Braised Chicken & Vegetables

Photo courtesy of
Braising might be my new addiction. Good stuff!

I found this great recipe through tastespotting and made a few changes (in green), and it came out wonderful. It definitely needs to be served with rice to soak up all the flavor! Serves 2.

Note: We didn't have fennel seed (for the 5 spice), sugar, scallion, or ginger and it still came out fabulous.

  • 500g chicken thigh, chopped to smaller pieces
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut to bite-sized chunks
  • 1 stalk of negi (Japanese scallion) or 2 stalks of spring onions, sliced
  • 200g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 1 small bell pepper, sliced
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) water (adjust accordingly to how much gravy you want)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (adjust accordingly to how dark you like the sauce to be)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (adjust accordingly to how salty you like)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Maggi seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp 5-spice powder 五香粉, which can be made if you don't have it (below)
    • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, ground
    • 1-2 tsp Star anise, ground (or 8 whole, then ground)
    • 1/2 tsp clove, ground
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon, ground
    • 1 tbsp fennel seed, ground
  • 2 to 4 small rock sugar cubes
  • 3 ginger slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, bruised*
  • Optional: Cooked rice (to serve)
  1. Heat sesame oil in wok, then add chicken pieces. Stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add water, carrots, mushrooms, scallions, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, 5 spice powder, ginger and garlic. Stir well. Cover with lid and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Using kitchen tongs or spatula, flip the chicken pieces over so that they can absorb the braising liquid. Add rock sugar for sweetness and a beautiful glazed finish. Simmer with lid closed for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
*Note: If you don't know what a "bruised" garlic clove is, it's when you lay a wide chopping knife flat on top of the garlic clove and whack it hard enough that it's kinda mushy and soft. I learned a new term today.


Toasted Broccoli w/ Chili-Garlic Oil and Parmesan

Photo courtesy of
This is a creative and tasty way to cook up some broccoli!

I found this recipe through some webcrawling and again, it was eaten before a photo could be snapped. So thanks to the original post, here is the recipe (with my additions in green).

  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C).
  2. Heat the oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Make sure the heat is low and that the garlic is not cooking too fast. Set timer for five minutes.
  3. While garlic oil is heating, wash and cut your broccoli into pieces. I cut the flowerets into halves and/or quarters and leave a couple inches of stem attached to each piece.
  4. After the oil and garlic has heated for five minutes (the garlic should be turning golden brown, not burning!), add the crushed chili if using, heat for an additional minute then turn off stove.
  5. Strain chili-garlic oil into a large, heat-proof mixing bowl then add the broccoli.
  6. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the bowl then add a pinch of coarse salt (keep in mind that the cheese will add more saltiness) and several grinds of black pepper and smoked paprika.
  7. Toss everything together well with a big wooden spoon so that each piece of broccoli has a thin coating of oil. Drizzle with a little more oil if needed.
  8. Using tongs, so that the excess oil drains off, remove the broccoli to a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out in a single layer.
  9. Place broccoli in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If your oven tends to be hot, check the broccoli earlier. If you like it to be extra tender, leave it in longer. At 10 minutes, the broccoli will have started to caramelize on the bottom and may even look a little burnt but don't worry, it will taste good!
  10. While the broccoli is roasting, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese (I prefer parmigiano reggiano).
  11. When the broccoli is done to your liking, immediately toss it with as much cheese as you desire and enjoy!

Kettle Corn

Photo courtesy of
Wow, this came out great! Just like the authentic stuff...and it only took 5-10 mins.

We kinda ate it all before I could snap a photo, so this is a photo of the recipe I based ours off of.

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (we used canola)
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • Extra sugar and salt
  1. Heat the oils in a large pot over medium-hot heat, and add 3 popcorn kernels. When they start to pop, the oil is hot enough for step 2.
  2. Stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2-3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle a little sugar and salt over top and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. 
  3. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool. Stir occasionally only if you don't want large clumps. Sprinkle with a little more sugar and salt if desired. 
Note: brown sugar can be used instead of white sugar for more of a caramel flavor, but white sugar definitely hit the authentic kettle corn flavor for us.

