A Play On Banh Mi (Pork Sandwiches)

pork sandwich

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Banh Mi is widely known in my neighborhood. There are at least 5 restaurants within a mile of my house that specialize in these Vietnamese sandwiches. They are traditionally loaded with pork belly, head cheese, jalapenos, and fresh veggies. I wanted to take something traditional and make it my own. Something bursting with Asian flavors while also comforting.

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I used chopped garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, brown sugar, and chilis to make my pork. It created the most tender mouth watering meat. The crock pot is really your best friend here. It allowed me to use a leaner cut of pork without losing flavor.

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Fresh bread is crucial to making a good sandwich. Something with a crunchy crust and light fluffy center. Baguettes are a great option because the soft insides soak up the juices from the meat and the crust holds everything together. I stir fried some red and green peppers with mushrooms, soy sauce and fresh garlic. Then I loaded the whole thing up with plenty of sriracha!



A Play On Banh Mi (Pork Sandwiches)
Cuisine: Pork
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Juicy Asian style pork made easy in the crock pot.
  • 1 tbsp lemon grass paste
  • 3 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 2 pound pork loin
  • loaf of fresh bread
  • veggie toppings
  • hot sauce
  1. Cut the pork into 4 pieces and place in the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Add in the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, red pepper, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
  3. Let cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  4. Pull apart with a fork and serve!

I hope you try out my spin on Banh Mi! If you aren’t a big sandwich eater I also recommend trying this pork on top of some jasmine rice!


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Crispy Spicy Lemon Grass Chicken Thighs With Pan Seared Potatoes

chicken thigh

Chicken thighs can always be found in our kitchen. Boneless, skinless or bone-in. We do not discriminate! Thigh meat is so much more forgiving when compared to chicken breast. The meat stays so juicy and tender.

And these potatoes! O. M. G. They have a nice crispy skin with a fluffy center. They are perfect with these chicken thighs.

chicken thigh

Chicken thighs are also incredibly versatile. We make them in so many different marinades. Today I wanted to try something different. I picked up some lemongrass puree over the weekend and I have been dying to use it in a marinade. These thighs have a crisp skin and really tender meat.

Crispy Spicy Lemon Grass Chicken Thighs With Pan Seared Potatoes
Recipe type: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Crispy chicken thighs with a spicy lemon grass marinade.
  • For The Chicken-
  • Bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp pureed lemon grass
  • 3 cloves of vodka chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
  • For The Potatoes-
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh lemon
  1. For The Chicken-
  2. Mix together all the ingredients for the chicken and marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 or set up a grill. (I use a charcoal grill)
  4. I grilled on each side for 15 minutes.
  5. Grill the thighs until internal temperature is 165.
  6. For The Potatoes-
  7. Slice the potatoes about ½ inch thick.
  8. Place them in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  9. Microwave for 5 minutes or until tender.
  10. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add olive oil.
  11. Sear the potatoes until golden brown.
  12. Salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Squeeze fresh lemon to finish.

You can swap the potatoes for fresh greens and make it a low carb meal! These chicken thighs are always a hit in our house. So fast and easy. I love the twist with the lemon grass and ginger. The thighs came out so light and fresh while the potatoes were salty and crisp!

chicken thighs

Please please say you will make these! They will be your new summer best friends!

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Smoked Chicken Sausage, Bean, Kale and Parm Stew

kale stew

Sometimes you just need a go to 20 minute meal. I know when I am coming home after a long day all I want is something comforting and hot as fast as possible. It definitely helps if it is something healthy as well.

This creamy stew is milk and cream free. I start out cooking down onions with garlic and kale then add in smokey chicken sausage. The white beans are what give the dish the thick hearty texture. Topped with lots of Parmesan cheese of course!

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Smoked Chicken Sausage, Bean, Kale and Parm Stew
Recipe type: Soup/ Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Smokey chicken sausage, kale, white beans and Parmesan.
  • 1 can of white beans
  • 2 cups of kale
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 4 oz smoked chicken sausage
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded parm plus more for topping
  1. Heat butter or oil in a saute pan, add garlic and onions.
  2. Add in the kale and start to cook down.
  3. Add in chopped sausage and cook until the edges slightly crisp.
  4. Pour in the beans and stock.
  5. Mix in spices.
  6. Simmer until stew begins to thicken.
  7. Add cheese.
  8. Serve!

This is one of my new favorite meals. The cheese and spicy broth make it such a satisfying dish. I love how quickly this dish can be thrown together. You could even make it vegetarian by skipping the sausage and adding more kale. Sooo good!

