Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crock Pot Cranberry Sauce

Almost everyone knows the recipe to make cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving meal, but most of them do not know that a crock pot is a helpful tool to create a wonderful cranberry sauce. The night before Thanksgiving,  place all the ingredients for cranberry sauce in a crock pot, and let it slow cook overnight. Try making a different cranberry sauce from the traditional one, which has the ingredients listed on the label of the packing bag, by instead making a contemporary sauce that suits your taste. A crock pot is the right kitchen gadget to help make this sauce.

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 red apple, peel and chopped(optional)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Orange zest from one orange
1/2 tsp salt
Spices, such as pumpkin spice or cinnamon, can be added

Place all the ingredients above in a crock pot. Turn to low from 6 to 8 hours or to high from 3 to 4 hours.

 Adjust the sweetness to your taste and add more water if the sauce looks dry. Use a spoon to mash the cranberries, if you like.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fish Stew with Tomatoes

Fish always provides abundant food nutrition, contains low-fat protein, and has many other valuable nutrients. Today, I will share a simple but delicious recipe that will make fish a highly desired meal by your loved ones.

½ lb. catfish (about 2 pieces)
1 large tomato or 2 small, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 red onions, chopped
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs blackstrap molasses
2 tbs vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro
1/4 cup peanut oil

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Wash and dry the fish.
Add oil in a nonstick skillet.  Heat oil until hot. Add fish and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Remove from the pan.  Discard some of the oil and keep about 1 tsp of oil

Add onions and garlic into a hot pan and stir until fragrant. 

 Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. 

 Add sauce ingredients and fish into the pan.

 Simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Adjust the seasoning before adding the green onions and cilantro. Serve with rice.

Vietnamese Meat-Stuffed Gourd Soup (Canh Bầu Nhồi Thịt)

In Asian cuisines, gourd vegetables are very common. Often gourds or pumpkins will be boiled to make soup with shrimp or meat. Gourds or what Vietnamese call,  bầu, bí,  when used in a soup, make the soup more attractive and delicious, especially when meats or seafood are stuffed into the gourd. For me, every time I cook this soup recalls memories of the time when my family left Vietnam to resettle in the United States. A plane took  our family to Thailand one evening in July of 1984. We were served stuffed cucumber soup. Actually, the taste of the stuffed cucumber soup of Thailand did not measure up to that of the stuffed gourd soup of Vietnam, but then the joy of seeing my father after almost ten years of separation may have increased the flavor of the soup in a  special way. Later, I also occasionally cooked Thai stuffed cucumber soup just to relive those  very important memories in me. I originally planned to present this Thai soup recipe at another time, but since I have enough stuffing available now, the soup recipe below will include both stuffed cucumbers and stuffed gourds. Gourds are sold a lot in Vietnamese and in the Korean markets. The price is also affordable, and this soup has the very good effects of decreasing the heat in the body and to calm nerves . However,  there are a few steps to prepare before, but this is a delicious and nutritious dishes . This soup can be cooked in a crock pot to enhance the flavor and slow cooking will make the broth very clear. If possible, I recommend trying to create this dish occasionally as a change of taste from the family’s everyday meal routine.

1 gourd
1 cucumber
6 cups kelp or chicken broth
Stuffing ingredients:
¼ lb. meat paste (gio song) homemade or store-bought
3 Chinese dried fungi
1 oz. oyster mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, mined
1 oz. cellophane noodles
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mushroom seasoning, optional

Soak the dried fungi in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the water. Finely dice and set aside.


Soak the cellophane noodles. Drain and roughly chop the noodles.

Dice the oyster mushrooms.
Place all the stuffing ingredients after dicing and chopping the noodles into a bowl and add the meat paste.  Mix well. Adjust the seasoning to your liking with more or less fish sauce, salt, and sugar.


Peel the gourd and cucumber. Wash them dry. Cut in sections as shown in the photo and use a spoon to remove the seeds.  Hollow out the inside of the gourd and cucumber.

Stuff the meat paste mixture into the hole of the gourd and cucumber.

Place them on the bottom of a 5 to 6 quart crock pot. 

 Pour the kelp or chicken broth over the gourd in cucumber. Cover and let cook on the low setting for 6 to 7 hours.  Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken (Asian Char Siu)

Relax and enjoy your day when using a crock pot for making a small meal for the family or a large meal for a party. This recipe is adapted from the sauce used to create the popular Char Siu dish served in Asian restaurants.  Cooking does not require the entire day to prepare a meal and a crock pot is also a tool to tenderize meat. For a family on a tight budget, a crock pot is a good way to buy inexpensive meats and turn them into moist, tender, and delicious meals. Most crock pot recipes are simple and so is this one.

