Turning a new leaf

Apparently, it’s been three years since either Lina or myself have updated our blog. Good news is, I feel like I have plenty to start writing about again.

So why the rebirth? Long story short is that I’ve gone from cute and chubby to cute and fat. So much so that it’s now affecting my health. So almost two months ago, I decided it was time to make a life change. That meant eating better and exercising. I love sweets, rice, and meat. Part of this change meant I needed to eat vegetables and fruits and cut down on the things that I love.  I’ve had to find vegetables I do like and recipes to incorporate it with some protein. I’ve made quite a few dishes that I’ve enjoyed and have been placed in the “I will eat you again” pile and there’s others I’d rather not have again.

Recipes will be posted. Food will be showcased. Today’s real post is about my veggie purchase this week and how I ate broccoli and didn’t die!

Every once in a while, the hubby and I like to hit up the Eastside Farmer’s Market. There’s over 50 vendors, including food trucks and stands. This past weekend was absolutely beautiful, so I convinced him we needed to go.

Priorities. Breakfast. Let me start with, I loathe broccoli. I refuse to eat it. The smell makes me nauseous and in my opinion, anything that smells like that can’t possibly be edible. However, Shade & Canopy has a stand at the market and in trying to decide what to eat, I settled on this quiche:


It looked amazing and it smelled delicious, but it had broccoli in it. Oh yeah. All those little green specs is broccoli. I ate it, because I was hungry, and I thought I should give it a go since I’m trying to eat more veggies, and, amazingly, I didn’t die eating it. It was actually really good, but it was likely masked by the tomatoes, yellow squash, creamy eggs, italian sausage and smoked gouda all up in it, too.

We walked around a bit and people watched and doggie watched. There are so many cute dogs at the market. This is what we ended up with. The most difficult choice I had to make was which farm was I buying eggs from. We picked up two dozen eggs, a lovely acorn squash, beautiful cherry tomatoes, yellow squash and some really fresh bibb and green leaf lettuce. I plan on making some roasted tomatoes and squash thing, so I’m sure I’ll post about that soon.


It was nice to blog again. It really has been so long. On a side note, as of today, I’m down 23 pounds. ^_^

-chelle reina-sm

October 12, 2016 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

banh mi thit nuong


The boyfriend and I love banh mi. I’m sure the rest of you do, too, which is why you’re here! We live in Houston, where the Vietnamese community is huge and there is no shortage of banh mi shops, so I could just drive 10 minutes and pick up some. But so why make it if it’s easily available? Honestly, it’s because I love food and I love to cook. I love learning and recreating my favorite dishes, making it more my own. Also, what else is a sick girl supposed to do all day? Resting sucks. Cooking rocks.

I can always count on The Ravenous Couple’s recipes as a starting point for Vietnamese food. Their bo luc lac is spot on and it seems to be the go to recipe for all my Vietnamese friends, too. So, that’s where I turned to for this banh mi thit nuong (grilled bbq sandwich) recipe.

There are many components to a banh mi. You’ve typically got your bread, meat, mayo, pickled carrots/daikon, cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapenos, black pepper, and Maagi seasoning. And, if you’re really ambitious, a fried egg (omg so yum maybe next time) Personally, the only veggies I like on my sandwich are the carrots/daikon, which is what you see above. Banh mi bread is not your typical french bread roll. The banh mi rolls, in my opinion, are fluffier and the crust isn’t as tough. I went to the local Vietnamese grocery store when they first opened and got first dibs on the freshly baked bread. It smelled heavenly. It was so warm and soft, with that little bit of crunch. I literally wanted to stop right there and eat a roll. For obvious reasons, I did not. I decided to also pickle my own carrots and daikon radish. That, too, was there for me to just buy, but where’s the fun in that? The boyfriend’s mom gave me this awesome julienne slicer for Christmas and what better way to use it than for the carrots and daikon? Now, I was completely motivated to make my own mayo spread, but the one they had at the grocery was freshly made and looked so good, so I caved and bought it. Next time, I’ll make my own because I felt this one was missing something.

On to the recipes….and pictures🙂 I’m starting with the pickled carrots and daikon radish as you can get that done and out of the way.

Pickled Carrots and Daikon (adapted from The Ravenous Couple):


Ingredients are simple: thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced daikon radish, white distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar.

(Note: I didn’t have white distilled vinegar so I just used what I had on hand which was definitely not distilled)

I took my carrot and daikon and peeled them. Using the julienne slicer, I was able to get them sliced thinly. If you don’t have that tool, cutting with a knife or using a fancy food processor will provide the same results. I placed all the sliced carrots/daikon in a 17 oz jar that I had bought from the store. Then, I filled the jar with just enough vinegar to cover the veggies. Next, season with almost equal parts sugar and salt. I used 3 tsp. of sugar and 2 tsp. of salt and I felt it was still too tart. The pickled veggies should be a nice balance of the tart, sweet, and salty. The boyfriend LOVED what I did, but I felt it was too tart for my tastes. Pickle your veggies for at least an hour before use. You’ll be happy to know that the pickled veggies will last months in the fridge so make larger batches if you feel you’ll use them on anything else! Ta da!


