Crispy Baked Chicken Wings

I almost want to say these are better than frying them…almost. But I don’t want to make this a controversial blog post 🙃, so I will just say this, baking chicken wings is my go-to method for making wings. It’s simple, uses A LOT less oil, and while they’re baking, I can makes sides or clean up the kitchen or anything really, win-win! I’ve been baking them for years. The method is pretty fail proof, and they taste and look delicious. The only caveat is that they need to bake for nearly 1 hour (flipping them half way in between cooking time). But the time is worth it! They can stand up to any sauce you make or just eat them with a simple lemon pepper seasoning. I followed the method from watching Chef John’s Food Wishes Youtube Channel and there’s not much I needed to change. For my kids, I leave out the hot sauce 😑 (the things we do for our kids, amirite?) but we always add the spice on the side!

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings (adapted from food wishes)
3 1/2 Lbs. Chicken wings (about 33-35 wings)
1 1/2  cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Combine oil, salt and pepper
Mix

Preheat oven 400℉
Add to large spill proof bowl with lid or bag with flour (work in batches if necessary).
Cover the lid.
Toss to coat wings, shake off excess flour.
Line baking sheet. 
Spray sheet with non stick spray.
Place wings on top (do not crowd)
Spray top of wings with non stick spray.
Bake 30 min.
Turn over. 
Bake another 30 min.
Wings will be nicely browned and crispy!
Toss in your favorite sauce or seasonings and serve.

Spray the bottom of two baking trays so the wings do not stick. A convection setting on oven helps save on cooking time so you can bake two trays at once.
Close lid and shake, shake, shake!
Nice and coated. Make sure to shake off excess flour so your wings are light and crispy.

Spray the top of the wings, so they get nice and brown.
This is after 30 minutes, flip and bake another 30 minutes. They will be perfect!
After 1 hour, they are nicely browned and crispy! Trust the process.
Toss with your favorite seasonings or sauces.
Lemon Pepper, Korean Sweet and Spicy, and Buffalo Sauce

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Tofu Larb

Happy Monday! I hope it was nice weekend in your neck of the woods.
I’m sharing this recipe because it’s always a hit. From my meat loving husband to 4 1/2 year old daughter to my 20 month old son, everyone in the family loves it, so I think it’s worth sharing!

I use frozen defrosted Tofu for this, which I have to leave in the fridge for a couple of days to completely thaw out, but I’m sure you can use fresh firm tofu that’s been pat dry. I’ve never tried it fresh, but I’m sure you can use it. Once the tofu has been defrosted and thawed out, it takes on a spongy texture that makes it more meaty. Like most tofu dishes, you just have to make sure you remove as much water as you can from the tofu before cooking. Fortunately, with thawed out tofu, it’s really easy to just squeeze out the water.

Tofu was previously frozen then thawed out.

This recipe is very simple but I think it does require all the ingredients listed to really bring the dish to life. 1 necessary ingredient most people may not have on hand is toasted rice powder. No worries though! It’s very simple to make. You take how ever many amount of uncooked rice you want to have, dry toast it on a skillet untill golden brown, then pound or blend until fine and powdery! Store in an airtight container for months, but use quickly for optimal freshness. In case you may be more of a visual person, I have a video on how I make the rice powder and also the tofu larb. Feel free to check it out below!

Once you have your rice powder, you can easily make Tofu Larb. Through out the cooking process (which is very quick) continue to break up the tofu pieces with your spatula while you mix in the fish sauce and rice powder. I always serve it over a bed of romaine lettuce. The crunchy fresh lettuce goes well with the salty and nutty flavors of the the tofu larb!

Squeeze out water from tofu and tear into bite size pieces.
Heat oil over med to med-high heat.
Add garlic while oil is still cold then let cook until they begin to sizzle and become fragrant.
Turn heat to low and add in tofu
Add in fish sauce.
Add in toasted rice powder.
Turn off heat and add in red onions.
Mix well.
Squeeze in lime juice.
Add in fresh herbs.
Taste and adjust seasonings according to preference!

