this isn’t your dorm room ramen noodles

10 for $ damn!

it’s absolutely horrible for you and i can hear taggart yelling at me that “powdered chicken isn’t food” but i still occasionally enjoy some ramen noodles.  but to counter balance this act of unhealthy eating i decided to make this package of ramen a bit fancier.   how did i do this?  well….

first i crumbled tofu, mixed that with carrots, mushrooms, and strips of dried mango.  all these yummy ingredients where stir fried with garlic, ginger, and the powdered chicken flavor packets that come with the ramen noodles.  once the noodles were done cooking i tossed everything together.

powdered chicken no more

and yes that is a classic plastic chinese styled plate that you would find at any local chinese food restaurant.  how can you eat chinese food on anything but?  want some?  venture to your local asian market.  i love the home section.  plates, rice cookers, and buddha statues galore.  those clear things sitting on the plate?  my chop sticks.  they are really more like fake chop sticks, they look like a giant pair of clothes pins and function as so.  3 years ago my new years resolution was to learn to use chop sticks.  i did, i can even eat fried rice with them.  my conclusion about chop sticks?   completely pointless!  i don’t care they might seem overly “western” of me but i have no issue using my fake chop sticks or a fork when it comes to devouring asian food.


meatless monday: pasta fagioli with sage-garlic focaccia


louis prima always makes me hungry especially for italian food.  so while creating my meatless monday meal of pasta fagioli, a traditional italian soup, and some homemade focaccia, i think i listened to the song “angelina” possibly 3 times (sorry neighbors).  so much yummy food in the song and who wouldn’t want to be the waitress louis prima is in love with!

making homemade bread can be a very scary process because you don’t really know if it is going to turn out till the very end.  so this year i started out with the idea i was going to work my way through the bread bible.  well that goal hasn’t quiet worked out but i have gotten into the swing of making bread.  i know to start my yeast right away in hot water on the stove while it is heating up with plastic wrap on top of the mixture.

yeast a working

when it comes time to bake i know that you should always use a pizza stone and a pan of water to form and instant bread oven.

bread a baking

whole wheat sage-garlic focaccia

i have had a variety of pasta fagioli over the years.  my favorite is at nonna’s in springfield, she loads it up with a ton of vegetables and beans.  but i must say when making it i try to keep it as original as possible, beans, noodles, and tomato sauce.

always top it with some parm



olive oil

1 onion chopped

16oz tomato sauce

salt and pepper


1/2 bag of pasta

1 can of white beans

1.  saute onion in olive oil and pepper.  add tomato sauce and oregano when onions have gotten tender.  while saute onions cook pasta.

2.  combine pasta (with the water from the pasta) in tomato sauce mixture, simmer for 10 minutes

3.  serve soup topped with parmesan cheese



Sunday Night Dinner: August 21, 2011: Oh, egg of my heart…

I’ve really been cutting back on the amount of meat I eat. It’s a personal choice for various reasons. For years (and sometimes still do) fix my veggie husband a different meal than my meaty one, but it’s so much nicer to share the same meal when you eat together. I do partake in a little chicken, turkey, and fish from time to time, but not very often. I very rarely even think about it anymore. When we visited mom and dad last weekend I had wonderful homemade meals of the poultry variety, but it was more meat than I’ve eaten in a month! So our returning home dinner was simple: Matzo Eggs, veggie sausage, broccoli, and a buttery croissant from Whole Foods Bakery.

My belly was so happy. Matzo eggs (which I’ve posted before) are so comforting. There’s something soft and subtle about their taste and texture. If a scrambled egg could give you a hug, this would be it, so it’s a good thing to eat when you’re missing your parents. And yes, the idea of eggs hugging you is weird…I know that. Lyn, I think this goes with all the egg lovin’ you’ve been doing lately…yes, weird again.

For dessert we got to bring some of mom’s chocolate cake home with us. We topped it with cool whip and sprinkles just like her. It’s so light and fluffy, although I’ve never had a second piece, I always think about it.

Thanks for the leftovers, Mom!

Matzo Eggs Recipe: (2 servings)


2 eggs

2 Matzo crackers (salted or unsalted depending on your taste)

2 tablespoons of butter

1 colander

1 bowl

Frying pan



Set your colander in your bowl and crush your Matzo crackers in the colander.

Remove the bowl and rinse your crushed crackers in water until damp and set aside.

On medium-low heat, start to melt your butter in the frying pan.

