Gordon behind our house by the huge snow drift

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The best thing about making Pho, is the left-overs the next day.  All my veg were already prepped from yesterday so this morning it was nothing to make some yummy fried rice.  I also had some zucchini and summer squash left over from making the ratatouille from earlier in the week.  Rice  for breakfast is not something that is common in the US
My Stepmother Linda, who is half Japanese, used to make rice with raw egg yolk and dried shrimp for breakfast, which in my youth seemed a bit extreme ... I really love it now and eat it a couple times a year...  I've Americanized a version of  it to be more palatable for my kids... Inara loves breakfast rice plain with just fried rice and egg... she calls it Eggy Mice..

I made my version this morning with all the left-overs from the night before but it is extremely versatile... you can add sausage, egg and cheese for a breakfast casserole or eat it with Asian veg for a vitamin packed breakfast.


2 cups cooked rice (white, brown, both are good)
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup soaked, sliced shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped zucchini or summer squash
1 cup chopped nappa cabbage
2 chopped green onions
1 diced baby sweet pepper
1 cup diced extra firm silken tofu
2-3 tbs chopped cilantro
salt and black pepper

Heat oil in a skillet and toss in the mushrooms and the rice, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and stir fry for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat until mushrooms brown and rice starts to get brown and crispy... add the rest of the ingredients and toss for an additional 3-5 minutes... taste for seasoning... I don't use soy sauce in breakfast rice, but you can if you want, just omit the salt and use soy sauce instead.... if I'm making true fried rice I would use soy sauce, but since my breakfast rice usually has egg and sausage instead of tofu and veg I skip the soy.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Check out Billy's Kung Fu video he made.  He missed PT in his Jrotc class so he made this video to get his PT points for the day... the end has bloopers and a couple of swear words so if you are watching this with kids... you might want to skip the end!


Pronounced FUH... as in the F word without the K and  BO. is a Veitnamese noodle soup full of vegetables that my kids will actually eat. Billy had one of his friends over tonight and they asked what was for dinner I said  Pho... they were like... did you just swear at me? 
 Pho starts with a really deep, rich broth.  Traditional Pho usually has fish sauce, which I find to be a bit strong for kids and sliced rare beef.  I decided to try to make it vegan, just for fun.  I made mine with vegetable stock that I enriched with garlic, ginger, shitake mushrooms and soy sauce. This takes a while to chop and prepare but i like to do a lot ahead of time and keep the rest in the fridge for making stir fry the next night.  It tasted really awesome and I didn't miss the meat!

1 aseptic package vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic smashed and chopped finely
1 inch pealed ginger grated finely
Garlic chili paste
5-6 dried shitake mushrooms
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs olive oil or toasted sesame oil

Heat oil in a sauce pan and toss in garlic, ginger and chili paste, saute for a minute or so and then add broth and soy sauce and shitake mushrooms, turn heat down to simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes... meanwhile get your veg ready
2 cups each chopped
nappa cabbage
bok choy
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms (or whatever your favorite)
1 cup sliced baby sweet peppers
Rice noodles

1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped green onion
2-3 tbs chopped fresh Thai basil
chili garlic paste
bean sprouts
sliced baby sweet peppers
lime wedges
1 12 oz container of extra firm silken tofu, cut into tiny bite sized pieces

When broth has steeped for a few minutes, taste to see if it is spicy enough for you, you can always add more chili paste later, remove shitake mushrooms, de-stem and slice into pieces,  add the sliced mushrooms, shitake mushrooms and bok choy to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes add the nappa cabbage and noodles to the pot, let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and top with condiments of your choice.  In the picture, I have baby sweet peppers, chili sauce, tofu, green onion and cilantro.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Zombie Party!

It was the zombie apocalypse in our house for Izzy's birthday.  We had a zombie cake, zombie games and zombie movies.  The cake was yellow cake mixed with green and pink food coloring and then baked in bowls to make the zombie heads.  We covered the cakes with frosting and then made modeling chocolate, which if you have never done it before is so much easier than I thought.  The headstone and the green zombie were made with white chocolate chips and the shrunken head and zombie hand were made out of milk chocolate chips

Modeling Chocolate
30 ounces white or dark chocolate chips
1 cup of corn syrup

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth, mix in the corn syrup and then beat until stiff, it will look like chocolate play dough, which is really fun just to use for play dough if you want your kids to get super wired from sugar.  We colored most of the white chocolate green with some brown streaks.  Allow the chocolate to cool completely but seriously do not refrigerate, it will get rock hard. Kneed dough for a few minutes before rolling out to cover the cake.  use the scraps to mold eyes, lips etc...

The Headstone was pretty easy, we just mixed in some black food coloring and kneaded it until it was streaky like marble and then carved the names in the headstone and used food coloring and a paint brush to add detail.

We covered the board with melted modeling chocolate... I put the scraps in the microwave for a few seconds too long and it melted and formed a greasy mess, which wasn't good for anything except oozing melted zombie parts...


Izzy, Inara and I absolutely love the movie Ratatouille.  The best part is when Remi makes ratatouille for Ego. The colorful layers of zucchini, tomatoes, summer squash and eggplant complement each other beautifully;   the recipe looked so good that we had to find it.   We researched where they got the idea from, and lo and behold the inspiration for the dish came from one of my absolutely favorite cookbooks “The French Laundry” by Thomas Keller, owner of the “French Laundry” restaurant in California.  We made our own version of the dish with basil, olive oil and layers of vegetables which I sliced thinly on the mandolin Inara bought me for Christmas (thanks kiddo).  The Keller version comes with a roasted red pepper sauce that I think we will give a shot next time we make it.

Our version

1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
1 tomato (heirloom if you can find it)
1 tbs fresh basil paste (in the produce isle)
 salt and cracked black pepper.
 Extra Virgin Olive oil
Small ramekins (like for crème brulee)

Slice all the veg including the tomato very thinly using a mandolin or if you have kick butt knife skills use a knife (show off!)

Spread a thin layer of the basil paste in the bottom of the ramekin, now layer in a circle zucchini, squash, eggplant and tomato, repeating the layers, see picture.  Spray or drizzle with olive oil cover lightly with a piece of parchment paper or foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes until the tomato starts to give off its juices and the oil is bubbly.  You can serve in the ramekin or carefully turn out onto a plate. Drizzle with roasted red pepper sauce or add some olive oil to any extra basil paste you have left, steep for a few minutes then strain through a cheese cloth, you should have very bright green oil… drop around plate in fine dots.