Fake News {Thai Quinoa Meatballs}

Turns out a I like peanuts, or more specifically peanut sauce. Quinoa, not so much, that I just tolerate. It is pain to make and besides it always gets stuck in my teeth. I made an exception in order to try this recipe and it paid off, delicious and no quinoa in my teeth. I used the recipe from Everyday Cooking plant-based recipe cookbook as my starting point and made a few alterations from there. Between my daughter and I we’ve made over a half-dozen recipes from this cookbook, and they have all been great. My only complaint is that every single recipe calls for sugar or maple syrup. I leave it out of the savory recipes as I do not see what value they add. Otherwise lots of good recipe, vegan or not.

roasted chickpeas

Start with roasting the chickpeas and then making the peanut sauce. Don’t bother to clean it out for blending the chick peas, the flavors all end up being mixed together anyway. You call it lazy, I call it efficient.

peanut sauce

Speaking of, the lengths I will go to avoid a trip to the grocery store are spectacular. I was out of soy sauce but I did have all the ingredients on hand for this soy sauce substitute. It got the job done.

soy sauce substitute

Fake news, as the shape is the only thing these have in common with meatballs. The texture and flavor are way off, they are good but I think a hard sell for a dedicated meat-eater.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Carrots as noodles, fake news too. However carrots make an awesome noodle fake out. My fav celebrity chef ever, Sara Moulton, introduced me to the carrot noodle trick years ago. This would be just as good with spaghetti squash or real pasta.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Always good to try something new. Give it go, see what you think.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Thai Quinoa Meatballs


  • Peanut Sauce:
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. chili garlic sauce
  • 2 T. hot water
  • Meatball:
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 t. chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Carrot Noodles:
  • 6 carrots, peeled into ribbons


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For peanut sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth sauce. Add water to desired thickness. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place chickpeas on a cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Set aside, After cooled, blend in blender or food processor.
  4. In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients. Mix to combine.
  5. Scoop out 1 T. per meatball. roll and place on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Cook meatballs for 15 minutes, turn and cook another 15 minutes.
  7. Cook carrot noodles in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Reheat as needed to serve.
  8. To serve top carrots with peanut sauce, meatball and top with cilantro and chopped peanuts.


Daily Soup {Malaysian Cabbage and Peanut Soup}

Any time I am looking to make soup I look no further than The Daily Soup Cookbook. I’ve made a good number of the recipes in the nearly twenty years that I have had the book. It is actually in sad shape, the spine is pretty messed up. This recipe caught my eye this weekend when I was meal planning for the week. I altered the recipe a bit from the book. This will serve as my lunch this week.

Sidebar, the bowl of my trusty food processor of nearly twenty years cracked. I search everywhere for a replacement, turns out they don’t make them anymore. I have watched eBay for one, but no luck. I ordered a new highly rated Cuisinart food processor, turns out it sucks. I am not able to get the bowl to click into place. I have rig it with a butter knife to get it to work. Both the manufacturer and Amazon were no help. Royal pain in the ass. I’m on the hunt for a new one before Christmas, any suggestions out there?

A food processor is key for this recipe, as I attempted to blend the peanuts and determined it was better accomplished in a food processor. Same goes for the garlic and ginger. Anyway, check out the gorgeous color of the spices in the soup, curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cayenne.

Malaysian Cabbage and Peanut Soup

The grilled Napa cabbage adds a bit of char and crunch to the soup.

grilled Napa cabbagePotatoes, both Idaho and sweet, add thickness and heartiness to the soup.

Diced PotatoesThe final results is a rich and hearty soup with a touch of spicy warmth. The texture is velvety, like butta. The spice mix lends to the deep color. If you are a fan of peanut sauce you’ll love this soup.

Malaysian Cabbage and Peanut SoupTop each bowl with crushed dry roasted peanuts. Enjoy by the spoonful.