Tofu Larb
1 (16 oz) package of firm tofu (frozen and thawed)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 Tbs dry roasted rice powder
2 tsp fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs vegetable oil
chili flakes
2 Tbs chopped cilantro 
2 Tbs chopped mint

Tear tofu into small pieces
In a large skillet turn heat to medium high
Add oil and garlic
Cook untill just fragrant
Turn heat to low
Add tofu and mix  with oil
Add fish sauce and salt
Mix
Add rice powder mix
Turn off heat
Add slice red onions while pan is still hot
Add lime juice and mix
Place on top of chopped lettuce
Serve with rice and tom yum soup

If you’re a fan of Thai food, give this recipe a try!

Recommended product for this dish:
Lemon Squeezer

Simple Roasted Butternut Squash


My daughter isn’t in school yet so I have her watch some learning videos every so often just to get her started with learning to focus and retaining information. The other day she wanted to learn about the brain. I showed her a short 4 minute clip and at the end of clip they discussed ways to keep the brain healthy. I was also intrigue. All of the tips were obvious, exercise, eat healthy, work the brain…etc. But the eating healthy one, although is obvious, sometimes I overlook just how important it is to eat healthy and nourish the brain not just the body. So that day, I made the kids and me roasted butternut squash (a great brain food) as a side to our lunch.

I usually buy precut because because it’s just easier. The only thing is you have to use it fairly quick or they become slimy 🤢 in the fridge and end up being tossed. A 12 ounce bag would be enough for 2 adults, but in this case it was the perfect amount for my kids and me. Here is a quick and simple method to make perfectly roasted butternut squash that can be eaten as-is or added to a salad!

Some things to remember when roasting vegetables, water is not your friend. Do not crowd that pan or they will steam rather than brown. Another note is to make sure the veggies are dry. Lastly, season liberally with oil, salt and pepper. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables, oil keeps the vegetables moist, the salt and pepper intensifies the flavors and makes taking bites of the veggies after they come out of the oven irresistible!

With 12 ounce I only needed a small baking pan.
Seasoned and ready to go into the oven.
Delicious! I didn’t even need to turn them half way through the roasting process.

Roasted Butternut Squash
12 ounce peeled and cut butternut squash (about 2 inch pieces)
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (or to preference)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to preference)
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Trader Joes’s Onion Salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400℉
Add squash onto baking pan (spaced out)
Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and make sure they’re evenly coated.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges become brown and caramelized but not burnt.
Enjoy as-is or toss in a salad with cranberries, red onions and toast walnuts!

2021 *a recipe for happiness*

My family and I watched a movie this past weekend (actually it was really just my husband and me, while our kids ran around and distracted us). The movie was a Disney movie, Soul. My brother recommended it, and I was intrigued. Without hopefully giving anything away, the movie had an important lesson about life that spoke to me, Life isn’t necessarily finding your purpose. If you find it, that’s great (and you can be in the “zone” 😂), but life really is just about living it, and enjoying it. Just live in the moment and make each day as positive and meaningful as you can for yourself and the people in it.

That’s something I’ve already realized as I continue to raise my kids and focus on my family and quality of life. I want to try to cherish each day with them while they’re young and impressionable. I remember how stressed I was when I first had my daughter and now in hindsight, the stress was overwhelming and interfering with the moments and memories I should have remembered with her in her baby years. Not to say that stress is always bad and should never be a part of your life, stress is inevitable. But learning to control the stress, resolve it, and not let it take away from the quality of your life and happiness should be the goal.

This is all what I’m learning and applying to my life as I head into 2021. I don’t want to overthink anything, I just want to enjoy each day and make it beautiful and meaningful for myself and my family. That is what I enjoy in my life and that is what I will focus on.

