Browsing Category: cook

DIY Spray Paint Glass Jars and Plastic Planters

It’s been about a month since we moved into the new house, and there are still piles of boxes everywhere. Unpacking is slow-going, especially since the daily mommy grind of waking up- getting kids ready for school-packing lunch for the kids and the husband-taking kids to school-doing mountains of laundry-ironing shirts-cleaning kitchen-picking kids up-overseeing homework-reading with kids-cooking dinner-taking kids to martial arts class-getting kids bathed and to sleep won’t stop!! Plus, I can’t seem to get over the absolute novelty of having a yard and a garden after years of city living and the fact that so many craft/DIY supplies are just a short drive away.

The kids and I have started seedlings for our vegetable and herb garden, which my husband will need to fence in because we apparently have a herd of deer living in our backyard. We’ve seen as many as 7 doe lounging around at one time, and though it’s pretty neat to stand on our deck and deer-watch, it’s going to be all out warfare in the summer if they come anywhere near the garden!

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So aside from standing around and staring at deer, I’ve also been standing around staring at things in Home Depot and Lowe’s, pretty much screaming, “PLEASE, TAKE ALL MY MONEY!!!” because I want to buy all the things.

However, I feel pretty good about my trip to Lowe’s this morning, not because I left without spending any money because I totally bought stuff, but because I came home with some sad, scraggly houseplants from the Clearance Rack for $1 each that I will lovingly nurse back to health and that is good for the world. And for my wallet.

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I also bought cheap-o plastic planters for $1.29 each and a can of Rust-oleum Hammered Spray Paint (because I just had to see it for myself) and a can of Valspar Premium Finish Spray Paint in Satin Encounter (because I loved the color).

My plan was to spray the cheap plastic planters with the hammered finish spray paint, just to see what happens…

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And despite the can saying that it’s paint + primer in one, I think my results would have been much nicer had I primed the planters first. I’m not disappointed with the results, but during the spraying process, I could see that the spray paint wasn’t adhering to the plastic surface very well. The paint seemed to slide down the plastic rather than sticking to it.

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I’d say that it looks good from afar, and you really wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s a plastic planter until you hold it, and since it’s highly unlikely that anyone who comes to my house will pick up a plant to inspect the pot, I think the facade will work.

In addition to experimenting with the hammered finish spray paint, I needed to do something with these two glass jars that have been sitting on the kitchen counter because they’re totally not my style, but my mom gave them to me so I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them.

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I wanted to plant two of the small, pathetic pothos in these jars, but because the jars don’t have drainage holes, I would be placing about an inch of rocks at the bottom, and I needed to be able to see the water level. I marked the jars with blue painter’s tape to apply paint over the section with the flowers and the top portion of the jars.

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After watching the spray paint slide off the plastic planters, I decided to prime these first. I used a spray primer, waited about an hour and sprayed two light coats of the Valspar. It turned out lovely! And I definitely love the color and the satin finish.

IMG_5667There’s a lot more painting and spray painting in my immediate future, so I’ll have new projects to share soon! I’m currently working on an cheap-o Ikea side table hack for my daughter’s My Little Pony themed room. Can’t wait to share!

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Bento Box Love!

When my family left Korea, we traveled with 6 suitcases, and the rest of our worldly possessions were packed up and put on a (very) slow boat back to the U.S. Six weeks later, we are living in a tiny little apartment with only the things we brought with us in those 6 suitcases and the random things we’ve purchased since we arrived in country. I miss my crafting supplies, my yarn stash, my sewing machine, MY PRINTER (because I had to buy Valentine’s Day cards for my boys’ class when I had some great ideas for making some myself!), and most of all, I miss my bento box making supplies!!

It’s not necessarily because I love making cute lunches more than any of my other crafting endeavors, but making the boys’ lunches is something that I do on a near-daily basis. Although I brought their bento boxes with us because I knew I would need to pack lunches for a few weeks before our household goods arrived, I didn’t pack all the cute accessories I’ve collected over the past year and a half of lunch-packing, so I’ve been missing out on dressing up their lunch boxes.