Banh Mi Thit Nuong (Grilled BBQ Vietnamese Sandwich) – Also adapted from The Ravenous Couple



  • 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, do not use lean pork as it will become dry.)
  • 1 tbsp. minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs ground pepper
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2-3 shallots, minced.
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
  • 4-6 banh mi rolls (French bread rolls) or if that’s not available, 2 loaves of French bread or 4-6 demi baguettes
  • optional 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • optional 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • optional jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • pickled carrots/daikon
  • Vietnamese mayo – I call it that because it’s not butter and it’s not your typical Kraft mayonnaise, so that’s what i’m sticking with.

In a large bowl, add your lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, shallots, sesame oil, and thick soy sauce. Add the meat and make sure to mix well and incorporate all the ingredients with the meat. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two.




There are a few ways to cook this. You can use a grill with a grill basket, on a grill with skewers, or in a pan on a stove top. I, personally, don’t have the option of grilling so I used my grill type pan on my stove top. It left really pretty grill marks and still gave it that same char. Grill the meat til it’s nice and brown, with a bit of char.


Once the meat is cooked, you can put your sandwich together with all the condiments. I prefer my bread warm, so I’d preheat the oven to 265 degrees and warm the bread for about 5-10 minutes. Cut it in half, spread the mayo, add the meat, add the veggies, and whatever optional items you want on there and voila. Your sandwich awaits you!


The meat cooked really well and the sandwich itself was a hit. We were able to make 5 sandwiches with this batch. The boyfriend approves, so I’m sure I’ll be making this more often. I love the bread and I’m going to make my own mayo the next round. Til then!

Happy Eating – Chelle ^_^

December 29, 2013 at 5:06 am 3 comments

Ladurée Macarons

My dear hubby had to get there before 9am and was the first in line, about 15mins after it open the line grew to 20 people. These were quite good and a few were amazing (black currant is my fav) great balance of flavors not too sweet. However, I still give the edge to La Maison du Chocolate for imported macarons (though I may need to go back to Ladurée soon for some jams also). There are fewer flavors at La Maison but the ganache is unbeatable, there’s no line, and you can pick up some chocolates too. So if you are in the city and find the lines too long at Ladurée, head down to La Maison du Chocolat (there are two locations in Manhattan).

September 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm 2 comments

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

My first post for the new year! I ventured away from my usual chocolate chip cookies, which I’ve been making non-stop throughout the holidays due to special requests for them. I’m not an oatmeal raisin fan, and my parents aren’t big normal chocolate chip cookie fans, so we compromised this time around and opted for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I based this recipe off the coconut oatmeal cookies from my More From Magnolia cookbook. I don’t like coconut, so I replaced them with semi sweet chocolate chips. It definitely left the cookies chewy yet crispy.


  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats (these are the old fashioned oats, NOT the quick cooking ones)
  • 1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a larger bowl, cream the butter with both sugars until you have a smooth texture (roughly about 2 minutes). Add the egg and the vanilla and beat well. Add your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add in the rolled oats and then the chocolate chips. Mix well.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between them for expansion. Bake for 10 minutes. The original recipe said 12-14 minutes, but they were too crispy, almost burnt, by 12 minutes.  I used a tablespoon scooper that looks like an ice cream scoop. Baked the cookies at 10 minutes, and was able to yield 40 cookies.

The good batches came out thin, soft & chewy but had a crispy texture at the same time. I loved them, and so did everyone else at the office. Apparently, the bad batches weren’t so bad either. They were all gone in 15 minutes.🙂

Till next time!


January 12, 2011 at 3:44 am 3 comments

Heavenly waffles

I bought a new waffle iron to make beglian waffles and soon realized that I couldn’t just use my all purpose pancake/waffle mix (which came out too heavy and dense). But this was the perfect time to try out a yeast waffle recipe. A quick googling got me to http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/belgian-yeast-waffles-recipe and it’s pretty easy. I had recently bought some organic cultured butter which was perfect for this. I whipped it together in the morning and made waffles for lunch and dinner. They are so light and crispy and fluffy in the center. I just picked it up by hand and ate them plain, they need nothing else.

The longer the batter sits the more it expands.


December 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm 9 comments

Rose Honey Almond Madeleines

It’s been a while since I tried something new with madeleines. I bought organic rose powder and this was the first thing I tried out with it. I also added rose water for more rose impact. You could probably do it with rose water alone. The honey and almond are at the forefront while the rose leaves a floral aftertaste that harmonizes flavors and counters the sweetness. Short of a rose syrup (for post baking soak) the floral flavors will always be in the back seat.
Rose Honey Almond Madeleines
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp rose powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup almond flour/meal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Cream together sugar and shortening, then incorporate one egg at a time till completely blended. Add in flavorings (rose powder, rose water, honey, almond extract) and almond flour, mix thoroughly. Then add flour and baking powder with the pinch of salt, mix till smooth. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease pans throughly. Try to under fill the molds, and you can get make 2 batches of the full sized madeleine pans or about 3 batches of minis. Bake for 18 min (for full sized pans, 13-15 for minis) till the top starts to turn golden brown. Cool for 5min before popping them out.


November 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm 14 comments

Happy Halloween


October 31, 2010 at 8:20 pm 2 comments

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