Meanwhile, mix your damp crackers and the dry bits together in the bowl.

Crack your eggs into the same bowl and give it a good stir with your fork. Your ready when every thing is coated with egg.

Your butter should be nice and foamy/bubbly by now– you don’t want it to brown, so keep and eye on it!

Pour the cracker egg mixture into the frying pan and increase your heat to medium high. Stir constantly with your fork for 4 or 5 minutes. The egg mixture will start to clump and resemble scrambled eggs.

After 4 or 5 minutes you are ready to eat– so get ready for your egg hug.



Springfield Style- The Farris’s return to Leong’s Teahouse

A couple of weekends ago when we took family friend, Emily, to visit mom and dad, we went to the new Leong’s Teahouse.

This dish made of deep-fried chicken, brown oyster sauce, green onions and cashew nuts was created by Mr. Leong as a way to appeal to local tastes. The popularity of fried chicken meets chinese culture recipe helped put chinese restaurants on almost every busy corner of the city. There are so many “cashew chicken” restaurants in Springfield that you can get a lunch special for under $4.00 (with crab rangoon included). As most Springfieldian’s are (I’m sure Brad Pitt included), I was shocked to find that Springfield style wasn’t widely available outside of southern Missouri. If it was on the menu, there were often “additions” or “subtractions” that just didn’t make it Springfield style. The first time I ordered Cashew Chicken in Kansas City I was floured that it wasn’t deep fried. I just had no idea there was any other way to eat it! A family fight over the original recipe closed the first Leong’s. Now due to Springfield Style fate, a son of the originator has officially opened a new Leong’s. This being Emily’s first trip to the area, we had to go.

Crab Rangoon, of course

East meets West again. They now serve BBQ as well, so John had salad and fries.


The original!

Mom and Emily trying it out.


Dad ordered sweet and sour chicken.


Honestly, most of the meal was spent discussing how the new Leong’s just wasn’t as good as Hong Kong Inn. I know, you would think we would be totally blown away by the originator, but the years have changed our taste buds and we prefer the Springfield style we grown to love in Leong’s absence. We were actually more of a Jade East family when I was little because they were close to our house, but Hong Kong Inn reigned supreme during my middle school/high school/ college years, and let’s face it, they’re still on my speed dial.

I’m glad we got to taste the real deal once again and share local cuisine with a new friend, but alas, all we can say is , Thank You Mr. Leong for creating this deep-fried delicacy and inspiring others to do so too.





sunday night dinner: august 21, 2011–tequila tilapa

along with mushrooms i’ve been working on liking peppers.  this has been much easier than the mushrooms.  i’m to the point where i even like jalapenos.  so this called for some mexican cooking a la lynley.  sunday night’s dinner included tilapa which i marinated in tequila, jalapenos, limes and some special seasonings.  i always seem to bake my fish in the same little casserole dish that carol sanford gave me.  don’t know why but this has turned into my fish dish.

tequila just seems to make fish oh so better

then came a little experiment, this was pure cooking like dad. that means totally making up what you are doing and throwing everything in to cover up if it doesn’t work.  i wanted to create a mexican rice.  so black beans, rice, taco sauce, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, diced can tomatoes, a variety of seasonings, queso cheese, and i think i am leaving out about 5 other ingredients.  honestly i don’t know what all went in it and i’ll probably never be able to make it the exact same way again but it was a success none the less.

my kitchen sink mexican rice with a tomato-avacodo salad

with all that spicy-ness i had to cool off my mouth, so what better way to do that than to make a root beer float.  i always keep a mug in the freezer just for this reason.  once you have the root beer float in a frozen mug you’ll never go back!

its sssooo fizzy


Steph’s Birthday in 3 Acts: Act 3- Dinner

Our before dinner activities included…

Pretending like we were at the beach, but we were really in the front yard.

Then we headed downtown to the location where St. Mary’s Hospital use to be. Yes, I was born at 6:48 pm at St. Mary’s Hospital across the street from Hallmark Cards. I don’t know what that says, but I think it helped me get a job there. All that’s left of the hospital is the corner-stone and the bell from the chapel.

I got it in my head that I had to ring the bell at the time was born…so I did.

Of course then we tried to take some trick photography…

After our antics, we went home to make dinner. As many of you know, I really love Paul Newman’s Vodka sauce. Love isn’t a strong enough word really…thank you Paul for creating this jar of thick tomato-y pleasure.

This year I decided to stuff mushrooms with garlic, basil, and tiny mozzarella cheese balls.

