Veggie Lasagna a la James

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Nothing screams winter to me like a piping hot plate of lasagna. When my boyfriend said he wanted to make some, I jumped at the chance to record and share it with you! Directions and measurements are a little fuzzy, but anyone who is experimental in the kitchen (or already has a lasagna recipe) is welcome to use this to modify your current version. The rue makes a huge difference, and so would some homemade ricotta! (I’ll get around to that soon…)

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:
Veggies of choice.
Pasta sauce.
Lasagna noodles.
Cheese of choice (I recommend mozzarella or ricotta).
Sugar.
Rue.

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Method:
In a pot on medium heat, start sweating some onion. James says, “Don’t add garlic to withering onions at first, or else the garlic will burn.”
Add other veggies, pasta sauce (or canned tomatoes), and sugar, and cook down until soft. Use the lid.
Make a rue. You can add garlic and cheese if you’d like.
Lay a layer of noodles into the pan and fill with veggie sauce. Add cheese. Next, Add another layer of noodles and rue. Repeat until desired size.
Cover last layer with rue and cheese, and fill in any gaps with extra pasta sauce.
Bake covered at 220C for 35 minutes. Cook an extra 10 minutes uncovered and let sit in the oven for 10 with power off.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Last year, I created three blogs in the hope that one of them would find huge success. It turns out that three blogs is a lot of work!

 

I did find a small glimmer of hope over at Eat Your Lunchee. This blog is specifically designed for foodies interested in School Lunches, especially in Korea.

This year, I have a new direction, and that’s food. Not just the Lunch-ees… but my own recipes. I’m inspired by many bloggers, namely 519 Kitchen and A Fat Girl’s Food Guide. I’ve been following them for quite some time and they give me great ideas!

Soon, the layout of “Everything Rae” will change to something new and shiny, especially formatted to fit all of the food I want to share with you.

Thank you so much for following my adventures. I look forward to the change and a new outlook on blogging!

Cocktail Weenies, A Christmas Side-Dish!

What holiday is complete without some smokey, sweet and tangy Cocktail Weenies? I actually can’t take credit for this recipe, since I had to search some websites to find what I was looking for, but it’s possible to make in Korea just like back home!

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Vietnamese Shabu Shabu: “Shabu Hyang!”

Shabu Shabu is a wonderful course meal. In Korea, this normally consists of three courses, veggies, noodles, and rice. If you’ve never had it, watch this video!

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Korea “K”asserole!

Cooking comfort foods in Korea can be tough,
especially on a diet AND a budget!

So far I’ve been able to reconstruct some of my favorite foods here,
even with limited access to Western brands and ingredients.
It takes some creativity, but it can be done…

Enter, “Korean Kasserole“!

First, assemble all ingredients.
Really, anything you want to put in there is going to come out tasty, so go on.

I was cleaning out my pantry, so in went a bunch of onion, bok choy, chicken,
mushrooms, cheese, and even a box of Stove Top
(no, I haven’t been able to find this in Korea yet!)

I used macaroni noodles as the base for my Kasserole.
Other recipes call for other things, but remember, this is comfort food!
Anything goes!

tiny 2 burner stove..
making soup in a cast iron skillet…ha!

Since there is no “cream of” soup here, I used a Mushroom Soup packet
and thickened it up with flour.

Once that’s finished, set aside and LIGHTLY BROWN your chicken breast.
It needs to be at least halfway cooked before going into the oven.

While boiling pasta and thickening up your soup, cut up all your veggies
into nice, bite size (or smaller) pieces.

mmm…cheese…

Here’s the fun part, assembly!
There’s no “right” way to do this. I dumped in the macaroni, soup,
and all the other ingredients and stirred.

Make your stuffing according to the most convenient option available to you…
(I only have 2 burners on my “stove” so I used the microwave)
…and toss it on top!

Then you shove it into your toaster oven and set the dial to 190C/375F
for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired gooeyness.

I am by no means a great FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER
but here’s what it looks like when you put it on your plate,
in the dark of your studio apartment,
right before gobbling it up and getting seconds.
(And thirds.)

how do you like that super cute portion plate?!

DEVOURED.

If you want to know the secrets for how to make your OWN, see below:

Korean Kasserole
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 20min, Cooking time: 20min

INGREDIENTS
1 cup macaroni noodles (boiled to al dente, not rinsed)
1/2 packet of Oteggi Mushroom Cream Soup (prepared according to packet, thickened with flour)
200g chicken breast, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 bunches of bok choy, roughly chopped
8 mushrooms, finely chopped
(more veggies welcomed)

METHOD
1. Preheat your toaster oven to 190C/375F.
2. Line casserole dish or cake pan with baking spray or butter.
3. Lightly brown chicken, boil noodles, and warm up the soup.
4. Mix all ingredients together. Soup, Macaroni, and Veggies.
5. Prepare stuffing mix (or breadcrumbs) and sprinkle on top.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until suitably gooey/crispy according to desired taste.
7. Season with salt, pepper, celery flakes, oregano, and/or other seasonings of choice.
8. DIG IN!

