Easy Asian Chicken

Do you like to entertain? Do you like Asian style meals? Here is a recipe that can save you time and money if you need to feed a lot of people in a hurry. You can also freeze this and heat it up later. I make this (mildly spicy) chicken for my family of seven and it always goes pretty far! And it’s delicious too!

You will need:

3 lbs of boneless skinless dark meat chicken, cut into chunks

1 onion

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vinegar

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp chili paste

3 TBSP brown sugar

2 TBSP lime juice

1 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP hoisin sauce

1/3 cup cornstarch (or enough to evenly coat chicken)

First julienne the onion (cut into matchsticks)

Thoroughly coat chicken with cornstarch

Saute onions and garlic in a few TBSP of oil

Mix water, vinegar, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, chili paste, lime juice, and soy sauce together

Add the cornstarch-coated meat to the onions and garlic. Stir occasionally until chicken is fully cooked and cornstarch is starting to crisp slightly in some places. Pour the sauce on.

Continue to simmer for about 7 min.

Serve with rice, honey glazed carrots, and zucchini sauteed in oyster sauce and you will have a healthy and filling meal that is sure to please just about everyone!

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Creations by Kara

Hot and Sour Chinese Eggplant

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate more vegetables and healthy foods into our diet. Before I tried this recipe, I didn’t care for eggplant at all. I decided to make this for my husband who is a big fan of just about all vegetables and pretty much anything spicy. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried this! Not only it is a change of pace from the usual eggplant dishes…It is a flavorful and healthy addition to your summer meals.

Typically, this recipe is made with Chinese eggplants which are longer and skinnier than the version most of us are used to. Since they are difficult to obtain in my area, and I don’t make it into the Asian market very often, I have learned to adapt my recipes with local ingredients.

You will need:

2 long Chinese eggplants or 1 large American classic eggplant

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp chili paste


First cut the eggplant into cubes and sprinkle with salt.

Add just enough water to cover the eggplant. I put a plate on top to push the eggplant under the water. Soak for 30 min.

Thoroughly rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix remaining ingredients together for the sauce.

Coat the bottom of a pan with oil and brown the eggplant cubes.

Add the sauce and cook about 7 to 10  min or until sauce thickens a bit.

Serve immediately. 🙂

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Cast Party Wednesday

Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi – Sandwiches

It’s been beautiful weather here in the Carolinas! Time to get out the grill! Today I’m making lemongrass pork banh mi. Banh mi is very similar to a sub or hoagie, but in my opinion, much better! It’s very healthy and full of flavor! 🙂

There is a little bit of prep time required for this sandwich, but it is well worth it.

First you will need to make the carrot and radish pickles.

You will need:

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1/2 pound carrots (peeled and cut to match stick size) I buy pre-cut ones

1/2 pound daikon radish (peeled and cut to match stick size) If you don’t have daikon you can use regular red radishes

Mix the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolves. Place the carrots and radish in a container and cover with the liquid. Let sit in brine for at least and hour and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Next begin on your meat. For this you will need:

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp oil

2 stalks grated lemongrass, or if you buy the frozen kind you’ll need about 1/4 cup

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into pieces

Mix all the ingredients together.

Allow to marinate for at least one hour (though I’m usually in a hurry and never give it more than 20 min. and it still tastes fine). Place on the grill until meat is done and beginning to brown.

There are several variations on the mayonnaise that you can use. You can use plain mayonnaise or you can mix it with other ingredients like lime, chili paste or soy sauce. I usually choose just soy sauce. For that variation you will need:

5 Tbsp real mayonnaise

1Tbsp soy sauce

Blend until smooth.

Once you’v done all the prep work, you can start assembling your sandwiches,

For the banh mi you will need:

Lightly toasted baguettes

Carrot and radish pickles

Mayonnaise spread

Cucumbers, peeled, chopped long-wise and seeded, then sliced

Cilantro sprigs, with long stems cut off

Lemongrass pork

Jalapenos, sliced and seeded

Spread the mayonnaise on the baguettes. Layer on meat, pickles, cucumbers, jalapenos , and cilantro.

This is the perfect meal for a Spring or Summer day! 🙂

Linking to:
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Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays
Cast Party Wednesday

Novice’s Guide to Purchasing Asian Ingredients – Fish Sauce

I remember trying to figure out how to stock my kitchen with staples to cook some of my husband’s favorite dishes and feeling very overwhelmed.  There are so many different things, so many varieties…it can be confusing. In fact, sometimes it’s still confusing.

