Jeanette - Off The Cuff

My photo
Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Meredith's Meatball Phở

Once upon a time in 1984, when my family moved to the United States, I was a little girl, and our neighbors became good friends with my parents. They had a daughter that was the same age as me, and we became fast friends. We roller skated in her garage, to the Pointer Sisters, Wham! and Prince, and swam in the lake, and caught sunfish and left them to "dry" on the pontoon, where we forgot them for several days, and then decided to toss them back in the lake. Who knew that sun-dried sunfish were buoyant? They floated to shore and bobbed in the waves.

As a child of the 80s, it's also worth noting, that my dear friend got me my very own  Cabbage Patch doll for my birthday. And for one glorious week in the summer, our two families rented a full sized motor home and vacationed together all over Minnesota and Wisconsin, hitting up all the mini golf courses, RV parks, water theme parks, and camp sites. These are those lingering sweet memories of my youth.  Anyway, we moved many times, time passed, and we did -- as kids did in those days -- stay in touch via regular letter writing. Thanks to modern times, internet, and social media, we are now still able to exchange photos and updates with far more frequency than we did the last few years.  And since I'm a newbie mom with little to no time to blog about recipes, I asked her to share a guest post with me that she had written about on Facebook.

She had me at "Phở" ... This Vietnamese savory soup is easily one of my favorites! (Note: I may add more photos when I get a chance to make this myself. )

So here it is:

Meredith's Meatball Phở

1 lb. Ground pork
1 cup water chestnuts, small dice; divided.
1/2 cup soy sauce; divided
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tsp. Fresh ginger puree; divided
1 tsp. Fresh garlic puree; divided
1Tbsp. Dark sesame oil
2 quarts chicken stock
1 package rice noodles (fresh preferred)
1 cup asparagus chopped into 1" pieces
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 head bok choy, sliced
1 cup snow peas, halved
1 bunch green onions, chopped; divided
1 bunch pea shoots (or bean sprouts)
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Fresh lime (optional)

For meatballs:
Place ground pork, half of the pureed ginger, garlic, water chestnuts and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix well with your hands, and roll into approximately one and a half inch meatballs. (Should make about 24). Place on baking sheet and bake in 350° oven for 20-25 minutes.

For soup:
In a large pot on medium low heat,  combine stock, remaining ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Add fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Add in snow peas and asparagus and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, bok choy, some green onions and noodles. Cook until noodles are soft.

When ready to serve, add meatballs and garnish as you like.

This is ALWAYS a hit in our house no matter what fresh ingredients I use!

Friday, June 26, 2015


Raspberry Ginger Kombucha on the rocks
EDITED 01-25-2016 with an important medical note. Due to my own naive overconsumption of Kombucha, I was actually causing damage and stress to my liver, which was discovered with a standard blood test. Please be aware that this is a beverage with live organisms in it, and it should only be consumed in small quantities, as a "health tonic." At most 4 or 5 oz per day. I was actually drinking 12-16 oz per day, the way I might have regular ice tea in a big glass. My dear friend and "sister-in-law-once-removed", who is a nutritional therapist, did some extensive research and learned that people who have had toxic mold exposure should not drink kombucha at all, nor have raw vinegar with "the mother" in it.  That all rings a bell for me, because I was chronically exposed to toxic mold for 3 years in a rental house in the 1990s.  Furthermore, after discovering my off-kilter lab work, I told all my friends who drink kombucha to be cautious. One of my friends also decided to get bloodwork done and her liver enzymes were also elevated after regular kombucha drinking. So please use caution! As fun as it is to make this natural beverage, if you are in doubt at all, ask your doctor to run some bloodwork on you, especially if you feel more fatigued or lethargic, or start having any illness symptoms after consuming it. I am not a doctor. I am just sharing my own experience in the last 3 months, after six months of daily kombucha drinking.  As for myself, I'm afraid my kombucha drinking days are over. I'll miss it's tart, fizzy effervescence, but I only get one liver.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Turkey Chili

This chili came together a month or two ago, but I made it again 2 more times, and it's always yummy, so I figured I should blog it for my fateful... uh... I mean, Faithful followers.

This one is on the milder, savory side. You could definitely pack some heat into the mix by increasing spices or adding some hot sauce or jalapenos but I liked how it was really tasty, and could be kid friendly as well, if that's a concern to anyone.

So... as pictured here below, the contents are pretty simple.


1 package ground turkey
1 cup cooked rice
1 can kidney beans *(or try other beans, instead of kidney / black)
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste (Cont'd below)

1/2 yellow or white onion, finely diced
1 tsp Oregano (more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp Chili Molido Powder
1 whole chipotle pepper

(Optional, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, to make it spicier)


Begin by dicing up the half onion, into small pieces,  and then add a bit of butter or vegetable oil to the bottom of a large soup pot or cast iron Dutch Oven, over medium heat. Add onions, and sautee, stirring often until translucent or slightly caramelized.