Since I don’t have any fun lunches to share lately (somehow, sandwiches packed in ziplock bags just don’t have the same appeal), here’s a round-up of the lunches I packed for my boys during the fall semester before we left Korea!

Can’t wait to get all my lunch-making supplies as well as move into our new house where I will have more than 12 square inches of counter space! 🙂

Free Printables: Snack Time = Fun Time!

Happy New Year from Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post–the past month has been an absolute whirlwind of activity. As a mother of kindergarteners, I have experienced my very first Winter Break, and let me tell you… It wasn’t pretty. My boys were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS and craved the daily activities, the friends, and the stimulation of school. In the meantime, I was running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything was PERFECT for Christmas, mostly because I know that we only have a precious few Christmases before my kids stop believing in the MAGIC of the holidays (see previous post).

So basically, this control-freak, Type-A mom was desperately trying to make sure that EVERY. LITTLE. THING. was in perfect order. By the end of their two-week reprieve from school, I was just about ready to kick them out the door and return to the (relative) calm of our day-to-day routine. Except we had friends come for a 12-day long visit with their incredibly adorable 9 month old baby, which made me even crazier because I was basically smacked in the face with baby fever and the slightly depressing (but also exhilarating) realization that I would never again have a sweet little baby to snuggle and nurse and make completely ridiculous noises and faces at–just for a perfect gummy, toothless grin. My husband commented several times within the first hour of our houseguests’ arrival that I was acting like a crazy person. He only stopped teasing me when he realized what a lunatic he looked like every time he got a hold of the baby. After a few hours of baby time, both the husband and I agreed–thank goodness we’ve both been “fixed” or we’d TOTALLY be talking about having another baby! My youngest would beg to differ though. She was not terribly pleased with mommy’s attention being diverted to the new baby in the house. 😉

Anyway, with all the excitement in the house and the fact that I was pretty much blinded by the baby cuteness, I completely forgot that the boys’ first week back in school was MY WEEK TO PREPARE CLASS SNACKS! I remembered as the kids were leaving for school Monday morning, and since the commissary is closed on Mondays, my options were limited. I sent my husband to the shoppette/liquor store and literally told him, “I don’t care what kind of junk it is. We have to send SOMETHING!” Feeling my crazy-mom panic, he assured me that all would be fine, and he wouldn’t let on to Mrs. S, the boys’ teacher, that I had forgotten.

Since Day 1 consisted of Cheez Its and Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-packaged variety that I will assume absolutely no responsibility for thanks to my husband’s self-sacrifice in the name of marital bliss), I had to step up my game and make up for my failure to deliver fun and nutritious snacks for my children and their classmates because this is the type of thing that only a crazy lady would worry about. Tuesday, I was able to deliver fruit from our local produce market (bananas, apple slices and clementines). Monday is really The Worst Day for the commissary to be closed. 🙁

Since I was (finally) able to get to the store on Tuesday, Wednesday, was more fun for me to put together, and much more fun for the kids to eat! When my boys came home from school, they were super excited to tell me about what a big hit the snacks were and what they built with their grapes, pretzels and cheese sticks! Small cubes of cheese would have worked well too as well as crackers of various sizes and other fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, oranges, etc.). So here’s a simple little printable to throw in the baggie along with edible “building” supplies!

Let's Build With Food

 

To download a PDF with 8 little cards per sheet, click here: Let’s Build With Food

For Day 4 of my frantic snack-making, I decided on my boys’ all-time favorite treat–S’mores. But without the fire and melted marshmallows, which seasoned s’mores-lovers may balk at, but thankfully, my audience consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds, so no one complained about the lack of dangerous, hot, burning embers in the classroom.

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Delicious make-it-yourself mini s’mores can be made with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chip morsels. As my boys would say, “Easy peasy!”

