Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Not-Really-Bulgogi Tacos with Fresh Kimchi

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When we still lived in Minnesota, I had a co-worker who had lived in Korea for several years.  When he came back to the states, he missed a lot of the food he had discovered over there.  I asked he had tried the Korean restaurant a couple of miles from where we were working.  He hadn’t and I swear he left right then and there for lunch.  After a few weeks of going there everyday for lunch, he asked if I’d ever been.  I’d never had Korean food at the time so he treated me out as a way of saying thank you.

I honestly couldn’t tell you what most of what I tried is called.  I enjoyed most of it but the 2 things that I LOVED were the bulgogi (marinated grilled beef) and kimchi (spicy sour fermented cabbage).  I’ve only had a couple of opportunities since then to have either and I have loved both just as much as the first time I got to eat them.

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I was flipping through the June issue of Cuisine at Home a while back and happened upon a recipe for bulgogi with *fresh* kimchi.  Whaaaaa–kimchi is fermented.  How can this be possible?  Regardless, it sounded pretty darn tasty and it went into my recipes-to-try binder.

After buying 80 lbs of ground beef a while back from Zaycon, I decided to do a play on bulgogi to try to mimic the flavors but in a different form.  And since the CAH recipe put the fresh kimchi on top of the bulgogi in a tortilla, I figured that would work perfectly with the ground beef version.

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After perusing several recipes for bulgogi, I came up with my own sauce mix and put my own spin on a fresh kimchi.  The flavors in the meat were deliciously complex and only deepened with the vegetable mix added to it.  Sweet, savory, sour, a little spicy… all within the same bite.  The ground beef definitely had the flavor I remembered and I definitely got the kimchi vibe with the cabbage mix.

Both Mr. C and Mr. O were hesitant with this one, both looking at the plate with distrustful apprehension.  I can’t say that I blame them!  Traditional kimchi is fermented vegetables which many mistakenly equate with rotten vegetables.  Mr. C thought my version looked like cole slaw so that helped him be brave. 🙂

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This is a nice break from the mundane, though, which comes together very quickly.  If you make the sauces while the meat is browning and then shred the carrots and mix the fresh kimchi together while the meat simmers, you can make this meal in about 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t like to be so rushed, though, you can easily mix the sauces and make the fresh kimchi before cooking the meat.  The extra time let’s the flavor deepen a bit.

We’ve taken to calling these fauxgogi tacos at our house but that won’t lend itself to search engines very well!  🙂

Not-Really-Bulgogi Tacos with Fresh Kimchi
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Makes: 8 tacos
 
Ingredients
Fresh Kimchi
  • 10 oz bag shredded cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • ¼ c rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Not-Really-Bulgogi
  • ¼ c pear juice (apple juice would work as well)
  • ¼ c low sodium sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1½ lb lean ground beef
  • 8-10 ~ 6"-8" flour tortillas
Instructions
Fresh Kimchi
  1. Place the shredded cabbage and grated carrot in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together everything else. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.
  3. Set aside.
Not-Really-Bulgogi
  1. In a small bowl, mix together everything but the ground beef. Set aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until cooked most of the way through and crumbled, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir the sauce then pour over the meat. Stir to coat and let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Serve on flour tortillas topped with the fresh kimchi.
Notes
Inspired by "Korean Bulgogi Tacos" in the June 2014 issue of Cuisine at Home

 

Sweet Corn and Radish Salad

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Part of our big family vacation every year when I was growing up was a long weekend in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.  The formula every year was basically the same: do the 3 hour drive, check into the hotel, and go to the zoo or a museum that first day.  Then, for dinner, eat at a restaurant we didn’t have at home and spend the evening in the hotel pool.

We’d spend the entire next day at Valleyfair from the time the gates opened until it started to get dark.  We’d swim for a while when we got back to the hotel but would collapse in bed pretty early.  The next day was spent roaming one of the major shopping malls and eating at Red Lobster before heading home.*

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Valleyfair was always the highlight of the trip, though.  Whenever I smell asphalt on a hot, sunny day, it still makes me think of those family summer trips.  We’d hit the park in the same fashion, following the same route through the park every time.  We’d get on the big water ride at the very beginning so we could get wet and stay cool most of the day.  This was immediately followed by the Ferris wheel so Dad could get pictures of the park.  The required log ride was about halfway through the day so we could get wet again to cool off.

