Steamed Fish Asian Style

If you’ve been following my blog, you know of my love for Chinese food.  My mom made amazing Chinese food and since I was in High School, my family has been going to NY’s Chinatown religiously.  My husband and I are equally passionate about Asian food and our very favorite Chinese restaurant (maybe even our favorite restaurant) is Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, Virginia outside Washington DC where we used to live.  It is legendary among the DC crowd and we were there almost every week without fail. We even considered getting married there (no lie). 

I’ve learned over the years, thanks to my mom and many wonderful meals, how to recreate some of our favorite dishes.  One of the dishes we love is a steamed whole flounder.  It comes to the table on a large platter, piping hot and sitting in a delicious sauce with topped with shredded scallions, ginger and garlic.  We are trying to eat more fish so I knew this was a dish I wanted to recreate.  Doing a whole fish is more than I was willing to undertake for a weeknight meal so I opted for thick, individual pieces of Cod.  This recipe would work with any thick white fish like halibut, sea bass or even salmon.  If the fish is too thin, it will probably fall apart while it cooks.

The sauce and fish go into the oven and right to the table when ready.  I quickly stir fried bok choy and snow peas and served with white rice.  A great, healthy dinner with tons of flavor!


2 lbs                 Skinless, Cod fillets (cut into eight individual portions)

5 tbs                 Low sodium soy sauce

4 tbs                 Rice wine vinegar

3 tsp                 Sugar

1 ½ tsp            Sesame oil

¼ tsp               Kosher salt

¼ tsp               White pepper

2 tbs                 Scallions, thinly sliced on a bias

2 tbs                 Fresh ginger.  Peeled and sliced into matchsticks

2 cloves           Garlic. Thinly sliced

2                      Shallots. Peeled and sliced into rings

1 tbs                 Canola oil

Note: This recipe serves four so you can adjust it accordingly based on how many you are serving.  I figure two pieces of fish per person.


Preheat your oven to 400.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic, 1 tbs ginger and 1 tbs scallions.  Pour the sauce into a large casserole dish and add the fish.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. 

While the fish cooks, combine the shallots and remaining ginger in a small frying pan with the canola oil and fry on medium heat till crispy, stirring frequently.   Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

The fish will take about 12 – 15 minutes to cook and should register about 130 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you will know the fish is done when it is firm and the flakes start to separate. 

Sprinkle the crispy shallots and ginger over the fish along with the remaining scallions. I place the dish right on the table to serve.  

One Pot Beef Stroganoff

When I was growing up, there were some foods I saw on TV that looked so good. One of them was Hamburger Helper although my mom was not as interested in making it as I was in eating it (she was/is a great cook so I understand the dilemma).

I’ve seen lots of recipes over the years that remind me of HH and I knew it could be elevated. This simple one-pot beef stroganoff hits the mark. I saw @jocooks posted a similar recipe and I knew I had to give it a try. Hers had mushrooms (not my fav) and I made a couple more tweaks (more noodles, stock and less sour cream). It was delish, hearty and the combination I desperately wanted as a kid. The great part, besides the taste, is everything cooks in one pot and took less than an hour from the stove to the dinner table.

Simple ingredients, uncomplicated preparation, great taste and ready in a flash – these are the reasons I love this dish and you will too! 


1 lb.                  Ground beef (80/20)

2 tbs                 Butter

½                     Sweet onion, diced

1 clove              Garlic, minced

3 tbs                 All-purpose flour

1 tsp                 Sweet paprika

¼ c                  White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

5 ½ c               Beef broth (I use low sodium if it’s not homemade)

1 12 oz pkg       Extra wide egg noodles

¼ c                  Sour cream

                        Salt and pepper to taste

                        Parsley for garnish (I used dried)


Brown the meat in a Dutch oven and drain the fat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook till soft, about five minutes.  Add the seasoned salt and combine. 

Sprinkle the flour and paprika over the meat and cook for three minutes to incorporate the flour and cook off the flour taste. 

Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits, cooking for about one minute.  Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil, add the noodles and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the noodles are done (they should be al dente).   

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sour cream.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

Note: Traditional stroganoff has mushrooms but I don’t like them so they were omitted.  If you love them and want to include them, brown them in a little butter before the meat and then set aside.  Add them to once the mixture is done (including the juices on the plate) just before you add the sour cream.