Click here to download the mini s’mores printable: Mini Smores

And finally, to round out my week of snack-making hell fun, I made cheese and veggie muffins. I had originally planned to make these delicious and nutritious muffins for Thursday and give the kiddos the mini s’mores as a Friday/End of Week treat, but I failed to remember (until after the groceries were purchased) that my miserably small Korean oven can only handle one muffin pan at a time, so I needed the extra time to bake 4 dozen muffins. And please excuse my lack of a photo of the muffins. I was too busy taking photos of a certain adorable 9 month old. 😉 But you can take my word for it–they’re pretty and colorful!

Cheese and Veggie Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
4 eggs
6 slices of white bread (cut into small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste

Makes approx. 1 dozen regular-sized muffins

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Do not use paper cupcake wrappers. The paper will stick to the muffins and will not come off easily.
2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (or until tops of muffins are golden brown).

Easy peasy! 😉

I actually have no idea how well these muffins went over with the kids. My children will eat anything and everything, including spinach and red bell peppers. However, the cheesiness of the muffins mask the taste of the (healthy) veggies, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that non-veggie lovers would be willing to give it a try. When I make these muffins for my family, I also add BACON because… well, bacon. Just chop up some cooked (but not crispy) bacon and add to the mix.

 

Now that my houseguests have gone home and my week of snack responsibilities have ended… I can return to the lunacy of the everyday that is my life with three kids. 😉

Making Kimjang Kimchi: A Family Tradition

The beginning of December is a VERY busy time for families in Korea–not because of the upcoming holidays or the rush to buy gifts for family and friends (because strangely enough, Christmas is more of an unmarried couple’s holiday)–but because it’s the time of year to MAKE KIMCHI. Lots and lots of kimchi. Koreans prepare and make enough 김장김치 (kimjang kimchi) to last an entire year. Kimjang kimchi is different from the kimchi you’re probably used to: the stuff you find in restaurants or what’s sold at the grocery story. This is old school kimchi. The kind that was buried underground in kimchi pots. The kind that kimchi refrigerators were created for.

Kimjang kimchi is not for the faint of heart. Imagine the fermented taste of regular kimchi. Then multiply it by 100. You’ve got kimjang kimchi. But it’s the kind of kimchi that’s perfect to eat with grilled pork. It’s fabulous in kimchi jigae (kimchi stew). And if you’ve got fresh tofu, wrap it up in some kimjang kimchi and enjoy!

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy have a taste of homemade kimjang kimchi, then here’s what you should know about how it’s made. Chances are, anywhere from 5-20 women (and men too!) came together to worked on it for days. Often, it’s relatives (sisters in my mom’s case), but since families are now more spread out, friends often set up a schedule and go from home to home to help with the process.

There’s a rather strict schedule to follow. The cabbage has to be harvested before the first hard frost. It has to be cut, washed, salted and rinsed. The seasoning has to be mixed and combined with the prepared cabbage. The kimchi has to be divided and bagged and properly packaged to be placed into kimchi refrigerators. And since younger generations of Koreans don’t have the free days and days off from work, the older generations make enough to package and ship to their children’s families.

Here are my mom, her sisters, and their husbands preparing and transforming 300 heads of cabbage in kimjang kimchi!

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Each halved head of cabbage has to be seasoned. The kimchi mixture is inserted into the layers of the cabbage leaves.
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Oh, and look! My mommy is wearing a hat I crocheted for her! 😉
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Here’s my uncle stirring a VAT of kimchi seasoning.
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That’s a lot of kimchi seasoning…

And lucky me–I will be receiving my part of this wonderful kimjang kimchi in the mail tomorrow! 🙂 Will have to take the beer and soda out of my kimchi fridge to make room!

 

A Month’s Worth of Fun School Lunches!

