Food and Drink

What to make with those leftover Chinese food condiment packets

If you're like me, you just hate throwing away food stuff for no reason.  Whenever we order Chinese food, we end up with about 6 million extra little packets of duck sauce, 4 billion packets of soy sauce, and about infinity packets of hot mustard that I just KNOW can be used for something.  So yesterday I surveyed the packets we had accumulating on the kitchen counter from the past few order-out days and came up with a couple marinades and sauces for ya. Condiment collage

First, I used a few packets of mustard, duck sauce and soy to create a marinade for chicken which I skewered with broccoli and onions to grill.  

Next, I made a ginger and sesame marinade for some beef cubes using a couple more packets of soy and mustard.  I skewered them with some mushrooms, peppers and onions and grilled them too!

Finally, I made a ginger soy dipping sauce for the beef skewers and a honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken skewers.

Of course, you can go out and buy these ingredients, but if you already have these packets laying around they can save you some money!


Sweet and hot mustard chicken and broccoli skewers

with honey mustard dipping sauce Chicken skewers

  • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
  • 3 packets* Chinese hot mustard
  • 2 packets* duck sauce
  • 1 packet* soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar if rice vinegar isn't available)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 crown broccoli cut into florets and slightly steamed
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, vinegar, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating chicken and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

To make dipping sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of hot mustard, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp either coconut water or regular water.

Sesame beef and vegetable skewers

with sesame soy dipping sauce Sesame beef


    • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
    • 3 packets of soy sauce
    • 1 packet of hot mustard
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • 1 lb 1 inch beef cubes (sirloin works great)
    • 6-10 button mushrooms
    • 1 onion cut into wedges
    • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, sesame oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the beef cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating beef and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

For the sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of soy sauce, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, and toss in a few sesame seeds for fun.

 *Each packet contains about 8 grams (or 1.6 tsp) of each condiment.

I served these skewers with a blend of different rices and the whole family really enjoyed them.  Hope you do, too!

Do you have any good uses for all those leftover packets? I'd love to hear them!

Also, this is not a sponsored post.  These pictures represent the brands I have in my pantry right now.  

Eat Right for Your Sight- a collection of recipes to help reduce the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration - review

Eat Right for Your Sight Cover
Growing up I always remember hearing that eating carrots will improve your eyesight.  That thought has always stuck with me because I truly believe that the fuel we put into our bodies directly impacts the way our bodies function.  Certain foods can have different effects on how different parts of the body act.  Carrots, for example, contain beta-carotene which has been proven vital to eye growth and development.  So it stands to reason that there are other foods out there that can help your eyesight as well.

I was given the cookbook Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM to review and was very happy to do so.  This cookbook lists many different benefits of the foods we eat and how they can help reduce vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  I personally do not have macular degeneration yet - unfortunately, AMD affects 10 million Americans- but plan on following the advice AND the recipes in this book to help stave off any effects that could present themselves later in life.

With over 85 recipes containing nutrient-rich ingredients, Eat Right for Your Sight is a gorgeous cookbook that I find very appealing.  The recipes all look right up my alley with vibrant colors, savory and sweet ingredients, and easy directions.  So far I have tried one of the recipes for Chicken with Mushrooms and Thyme.  I loved it and am happy to share it with you here:

Chicken with mushrooms and thyme

Chicken with Mushrooms and Thyme

from Eat Right for Your Sight

Chicken is dense in niacin, as well as vitamin B—which is good for energy metabolism—and phosphorus, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy teeth and bones.

    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds)
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the butter and olive oil over high heat in a heavy saucepan or skillet large enough to hold the chicken breasts in one layer. When the oil smokes, add the chicken breasts and season them with the salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and bake until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms to the drippings in the pan and cook for about 1 minute over high heat. Add the vinegar and thyme and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add ½ cup of water and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste. To serve, slice each breast in half crosswise on the diagonal. Coat the chicken with the sauce and sprinkle with chives.

Check out the book Eat Right for Your Sight through my affiliate link on or at their website :  or their Facebook page:


Recipes from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.


Photos credited to Jason Houston.

