Pasta in Vodka (cream sauce)!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: April 2011, Main Course


I’m so sorry. I know that I have been slack with the postings. No excuses, its Spring. So much to do. SO much to clean. So much to get ready outside for planting and gardening that I have slacked off on my inside chores. That includes cooking. There has been a lot of leftovers, frozen dinners, Kraft dinner and fish sticks around here lately. I’ve been a horrible foodie. 😉

I have missed you guys! 🙂

What better way to get back into the blogging than by combining 2 of my favorite things??!!! Homemade noodles and vodka!!!

I have heard about vodka cream sauce but found it odd and peculiar. Don’t get me wrong…I have no issues with eating pasta with a side of vodka but never thought that combining the two would be good, let alone delicious. It is.

Start with a basic marinara sauce (Recipe here:




Bring 3 cups of marinara sauce to a boil and then add 1/4 cup of vodka.


Keep it at a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. This will burn off most of the alcohol content in the vodka and just leaving the spicy essence. I didn’t think the vodka would actually add much to the flavor of the sauce but it does.

Reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the sauce to stop boiling. Now add 1/4cup of  heavy cream. I actually used unwhipped whipping cream. It was the heaviest cream I could find. 😀


Stir the cream in until combined and increase the heat again to medium. Allow the sauce to return to a gentle bubble and heat thoroughly….just a minute or so.

Now its ready to serve on your homemade pasta (recipe here:



You can also use dried pasta but just cook until al dente.

I made a delish garlic bread to go with this meal. I made the bread dough in my bread machine and then formed it into a football shape on a sheet pan on top of parchment paper. Brushed the dough with egg white and scored it down the center and baked it in the oven.

Once it came out I divided it in top and bottom sections and brushed it generously with this mixture…

fresh chopped garlic (about 8 cloves), 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese (grated from the can….like Kraft), around 2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbsp melted margarine.

SOOOOOO yummy!!!


love, peace and chicken grease

– A Cooped Up Chick


Jobchae, Japchae, Chapchae…its all the same thing.

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beef Dishes, Main Course, March 2011


There is a little Korean restaurant in the City Market that has the BEST food and every time I am in the market I have to get some. Even if I am on my way to a restaurant elsewhere for supper! (yes, that happened twice last week!)

I love Love LOVE their japchae with sweet beef. I decided since the market is uptown and I rarely get there and since I dream about the japchae almost every night (sad I know….oh how our dreams change as we get old…er) I must learn how to make this lovely dish! PS- The Japchae does not ALWAYS take a starring role in my dreams, sometimes a drool worthy man is hand feeding me the japchae….sometimes I just see the sign for “Kims Korean Food”….ok, the explanation does not seem to make the admission any less strange.

For a definition of japchae I will defer to Wikipedia:

Japchae is a Korean dish made from cellophane noodles (called dangmyeon), stir fried in sesame oil with various vegetables (typically thinly-sliced carrots, onion, spinach, and mushrooms), sometimes served with beef, and flavoured with soy sauce, and sweetened with sugar. It is usually served garnished with sesame seeds and slivers of chili. It may be served either hot or cold.

This dish is served at Korean parties and special occasions, with seasonal vegetables added.

Japchae is most commonly served as a side dish, though it may be a main dish. It is often served on a bed of rice; together with rice it is known as japchae-bap, bap meaning “rice.”

Thank You Wikipedia!!!


I found that making japchae is not overly difficult. Its quite simple actually. The most difficult for me was finding the ingredients. The veggies were easy…onion, green onion, mushrooms, carrot, spinach and garlic. The Korean ingredients were a little more difficult to find since I live in a tiny little community. Oh well, off to the market for me! (YAY!!!! more japchae at Kims!) I picked up the sweet potato glass noodles at the Korean store in the market as well as the package of sesame seeds, the dried shiitake mushrooms, some really good sesame oil and soy sauce.I also bought Bulgogi marinade but this is not necessary. I LOVE beef bulgogi and thought it would go nicely with the japchae. Make sure your beef is super duper thinly sliced. I get the butcher to do it for me. The guys in the market at Deans meats are AWESOME!!!! If you are making bulgogi then get the beef into the marinade to soak overnight. If not then just slice it and put it into the fridge to add to the stirfry pan later.


I found a wonderful and easy recipe to follow online at:

It also has an instructional video which was awesome!!!