The month of September was a difficult one for my kids and me. Don’t get me wrong–my boys have been having a WONDERFUL time at kindergarten, and they’re thriving, but it was definitely a month of transitions and of mommy being stretched reeeeeeeally thin, at times. My husband was traveling for work for half the month, so I had to do everything alone. This wasn’t the first time he’s traveled for work, but it was the first time I was home with SCHOOL-AGED children. Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up–all on a strict schedule–is exhausting. Really, really exhausting. And to top it all off, all 3 of my kids have been sick at some point during my husband’s 2 weeks out of town. Figures… :-p

Anyway, one way I’ve been able to squeeze in some creative crafting time during the past month while barely managing to keep my head above water is with my boys’ school lunches. Something productive (that has to be done) and something pretty in one!

So here’s my month’s worth of fun (and easy) school lunches with brief descriptions of how I made them:

Some helpful tips about making school lunches:

  • Make a weekly schedule. It takes a bit of time to put a weekly meal schedule together, but it ends up saving time in the long run. Plus, it alleviates the stress of “WHAT AM I GOING TO PACK FOR LUNCH!!!” the night before. Here’s a free printable for planning a week’s worth of meals.
  • There are many, many tools to make your life easier such as cookie cutters, cute bento-box animal picks, rice molds, and nori cutters. Living in Korea, I have easy and inexpensive access to many of these items, but they’re also available on Amazon. For “specialty” bento box tools such as the animal picks and nori cutters, just do a quick search.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. I usually prep fruits and vegetables the night before and stick the containers in the fridge. That just leaves rice balls and/or sandwiches for the morning. Keep in mind that some foods don’t reheat very well (such as the rice balls) so those must be prepped the morning off. Nori must also be used immediately after cutting. The humidity in the room will cause it to curl (or dry out too much) if you wait too long after cutting it to use it. This is why nori-cutters are so useful!
  • Leftovers are your friend! During the week, I specifically make a couple of dinners with leftovers for lunch in mind. Also, serve breakfast for lunch. Kids won’t mind! One of the biggest challenges for me is thinking about lunch-appropriate meals, but who says they have to eat “lunch” at lunch time? Egg mari is a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, so I make it fairly regularly for my kids. It’s basically just a sliced up omelet. I also make bacon, egg, cheese and toast muffins, which are technically a breakfast food, but the kids love it. They’ll eat it for breakfast before they go to school, then eat it again for lunch the same day. 😉

For me, packing my kids’ lunches is something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it and don’t stress about not doing enough for your children! When I started posting photos of my kids’ lunches on Instagram, my friends began responding with things like “You’re making me feel like a crappy mom.” 🙁 First of all, my kids would be just as happy with a plain ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They don’t need or ask for variety. Secondly, by the time they open their lunch boxes at school, my cute little bento creations are a COMPLETE MESS. Their lunch box goes into their backpacks every morning. And every morning, they run down the stairs of our apartment building. They run from the car to their classroom. They may even fall down, roll down a hill, jump over puddles, do a few jumping jacks, or run an obstacle course on their way. I’ve joined them for lunch from time to time, and their bento boxes are utterly unrecognizable. So basically, their lunches are for photographic purposes only. 😉 I do, however, show the boys their lunches before I put their lunch boxes into their backpacks so it’s not a complete waste. Haha!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!

Happy Lunch-Making!

A Midsummer Night’s Cocktail Party in Seoul

If there’s something I love as much as crafting, it’s throwing parties. I love having friends over for the great conversation and memories, but for someone who is very detail-oriented, there’s something about putting together a party that gets me super excited and into full-on work mode! After all the fuss and planning of the Rainbow War Party for kids, I really wanted to do something for and with my own grown-up friends, and what’s more grown up than a fancy cocktail party???

My husband–the former bartender–and I put together a simple, summery cocktail menu. We wanted a bit of variety, but we also wanted to keep things relatively simple so he wouldn’t spend the entire evening mixing drinks. We settled on three drinks that were contemporary twists on classic cocktails:

Cocktail MenuWith all three drinks, we prepared and mixed as much as possible, so when it came to actually pouring the drinks, there was very little to do. In addition to the cocktail menu, I prepared take-home recipe cards of the drinks we served for our guests.

