The Stay At Home Chef: November 2013

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Korean Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

The tangy flavors of Korean BBQ have been sweeping the nation for years now. We absolutely love it. I think I've mentioned several times that my dad lived in Korea as a young adult for a couple years so I've grown up fascinated by Korea in general. When my husband and I were newlyweds we lived in a Korean restaurant and loved to go to it. We were usually the only non-Koreans in the restaurant and the waitress would question our orders because usually non-Koreans stuck to a limited menu selection. We had to convince her that we really did want to go out on a limb and try some of the more exotic choices. Good times. Well, these drumsticks aren't exotic by any means. It's pretty  much BBQ chicken with an Asian twist in ingredients, but it is super delicious. These drumsticks are sticky and tasty and a bit spicy and they are just dang good.


1 TB. sesame oil
1 TB. Cornstarch
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 chicken drumsticks
Sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish


1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the sesame oil and cornstarch.

3. Stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.

4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick.

5. Spray a 4 sided baking sheet or 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the drumsticks out on the pan and brush with the bbq sauce.

6. Bake in the 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

7. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds


Non-Alcoholic Cooked Eggnog

Oh baby, have I got a treat in store for you today! Eggnog. Dare I say it is even the perfect eggnog. There's no rum here, and it is cooked so it is completely family friendly. Seriously, I'm dying here. It is so delicious! I don't even want to think about how many times I'm going to make this in the next couple of months because it'll sound absolutely sinful. This is holiday decadence at its finest. 

Last year we didn't get any eggnog. [gasp!] I kept putting off buying it so we would only indulge on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. And then....the stores were sold out. I was going to make my own and then just settled for hot chocolate instead. Don't get me wrong, the hot chocolate is mind-blowing good. But there's something about that glass of eggnog you chug down on Christmas Eve while you listen to see if the kids are finally asleep yet. I vowed I wouldn't miss it this year and that we would have our rightful share of eggnog. When I saw it appear in the grocery stores the last couple weeks I knew it was time to experiment with my own. And now I'm ready to share it with you! Enjoy!


2 1/2 cups milk
4 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups heavy cream (or half and half for a light version)
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg


1. Put the milk, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and 1/2 tsp vanilla into a large saucepan. Put it over the lowest heat setting on your stove for 5 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for 1 minute. 

3. Turn the heat under the milk up to medium-high heat. Stir the milk constantly until it just starts to boil then immediately turn off the heat.

4. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 of the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture. Then pour all of the egg/sugar mixture back into the saucepan and whisk it all together. Put it over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. It will thicken a bit.

5. Pour the hot eggnog into a large bowl or beverage container and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour.

6. After 1 hour, stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and nutmeg. Store in the fridge and allow to cool for at least 4 hours before serving. 


Korean Mandu Dumpling Soup - A 10 minute meal!

Watch out people! I'm about to give you a recipe that my 5 year old made!

When I was asked to create a recipe using a Monterey Gourmet Foods product I was pretty excited. They are totally up my alley. Not only do they use natural, quality ingredients with a world flair, they also wanted me to cook with my kids to create the recipe. I've got two little sous-chefs (ages 5 and 2) and you'd be surprised how much they can do in the kitchen! We experimented with several different products and my kids did the vast majority of the cooking. I pretty much limited myself to cutting and doing anything that could get them burned. In fact, my 5 year old son realized that we had swapped places and I was HIS sous chef! The best part about having your kids heavily involved in cooking is that they are almost always willing to taste the final product to see what they created.

We were given 4 products to work with: ravioli, rigatoni, dumplings, and pierogis. It's a piece of cake to get kids to eat ravioli and rigatoni so I decided to throw down the challenge with my kids and introduce them to something new. Since my 5 year old is into soups lately I gave him the challenge of making soup using Korean inspired Mandu Dumplings. We talked about how his grandpa lived in Korea for two years and how his great grandpa served in Korea during a war. This helped him see the connection he had with the food. Food is magical that way. You can bring the world to your table!

We talked about flavors they use in Korea and came up with this awesome dish. It was easy enough to make for a 5 year old and it was actually super fast too! The whole thing came together in under 10 minutes. The real test came when it was time to eat. Would a 5 year old and a 2 year old really eat a Korean soup? Yes, indeed! The broth was bold and flavorful, and complimented the distinct flavor of the dumpling perfectly and even though it was something new to try, my little picky eaters ate it up, because after all, they were the chefs!


1 tsp sesame oil
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups beef broth
1 tsp soy sauce
1 (16 oz) package Monterey Gourmet Foods Chicken Mandu Dumpings
4 baby bok choy


1. Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Add in 2 tablespoons of the green onions (reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish), crushed garlic, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute.