Chicken “Tot” Pie

Chicken pot pie is always a hit in our house, especially during the winter. But like many things during this Pandemic year, even our favorites are getting a little repetitive and in need of a boost.  It’s not their fault, it’s just that we are creatures of habit and I need to force new dishes and ideas into our routine.  Enter Chicken “Tot” Pie.  Since we love chicken pot pie and always have tater tots in the freezer (thanks to Jake!) why not try a new version with both?

Tater tots take me right back to school lunches so I’m good with them no matter how old I am.  When I thought about replacing the crust with tater tots, I wanted to see how it compared health-wise to the traditional top and bottom crusts.  I assumed tater tots would be far less healthy but I was wrong.  The tots go only on the top so you use less than the pie dough.  I was sold.

This could not have been easier to make.  I made the filling exactly how I do it for my regular chicken pot pie and then topped the filling with tater tots.  That’s it.  No rolling dough and the cooking time was much shorter.  Everyone loved it and while I wouldn’t completely replace the double crust for good, this was a great twist on a family favorite.


4 tbs                 Salted butter

4 tbs                 All-purpose flour

3 ½ cups          Low sodium chicken stock or homemade chicken stock (I use Swanson’s)

Knorr’s Chicken Stock pod or ½ tbs Chicken bouillon powder

Salt and pepper to taste

½                     A chicken (rotisserie or homemade), cooked and shredded into bite-size pieces (discard the bones)

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen corn

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen cut green beans  

1 12 oz. bag      Frozen peas and carrots  

45 – 50             Frozen tater tots


Preheat the oven on to 350.

The base of the filling is essentially a chicken sauce or gravy.  Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and then adding the flour.  Briskly whisk for two minutes to cook the flour.  The roux will start to get darker which deepens the flavor.  Add the stock while whisking and bring to a soft boil.  Cook and whisk for another three minutes, scraping the bottom to make sure the roux is completely mixed in.  Set aside one (1) cup of the sauce/gravy and then combine the frozen vegetables in a large bowl with the remaining sauce.  If you feel it needs more sauce you can add a little from the cup you set aside.

Pour the filling into a 9×9 casserole dish (or something similar), leaving about an inch space before it reaches the top. Place the frozen tater tots in approximately six rows, snugly. 

Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes till the tater tots are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Let the pie sit for at least 5 – 10 minutes before you serve. I serve the leftover sauce along side because you can never have too much gravy!

Philadelphia Pound Cake

I’m not the biggest dessert fan (shhhh!) but I am a sucker for a simple cake. No frosting, nothing complicated and at most, all it needs is powdered sugar or some fresh whipped cream. I found this pound cake recipe from Philadelphia Cream Cheese and it was super easy to make. A family favorite moving forward but it was so good, I’m going to have to limit how often I make it! Enjoy!


1 1/2 sticks Butter, room temp

1 pkg Philadelphia cream cheese, room temp

1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract

4 Eggs

2 cups Cake flour, sifted

1 1/2 tsp Baking powder

2 tsp Powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 325.

Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla with an electic mixer till well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well and make sure to scrape the bowl along the way.

Add the flour and baking powder, a little at a time and mix well.

Pour into a greased loaf or bundt pan.

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before removing from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

I love Italian food and eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorites.  Creamy eggplant, gooey cheese and marinara sauce bubbling away as it comes to the table.  It needs only some grated parmesan cheese on top and pasta on the side.  But it’s not the healthiest of dishes since the traditional version calls for the eggplant to be fried before it meets the cheese and sauce which definitely ups the calories and fat.  So, when I saw Thomas Keller’s video on how they serve eggplant at TAK Room, one of his NYC restaurants, I had to try it.  In his version, the eggplant is cut into cubes and then roasted before mixing with the cheese and sauce. Genius! Nothing to fry and no unwanted calories.  The first time I made it I was sold.  The eggplant shines and even with the added step of roasting, it was a manageable dinner to get on the table during the week.  Keller’s version includes a homemade pomodoro sauce but I used my favorite marinara from Patsy’s to save time.  This is also a great dish to make earlier in the day or even the day before you want to serve.  Just pop it in the oven and in an hour or so you are ready for dinner.  If you love eggplant, give this version a try. 


2                   Medium eggplants

1 tbs              Kosher salt

2 tbs              Olive oil

3 cups           Marinara sauce

1 cup             Shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup Ricotta cheese

½ cup            Grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup            Grated romano cheese


Peel the eggplants and remove the ends.  Dice the eggplant into one-inch cubes.  Toss the eggplant in the olive oil and salt; set aside for at least 30 minutes but no more than one hour to allow the salt to extract some of the bitterness.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the eggplant has rested, gently squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands. Place the squeezed eggplant on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes at 400. While the eggplant cooks, combine the parmesan, mozzerella and romano cheeses in a bowl and set aside.

