Happy Fall everyone!

Although Fall doesn’t quite exist in Florida like most Northern States we still really enjoy this season.  The temperature in Orlando has actually dropped a bit and if we go outside very early in the morning we can almost feel “Fall”… LOL.

Colder temperature always translate to soupy/brothy dishes for me.  Yesterday for lunch I decided to recreate the Alphabet Beef Soup that are typically served with the 7 courses of Beef (Bò 7 Món).  I first had it years ago at a Vietnamese restaurant in Southern CA that specialized in Bò 7 Món.  The 7th course of beef is Beef Congee or Cháo Bò which are cooked with rice.  But because your stomach gets pretty full after the 6th course that rice congee might not be very appetizing.  So I think instead some restaurants opt to serve this Beef Soup with the Alphabet Pasta (I could be totally wrong here… LOL).  It’s just a small amount of pasty cover by a ton of flavorful ground beef broth.  I love the warming taste and the kids love it because they saw the alphabets floating in the bowl.  It becomes a fun meal!

You don’t have to use IP to make this dish but it does make it easy not having to “babysit” the pot.  I hope you will give this kid-friendly recipe a try!

Recipe: Vietnamese “ABC Soup” IP

Prime Day 2020

The day that I’ve been waiting for is finally here!  There are so many deals to watch.  Here are some Instant Pot deals might be interested in:

There is a great deal on Gift Cards, buy at least $40 of gift card and get $10 credit with promo code GC20PRIME (credit will apply to your account within 2 days).  It’s 1 per Prime account, unfortunately.

Hoping to update the list as the day goes on!  Happy shopping all!

This is a much belated post!

Our kitchen reno was completed about 6 months or so ago but I haven’t yet share the final update with you.  When we bought the house in Summer 2019 we felt in love with the backyard but definitely not other parts particularly the kitchen which were original to the house.  We knew we would have to do a reno sooner or later.  After using the kitchen for 2 months I had enough!  I kinda told my husband if we don’t do this now I’d move… LOL.  There was very little storage and the sink was as tiny as can be.

So we started the design process with a cabinet company shortly after that.  Like with any home renovation there were so many unexpected issues along the way especially when you start to open up walls.  For our small kitchen we only wanted to remove a tiny pantry wall to make room for more  cabinets.  Little did we know that tiny wall had pluming pipes from the upstairs guest bath hidden inside.  Weeks of delay and some more money spent later we were able to route those pipes to the back wall.  The other unexpected issue was our AC went out completely while we were trying to figure out the plumbing problem.  Oh my goodness at this point we felt like we were on some sort of home renovation show on HGTV!  A few more thousands dollar later we got ourselves a new AC unit as well.

There were a few other delays with measurements so we had to wait for new cabinets to come in.  The entire process took over 6 months (seriously it did!).  We ate very poorly during this time as you can imagine.  Most days we had carryout and delivery.  It was painful to say the least but the result was well worth it!  Would I do it all over again?  Heck yeah!  The pictures below speak for themselves.  Our modern farmhouse kitchen was a success.  We got everything we wanted and more!

Here are some upgrades in this new kitchen:

  • 33″ Prohs Fireclay Single Bowl Sink with Apron Front – Pretty much we got the biggest size possible!  This is the highlight of the kitchen and my favorite spot!  This sink is the easiest to clean and very difficult to scratch.  It’s heavy so the installer had to put extra support on the bottom.  Absolutely no complaints from me.  I highly recommend it over a stainless steel farmhouse sink for its look and durability.
  • 36″ Samsung Induction Cooktop – We never had induction cooktop in any kitchens before so it was a bit of a splurge.  There was a period of learning curve as things were spilling over because it heated up way too fast!  But we can boil water in less than a minute now, unbelievable right?  There are pros and cons to induction but overall, we love it now that we are used to it.
  • 30″ Microwave Combination Wall Oven Unit – We don’t bake often so the microwave unit on top is much more useful than another oven.  So we went this this combo instead of a double-oven.
  • 36″ ZLine Steel/Glass Hood – The hood is a focal point of the kitchen. This thing is so powerful I have no problem deep frying fish inside the house… LOL.
  • Quart Countertop – Everyone is going quartz so we did too and was mainly because of the options to match the white cabinets.  We wanted a white kitchen so granite wasn’t going to do it.
  • Seeded Glass Doors – We wanted 2 set of glass doors on the top cabinets to provide balance and a bit of modernness to the kitchen.  I know I cannot keep the kitchen organized all the time so going with a clear glass style would be too painful.  The designer recommended seeded glass doors for Farmhouse style kitchen. They are so pretty I must say!!!

