We’ve Moved!

25 Nov

And got our own URL! See the newest of the family recipes at www.FromOurFamilyKitchen.com!

Spontaneous Italian Class Dinner Party! (aka How Real Italians Cook)

6 Oct

For our last class of Italian Level Two, everyone came to my house for a cooking lesson! Our teacher Francesca does not measure anything when she’s cooking, so I can only tell you what I learned from observing her.

First, we had some antipasti while we waited for the pasta to bake:

Artichoke hearts, feta with olives, peppers (courtesy of Daniel)

Prosciutto, salami, mortadella (also from Daniel? Or Carolina?)

Salad caprese (tomatoes+basil+mozzarella, topped with EVOO, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, from yours truly)

Goat cheese pizza from Whole Foods (from Valentina, who bought a huge one but only three slices made it to the table as we gobbled it up as soon as it was done baking.)

Garlic bread from Carolina…didn’t make it into the picture but it was delicious!

Wine from Montepulciano from me!


Here is our teacher Francesca (left) with Julietta (right).

Carolina did all the dishes while Valentina cooked the mushrooms.

Valentina prettying up her cuatro leches while Carolina washed even more dishes.

It was the best cuatro leches cake I’ve had, ever. Valentina is from Venezuela and sells her baked goods! Traditionally the cuatro leches is tres leches…but instead of the typical meringue on top (which I do not like) she used dulce de leche (caramel) therefore adding a fourth leche (milk)! Mom, I think you would LOVE this cake. FOUR MILKS!  Unfortunately, I do not have Valentina’s recipe since it is her secret to her fortunes! But here is one that I think looks very good: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Dulce-de-Leche-Cake

I’ve also have cuatro leches cake made with coconut milk. Here is a great recipe:


We all sit down to eat. Ah, here is that big bowl of delicious garlic bread from Carolina!

Penne con Funghi e prosciutto (penne with mushrooms and prosciutto in bechamel sauce) on the left, and Penne con Melanzana Rustika (rustic penne with eggplant) on the right!
We totally forgot to take pictures of the actual pasta. Francesca made it very pretty in a baking pan, layered…I only remembered to take a picture of it when putting the leftovers away. We were all so eager to eat the pastas!

Penne con Funghi e Prosciutto (Penne with Mushrooms and Prosciutto in Bechamel Sauce)

Since Francesca does not measure anything, I will simply describe to you how to make it with my approximate measurements. I will write down how many ingredients she used but please keep in mind this would have fed at 15-20 people!


1.5 lbs penne pasta

1.5 lb crimini mushrooms

Extra virgin olive oil


1 stick butter + 2 tbsp for pasta

4 cups whole milk

Sliced prosciutto

Hard mozzarella cheese (1 x 5 x 2 inch block)

Freshly grated pecorino cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook 1.5 lbs penne pasta for FOUR MINUTES. This is very important. Francesca is a master of pasta consistency. Italians eat pasta al dente, and this dish will later be baked so you don’t want to overcook it. Set pasta aside and stir in a bit of butter so it does not stick together.

Stir fry 1.5 pound of washed sliced crimini mushrooms in EVOO, salt, and pepper.

To make bechamel sauce: melt one stick of butter in a pot. Add in flour and whisk until it is a slightly thick consistency. Heat up some whole milk in the microwave (we ended up using about 3-4 cups), and add a bit at a time while still whisking. Keep adding milk until the sauce is of a creamy but not too thick consistency. Add salt and a lot of ground black pepper.

In a food processor, pour in the bechamel sauce and 3/4 of the mushrooms. Puree, but don’t let it get too smooth (should have little mushroom chunks still). Mix the sauce, pasta, and remaining sliced mushrooms together.

Put a layer of the pasta mixture in a baking pan. Then add a layer of thinly sliced prosciutto. Chop up small cubes of hard mozzarella cheese (we used one 1 x 5 x 2 inch block).  Add another layer of pasta. Lastly, grate fresh pecorino cheese over everything. Bake in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes, then broil it in the oven for 5 minutes until golden on top.


Penne con Melanzana Rustika (Penne with Eggplant)


1.5 lbs penne pasta

3 large eggplants

5 small garlic cloves, whole

Extra virgin olive oil

Vegetable oil for frying


2 tbsp butter

2 large cans of crushed tomatoes

Hard mozzarella cheese (1 x 5 x 2 inch block)

Freshly grated pecorino cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Although our class mostly favored the penne con funghi, Francesca said the penne con melanzana rustika is more traditional, simpler, and therefore she liked it better.

Night before, cut three eggplants into 1 inch cubes. Soak in salt water overnight.

Day of, take out eggplants and drain for an hour.

Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook 1.5 lbs penne pasta for FOUR MINUTES. This is very important. Francesca is a master of pasta consistency. Italians eat pasta al dente, and this dish will later be baked so you don’t want to overcook it. Set pasta aside and stir in a bit of butter so it does not stick together.

