Lemon Dill Baked Cod

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It’s approaching midnight and I’m still trying to finish reading the scripts that I received from China.  The film market is booming in China and there are many opportunities for me to direct my next film, but I’m yet to find a story that’s exciting to me as well as suitable to the censorship standard.  I will keep looking.  And in the meantime, I will cook.

Who am I?  If we are what we do everyday, which I think is the closest answer to this impossible question, then I am a cook.  At least for now.  As I busied myself in the kitchen with my pink batik apron, I actually thought, “I should buy myself a pretty apron.”  I used to think about buying sexy and glamorous dresses.  The ever evolving I.

Dill & Lemon Baked Rock Cod

Ingredients:

3  large cod fillets

1 lemon

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon dill

1/2 sleeve of Ritz Cracker, crushed

3 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation:

Marinate the cod in the white wine in a large ziplock bag or a plate for 30 minutes.  Pat dry.

Coat the fish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 of the dill.

Crush the crackers and mix in the 2 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining dill with fingers.

Preheat oven at 400F.

Bake the fish in a baking dish for 8 minutes and take the dish out of the oven, but leave the oven on.  Carefully discard the juice from the fish.  Squeeze half of the lemon juice on the fish and sprinkle the cracker mixture on top.

Return to oven and back for another 12 minutes.

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Nutty Fruity Scones

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Angela’s Post:

As I write this, my dad is squinting at his laptop and muttering obscenities under his breath. Apparently a certain fellow responsible for typing up medical reports is not only incapable of using proper English grammar but also gets basic facts like dates and years wrong. My father, a very busy interventional cardiologist has become a copy editor. I fear for the future of medicine. I don’t want to let some schmuck who doesn’t know the difference between January and February handle my arteries. I guess that’s another reason to eat well and stay healthy.

Today we made deliciously crumbly reduced-sin scones. There’s no butter or refined flour in them, and they’re dairy-free, paleo, and “clean” (I think? Unsure of standards regarding the sanitation of one’s diet) so make them and gobble them up right now! Feed your wife! Feed your husband! Feed your children because they’re darn good and won’t make your blood glucose levels spike uncontrollably!

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Nutty Fruity Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

¼ cup pecan

1 large egg

2 tablespoons honey

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Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and soda.

Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

In a small bowl, combine egg and honey.

Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Use your hands to form dough.

Shape into desired shape.

(I used a little coconut flour to prevent sticking when I handled the dough.)

Bake at 350° on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

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A friend came over for lunch today and we commiserated with each other on motherhood.  She has just gone through the grueling college application process with her twin boys and I’m about to take Angela on a college tour next month. I don’t know when it all began, but it seems that the college admissions process has turned into a war that requires endless amounts of strategy. 

I was told that in some cultures in the ancient times, children would be chased out of the house into the wilderness at a certain age, and they were not supposed to come home again until after they’d hunted a tiger.  The rite of passage for today’s kids is not any less difficult, except the “tigers” they are sent out to hunt are those ever elusive brand-name colleges.

Much like the ancient times, there is not much mothers can do to help their children hunt the “tigers.”  All we can do is love them.  As we ate this delicious salad, our conversation quickly turned from the stress of college application to the joy of food  — the balm that cures almost anything.

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Roast Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad

Ingredients for the sweet hot mustard:

1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. coarse ground Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar or honey

1/4 tsp. Sriracha sauce

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Ingredients for the salad:

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb. (500 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

1 cup (125 g) black walnuts, toasted

1 1/2 red apples, such as Fuji or Gala, cored and thinly sliced

1 Tbs. honey lemon peel (optional & see note)

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Preparation for the Sweet Mustard:

In a bowl, whisk both mustards, vinegar, brown sugar and Sriracha sauce. Reserve 3 Tbs. mustard for the salad; refrigerate the rest for up to 4 weeks.

Preparation for the Salad:

Preheat oven to 450F.  Wash, trim and cut the brussels sprouts.  Coat sprouts with 2 Tbs. olive oil in a roasting pan.  Roast for 15 to 17 minutes or until tender.  Take out and set aside.

In a large nonstick fry pan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the shallots until slightly browned. 

Toss together brussels sprouts, sliced apples, walnuts, shallots with 3 Tbs. sweet mustard.  Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter and serve.

I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the sliced apples to prevent them from turning yellow.

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Note:

Sometime ago, Audrey made lemonade with about 10 lemons.  The lemon peels looked so fresh and smelled so fragrant that I saved them.  I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and let marinate in the fridge over night.  The next day I boiled about 4 cups of water.  When the water was boiling, I squeezed dry the peels, discard the pulp still left in them, cut them into slices and then added the peels to the pot and brought it to boil again.  Then I drained the peels and transfer them into a glass jar, soaked in honey.  They turned out delicious.

