Category Archives: Recipes

How To Host A Mongolian BBQ

So every year my lovely and talented friend Tasha throws a Mongolian BBQ for her boyfriend Mike on his birthday. The party is always a hit and every year it gets bigger and bigger. Let me preface this instruction with the notion that this party takes a lot of prep! I only help dice and slice and my hands still smell like garlic. But the result is always amazing. You can base the amount of food you prep depending on the number of party goers. I would suggest starting small, a dozen or so people and work your way up to Tasha and Mike’s level of 50-100. Here’s what you’ll need:

Equipment:

  • An outdoor wok or a grill with a flat tray to grill up your food
  • A meat slicer – otherwise you’ll be doing it all by hand
  • Disposable bowls for raw ingredients
  • Bowls for finished product
  • Clothespins for identifying whose bowl is whose
  • Utensils for cooking and eating including chopsticks for fun

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Sauces:  Make as many as you can for diverse tastes. Garlic water is always the biggest hit so make plenty. Add boiling water or chicken broth to ingredients to bring out the most flavor and let cool. Water is what makes the food cook quickly and evenly. So be sure to have plenty of flavored water on hand. Here are some of the ones Tasha offered.

  • Garlic Water
  • Garlic Lemon
  • Sweet and Sour
  • Hoisin Wasabi
  • Mushroom and Eggplant
  • Ginger and Black Pepper
  • Hot Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sugar water

Meats and Noodles: Slicing can be done days in advance and frozen until the day of the party. Soba noodles can be cooked the night before and left in a drizzle of sesame oil to keep them from sticking together.

  • Sliced Beef
  • Slice Chicken
  • Sliced Pork
  • Large Shrimp
  • Diced Tofu
  • Soba Noodles

Vegetables: Be sure to dice in similar sizes so that the food cooks evenly. Include anything you would enjoy in a stir fry type meal. Some of these can done the day before but most are best when done the day of the party.

  • Bok Choy
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Green Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Celery
  • Pea Pods
  • Peppers
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Green peas
  • Baby Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sesame seeds
  • Peanuts

Guest Prep: Making signs with instructions is the easiest way to let guests know how the process works. We got inventive with our list:

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Cooking:
Be sure your wok or grill is nice and hot before you begin. Here in Florida, the chef gets pretty warm in the outdoor kitchen so be sure to keep the cold beverages coming. It’s best to have 2 chefs so one can cover for the other so everyone can enjoy the party. It also helps to have a sous chef of sorts to help keep bowls in the order they were turned in.

Bowls cook really quickly. Add oil to the wok before adding a bowl. Constantly stir to get an even cook on all pieces. Be sure to cook chicken and pork thoroughly. Beware of any guests with allergies. We couldn’t do shrimp or pineapple for this reason. Be sure to clean your wok with water occasionally to get out old pieces of food that may burn and effect future bowls. Also clean after your friend who likes things spicy has theirs done. You don’t want a 5 year old getting residual heat in their bowl.

A constant stream of bowls will be coming in so it’s best to have the prep chef not be the same as the chef that cooks the bowls. Because, well… exhaustion. Be sure to have a pitcher of plain water on hand for guests who didn’t add enough liquid to their bowl. Bowl should be filled to the brim with water after meats and veggies are added.

And this is me, a happy girl with a bowl of Mongolian! Enjoy your Mongolian Barbeque!

mongolian

 

Vikki’s Turkey Frame Soup

Prep time 10 minutes. Cook time 1-1/2 hours.

  • Turkey frame
  • Water
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves or 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 stalks of diced celery
  • 1 cup carrots diced
  • 3 cups of long grain and wild rice

(I use fresh herbs from my garden, if you use fresh triple these amounts)

herbs

(I adjust all ingredients based on the size of the pot, amount of turkey meat, etc. It always turns out good so go forward fearlessly)

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First, remove all decent pieces of white meat from the bird for your other dishes, the dark meat actually makes a better soup. I try to set aside the legs for making soup. If you’re left with mostly bones your soup will still be good. Try to remove as much stuffing as possible. Try to refrigerate the frame as soon as you have finished your turkey meal. A turkey frame will keep for a few days in the fridge before you need to make your soup. Set aside a day when you’re working around the house as this is a slow recipe done in stages.

Next, Pull out the biggest pot you own.

If your turkey frame is bigger than your pot break it with kitchen shears and fill pot with water to cover most of the frame. Add onion and garlic. (You’ll notice I don’t add salt at any point, this is low sodium by design – if you do add salt do it at the end after you’ve had a taste, a lot of salt comes naturally from the turkey since you basted it in butter no doubt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover and simmer for 1 and a half hours.

Remove turkey frame carefully from pot and set on large dish or cutting board. Use a slotted spoon to go through broth looking for bones that fell off.  If you like you can strain broth through a sieve and return broth to the pot.