Here are some before photos of the kitchen from when we first saw the house:

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Some photos of the messy process:

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And here are the after photos!

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We decided with a subtle 2-tone kitchen.  The island is gray so it provides some contrast to the white cabinets in the back.  We opted for black handles versus stainless steel.  The white and gray shaker cabinets provide the simplicity that we were looking for in a farmhouse kitchen.

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The wood sign with my logo from Etsy made this kitchen officially Katie’s Test Kitchen!
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Instead of putting a small cabinet above the espresso machine we went with floating shelves to make the space looks more open.  This 3  Tier Wood Shelves with Black Pipe Brackets was ordered from Amazon.  The quality is very decent.
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This sink is EVERYTHING to me!  The brush and sponge holder was from Pier 1.

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Every nook and cranny are being used.  The left draw is the pull-out trash can.
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Each bottom corner has a Lazy Susan with 2 shelves.  This hold so many kitchen spices and sauce bottles for me.
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This is Rev A Shelf Pull Out Organizer.  We got them on Amazon and my husband installed it.

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My IP Family
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Breakfast Nook
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We went with a simple gray subway tile backsplash to compliment the gray island.  The tiles was ordered from Wayfair!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Let me know if you have any questions!

If you have been following my blog you’d know my family loves vegetarian food!  I grew up eating many delicious dishes with meat substitute.  Vegetarian food to me doesn’t mean lack of flavor or taste.  It means to simply find an alternative way to make the same dish without the meat/bone component.  So far I have posted a few noodle soup dishes that are vegetarian such as Bun Hue Chay or Pho Chay.  Today I’m sharing with you one of our favorite Vietnamese Rolls that are vegetarian, Bò Bía Chay!

Bò Bía Roll is a very popular street food in Vietnam which consist of sausage, jicama and egg slices along with lettuce/herbs.  In this vegetarian version, we simply replacing the sausage protein with fried tofu.  My family loves Bò Bía whether it’s vegetarian or not.  It tastes refreshing with the different herbs and has an addictive crunchy texture with the jicama/carrot and peanuts.  If you like Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) you should give this one a try!  You can have Bo Bia as a main dish (everyone rolls their own) or make a few as an appetizer to go with Pho and such.

Recipe: Vietnamese Jicama and Tofu Rolls (Bò Bía Chay)

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Hope everyone is staying safe.  It’s such a weird and difficult time that we are in but this too shall pass!

I like to once in awhile update recipes on here especially the ones that I mass posted when I started the blog.  Some I changed the seasoning and for others I revised the techniques as I gain more experience with the IP.  Vietnamese Porridge and Shredded Chicken Salad was one of those.  For it, I updated the recipe with both cook time and seasoning method (to omit soup base).  The ingredients can be easily found at your local stores or online wherever you shop.  I also changed the dressing for the Gà Xé Phay (Chicken Salad).  Hope you will give this one a try!

Recipe: Cháo & Gà Xé Phay Instant Pot (Vietnamese Porridge & Shredded Chicken Salad)

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Since I started this blog, I got numerous requests on how to make Vietnamese Fish Sauce Mixture (NƯỚC MẮM PHA).  I finally now got a chance to share this with you.  This is my Mom’s recipe and have been loved by many.  In our house we almost always have a jar in the fridge ready for any dishes that calls for it.  It’s very convenient to have it prepared ahead of time.  I just pour out the amount that I need and  add minced garlic and chili.  It’s served with so many Vietnamese dishes including spring rolls/fish rolls, egg rolls, rice plates, cold vermicelli noodles such as the infamous one with grilled pork… etc.