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Recipe inspired by:

Williams-Sonoma

No Bake Almond Coconut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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Amongst the bills and junk mail I found two packages that made me happy:  One is the Bay Area Consumers’ CHECKBOOK and the other is a certificate of commendation plus a check for Angela. 

This month’s CHECKBOOK is featuring top doctors rated by their peers.  Practicing physicians in the Bay Area were asked which doctors they considered most desirable to care for their loved ones, and Peter received the highest number of votes in the field of cardiology in San Francisco.  I am so glad that my perpetually overworked husband has the respect and trust of his peers.

Peter in Scrubs

Hubby (the one on the right) doing teaching in an animal lab with his friend

Angela won a community service grant to promote healthful eating and exercise in low-income children. When she was in Andover, she volunteered at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club to teach kids karate.  When she came back to San Francisco she started our blog with the intention of promoting healthy home cooking, starting from this household.  This grant will encourage her to continue her efforts.

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It is time to celebrate!  In my younger days, I never allowed myself to enjoy the little victories in life.  I felt that if I became pleased with myself, I would stop improving.  But now I can feel proud and rejoice in every achievement of my loved ones.  Life is worth celebrating.  Period.  Hence this delicious tart.  It is an easy to make grain-free, sugar-free tart that you won’t feel guilty after eating a slice or two. You don’t even need to own an oven to make it.  (For another excellent no bake cake, please check out Healthy Raspberry Cheesecake.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST

1 1/4 cups raw almond meal or almond flour (or you can grind 1 1/2 cup of almonds)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

(You can add a little more coconut oil if the almond mixture feels too crumbly.)

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INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 tablespoon 100% cocoa powder

2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

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TOPPING:

Unsweetened coconut chips

Sliced almonds

Raspberries

PREPARATION:

In a mixing bowl, mix almond meal and shredded coconut with melted coconut oil and xylitol. Line a tart pan with food safe plastic wrap.  Using a rubber spatula, spread nut mixture into the bottom of the lined tart pan.  (The plastic wrap makes it easier to lift the tart out of the pan.)

In a small saucepan, mix the cocoa powder, xylitol, coconut flour and xanthan gum.  Pour coconut milk and vanilla into the saucepan.  Mix well.  Stir over low heat.  After the mixture thickens, turn off the stove and let rest for 1 minute. Pour chocolate filling into tart (or pie) shell. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 6 hours or overnight. (If you are in a hurry, you can leave the tart in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.)

When ready to serve, toast coconut chips in a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Allow the coconut to cool. Sprinkle coconut chips, sliced almonds on the tart. Decorate with raspberries. Slice and serve immediately.

NOTE:

Coconut oil becomes firm in the refrigerator due to its high melting point, which helps the crust on this tart solidify. It will remain solid below temperatures of 76°F.

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Recipe Inspired by:

siftandwhisk.com

Spicy Chicken with Cashew Nuts

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I have had the good fortune of tasting the most amazing food while traveling for work in countries like Turkey, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, United Emirates and Morocco.  But inevitably by the 2nd week, I’d be missing Chinese food.  I remember frantically looking for a pack of instant noodles on the streets of St. Petersburg.  When the craving hits, it feels as if it were life and death.  Aiya, you can’t take the China out of the girl la. 

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In St. Petersburg

I was about to eat leftovers for lunch today when I suddenly craved for Chinese food.  To satisfy the urge, I made a quick stir-fry.  It was a simple dish, but very delicious.  It really hit the spot for me.

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Everyone should own a wok and try stir-fry.  It’s one of the fastest and simplest ways to prepare any food.

Spicy Chicken with Cashew Nuts

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, cut into halves

6 finger-length dried red chilies, seeded

1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts, rinsed and drained

15 oz skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into bite size

3 scallion, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-in lengths

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce:

3 tablespoon soy sauce (or Maggi seasoning sauce / Golden Mountain sauce)

2 tablespoon Chinese Cooking Wine +  1 tablespoon for marinating

1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

2 teaspoon xylitol or sugar, or to taste

Preparation:

Marinate the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of wine for 10 to 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry with paper towel.  Mix the cornstarch into the meat.  (You can omit this step if you want to save time, but it does make the chicken taste better.)