So what you will need is:

Next step is to get your dried shiitakes into some warm water to soak for a few hours. Once they are soft and pliable then squeeze out the extra moisture, slice them and set aside for later.

Slice up the rest of your veggies so they are all ready for the frying. Slice the mushrooms and onions thinly.

Slice the green onions in 2 inch pieces. Slice the carrots in matchsticks.

Next you should cook your noodles. In a boiling pot of water add your glass noodles and cook for 3 minutes. You will be able to tell if they are done if you take one noodle out of the pot and taste it and it is still firm and chewy but not hard and crunchy. It should be similar to an al dente spaghetti noodle.

Remove your noodles from the water and place in a large mixing bowl. Add about 2 Tbsps of sesame oil and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar (about 1 tsp) to your hot noodles.

Do not drain the water because now you can add your spinach to the boiling water and get it cooked quickly. It only takes about 2 minutes for the spinach. Just until its wilted. Now you can drain the water. Rinse your spinach well to remove any dirt. Squeeze out any excess water and chop the spinach.


Next add the chopped spinach to the mixing bowl and drizzle a little more sesame oil and soy sauce.



Next add a tablespoon of olive oil to a hot frying pan and saute your carrot sticks about 2 minutes, just until slightly softened. You don’t want to overcook them and make them mushy so just keep tasting them until they are cooked slightly. Add to the mixing bowl.


Repeat the process with the mushrooms and onions (you can cook these together). Add the oil to the hot pan, saute for 2 minutes, until the onions are getting translucent.  Add to the mixing bowl.

Repeat again with the green onions.

It might be time consuming to cook all of these vegetables separately but since they all have different densities it is the only way to ensure they are all cooked properly. It will only take about 6-8 minutes to do and it will make all the difference in the world to the final product.

Next its time to cook your beef. Again heat the pan and add olive oil. Now this is where my recipe differs slightly from the recipe I got online. I fried the beef strips until done and then added 2 chopped garlic cloves.  Cooked 1 minute more and added everything to the mixing bowl.






Now if you are just using sliced beef, fry it the same way in a hot pan with olive oil but you need to then add 1/2 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 Tbsp of granulated sugar to the beef in the pan before then adding to the mixing bowl.

Now using your hands (I tried using spoons, forks, everything …my hands worked best!) mix everything together in the bowl. I then added a little more sugar and soy sauce….about 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1 or 2 tsp of soy sauce. Mix well. Place your serving in a bowl and top with sesame seeds!

This was sooooo yummy! I will make this many, many, many times over. DOn’t worry Mr. Kim…I will still come and get my fix when at the market!!!

ps- fussy 14yr old boys, more than likely, will not eat this. This is OK. This reheats fabulously. Believe me, I have been eating it every day at lunch for a week!!


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick


Best damn Chocolate Chip cookies!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: April 2011, Desserts


So sorry I have not been posting much lately. I have been on vacation for the past week and by vacation I mean STAYCATION and by staycation I mean I have been lying on my couch. I have had little to no motivation to cook. This is strange for me since I truly have a passion for cooking. Apparently I have been a little passionless lately but we won’t go there. 😀

I promise, I vow, I will write at least 3 posts before I head back to work. This is post #1.


Chocolate chip cookie recipes all have basically the same ingredients so it must be measurements and methods that cause the cookies to differ.

I have found, after many many years of taste testing different c.c. cookies (chocolate chip) and about 7.24 lbs of body fat dedicated to this taste testing, the best and most consistently GREAT cookie recipe and it is from my friend Stephanie. I am not sure where she got it from (enlighten us Steph!) but I have heard it won a baking award. I can see why and if you give it a try I am sure you will agree.

What you will need:


1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup margarine (the cheaper the better…DO NOT USE BUTTER)

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 oz package of semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Beat together sugars, margarine, eggs and vanilla.

Stir in chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. No need to sift.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.

Mix well.

Drop large spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-11 minutes. Steph says 10 minutes but my oven does not run hot so I found that 11 minutes is perfect. You will look at the cookies and think “those are NOT done” but they are. DO NOT OVERBAKE!

As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven remove them from the cookie sheet and transfer to a cooling rack. This is super important because it stops the cooking process.

These really are the best cookies I have ever had. They are slightly crunchy on the outside yet still soft and chewy on the inside.

As per Stephanies directives now is the time to “sneak a warm cookie to taste to ensure good flavor :)”

Smart lady! Although, best of luck stopping at just one!


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick