I think 1 of the daily struggles we all have is what to make for dinner!  With a crazy job and/or multiple children to care for sometime that is something we don’t think of until much later in the day.  And if you are like me picking up carryout on the way home or pizza delivery might be the best option sometime.  Personally it’s a win for me if once or twice a week I can cook a Vietnamese Family Dinner (a.k.a. Cơm Gia Đình) for my boys.  Home-cooked meals are not only healthier but can save so much money compare to eating out.  It is possible with some planning ahead of time.

Tonight with the help of 3 Instant Pots I was able to whip up this meal in about 1 hour.

3-quart: Made 4 cups of rice using the ceramic non-stick inner pot which I highly recommend for cooking rice!
6-quart: Canh Bông Cải Cà Rốt Gà Instant Pot (Vietnamese Chicken Soup with Cauliflower and Carrots)
8-quart: Đùi Gà Rô Ti Instant Pot (Chicken Drumsticks Roti)

The cost for EVERYTHING was less than $10!  The best part was everyone ate so well (including the pickiest eater in the world, my son, Logan).  The boys loved the sauce from the chicken roti mixed in with rice and each ate a good bowl of cauliflower soup.  We dined al fresco on our lanai since the weather was so nice this evening.  That dinosaur table cloth got the boys excited about dinner 😊.  I hope these ideas and recipes will help you prepare your Family Dinner this week (or next!).

Our local Asian market had Thai Bananas on sale for $0.79/lb last week.  What a deal!  I couldn’t resist so we got some.  Thai Bananas (aka chuối sứ ) are widely used in Vietnam for different desserts such as fried bananas and Banana with Coconut Milk Pudding.  Thai Bananas are firmer and can endure heat without falling apart like regular bananas.  In this pot of Chè chuối my bananas weren’t as ripe as I wanted.  Ideally the skin should be almost black.  My craving hit hard as usual so I couldn’t wait a few more days.

Sweetness level is up to you.  We like it lightly sweeten so I found 1 cup of sugar to be sufficient, you may like it sweeter so add more sugar in the end if needed.  If you can’t find Vanilla Sugar packets please substitute with Vanilla Extract.  I highly recommend to use Savoy Coconut Cream if you can find them.  I ran out so I had to use coconut milk, it was good but could be better with the cream.  And it’s okay NOT to have Pandan Leaves.  It creates a pleasant aroma but not a required ingredient.

Link to Chè Chuối Recipe: Chè chuối Instant Pot (Banana, Coconut Milk and Tapioca Pearls Dessert)

Pandan Sticky Rice is a popular breakfast item in Vietnam.  I remember growing up eating this sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves on my way to school.  I do like adding mung bean for some protein but it’s totally optional.  This is a simple version using Pandan Paste for flavor and coloring.  The long version of this would to blend and extract Pandan juice from the leaves and use that juice to cook the sweet rice or soak the rice in it.  I’m also using the steaming method for this version and therefore the sweet rice needs to be soaked for a few hours.

I hope to soon post an un-soaked version using the pot-in-pot cooking method in the Instant Pot.

Link to Recipe: https://katiestestkitchen.com/portfolio/xoi-la-dau-xanh-instant-pot-pandan-sticky-rice-with-mung-bean-paste/

Beside Phở Bò (Beef Pho), Bo Kho (Beef Stew) is another Vietnamese dish that I believe the IP is great for! Beef shank can take quite some time to soften when cooking on the stove top. I always dreaded making it before and it was a dish that my Mother-in-law would only cook for special occasions or holidays because it just takes too long to make. But now we can have Bo Kho any day or any night of the week since it only takes a fraction of the time! 