Spicy mustard glazed corned beef

Up until a few years ago, I had always just followed the cooking directions on whatever brand of corned beef happened to be on sale.  But all that changed when I tried broiled corned beef at a friend's house.  She added a glaze at the end that knocked my socks off! I don't know exactly what she put in it, but I came up with my own concoction that I think resembles it pretty well.

This recipe isn't meant to change the way you cook your corned beef.  If you have a tried and true recipe, by all means, go for it!  (Or there are some good recipes listed below) This will just take it one step further for an awesome taste experience.  Adding a spicy, sort-of-sweet glaze and broiling it towards the end of its cooking time just makes it so tender and gives it a slightly crispy outer edge.   Mustard corned beef

Spicy Mustard Glazed Corned Beef

  • 2 Corned beef briskets -about 6 pounds total
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cook the corned beef according to the package or your favorite recipe.  About 10 minutes before cooking time is up, remove the meat and set it on a broiler pan fat side up.  Turn oven on 400°.  Mix together mustard, horseradish, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Spread the glaze over the corned beef.  Be sure to hit all exposed sides.  Place in the oven for 10 minutes.  Then place the meat in a broiler for another 5 minutes or until the glaze is brownish.  Remove from the broiler and let the meat sit for about 10 minutes.  Cut on a diagonal and serve with boiled potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

I'm telling you, this glaze is life changing.  It tastes even better the next day on a sandwich, but truth be told I think I've only experienced that phenomena once... because we almost never have any leftovers! Hope you like it.



Famous Erica's Garlic, Beer, and Kielbasa Sandwiches with Sauerkraut

My friend Erica Allen just became FAMOUS.  If you look at the April edition of Taste of Home magazine, you will find her recipe for Cuban-Style Pork Chops right inside!  I hope you will check it out because Erica is an awesome cook.  She very graciously offered me this recipe which includes basically all my favorite food groups: kielbasa, garlic, sauerkraut and of course BEER.  
I love beer.
So without further ado... here's Famous Erica's recipe for:
Garlic, Beer, Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Sandwiches  Kielbasa sandwich- Erica Allen
    • 1 package kielbasa cut in 2 inch pieces then split
    • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
    • 1 can budweiser or any type but not light
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • Can sauerkraut
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
    • Long rolls
    • Mustard for condiment
Place cut kielbasa in pan cut side down.  Pour on 1/4 of the beer. Add garlic and brown over med heat uncovered.   Add paprika and pepper.   Add another 1/4 of beer when evaporated.  Add soy sauce and sauerkraut.  Flip kielbasa pieces.  Add another 1/4 of beer when evaporated.  Let cook on low.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar and mix in.  Continue on med heat for 15 min or until brown.  Transfer to oven to brown well at 350° for 15 min.  Add last bit of beer can , if dry.
Can't wait to try it, Erica!  Thanks for the recipe!

Easy Korean barbequed pork tenderloin and sriracha rice balls with Sky Valley sauce - review & recipe

I was sent a couple sauces from Sky Valley* the other day and was very happy to come up with a couple recipes for them.  The sauces they sent me were their Korean Barbeque and their Sriracha sauce.  Both sauces are gluten-free and made with organic ingredients and both are seriously delicious.

I decided on making some grilled pork tenderloin.  As I was mentioning it to my son that morning, he asked if I could also make some Korean rice balls with it.  Now, this flabbergasted me because I have never made Korean rice balls in my life and was pretty sure my son had never eaten them before.  So I questioned him.  He said one of his classmates always has them for lunch and they look good, so he was wondering if I could try making them.  Of course my answer was a resounding YES. 

The pork turned out beautifully and tasted great.  It was so easy.  Here's the recipe:

Grilled Korean Barbeque Pork Tenderloin

  • 1/2 bottle Sky Valley Korean Barbeque Sauce
  • 1 pork tenderloin

Marinate the pork tenderloin for about 4-5 hours in the Sky Valley Korean Barbeque Sauce.  Place on a medium/low grill (discard used sauce) and let it cook about 7 minutes on both sides or until it is no longer pink.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes and slice on a diagonal.  Serve with extra sauce for dipping. Easy peasy.

Korean food

I scoured the internet for a good Korean rice ball recipe and found that anything goes with them.  If you've got leftover rice in the fridge and really anything else that you think would go great with rice, you can make rice balls.  