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Spicy Fried Chicken

spicy fried chicken

There  comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to decide: breast or thigh? I very rarely had fried chicken growing up. In an Italian home you typically have chicken roasted and incorporated into dishes. In my adult life I became very fond of the grilled chicken thigh, but never did I ever think I would be partial to frying chicken thighs. I always preferred breast. I even prided myself in being able to fry such juicy pieces of chicken while using the leanest part available.

Today I am here to introduce you to the fried chicken thigh. And I have no regrets. My signature spicy coating over a boneless skinless thigh retains so much juice and flavor while still being very easy to pull apart. This is crucial if you are serving as a sandwich. That is the biggest problem with fried breast on a sandwich. Trying to take a bite without pulling the entire piece of chicken with you.

For the seasoning I highly recommend using the Kroger brand pork seasoning. It has low salt and is almost 50% paprika which is the key to getting that super dark rich fried chicken coloring. You are welcome to make your own. It is a blend of paprika, brown sugar, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of salt.

chicken thigh

Spicy Fried Chicken
Recipe type: Chicken, Poultry, Fried
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Spicy fried chicken bursting with juices and flavor.
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 4 tbsp pork rub
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps red pepper
  • 2 cups of milk
  • canola oil for frying
  1. Marinate the chicken thighs while the oil is heating in the milk with 2 tbsp of the pork rub.
  2. Heat the oil to 350.
  3. You know it is ready if you sprinkle a little flour over the oil and it immediately bubbles.
  4. Mix together the flour, panko, and seasoning.
  5. Add the chicken making sure to pat the mixture heavily on top.
  6. I like to shake off a little then drop the thigh back into the flour.
  7. Fry 2 at a time or as many as you can without crowding.
  8. The batter will be a deep reddish golden brown.
  9. Cool over paper towels to soak extra oil and lightly salt each piece.


Try this recipe as a sandwich! My favorite way is sriracha, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and chicken on a potato bun. Or with creamy slaw!

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Cajun Alfredo With Grilled Chicken and Shrimp (AND ZOODLES)

cajun alfredo

So I finally made it. I am only one day away from completing my first 14 day cycle on this carb and sugar cleanse. I bought a veggie spiralizer so I can replace my pasta with zucchini. I know that is not for everyone – including my boyfriend. So, for this recipe to help ease you into the low carb lifestyle I have included some fresh pasta as well. I can eat this without the pasta. The sauce over the zucchini is delicious.

You do not have to add chicken and shrimp, but I personally just like the variety. The zucchini noodles soak up the cheese sauce perfectly.

I bought a $15 grill from target I like to use for these kind of recipes. It is so easy and chars the shrimp exactly the way I like it.


Cajun Alfredo With Grilled Chicken and Shrimp (AND ZOODLES)
Recipe type: pasta, low carb
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Cajun shrimp and chicken over fresh pasta mixed with zucchini noodles sauteed in alfredo sauce.
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 2 oz fresh pasta
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 4 oz shredded Parmesan
  • ¼ heavy cream
  • ¼ chicken stock
  • ½ pound of large peeled shrimp
  • ½ pound of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ½ stick of salted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp red pepper
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  1. Set up the grill then prepare the chicken and shrimp.
  2. Liberally season the chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill until the shrimp are pink and blistered and the chicken is cooked through,
  4. Spiralize the zucchini.
  5. Melt the butter in a sautee pan and sautee the zucchini and garlic.
  6. Add the chicken stock and cook until "noodles" are tender over medium high.
  7. Add the heavy cream and cook at medium.
  8. When the sauce starts to thicken add in the cheese and spices.
  9. Reduce to a simmer and let the sauce finish thickening,
  10. Add in the fresh pasta.
  11. Toss in the shrimp and chicken.
  12. Top with parm.

If you are feeling adventurous skip the fresh pasta altogether! Enjoy!

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Best Pizza Dough I’ve Ever Had

best pizza dough recipe

Pizza is usually a staple in our household. It is something super easy you can throw together with whatever ingredients you have on hand. We always have a variety of meats, cheeses and veggies. This dough is my all time favorite because it is so easy. It takes hardly any time to make and tastes just as good, if not better, than a more complex dough.

If you have noticed the lack of posts lately, it is because I made a bet at work. 14 days no diet coke, no pasta, no bread, no potatoes, no popcorn, no fruits, no sugar of any kind. 14 days of water, more water, protein, veggies, and even more water. Of course with some exercise thrown in.

I have been making so many excuses of how I am way to busy to go to the gym or I am just so tired I want to eat something comforting. This “diet” bet will hold me accountable and help me cleanse all the garbage I’ve been ingesting this year. So far I am day 6. Went cold turkey on the diet coke and wine. No more chocolates or treats after dinner. Today I finally made it back to my yoga class and we took the kids to the skating rink after.

Long story short- enjoy this pizza for me! It is delicious.

