tray for $3.

eggs so fresh they still have poop on them

Since I came upon these delectable little eggs I thought I would make creamy polenta cups with hot Italian sausage. So delicious and fulfilling. I got the recipe from Muffin Tin Chef but changed it a bit to my liking. Hope you enjoy!

Makes 6, Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup non-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 3 oz hot Italian sausage
  • 6 small eggs
  • 2 basil leaves for garnishing

Directions:

Line the muffin tin with paper liners and preheat the oven to 400° F.  Bring the milk and water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the polenta to the simmering pot and whisk for 3-4 minutes until it begins to resemble creamy oatmeal. Take it off the heat and stir in the rosemary, parmesan and salt. Set aside. Heat a little skillet with the grapeseed oil and cook the sausage until browned. Divide the polenta into the 6 cups and use your fingers to make a deep indentation. Crack one egg into each cup. Sprinkle the sausage over the cups. Put the muffin tin over a baking sheet to avoid leakage and put in the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes just until the yolks are slightly runny. Chiffonade the basil leaves, sprinkle over cups and serve!

Pho Anh Dao – Sacramento

If you don’t know too much about the Vietnamese culture, let me tell you a little bit about us. Here in California, we’re everywhere! We dominate San Jose, Sacramento and Orange County. The men love smoking cigarettes and drinking strong iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk brought to them by Vietnamese girls in skimpy bikini’s and lingerie. The women love to wear premium denim, high heels and Louis Vuitton bags. But all of us VN people share one thing in common, PHO! It’s a dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve had pho in many different places all around Cali, but the one bowl of pho noodle soup that almost makes my heart skip a beat just thinking about it, is the bowl of noodles from Pho Anh Dao. I’ve been told from the owner that there is no MSG in their broth, it’s always fresh and piping hot. There are two different kinds of broth – chicken or beef. Pho Anh Dao is famous for their chicken pho but they sure know how to make the beef one too. In the photo above is my usual, beef pho with brisket and meatballs. I don’t care that it’s summer and 100 degrees outside, I can eat this anytime! If you ever have the chance to try this place, make sure you don’t get there too late… when they run out of their fresh ingredients, they close up for the day!

Caprese Salad

So… I’m all moved in and settled back into my hometown Sacramento. Summers here can get VERY hot, sometimes up to 110 degrees! To help my body stay cool and feeling fresh I have healthy yet delicious snacks. We currently have fresh tomatoes and sweet basil growing in the backyard which is almost everything you need for the caprese salad. Here’s mine:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • fresh mozzarella with no liquid
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash the tomato and cut 1/4″ thick slices, cut the mozzarella into 1/4″ slices as well and lay on top of tomato slices, chiffonade the basil leaves (do this by stacking the leaves on top of each other, roll them up, lay it in front of you horizontally and slice thinly), drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and mozzarella, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then garnish with chopped basil. That’s it, Enjoy!

Baked Salmon and Mashed Potatoes

I am all about cooking delicious meals real fast. Khanh and I have been packing up the life we’ve built together in our San Francisco apartment because we’re moving back to our hometown Sacramento. I wanted to make one last special meal for him here that didn’t take up too much time and effort. So I turned to this Giada De Laurentiis baked salmon recipe that I’ve used before and really loved. I also added a side of mash with fontina cheese. Our dinner was bittersweet… Delicious and sad that it’d be the last real meal here.

Ingredients

  • 2 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
  • 1 teaspoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

For the mash, I boiled fingerling potatoes-skin on, drained the water, and put it back on low head, then added a bit of butter, milk, salt and freshly grated fontina cheese.

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday, my God Sister, Calix, came over to visit my little family before we move back to Sacramento, which will be on July 12th. I had baked white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and she baked peanut butter chocolate chip the night before so we exchanged goodies! Her cookies were very delicious, but although they were soft I wanted them to be a bit more chewy. Since I am moving, I want to try to use as much ingredients from the fridge as possible. I had a 1/2 cup of peanut butter left in a jar so I decided to make more peanut butter cookies. Here’s the link to the recipe my sister used. If you like soft cookies but don’t care for the chewiness this recipe is for you! However, if you like a chewy cookie try my recipe below.

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 + 1/2 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

Beat together butter and peanut butter until well combined.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and mix just until blended.  Roll balls of dough in white sugar before placing on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 14 minutes.  Do not over bake, they shouldn’t get brown. They’ll look a little puffy and undercooked but they’re not!  Let the cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 16 cookies

Rustic Bow Tie Pasta

My future mother-in-law gave me cherry tomatoes from a farmers market this past weekend. I could’ve gone the easy way out and had them with some salad or even eatm them by itself. But, I thought why not use them to make pasta for dinner. I already had pasta bow tie pasta in the pantry and fresh basil so I didn’t even have to go to the market for anything. I don’t have an exact recipe but if you cook, you’ll get the gist of it.