I chose to make some vegetable ones using the technique found here at  Basically, you just place your leftover rice in a large bowl and mix in some finely diced sauteed vegetables (I used mushrooms, garlic, green onion, and carrots), a few sesame seeds, and a tiny bit of sesame oil.  Put on some plastic gloves and roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls.  I put a little dab of Sky Valley Sriracha on top for a kick!

Rice balls

 Check out Sky Valley foods available through OrganicVille Foods online through social media at:


Twitter: @Organicville, Facebook, and Pinterest

For Sky Valley Foods, their International Sauces are available here -

 *no other compensation was given to me for this review.

Big Grandma's Cookbook: Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

This installment in the Big Grandma's Cookbook series might be my favorite so far.  These little cookie gems are what bring back the most memories of my grandmother.  She would make these for us as kids on special occasions.  When we would eat them, she would eat them too, very daintily with the tips of her fingers.  We would have milky, sugary tea in our own special tea cups she kept special for us in the china cabinet.  We felt so grown up enjoying the cookies and tea in that fashion.

But then we would devour them like animals once we left her house with our little box of leftovers.

I often wonder if Big Grandma did that, too, once we left.  Thoughts like that make me smile.

Some people call these cookies kiffles.  But that is a word I had never heard until last Christmas when my mom brought us some cookies that resembled Big Grandma's cream cheese cookies.  We all tried them and while they were delicious in their own way, they weren't the same.  Nothing could match Big Grandma's recipe.

So when I found her recipe in her little handwritten cookbook, I cried.  

I made them and watched as my kids devoured them in the same way my sister and I used to as  I ate them daintily with my fingertips just like my beautiful grandma.  My cookies weren't nearly as pretty as the ones she used to make, but the taste was spot on.  

Cream cheese cookies

Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

*I had to take some liberties with the recipe as it was not really written with clear instructions.  I had to wing it a little bit.*


  • 1 lb butter softened
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese softened
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 -4 cups all purpose flour plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 jar apricot jam (or your favorite jam - strawberry is good, but a little sweet)
  • 1 beaten egg


 Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs until smooth.  Add baking powder to 3 cups flour and then gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.  You will be rolling out the dough, so if it seems too thin to roll add more flour by the tablespoon until it is thick enough to form a soft dough.

Roll thin (about 1/4 inch) on a floured surface.  Cut into 3 inch circles.  Fill each circle with a dollop of apricot jam and fold over the edges.  Brush each cookie with the beaten egg.  Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes of until they are light golden brown.

Even though you might want to grab one and eat it right off the pan, don't do it!  That apricot jam is going to be hot for a good 10 minutes after they come out.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and then enjoy!

Big Grandma's cookbook


Carrot Cookies AKA: the ones I eat to make myself think I'm eating "healthy"

Taking a little break from the Big Grandma's Cookbook series to give you a recipe that is one of my family's favorites.  I adapted it from one I read a while ago in Taste of Home magazine.  The adaption came from my usual lack of having all the ingredients required, and I have to say it turned out fan-freaking-tastic.

Whenever I make these cookies, my kids call them the "healthy" ones because they have carrots in them.  I go with it.  Nevermind the sugar, butter and salt.  These fluffy, buttery, soft bites of deliciousness can make you see in the DARK!  

OK, they can't (as I'm sure you figured out). But they certainly will make you smile.  Please try them!

Carrot cookies
"Healthy" Carrot Cookies 

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots (squeeze out excess liquid if you can)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Stir in shredded carrots.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it slowly to the carrot mixture.  Drop them by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 in. apart and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Check them so they do not turn too brown.  You want them to be only very lightly toasty.

These are my favorite cookies to have with a nice cup of tea.  Enjoy!


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

Big Grandma didn't always make Hungarian foods.  She was actually quite adventurous in her cooking style and would try just about anything.  Most of the time, we enjoyed whatever she was making.  But I wouldn't be truthful if I said we liked everything.  

I can remember a time when Big Grandma made us some pumpkin soup during a visit.  Now, I love pumpkin soup.  But not that time.  I don't know what was in it, but I can still taste it 30 years later.  Every time I think of that soup, it makes me chuckle a bit because even though it wasn't a favorite, it makes me think of my grandma.  

If I can get sentimental for a minute, I'd like to share something...