By the way, the pizza shown above is mozzarella, prosciutto, jalapenos, olives, cherry peppers and mushrooms.

Best Pizza Dough I've Ever Had
Recipe type: Pizza, Dough
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pizza
Thin fluffy crust made from this easy dough recipe.
  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • ½ stick melted butter
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • olive oil
  1. In a mixture attach the dough hook. Pour in the yeast, sugar and water. Let sit until bubbles form and you can smell the yeast activating. Add 2½ cups of flour, the salt, butter, garlic and herbs. Turn the mixer on medium low speed and allow all the ingredients to mix together. Use a spatula to scrap the sides if needed. If the dough still looks sticky add in more flour. The dough should be tacky to the tough, but not wet. Once the dough starts to form a ball pull from mixture and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead one or two times as you shape the ball of dough. Once you have the shape to your liking place the dough in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1½ hours. Now you are ready to make that pizza!

pizza dough

Seriously, make one of these and eat it for me!

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Pizza Hand Pies

pizza pie

Pizza Hand Pie

What is better than a huge cheesy pizza folded in half to capture all the excess toppings? A hand pie crust filled with pizza toppings! All the goodness without the mess. I’m talking bubbling melted mozzarella, juicy veggies, garlic and marinara in a crispy crust.  Did I mention kid friendly? My boyfriend’s kids were highly skeptical, but once they bit into them and realized it was pizza it was two thumbs up!


I have seriously been trying to pack every meal with veggies lately. This hand pie has red peppers, green peppers, yellow onions, olives, mushrooms – so easy to customize. I would have added jalapenos, but the jar I had was so spicy. As in unbelievably spicy. You know how you can go to Subway on a Monday and have their jalapenos and they are perfect, but you go a few days later and they are miniature fire bombs? I think that is what is going on with these. I just happened to buy a jar filled with all the seeds from the other jars.

pizza crust These hand pies are different from calzones because I skipped the ricotta and added marinara. You do not have to put the sauce inside the hand pie. I just prefer the sauce to cook into the veggies. Just make sure you go fairly light so it does not spill out the sides.

Pizza Hand Pies
Recipe type: Dinner, Pizza
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Crispy pizza crust stuffed with meats, cheeses and veggies.
  • Pizza dough
  • Egg wash (1 egg yolk plus water)
  • Assorted veggies
  • Sliced olives
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Pepperonis
  • Mixture of Italian cheese - provolone, mozzarella, Parmesan
  • Italian seasoning
  • Marinara sauce
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 425.
  2. Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal balls.
  3. Roll out into 4 equal ovals on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Spoon about 1 tsp of marinara over the center of the dough. Do not get too close to the edge. Leave about an inch.
  5. Add the pepperoni and veggies.
  6. Top with a handful of shredded cheeses.
  7. Pull one side of the dough over the topping to meet the opposite edge.
  8. Use a fork to crimp the dough together.
  9. Roll the crimp one time and use the fork or fingers to pinch down again.
  10. It is important to add the extra roll over the dough edge to keep all those toppings locked up.
  11. Use a knife to cut 3 slits on the top to let steam out.
  12. Brush egg wash over crust.
  13. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  14. Bake for 20 minute until crust is golden brown.
  15. Keep an eye on them because they cook very fast. I cooked mine for 25 minutes. I should have pulled them out a few minutes earlier.

I hope you enjoy! This is one of my favorite meals. It is quick and easy with a fast clean up. I highly recommend heating the rest of the marinara with some crushed red pepper and olive oil for dipping! Yum!

pizza pie

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Crawfish Etoufee



First off- can we talk about my new logo? My friend Jennifer at sweetsouthernwife.com made it for me. She does amazing work! I gave her just a few guidelines of what I wanted and I think she nailed it! If you want her to work on anything just contact her at Bowen106@gmail (dot) com. She does website layouts, icons, and logos. As I work on my photography and content I wanted to make sure I was branding my website so everything is clean and cohesive.

Now lets talk etoufee. Patrick and I were watching Master Chef Jr. and one of the mini chefs made a classic etoufee. It was one of those dishes that looks so amazing on the tv screen that you find yourself breathing in deeper to see if you can smell it from home. Creamy gravy filled with veggies and crawfish over a scoop of fluffy rice. This classic dish is perfect for the chilly nights we have been having lately.

crawfish etoufee

I researched a lot of different etoufee recipes before trying to tackle this dish. It seems like there are two ways to make it- traditional heavy flour based roux or heavy butter based roux. You know I went the butter route…

