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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

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!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Lemon-Ginger Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Happy Fall! Here is a Thanksgiving family favorite, Lemon-Ginger glazed Sweet Potatoes, (or yams, as many people call it, but more on that in a minute...**) that I have made some small tweaks to, in the last few years. The original recipe called for boiling the sweet potatoes first, then peeling them, and it used ground ginger powder, versus fresh ginger, and it also had much more brown sugar in it than mine. But I find my technique of peeling and roasting it in the oven is just as good (if not slightly better,) and the fresh ginger, and reduced sugar makes for a lighter, fresh-tasting and tangy version of the recipe. I don't even know where our mom found the original recipe, and all I had was her hand-written notes to go by.   It became a  yearly staple for our Thanksgiving table, and I frankly can't recall a time when we didn't eat it, so it has probably been in rotation for a good 25 or 30 years.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Citrus Spice Banana Doughnuts

To quote Pink Floyd, "Hello ... is there anybody out there?" As if becoming a mom didn't distract me enough from blogging recipes the last 3 years, my blog has languished further due to a year of personal loss, when my beloved mamma died unexpectedly last May.  As hard as it has been, we have still had to cook meals, and feed our families, albeit at times with far less inspiration and interest. However, my sister and I have found great connection with each other and our mom, in the kinship and catharsis of going through her 40 years worth of recipes. This became especially necessary in preparing traditional holiday treats,  and many of our mom's personal culinary inventions as we have mourned her absence during those special seasons of the last year.
Today it's been an extra dreary rainy, gray spring day, and I felt an urge to bake a banana bread  with my almost 3 year old boy,  but as he insisted on "Helping" far more than I asked,  he also added fresh ground pepper to the recipe.  So in order to salvage it I added a few additional spices to enhance the citrus and banana flavors.  And then I thought to bake the dough in doughnut pans instead of as a loaf.  It did not disappoint! However,  I only have one photo,  so you'll have to imagine the rest!

The original recipe,  which I departed from, was found in  Good Kitchen Magic.

4 mashed bananas
1 egg
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar (could probably be reduced by half if your bananas are bigger)
1 orange, zested
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamom
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Blend sugar,  egg, oil and bananas together well,  and add zest of 1 orange,  1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper  [My son's  idea!], 1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger and 1/2 tsp fresh ground cardamom [my idea!]. 
Add 2 cups flour and 1 tsp baking powder while stirring. Continue to mix until smooth.  Distribute into doughnut pans, level to the top edge,  as they'll rise while baking.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.

They're delicious warm from the oven, but I would wrap them in air-tight foil or plastic or a zippered bag or container to keep them from drying out too fast if you can't eat them right away.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Asparagus and Cheese Tart

Howdy, howdy everyone! It's been a few moons, but today I'm letting you enjoy this savory treat, courtesy of a friend of mine, Julia, who recently posted a photo of this delicious looking asparagus tart that she had found on, and was kind enough to share it with me. So here below the jump-break is her blog post. Welcome to Off The Cuff Cooking, Julia!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Cranberry Citrus Oatmeal

Every year for Thanksgiving, I make a variation of the standard Cranberry-Citrus sauce recipe (that is often on the back of the bag of cranberries.) I inevitably end up with huge amounts left. Last year, I started adding it to my oatmeal as a way of using it up, and it was really good! You could also use this sauce as a condiment to roasted chicken or pork, or even grilled salmon. The standard recipe doesn't call for any seasonings but I find it satisfying to add fresh ginger and cinnamon to this sauce.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Lemon Curd

If you're not familiar with lemon curd, this is a very classic British lemon-spread to put on scones, or other pastries. (Try it on pancakes, or in homemade Danish, for instance.) Lemon curd is bright, smooth, velvety and rich, and it pairs so well with a hot cup of Earl Grey. 

This is a breakfast staple at my parents' house, so I've grown up eating it, but this very batch that I'm sharing with you here is the FIRST time in 42 years of living that I finally got around to making myself. And it was super easy, and very fast. I think zesting the lemons took 1/3 of the total time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mango Coconut Almond Granola

A few years ago, I got tired of buying a box of granola for $4 every few days because we eat it a lot, and I kept thinking about the cost per ounce, and how absurd it was that we'd maybe be able to get 8 bowls worth on our yogurt which ends up being like 50 cents per 1/2 cup, give or take. I knew it would be cheaper to make my own, especially since I have that magical item in my purse that allows me to shop like royalty; I'm talking about the CostCo card!

After some loose inspiration from a recipe in Real Simple, I doubled the batch so it would last us at least 2 weeks, not to mention I constantly alter ingredients, embellish a bit and switch things around as I'm inclined to do.

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.