Fee Fie Faux Phở

faux pho.JPG

Fee! Fie! Faux Phở!
Next, prepare a Beef Wellington!

At the turn of the new year, I’m trying not to waste so much time. Hopefully, I’ll be disciplined enough to log into Facebook at most twice a day. Another place I hope to cut back is in time spent grocery shopping. There isn’t a lot of extra storage space in a one-bedroom apartment, but we’ll see if I can purchase most of the non-perishable items for the month in one trip to one store. I’ll still need to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis, but hopefully those trips will be quick ones.

The past few days I’ve been planning and plotting meals on a calendar. Breakfasts and Lunches will consist of the same ingredients, in general: fresh bread & fruit for breakfast, eggs & hashbrowns (Joel) or leftovers (Katrina) for lunch. The scheduling of the evening meal is a bit more flexible. I’ve planned to purchase enough of each kind of meat to have it once a week each week. Canned, frozen, and fresh vegetables and sauces will supplement as the mood and weather dictates.

Giant is one of our local grocery stores. It doesn’t always have the cheapest prices, but the quality of their items is reliable. It doesn’t have a hip atmosphere or calming background music, but the aisles are clean and organized, and you’ll find their stores in safe neighborhoods. There are a few items that not every Giant location doesn’t keep in stock (Abuelita hot chocolate disks), but if you want one-stop shopping that won’t cost you a fortune, Giant will serve you well.

Giant’s website allows you to make a list. When you are ready to print your list, the items are divided into categories. This helps me push my grocery cart around the store in a more methodical manner (although I sometimes still end up criss-crossing the store for something that wasn’t to be found where I expected). They also give you a total dollar amount. Having an estimate can avoid shock at the cash register. I like to have the printed list with me so that if I’m tempted to substitute a different brand of an item or if I see it on the clearance rack, I can compare the price of the sale item with the one I have on my list.

Although the temperatures were just reaching double-digits this morning, we decided to brave the winter winds and load up on groceries.  Everyone else had the same idea. The parking lot was full and so were the in-store grocery aisles. List in hand, it was easier to be patient and focused. Toward the end of my list, I was tired of shopping and decided to wait until another day to look for the chicken, meats, and sausages.

By the time we got home and climbed the stairs several times with our bags of groceries we were ready to eat. Thankfully, I had written down a specific plan for lunch that wouldn’t take too much time to throw together: “Quickie Faux Phở”. Broth, seasonings, fresh garnish-type vegetables, bits of leftover meat, and rice noodles add up to an aromatic soup to warm you on a chilly day.  My version isn’t really even close to phở you would order at a restaurant. I didn’t have fresh basil or bean sprouts. But if you want your faux phở to be a friend rather than a foe, don’t be too fussy.

Now that I’ve taken an hour to rest, typing up this post while my husband washed the dishes, I can put away the remaining groceries. Then, I’ll take some of them out again, turn on the oven, and bake some more. First: crushed candy cane cookies for the youth retreat, then my first attempt at “Poor Man’s Beef Wellington”.

Ingredients for today’s faux phở

3 cups water
3 cubes chicken boullion
cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, star anise
fresh ginger root, peeled & thinly sliced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
soy sauce
HP sauce (I don’t keep Hoisin sauce on hand and this has some fruitiness to it.)

1 c cubed pork
2 green onions, thinly sliced

rice noodles

fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime wedges

Categories: Food and drink, Shopping, Soup | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Asparagus NOT With Ham

We like ham. We like asparagus. We even like ham and asparagus together. However, we’d already eaten a lot of ham with crackers and cheese over the weekend, ham with scrambled eggs for breakfast, and ham in the bean soup I packed for lunch. The asparagus I purchased on Saturday wasn’t getting any younger, although the spears were still standing pretty tall in the mug in the refrigerator, so Monday night was the right time to make use of the fresh, green vegetable.

Did you know that chicken is more pleasant to eat if you only cook it until it is just no longer pink? Until I watched an old Julia Child video about chicken, I hadn’t really considered that chicken might get tough if you cooked it too long or over too high of heat.

Usually, we like to broil the asparagus sprinkled with Parmesean and olive oil, but I decided to try a stove-top recipe with a balsamic-honey-dijon vinaigrette this time.

I thought that I might be able to guage the texture of the chicken better if I could watch it, rather than have to guess what was happening in the oven or under the broiler.

The chicken and the sauce did turn out nicely, and it paired well with the noodles that my husband prepared. However, we probably prefer broiled Parmesean and asparagus.


noodles chicken asparagus tomatoes balsamicIngredients

  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • about 6 chicken breast tenders (You may want to cut them into smaller chunks.)
  •  salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • handful of asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off, remainder cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tomato, cut into about 8 pieces


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue whisking until the mixture is well combined. Set it aside.
  2. Over medium heat, heat remaining oil in a medium-sized frying pan. Add the chicken, season it with salt and pepper, and sear until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove it from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add  just enough hot water to the pan that you can simmer the asparagus. Cook it until the asparagus is bright green. Add the tomatoes, season with more salt and pepper, and  continue to cook the vegetables until the tomatoes are slightly wilted.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the vinaigrette. Toss the vegetables and chicken together and continue to cook the mixture until the chicken is heated through and the vinaigrette thickens.
Categories: Chicken, Food and drink, pasta, sauces & condiments, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazy Lingonberry Pork Roast

One of my coworkers recently retired. She’s using her new free time to sort through things in her house.  She tackled the kitchen and gave me some of her extra cookbooks and ingredients.

Thanks, Kathy, for the port, candied ginger, and the recipe for Crock Pot Cranberry Port Pork Roast.  I just changed out a few of the ingredients to use what I had on hand.



2 (to 3) lbs boneless pork loin roast
1 (14 ounce) jar IKEA lingonberry preserves
1⁄3 cup port wine (or 1⁄3 cup cranberry juice)
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 small lemon, thinly sliced
1⁄3 cup raisins
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons candied ginger, diced
1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

rice, cooked


Put the roast in slow cooker.
In a bowl combine, lingonberry preserves, port, and sugar.
Stir in lemon, raisins, garlic, ginger, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Pour over roast. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or until meat is 170°F.
Remove roast and keep warm.

Prepare the gravy:

Pour 3 cups of cooking juices into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil.
In a separate, small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water.
Add this mixture to the saucepan.
Continue cooking the liquid for about one minute or until thickened and no longer cloudy.

Slice roast and serve over rice with sauce.

2 lbs pork will serve 4-5 people, depending on how hungry they are and what sides you serve. We ate roasted vegetable Ritz crackers with cream cheese while waiting for things to be reheat (2nd day) and had green beans and butternut squash custard.


Categories: Food and drink, Pork, Rice, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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