3. Pour in the beef broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil.

4. Add in the dumplings and boil for 1 minute.

5. Reduce heat to low and add in the baby bok choy. Cover with a lid and steam for 2 minutes.

6. Serve the dumplings in a shallow bowl with a bok choy and a ladle full of the broth. Top with reserved green onion slices to garnish.

Monterey Gourmet Foods also makes pierogis, stuffed rigatoni, and several different ravioli flavors that are pretty great quality.





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Tips for a Successful Thanksgiving + Recipes

It's two weeks until the biggest cooking day of the year! As someone who loves spending time in the kitchen, this is an exciting countdown. Perhaps it isn't the same for you. Today I'm sharing some of my tips to make your Thanksgiving meal a success. 

1. Buy the turkey a few days in advance so that it has time to thaw. Even the free-range fresh birds are flash cooled and need some time to defrost before cooking.

Did you know? For a frozen turkey to be considered "fresh" it can have been frozen up to a year in advance. Purchasing a never frozen turkey guarantees that your meat really is fresh and will produce not only a more juicy turkey, but will also require less cooking time. 

2. Don't overcook your bird! I use a roaster oven to free up my regular oven for other cooking. 

Regardless of what kind of turkey you buy, always use a meat thermometer to determine when the meat is done. If you only do it by time you will almost certainly dry out your turkey from overcooking it. Tasty Tips: Put butter under the skin. This will help the skin crisp up and provide extra moisture for the meat. Start at a high roasting temperature (450 degrees) for the first 30 minutes, and lower to 325 for the remainder of the cooking until your bird reaches the desired doneness  (165 degrees measured in the thigh)
3. Bake your pies and rolls the day before. This will free up oven space the day of the big meal.

4. Make a plan. I use a spreadsheet (yes, I'm that nerdy!). That way I know what needs to be in the oven at what time, what I need to be doing and when for everything to be ready to serve at the same time. I do breakfast, appetizers, and then the big meal, but you shouldn't feel pressured to do it all. Remember, I LOVE being in the kitchen! 

 5. Keep it clean! Notice that I schedule in time for doing dishes and running the dishwasher. Put dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher. When it is full (or you reach your scheduled time), run the dishwasher. When it is done, immediately empty it so you can continue to put dirty dishes straight in. This will keep your kitchen clean which will be much easier to work in.

6. Use your crockpot! Seriously, slow cookers make large meals so much easier. I always use mine for mashed potatoes. You can keep those suckers piping hot for hours. There's plenty of slow cooker side dish recipes to choose from. Food stays good in a slow cooker for up to 4 hours on the warm setting so even if your dish gets done either, just pop that sucker on warm and finish things up. 

7. On a similar note, invest in a roaster. They go on sale everywhere this time of year and they are perfect for roasting those big birds. 

8. Don't be afraid to branch out! Try some new recipes. And definitely throw away the boxed stuffing and canned cranberry sauce. Don't be afraid to make things from scratch and add a little love into the mix.

9. Make it a family affair! My kids help me in the kitchen every single day. Kids love snapping green beans, stirring, measuring, and even just plain old watching. 

10. On a day full of gratitude make sure you remember the magic power that food has to unite people across cultures, break down barriers, and give us all something in common. Food brings people together! 

Check out my Thanksgiving recipes by clicking here!


Homemade Sandwich Bread - Grandma Sycamore's Copycat

I have been working on the perfect sandwich bread. I've had quite a few failed attempts at it, but I think I have finally landed on the perfect sandwich bread. If you have ever had the pleasure of Grandma Sycamore's Bread then you will know that it is hard to find any bread in a store that compares. They don't sell it anywhere near San Diego so in leui of having my relatives import it in for me, I have been in search of a homemade replacement.

I'm sharing the base recipe. It is easy to make variations based on the base. For instance, you can make a delicious buttermilk version by simply replacing the 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of buttermilk. You can make a wheat version by substituting half of the flour with wheat flour. You could do 100% wheat, but it ends up more dense which is just the nature of wheat.


1 cup milk
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a microwave safe bowl or cup, warm the milk  until it is warm to the touch.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, brown sugar, yeast, salt, melted butter, and flour. Knead on a low setting for 1 minute, and then turn it onto a medium to medium-high setting and knead until the dough forms a nice ball.

3. Put the dough ball into a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 90 minutes.

4. After 90 minutes, transfer the dough to a greased bread loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise for 60 minutes more.

5. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

6. Bake the bread in the preheated oven, with the aluminum foil still on, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes

7. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan, on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan and letting it cool completely.


Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes are always delicious. How can you go wrong with cream, cheese, and potatoes? Yet I rarely make them because I hate having the oven on for so long. Seriously, the recipe always calls for 1 hour, but it takes more like 2. It gets to be utterly ridiculous to time out your meal. My sister brought me a huge bag of potatoes straight from Idaho farms and I decided to go against my usual hesitation for scalloped potatoes, and utilize the crock pot for its designed ability to cook things for long periods of time! I'm never going back to oven baked scalloped potatoes ever again! This was ridiculously easy, and I didn't have to fret at all about whether or not they'd be done at the same time as everything else. Did you know you can hold things in your slow cooker for up to 4 hours on warm after it is done? That means that even if the potatoes got done early (I still am shocked that is even possible with scalloped potatoes), you can just throw it on warm and you have 4 hours to get everything else ready. Ya, I know you aren't spending 4 hours on the rest of your dinner, but think of Thanksgiving! Awesome, right? 


2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)


1. Slice your potatoes into thin slices (1/8 inch is awesome). The easiest way to do this is with a food processor. A mandolin comes in second place for ease, a cheese grater third, and a knife in very last place.

2. Place your potato slices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour in the cream and stir in the crushed garlic, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir together until everything is coated and then transfer it all to a slow cooker.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

**Optional, top with shredded cheddar cheese 1 hour before you plan on serving. A little more cheese sounds just about right. 


Homemade Pita Bread

Making your own pita bread is such a smart thing to do. Let's face it, homemade bread generally costs chump change to make. I can find enough money in a parking lot to cover the cost of homemade bread. I was going to make some gyros and checked out the price of pita bread at my grocery store. Holy moly! It was more than $3 for a package of 6! No thank you. I'm all into cheapskate stuff lately (side note: have you ever seen the show Extreme Cheapskates? Awesome-sauce and horrific at the same time), so I reveled in the money I was saving as I made my own. Bread is always the same...mix, rise, shape, bake with maybe a few twists and turns along the way. It was simple to make, puffed up like a balloon, and made for some pretty dang good gyros if I do say so myself!


1 tablespoon yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 tsp sugar
6 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons olive oil


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, water, sugar, and 3 cups of the flour to form a sponge. Let the sponge rest for 10 minutes.

2. Mix in the salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. 

3. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour a little at a time until the dough forms a nice ball. Knead on a medium speed for 5 minutes. It should get nice and smooth, shiny, and elastic.

4. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to oil a large bowl. Roll the dough in the oil, put it in the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours.

5. Preheat an oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone (if you don't have one, just put a baking sheet in the middle). 

6. Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces. Roll into 8-inch rounds. Let the rounds rise for 20 min.

7. Cook in batches 2 at a time on the baking stone. They should puff up and brown in 3-5 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and wrap them in a clean dish towel and put them in a plastic bag to keep them soft and pliable. 


Simple Brown Butter-Garlic Sauce

Last week was one of those crazy busy weeks for me. I was scheduled from morning until bedtime every single day. Exhausting! I had hardly any time for food which is painful for me. My time in the kitchen is my happy time. It relieves my stress and is my creative outlet. I guess I still did a lot of cooking this week, but it wasn't fun cooking and nothing was new which means my creative side is bursting! Watch out for some fun recipes when I get my hands back in the kitchen!

So on one of those crazy nights where I literally had 15 minutes to get food on the table I whipped out some pre-made raviolis, cooked them (which takes, what, 3 minutes?) and made a brown butter garlic sauce. The longest part was waiting for the water to boil to cook my raviolis so the whole thing came together in less than 10 minutes. Awesome sauce! It gave me 5 minutes left to shoot a few quick photos and wa-la! I was eating and back out the door. I know I'm a bit of a "from scratch" snob, but there are a few things I can feel okay buying premade. Raviolis are one of them. And dang, the kind I used were SO good! You can always make your own and freeze them, too. All I know is, that when I've only got 15 minutes, I can still bust out something way better than the drive-thru.


4 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, crushed


1. Heat a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter. Stir or whisk it and cook for 2-3 minutes after it all melts, until it starts to brown. When it starts to get those brown flecks, remove it from the heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Stir or whisk for another 30 seconds. Done.


Slow Cooker Citrus Lamb Shanks

I saw a recipe for citrus-braised lamb shanks on pinterest. I decided I really wanted to turn it into a slow cooker recipe. Slow cookers are a great option for anything involving traditionally braised meats. The original recipe called for a lot of wine, which I generally don't do (I cook for my family which includes 2 small children!). And since alcohol definitely doesn't burn off in a slow cooker, I altered things around to make it flavorful and family friendly. I love cooking my lamb shanks in the slow cooker. It turns lamb into a no fuss meal. I love how the smell fills up my house and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Such a scrumptious meal for citrus season!


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 lamb shanks (around 1 pound each)
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 naval orange, zested and juiced
1 tsp salt


1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Sear the shanks on all the sides until browned, 7-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and place directly into the slow cooker.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, tomato paste, vegetable broth, lemon zest and juices, lime zest and juices, orange zest and juice, and salt. Pour over the lamb shanks into the slow cooker.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve hot with a little of the vegetables from the slow cooker, strained.


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