A few notes:

  1. Beef shank (Bap Bo) is best for Vietnamese beef stew. The texture is good! You could add or replace with flank but shank is my meat of choice for beef stew.
  2. I like to use the Quoc Viet soup base for Bo Kho. I have not found a better substitute.  If you wish you omit the soup base, use salt/fish sauce, sugar… etc to season it.  I don’t have measurements for those.  
  3. We love Honeycomb Tripe in our Bo Kho. You don’t have to add it. It can be replaced with more beef shank or carrots.
  4. Culantro (ngo gai) goes really well with Bo Kho. Add them with basil directly to your bowl to enhance the flavor.
  5. Serve Bo Kho with rice noodles, egg noodles or baguette. The choice is yours!

Follow link to the Recipe: Bò Kho Instant Pot (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

Hu Tieu Bo Kho
Culantro (ngo gai)

I love snacking on roasted almonds.  Almonds contain a lot of healthy fats and protein in addition to fiber.  I like having it at work for a morning snack.  Just a handful of almonds is sufficient to keep my belly happy to lunch.

Before I had to ask my Mom to roast it for me on the stove top.  She would put a layer of salt on the pan then add the almonds on top.  The salt is to control the heat to prevent the almonds from burning too quickly.  Mom had to stand by the stove constantly stirring for a good 10 to 15 minutes to roast the almonds.  Recently I experimented with roasting in the Air Fryer.  Because why not?  I do use my Air Fryer to roast peanuts so this should work as well.  And indeed it worked like a charm!

Here are the easy steps:

  1. Lay the raw almonds in a single layer in your Air Fryer basket.  Like peanuts, do not overcrowd them!
  2. Set temperature to 375 F.
  3. Set cook time to about 5 minutes. (Please note cook time might vary base on the size of your Air Fryer and brand.  Check often initially to prevent over roasting!)
  4. Remove from Air Fryer and pour into a bowl.  Allow almonds to cool down completely.  You’ll hear crackling/popping sounds which is normal.  Don’t attempt to eat while it’s not, the texture will be soft/chewy.
  5. Once they have cooled down you can enjoy immediately.  Roasted almonds can be stored in your favorite air tight jars ,containers or zip lock bags.  It makes a perfect snack for your kids at school too!

I found some mini glass jars at TJ Max.  Great for gifting!

This is the bag of Almonds purchased from Costco.

Single Layer only please!

Testing out at different temperature and time.


We recently went to a nice/trendy downtown eatery.  We noticed that there were selling chicken broth for about $5 for a 4-cup container (large Chinese soup carryout container) and people were buying them left and right.  I told my husband for $5 I could make IP broth for a whole village (a little exaggerated, I know!) and with not much effort at all.

Every since I went back to work our fridge always has some kind of homemade IP broth.  I like to start the new week with making a fresh batch of homemade broth (chicken or pork).  I usually cook them on Sunday’s night in preparation for the work week.  I use homemade broth to make different things through out the week such as some type of noodle soup or just a simple Vietnamese “canh” to eat with rice.  It’s such a time saver so that dinner can be prepared in 30 minutes on a weeknight.

RECIPE: For pork broth I typically use 2-3 lbs of bones (I prefer marrow bones but neck bones would be fine too), one onion and a vegetable such as daikon (you could use carrot and/or celery too depend on how you plan to use your broth).  I parboiled the bones for 5 minutes on the stove top first to remove the impurities, washed and rinsed again with water then add to the IP.  I filled my 8-quart with water just slightly below the max line.  Selected Pressure Cook, High Pressure, 20 minutes.  There is usually no rush for me to use this broth so I let the IP NPR, many times I leave it NPR overnight.  Once it was done, I ran the broth through a sieve to make it 100% clear and discard all solid ingredients.  You can freeze them or store in the fridge for usage through out the week.

Last night I used the broth to make Lobster Wonton Noodle Soup.  We scored some good deals on lobster tails at the grocery store recently.  It was such a satisfying meal to have on a weeknight and would not have been possible without my pre-made stock.  Total time it took was about 40 minutes (rolling the wontons took some time!).

I hope this will help speed up your weeknight dinner preparation!



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