Anyhow~ don’t worry, I won’t stray away from my food posts! Cooking and learning about food and recipes is what I love to do. I asked my 19 month son a few days back “Where is your heart? Can you point to your heart?” and without hesitation he confidently pointed to his stomach. I think he was telling me the truth. The way to his heart is through his stomach (just like his dad) 😆 so that is why I love cooking and will continue to do so, for the health and happiness of my family and myself!

My Husband’s Whiskey Sour

Wow, is it really 2021? I don’ t know about anyone else, but this year I was ready for the holidays to be done. I set up my Christmas tree early and also took it down early. Usually I feel a bit of nostalgia when I take it down, but this year it couldn’t come down faster. Maybe because the holidays felt a little different this year, so I was ready to move on…you can all assume why. Well, I’ve been consistently making Youtube videos and enjoying the process, but this year I hope to get back to writing also.. so I’m dusting off the good ole website.

It’s a rainy, cloudy and dark morning here in our part of California, so to combat that, I wanted to share a fun video I made this weekend. If you enjoy this video or want to see more beverage videos, let me know and I’ll make more with my husband! Anyone who knows him knows he will love it too 😂 He works hard and likes to play hard 😜 So to kick off the work week and also the year, here is My Husband’s (elevated) Whiskey Sour.

2 OZ BOURBON • 0.25 OZ CASK STRENGTH RYE • 0.75 OZ SIMPLE SYRUP • 0.75 OZ LEMON JUICE • 0.25 OZ ORANGE JUICE • 1 EGG WHITE • ”DRY” SHAKE 1ST, THEN SHAKE W/ ICE AND STRAIN INTO GLASS W/ LARGE ICE • SPRAY ANGOSTURA BITTERS OVER TOP • GARNISH W/ ORANGE WHEEL + CHERRY

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts

I made a youtube video! Since I’m done being a milk machine for my son, I’ve been gifted the gift of time again. I made a youtube video for chocolate chip cookies and it was really fun. I hope to make more videos in the future! If you decide to give this recipe a try or just even just pop in to check out my video, let me know what you thought!

Vietnamese Pork Spare Rib Soup

This simple, light yet flavorful, and hearty soup is a soup I enjoy making whether it’s in the cold of winter or warmer days of summer. I usually add some kind of pasta noodle like fusili pasta to make it a meal, but since I’m watching my carb intake I only added it for my daughter and my husband’s bowl this time.

The great thing about this soup is as long as you have potatoes, carrots, and onions you’re good on the veggies. But it’s also very customizable to your preference. Sometimes I add corn, cabbage, or cauliflower depending on what I have in the fridge and what I feel like eating.

For a cleaner flavor, I prefer using water to make the broth, but if you wanted to use chicken broth or some other broth you can definitely do that. For this soup, I used pork (hence the name 😛) but I’ve done this with bone-in chicken and it always turns out great as well!

Vietnamese Pork Spare Rib Soup (Serves 4-6)
2 Lbs. Pork Spare Ribs (cut into 1-2 riblets)
2 cups of cubed potatoes
2 cups of sliced carrots
1/2 onion
3 Tbs of fish sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups cooked pasta
For broth
2 celery stalks (optional)
1/2 cup carrots (i usually keep the ends of carrots I’ve grated in the freezer to make broth later)
1/4 cup sliced onions
8 cups water

To cleaned pork spare ribs well:
1. Soak in cold salted water for about 30 minutes and rinse.
2. Parboil the ribs.
3. Bring enough water to cover the pork to boil.
4. Add pork and let cook in boiling for about 2 minutes.
5. Remove and rinse pork and set aside.
6. Drain water and rinse pot.
Make the broth:
7. Add 8 cups of fresh water to pot, add pork, celery stalks, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/4 cup of sliced onions.
8. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer.
9. Simmer for 1 hr to extract the most flavor as possible from the meat and vegetables.
10. Use a strainer to strain out carrots, celery and onions.
Make the soup:
11. Add in potatoes, carrots, and rest of onions.
12. Season with 2 Tbs fish sauce (add the last Tbs at the end of cooking if needed), 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper.
13. Bring back to boil then simmer until potatoes are tender.
14. Adjust seasonings to preference.
15. Add some pasta to a bowl and ladle soup on top.
16. Garnish with green onions.