When the eggplant is done, place in a large bowl with two cups of marinara sauce, half of the cheese mixture and the ricotta cheese .  Mix until well combined. 

Pour the eggplant mixture into the prepared casserole dish about two inches deep. Top with the remaining marinara sauce and cheese mixture, bake at 400 until it is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes. 

You can put it under the broiler for a minute or two if you want to get some color on top but don’t walk away or it will burn in the blink of an eye.  

Baked - not fried - eggplant parmigiana is the way to go for a hearty, but healthier, dinner.

Soul Satisfying Meatloaf

Meatloaf could be the poster child for comfort food. 

While it cooks, your house smells like heaven and once it hits your plate with some mashed potatoes and green beans, you are mesmerized.  I don’t make this often, but when I do, it’s a hit.  There are lots of recipes out there for meatloaf and I’ve tried dozens of them and came up with this recipe which is a keeper.  Lots of recipes call for ketchup which I found to be kind of pedestrian and I looked for ways to get concentrated flavors into the meatloaf without slathering it with ketchup.  I start with 80/20 beef which is the single most important tip for good, moist meatloaf.  If you try it with a blend that is super lean, you will have a dry brick for dinner.  Turkey meatloaf is a great option if you don’t want to use beef.  Don’t go with super lean or you will give up lots of flavor. I mix in sautéed onions, breadcrumbs, eggs, stock and Worcestershire sauce and then bake it so the ends are crispy and it’s brown on top. It’s full of flavor and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, is great on a sandwich the next day.   I go for the traditional sides but macaroni & cheese would be an amazing addition.


1½ lbs          Ground beef (80/20)

1 cup            Sweet onion, diced

1 tbs              Seasoned salt

1 tbs              Olive oil

2                   Eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup           Warm water

1½ tbs          Tomato paste

1 cup             Beef broth

½ cup            Panko breadcrumbs

1 tbs              Worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp           Kosher salt

½ tsp            Freshly ground pepper


Preheat your oven to 400.

In a small frying pan, sauté the onions in the olive oil and seasoned salt till translucent, about five minutes.  Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth and cook till combined and slightly reduced, about four minutes.   Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl.  Add the breadcrumbs, water, eggs and salt. Combine well.  When the tomato/onion mixture is cooled, add 2/3s of it to the ground beef. Reserve the rest for the top of the meatloaf.

Place the mixture on a foil and parchment paper lined cookie sheet and form into a loaf, ensuring it is evenly shaped.  I go for a longer loaf of about two or three inches in height.  Spread the remaining tomato/onion mixture all over the top of the meatloaf.

Bake uncovered for about 30 – 45 minutes until the center registers 160 degrees.  Let sit for at least five minutes before serving.

Dreamy Chocolate Pudding

On most nights after everyone has enjoyed dinner, the kitchen is clean and the house is quiet, I start to hear activity in the kitchen.  A couple of cabinets opening and closing, the refrigerator opening and after a long pause, being shut and maybe even some rustling in the pantry.  I know those sounds well – my husband and kids are on the hunt for something sweet.  I tend not to have a lot of cookies, cakes and candy in the house.  I don’t have a sweet tooth the way they do, but I’ve been known to rummage around looking for something, too, and if it’s not here, I can’t eat it.  I’m not a horrible mother and I do my fair share of baking but not on a daily basis.  If I had my choice, I would reach for a gummy bear but the three kitchen hunters in my house would 100% vote for chocolate.  I found cute little graham cracker cups/pies in the supermarket last week and while I didn’t know what I would fill them with, I knew something would pop into my head eventually.  Today, it did – chocolate pudding.  Rich, creamy, silky chocolate pudding which I guarantee is easier than you think to make.   

From the moment the idea popped into my head to the time I placed the little chocolate pies in the refrigerator, it took about 20 minutes.  Truly.  Once the dry ingredients (sugar, corn starch, salt and cocoa powder) are mixed, you add whole milk and once it is thick, drop in some butter and vanilla.  Done!  I went for individual pies but you could certainly make one large pie as well.  Either way, a little whipped cream and shaved chocolate is all you need to finish them.  This was so easy and delicious I will absolutely serve this for a dinner party, maybe in a martini glass for a fancier presentation. If you have chocolate lovers in your family, you will be a hero for making this!