If you are interested in cooking Asian foods this guide may help you sort it out. I can’t offer a comprehensive guide encompassing all the different ingredients…frankly, that would take more days and pages than I could possibly put together. Instead I will try and tackle one or two ingredients at a time.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in most Southeast Asian foods. There are also Japanese and Korean varieties.

If you are buying fish sauce to cook a Vietnamese dish, try and find one that is a dark amber color and has the words nuoc mam on the label. It is made from fermented anchovies, salt and water.

The delicious sauce (also called nuoc mam) served in Vietnamese restaurants  along with the fried egg rolls and some of the other dishes that are often popular is made from fish sauce, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, sugar and sometimes chilis and garlic. This sauce is primarily used for dipping but the plain fish sauce is typically used for cooking.

In the Philippines, anchovies, shrimp or other small fish are fermented in a process that takes many months to make a paste-like substance called bagoong. The by-product of this is a yellowish liquid called patis…the Filipino fish sauce.

In Laos fish sauce is called nam pa and in Thailand nam pla. Both are very similar to the Vietnamese version. There is also another version in Laos called padaek which has some solid fish pieces in it.

Fish sauce in Japan is called Ikanago shoyu. Miso (seasoning) is usually made from fermented soy, rice or barley.  Ikanago shoyu is a regional version of miso made from the sand lance and used to season hot pot dishes. This is

Fish sauce in Korea is called Jeotgal and is made from anchovies, but is primarily used in kimchi.

I’m sure there are probably a lot of other varieties and uses that I did not include, but hopefully this will give you some idea of what to get so that you do not feel overwhelmed in the Asian market.

Also, I know I’ve said in the past that there is no substitute for fish sauce, and in my opinion that holds true. However, in a pinch there is a recipe you can use if you can’t find fish sauce or if you run out suddenly.

Mix one part soy sauce to four parts anchovies and simmer in a saucepan for 10 min. Strain this through a sieve to extract the solids. I do not guarantee the flavor of this recipe, as I’ve never actually tried it…never been in that bad of a pinch. 😉

And here are a few online sites you can buy fish sauce:



Pacific Rim Gourmet (expensive)

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Vietnamese Pork Chops – Thit Heo Nuong

One of my favorite things in Vietnamese cuisine is fish sauce. It’s one ingredient that I would never attempt to substitute. This amber colored liquid is a staple in the Vietnamese diet. I usually stock up on this each time I go to an Asian market, though recently I’ve noticed that our local Food Lion carries the Squid brand fish sauce. It costs significantly more there, but it’s nice to know I can get it here if I run out and don’t want to drive for an hour to get it. If you are looking for fish sauce, check your International food aisle…it’s possible they might have it there.

For those of you who would like to try Vietnamese foods but do not like spicy dishes, this would be a good place to start. This recipe is very easy, flavorful and won’t set your mouth on fire…in fact it’s not spicy at all. 🙂

You will need:

6-8 pork chops

2 Tbsp sugar

1 large onion, minced

6 cloves of garlic, finely minced or crushed

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 Tbsp fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in shallow dish and let marinate at least one hour

Coat pan with oil and cook until meat is thoroughly cooked

Continue to cook until pork and onions begin to brown. This can also be made on the grill.

Serve with rice and veggies for a delicious and healthy meal! 🙂

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Che Chuoi – Sweet Coconut Tapioca With Bananas

I remember when my husband and I first got married I knew very little about making Vietnamese foods. Many of the recipes looked daunting and some of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me.

Over the years I have figured many things out with help from cookbooks, the internet, family and our church family. While I am still learning, there are a lot of things that I have figured out how to make, that no longer seem difficult.

Now I have a new sister-in-law who finds herself pretty much where I was a few years ago. I hope to post some recipe tutorials that will simplify the making of Vietnamese cuisine in order to help my new sis and anyone else who is interested in trying a few Vietnamese dishes.

This recipe is like a Vietnamese version of tapioca pudding.

You will need:

2 cups water

1 14oz can coconut milk (not coconut water…it should be thick, white and creamy looking, not thin)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup uncooked granulated tapioca

1/2 tsp salt

2 large ripe bananas, cut in 1/4 pieces

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional and since my husband hates sesame seeds, I leave them out)

Mix the water and coconut milk in a medium pan. At first it will look a little chunky.

Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil (careful it doesn’t boil over, especially when you start adding things)

Reduce heat to medium-low then stir in sugar, tapioca and salt.

Cook for 30 min. stirring frequently. Then stir in bananas.