Heat up a wok and add the oil. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, onion, dried red chilies and stir-fry until fragrant or when you smell the spicy aroma of the chilies. Add the cashew nuts and follow with the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken until the surface turns opaque. Add all the ingredients for the Sauce into the wok and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is cooked. Stir-in the scallion, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

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Recipe inspired by rasamalaysia

Carrot Noodles with Lean Turkey Sausage & Mushroom in Cashew Cream Sauce

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Today, our family attended an event hosted by the 1990 Institute, an organization I am on the board of.  There was a lively discussion with the upcoming ABC series Fresh Off the Boat star, Hudson Yang and his father Jeff on the portrayal of Asian Americans in the national media.  Fresh Off the Boat is a story of a Chinese American family based on chef Eddie Huang’s book Fresh Off the Boat, a Memoir.  I’m sure there will be lots of cooking in it — one more reason for me to check it out!

Today

Hudson Yang is the 11-year-old boy between me and his father Jeff Yang.

When I got the female lead Mei Mei in Taipan in 1985, I was fresh of the boat myself.  I began acting to support myself through college and never thought that I would still be acting 30 years later.  Back then, there were no meaningful parts for someone like me in American cinema or television.  I used the Taipan contract from Dino De Laurentiis to get a loan for a little house in North Hollywood, where I was going to open a home for seniors.  I heard that the US government would pay me to cook and care for old people.  That was one thing I was confident I could do as a FOB.

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Photo from Taipan, my and Kyra Sedgwick’s first film

From Taipan to today, we have come a long way in getting our faces shown and our stories told on the large and small screens in America.  I am proud of and happy for Hudson and all his co-stars on the show and I’m so looking forward to watching it!

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Ingredients:

  • For the pasta:
  • 2 large carrots, sliced with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 1/2 lean turkey sausage links, skin removed
  • 1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 diced sweet onion
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and then drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth + more for thinning as needed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Preparation:

Place a medium saucepan filled halfway with water and a pinch of salt over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the carrot noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente. Once cooked, drain into a colander and set aside.

While the carrots are cooking, place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the onions and cook until onions softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside, keeping the skillet over medium heat.

In the skillet, add in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until wilted. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add in the sausage and cook 5-7 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to the plate with the mushrooms and set aside. Wipe down the skillet and keep off heat on the stovetop, for later use.

Place the cooked onions into a high-speed blender along with the cashews, garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, broth and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your preference or thin out with more broth, if too thick.

Place the same large skillet back over medium heat and add in the mushrooms and sausage, carrot noodles and toss. Pour in the cashew cream sauce. Toss to combine thoroughly until the cashew sauce is heated through.

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Recipe adapted from Inspiralized.com

Spiralized Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

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Pasta is good, pasta is great. Pasta is the friend who will always be there for me. Pasta, o beauteous pasta, you make any dish complete. You complete me. Non lasciarmi, mio amato (grazie, Google Translate).

I never want to spend a day without pasta, not even if I’ve already eaten my weight in starch and definitely do not need to further raise my blood sugar. This is when my beloved vegetable spiralizer comes in handy. It can turn just about any vegetable, from zucchini to broccoli stalks, into pasta. That’s right, all the deliciousness of al dente pasta and all the holiness of veggies. Now that’s what I call good wholesome fun.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. There was probably some pasta involved.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. Pasta!

The first time I heard of spiralizing vegetables was when I was reading about zoodles on SkinnyTaste.com. I then coveted a spiralizer for about a year before Audrey bought me one from Williams Sonoma as a gift using her own money. How sweet!  I have since made my own zoodles on several occasions. They are delicious!

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Spiralizers are very versatile. A vegetable doesn’t need to be vaguely phallic in order to be turned into pasta. Today we had a grand old time spiralizing butternut squash!

Note: if you don’t have a spiralizer, then a mandoline or even a vegetable peeler should work.

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Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and spiralized, noodles trimmed

olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it really spicy)

1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if vegetarian)

1 can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern), drained, rinsed, patted dry

1 teaspoon oregano flakes

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional if vegan)

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Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash noodles on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. When done, divide noodles into bowls and set aside.

While the butternut squash is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until kale is wilted. You can do this in batches.

Once the kale is cooked, pour the chicken broth into the skillet and add the beans and oregano. Let cook for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Divide the kale mixture equally over the bowls of butternut squash noodles. Serve immediately.

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Recipe modified from Inspiralized

Chocolate Banana Souffles

I have been in and out of airports quite a lot in the past two weeks and all the flying was getting on my nerves.  It is pathetic how I’m on the top level of airlines’ frequent flyer programs year after year.  This is the one area of my life I wish could be different.  I’m adventurous only in a spiritual sense — meaning in my thinking and imagination.  My physical self is unbelievably timid and just wants to be home.  When Angela was a toddler, I took her to Shanghai to see my parents and my childhood friends.  They asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and Angela said she’d like to be a tree on Filbert St.  That homebound gene came from me.

