Archive For The “Recipes” Category

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

Pairs Well With…Vietnam + Sippin’ + Slurpin’ + Pickin’ + Chop Stickin’

Month 2: Vietnam.  I’ll start by saying there was no bull penis soup this month, thank you very much. On the soup front, I stuck to one of my favorites, pho.  You can’t go wrong.  Sure, there were some left of center items on menus and street carts, but then again, when isn’t there?  You’ll be happy to know that it only took me three days in Cambodia to eat grasshoppers, so there’s that.  (In case you are curious, they taste like bacon of all things.)

But let me tell you what didn’t taste like bacon: last month’s critters.  Every month when we arrive in a new country, we do a thing called “Never Try, Never Know,” a food challenge where we try odd “delicacies” of the country – until we decide to tap out.  It’s like a gross adrenaline rush.  Whatever.

What did the Vietnam food challenge consist of you ask?  Well, here.  Let me show you what we ate – and how I reacted to all these weird creatures:

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Phase 2 is what I considered (after the fact) to be the best of the worst…

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…and the third time isn’t always a charm…

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But, wait!  Someone said fried snail are better.  Yeah, everything is usually better fried.  Or is it?!

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Now, I did try rounds four (dove: tasted like chicken) and five (frog: also tasted like chicken..ish.)  I also highly considered becoming a vegetarian upon leaving the event that evening.

In all seriousness, Vietnam offered me some of the best dishes I’d ever had, most of which I couldn’t pronounce off a menu even with three attempts.  (This is when the smile and point method proves highly effective.)  Thanks to the endless amount of noodles I ate, none of which I regret in the least, I am highly turned off by carbs.  Sort of.  Okay, not really.  This month, it’s back on track.

Here were some of the best meals I ate in Vietnam:

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As the month went on, you should have seen me with my chopsticks.  Nailed it!  Also, by the good graces of fate, I served as the bride-to-be at a mock tea engagement ceremony where we learned about the behind the scenes workings (ahem, negotiations) of marriage and exchanges of gifts from one family to another.  The best part?  The green bean tea engagement cakes.

Vietnamese Engagement Party

What I’m most excited to share with you is this month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Vietnam. Within this guide, you’ll find my favorite flight snacks, goods from my supermarket sweeps and recipes to unique meals to make at home or with friends.  Don’t be shy.  Missed last month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia?  No worries!  Here you go.  I’ve got you covered.

For more cricket eating and country jumping, catch me on Instagram, where big moves are being made daily.  More to come from Cambodia!

Oh, The Places You’ll Phở

Oh, The Places You’ll Phở

Pairs Well With…Chopsticks + Culture in a Bowl + Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner

You. Yeah, you. The one thinking “Doesn’t she know that phở is pronounced FA (not FO)?”  Well, yes, yes I do.  But let’s be honest, the annunciation as FO lends itself to many more jokes.  So, for the sake of humoring myself, bear with me and my witty phở jokes throughout this post and I swear to it that the payoff will be a phởnominal recipe you won’t regret spending time on.

Now, for many of you, it’s still winterish where you are, and there is snow on the ground.  You’re looking for those last indoor activities to pass time until spring arrives.  Keep your eye on the prize. You’re almost there.  Stay warm through the remainder of winter by phởmiliarizing yourself with this bowl of noodle goodness.

As many of you have seen from my pictures and Instagram stories, I’ve become slightly obsessed with phở since moving to Vietnam.  For those of you unfamiliar with this phởfilling dish, let me get you up to speed.  Phở is a Vietnamese broth soup with rice noodles (called bánh phở) and meat, usually chicken or beef.  This soup is eaten in Vietnam anytime of day, including breakfast.  (Soup for breakfast is still a slightly odd concept for me to get my head around.) Phở is a healthy dish low in fat, calories and carbs.  It’s also amped up in the spices and flavor department.

As I moved about the city tasting various bowls of soup, I talked to restaurant owners, a few chefs and a handful of locals about the process of making a good phở.  Based on what I was told, I combed the interwebs to find an authentic Vietnamese recipe that fit the description of the insights shared with me – and I found a great one.