NƯỚC MẮM PHA is very mild and sweet since the ratio of fish sauce to water/vinegar is very low.  The pungent smell of fish sauce is almost no longer there!  This is because the mixture get boiled for a few minutes.  The strong smell of fish sauce is removed in the process.  

I recommend to use this recipe as a base and adjust according to your taste.

Nước Mắm Pha (Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce Mixture)

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My husband suggested that for 2020 that I continue with my CƠM GIA ĐÌNH (FAMILY DINNER) menus for the blog.  It was very well received last year and I got so busy with the move that forgot to pick it up back up.  After being quarantined for days and eating all different kind of food, we all wanted some comforting Vietnamese dishes.  I had a jar of pickled mustard greens ready to eat so I decided to make soup with some spare ribs.  It turned out very well and fast thanks to the Instant Pot.

This menu #5 is very simple with just Caramelized Pork Belly with Quail Eggs and Pickled Mustard Greens and Spare Ribs Soup.  Both dishes were prepared the night before after the kids went to bed so the next day I had time to fry some bananas (chuoi chien) for dessert!  I hope you will enjoy this simple menu and I will be back with more ideas soon!  Stay well and healthy!

Recipes:

Canh Dưa Cải Chua Nấu Sườn Instant Pot (Pickled Mustard Greens with Spare Ribs Soup)

Thịt Ba Chỉ Kho Trứng Cút Instant Pot (Caramelized Pork Belly with Quail Eggs)

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Pickled Mustard Green (Day 1) Pickled Mustard Greens (Dưa Cải Chua)

 

I’m calling it a new recipe but it’s actually a really old one.  I joined the Vietnamese Instant Pot Facebook page in Spring 2017.  I think that following Summer was when this recipe came about.  Everyone on that page was making Mango Sticky Rice using their Instant Pot around that time!

The taste is very much like at Thai restaurants we have been to.  You could substitute granulated sugar with palm sugar for this recipe.  I honestly couldn’t tell the difference but I know traditionally this Mango Sticky Rice is made with palm sugar.

Recipe: Xôi Xoài Instant Pot (Mango Sticky Rice)

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Most time I pull my hair out trying to come up with recipes to test for Instant Pot or to simply figure out what to cook for dinner that the family would enjoy.  I would walk through my local Asian grocery store aisles to aisles looking at different ingredients to draw inspirations.  A few days ago I came across a package of blue crab claws in the Seafood Department for $1.49.  These were the broke off claws from the fresh blue crabs that they were selling.  I know the store, as usual, were trying to make every penny they could get so they bagged those claws up hoping someone would buy.  To me it’s a bargain since crab claws make great broth!

So I took the claws home and turned it into this poor man’s version of Bánh Canh Tôm Cua.  It’s the poor man’s version because I’m using claws instead of real crab meat.  The claws added texture to the simple pork broth and made the bowl looks irresistible.  I hope you will give this recipe a try!  Meanwhile I will hunt for more bargain ingredients for the next recipe!!!

Recipe: Bánh Canh Tôm Cua Instant Pot

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If you grew up in Vietnam like I did you would probably remember all the wonderful snacks that we eat at breakfast before heading to school.  A lot of them involve sticky rice, one of which that is very memorable to me is Xôi Bắp Nhão.  It was served wrapped in banana leaves, and the “spoon” was the hard part of a Pandan leaf.

The words “Xôi Bắp” mean corn sticky rice, and the word “Nhão” can roughly be translated as “mushy” (sorry my Vietnamese isn’t great and my English isn’t good either!).  So after searching online for awhile I found no translation for this snack item, so I’m going to call it “Mushy” Corn Sticky Rice… LOL.  If you guys have a better name for it please feel free to let me know!

Normally this snack takes awhile to make and you have to babysit the stove to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorched.  With using the Instant Pot, it’s super easy.  NO SOAKING AHEAD OF TIME IS NEEDED!  Today I literally put all ingredients into the IP and went for a bike ride around the neighborhood.  When I came back the IP was already at full NPR.  It cannot get any easier.  I hope you guys will give this recipe a try!

Recipe: Xôi Bắp Nhão Instant Pot (Vietnamese “Mushy” Corn Sticky Rice)

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