2 ½ cups                Whole milk

¾ cup                      Sugar

¼ cup                      Cornstarch

¼ cup + 2 tbs        Unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)

¼ tsp                       Salt

2 tbs                        Butter

½ tsp                       Vanilla extract (I use pure, not imitation)

1 tbs                        Brewed coffee


Combine the sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder and salt in a saucepan.  Place over medium heat and whisk in the milk until thickened, about five minutes. 

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the butter is completely melted. 

Transfer to small bowls or use to fill a pie (graham cracker or regular pie crust would be great).  

Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate to serve.    

Lasagna Roll-Ups

I am always on the hunt for a good weeknight meal.  One that cuts the time I would normally spend on the weekend but doesn’t sacrifice flavor.  Lasagna is a family favorite. It’s a process to make but worth the time when I have it which is usually on a Sunday.  Lasagna is so hearty and comforting which makes it the perfect dinner with all the snow on the ground and chilly temperatures.  But I wanted to see about creating a simple version that could be pulled together in less than two hours, including cooking time. 

I started with fresh, no-boil lasagna noodles which are par-boiled and take a short amount of time to cook. Check your store but in mine, they were in the deli section with the fresh pasta. (don’t use the no bake noodle in the pasta aisle which are dried like boxed pasta).  They are sold is sheets so rather than stack them with cheese and sauce like a traditional lasagna, I cut the sheets in half, rolled them with the filling and then cooked them standing up.  I also decided to put the sauce on the bottom of the pan and in between the rolls rather than overstuffing them. For the sauce, I used a jar of my favorite marinara from Patsy’s and browned some ground turkey to make a quick meat sauce but healthier without the beef.  It worked great and by having the sauce on the bottom, the noodles had enough liquid to cook evenly.  I feel no guilt using a jar of sauce for a quick weeknight meal. I make sauce from scratch when I have the time – and freeze most of it for future dinners – but I didn’t have any on hand so I didn’t stress about it (and you shouldn’t either!).

Inside each roll was ricotta cheese, parmesan and shredded mozzarella.  I covered the shallow dish for about 20 minutes until the sauce was bubbling and then removed the foil and let them brown a bit on top.  I had some fresh mozzarella on hand and crumbled that on top but if you don’t have fresh, you can use more of the shredded cheese.  I didn’t use the fresh mozzarella inside the rolls since it gives off a good amount of moisture. Next time I will add some spinach to the filling, or another thinly sliced vegetable like zucchini or eggplant to bulk up the flavor and sneak some veggies in.

The roll-ups were a big hit and the small amount of leftovers were enjoyed for lunch the next day.  I will continue to play with this recipe and add spinach or even eggplant next time but I love that it was easy, quick, healthier than normal lasagna and most importantly, delicious.


1 pkg             No-boil, fresh lasagna sheets (I found them in the deli section with the fresh pasta)

1 container     Part skim ricotta cheese

½ cup            Freshly grated parmesan cheese

½ bag           Pre-shredded, part skim mozzarella cheese

½ cup            Crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese

1 jar              Your favorite marinara sauce


Preheat your oven to 400.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta and grated parmesan cheese.  Cut the lasagna noodles in half and cover with a damp paper towel to avoid them drying out.   Lay two cut noodles on a cutting board and spread about two tablespoons of the ricotta filling and sprinkle some of the shredded mozzarella cheese on each.  Roll each noodle and place on a plate with the seam side down until all the rolls are done and you are ready to assemble the entire dish. 

Once all the rolls are finished, take a large, shallow casserole dish and pour 2/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Take each roll and cut it in half, then place the two rolls in the dish so you can see the swirl of cheese on top.  Repeat till all the rolls are cut and placed in the dish on top of the sauce.  I left a little room between the rolls in my dish and then poured the remaining sauce on top of the rolls and between them.  Top with the crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese and cover with foil (I spray the foil with a non-stick spray so the cheese wont stick to the foil). 

Bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes till everything is bubbling. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes to give the edges some color.  Let sit for 10 minutes before you dig it – they will be hot.  

Shrimp & Grits

This is one our favorites for dinner, anytime of the year.  My mom has lived in South Carolina’s Lowcountry (the geographic and cultural region along South Carolina’s coast) for many years and we visit often.  It’s beautiful, usually warm, calming and we loved it so much, we were married there. The other draw is the amazing food.  The freshest seafood, soups and stews, oysters, great BBQ and, shrimp and grits.  I first had shrimp and grits years ago at one of our favorite restaurants, Dockside, a small seafood restaurant in Port Royal, SC. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a fire many years ago and did not return.  It was literally on the side of the dock where you could sit and watch the shrimp boats come in while you sipped your drink and waited for your table.  If you timed it right, you would see the most beautiful sunsets ever.  I’ve tried to recreate the shrimp and grits I remember but I think the view and setting certainly added to how amazing the whole experience was.