Crawfish Etoufee
Recipe type: Stew, Soup, Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Classic creamy crawfish etoufee over fluffy rice.
  • ½ pound crawfish tails rinsed and peeled
  • ¾ cup of butter
  • 2 cups of chopped veggies - red pepper, green pepper, onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 cups of hot water or stock
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 2 HEAPING tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of prepared rice ( I used jasmine and tossed it with a little olive oil)
  1. In a large saute pan over medium heat melt the butter.
  2. Add in the flour and whisk non stop until the mixture is slightly browned and fragrant.
  3. Add in the veggies and switch to a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir quickly because the flour will start to immediately thicken.
  5. Add in the water/stock slowly constantly stirring.
  6. Let simmer while the veggies cook down.
  7. Once the onion softens slightly add in the crawfish.
  8. Season liberally.
  9. Add in more or less hot sauce depending on how spicy you like it!
  10. Reduce to low.
  11. The mix should be slightly thickened and cooked through.
  12. Squeeze one whole lemon over the mixture and sprinkle the parsley.
  13. Pour over the rice and serve!

Don’t be afraid of the lemon! I love the acid it brings to this dish. I hope you enjoy!

crawfish etoufee

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Broccoli Beer Cheese Soup

broccoli beer cheese soup

broccoli cheese soup

Broccoli cheese soup has always been my favorite comfort food. As soon as the air starts to cold down I start craving a warm cheesy spoonful of this soup. I still had some beer left over from my pretzel and cheese dip recipe so I added a splash or two.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to roast off the broccoli first. This adds so much depth and flavor to the soup. My boyfriend and I love roasted broccoli so this soup allows us to have a favorite in a different way.

I also recommend serving this soup in a crusty bread bowl! I am trying to slow down on the carbs so I skipped any added bread, but this soup would be perfect in a bread bowl topped with more cheese. Yum!

Broccoli Beer Cheese Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Cheesy broccoli soup with a splash of Red Hopps!
  • 1 crown of roasted broccoli chopped
  • olive oil
  • 8 ounces of shredded cheddar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • ½ cup Red Hopps or chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Spices - garlic, pepper, paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spread chopped broccoli onto a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and spices. I like to go heavy on the garlic and pepper. I recommend skipping salt in this recipe until the very end. The cheese is already very salty and the beer will intensify this.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter. Once butter has completely melted add in the flour and whisk consistently until the mixture starts to brown. Add in the beer and keep whisking. The mixture will thicken almost immediately. Pour in the half and half. Whisk until the ingredients look fully combined and reduce heat to medium low. Stir in the carrots and broccoli. You can use a hand mixer to emulsify the veggies, but since everything was already soft I just used a potato masher until I was happy with the consistency. If the soup looks too thick you can add more beer or half / half. Leave on reduced heat for 20 minutes stirring often. Add in cheese. You can add in more spices and salt if needed at this time.
  3. Serve topped with extra cheese and bacon crumbles!

broccoli cheese soup

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Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas

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     I have been wanting to tackle my front pathway for weeks. Finally the sun peaked out for a minute this morning and I ran outside with my new gardening gloves ready to give my pathway the makeover it deserved. Well, I learned several valuable lessons. Rubber grip gardening gloves do not protect you from thorns, lots of bugs live in bushes and I have 3 very different very stubborn species of vines growing around my porch. I may not have ended up with my dream front yard, but it does look significantly better. More festive.

     Lets talk quesadillas. Cheesy, spicy, creamy quesadillas. After all that yard work I needed something warm and filling. These tortillas are stuffed with chipotle chicken, black beans, cheese and jalapenos. I drizzled some sour cream and topped with some basil that I grew myself this summer!

What You Need:

1 chicken breast

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 can of black beans rinsed

1 large flour tortilla

1/2 cup mixed cheeses ( I used cheddar and monterey jack)

1/4 cup pickled jalapenos ( or fresh chopped)

1 tbsp chipotle Tabasco sauce

Fresh herbs

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Chop the chicken breast set to the side. Spray a saute pan with cooking spray and heat over medium high. Add chicken and spices. Saute for about 5 minutes. When the chicken starts to stick add in the chicken stock and Tabasco. (Using cooking spray and chicken stock is a healthy alternative to oil.) When the cooking stock reduces down to a glaze turn off the heat and set to the side to cool off.

Heat another cooking spray prepared saute pan over medium low. Place one large tortilla flat in the pan. Add the chicken, beans, jalapenos and cheese. When the cheese begins to melt take a fork or spatula and fold the tortilla. Cook on each side until lightly browned. About 2 minutes each. Let the quesadilla cool for about 5 minutes before cutting. For the sour cream- add a tsp or milk or water for a nice consistency and drizzle over the top. You can use cilantro or basil. Chop and sprinkle on the quesadilla slices.


Want to know what products I used?

Cusinart Saute Pan

Mainstays White China Plates

Chipotle Tabasco

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