Malaysian Cabbage amd Peanut Soup

Category: Soup

Cuisine: Vegetarian

Yield: 8

Serving Size: 1.5 cups

Malaysian Cabbage amd Peanut Soup


  • 1 head Napa cabbage, quartered
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 16 oz. dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 T. ginger, minced
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t. curry powder
  • 1 t. ground coriander seeds
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1/4 t. cayenne
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 t. garlic chili sauce


  1. Combine soy sauce, 1/2 of the lime juice, 1 t. of salt, and pepper. Pour mixture into a shallow dish, add cabbage cut side down. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. In running food processor drop in garlic and ginger until finely blended. Scrap out and set aside.
  3. Set aside a cup of the peanuts for garnish. Process the remaining peanuts, lime juice and garlic chili sauce in a food processor until a smooth spread.
  4. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and sugar and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add curry, coriander, turmeric, remaining salt, cayenne and stir to coat the onion mixture.
  6. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add water, potatoes, fish sauce. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, grill the cabbage, cool and thinly slice.
  9. To the soup mixture, stir in peanut spread and cabbage. Cook another 5 minutes.

Cookbooks Worth Gifting

Christmas Day goals, staying in your pajamas and diving into the new books you received. Growing up I remember regularly getting the year-end edition of Rolling Stone Magazine. I would take hours to read it cover to cover. I still love getting a new book, especially a cookbook, and taking my time with it. I also love to give books as gifts, here are a few cookbooks worth gifting to your favorite cook.

Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots

by Matt Jennings

My husband ordered himself this cookbook a couple of months ago. It is filled with straightforward no fuss recipes, with a unique twist on classic flavors. Each recipe has a story and there are a lot of extra tidbits thrown in throughout the book. Makes for a great read with something new to discover each time. The pictures are amazing and I love how it is organized (Dairy, Ocean, Farm, Garden and Orchard, Forest). I’ve read through it a few times and have lots of recipes bookmarked. The few I have tried so far have been great.

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Roasted squash salad with Gouda and apple butter. The apple butter caught my eye in this one, and it was the first time preparing delicata squash which is my new favorite skin and all. Perfect fall salad!

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Lamb Meatballs with pickled chiles, this recipe was amazing. The classic lamb, yogurt, mint combo gets a kick with the pickled chiles. And those chiles go great on just about anything.

Evie’s Pub Cheese, this is not your typical cheese spread. Cornichon, paprika and turmeric are some of the unique ingredients. This spread is rich and flavorful, The author and I agree on favorite crackers, Wheat Thins. Though I went with the Club this time. Perfect spread to have on hand for holiday visitors.


by Gabrielle Hamilton

About five years ago I read Blood, Bones & ButterThe Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef and crushed pretty hard on Gabrielle Hamilton. Such a great story! I knew I had to get to her restaurant, Prune, for brunch one day. I was fortunate enough to get there last year. It was a fabulous meal and the best bloody Mary I have ever had in my life. For real.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about that Bloody Mary and the crumbed poached egg my friend ordered, so I ordered the cookbook. The book itself is so cool, designed in the style of a Moleskin notebook. And I love the service tips, and section on kitchen scraps. Bonus, gift both of the book and cookbook together.

My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals / Portraits, Interviews, and Recipes

by Melanie Dunea

My husband gave me this cookbook for my birthday last year. As the title suggests it includes details of what chefs like Another Bourdain and Lidia Bastianich consider the perfect last meal, including a creative photo of the chef depicting the meal and recipes to accompany it.

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Jamie Oliver contributed a recipe for spaghetti All’Arrabita. It was small effort with big flavor. The bread crumb topping is the piece de resistance.

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The recipe for fries from Hélène Darroze are a bit of work, but a perfect match for a steak.

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi 

by Yotam Ottolenghi

This cookbook has been around for awhile, but it is always on my counter so I thought it was worth including. The recipes are a bit fussy, but the end results are always worth the effort.

smoky frittata

This smoky frittata recipe made for an amazing dinner.

burnt eggplant and tahini

I also loved this burnt eggplant with tahini. I previously shared a few other recipes, caramelized garlic tart, sweet potato wedges with lemongrass dipping sauce, and saffron fettuccine with spiced butter. It is an elegant cookbook with great recipes that anyone would enjoy.