Enjoy and have nice weekend!

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb || Hosting for Easter

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Since we moved our little family back home this past summer, we’ve been able to spend so much more holidays with family and it’s been wonderful. Even more wonderful it has been to see my daughter  have more interaction with her grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Most of the time my parents are the one that hosts, but for this Easter I decided to take on the challenge, and at 8 months pregnant, there were moments yesterday where I began to question my ability to make good judgements. But overall, aside from serving food 1 hour later than planned, everything turned out as well as I could have hoped.

On the menu, I wanted the main dish to be something I’ve made before, Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb. I served it was creamy mashed potatoes and a green bean and radish salad to lighten up the meal. I tried a new recipe, for the salad and although my sister really liked it and said I should save this recipe, the recipe didn’t wow me. For the amount of ingredients and work it required, I don’t think I’ll be making it again.

The rack of lamb, on the other hand, is a recipe I’ve made fairly often. I first had herb crusted rack of lamb when my husband used to be a server at a steak restaurant. It was done perfectly, seasoned well and had an amazing unforgettable flavor that made a pretty good lasting first impression of lamb for me. When he stopped working there, I wanted to recreate this dish and found this recipe from Fine Cooking that satisfied both of our cravings for the rack of lamb dish from the steak restaurant. I don’t change anything from this recipe so if you’re interested in making this dish, please just click on the link for the recipe.

One thing that I would suggest getting that has helped me tremendously with this dish is getting a meat thermometer that you can insert and leave in while the meat is cooking. I took out my lamb at 140 degree farenheight and it was the perfect amount of doneness for us. I cooked 3 racks and after letting the meat rest, some pieces were medium rare and some were medium (perfect for everyone’s preference at the table).  Also, every time I’ve made this recipe, the searing step has initiated my smoke detectors to sound off, EVERY TIME. So just be prepared for that.

One last suggestion, get finishing salt! It elevates your finished meat dished to the “wow” that any home cook loves to hear. At the end of my post, I put a link on image for the salt I like to use for finishing meats. It’s not too expensive and a little goes a long way. I only use when I grill or roast meats and want to let the flavor of the meat shine through. This container will last me more than a year. If you do click and make a purchase, I get a little percentage, but I would never recommend a product I wouldn’t use myself! If you happen to use the salt through my recommendation let me know if you enjoyed it! 

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Green beans and radish salad with a walnut tarragon pesto.
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Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, red wine sauce, and creamy mashed potatoes…Happy Easter!

Vietnamese Beef Stew || Bo Kho

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There are a handful of dishes I consider Vietnamese comfort food, Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) is one of them. Aromatic, savory, full of flavor, it’s one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes in general. I’m sure every family has their own recipe and preference of how to make it and eat. Some enjoy it with rice noodles while others prefer having it along side toasty french baguette. I have grown up with the latter, enjoying this stew with a nice crusty piece of bread to soak up the aromatic robust broth. We already had Hawaiian Rolls at home so we just had the rolls, but definitely get the baguettes if you can. My parents have always used the packet of pre-made marinade/seasoning found at any Vietnamese or Chinese grocery store, but over the years I developed my own recipe that I feel taste just as good and dare I say better than using the pre-made packet seasoning. It’s a recipe that I’m pretty proud of!

