Asian ingredients

I love a variety of foods and you can see that reflected in my recipes. I would say that I love Asian food the most (and not the Chinese take-out kind). My mother lived in Japan for ten years when she was a young kid, so I grew up eating rice and tuna when other families were eating steak and potatoes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve honed my cooking skills over lots of burned rice and horrific Frankenstein experiments.

When I married my husband, who is from Sri Lanka, I really started experimenting and cooking with ingredients I never have before. I bravely went to the Oriental market and bought random ingredients to try. Slowly, I started developing an eye for what I needed and what region I was looking for. Did I want Thai? Chinese? Japanese? Did I even know what Korean ingredients looked like? Which nori is better?

While I don’t really end up duplicating particular Oriental recipes, I know what flavor I’m craving for and I’m pretty good at creating something that will at least taste good, if not fantastic! The ability to do this means having a good basic supply of Asian ingredients in the pantry.

Don’t know what to get? Here’s a starter list:

  • Soy sauce (shoyu in my family) Kikkoman is the best brand
  • Korean soy sauce; its a little thick and syrupy and kind of sweet
  • Teriyaki sauce (again, Kikkoman is what I use)
  • Fish sauce
  • Oriental five spice
  • Ground or fresh ginger
  • Garlic
  • Sesame oil and seeds
  • Cans of coconut milk (do not get lite, it’s not worth it)
  • Thai curry paste, Red and Green
  • Curry powder, whichever basic brand if just fine
  • my new favorites, Gochujang 고추장 Red pepper paste and Sunchang Ssamjang 순창 쌈장 (sesame and garlic seasoned bean paste).
  • Rice! Always have rice on hand. I prefer Jasmin rice but you can use any rice though I would stay away from par-boiled or instant rice.
  • Veggies! Really, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Instead of trying to figure out how to boil yet another vegetable, there are many other ways to utilize vegetables and I often use them as filler. A little low on protein? No problem! Simply through in some chopped veggies and you’ve got a varied, healthy and delicious meal to go with your sparse protein offerings.



Ssamjang Beef Stew

So this dish was created from my imagination of what I’ve seen of Korean soups on TV and what Korean ingredients I had in the pantry. The soup base came out very delicious, so I am hurriedly jotting down my recipe before I forget! Here are the ingredients:

About 1 Tbsp Gochujang 고추장 (Red pepper paste)

again, around 1 Tbsp Sunchang Ssamjang 순창 쌈장 (sesame and garlic seasoned bean paste)

1 pkg Chicken bouillion powder (salt-free)

1 Tsp Chinese five-spice powder

1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki sauce (if you have any, sweet Korean soy sauce will work well too)

2 Tbsp Sesame Oil

1 Tbsp Garlic or garlic powder

1 Tbsp Onion powder

 1 tsp Salt and Pepper

2 Tbsp Cooking oil (not olive oil) with a high smoke point

In whatever quantity you crave; Beef

1 lb Sm Yellow Potatoes

Now here’s what you do:

Prep the beef by giving it a good rub with some salt and pepper, garlic and onion powder. Next, cut the beef however you like. Then, in a skillet, quickly sear the beef in oil (not olive oil); I used Safflower oil because of the high smoke point. Sear the meat quickly, but not all the way through and you will get the yummy crust.

For quick cooking, microwave the potatoes till they are semi-cooked.

In your favorite soup pot, bring 3-4 cups of water to a simmering boil. Add the Gochujang, Sunchang Ssamjang, teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, Chinese five spice powder, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper and sesame oil. Stir till well blended and bring to a boil. After a few minutes, the flavors blend together and you can add the main ingredients. Add the potatoes and continue boiling till they are soft. Last, but not least, add the beef at the very end so it doesn’t get overcooked.

Serve over or with rice on the side. I don’t have a photo because, frankly, I ate it all, lol. There’s just enough spicy-ness to make your mouth tingle, not too hot you can’t slurp with gusto. This can be a great simple, filling and hearty soup anytime. I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear any feedback on how it comes out for you!

Tomato Sandwich

This is an old favorite and simply delicious. It’s easy and budget friendly, especially as deli meats are soooo expensive.


Tomato Sandwich


Roma tomatoes (20130909_151002or plum) has the best flavor for a sandwich
Slice the roma tomato length-wise in whatever thickness you prefer.
Favorite bread. For this sandwich, I like plain ol’ soft white bread.
Hellman’s mayonnaise.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Tip: salt and pepper the mayo before the tomato for best flavor. 






The 5 Dollar Dinner Mom



This recipe was a big hit in my family. The only concern I have is the cost of quinoa. In my area, it runs between $5 and up per lb bag. It does go a long way and tends to double in volume, like rice so if you’re not feeding an army then its not bad. You can also get a small jar of Thai Kitchen red curry paste at Publix for around $4; again, a little goes a long way.

Cottage Pie with Mashed Cauliflower

So i’ts been a very long time since I’ve posted 😦 but I’ve come with a delicious peace offering!

Cottage Pie is a ground beef version of Shepherd’s pie which traditionally uses lamb.

Cottage Pie

with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes

Ingredient List

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 1/2 large onion, finely diced

2 cups frozen peas, carrots and corn

4 1/2-6 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped or 1 tbsp of dried is fine

2 cloves chopped garlic

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cups stock

2 bags frozen cauliflower

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chopped chives, amount to your taste

1 tbsp butter


In a medium or large skillet, heat up the olive oil and add the chopped onion, garlic, celery. Take the ground beef and in a bowl, mix it up with salt, pepper, tarragon and a dash of Worcestershire sauce; add to skillet and combine. Add the stock, mix then add the tomato paste. Add the rest of the Worcestershire sauce. Add the butter and bring to brief boil, then add the flour. Mix it well to cook the flour through to thicken the sauce. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the peas, carrots and corn. Simmer till tender. Place into casserole dish.


Boil the frozen cauliflower with some salt and pepper till fork tender. Mash with butter, salt& pepper to taste, chives to desired consistency. Spread over the meat and place in the oven on 350° for 35 minutes.


Deconstructed PB&J

So here is a fun little dish I came up with for my 3 year old little one. It was close to dinner time and I didn’t have anything prepared and I had cooked up a storm this weekend and thinking what I should do for dinner tonight. This can be for any meal of course, but tonight it was dinner. My little one loved it, and we used three different jams we had and the peanut butter was warm and gooey.



Favorite bread

Favorite peanut butter

Favorite jelly(s)

Favorite butter or spread



Make a grilled peanut butter sandwich on the stove or griddle.

Cut the sandwich into fours.

Put a spoonful of jelly(s) on the plate and let them dip the sandwich into the jelly.



Delicious Cornbread

This lovely side dish I created because I was trying to make cornbread pudding, but this came out instead and my family and I love it!


1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 stick of butter

1 can of cream corn



Combine the Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, egg, milk and cream corn in mixing bowl.

Pour mixture into desired baking or cupcake pan. Slice the stick of butter into 1 tbsp pieces and distribute evenly into the mix. Lightly push the butter pat down with finger. If you use cupcake pans, put one tbsp or pat in each cup, gently pressing down. Save a few pats of butter to put on top once it is out of the oven.

Bake 375°  for 30-40 min

Serve hot with butter.