My grandma was a very proper woman.  She is the one who taught us how to set a table the right way, how to keep a smooth complexion by never washing your face with soap, how to sit with your legs properly crossed at the ankles during tea...all that.  Up until we were all older, I didn't really know my grandma any other way.  So when something came up like the pumpkin soup incident - where she made something that wasn't perfect - it made me feel closer to her.  She normally didn't DO anything that wasn't perfect.  It helped me to realize she was a normal human being.

Back to recipes.  This recipe also reminds me of Big Grandma for the same reason the pumpkin soup did, except it is delicious (unlike that soup).  It's not one that I would have expected from Big Grandma's cookbook and seems to be a far stretch from the more proper recipes she has in there.  It really made me smile to see it.  It made me smile even more to taste the end results!  Enjoy.

Molasses cookies

Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used softened butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Cream shortening (or softened butter) & sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg & molasses.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to above alternately with water.  Drop by heaping teaspoon on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375° 8-10 minutes.  

  Big Grandma's cookbook

Big Grandma's Cookbook: Stuffed Cabbages

My grandmother spoke Hungarian.  Not to us and not all the time or anything.  She learned it on her own for fun.  In fact, when she went to Hungary for the first time, a native asked HER for directions because her Hungarian was so fluent.  

When I sit and read through her cookbook, I find many Hungarian words that I have to translate through the magical thing we call the internet.  However, I did find a word she wrote that I can not seem to find here online: Golubtsk

It is very similar to the Polish word gołąbki and the Russian word Golubtsi  which both mean stuffed cabbage.  I can't help but think maybe she was trying to write one of them..?  

Anyway, the Hungarian words for stuffed cabbage are töltött káposzta.  Here's my grandma's recipe for stuffed cabbage...or whatever she called them.   Stuffed cabbage collage


  • 1 large cabbage (You will need a large pot filled with water a well)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 T table fat (I substituted with avocado oil)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 2 cups of cooked lb brown rice 
  • 2 c beef stock

Boil the large pot of water and parboil cabbage 3 minutes.  Remove and cool enough to handle. Separate leaves from head.  (You may need to put the head back in the water once you get to the inner leaves)  Salt beef and fry in 2 T fat (or oil).  Add pepper.  Remove meat to a large bowl & fry onion in 1/2 T butter.  Add to meat.  Also add rice to meat and stir.  Season to taste.  Put 1 T mixture on each cabbage leaf & fold in shape of thick sausage.  Place in saucepan, pour stock over them, cover and simmer 1 hr.

I make stuffed cabbages all the time, and I have NEVER made them this way until reading Big Grandma's cookbook.  My recipe does not require cooking the meat before adding it together with the rice. I do not use any onion and instead of beef stock, I use tomato juice to cook them.  I also add either sauerkraut or keilbasa to the pan towards the end for more flavor.  

These turned out really nice... kind of like a naked version of the classic I'm used to.  They even tasted like a light version.  Try them and let me know what you think!


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Csorege (pronounced cher-o-ga) cookies

One thing I'm finding a bit difficult while reading my Grandma's cookbook is that there are no pictures in it.  I have no idea what most of her recipes are supposed to look like when finished.  So I either guess or look up someone else's recipe online to get a ballpark picture in my mind.  

This recipe was particularly interesting to me because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck the result would be.  

It's a deep fried cookie...with wine in it.  

After doing some research, I found that this cookie can be compared to the Polish cookie called kruschicki.  Only kruschicki is sometimes made with whiskey and has a distinctive bowtie shape.  The csorege I made following Big Grandma's recipe only called for me to cut the dough, not shape it.  Therefore, mine were just flat.  The kids enjoyed them!



  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp cream or milk
  • 1 Tbsp wine (I used white)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • About 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour

Combine above adding enough flour to make a soft dough.  Roll thin and fry in deep fat.

Things I noticed:

- Make sure your dough is not too wet.  It will be hard to roll out thin.  I suggest starting with a heavy cup of flour and add from there as you see fit.

- I used canola oil to fry and it was good.  Pay very close attention to the frying dough as it only takes about 30 seconds on each side to cook.

- The cookies are sweet on their own, but sprinkling some powdered sugar on top makes them much prettier.

Enjoy! Big Grandma's cookbook