Let frame cool to a temperature you can handle. Meat will be easy to remove from frame. Carefully go through frame pulling off pieces and set aside and return small bits directly to pot. Chop larger pieces into bite sized pieces and return to pot.

Be leery of rubbery cartilage bits, skin and tiny bones. It’s best to feel your way through the turkey meat looking for unsavory bits. 

Stir in tomatoes, bouillon, herbs, pepper and rice. Return to boiling, reduce heat cover and simmer 25 minutes.

Time to taste! I love to throw in whatever is needed, maybe salt, more thyme or whatever you feel is needed.

Your soup is ready! I like to serve it with a nice crusty chunk of buttered French bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake (Jiffy Mix)

corncake

Many have asked for my sweet corn cake recipe so I thought I’d put it up here so you can make it too. It’s embarrassingly simple.

1 box Jiffy Corn muffin mix,

1 can of creamed corn,

1 stick of melted butter.

Mix together and bake at 425 for 30 minutes. I double, triple and quadruple the recipe depending on the crowd (more time needed for a fuller pan). When done a toothpick will come out clean. I also use a aluminum disposable cake pan so no dish to clean or bring home from a party.

Papa Dennis’s Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 medium or 3 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (about 6 ounces each)
Salt
½ cup Minute Rice that has been pre-cooked and set aside to cool.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
12 ounces ground round
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Beef flavor
2 Tablespoons red wine
1 (14 ½ ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with ¼ cup juice reserved
4 ounces Cabot Vermont White Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 T chopped fresh parsley (or 1 t dried)
Ground black pepper
¼ cup ketchup

Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Remove about ¾ inch from the top of each pepper. Remove the seeds and inner membranes from the peppers. After extracting the stem from each removed top, finely dice the rings of pepper flesh that remains

Bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the peppers to the boiling water and cook until the peppers just begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers from the pot, drain off the excess water, and place the peppers upside down on paper towels to dry.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Add the onion and the diced pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion and pepper are softened and onions are beginning to lightly brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground beef, breaking beef into small pieces with a spoon. Cook until beef is browned. Make a well in the center of the meat mixture and stir in the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix garlic well into meat. Again, make a well in the center of the meat mixture and stir in the bouillon. Deglaze the entire pan with the red wine and remove meat mixture from heat. Add the cooked rice, drained tomatoes, cheese and the parsley to the meat mixture and combine until cheese is fairly well melted into the mix. Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir together the ketchup and the reserved tomato juice in a small bowl.

Place the peppers, cut side up, into a large casserole or baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Using a soup spoon, divide the filling evenly among the peppers, pressing down with the spoon (or fingers) as you go to compress mixture into each pepper. Slightly over-fill each pepper.

Line the baking dish around the peppers with any remaining meat mixture. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and drizzle remains over mix in the dish that is outside the pepper cups.

Bake until the filling is heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

(I love you dad!)

Vikki's Shrimp Pasta Salad

Vikki’s Shrimp Pasta Salad

Like shrimp? This cold pasta salad is always a hit at barbecues and cookouts. Living in Florida this can be almost every weekend. I wait for frozen shrimp to go on sale and stock up for this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds medium shrimp cooked, deveined and tails pieces off.
2 packets Dry Hidden Valley Ranch (get the one for dressing not dip)
16 oz. of sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups of frozen peas
1 ½ cups shredded carrot (I buy matchstick carrots)
1 red pepper, diced small
2 boxes bowtie pasta (Al Dente)
Paprika

Cook pasta according to box directions (don’t forget the salt), drain, run under cold water until pasta is cool. While pasta is cooking combine dry packet, sour cream, mayo and milk, stir until smooth. Take 10 shrimp and dice them, add them to sauce. Add remaining full shrimp. (I set aside a few to put on the top of the dish for presentation). Add peas, carrot, and red pepper, stir until all ingredients are coated. Add cooled pasta. Stir. Add paprika for color and decorative shrimp.

Notes:
I cook pasta al dente because it absorbs the sauce and gets more tender as it sits.

I never use small salad shrimp for this recipe, because they can’t be properly deveined they have a funky taste in my opinion, and folks love big, fat shrimp.

I add the peas while they are still frozen, they keep the pasta cold on the way to its destination and are thawed by the time the salad is served. If serving immediately allow peas to thaw before beginning.

I pack it to go to the cookout in those disposable baking pans with a lid so I don’t lose yet another large bowl to a friend. I will usually divide the recipe into two smaller pans so one can be set out to serve and the other tucked in the fridge or cooler until the first one runs out (It always runs out).

Whenever I ask what I can bring to a party, the resounding answer is always “Your shrimp pasta salad, of course”