Category Archives: Dinner menus

Janessa and Kara’s Semi-Annual Asian(ish) Feast

No one really knows how it started, but when Janessa and I are in the same place for at least a day at a time and have a kitchen available, there will be a feast, and that feast will almost always be Asian inspired. It probably began back in the day, when the family would make “Chinese” food for Christmas Eve dinner. (“Chinese” because it was probably only slightly authentic. Oh well.) Eventually, the two sisters parted ways as Janessa moved to Colorado and I moved to Germany with Mom and Dad. But, like all good stories, we got together at least once a year and then, suddenly, began planning Asian(ish) feasts of epic proportions.

There was always Chow Mein, and some sort of vegetable stir fry. Sometimes there was Chinese BBQ Pork. Then, we started making egg rolls. I even found a recipe for Egg Drop Soup. As the sisters grew up, so did the meals. They might not have become more authentic, but they definitely became more delicious – which is where we are today!

I recently visited Janessa and company for a bit, and she and I made a hugegigantic Asian(ish) feast.

This time there happened to be a lot of meat: scallion turkey meatballs, Chinese barbecue pork, and beef and broccoli. (We can’t help it, we grew up on a farm.)

Everyone agreed: this was the best feast yet.

We made Smitten Kitchen’s scallion meatballs, egg rolls with a mango-y dipping sauce, Chinese barbecue pork, a variation of this ginger fried rice (we kinda love Smitten Kitchen), and beef and broccoli with oyster sauce.

The kids even liked the food! There was a little dancing, and a lot of Britney Spears.


Here is our recipe for the Chinese barbecue pork. The pork is really, really good dipped in hot Chinese mustard and toasted sesame seeds.

Chinese Barbecue Pork
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 

Note: the pork will be nicely moist and very delicious if you marinate it overnight plus throughout the day you plan on cooking it (about 20 hours), so plan accordingly.

  •  2 pork tenderloins, about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or you could use honey or agave syrup)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sake or sherry (we used Fu-ki Sake)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or if you’re feeling lazy, you could use about 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground ginger. We did!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or if you’re still feeling lazy, you could use a teaspoonish of garlic powder. We, well, did.)
  • red food coloring, if you want it to look more pretty (we didn’t, but we should have, maybe)

Combine marinade ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish (or a plastic bag placed in a baking dish in case of spills). Place tenderloins in marinade and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Turn pork over the next morning, and continue marinating until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Cook to an internal temperature of 155 degrees, which will probably be about 30 minutes. (It’s very easy if you have one of those thermometers that lets you put the probe in and then has a reader that’s outside of the oven.)

Let sit at least 10 minutes, and then slice into 1/4 inch or so slices. This would also be good chopped up and mixed into fried rice, or even just piled in thin slices on top of fried rice or a noodle dish.


Janessa and Kara

p.s. Chinese New Year is January 23. Wouldn’t you like some nice scallion meatballs or Chinese barbecue pork to celebrate? We thought so.

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On dinner, crushes, and Communists

So, I have to admit something.

I have a food blogger crush.

There! I said it. I’ve already told Braeden, so worry not, it’s no secret. But, you see, well, I have a huge crush on a food blogger named Molly, of Orangette. She’s funny, witty, an excellent writer, likes loves chocolate, uses words like “lovely” and warns people of her geekiness, stays up into the wee hours of the morning writing yet fears sleeping in too late, drinks wine, has a podcast, makes a mean gin and tonic, and she forgot the sugar one time, too. I am her/want to be her. Also, she has crushes on people as well, so I feel nary a bit of creep admitting that I have a crush on her. So, there.

I’ve been going through all of her posts from the beginning of her blog-writing days, which started back in 2004, and happened upon a post praising the sadly unappreciated cabbage. Now, cabbage and I? We’ve been friends for a while. Even if we hadn’t been friends, I would have been forced to befriend this hearty, tough, and yet unpretentious vegetable since I lived in Germany for five years with ol’ ma and pa, and then chose to study Russian, go to Russia, and love all things Russian. Ze Russians und Germans, they know a thing or two about their cabbage. In fact, I have a lovely little soup recipe that will not only make you love cabbage, but also beets. By and by, why do so many people in the U.S. shy away from cabbage and beets? Is it because they’re sometimes red, and therefore Communist? I mean, I guess that makes sense*, but…..

Anyways. This post is not about the soup nor Communism; that will come at a later date. (The soup, that is.) This post is about dinner the other night, and an epic dinner it was. The whole day was an epic food day, really. I made this rustic white bread, this peach butter, and these pickled peppers (Mom and I, we think alike). That was all just for fun, though. Wednesdays are usually my day off, which in turn means lots of food to be cooked.

A few hours of Netflix watching and wine drinking later came the dinner preparations: I made this braised red cabbage from my aforementioned crush, this corn and potato soup with a few adjustments (I only had two puny, shrively potatoes, so I also used sweet potatoes. There are barely any leftovers. Sigh.), and some top-loin cut steaks, simply sauteed. Ah, dinner. You were too good. I didn’t even take a picture of this dinner; it was too good to make the effort of running upstairs and changing my camera batteries worthwhile. I did snap a photo on my phone, though:

This dinner is great, and you should make it. It’s such a good rainy week, beginning of fall meal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to, nay, need to go eat some of that cabbage.


*You may not know me very well yet – just in case you didn’t pick it up, that was sarcasm.

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