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream w/ Raisin

I wanted ice cream. There are 2 problems with this: I'm allergic to dairy and I don't have an ice cream maker...but dairy can be substituted and thanks to the BF's idea, ice cream can be made without a machine.

Problem 1: the dairy was substituted with coconut milk.
Problem 2: become the ice cream making machine using the ziploc baggie method.

Note: I couldn't quite get the coconut milk to an ice cream consistency in the double ziploc bag, but I didn't have enough ice, didn't have rock salt (I used table salt), and I started it from a warm room temperature. Most importantly, it takes coconut milk longer to "cream" than actual cream. I got around it by tossing the whole thing in the freezer and squeezing the bag, mixing the ice cream up, every 20-30 mins or so. However, one of these errors is to blame...I'm not sure which. Yet.

  • 1 gallon-size ziploc bag
  • 1 pint-size ziploc bag
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 small box of raisins
  • 6 tbsp rock salt
  • Ice cubes
  1. Fill the gallon bag half way with ice cubes, and add the rock salt. Put it to the side.
  2. Fill your pint bag with the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla bean (scooped out), and raisins then seal it tight.
  3. Put the pint size bag in the gallon bag then seal the gallon bag tight. 
  4. Shake the bags for about 10 min. until the mixture in the pint size bag has thickened to the ice cream consistency. It may take longer depending on how hard or fast you shake.
  5. Take the pint bag out of the gallon bag and enjoy!
PS, the recipe was terribly sweet. Don't use this unless you want an instant cavity.

BF's Famous 'Roo Chili

'Roo Chili w/ Irish Soda Bread
This is the bf's famous 'roo chili. It was terrible - we ate an entire pot's worth (~8 cups) in 24 hours. Haha! It is awesome. The recipe is never exactly the same, because it's all "to taste," so have fun with it. Of course, use beef if you don't have kangaroo...or substitute the meat for more veggies (and veggie broth), and you've got one healthy chili. Either way, the vegemite is a must. Enjoy!

Ingredients (all to taste):

  • Kangaroo steak, cubed
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Onion, chopped
  • Carrot, chopped
  • Capsicum (bell pepper), chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Celery (with leaf), chopped
  • Bacon, chopped
  • Bacon grease
  • Butter
  • Green Chiles
  • Vegemite
  • Salt
  • Optional: sour cream, chopped raw onion, chives.

  • Broth:
  • Beef Broth (or beef bullion mixed with hot water)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Mustard Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Dried Parsley
  • Turmeric
  • Pepper
  • Lentils
  1. In a large pot, sear kangaroo steak on high heat until brown. 
  2. Add the mushroom, onion, carrot, capsicum, garlic, celery (and leaves), chopped bacon, bacon grease, butter, green chiles, vegemite, and salt. Cook at high heat until most of the water comes out of the veggies, browning everything until the water is mostly evaporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix beef broth, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, smoked paprika, dried parsley, and turmeric. Once the veggies are browned, add this broth mixture to the pot, along with some pepper (to taste), and allow to slow simmer for 2-3 hours. 

  4. Add lentils and simmer for an additional 1-1.5 hours.

Serve with sour cream, chopped raw onion, and chives....on top of freshly grated parmesan! Yum!

PS, that's a sweet ginger wine spritzer in the background. Ginger wine is another Australian find that we've been obsessed with.

Mixed Seafood Pasta w/ Marinara Sauce

Slow roasted tomato sauce on tri-color pasta with pan fried white fish, mussel, salmon, scallop, and squid. The secret to the awesome sauce: a few hours of simmering and 2 chili peppers. Compliments to the bf for this one :) Definitely great with a cabernet sauvignon (and lots of candles).

Serves 4.