With the exception of the shrimp and the grits, this recipe calls for things you probably already have in the kitchen – chicken stock, onions, bacon, butter, etc.  If you’ve been following, you’ve seen that I am a big fan of recipes using ingredients you may already have on hand.  I like dishes that aren’t overly complicated or confusing. Life is too short!

The key is starting with the bacon and building layers of flavors with each ingredient as well as having everything ready to go (the French call this mise en place) before you start cooking.  It’s a perfect meal on a cold night since it’s filling and comforting although I make this all year long.  I like to add a little Tabasco on mine, but I don’t dare add it while I’m cooking since my husband is not a fan (I affectionately call him Captain Vanilla).  Scallions would be a good addition as a garnish too, but Captain Vanilla is opposed to those as well!


1 lb                   Shrimp, thawed or fresh, deveined, tails removed and cut in half

1 cup                Grits (not quick cooking or instant) (Dixie Lily is my new favorite)

6 cups               Chicken broth (if not homemade, use low sodium)

½ cup               Whole milk

½ lb.                Thick cut bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 cup                Onion, finely diced (I always use a sweet onion like Vidalia)

1 cup                Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tbs                 Butter

1 tbs                 Scallions or chives, finely chopped

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

1 tsp                 Dried parsley

1 tbs                 Corn starch


In a large saucepot, bring five cups of chicken broth to a boil and add the grits and whisk well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about five minutes.  When the grits are almost done (they should be soupy and a bit al dente), add the milk and cheese, mixing well.  Simmer for another three minutes and then turn off the heat. 

In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium heat, remove to a plate with a paper towel to drain.  Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease and reserve.  Add onions to the pan along with ½ tsp of seasoned salt and cook till translucent, about four minutes.  Add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer.  If needed, add a bit more of the leftover bacon fat and the butter.  Cook for two minutes on each side until pink and firm.  Add the remaining cup of chicken broth and stir until combined over medium heat, scrapping all the bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add 2/3s of the bacon, parsley, and ½ tsp seasoned salt. 

Once combined, dissolve 1 tsp corn starch into about 1 tbs of water and mix into the shrimp.  This will thicken the sauce ever so slightly.  Cook for another two minutes on low.

To serve, you can place the grits into a large, shallow serving dish and top with shrimp mixture or make individual plates.  I usually serve individual bowls right from the stove just in case there are leftovers (and there rarely are!) you can still control the ratio when you reheat it.

Garnish with some scallions (and a few drops of Tabasco on mine!)


Nokedli (Hungarian Dumplings)/Spaetzle

I had the good fortune of growing up in a family that loves food. We love everything about it – shopping, finding new things to try, cooking, serving and of course, eating.  Part of this love comes from my mom, Gwenae, who is a great cook, and her Hungarian heritage.  Growing up, I remember enjoying these dumplings more than any other Hungarian dish. They are called Nokedli in Hungarian and Spaetzle in German.  No matter what you call them, they are delicious and easy to make.

I love serving these with pork chops, grilled chicken and stews and in place of egg noodles.  Nokedli is the standard accompaniment with one of Hungary’s best known dishes, Chicken Paprikash. Everything you need to make them is already in your kitchen – flour, salt, water and eggs.  Once they are cooked i like to cook then on a pan with a little butter and my mom said her mom used to serve them with melted muenster cheese on top. Give these a try when you want serve something different with dinner.


2         Eggs, lightly beaten

½ tsp  Kosher salt

¾ c     Warm water

2 c      Flour

2 tbs   Butter

1 tsp   Parsley (fresh or dried)


In a bowl, combine the eggs, water, salt and half the flour, mixing gently.  The dough should be soft and sticky, a bit thicker than gravy but not as thick as pancake batter.  You can add more flour if needed and discard the rest if your dough is the right consistency.

The key to this super simple batter is to let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If you have a spaetzle maker, pour the batter into the basket and move it back and forth to drop the dough through the holes into the boiling water. (Click here to see the great one I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond for less than $10.00. Not an ad, just a fan.) If you don’t have one, you can put the dough on a large spoon and drop small amounts into the water.  A flat panel grater would work well too.

The dumplings are done when they float to the top, about three – four minutes. 

Drain them into a colander and return them to the pot, cooking with the butter till coated.  Transfer to a bowl and top with parsley.