Vietnamese Pork Meatballs

I’ve seen versions of these Asian meatballs floating around the Pinterest boards, and with my love for all things Vietnamese, I knew I had to try to whip up my own version!  These turned out so perfectly crispy and browned on the outside while staying nice and tender – wow.  The coleslaw worked perfectly served under the meatballs in the little lettuce cups, but it would also just be a great side dish for any Asian meal.

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For the Coleslaw:

-1/2 of a 16oz. bag of pre-made coleslaw (the kind with green cabbage and carrots)

-1-2 Tbsp mint, chopped

-1-2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

-2 green onions, sliced thin

-5-6 radishes, cut in half then sliced thin

-1/4 c. rice vinegar

-3 tsp mayonnaise

-2-3 tsp chili garlic sauce (found on the Asian aisle of the grocery store)

-1/2 tsp salt

For the Meatballs:

-1 lb. ground pork (the less fat the better)

-2 green onions, finely chopped

-1 inch ginger, grated

-4 garlic cloves, grated

-2 tsp fish sauce

-1 tsp sriracha

-1/2 tsp salt

-juice of 1 lime

-1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce to coat cooked meatballs

For Serving:

-lettuce leaves

-rice

-extra mint or cilantro

For the coleslaw, combine the coleslaw mix, mint, cilantro, green onions, and radishes in a bowl.  In a small container, combine the rice vinegar, mayonnaise, chili garlic sauce, and salt and whisk until it’s well combined.  Then pour the dressing over the slaw and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

For the meatballs, combine all of the ingredients except for the chili garlic sauce and mix with your hands until it’s combined.  Make sure you don’t over mix though or your meatballs will be tough.  Then roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and bake at 400° for about 15 minutes.

Once they are done cooking toss them lightly with the reserved chili garlic sauce and serve in lettuce cups with the coleslaw or over rice.  I like to garnish mine with a little extra mint or cilantro.

I knew I was going to love this meal, but I had no idea William and I would both be going back for seconds AND fighting over leftovers the next day! This will definitely be a recipe I’ll be making over and over again. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do!

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From Yard to Table – Fresh Basil Pesto

Growing up our parents made pesto every summer. I never really paid attention to how this was done but in college (and after) would love to leave Hattiesburg with a jar or two of frozen gold. Homemade pesto is one of my favorite things in the world, the grocery store stuff just does not compare.

This year I tested my green thumb out with a bed of wildflowers, and my mom suggested I add basil to the bed. Of course that hadn’t crossed my mind since I was on a flower kick, but the small basil plants that we added quickly turned into an abundance of the beautiful green herb. I set out of make my very own batch of pesto and was not disappointed. 

Pesto:

4 c. packed basil leaves

1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan

1/4 c. toasted pine nuts

1/3 c. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 tsp. sea salt

Bit of freshly ground black pepper

Wash and dry basil well, pulling leaves from the stems. If you want to buy basil for this I recommend going to Home Depot or your local garden center as small basil plants will be less expensive than fresh grocery store basil.

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet on your stove top. Be careful as nuts can burn so quickly. Stir them around for 3-4 minutes, and once you see a little bit of brown coming through remove them from the heat.

Combine all ingredients, besides olive oil into your food processor. I had to pull out my big food processor for this. Turn on Low and slowly drizzle your olive oil into the batch of ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as need be.

Taste and season to taste. 

  
Add to sandwiches, pastas, on top of salmon (easiest thing ever!), pizzas, etc. You cannot go wrong.

Enjoy!!

Healthy Banana Pancakes

I’ve been seeing different recipes for these banana “pancakes” floating around the blog-o-sphere for while now, and to put it nicely I was skeptical.  With only three main ingredients–bananas, eggs, and baking powder–these didn’t sound too appealing to me, but everyone was making them!  And it wasn’t just the health nuts anymore!  I had to try them, and…they’re awesome!  Ok, they definitely aren’t your average pancake, but they’re warm and fluffy with a delicately sweet flavor.  Plus you can add in any extras that you like–I like to add a little vanilla extract to mine and top them with toasted walnuts or berries.  Hop on the bandwagon; it’s a good one!