Let me know what you think. What other foods would you like to see me make in my itty bitty apartment kitchen?

South Korean Sweet Potatoes

There are so many things about Korea that I’ve wanted to share on this blog, but for some reason I never get around to it. Today, that changes.

Today’s topic is on Sweet Potatoes. Those sweet, soft, almost candied root veggies that we only put into our mouths when either our grandmothers or single aunts are around on the holidays (at least until we grow up).

They are orange in color and usually cook up to make EXCELLENT fries and can be a wonderful meat substitute.

However, Korean Sweet Potatoes…

…are WHITE! And extreeeeemely hard!

Here’s a story to illustrate why I’m so annoyed at Korean sweet potatoes.

One cold winter night, after having ate at least a pound of potatoes the previous week, I decided to get creative.

I tried to bake my sweet potato.

Most Korean kitchens do not come with an oven. I had to purchase a toaster oven off an ex-pat who was on their way home. It’s a little small but it usually does the job!

So I stuck my fattest sweet potato in the toaster and went off to watch QI or something. About an hour later (because I cannot be trusted to watch things in the oven) I came back, starving. I rescued my potato. I tried to cut into it.

It was  still rock-hard!

Can you believe that I actually had to STEAM the potato after baking it for an hour? And yes, it was wrapped in foil and had been soaked in water first! Arg!

Moral of the story is, do not try to bake, fry, or eat your Korean Sweet Potato raw. It will not be good unless it is steamed. You can steam a whole bunch of them for about 30 minutes, stick them in the fridge, and stick ’em in the microwave at work the next day.

But creativity can only go so far with these tubers.

Here are some pictures of Korean sweet potatoes for your blogging pleasure, courtesy of Google:

Cute boy and giant sweet potatoes!

South Korean “Mr. Pizza” with a “Gold Ring” of Sweet Potato…as well as corn, bacon, and potato slices. Oh, and mayo. Mmm.

Most food in South Korea has a cartoon character that encourages you to eat it… this one is so happy/sad that he’s about to be peeled and eaten!

What better way to say “Happy Birthday!” than with a sweet potato cake?

A woman empathizes with my situation… baking sweet potatoes is such a beautiful thing…

Could this be the world’s largest?

Anyway, enough about potatoes. I’m getting hungry!
Have a great Monday!

Embracing Domesticity

All of my adult(ish) life, I’ve felt like I was the kind of crazy, independent, free-bird, tomboy kind of girl to never have the kind of time and patience required to stand in a kitchen for hours, slaving over food that would probably taste mediocre at best. I’ve never been the cook of  the family (although I have tried, and succeeded a few times) and I sincerely loathe doing dishes, with or without dishwashers being invented. Trust me, that keeps me at least 10 yards from the kitchen at all times!

A few times in the past, I’ve started up the hobby of cooking, wrestling ingredients and “heavy machinery” in my grandmother’s kitchen. It never lasted long, though. After some really dedicated tries, I gave up cooking in favor of having others cook for me. (How impeccably middle class.)

About 2 years ago, I became a raw foodist. It was an incredible change for my body and health. Overall, I felt like I had more energy and life than ever before, and everyone around me thought I was crazy! I aspire to eat raw again someday (when I live in an area chock full of fresh and affordable vegetables again)!

When I moved to South Korea, my access to ingredients I was used to working with was almost completely cut off. (Even though availability is getting steadily better in bigger supermarkets like E-Mart, I still have spices sent in care packages to this day.)

I made stir fry almost every night for nearly a year. Yeah, it was that bad.

So when did the domestication come in, you ask?

Well, a few months ago I started getting homesick. I was literally getting ill from eating Korean-style. A nasty mixture of hormones, allergies, and bronchitis had me in and out of hospitals for over a month. Once I finally got the germs to stop clinging to me, I realized like a lightbulb flashing before my eyes: I can cook!

Or so I thought.

But hey, trying is doing. And doing is believing. (Or something like that.)

Cheesy "Egg Botty"

Breakfast for dinner...a specialty

Even with the smallest kitchen known to man (literally, in a closet, I’ll show you sometime), I still enjoy finding new things to brew up and challenge my limits with.

DIY Freezer Meals

The newest cooking bandwagon I’ve jumped onto whole-heartedly is frozen slow cooker meals. Yeah, I’m just like every other working woman, and throwing a healthy meal in a heated pot for 8 hours so I can come home to a heavenly-scented kitchen is absolute perfection to me. (Seriously. Thank you, Rival Industries.)
So now I feel like a ’50’s housewife, always organizing things, cooking, sometimes cleaning (hah), and doing things like printing recipe cards, researching my dream kitchen, and spending hours of my day combing through sites like Pinterest and Punchfork.
I’ve come to terms with my new hobbies and interests and have decided: just because I still love to get muddy during a soccer match or climb some of the tallest mountains in Korea doesn’t mean I can’t love doing these more “feminine” things, too.
Have you been surprised by changes in your lifestyle that crept up on you slowly but seemed totally unlike you? Tell me about it!