  • Mixed seafood (we had white fish, mussel, salmon, scallop, and squid)
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Tri-colored fusilli pasta, 16oz bag/box
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)
  • Fresh parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • Fresh basil (few leaves), julienned
  • Homemade Marinara Sauce
    Marinara Sauce
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil (more or less)
  • 1 cup Mushroom, sliced
  • 1 Capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 3 Onion (small), coarse chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, some diced and some coarse chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Chiles, blended
  • 1 can Tomato, stewed
  • 2-3 tbsp. parsley
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)
  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and brown the mushrooms. Once browned, decrease the temperature to medium heat and add the capsicum. Cook capsicum until edges are slightly browned. Then, drop the temperature to low head and add onion. Cook until onion is almost caramelized and has a clear look to it. 
  2. While that's cooking, blend the tomatoes and chile in a food processor (or blender). Set aside.
  3. Once the onion is cooked through, add garlic and crank up the heat to high for 1 minute, or until you smell garlic being cooked. Drop the heat back to low and add the remaining ingredients: tomato blend, canned tomato, and spices. Cover the pot and let simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours (the longer/slower, the better).
  4. About 25 mins before serving, prepare the seafood and pasta. In a separate pot, start boiling some water for the pasta. Put the pasta in your boiling water and cook until "al dente." 
  5. In a frying pan, drizzle olive oil on mixed seafood and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning (to taste). Turn heat up to medium-high and fry the seafood, so the white fish has a nice crispy edge. Set aside for the minute.
  6. Drain the pasta and toss with butter (to prevent sticking). Now you're ready to serve!
  7. In serving bowls, place pasta, ladle with plenty of marinara sauce, and add the fresh seafood on top. Then for the finishing touches, sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper, grate parmigiano-reggiano over the bowls, and sprinkle with fresh basil. Enjoy!


Toasted bread, slow roasted garlic paste, parmigiano-reggiano, diced tomato, diced onion, basil chiffonade and the secret ingredient: anchovy.

Serves 2-4.

  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 6 Anchovy filets, chopped
  • 1 bunch Basil, julienned
  • 1 tsp. Olive oil
  • Oregano Flatbread (or you could use plain flatbread and sprinkle oregano on it)
  • 1 tsp. Roasted garlic paste (per flatbread slice)
  • 1 tsp. Duckfat (per flatbread slice)
  • Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  1. In a large bowl, toss the tomato, onion, anchovy, basil, and olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Toast flatbread slices (oven or toaster). 
  3. Thinly spread the duckfat and garlic paste over the toasted flatbread slices. Spoon the bruschetta mix on the flatbreads and top with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. Enjoy!

It was a super tasty pre-Italian dinner snack :)

Chef: the bf.

Corned Beef & Cabbage w/ Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is a 2x fav.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe w/ Horseradish Sauce. Irish Soda Bread Recipe - which is excellent with butter and chestnut spread…and a Guinness!

Breakfast Sandwich

Super easy: toasted english muffin with some butter, a slice of tomato, salt/pepper, fresh basil, crumbled feta, and some sliced olives. 
Takes 2 mins.

Cooked Sushi

I was craving sushi and didn’t have any sushi grade fish, so I got a little creative with the items in our fridge/pantry. First, you need nori (dried seaweed sheets) and to make sushi rice. The rest is easy - you pick your fillings, like the things you want in a sandwich, or the toppings to put on pizza. It’s fun. 
Fillings set-up.

Ready to roll.
Here are the combo’s I came up with:
1. Seared steak w/ sauteed mushroom and onion, a thin layer of hot mustard, topped with a garlic chip and toasted black sesame seed.
2. Smoked (canned) tuna w/ a slice of raw onion, crumbled feta, and topped with green onion and toasted white sesame seed.
3. Spicy crab mix (imitation crab, mayo, and sri racha), chopped jalapeño, avocado slice, bell pepper strip and lettuce.
4. Garlic shrimp, minced ginger, avocado slice, sliced mushroom, and lettuce topped with toasted white sesame seed and mini crunchy shrimp (found in Chinese store).
5. The Italian Roll! Bacon strips, crumbled feta, sundried tomato, garlic, and fresh basil.
I heard the last two were (surprisingly) the favs. After those 5, I mixed and matched all of those ingredients so no rolls were the same. Sushi is easy and fun. And I love it. I want more sushi now…

Chef: the gf.