Here’s what I did:

  • minced a few cloves of garlic
  • diced a quarter of a medium sized onion
  • chopped about 10 leaves of fresh basil
  • removed the casing from one Italian sausage
  • washed the cherry tomatoes (probably equaled to a small box you could buy at the store
  • cooked enough pasta for two

I took a medium sized pot and brought water to a boil. As the water was heating up, I sautéed the garlic and onion until it was fragrant. Then I tossed in the tomatoes and when they started to burst open I smashed them until it started making a sauce. That’s when I started cooking the bow tie pasta (you could use any pasta you wanted to though) which took 10 minutes to become al dente, then I threw in the basil and sausage into the skillet I was using for the sauce, as the tomatoes started to cook down I put some of the water that the pasta was cooking in into the skillet, cooked it down some more for a few minutes and by the time the pasta was done the sauce was done too, so I strained it and put it right into the skillet, tossed it all together and was ready for dinner!

If you decide to try this, I hope you like it. It was very fresh and easy. 🙂

Feeding Your Partner

Every now and then you gotta show your partner that you love them. I say, the way to ANYONE’S heart is through their stomach. Although we have a 5 month old baby girl and a busy schedule, I try to cook something special for the hubby once a week so he knows how much I love him. Last week, I prepared filet mignon with a balsamic reduction.

Let’s just say, he was very happy… 😉

So sharpen those kitchen knives and get cooking!

Father’s Day Weekend and Breakfast

If you live in the Bay Area and have never been or are a tourist looking for some daytime fun, I would suggest going to the California Academy of Sciences. Khanh, Elsa and I enjoyed a lovely day there on Saturday. Admission is $30/Adult. I definitely thought it was worth the money. We were there for about 3 hours, would have been longer but we didn’t get to go into the Planetarium because Elsa isn’t old enough. Anyway, there were many different exhibits and we walked around for a good while when I started getting really hungry. They have a restaurant there called The Moss Room, but there wasn’t anything we felt like eating on the menu so we had a nice little lunch in the cafeteria which had many different options. Khanh had fried chicken and chips and I had a reuben sandwich that I thought was pretty good.

After lunch, we continued on… my favorite part of the day was seeing the live animals. Even though it was Father’s Day Weekend, I couldn’t have asked for more. It was an amazing day with an amazing man and our baby.

After our eventful day yesterday, we just wanted to relax. I did wake up a little earlier than him to make a Father’s Day brunch. I recently learned how to make pancakes from scratch so I decided to make banana pancakes, a side of bacon (because he’s the biggest bacon fan I know) and blueberries to garnish.

I found a delicious recipe on the Food Network for blueberry buttermilk pancakes. I made those a few days ago and it was a success, so I used the same recipe but substituted the berries for a ripened banana. I hope you like them as much as we did.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 21/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Serving suggestions: whipped cream and maple syrup

Directions

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and melted butter. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients into a lumpy batter, being careful not to over mix, see Cook’s Note*.

Heat some butter in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet and sprinkle the top with some of the blueberries. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and maple syrup.

*Cook’s Note: Over mixed batter will result in flat, heavy pancakes.

Eggplant and Green Bean Stir-Fry

This is something the hubby and I like to eat pretty regularly. I thought since this is something we really enjoy it’d be a good way to start sharing my recipes. I don’t normally cook with exact measurements when it comes to dinner, I just make everything to taste. Measuring and weighing everything was a first for me. I tried the recipe twice and it’s perfect (at least it is to us)! So, I hope you all will like it as much as we do!

Servings: 2  Prep Time: 5 minutes  Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces sliced eggplant (about 1 Asian eggplant)
  • 4 ounces green beans
  • 2 green onion stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs vegetable/olive or any kind of cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 5 tbs water
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili oil
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce

Directions:

Trim the ends of the green beans then slice the eggplant diagonally and cut the pieces in half lengthwise. Cut the green onions in 1-inch pieces. Mince the garlic cloves and set aside.

In a little bowl, put 2 tablespoons of water in it and save the other 3 for later. Add the cornstarch to the water and mix until it’s dissolved.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the sauce.

Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium heat. Pour the oil in and wait for about a minute. Put the minced garlic in and stir with a wooden spatula until fragrant. Now add the green beans and turn the heat up to medium-high, stir for 1-2 minutes. Then add the eggplant and the rest of the water for about 5 minutes or until you’ve reached the desired tenderness of the vegetables. Turn the heat back down to medium and throw in the green onions and pour the sauce over and stir for about a minute or until the green onions are cooked. Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!