Before I give you the goods, I’ll take this as my chance to educate you on the elements that make the perfect phở:

  • A savory, flavorful broth
  • Perfectly cooked noodles
  • Good cuts of meat
  • Flavorful seasonings at just the right amounts

Making phở is a labor of love.  There are shortcuts to make this soup, but the key to success is in your base, the broth.  I know you’re thinking, “Ugh. This is going to take phởever!!!”  Be patient. Stay phởcused.  You’ll have a great time phở ‘sho!

Here we go…it’ll be pretty phởking amazing!

INGREDIENTS:

THE BROTH

2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
5-6 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
5-star anise (40-star points total)
6 whole cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 pound piece of beef chuck, rump, brisket or cross rib roast, cut into 2-by-4-inch pieces (weight after trimming).
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)

THE BOWLS
1 1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles (rice noodles)
1/2 pound raw eye of round, sirloin, London broil or tri-tip steak, thinly sliced across the grain (1/16 inch thick; freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to slice)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper

Click here to get the full cooking instructions.  But before you leave, don’t forget to leave your email so we can stay in touch over the next year.  I’ve got many months of exciting adventures ahead, including a quick visit to Australia next week before moving to Cambodia for the month of April.
Valentine’s Day Bacon Bouquets

Valentine’s Day Bacon Bouquets

Pairs Well With… “L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole” + a little romance + a lot of bacon

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, my friends. It’s the time of year where we start thinking about what stops we’ll pull out to impress the one we love.

I used to be the person who absolutely despised Valentine’s Day if I wasn’t dating someone. I was “that” person who dreaded Valentine’s falling anywhere between Monday and Friday and hearing about all the gifts, roses and proposals. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Over the years, I got older (and naturally wiser) and realized that Valentine’s Day could be more than a singles pity party. On the years I haven’t been in a relationship, I leveraged Valentine’s Day as a larger celebration of love for those I care about.

And how better to show just how much you care than with BACON?! C’mon now.

These Valentine’s Day bacon bouquets are the easiest thing to make, and you’ll blow people away with your creativity and foodie DIY skills.  I promise.  For those of you looking for a memorable Valentine’s Day idea, you can thank me now. Bacon alone may not hold sentimental value (or does it?!), but the fact that you turned bacon into a craft will be unforgettable.

Add this bouquet to your Valentine’s Day brunch as an eatable centerpiece.  It will not only be pretty, but pretty tasty.

Ingredients:
(2) packages thick cut bacon (each package is approximately 10 slices)
(1) dozen artificial long stemmed roses
Foil lined baking tray
Cooking rack
Toothpicks

Instructions:
1. Remove rose buds from stems. Most detach quite easily.  Rinse and dry the stems.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Trim bacon to remove excess fat. Slices of bacon should be as symmetrical and uniform as possible.
4. Roll bacon tightly from end to end, securing by placing two toothpicks through the center to form an “x”.  For a more pleasing appearance, ensure that the more meaty edge is the top of the flower.

5.  Place rolled up bacon slices on a cooking rack on top of a foil-lined baking tray.

6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, longer for crispier bacon.

7. Place bacon buds onto washed stems.  They should attach easily.  Adjust to form robust and lush bouquets!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Meanwhile, back in Asia:
I had quite the week. I tried a lot of new things personally and professionally, including:
– Eating runny yolks.  (Picture on Instagram.) Now, you may not think this is a big deal, but the thought of anything other than scrambled eggs freaks me out.  Tried. Conquered. Succeeded.
– Presenting to a room full of people on blogging. Not a fan of public speaking, but based on the feedback I received, it was amazing!
– Recording my first podcast later today with a woman I find extremely fascinating. Excited for her to share her story with me!

Fall Energy Bites: Pecan Pumpkin, Lemon Poppyseed & Butterscotch

Fall Energy Bites: Pecan Pumpkin, Lemon Poppyseed & Butterscotch

Pairs Well With…aVivoPur’s Raw Energy Bites 

After a week of running out the door a day late and a dollar short, not to mention practically starving on the days I didn’t get around to the grocery store, I carved out an hour of my Sunday morning to do weekly breakfast prep. I was tired of having the same day-to-day internal debate about whether I had time to make an omelet or if coffee was going to serve as a liquid breakfast.  And, I’ll tell you, you don’t want to have anything to do with me on two cups of coffee and no food in my tummy.

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