Today, I heard that the 2nd season of Marco Polo will again shoot in three remote countries.  In the 1st season, I only had to be in one of them, but in the new season I will most likely be in all three countries.  I was stressed out just thinking about all the flying I will have to do, and the long months away from my family. 

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I had to bake some yummy treats after I heard the news.  The kitchen is my refuge, my shrink. Before I came to the US, I had never heard of shrinks.  The first time I learned of Freud’s Couch I couldn’t understand how anyone would feel better after letting their time, money, and precious life experiences spill out like vomit.

I’ve saved a lot money and breath cooking in the kitchen instead of lying on the couch.  I free associate better with a mixer in hand.

These Soufflés are light and fluffy and they were made mostly of egg whites, which is great if you are on a reduced carb, or gluten free diet.  This was the first time I ever made soufflés and I was curious how they would turn out.  I was staring at the oven almost the entire time watching them rise.  My excitement grew as the soufflés rose higher and higher in the oven, but the minute I took them out they started to deflate.  It was a good thing the kids were already home when they came out of the oven.  They should be eaten within 15 minutes before they lose the fluffiness.

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Chocolate Banana Soufflés Ingredients:

2 ripe medium bananas, mashed

2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

3 tbsp sugar (I used 2 tbsp of xylitol and it was sweet enough)

cooking spray

Preparation:

Preheat over to 400F. Coat 4, 6 oz ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, mash bananas and vanilla together. Sift cornstarch and cocoa powder over bananas and stir well.

In another medium bowl, beat egg whites with sugar until they form soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into banana mixture. When incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Spoon mixture into ramekins.

Wipe the top 1/4 inch “collar” of the ramekin to remove any excess batter so that the souffle will rise straight and place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

Vegan Creamy Ginger Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti

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I got up early today to try this “zoodle” recipe that Angela emailed me last night.  I packed it for Peter and Angela for lunch and I had a bowl of it before I went to the airport.  It was so delicious and so satisfying that I couldn’t believe it was also extremely healthy!  

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Ingredients:

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 15 ounce can lite coconut milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

red pepper flakes, to taste

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 cups chopped kale

1/4 cup packed fresh basil

¼ cup raw cashews

6 medium zucchinis, Blade C, noodles trimmed

3/4 cup defrosted green peas (I used fresh peas from Trader Joe’s which take slightly longer to cook.)

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Preparation:

In a large pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.

Add in the coconut milk, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then add in the kale. Cover and cook until the greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the kale mixture to a high-speed blender and add in the basil and cashews. Blend until smooth and creamy and set aside.

Wipe down the pot and place back over medium heat. Add in the zucchini noodles and peas and toss for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to al dente or your preference. Once cooked, divide into bowls and top with green sauce. Serve immediately.

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The original recipe came from:

inspiralized.com

“Pulling a Chen” & Spicy Turkey Sausage Pasta

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Hi, this is Peter, the dishwashing husband.  Joan is packing again for a short trip to LA, so I have been “recruited,” euphemism for coerced, to write this guest post.

I will tell you a funny story about Empress Chabi that is not very Chabi-like. Joan called me from a public phone at SFO after arriving from Shanghai on Sunday. She was distraught that she had left her iPhone in Shanghai. We spent Sunday afternoon at the Verizon store looking at the new iPhones and calling plans. 3 hours after we got home with her new gizmo, she found her iPhone tucked away in her toiletry bag. Adding another chapter to the “Pulling a Chen” story collection.

I really enjoyed the spicy turkey pasta that she whipped up in a flash. Hope you will like it as well.  Joan was so tired that she kept calling the Marinara sauce “Marijuana sauce.”  

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Spicy Turkey Pasta Ingredients:

8 oz. penne pasta, preferably 100% whole grain

1/2 pack of lean spicy turkey sausage (2 1/2 links)

1/2 onion, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper. sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup marinara sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon white wine

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, shaved

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

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Preparation:

Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions.  Err on the side of less done.

Sauté garlic and onion in a pan on medium heat until aromatic.  Turn stove to low and add the sausages without the casings.  Add the wine to the meat and slowly break the sausages apart with spatula. 

When the sausages are completely broken, turn the stove to medium high and mix in the bell peppers and cook until soft.  Add the marinara sauce and cooked pasta and stir until well coated. 

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