Thai Holiday Appetizer – Larb”alicious”

As I think you have come to understand, I LOVE PORK!! As part of the NC Pork Council blogger network it was exciting to learn our December challenge was to create a holiday appetizer or side. The challenge was an open canvas to creativity as we could use any cut of pork, and create any appetizer/side we wanted.

I have an intense love affair with Thai food so decided I would navigate into the world of sweet, salty,sour and spicy for this challenge. Certain Thai foods resonate with me; Larb, Tom Yum, Penang Curry are just a few. I went the Larb route and consulted my friend and well known cookbook author, Nancie McDermott . She has travelled extensively in Thailand and written several cookbooks on the subject of Thai food. In the world of Thai foods this dish is called several things. From Nancie, I learnt you can find this Thai salad listed as larb, lahp or laab. The recipe below is from her Quick and Easy Thai cookbook, a must have for anyone interested in the cuisine.

In Nancie’s words, “The beloved Thai “salad” (can be) made with everything from pork, chicken and beef to catfish and roast duck.”

I turned this recipe into a fun and festive Holiday treat using lettuce cups and Asian soup spoons. It turned out lovely and I plan to make this again ASAP.

1209151028 2


Issahn-Style Minced Pork Salad with Crunchy Rice and Fresh Mint

lahp moo

For the lahp:
1 cup chicken stock or water
½ pound coarsely ground pork
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
½ teaspoon sugar
A handful of fresh mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots, or purple onion, or onion
2 heaping tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Small lettuce leaf cups, such as limestone lettuce, Boston, bibb,
or butter lettuce
Cucumber slices
Mint leaves

Quick and Easy Thai

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Crumble in the meat and coo, turning and pressing to break up larger chunks. Cook the meat evenly, 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. Scoop the meat into a medium bowl with about ¼ cup of the broth.

Add the roasted rice powder to the bowl along with the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and sugar. Use your hands or two large spoons to toss and mix everything together well. Tear the mint leaves in half, add to the bowl along with the shalots and green onions, and mix well. Mound the salad on a small, deep serving platter, juices and all, and garnish with the mint sprigs, lettuce leaves, and cucumber. Or scoop lahp into lettuce cups, arrange lettuce cups on a platter, and serve. Serve at room temperature.

*Roasted Rice Powder:

¼ cup raw long-grain rice

Toast the raw rice grains in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice turns a wheaty golden brown. Tip onto a plate. Grind to a coarse powder, using a small food processor, spice grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle. Use 1 tablespoon for this recipe and reserve the rest for another use.
Add roasted rice powder to the cooked meat along with the lime juice and seasonings, and toss well.

This recipe comes from Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
by Nancie McDermott . Published by Chronicle Books (2004); all rights reserved. You can find all her cookbooks at

NOTES: I altered this recipe based on other herbs and peppers I had in the house. I added a handful of cilantro and mint and used finely diced Thai chili’s. I did not use chicken stock, just fish sauce and a few tablespoons of water and drained the meat after cooking. This was simply because I knew the preparation for this particular appetizer would need little to no juices.

I would also have added a slicer of red pepper or red Thai chili to the top of each spoon for color but I did not have any.

After consulting with Nancie, she reassured me that if I didn’t have the time to make the Roasted Rice Powder, I could skip it. Thank you Nancie =)

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!




On Friday, Nov 20th, the Carolina Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will host their 1st annual Brewer’s Ball at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) building in downtown Raleigh.

The Brewer’s Ball celebrates the Triangles Finest Young Professional of the Year and all the local, young professionals who have chosen to be advocates for CFF this year. (An amazing group of folks who may or may not even have a connection to CF but fundraise throughout the year.)

In the words of a friend who’s son has CF: “Our 9-year old son has CF. We are very comforted by the MAJOR medical advances that have taken place since he was diagnosed at 3 years old. With the FDA fast-tracking all CF studies, and so many new, ground-breaking drugs in final clinical stages, there really has never been a better time to support the CF Foundation. (We) join many scientists and doctors in the belief that Cystic Fibrosis is THE genetic disease that we can correct in our lifetime!

I myself have been a part of this organization in the past as a young board member and advocate. This is an extremely fabulous group of people to work with and fight for. Please if you can go, GO!

"Brewers Ball- Celebrating Triangle's Finest is a unique event that brings together the finest food, beer, and people that the Triangle has to offer, all in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Enjoy a night out like no other! Sample hand crafted beers from some of the region's finest craft breweries, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy food from the hottest local restaurants. The evening will feature entertainment, a silent auction and culminate with the unveiling of the Triangles Finest Young Professional of the Year."