Cocktail Recipe CardsAll three of the drinks we prepared contained mint, which (to me at least) is a quintessential summer herb. I love the smell of mint, and having recently taken a trip to Vietnam with my husband where fresh herbs like mint, cilantro and basil are at the center of their cuisine, I decided to have an Asian-inspired food menu: fried spring rolls, fresh summer rolls, soba noodle salad with wasabi and lemon vinaigrette and Asian meatballs with a sweet sesame sauce.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Cha Gia, or Vietnamese spring rolls, are just delicious. The ingredients are simple, but making them is a labor of love. I made the rolls the night before the party and deep fried them, then fried them again slightly just before the party. My deep fryer could only handle 7 rolls at a time, so it took a while… The spring rolls were served with nuoc cham, or seasoned Vietnamese fish sauce.

Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are one of my favorite foods ever. They are, as their name suggests, the perfect summer food. Plus, they’re filling and quite pretty to look at! 😉 The summer rolls were served with a homemade spicy peanut sauce.

Soba Noodle Salad

 

The soba noodle salad is simple yet flavorful salad that’s perfect for parties where you guests may or may not have eaten dinner before coming. Although this particular party was a cocktail party, and I didn’t plan to have a full dinner spread, I knew that some of my guests may not have had dinner before arriving since the party kicked off at 7pm. Soba noodles are quite filling, and since the noodles are served cold, it’s an easy dish to throw together just minutes before guests arrive.

Sweet Sesame MeatballsMeatballs are a perfect bite-sized appetizer for parties, but they’re not too exciting. So I added some delicious peanut and soy sauce based sauce, sprinkle some sesame seeds on it them, and voila! They’re sweet and savory and sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

After a fun two hours at our place, we ventured out to Perfl, a local cocktail performance bar. If you’re in Seoul and would like to see some impressive bottle tossing and twirling, flaming shots, and bar tricks, definitely check this place out! They regularly perform around 10pm (sometimes later), and the staff is amazing.

I spent the day after our cocktail party in full-on recovery mode, but a wasted Sunday was well worth the previous evening’s fun.

P.S. Stay tuned for recipes for all the edible goodies from the party!

 

 

 

Recipe: Steamed Korean Sweet Squash Stuffed w/ Smoked Duck Breast

steamed korean squash w/ smoked duckYou may have read in a previous post that I love duck. My husband loves duck. Our children love duck. It’s like the bacon of poultry. Only better. This recipe is inspired by a dish we tried out at an amazing duck shabu-shabu restaurant here in Seoul–we couldn’t eat enough of it. We don’t often eat Korean sweet squash, or kabocha, because, well, it’s a bit too sweet for our tastes, but as the oh-so-delicious and savory duck fat soaks into the squash, it cuts some of the sweetness and turns it into perfection! Yes, I know I’m being dramatic, but really… It’s that good!

This dish would be appropriate as an appetizer or as a dish served at a cocktail party. Korean sweet squash is relatively small, so (sadly) you can only stuff a limited amount of duck breast into the squash.

Also, smoked duck is very easily found in most grocery stores and marts in Korea, so this recipe is simple to prepare if you live in Korea. However, acquiring smoked duck breast is more challenging in the States. You would either need a smoker to prepare your own duck, or smoked duck can be purchased from online retailers like Nueske’s or D’Artagnan.

Steamed Korean Sweet Squash Stuffed with Smoked Duck

Paleo / Whole30

approx. 1/4 lb of smoked duck breast, sliced
one small onion, sliced
3-4 green onions, diced
one Korean sweet squash

1. Combine the duck breast, onion and green onions in a mixing bowl and set aside.

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2. With a sharp knife, very carefully cut into the top of the squash to create a removable lid. Removing the top can be a bit challenging since the seeds and fibers in the center of the squash hold onto the “lid.” This takes a bit of strength–I usually call my husband in to give me a hand!

korean sweet squash3. Scoop out all the seeds and fibers from the center of the squash with a spoon.