Remove from heat, cover and let sit for about 15 min. You can serve this warm or chilled. Here is where you would sprinkle on some sesame seeds if you desire. I hope this will be a simple and fun recipe for you to try! 🙂

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Poofy Cheeks

More Salvaged Junk Mail

A while back, I took a piece of junk mail and saved it from a landfill by turning it into some wall art for my kitchen. Click here to see that post.

A local Japanese restaurant mailed out menus to everyone in town. The menus were made from thick paper and had a nice picture that totally redeemed this piece of junk mail. Normally, something like this would be tossed into the trash without a second thought.

So I cut it out and dressed it up a bit with some ribbon. Then I found a nice matching frame from my stash. And here it is! One less piece of junk mail in a landfill and a new decoration for me!

I know…I’m weird. 😉  Soooo, am I the only one who does this?

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Gitter Done – Redo the Porch!

Edited Post: Donna from Funky Junk Interiors has asked us to share our favorite projects. I would have to say that this one is my favorite right now. 🙂 I first posted this on Donna’s Gitter Done project…now, Linking this to:

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Lately, this (below) has been the view of my porch:
That’s right a fold up table, a chair and an old beat up Tonka truck.
Here’s my mailbox…looking a little sad.
I’ve been planning to do something about this for a while, but just couldn’t get motivated. Donna over at Funky Junk Interiors offered just the push I needed.Today she is hosting a day for getting things done!

FJI's Gitter Done! challenge

So, here is what I’ve been up to:
My porch now! Here are the details:
One of my brothers gave me this glider rocker.
A bit worn out…so I spray painted it black and made some new pillows for the back. 
I spray painted my mailbox black, and look…there’s my tropical birhouse!
Here’s my rope lamp on a shelf full of trinkets.
I made a new cushion and pillow for the wicker chair.
A cozy little table to eat breakfast at in the mornings! And no, that is not a hole in my lamp (as my husband suggested) it is a decorative ribbon that I will probably remove. I just don’t feel like re-taking the photos. 😉
Another view. 🙂
OK…Here comes my favorite part!!!
Can you guess what this is? Well…it’s made out of these shutters…
It’s my beautiful new table made for me by my Sweet (and talented) Husband! Isn’t it lovely?! A couple of months ago, a really awesome neighbor crawled under her house and pulled some lovely shutters (a whole stack!). She gave them to me (so generous and sweet)! My husband took one set and made this table for me! =D
He left it so the slats could still open. His explanation was that if there were crumbs on top you could open the slats and let the crumbs fall through. 😉
My new table is a great place to have a cup of tea! 
Here’s a little candle I spruced up to put on my new table.
Ah, my table…
Umm…anyway, here are some more shots of my porch:
I love my new porch! Thanks, Donna for the little push that I needed to “Gitter Done”!
And thanks for stopping by

Goodwill Lamp Transformed

I love lamps! In fact, I have a real “thing” for lamps. Whenever I go to Goodwill I check the lamps. A few weeks ago I found this little beauty for $3.

I knew exactly what I was going to do with it as soon as I saw it! I bought some Jute rope, and got out my hot glue gun.

This was really so easy to do! I just love the result! :o)

Have a great weekend!

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Great Goodies from Goodwill!

Lately, my Goodwill has had a lot of neat things. If I had a lot of money I would probably be bringing home a bunch of  goodies, but since we are on a pretty tight budget I have to choose a few special items. Here are some of my latest finds:

This lovely Japanese teapot was only $1!

I think the blue and brown Herons match nicely with the rest of my kitchen. :o)

This cute cork sculpture was only $1! There is a small missing piece of glass in the back, but I don’t mind.

I love all the detail in cork sculptures! I have a couple of small ones, but could never bring myself to spend the money on a larger one.

See how pretty it looks on the shelf over one of my windows in the kitchen?

This heavy wooden tray was a real bargain at $2.50!

And I knew I had to have this vase when I saw it! The glass is blueish and I love the woven bamboo around it! Someone hid this behind a bunch of junk. I saw it peeking out and pulled it out to get a better look. I would’ve paid full price for this ($4.99 at World Market), I only paid $2.

And it’s “Made in Vietnam” just like my husband! 😉

They make a nice addition to my living room decor, don’t you think?

And Robyn, I did think of you when I dropped by Goodwill this week! 😉 For those of you who do not know, Robyn is a lovely lady with a sweet blog called Forest Hills Road. She has a really positive and uplifting outlook on life. I hope that you will stop by and visit her! :o)
Forest Hills Road  has had a “blog not found” message for the last few days. I’m not really sure what has happened to my friend and I hope that you will all keep her in your prayers!

Thanks for visiting! :o)

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