Turn up heat to medium high, and add in ground turkey. Break it up frequently with a spatula or spoon to brown it evenly.  When it is cooked through, pour in spices and seasonings, and add all the canned ingredients. Let this simmer for at least a half hour or more.

Serve to your liking, with shredded cheese, corn muffins, sour cream, chopped onions,  or other toppings like hot sauce, jalapenos, or chives.

For more chili of my chili recipes, check out these options, Sweet potato chili and Black Bean Chili with Cilantro.

Until next time!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pistachio Cedar Planked Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder

Here are two easy and salmon recipes I made yesterday and today, all from one four-pound $20 whole salmon. If you can learn to fillet and debone your own fish, you can save so much money on seafood dishes. So here is Pistachio Crusted Cedar-Plank Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Orange-Raspberry Pots De Creme

I've been making this recipe for a year or two ever since I first saw it on The Pioneer Woman's website. The beauty of it is that it only takes a few minutes to prepare. And you do it ALL in the blender. You could make this with as few as 4 ingredients, or add a few extras for oomph. It looks super fancy, and tastes so rich and decadent that you could easily fool your guests into thinking that it has taken hours of cooking over a hot stove.

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe, just to switch up the flavor profile a bit. Other than that, all credit goes to the inspirational and beautiful Ree Drummond!


12 oz chocolate chips
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup piping hot strong coffee * (see my suggestions)
1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
Zest from 1 orange
1 tbsp Triple Sec (I used DeKuypers, but if you're fancy, by all means get the Cointreau or something.)

Whipped Cream for topping.


First brew about 1-2 cups of coffee -- very strong.

I would suggest using double the normal quantity of coffee grounds to what you normally use, to assure a really concentrated flavor.  Personally, I made my coffee as Pour-Over (which, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like: A method of manually pouring hot water through a coffee filter in a cone straight into a measuring cup.) For my pour-over, I used about 3 tablespoons of coffee beans, to 1.5 cups of boiling water (assuming that almost half the water will get trapped into the ground coffee).

To really extract the flavors, I actually ran the coffee through the same grounds 2 more times. I'm sure there are baristas that would faint from reading that, but I'm just keeping it real!

Get your blender set up and have all your ingredients ready.

Distribute the raspberries evenly into the bottoms of ramekins, small demitasse coffee cups, or mini Mason jars. 

Next crack the eggs into the bottom of the blender, add the chocolate chips, liqueur, and salt.

Zest an entire orange and add the zest into the mixture.

Run blender on high, until there is a pudding-like texture.  While that's happening, microwave your coffee for a minute again to make sure it's super hot. It has to be hot enough to set the egg-proteins up like a custard. Pour the coffee into the blender, and run it on high again to mix in the coffee, and then immediately pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins or jars. Let it set up in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours before serving.

Top with whipped cream, some raspberries, and/or orange rind for a nice garnish. And pace yourself. You'll want to eat it all really fast, but also want to savor each bite.

Ideas that could be swapped for the orange/ raspberry combo, would be to use mint extract, Kahlua, vanilla extract, or a shot or two of spiced rum just to take this in a different direction.   Or use white chocolate chips and instead of coffee, try using very hot, double-strength Earl Grey tea and lemon zest. Lots of variations that might be fun to experiment with.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Anyone remember David Cross singing "Chicken-pot, chicken-pot, chicken-pot-piiiiiie" on "Just Shoot Me" ...? It's kind of an obscure reference, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Now then, some disclaimers.

1. I'm a pretty decent cook, but I'm a mess when it comes to pie crust. This one actually turned out quite okay taste and texture wise, but it was hard to roll out and kept splitting apart. Nine out of ten times, I get a store-bought rolled pie crust for my quiches and pies, because well, it's $4 toward me not having a meltdown in the kitchen. Trader Joe's has a good one that I like which is not full of weird synthetic ingredients. However, I was not at TJ's yesterday so instead I opted to make my own crust, and I used the recipe in this book Good Kitchen Magic which I think should make a good crust in theory. My trouble is that I don't usually get the dough to bind together with the first 2 tablespoons of water as they say. Sometimes even the 3rd tablespoon of water doesn't do the trick so maybe I'm using too much flour. Who knows. Either way, I won't chide you for using a store-bought crust, because I do it all the time myself.

2. This is NOT a quick meal. It can be made significantly faster with a few shortcuts, which I'll put in parentheses next to directions or ingredients. Of course, as with any of my recipes, alterations are often necessary.

3. Even though I know my way around a DSLR, it is January in the Pacific Northwest, and rather gray, and I have no window light in my kitchen, and it was dark outside anyway, so I have done my best to get some good photos with my tripod and bounced light.

4. Because of the multiple steps and ingredients, read this all the way through before starting the recipe so you see the way I split up my directions and ingredients.

5. This recipe can make two 6-inch pies, (I made my pies in cast-iron skillets) or one larger 9-inch pie either in a skillet or in a glass pie dish, so you'll divide up your dough and filling accordingly. 

Thus, I present you with Chicken-Bacon-Pot-Pie.