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4. Turn the squash over and cut 3-4 slits into the bottom of the squash to allow liquid to drain out as it cooks.

5. Stuff the squash with the duck/onion mixture.

duck stuffed korean sweet squash

6. Replace the lid and steam for 45 minutes or until squash is tender.

7. Very carefully remove the squash from the steamer–it will be VERY HOT! Place on a plate or serving dish and slice into 12 pieces.

steamed korean squash w/ smoked duck

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Recipe: Galbi-tang, Korean Beef Rib Soup

 

Galbi-tang

Galbi-tang is one of my husband’s favorite Korean dishes, mostly because he loves meat. While he was doing Whole30, it was virtually impossible for us to get our Korean food fix since so much Korean cuisine contains soy and sugar. From delicious, sticky, white rice to kimchi to all the various side-dishes, all the things that contain soy sauce and sugar… Basically everything except samgyupsal (thick strips of pork belly, aka uncured bacon) and lettuce wraps was off limits.

However, there is one dish that we thoroughly enjoyed throughout the Whole30 experience–Galbi-tang–a beef-based soup full of thick cuts of beef ribs. It’s a simple dish with very basic ingredients. And trust me. It’s delicious.

This recipe isn’t difficult, but it requires a bit of prep work. I make the stock/soup base the day before we plan to eat it. Skimming the layer of fat off the soup is probably the most time-consuming part, but overall, it’s a very easy soup to make and well-worth the bit of planning/time management you have to do to make it!

Galbi-tang, Korean Beef Rib Soup

Paleo/Whole30

Serves 5

6-7 lbs of short cut beef ribs (can be purchased at Korean grocery stores–the thick cut short ribs are preferred for the soup)
1 Korean radish (cut in 1/4 inch thick squares)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tbsp salt
4-6 scallions (diced)
freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 lb dangmyeon or Korean sweet potato noodles, optional (Typically sold in 1 lb bags. There’s much debate over whether or not sweet potato noodles are Whole30 compliant. I’m not here to judge. You decide!)

Prep (day before)

1. Place the ribs in a large bowl and fill with cold water, covering the ribs entirely. Let this sit for about an hour. The blood in the meat will drain out.

Galbi-tang prep

2. Drain the water and rinse the ribs. Place in a large pot (I use an 8 qt. pot) and fill the pot with water. Add garlic and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.

3. Turn off the heat and just let it hang out and cool overnight!

Cook (the day of)

1. When the soup has cooled completely, there will be a rather thick layer of congealed fat on top. Skim off as much of the fat as possible, and if you’d like, use a strainer to get the smaller bits of fat out.

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2. As you reheat the soup, peel and cut the Korean radish and scallions.

3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil to cook the dangmyeon. Once the water is boiling, add the dangmyeon and cook for about 5 minutes until noodles are soft but still chewy. Drain and set aside.

4. Once the soup is boiling, add the Korean radish and boil for approximately 15 minutes (until the radish has cooked through–soft but not mushy).

5. To serve, place a handful of dangmyeon in a bowl and add soup and approximately 1 tbsp of diced scallions. Add salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

 

Recipe: Perfect Pan-Fried Tilapia

perfect pan-fried tilapia

My family loves seafood in all forms–fried, baked, steamed, raw. Shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, squid, octopus. You name it. They’ll eat it. Excitement abounds from my little foodie children when I tell them we’re having fish for dinner, so imagine my delight when tonight’s dinner elicited not only squeals of delight before dinner, but sounds of nom nom nom and second and third helpings during dinner!