3 lbs. chicken thighs
Sauce ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 knob (2 tsp) fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup total of blackstrap molasses, ketchup, and honey
1 tbs dry sherry
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp five spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp white pepper

Cut chicken into big pieces.

Place chicken into the crock pot.

In a bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and pour it over the chicken. 

 Cover the crock pot, set temperature to low, and cook for 6 to 8 hours, or set temperature to high and cook for 3 to 4 hours. (Regardless of temperature setting used, remove the crock pot cover halfway through the cooking time to allow enough time for the sauce liquid to evaporate.

 Because of the characteristic or variety of crock pot used, you might have more sauce than needed.)For a healthier meal, use boneless, skinless chicken or remove the skin from the chicken thighs.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mackerel Pike Stew (Cá Nục Kho)

“Sanma” or mackerel pike is usually served in Japanese or Korean restaurants as sushi. Vietnamese like to make it as a stew dish. The mackerel family has different varieties of shape and size. The bigger mackerel fish is usually stewed with vegetables, such as bamboo, tomatoes, or pineapple. In Japan, this fish appears more often with the advent of autumn, but it can be found until mid-winter in the Shizuoka Prefecture. It is also known under other names, such as "Saira" or “Banjyo”.*  It is a fish with red meat rich with proteins. In season, the flesh is fatty and sweeter. A mackerel pike is thin and boney, and the stew method is the way I like to enjoy this fish. This fish is less expensive to serve for a big family and provides for a good source of vitamins and iron. So here is a simple mackerel pike stew to serve with rice on a deep, cold winter. It is a blessing!

1 ½ lbs. mackerel pike

Marinade ingredients:
1 tbs blackstrap molasses
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp chili flakes 
1/4 tsp salt
Sauce ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 tbs blackstrap molasses
1 tbs honey
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 red hot chilies, dried or fresh
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 tsp chili powder Optional
Other ingredients:
Green onions 


Gut out the bloody insides of the mackerel and then rinse the mackerel under cold water until the rinse water is clean and clear (I usually submerge the fish in water with vinegar). Drain well and cut into large sections of each fish as shown in the photos.

Place fish in a container and add the marinade ingredients. Marinate for a few hours or overnight.

In a cast iron or clay pot, add oil.  Heat until hot. Add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant. 

 Add chili powder if using. Cook for 1 minutes and stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to boil. 

 Add fish, cover, and simmer for 2 hrs.


Remove lid and cook until all the sauce liquid evaporates. Add green onions and cook for 1 more minute. During the time of cooking, adjust the seasonings to your taste, more fish sauce can be added.  Enjoy with cooked rice and steamed vegetables.

* Fish names and sundry information was acquired from

Fried Brown Rice with Bok Choy

The question for me is always how to finish the leftovers in my refrigerator and turn them into a fantastic dish.  Healthy eating was a big part when I first decided to create this blog. Some people are too busy to cook a healthy meal because it takes time and effort to do so. However, eating healthy should always be a big part of everyone’s daily routine from a cup of Joe in the morning to a simple meal at night. Here is a recipe to do just that.

3 cups cooked brown rice
2 heads bok choy

1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms (your choice)
2 eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs blackstrap molasses
1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

 Garnish with chopped cilantro

First wash and then separate the bok choy stems and leaves. Afterwards, slice them and place into a small bowl.
Beat eggs and set aside.
Combine sauce ingredients. Have all the ingredients ready to use next to the stove.
Heat 1 tbs of peanut oil in a wok.  Add shallots and garlic.  Stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). 

 Add brown rice and cook for 2 minutes. 

 Move rice off to the side of the wok. Add 1 tsp of peanut oil. Pour beaten eggs into the wok.  Cook until eggs just set.

 Scramble the eggs and move them to the side beside the rice.

 Add mushrooms and sauce. 

Cook for 1 minute.  Mix the rice, scrambled eggs, and mushrooms together.

Add sliced bok choy.  Mix them well and cook until the bok choy is tender. Serve with some cilantro.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Healthy Stir-Fried Chicken with Napa Cabbage & Mushrooms

I learned to prepare healthy stir-fried dishes without using any oil from the website  This website amazing for those who like to enjoy simple, healthy cooking. As a cook, I like to change a few things to adapt to my family’s taste. I like healthy cooking, but I do not quite go all the way to cooking without using any fat. I think a small amount of good oil is acceptable for a healthy lifestyle.  Here it is a recipe just that – easy and healthy.

½ lb. chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 tsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 cup onions
2 cups Napa cabbage, sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms or your choice, sliced
Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 chili flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper

 Garnish with chopped cilantro

Heat wok and add oil until smoking.  Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. 

Add ginger, garlic, and onions. 

Stir and cook until fragrant and the chicken starts to turn brown.  Add mushrooms and the sauce ingredients.

 Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add Napa Cabbage and stir well. 

Cook for 1 more minute.. Remove from heat and serve.