Like most recipes, you still have to adjust seasonings according to your preference, but the basis of the recipe will result in an extremely flavorful, deep broth for a delicious Bo Kho. Traditionally, Vietnamese beef stew is made with beef shank and tendon. I’m not a huge fan of tendon and I find using beef chuck gives me the most tender and soft meat, so I always use beef chuck, but you can definitely use shank and tendon if you want! With this recipe, simmering for 2 hours is the minimum, the longer you can let it simmer the better. I think it even tastes better the next day. This recipe makes enough for my husband, me, and my daughter, but she’s 3, so she doesn’t count as a full portion😛, with a little left over for the next day. If you’re making this for at least 4 adults (and you want leftovers) I would double the recipe. The herb that typically gets served with this stew is Thai Basil, but I really enjoy eating an herb called Tia To, a Vietnamese Perilla. Also don’t forget a slice of lime for a little tang. The citrus cuts the richness of the broth very nicely.

Bo Kho Recipe (about 4 servings)
2-3 lb beef chuck cut into 1.5 – 2 inch pieces
1.5 Tbs annatto seeds
¼ cup olive oil
1 yellow onion cut into slices
1 Tbs of minced garlic
4 large carrots cut into 2 inch pieces
2  Tbs frozen lemon grass or 3 stalk of fresh lemon grass bruised
1  Tbs grated frozen ginger or 3 slices of fresh ginger
3 ounce of tomato paste
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs five spice powder
2 tsp curry powder
½  Tbs paprika
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs fish sauce
1-2 cups coconut juice or water
4 cups beef broth, chicken broth, or water

  1. In a small pan heat olive oil and annatto seeds until color has bled and oil is red about 1 minute. Remove seeds and keep oil.
  2. Marinate beef with ½ tbs of fish sauce, garlic, onion, salt, five spice powder, curry powder, paprika and 1 tbs of the annatto oil.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight.
  3. In a large pot add in about 2 Tbs of annatto oil over medium heat, add lemon grass, star anise and cinnamon stick, ginger and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  4. Add meat and brown for about 1 minute on each side.
  5. Add carrots, coconut juice, broth and more water (if necessary) until meat is covered by about 1 inch.
  6. Add tomato paste and bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours until meat is tender.  Add rest of fish sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
  7. Serve with Thai Basil or Vietnamese Perilla and lime.
    IMG_5468Beautiful red annatto oilIMG_5469IMG_5476IMG_5478

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    This broth is packed with flavor.

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    Enjoy!

Creamy Comforting Fish Chowder

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Happy Monday? Hopefully you had a nice relaxing weekend. On Friday I was in the mood for a creamy warm soup. I had some cod filets in the freezer so naturally I thought of fish chowder. I love making fish chowder! It’s not something I make often, but it’s always so easy and delightful when I do make it. It’s a great way to add fish to our diet in a way that is tasty and very easy to eat. It has creaminess from the milk, hardiness from the vegetables, and sweetness from the corn. I don’t usually add mushrooms, but I had them in the fridge and they turned out to be a nice addition. What more can one ask for when one wants a comforting bowl of soup?

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Fish Chowder (adapted from Epicurious) Serves 4-6
4 slices bacon
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2-3 Tbs flour (2 Tbs if using cream, 3 Tbs if using milk)
1 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup corn
1 dried bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 cups potatoes, cubed
4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 firm white fish filets (cod, tilapia..etc)
1 cup milk, half n half, or heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

1. Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the the bacon. Cook about 5 minutes per side until cooked through and crisp.
2. Remove to plate and cut into little pieces. Set aside. Leave about 1 Tbs of the bacon fat or oil in the pot.
3. Add the butter, onions and garlic, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon,  until the onions and soft and translucent.
4. Add flour and continue to stir for another 2 minutes.
5. Add the potatoes and stock. If the stock doesn’t cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center.
6. Add bay leaf and thyme.
7. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper.
8. Add the fish fillets and cook over low heat for 7 minutes.
9. Gently stir in the milk and adjust any season as necessary.
10. Turn off heat.
11. Garnish with chopped chives and bacon pieces and enjoy!IMG_5442IMG_5445

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Oh, delicious delicious bacon (this was turkey bacon but any bacon would be good)

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Bet you can’t have just one bowl! Enjoy!