“Brewers Ball- Celebrating Triangle’s Finest is a unique event that brings together the finest food, beer, and people that the Triangle has to offer, all in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Enjoy a night out like no other! Sample hand crafted beers from some of the region’s finest craft breweries, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy food from the hottest local restaurants. The evening will feature entertainment, a silent auction and culminate with the unveiling of the Triangles Finest Young Professional of the Year.”

Tickets are $75 ($50 is tax deductible) and can be purchased at

More from the News and Observer via Andrea Weigl:

Food will include whole hog bbq from PICNIC, challah buns from La Farm Bakery, shucked oysters from Locals Seafood, sides from Posh Nosh Catering and Midtown Grille, and desserts from Catering Works.

Are we drooling yet? I am! And a full belly always feels better for a good cause. Tiss the Season!!

Local craft beer is being provided by G2B Restaurant and Brewery, Natty Greene’s, Nickel Point Brewing, Raleigh Brewing, Carolina Brewing Company, Foothills Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

What is Cystic Fibrosis? (via Cystic Fibrosis Website)

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.
In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

For more information about Cystic Fibrosis and how to be involved, please follow the links to their website.

Happy Holiday Season Y’all!



For the Love of Pork……Shoulders!

I love to cook with pork in many ways. As part of the NC Pork Council blogger network I was excited to learn our October challenge involved a pork shoulder. The beauty of the shoulder is it’s perfect  for a smoker, crock pot, dutch oven or braising pan.

I took the shoulder and rubbed it all over with the Memphis BBQ Rub from the Savory Spice Shop, in Lafayette Village, Raleigh. Once rubbed, I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge over night.


Come morning, I took the pork out of the fridge and let it sit for 30 minutes while my husband got our Big Green Egg ready. We use both hickory and cherry wood chips for a sweet smoke finish. Any wood is good for smoking except mesquite. I  find it far to smoky with kind of burnt flavor, but that’s just my opinion =)

We aim to get the temperature on the egg up to 225 degrees then set the pork on the grill for 8-12 hours depending on the size of the shoulder. After we’re confident we’ve reached a temperature that will remain throughout the day, we walk away and don’t look back.


The little green cap you see on the ground sits on top of the egg and is what you use to help get the egg to the temperature you want. It has a small opening that you open and close to raise to raise or lower the temperature. It’s pretty nifty.

One of the great things about cooking a pork shoulder in a smoker, crock pot or braising pan, is the finished product translates in to multiple meals. Once shredded you can make tacos, pork sandwiches, pork plate, enchiladas and so much more. What would you make?


pulled pork

Happy Eating, oink oink! =)


Oyster Roast at Durham Co-Op with Locals Seafood

oyster roAST

Mark your calendars folks, the Durham Co-op Market and Locals Seafood  Oyster Roast is Friday, Nov. 13th. Think super fresh oyster from our very own NC coast, beer and music. What more do you need? They will be serving steamed and raw oysters by the half-dozen, served with lemons or hot sauce!

Durham Co-op Market says “Come celebrate our love of local seafood!! We’ll be serving Locals Seafood’s Wild Caught and Cultivated Oysters outside on our Patio (steamed and raw), along with Haw River Farmhouse Ales draft beer.”

“Slurp down some oysters and beer with us, or you can pre-order oysters to take home!”

Haw River Logo

The event is open to the public from 5 to 8 pm and you can order oysters to eat on-site, or place a pre-order for oysters to take home.

To place a pre-order,  email Oysters are only $5.99/ half dozen for the Wild Caught oysters, which are smaller and best for steaming, or $7.99/half dozen for the Cultivated oysters, which are bigger and better raw.

Stay tuned for pricing on larger quantities by following the links below.



Durham Co-op Market
1111 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701 · ~1 mi
(919) 973-1707
Open 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Guy Fieri “Grocery Games” is Calling on Triangle Chefs!