I loved all of the rides, though, never sitting out on any of them.  When my sister was too little for the main rides, my Dad would go with me and Mom and Sis would wait at the ride’s exit.  When my sister got bigger, she went on all of them, too, except my Dad always sat with her on the rides where you had to pair up and I was relegated to sitting with a stranger.

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One particular year when we went, things were a little different.  Green Giant, who had a plant not far from the fair, was hosting an event with all-you-could-eat corn on the cob.  They had stands all over the park and bored teenagers were handing out ears soaked in butter to anyone who wanted some.

You may have picked up from this blog that we do love corn in my house but I’ve never been a fan of it on the cob.  It gets stuck in my teeth and my face ends up sloppy so, when I am faced with it on occasion, I just politely cut it off the cob before I eat it.  That wasn’t an option in the amusement park.  But I get my… frugal… nature from my parents so Dad insisted that we fill up on free corn for lunch rather than one of the concession stands.

I was about 13 years old at the time and very much aware that boys existed so was horrified at the thought of being seen with butter on my face by some cutie.  Hunger eventually got the best of me, though, and I have to say: it was seriously the best corn I think I have ever eaten.  I’m sure sitting in vats of melted butter or butter-like substance helped.

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I’m just glad the experience turned out well or it may have shied me off of corn completely!  Since corn isn’t super high on the nutritional chain, it’s just a sometimes side or addition.  But when I find recipes like this one, I *have* to make it.  My adult tongue has recently discovered that it doesn’t mind radishes and this just sounded too intriguing to pass by.

I did simplify it a bit from the original recipe, though.  I left out the onions, obviously, and forgot to get parsley.  Oops!  I also made the dressing just a little sweeter.  I used my favorite canned corn because I had it on hand.  I won’t buy any other kind of corn, actually.  This is super sweet and crisp without being chewy or salty.  (My opinion only… no one is paying me to say I like it. 😉 )

Sweet Corn and Radish Salad
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Makes: 4-5 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 3 ~ 11 oz cans of corn, drained (4 cups)
  • 1 c quartered and thinly sliced radishes (6 - 8 medium radishes)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ c canola oil
Instructions
  1. Put the corn and radishes in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a mini food processor, add the lime juice, honey and jalapeño. Pulse until the pepper in finely chopped and the mixture is almost smooth. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and oil. Process on high until the mixture is smooth and well blended.
  3. Pour over the corn and radishes and toss to coat well. Either serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
Adapted from foodandwine.com

 

We didn’t have Red Lobster or other seafood places where I grew up so this was almost always where my Mom wanted to go.  The popcorn shrimp was the favorite for my sister and I. 🙂

Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad

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I don’t think it’s any secret by now that I LOVE buffalo sauce.  I don’t like my food to be oh-my-gawd spicy because I enjoy being able to actually taste my food.  But I do love a little heat now and again.  And there’s just something awesome about taking hot sauce and mixing it with a little butter and garlic.

Mmm-mmm-yummy!

I “healthify” my buffalo sauce by using half melted butter and half olive oil and I honestly can’t taste the difference.  I tried it with all oil once.  That was not so good.  Since a little goes a long with this, though, I don’t feel guilty about the butter in the slightest when making buffalo sauce.

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I feel even less guilty when it is on a baked chicken breast with a salad.  🙂  While this isn’t quite as satisfying to the soul as buffalo wings are, this still helps satiate the craving without the added guilt.

Who am I kidding?  I never feel guilty when I eat buffalo wings.  Or wings of any sort, really.  BBQ?  Yes, please!  Lemon pepper?  More, please!  I definitely prefer my wings naked rather than battered and fried, though.  Hmm… I should make wings at home and do a post on that for you guys.  I use Alton Brown’s method of steaming them before baking them and they turn out perfectly revery time.

Anyway… this salad is still a pretty decent stand in when you don’t want to take the time to make wings. 🙂

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Even the blue cheese dressing is on the less-bad-for-you side.  I know, I know.  I’m taking all the fun out of buffalo sauce and blue cheese. 😉  But I promise your taste buds won’t really care.

Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad
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Makes: 4 salads
 
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1½ - 2 lbs)
  • 1 c buffalo sauce (recipe below)
  • 1½ c blue cheese dressing (recipe below)
  • 3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped or torn
  • 2 -3 med tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 ribs of celery, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. While the oven is heating, mix up your buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing, if not already made. I also use this heating time to chop my vegetables.
  3. Place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet. Pour about ¼ cup of the buffalo sauce into a small dish and brush it onto the chicken breasts. Discard any buffalo sauce leftover in the dish.*
  4. Bake the chicken for about 15 minutes then brush on some additional buffalo sauce. Bake 5-10 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked all the way through, or about 160° in the largest part of the breast. Remove from the oven let set for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add the lettuce, tomatoes and celery to a large bowl. Add ½ - ¾ cup of dressing and toss to coat.
  6. Divide the lettuce and vegetable mixture between 4 plates. Drizzle with buffalo sauce.
  7. Slice each chicken breast and place on top of each salad. Drizzle each breast with blue cheese dressing.
  8. Serve immediately.

 
Buffalo Sauce
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Makes: 1 cup
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c Frank's Red Hot Sauce (original)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Whisk everything together in a small bowl and store in airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Blue Cheese Dressing
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Makes: 1½ cups
 
Ingredients
  • yummy stuff
Instructions
  1. Mix it

 

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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Speaking with a lot of my friends about the first meal they ever cooked and it seems like most of us made the same thing: browned ground beef with jarred tomato sauce over spaghetti.  I’m not gonna lie, it can be pretty tasty and a simple meat sauce is something I have been craving lately.

Even though there are jarred sauces that I can eat with no stomach pain, I still decided to take the s’ghetti up a level and make it even better than jarred without making it take longer.

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In the time that it took to boil the water and cook the pasta, I was able to brown & season the ground beef, add the sauce and more seasoning and let it simmer until the pasta is done.  Perfect for a weeknight meal!

I had enough sauce leftover for lunch the next day which I ate with leftover garlic & herb rolls.  It was a really satisfying meal… twice.

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Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the meat
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • ¼ tsp brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
For the sauce
  • 3 ~ 15 oz cans low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 ~ 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 oz pkg whole wheat spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot of water ¾ full and put over high heat.
  2. While the water is heating, cook the ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to crumble the meat. When the meat is about halfway cooked, about 5 minutes, add the garlic and seasoning. Continue cooking and stirring until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the sauce, tomatoes, and seasoning to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Lower the heat to medium and let simmer.
  4. By this time, the water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with hot water. Serve pasta topped with sauce and grated Parmesan.

 

I tried to take a picture with a couple of the rolls I posted on Wednesday with the pasta…

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But it REALLY reminded me of a Muppet. 🙂

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Quick & Easy Garlic & Herb Rolls

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I am fully aware that carb-y meals like spaghetti don’t *need* the extra carbs of garlic bread or rolls, but they taste so good and work perfectly for sopping up any extra sauce on the plate.  But, in the spirit of trying to eat right, I usually forego this wondrous side when making pasta at home.

The other night, though, my craving gave way to doing “the right thing” but I hadn’t made any bread and it was too close to dinner time to start a new loaf.  Ah, one of the bad sides of making my own bread.  What to do?  What to do?

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I decided to see if I could do something with my quick pizza dough recipe that has turned out to work wonders for things like stuffed cheesy bread.  I really didn’t want to add too many more calories, though, with all that yummy, gooey cheese.   (*dreamy sigh*)

I’m not sure where the inspiration came from but I had the idea to make these and hope for the best.  Hope quickly gave way to a very happy tongue and tummy.  And a plate cleaned of leftover sauce.

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Be sure to check back on Friday for a quick meat sauce!