Heat up 1 inch of vegetable oil and a 5 small whole garlic cloves. When the garlic cloves sizzle, add in the eggplant and fry until they are golden brown. Put the eggplant on paper towels and let them sit.

Sauce: bring two big cans of crushed tomatoes to a boil. Add salt and pepper, and a lot of chopped basil leaves, maybe 10 sprigs. Drizzle in a bit of EVOO. Cook for about 20 minutes on medium low heat. Francesca said the sauce will be ready when “the oil rises to the top.”

Mix the pasta with the eggplant and 3/4 of the sauce. Put a layer of the pasta in a baking pan. Chop up small cubes of hard mozzarella cheese (we used one block of 1 x 5 x 2 inch brick). Add a layer of sauce and cubed mozzarella. Add another layer of pasta, and another layer of sauce.

Lastly, grate fresh pecorino cheese over everything. Bake in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes, then broil it in the oven for 5 minutes until golden on top.

So simple, and so DELICIOUS.

Aaron Cooks for My Birthday!

29 Sep

For my birthday this year, Aaron had promised me a home-cooked meal. Since he was sick on my actual birthday weekend, we had to postpone the meal. Last night he went above and beyond and made me a delicious dinner! Here is what he made:

(Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry…I was famished/excited so my hands were a bit shaky.)

Sweet potatoes with celery, cranberries, pecans and goat cheese:

Short ribs with mushrooms, wine and cream:

He didn’t really follow the recipe for the short ribs…in fact he said his goal for the whole night was to not measure anything. The meal took a while to cook, so by 11pm so Aaron started cooking everything “rambo style.” I’m not quite sure what that entailed as I was not allowed in the kitchen, but the results were delicious!

The good thing about Aaron cooking (aside from the fact that I don’t have to cook!)  is even though he might not follow the recipe’s cooking method exactly (he did for the yams, but not for the ribs as it was approaching midnight), he always buys every ingredient. He actually bought every variety of the mushrooms required in the short ribs recipe, and it was totally worth it. He even got oyster mushrooms and roasted them…YOM! I usually do the opposite: I skimp on the ingredients, using what we have at home, but follow the method. His way is much more fulfilling, flavor-wise! I shall take note of this in the future when I’m grocery shopping!

Just posting about these are making me hungry again…even though I’m still completely full from last night! I recommend these recipes to everyone. The yams came out piping hot from the oven, and I’m pretty sure I ate my body’s weight worth in those little nuggets. Then the meat and mushrooms came out…swoon! I love my fatty short ribs!

Here are the actual recipes, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman.

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese:

1 1/2 pounds sweet potato, scrubbed, unpeeled, in 3/4- to 1-inch coins
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup toasted and cooled pecan halves
2 tiny or 1 small shallot
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
2 ounces firmish goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet generously with olive oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Lay sweet potatoes in one layer on the oiled sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, without disturbing, for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully flip each piece: the undersides should be blistery, dark and a bit puffy and should release from the pan with no effort. If they’re not, let it cook longer. Sprinkle them with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the undersides match the tops.

Meanwhile, prepare your salad. Chop your pecans well, mince your shallot, chop your celery and parsley, mince cranberries if using them. Crumble your goat cheese. If you, like me, got too soft of a goat cheese for mixing, set it aside and sprinkle it on top. If it’s firmer, stir it into the mixture. In a small dish, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dijon. Pour half over salad.

When the sweet potatoes are done, set a couple coins aside just in case the baby isn’t into the toppings. Lay the rest on a serving platter. Scoop a spoonful of the salsa over each round. Pour remaining salad dressing over top, to taste. Eat immediately.

Short Ribs with Wine and Cream

Aaron used a wine that I had picked up randomly from Whole Foods a couple of weeks back. It was cheap and had a zany name…usually I never buy wines based on those factors (actually, I often make fun of people who do that) but I had just worked out and I think the endorphin were playing tricks in my head. I’m glad I did, though, as the wine added great flavor to the meat. We had half a bottle leftover, and it was surprisingly delicious! I highly recommend it:

Cupcake Red Velvet Wine:

  • 12 whole Shortribs
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 32 ounces, fluid Beef Broth Or Beef Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons Grainy Mustard
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers (more If You Want!)
  • 16 ounces, weight Assorted Mushrooms: Cremini, Oyster, Baby Bellas, Etc.
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Rosemary Sprig, To Be Fancy

Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Sprinkle short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear both sides of the short ribs, using tongs to flip them halfway through. (Just sear about 1 1/2 minutes per side.) Remove the shortribs to a plate.

Pour wine and beef broth into the pot. Add rosemary. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Return the shortribs to the pot, reduce heat to low, then cover the pot and simmer it for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (You can also put the pot into a 300 degree oven if you’d prefer not to simmer on the stovetop.)