The mushrooms sautéed for a few minutes in oil then I let them simmer in vodka sauce for thirty minutes on low.

I served this up with spinach and regular fettucine and JY’s famous toasted bread. And of course we stuck a candle in it.

This plate kicked-off my new daily ritual of posting my favorite meals to facebook!

We watched Shakespeare in Love, one of my favorite movies, drank wine and I gave myself permission to eat all of one of my giant british chocolate bars. If you haven’t heard about my love of Montezuma British Gourmet Chocolates, then you my friend need to come over and see my chocolate chart. I covet them for special occasions and there’s hardly any occasion more special than a birthday.

Needless to say, I only got 3/4 of the way through. When I say, “I’m going to eat the whole thing,” that’s never a good sign for my belly. Being newly 35, I heeded my belly’s warning.

Steph’s Birthday in 3 Acts: Act 2- Lunch

Our pre-birthday lunch activity was riding bikes on the trail at Corporate Woods. It’s not the Katy Trail, but it’s still a good time!

I can hear you shouting about public affection right now, Lyn.

For lunch I made one of my favorite things: Dad’s sautéed veggies in rice with veggie buffalo wings. Dad doesn’t do the veggie buffalo business, but he taught me how to saute veggies in butter and worcestershire sauce when I was a sophomore in college. It’s one of my favorite summer meals and since I love to cook myself lunch, I had to have it for my birthday,

JY had veggie corn dogs.

We had peach pie with blueberry ice cream for dessert.

AND we had to stick a candle in it even though it was only lunch. This started with John’s birthday this year when we were in England. I was trying to create a birthday/home feel in a foreign country, so I stuck birthday candles in all of John’s meals. When it came time for lunch, John said, “Where’s the candle?” I think we’ve started a new tradition!

Stephanie’s birthday in 3 Acts: Act 1- Breakfast

I started a new ritual of getting up at dawn on my birthday and having a cup of tea outside. It’s a peaceful and caffeinated way to start my new year and I really love it.

Another little tradition I brought back last year was having breakfast pancakes in bed. This is something my mother always did for me growing up and, of course, the tradition fell off my adult radar.  Cooking early in the morning is one of my greatest joys in life. The house is quiet, my focus is devoted to the flour on my hands, the way the wooden spoon stirs around the bowl, and the sizzle of melting butter…

I love the way morning light looks on my oven and colors the batter. Yes, I do love my pancake moments.

Lyn’s advice about adding another spoonful of baking powder made the pancakes thick and tall, just the way I like them (thanks sis). I also like my pancakes a little pale as well as golden. Mom and dad will remember how I use to beg for them to be a little gooey in the middle– I still like them pale, but not so gooey.

I know it’s totally silly because I made the pancakes, but I get SO excited hearing him come down the hallway. It’s probably the happiest moment of my very happy day. Think about a birthday tradition you use to have as a kid and try it as an adult– you will not regret it– I promise.

John and I ate our pancakes, investigated my birthday horescope, and read the funnies together. What a yummy good way to start my big day.

meatless monday: summer eggs

they're just so colorful

i’ve discovered while researching for vegetarian recipes to try for meatless monday that i’m now eating a lot more eggs for dinner.  which is ok with me.  eggs are cheap, excellent source of protein, and i mean i know i’m not the only one who digs their smooth, rich taste.  have you ever noticed that? the next time you cook eggs, don’t over cook them!!!  it takes away that butter rich taste of an egg.  how to tell an egg is over cooked?  is there burnt bits in it or around it? has the white started to turn yellow?  do they have a rubber texture?  that my friends is an over cooked egg.  trust me the egg is the hardest thing to cook.  often the part of the interview process for a chef is cooking eggs.

this recipe i have decided to call summer eggs.  it involves heirloom tomatoes.  i like using heirloom tomatoes they add such a variety of color to a dish.  vegetarians are often encouraged to plan their meals not based around food groups but the color wheel.  if you plate is all one color you aren’t getting a variety of nutrients but if you plate looks like the color wheel your food as different vitamins, minerals, and loads of other good stuff.

essentially all i did was cook the eggs, sunny side up, with the tomatoes in a skillet, once the eggs had become pretty set, i topped the dish with some shredded queso cheese, popped that in the oven and broiled the dish till the egg whites were done.  so easy and so good!  you could probably add lots of other yummy ingredients to this and i’d say that is worth a try as well, but honestly i think what made this dish was its pure simplicity.