How exciting is this? Wouldn’t it be great to see one of our Triangle Chefs on another Food Network Show? I know I would. We are SO lucky to live here and be surrounded by the multitude of culinary talent. I swear I drool on my phone every day with the twitter posts our chefs send out. Ok, so let’s spread the word. Please share this post and pass it on to whomever you want. Let’s go #TeamChefNC =)

NOTE: The information below is via the casting team at Food Network


GUY’S GROCERY GAMES is giving YOU the chance to win up to $20,000!!!
Do you have the ability to make something out of nothing? Can your recipes prove as inventive as they are delicious? Is your personality as memorable as your food?
We are holding a nationwide search looking for outgoing, highly-skilled chefs and professional cooks from all backgrounds. If you think you have the chops to make mincemeat out of the competition, you need to apply!
This fast-paced challenge puts talented chefs and professional cooks to the test in the ultimate supermarket-themed showdown!
To navigate the aisles of this high-pressure competition, you’re going to need clever cooking solutions AND supermarket savvy. If you make your living in a professional kitchen and think you have what it takes to be the last chef standing, then Guy Fieri is ready to put you to the test!
Apply Now! Did I mention APPLY NOW!!! GOOOOOOOOO! =)


Happy Eating, now go and apply you awesome chefs =)


Grilled Pork Chops

I love to grill, especially pork. So as part of the NC Pork Council blogger network I was excited to learn our August challenge involved the grill.

With bone-in pork chops in hand and armed with a bottle of Georgia Boys All Purpose BBQ Rub from the Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village in Raleigh, I went to work.



I  love a quick and simple meal and this proved easy. I rubbed the pork chops with the spice rub the morning I planned to grill them and let them sit in the fridge for the day. I pulled them out to sit on the counter about 30 minutes before grilling.

When it came time to grill I set my husband to work. He has his way of grilling meats that time and time again works like a charm. He gets the grill hot (medium to high heat), sears each side 4 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat, then wraps it in foil to rest and finish cooking through. Serve with your choice of sides.

Pork is such a versatile meat and grilling it using this method translated great to small pork tenderloins this past weekend. For a large tenderloin, a more low and slow method works best.

On this  particular occasion I had fresh cauliflower from my Papa Spuds CSA box. I broke it down to florets, steamed them until tender then tossed them in a pan with butter. We also had some leftover salad from a dinner the night before.

Voila! Dinner!


Happy Grilling and Eating

Oink Oink =)

Easy to Make Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

As part of the North Carolina Pork Council blogging network we’ve been asked to create various  meals utilizing pork. Each month is a different challenge. Last month we were asked to put together a pork entree in 30 minutes. I went with Pork Fried Rice, which has now become a family favorite.

This month we’ve moved on to bacon, and as we all know, EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BACON!! For this challenge I wanted to share the perfect party pleaser, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos. I’ve used this recipe from Inspired Taste for a few years now but tweaked it here and there to suit our taste buds.

jalapeno poppers

It’s really simple. Decide if you want to grill them or use the oven. grab your cream cheese, bacon and flavorings of choice. I stuck with the chives from the original recipe and added minced garlic. This recipe also doubles and triples up easily if you have a large crowd.


I also like spicy food, so I do keep some of the pepper seeds and mix them in with the cream cheese. This is optional depending on how spicy you want them.

Jalapeno scraped jalapeno membrane

With Father’s Day TODAY,Fourth of July right around the corner, and BBQ season in full swing, these are perfect for a crowd.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers


6 jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded

4 oz cream cheese, softened (this can be done in the microwave for 20 seconds or let the cream cheese sit on the counter for 30 minutes)

2 Tablespoons chives, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 slices BACON, cut in half

24 wooden toothpicks

1 sandwich bag


To prevent toothpicks from burning, place them in water for 30 minutes before using

Slice each pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and white membrane (The majority of the heat in peppers comes from the seeds and membrane).

In a small bowl add the cream cheese, chives and garlic and mix together.

Now to fill each pepper with the cream cheese mixture. Here you can do one of two things. Either use a spoon to fill each pepper, or place the cream cheese mixture in the sandwich bag, snip off a corner of the bag and pipe the mixture into each pepper.

Wrap each pepper with a slice of bacon being sure to wrap it from tip to tip and secure each end with a toothpick.

To Bake:

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parch,end paper

Arrange stuffed peppers on the baking sheet, filling side up

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and paper is tender

To Grill:

Heat grill to medium – high heat.

Arrange your peppers on a grill  basket, slotted grilling pan or aluminum foil directly on the grill. You don’t want your peppers to fall through the grates.

Arrange stuffed and wrapped peppers, filling side up and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and the peppers are tender.

Occasionally peppers will char. If this happens, move them to a cooler section of the grill.

EAT EAT EAT, these babies will be devoured quickly, they are that good!

Happy Eating,