Crab Louie Salad

This was the bf’s take on a “crab louie” and it was superb! However, the dressing ingredients I am unsure of, but the salad ingredients are quite simple: shrimp, imitation crab, hard boiled egg, avocado slices, red bell pepper, green onion, and lettuce. 
Chef: the bf :)

The Man Sandwich

I came home to a very full bf one day and he showed me this photo of his creation. It is a beast of a sandwich that only the manliest of men can consume. It’s a skyscraper of deliciousness including: fried egg, pickles, tomato, onion, roo burger, and cheese on toasted ciabatta bread…with mustard and mayo!
Chef: the bf.
I hear it was a “10!” But only if you have a lot of room in your manly stomach!

Duck Fat Fries

-2 Points for health, but +4 for taste, and damn were they good. Toss some frozen fries in some of your fav seasonings (dried parsley, cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic, bacon salt, and pepper) and bake them in the oven. When they’re done, do a quick pan fry in some glorious duck fat and you won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re vegetarian. Lol.
Chef: the bf.
Note, those are some frozen Aussie meat pies in the background.

Sausage Wraps

That’s what she said. And they were easy and delicious. Boom! Winning. Duh.
Chef: the bf.

Tom Kha Gai (Spicy Chicken Soup in Coconut Milk)

This was an impromptu jump in to the kitchen’s spice collection, throwing things in a big soup pot and voilà, I somehow made a Thai spicy coconut soup, aka Tom Kha Gai. It was pretty simple: brown some onion, garlic, fresh ginger with some oil and butter in a large pot. Add chicken stock and coconut milk (to your taste), some secret Thai ingredients (2 tbsp fish sauce, 2-4 dried chili peppers, chopped lemongrass), and then toss in some meat and cooked veggies, saving the fresh veggies for the end. For the meat, I chopped a chicken breast and stir fried in sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. For the cooked veggies, I chopped 1 eggplant, tossed it in turmeric, and pan fried in a little bit of water, until the water steamed off. I also added some frozen peas to the soup. For the fresh veggies, I chopped up some red bell pepper, jalapeño, sliced mushrooms, and topped it with basil leaf (versus the traditional cilantro). Top it off with a little roasted red chili paste (or “naam prik pao,” if you want to be Thai fancy) and feast your tastebuds! 
Chef: the gf. 

Gordon Ramsay’s Espresso Crème Brûlée w/ Vanilla Bean

Lots of research has led us to 3 “perfect” crème brûlée s. This was our first try, using Gordon Ramsay’s “perfect” recipe. However, in our eyes, it isn’t perfect without vanilla bean, so we added 1 seeded vanilla bean in to this recipe. Also, since I’m allergic to dairy (no, not lactose intolerant - allergic), we tried 2 batches of this recipe with 2 different dairy substitutes: soymilk cream and coconut milk. The coconut was a clear winner! We also found that leaving the crème brûlée to sit in the fridge for a day or two allowed it to dry out and form the best custard consistency. Overall, it was “okay,” but it was also my first attempt at crème brûlée. Next time, it’s Anthony Bourdain’s “perfect” crème brûlée attempt. For now, here is Gordon Ramsay’s recipe:
Chef: the gf.
PS, every household needs a kitchen torch ;)

Malaysian Tomato Chicken Curry & Coconut Rice

I saw this on and thought about it all day…definitely had to make it. I didn’t have “kecap manis,” but it can be easily made - it’s like a sweet, anise soy sauce (Indonesian). We made coconut rice to go with it and overall, it was fabulous. It took me ~2 hours, from start to finish, but it was also my first curry dish, so whatevs! Overall: it was fabulous :)

Coconut rice w/ avocado, jalapeno, onion, basil, and sri racha hot sauce.

Seared Steak w/ Mushroom Sauté & Grilled Veggie Salad

Grilled veggie salad w/ parmigiano-reggiano.

Seared steak w/ sauteed mushrooms.
Another 10 in my opinion!
Chef: the bf.
Honey badger don't care.


Cioppino - perfect for mixed seafood.
Chef: the gf.
Recipe, but with 2 crushed (dry) chili peppers, fresh basil, and fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano = YUM.