Happy gifting.

Like Riding a Bicycle

Just like riding a bicycle, except the bike has been locked up so long you can’t find the key. You dig thru all your cabinets and try every last key you can find, the mystery keys you just can’t throw away. You try the keys you know would never work. Reopening cabinets over and over hoping the key just presents itself.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving! I started mine off rereading this Thanksgiving Toast. Always something new to glean from it.

Cranberry sauce

I started my cooking Wednesday night. A cocktail accompaniment. Spiced cider, bourbon, maple syrup and  Garam Masala bitters. Delightful!


French silk pie complete. A day in the fridge does this pie good.

French Silk Pie

I spent my morning sipping hot coffee and watching the movie Julie & Julia. A perfect movie for a holiday celebrating food. Though, it made me nostalgic for the time when blogging was more personal story telling and less portraying a simulated perfection for monetization. It was the kick in the butt I needed to finally to get back here.

Yep, just like riding a bicycle. Thankful for that.

Donut Day

The farmers market in our town has always been spectacular. All the vegetables and fruits are delicious, but the donuts are the real attraction. Forget all the fancy donut places with their unique toppings. The donuts are made in the church basement, sent out through the window still warm. They are the real deal!

Through the organization that have provided my kids day care for the past 10+ plus years, I got the opportunity to go behind the scenes and take part in making the donuts.  Sign me up! And I jumped at the chance to cook the donuts, even if it meant getting up at the crack of dawn. On the plus side, there were plenty of parking spots.

donut alarm

The kitchen was already in full swing when I got there just after 4 am. I found my spot at the frying station and they taught us the ropes. We dove right in and starting making donuts at a good clip.

Each week a different organization helps out making the donuts, under the supervision of the regular church donut staff. The organization gets to take home a percentage of the proceeds. It can take as long as 10 years to get a spot in the rotation!


Oak Park Farmers Market

Huge lines form for these donuts, three varieties are served. Plain, cinnamon sugar, and powdered sugar. The plain are my favorite, but as I learned Saturday the cinnamon sugar is pretty amazing when they are warm. The powdered sugar are so darn messy, my kids always order those  no matter how hard I tried to persuade them otherwise.

They have the donut making routine pretty nailed; make the dough, pour it in the donut dropper, cook, clip, cook, move to the try table, tray, coat and serve. The kitchen was a well oiled machine.

donut dough

Each batch makes about 75 donuts. Between 4am and 11am we made about 35 batches, about 6 bags of spice cake doughnut mix. They make anywhere from 6-7000 per day!

Donut Dough

I learned more about the shortening then I care to know, I liked to refer to it as the secret sauce. We went through two of these, not sure how many pounds it was.

Donut Day

The tools of the trade? Drum sticks to flip them. Took a few batches and then we could flip them with only one stick.

Donut Day

Once you flip them, they only take about 10-30 secs to finish to a nice golden brown.

Donut Day

Then it is off to the trays and to get their tasty coating. After my frying shift, my son showed up to help too. These two were expert coaters.

Donut Helpers

Though they really loved walking around handing out samples. I mean, everyone is happy to see you, what is not to like?

Donut Helpers

But lets be real, getting paid in donuts is what it is all about!

Donut Helpers

So mannnnny donuts!

Donut Day

And jugs and jugs of coffee to go with it. Lucky for me, it was a cool day. I could not imagine being in that kitchen over the frying when it is really hot out.


The coffee jugs were a workout to get up and out the window to the server.

Donut Day

From what I was told, the proceeds from the 24 Saturdays they sell donuts, it pays all the utilities for the church for the year. Not a bad deal. We are looking forward to volunteering again next year.

Donut Day

Check out Saveur’s write-up from back in 2011, they are often list as the best doughnut in Chicago by Chicago Magazine too. But most important, make a trip out and try them yourself.