This dish calls for duck fat, but if you don’t have duck fat, olive oil or coconut oil are great alternatives. However, a word about duck fat. I love it. It’s amazing. Imagine your favorite foods. Yummy… Now imagine them cooked in duck fat. Oh my... Yes, it’s that good. Acquiring duck fat isn’t the easiest thing. It’s not sold in stores, so you have to drain it out of the duck yourself. Luckily, in Korea, duck is abundant and relatively inexpensive. Pick up a pack of smoked duck breast at your local mart and just collect the drippings as you grill it. (I collect the duck fat in a ceramic bowl then strain it with a small strainer as I pour it into a jar.) One duck breast will give you about a cup of duck fat. In the U.S., your best bet is to go to your local Asian grocery story. Whole ducks can be found in the frozen section for far less than you’d pay at a specialty grocery store. Roasting a whole duck and collecting the drippings will give you about 1.5 to 2 cups of fat. Double yum! If you’ve never roasted a duck before, then here’s an excellent tutorial from someone who may possible love duck fat even more than I do! 😉

Perfect Pan-Fried Tilapia Recipe

Paleo/Whole30

1 large bag of tilapia fillets (defrosted) – a large bag typically contains 11-12 individually sealed fillets. For my family, I cooked the entire bag and we only had 2 fillets left for my husband to take to for lunch!
2 eggs
2 cups of almond meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp tarragon
approx. 4 tbsp of duck fat

1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and set aside.

2. In another bowl, thoroughly combine almond meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and tarragon.

3. Add about 1 tbsp of duck fat to skillet over medium heat.

4. Dredge tilapia fillets in egg, then thoroughly coat with almond meal mixture. Place on the skillet and do not move the fillets until you’re ready to flip them–approx. 4 minutes. This insures a nice, crispy coating. Flip the fillets, add a small amount of duck fat to the skillet (approx. 1/2 tbsp) and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Enjoy!

Obviously, with 11 fillets to cook, I have to repeat the cooking process a couple more times since skillets only get so big… But so worth it! I served this with steamed broccoli. Huge hit with my kiddos, and my husband said this was by far the best tilapia he’s ever had so give it a try!

Weekly Meal Planning

As I mentioned recently in a previous post, I started meal planning a few months ago. I was tired of the “what are we eating for dinner?” panic attacks every afternoon around 3pm, rummaging through the fridge and pantry to try and whip something up before the 6pm deadline. The first several weeks, I spent my entire Friday night googling and reading recipes, going through ingredients and trying to figure out what to feed my hungry horde (exciting, huh?). The focus on fresh, healthy ingredients and my husband going on Whole30 made the beginning of this venture a bit more challenging for me, but thankfully, Pinterest always has my back!

There are so many wonderful recipes to try, but time is a very large, limiting factor in my meal planning. During the week, I need recipes that don’t require too much prep work because my 2 year old daughter is usually grabbing my legs and trying to climb back into the womb every day during dinner prep. Either that, or she’s trying to burn the house down/kill herself by playing with the oven controls or reaching up onto the counter for every sharp, dangerous item she can find. Between chopping vegetables, mixing marinades and seasoning meats–I like to keep prep work under 30 minutes. Cook time doesn’t matter as much since by the time I actually cook food, my husband’s home from work and can keep the kids occupied while I get dinner on the table. Also, I’ve really come to love slow cooker meals. Meats come out so wonderfully juicy and tender, plus I don’t have to cook anything in the early evenings–AKA my daughter’s witching hour. However, I’m out of the house every Tuesday/Thursday morning, so I can’t prep slow cooker meals on those days–I figured this out the hard way!

Now that I’m several weeks into the meal planning adventure, it takes about 10-15 minutes every Friday evening to plan a week’s worth of meals and make my grocery list. And, of course, having a pretty printout that looks nice on the refrigerator is of primo importance! So here it is…

Weekly Menu and Grocery List

Click on the links below to download the PDF files! Enjoy!

weekly menu

grocery list