After they have cooked, carefully remove the shortribs from the pot again. Stir in mustard, cream, and capers, then raise the heat and allow it to bubble up and gently boil for a good couple of minutes, or until it has thickened a bit. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Return the shortribs to the sauce, put on the lid, and turn off the heat.

To roast the mushrooms, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast the mushrooms until they’re golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve the shortribs on top of the mushrooms, then drizzle with extra cream sauce. Add a little rosemary sprig if you want to be fancy.

Happy birthday to me!!

Pan Roasted Mocha Granola Musli Monster

26 Jul

How did I come up with this recipe, you ask?

I had a craving for some toasted oats.

I didn’t have a lot of time.

I wanted something healthy.

I saw this recipe and this recipe and decided to combine them to create one awesome healthy recipe!

I didn’t have exact measurements, so you will have to bear with me.




Coco powder

Instant coffee

Flax Seed Meal (optional)


Heat a 15 inch pan on medium high heat. Sprinkle a layer of old-fashion oats until it covers the pan. While it’s roasting, chop up a handful of walnuts. Add a sprinkling of coco powder, instant coffee, and flax seed meal. Stir to combine, then stir every 2-3 minutes until oats are browned, about 10-15 minutes. Add in walnuts and stir until you smell the nuttiness, about another 3-4 minutes.


Now how easy was that?

If you want it to be more clumpy, granola style, you can add a sprinkle of brown sugar and a couple drizzles of olive oil. The way I made it is more like a cereal, but that’s what I wanted. You can put it over milk or greek yogurt, but I ate mine with milk as mine was expiring soon. I even drank all of the milk! Mom, aren’t you surprised / proud of me?

I ate mine with skim milk and a lot of black berries. But I forgot to take pictures of that so you will have to stare at the picture of the granola musli monster pre milk+berries. My apologies.

Banana Walnut Bread

25 Jun

So just this past Sunday, we did our usual thing and bought our standard banana bunch from Costco. I like to buy them green because then it buys us more time to eat before they turn too spotty. Well, thanks to the heat wave we’ve been having up here, our very green bunch of bananas turned ripe and spotty within 2 days. It didn’t even get a chance to turn yellow! It was like green and spotty. Weird.

Anyway, with the helpful suggestions of beloved Facebook friends, I decided to make some banana bread tonight. I adapted it from a recipe left by a reader in the comments of a Chowhound article because I discovered this was the easiest recipe with ingredients that I actually had.

Here’s my version of the recipe.


  • 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 2 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t salt (about a pinch)
  • 1 egg with yolk and 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 c mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/8 c  Splenda brown sugar mix (if using regular sugar, use 3/4 c)
  • 3 t vanilla
  • less than 1/4 c oil
  • heavy dash of pumpkin spice
  • half a cup of walnuts
  • non stick spray


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a bowl, mix together:
    • flour
    • baking powder
    • baking soda
    • cinnamon
    • pumpkin spice
    • salt
  • In larger bowl mix together:
    • bananas
    • eggs
    • sugar
    • oil
    • vanilla
  • Stir in flour mixture until moistened.
  • Add in walnuts and mix until spread through the mixture.
  • Pour into sprayed 8x4x2 inch loaf pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 38 mins until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool bread in pan for 10 mins.
  • Remove from pan and enjoy.
To my delight, the banana walnut bread with a hint of pumpkin turned out wonderful! It was surprisingly moist and tasty, not dry or chewy at all. I think it would be especially good with some vanilla bean ice cream. YOM. And it’s even somewhat healthy too!
And if you’re looking for more things to do with ripe bananas, check out these ideas from The Kitchn. Thanks for this, Amy!

Inari Cucumber Pockets

21 Jun

No recipe involved, really.

Buy a can of Inari tofu pockets

Slice up one small cucumber

Fill inari pockets with cucumber.

It’s a nice healthy alternative to rice and makes for a cool summer snack!



Monggo Guisado (Mung Bean Stew)

21 Jun

Since my parents met in Thailand during college, I’ve always had a soft spot for Thai food. I love mung beans dessert, so when I saw this savory mung bean Thai recipe, I was intrigued! It was a bit too complicated for me (and my limited groceries) so I made some adjustments. I served it with some pan fried snapper with salt and pepper. Give this a try!

Adapted from Jun-blog

makes 3-4 servings

1/2 cup dried mung beans
5 cups chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste

Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight in cold water, enough to cover the beans with several inches of water. Discard the water after soaking. Soaking will speed up the cooking process but is not necessary.

Place beans and stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until beans are tender, about 30 minutes to an hour. Cooking time depends on whether the beans were pre-soaked or not.

While the beans are cooking, sauté garlic and onions in oil over medium-high heat until fragrant and softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add fish sauce to the beans, stir, and cook for ten more minutes, stirring frequently. Add more water if the stew becomes too thick. Adjust the taste by stirring in more fish sauce, if necessary.


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