Marinated Cauliflower Salad

My love of cauliflower is well documented. And while I normally prefer it roasted, this salad is a great way to enjoy it in the summer when you dread cranking up the oven.

cauliflower salad


Marinated Cauliflower Salad
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • ¼ red onion, finely diced
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon garlic chili sauce
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  1. Chop cauliflower into bit size pieces
  2. Finely dice the red onion and parsley
  3. combine cauliflower, red onion, raisins, and caraway seeds in a large bowl
  4. In another bowl make dressing, add garlic chili sauce, parsley, dried oregano, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour dressing over cauliflower and stir to coat.
  6. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinate a couple of hours or overnight.

Caraway seeds add peppery licorice flavor, it also evokes the flavor of meat to me. Probably because a soft rye with caraway seeds is essential for a killer corned beef sandwich. The golden raisins add sweetness that is tamed with the bite of the red onion. The garlic chile sauce gives it just enough heat.

marinated cauliflower salad

This salad gets better the longer it sits, so make a big batch and eat it all week. Serve it as a meal over salad greens, as a side dish, or even on some fresh bread for a veggie sandwich.

cauliflower salad

No matter how you chose to eat this salad, it is delicious!


Radish Crostini

The radishes were another gorgeous item we saw at the farmers market this past weekend. When we walked past this bunch on the table the 8 year-old said “I want some of those”.


Of course, I had to grab a bunch to take home. Such beauties.


Knowing radishes have a bite, I didn’t want that to be my son’s first taste of a radish. I figured I’d sweetened to deal with some butter.

radishes with butter and salt

This is my absolute favorite way to eat radishes. I especially love this combo on a steamy summer day. The cool crisp radish with the sweet butter. The touch of salt is the pièce de résistance!

He loved it! Phew.

radishes with butter and salt

We were having a going away party for our friends so I made up a batch to serve. Spread some butter on grilled bread, top with sliced radish and top with a pinch of salt. These went fast!


Market Day {Rhubarb Syrup}

I finally made it to the farmers market, everything was G O R G E O U S!


The colors were so vibrant. Must be all the rain.


Look at this rhubarb, amazing. I love the pink with white polka dots.

Rhubarb Syrup

It was a steamy day so I stuck to fruits and veggies that didn’t need any major cooking. Summer is prime time for simple cooking.

Rhubarb Syrup

It doesn’t get more simple than a simple syrup. After all, there IS a reason it’s called simple syrup.

Rhubarb Syrup

Rhubarb Syrup
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1 lb. rhubarb, rough chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot
  2. Stir to combine and heat over medium heat
  3. Cook about 10 minutes until fruit gets soft
  4. Mash fruit and cook about 10 more minutes
  5. Cool and then strain out the fruit
  6. Store liquid in a glass jar in fridge
The strained out fruit makes a delicious quick jam spread.


The rhubarb syrup makes a great addition to your favorite cocktail, or with seltzer. Next time I plan to add some fresh ginger and basil when making the syrup, I think that will be a great addition.

Rhubarb Syrup

See, simple!

Breakfast Time {Muesli}

Breakfast is a challenge on work days. My preference is something savory, low-carb, and satisfying. Oh, and I try to keep breakfast around 300 calories. Eggs are a preferred choice, though I prefer to eat later in the morning (at work), so they are not a great option most days. Chobani black cherry yogurt with a tablespoon of peanut butter is my fallback option. It doesn’t always satisfy though, I end up really hungry before lunch. Ditto on smoothies. Granola is an easy add-in for the yogurt, but shoots the calories and carbs way up. Besides, MUST EAT ALL THE GRANOLA.

I am finally climbing out of a long winter rut that did not include much cooking or kitchen creativity. The other day I passed by the bookcase with the overflow of cookbooks in our basement, and a few caught my eye. As I was looking through Super Natural Every Day the muesli recipe caught my eye. I love how Heidi Swanson wrote the recipes in this cookbook, she lists the star ingredients directly under the recipe title. I immediately saw it called for oats, golden raisins, Marcona almonds. Oats, check. Marcona almonds, check – just happened to buy a large container of from Costco, check. Golden raisins, check – leftover from another recipe (coming soon).



Muesli is like granola, except it is raw. No baking obviously makes the prep super simple. No oil or sweeteners, which keep the sugar and fat in check. The recipe fits nicely in a quart size mason jar. I only strayed from the recipe a bit, I could not find wheat or oat germ any where, I used oat bran that I had on hand instead.


