Pho, Old School Baked Potato with Cheese Broccoli and the Spanish Chorizo Lentil Soup (for real)

I ventured out to the Super Cao Asian Market this morning.  My god, those people are NOT how you want to start your morning out with.  I love the man at the meat market with the pencil thin moustache who recognized I had been waiting for meat much longer than the anxious little Chinese man hollering out "help me".  One thing that I hate buying at this market is peppers.  They package it up and I swear its because they want to get rid of old shit.  I don't do that.  I refuse to be forced into buying rotten goods just because I need it.  So I tear open a cellophane wrapped bundle of jalapeños and still can not find a good pepper.  They are all soft.  I settle for 2 semi soft ones.  At the check out counter there's an overly make upped young Vietnamese gal complaining to a sweet Phillipino looking lady about having to buy gifts for kids.  Oh great, another person victim to the bah humbug syndrome.  She refuses to sell me the 2 jalapeños that are priced at $1.29 a pound.  "We only sell them in the package" she says.  I respond with "So you only sell rotten jalapeños?".  She snarls back at me and throws the jalapeños away!!  I mean, come on!! If you are just going to throw them away, at least throw them away in my bag. Wow.  Anyway!  I was there for pho goodies.  Here's our PHO recipe to pho documented properly when we were living in Los Angeles.

When's the last time you had broccoli and cheese sauce?  Its been a REALLY long time since we've had it.  I recall making it when Emily Seikel first moved back to Okc for a short period and we had a huge mound of snow crab legs and cheesy broccoli baked potatoes.  Its as delicious and loved as when I last and first made it.  So Simple!  Wrap your potatoes in foil, bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, depending on your potatoes.  Squeeze and if its soft, its ready!  A cheaters way is to stab, microwave 3 minutes per side and then pop in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  This is all depending on how good your microwave is (ours sucks, but we don't use it very often so don't really care) or the size of your potato.

Cut some broccoli florets, about 2 cups, add about 1/8 cup milk and let it steam with a lid on it until tender.  Add some super processed cheese like Velveeta or this block that our cousin Steve Seikel gave to us.  I added about 3 1/2 inch slices.  Add some hot sauce, or we added our very spicy green tomato habanero sauce. Yum Yum!  This is all you need. Its a complete meal!

I was inspired to make this Spanish Chorizo Lentil Soup when I saw it made on America's Test Kitchen. The only difference I made was add a stalk of chopped celery and 1/4 cup crushed tomato.  The next day its even better!

And then there is Debo.  Merry Christmas from little man.

A Chocolatey Birthday and Killer Jerk Chicken with a Gorgeous Beet Salad and Spanish Chorizo Lentil Soup

It was Matt Seikel's BIRTHDAY on Monday!  Normally I would cook him breakfast, but we decided to get out of the house instead.  I did make some sparkle cookies that we have fond memories over and love.  It felt really weird not to make tabbouleh for his birthday, which I have been doing for the past...maybe 10 years if we have a kitchen.  Last year's breakfast was epic. After going out to eat, I will remember to just make him breakfast. 

The day after his birthday we made an amazing meal.  We had a chicken that we had been meaning to cook for days.  It sat in jerk marinade for 3 days and we finally got to cooking.  While the spatchcocked chicken grilled on the Hasty bake grill I made a salad.  This salad we have decided is the BEST salad.  It is SOO good. 

Roasted Yellow Beet Salad

1 large roasted yellow beet
1/4 cup chopped celery (the young tender ones in the center)
1/8 cup pomegranate
1/8 cup pickled green tomato, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
3 tablespoons roasted almond slivers

3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch dried basil
pinch oregano
salt and pepper
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the veggies in a bowl, except for the avocado.  Mix the dressing up and let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the dried herbs infuse.  Then add the avocado and the almonds.  This is SO good!

The chicken was INCREDIBLE!!!!!  The marinade was present throughout the chicken.  If you haven't made jerk chicken or something jerk, you should try it.  I love strong flavors and aromatics and this marinade is just perfect.  Our meal was complete with our salad, pimped out Ranch Style Beans and rice.  Matt added balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, and onions to it.  Perfect meal.

All of you olive oil lovers will be interested in learning about this.  The production has declined in Spain and Italy due to weather and olive fly and also a bacteria.  So expect prices of this delicious oil to go up.  What other things will we see prices go up on and eventually lose due to our insane weather changes that come along with climate change.  
Au Revoir!

