Sunday, February 11, 2018

Slow Cooker Kimchi Stew with Beef



 If you know me, you know that I'm not a sports fan. Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Football, I don't discriminate, I don't watch or follow any of it. I recently showed up at my brother's Superbowl party, and I may or may not have been greeted with a "wow, what are you doing here?" kind of a vibe. LOL (tbh, I think that was the first time I watched any football game since I was in high school. Not even kidding) But I figured since everyone was so hyped about the Eagles playing, I might as well join in the excitement.
 There is, however, one exception to my non-interest in sports, and that is The Olympics. The ceremonies, the personal stories, the lifelong dreams, the culture of the host country, I love ALL of it and I'm absolutely glued to the TV for the 2 1/2 weeks that they're on. I even record several channels that air the different events so I won't miss anything. 100% true story!
 So, now, I know I've talked about this before, but one thing my family always does every Olympics, is we have a hang at my sister Jeanie's house, and everyone brings a kind of food from a different country. Polish sausages, Mexican dips, Italian desserts, Asian appetizers, it turns out to be quite a spread! (Special USA shout out to David for bringing wings and to Gregger who brought a tray of McDonalds cheeseburgers! LOL)
 I always make something in honor of the host nation, so I decided to try my hand at Korean food, since this year's Olympics are being held in PyeongChang. And, of course, this means it should probably involve their national dish, Kimchi, which traditionally is a spicy and sour fermented cabbage dish that is served with nearly every meal. From what I've been told, Kimchi is kind of sacred and most Koreans feel like if they haven't eaten Kimchi, then they haven't eaten yet that day. To be quite honest, I had never even tasted Kimchi let alone cooked with it, so I did a lot of googling.
 I happened to find this recipe on a blog called My Korean Kitchen. The blogger mentioned that she had been wanting to try using a slow cooker for some of her Korean recipes, and I figured this one seemed to be perfect for our Olympics night. I made my list of ingredients, and off to the Asian market I went. Perfect!
 The recipe is absurdly easy to make because you literally just throw everything into a slow cooker, turn it to low, and leave it there for about 8 hours. And OMG it is SO flavorful! It has just a little spicy poke, but you can adjust that to your liking. (tbh, I don't like something that will burn my face off, but I do like a little afterburn.) Anyway, overall, I think my first attempt at Korean food was a HUGE success. I'm definitely awarding myself a gold medal for this one! If you want something warm and comforting with a little spicy hit, you should definitely consider trying this one. It's absolutely delicious!


4 cups Kimchi cut into bite sized pieces
2 lbs chuck steak
2 cups water 
1 Tbsp minced garlic  
1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
2 tbs rice wine
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) - can reduce this to make it less spicy 
1 tbs gochujang (Korean chili paste)

Rinse the steak in cold running water to get rid of the blood. Pat it dry with some kitchen paper. Cut them into small chunk pieces. Add all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set the slow cooker on low heat and cook it for 8 hours. Stir it a bit occasionally. (The food is ready to eat from the 5th hour. However, an additional three-hour simmering makes the Kimchi and the meat even more tender.) Serve the stew with rice once it is cooked.
 Tips:
You can use any kind of meant instead of (or in addition to) the beef, but just be sure to choose something that is not so lean (as suggested on the original recipe). I used beef, but I also added some pork belly. The meat becomes much more tender and the fat melts into the stew and makes it rich and SO flavorful!
I didn't have rice wine, so I used dry sherry. I believe you can also use sake or mirin. And instead of using the gochujang, I used sambal oelek, which is another kind of chili paste. Absolutely delish!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Nutella Swirled Cheesecake Bars


 If you love Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) as much as I do, then you simply MUST try this recipe. It's from Pillsbury, so you already know that it's gonna be amazing, and OMG wait'll you taste it! I was looking for a picky-uppy dessert something, and as soon as I saw it, I couldn't wait to try it. Actually, I'm not even kidding when I say that. I stopped what I was doing, went to the store to buy the ingredients, and made them as soon as I got home. And of course they were as decadent as I thought they'd be!
 I've literally made them twice in as many weeks. The first time I made them was just as a little thank you to my friend Anthony, who said that "they might be his favorite thing ever." Then I made them for a my friend Marie's dinner party where they got RAVE reviews from everyone! I PROMISE you'll get the same reviews when you make them too!
 The only challenge is to not run out of Nutella before you go to make them! Does anyone else find it difficult to not eat it with a spoon right out of the jar? Uh.. I mean... I'm asking for a friend...



1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury™ Ready to Bake!™ refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup Nutella™ hazelnut spread


 Heat oven to 350°F. 
Place cookies in ungreased 13x9-inch pan. Press dough evenly into pan. Bake 9 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over baked crust. In small microwavable bowl, microwave hazelnut spread uncovered on High 10 to 20 seconds to soften. Drop teaspoonfuls of spread on cream cheese mixture. With knife, carefully swirl spread into top of cream cheese mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.
 
 
Tips:
My only thought about the recipe is that I wish the bars were THICKER (because, as I always say, more is more!) Both the crust and the filling are very thin, which is perfect when you're just picking them up to eat them. But I wonder what it would be like to increase the recipe by half, or maybe even DOUBLE it to have a more of a swirled cheese CAKE, know what I mean? I will definitely be giving this a try. Of course, I'll let you know how it goes!
 If you'd like to make the crust from scratch, just use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it seems to me that this is one instance where store bought is just as good!