You can serve the muesli in milk like a cereal or mixed into yogurt. I mixed it into plain nonfat Greek yogurt, let it sit in the fridge overnight, and added in my toppings of choice right before eating.

Muesli with Greek yogurt

Admittedly, it is not much to look at. But can we talk about the bowl for a minute? My daughter made it at school. in fact, she made all the bowls pictured. We are lucky that our high school has a kick-ass arts department, with a ton of offerings. This was her first wheel throwing class, and the pottery she made is phenomenal.

muesli blueberry

Top with your favorite fruit. Or stir in nut butter, or cinnamon.

Muesli maple

Or top with one teaspoon of pure maple syrup and a few chopped Marcona almonds. Whatever you like!

Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
  • 3 cups oats, old fashioned
  • 1/2 Marcona almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Stir to combine all ingredients
  2. Store in an airtight quart size container
  3. Makes 8-1/2 cup servings

Here is how I made mine, letting it sit overnight. I used a 1/2 cup of water and it was still very thick. Adjust to your taste. Left to combine overnight, I did not find the oats chewy or doughy and the almonds still had a bite to them. According to my calculations for a serving of muesli + yogurt = 248 calories, 6 grams of fat, 34 carbs, 4.5 fiber, 9 sugar, 17.5 protein.

muesli strawberry

Muesli with Yogurt
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
  • 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, nonfat
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1/2 cup of Muesli
  1. Stir to combine
  2. Let sit in fridge overnight
  3. Optionally, when serving stir in sweetener, fruit, nuts, raisins, nut butter of choice
I used 1/2 cup of water, and it was still thick.

Fulfills all my requirements, savory, low-carb, and very satisfying. A great workday option for breakfast, especially in the summer.


Seared Ahi Tuna with Chili Garlic Ginger Sauce

I haven’t been making much worth sharing lately. But this, this makes up for it.


seared ahi tuna with chili garlic ginger dipping sauce

While this Ahi is delicious, it’s all about the sauce.

Chili Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce

It may not look like much, but there is a whole lot of awesome packed in that little bowl. The chili garlic sauce and pickled ginger being the leads on flavor.

chili garlic sauce

Move over Sriracha, I have rekindled an old flame. This goes on everything! Morning, noon, and night. It packs way more depth of flavor with the garlic and less spicy chili.  The sweetness of the pickled ginger mellows out the heat, so don’t fear the spice in the sauce, or add more chile garlic if you want more heat.

seared ahi tuna with chili garlic ginger dipping sauce

Clearly, I prefer my tuna very rare. I marinated the steak in soy sauce for about 30 minutes. Patted each side dry, and then coated the top and bottom in toasted sesame seeds.  Sear it in a hot pan, with a touch of oil, for about 1-2 minutes per side.  Let cool, slice and serve.

The tuna is even better if you park it in the fridge until well chilled. Great as an appetizer or a main course. Perfect for a hot summer night.


Seared Ahi Tuna and Chili Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce
Author: Jacky Hackett
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 Ahi tuna steaks
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet pickled ginger
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  1. Ahi Tuna Steaks:
  2. In a shallow dish or zip bag, cover the tuna steaks with soy sauce and garlic. Marinate for 30 minutes in fridge.
  3. While steaks marinate, toast sesame seeds and make sauce
  4. Heat a skillet under medium heat. Toast sesame seeds, about 2 minutes and remove pan to a plate to avoid burning
  5. Combine first five sauce ingredients in a bowl
  6. Whisk in mayonnaise until smooth and creamy, park in fridge
  7. Remove steaks from marinade, pat dry
  8. Coat top and bottom of steak in sesame seeds
  9. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, with oil to coat
  10. Sear steaks 1- minutes per side
  11. Cool steaks and slice about 1/4″ think, against the grain
  12. Serve with sauce and pickled ginger

For me, the tuna becomes a conduit for maximum sauce enjoyment. Try it with shrimp or even grilled steak.