Get Ready! Habanero and Green Tomato Grits with Red Eye Gravy, Steak Caesar Salad, and Red Wine Beef Stew

Is it me? Or does Christmas feel less and less festive every year?  You got the BaH Humbugs that get more bahhh.  Kids are turning into teenagers.  Teenagers have turned into adults and lets all admit online shopping does not put you in the jingle bell mood.  Well, that is unless you do it properly.  Since I last wrote the first intro sentences to this post, I finished putting up our 3 foot Christmas tree, put up some decorations, had a pot of tea along with the following. Turn on some Christmas music, light a festive smelling candle, and streamed sounds of a coffee shop. I bought gifts for all the children under 12 and now its ON! Christmas here I come!

Smile!  We are on a roll with the egg dishes!   Ever since our cousin Steven gave us some smoked ham, I had really been wanting to give red eyed gravy a go.

Grits with Green Chiles (no one ever has Green tomato and habanero sauce on hand, which is what I used.

2 cups water
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup of sauce or green chiles roasted and blended
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Bring the liquids to a boil, add the cornmeal and whisk, lower the heat to low, lid and mix every 3-4 minutes so that the bottom doesn't get all crusty and gross. This should take about 20-25 minutes.  Add more liquids if you want it runnier.  Right before you serve it, add the butter and the about 1/4 cup cheese (optional)

For the red eye gravy I found the fattiest cuts of ham and sautéed it in a pan with some butter.  Then I added flour and then coffee.  I also added a little bit of maple syrup because this ham was not particularly sweet.  It turned out great!

This dish is served with the grits, fried ham, a little gravy, and a poached egg.  Hell yeah.  It was delicious.  When I go to breakfast with my favorite gal pal, I order grits and poached eggs. You don't need teeth to eat that! 

One of our favorite salads.  Caesar with steak.  Matt's great at making caesars.  From my understanding I think most of the Seikel children are good at it, like Emily (Matt's sister) and Steven (his cousin).  So good!

Here's a cold weather comfort food.  Beef stew made with an entire bottle of wine, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and celery.  I LOVE how vegetable heavy this dish is.  I've been watching Olive Kitteridge on HBO and they had stew in one scene and I have been craving this.  Thanks Matt for making dreams come true!

I think my next Christmas endeavor is lights outside!

What to do with Thanksgiving Leftover Mashed Potatoes and A Rare Find: Steelhead Trout

Thanksgiving has come and gone and here we are.  We went to 2 Thanksgiving meals this year.  One at Matt's Aunt Julie Tibbs house where we dined al fresco, and the other was at my parent's house, which is always fun to see what new American thing they will come up with next.  This is the one time of the year they don't make anything Vietnamese to serve.  Our only contribution this year to their meal was mashed potatoes.  Forgetting that the family gathering is a bit smaller than usual this year, I made a huge HUGE batch of mashed potatoes.  Enough to feed at least 20 people.

I turned a good chunk of the leftover mashed potatoes into peirogies. This particular dough recipe I tried this time had wheat flour.  I prefer the dough recipe from the last time I made them, which was when we were in Cali.  I added some white cheddar and peas to the mashed potato mixture.

They freeze really well, and since I was a little burnt out on eating potatoes, I tasted one and popped the rest in the freezer.  They taste wonderful with some browned butter and sautéed onions.  Last year's leftovers in Colorado were pretty epic.  It would have been perfect for this year since Dumb and Dumber To came out.

Artists have odd sleeping patterns.  Sometimes breakfast is like lunch to us.  Matt went to the Asian Supermarket and ran into a rare find.  Steelhead Trout.  Its not as buttery as salmon and not as light as trout.  Its a perfect combination.  Of course, Matt cooked it perfect with a nice crusty skin and moist flakiness.  We had it with rice sprinkled with some soy and my Nhan Duong's garlic chili sauce.  There's  special spice for all occasions.

Yum!  Nice change from Thanksgiving food.

Now we are BACK to potato leftovers.  Not only did I have a huge amount of mashed potatoes, but I also had a bucket of boiled potatoes.  I just went into the zone, watched Veep, and peeled just a ton of potatoes.  Matt made a potato hash with ham, onions, and jalapeños.  Then he whipped up some green tomato habanero gravy with 2 fried eggs.  Diner food deliciousness in our kitchen.  If only I could get this somewhere all the time.

Leftover fun.  I don't know why Thanksgiving is the leftover holiday king.  Everyone's always got some ritual that they do.  The Seikel parents are the big Turkey Durkey sandwiches, which I CAN NOT believe we didn't have one this year.  My parents make a pot of turkey soup, and we don't have a ritual, but always have something good to come up with.  I do recommend you check out last year's. 
The year is almost over.  We received our first Christmas cards in the mail this week.  Its tree time!