Quick & Easy Garlic & Herb Rolls
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Makes: 12-14 rolls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or ¼ oz packet)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c warm water (hot water directly from tap)
  • 2½ c bread flour or all-purpose flour OR 1½ c bread flour (or AP flour) + 1 c white-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ c freshly grated Parmesan
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the butter with the garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, chives and ½ tsp of the salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the hot water, gently stirring to break up any clumps. Let stand until creamy and almost doubled, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Use hands to mix well. Let stand and rest 5 minutes.
  5. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  6. On a flat floured surface, roll or press the dough into a large rectangle, about 12" x 8". Gently spread the compound butter over the dough, leaving 1" free of the butter along a long edge. Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  7. Starting with the buttered, long edge, roll the dough into a spiral. Pinch to seal the seam.
  8. Place seam side down and slice into ¾" pieces. Place cut side down on the baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Notes
If your butter is not soft, just grate it and mix the herbs in with your clean hands. Your body heat will help soften the butter.

 

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Fruit & Cheese Pastry

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Finally!  After months and months of waiting, I was accepted into the Secret Recipe Club.  It took another 2 months before I could actually participate but it finally happened!  Yay!  🙂  For those who are not familiar, it works like this: participants are assigned another member’s blog where we choose a recipe that they made, make it ourselves then we all post about it at the same time via the wonders of post scheduling.  After the reveal time, we find out who got our blog!

Today is my reveal day!  Double yay!

I was assigned It’s Yummy to My Tummy by Heather, a busy mom who has been posting her recipes since 2010.  I noticed right away that we had somewhat similar tastes and a number of similar recipes.  Initially, I was thinking of doing a version of her Sloppy Joe Pizza because, I mean, duh… pizza.  But as soon as I saw her recipe for Cheese and Fruit Danish, I knew right away that I wanted to make a version of that!

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Why?  Well, cheese danish have always been one of my favorite sweet treats from a bakery.  Two, I am always looking for a new reason to make my butter pie crust which I figured would be a perfect substitution for the crescent rolls in her original recipe.  I also loved her addition of a fruit filling but instead of the jelly that she used, I thought something similar to my pie filling from a couple weeks ago would work really well.

I love it when I’m right. 🙂

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Using the pie crust means it really wasn’t a danish since danishes require a yeasted dough, but the cream cheese filling worked beautifully with the blueberries and strawberries.  I plan on making this again and again but with different fruits.  For instance, the apple pie filling that I used in the apple pie French toast would be amazing in this, I think.

Regardless, this is one of those simple desserts that can be made from scratch with relatively little hands-on time and that will taste like something purchased from a bakery.  I made this myself and even I was impressed. 🙂

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Fruit & Cheese Pastry
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Makes: 10-12 slices
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c blueberries
  • 1 c chopped strawberries (roughly ½ pint or 8 oz)
  • 1 c granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ c flour + more for rolling the dough
  • 2 ~ 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extra
  • 1 egg, yolk and white separated
  • 1 recipe for butter pie crust or dough for 2 crusts
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 Tbsp raw or turbinado sugar, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the blueberries and chopped strawberries in a medium bowl and stir in ½ cup of the granulate sugar and ¼ cup of the flour to coat the fruit. There may still be some sugar and flour in the bottom of the bowl. That's fine. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese until whipped and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolk until incorporated then mix in the remaining ½ cup of sugar, ¼ at a time. Set aside the filling.
  4. Lightly dust a large flat surface with flour. Roll out half the pie crust to ⅛" thick and about 6" x 12". Trim off the sides and ends to form an even rectangle. Transfer the crust gently to the baking sheet.
  5. Use a spoon or spatula to thickly spread the cream cheese filling over the center of the crust, leaving ¾"-1" free of filling.
  6. Stir the fruit to mix in any loose flour & sugar and spoon over the cream cheese filling.
  7. Roll out the remaining crust to the same size as previously and trim to form a rectangle.
  8. Beat the water in with the reserved egg white with a fork and brush lightly on the exposed bottom crust. Gently place the newly rolled out top crust over the filling and press the edges gently. Use a fork to crimp the and seal the edges.
  9. With a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top crust to allow seam to escape while baking. Brush the top with the watered egg white and sprinkle with the raw sugar.
  10. Bake 35-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  11. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
  12. Cover loosely and store at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Notes
You can use 2 cups of pretty much any fruit you would like in place of the blueberries and strawberries.

Adapted from/inspired by It's Yummy to My Tummy

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