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Banana Pancakes

-1/2 banana

-1 egg

-2 pinches baking powder

-1 pinch salt

-butter or Earth Balance as needed for cooking

-syrup, nuts, berries, etc. to top

In a shallow bowl, smash the banana until completely smooth.  Then mix in the baking powder and salt.  Next add the egg and mix well.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and add butter or Earth Balance and cook your pancakes.  I usually get about six silver dollar sized pancakes out of one batch.  Your pancakes will not form bubbles on the top to tell you when to flip them, so make sure you keep an eye on them!  Serve with syrup, toasted nuts, berries, or whatever sounds good to you!  Enjoy!

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Tuesday’s Table – Vietnamese Noodle Bowl “Bun”

Bun or a Vietnamese rice noodle bowl, is one of our favorite dishes to get at Kien Giang – an authentic, hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant on Charlotte Ave. in Nashville. This recipe is gluten and dairy free, but you won’t feel like you are missing out on anything!

This is a great recipe for using “protein” leftovers. I often have leftover pork tenderloin, grilled chicken, or even steak and this is the perfect recipe to bring it back to life. You can also do this recipe with shrimp or chicken, recipes for those included. Besides leftovers shrimp would be the fastest option but if you have chicken on hand use that.

   
 
Nuoc Cham (sauce for veggies and noodles) –

  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 3 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 of a fresh jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)

Noodles and Veggies –

  • 1/2 package of rice noodles or vermicelli
  • 1 large carrot or 4-5 baby carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned
  • several romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
  • mint and basil, torn
  • 1/2 lime cut into wedges
  • lime zest (optional)
  • fresh jalapeno (optional)

  
Directions:

Cook the rice noodles according to the package (topped with boiling water for about 9 minutes) and cool by running them over cold water. *If using the brand Thai Kitchen (not recommended but widely available) stir constantly while topped with water.

Drain thoroughly and top noodles with meat, veggies and nuoc cham.

Serve and enjoy!!

Sauteed Shrimp –

  • 1 lb. shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Squeeze of lime juice

Directions:

  • Heat canola oil in a saute pan
  • Add shrimp then 1 minced clove of garlic and red pepper flakes
  • When shrimp are opaque they are done cooking, remove pan from the heat and squeeze lime on the shrimp.

Chicken –

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into thin, long pieces
  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (Tamari for GF recipe)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients for chicken marinade with the chicken in a large ziplock and let them marry for a couple of hours. When you are ready to eat, let this sit out for 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature before cooking in a very hot, preferably cast iron skillet.

Fresh Margaritas

All of this hot weather certainly calls for an ice cold cocktail, and nothing screams summertime to me like homemade margaritas!  This recipe is drawn from another margarita recipe by Julio Bermejo, a legend in the San Francisco bar scene and definitely the man you want to be making you a stiff drink.  While he suggests using agave instead of sugar, I was plum out of agave!  So I made a simple syrup instead.  Just heat 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Make sure you let this cool completely before adding it to your cocktail.  You can certainly save any leftover simple syrup in the fridge for any future cocktail making adventures.  If you would like to make it Julio’s way, just add 1 Tbsp agave to 1 Tbsp water ( no need to heat) before moving forward with the rest of the recipe as usual.

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Fresh Margaritas

-2 Tbsp simple syrup

-2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

-1/4 c. tequila

Add everything to a shaker with lots of ice, shake well for about 30 seconds, and strain into a glass with even more ice in it.  Yum!

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If you want to make it even better, try rolling the rim of your glass in a little salt or sugar first.  Here’s what I suggest:

Margarita Glass Rim

-1 wedge of lime

-zest of 1 lime

-1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

-1 Tbsp kosher salt

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In a shallow dish, combine the lime zest, sugar, and salt.  Then rub the rim of each glass with the wedge of lime and roll them in the salt mixture.  Finally fill each glass with the margaritas, and you’re set!  Enjoy!