Vietnamese Turkey Meatball Bún

While in Austin a few weeks ago my sister took me to Elizabeth Street Cafe.  Eat here if you ever get the chance.  It’s a French-Vietnamese cafe, which may sound strange to you (it has to a couple people I’ve told about my meal) but the marriage translates into delicious bánh mì, bún and pho as well as sweet eclairs and delicate macarons.  We didn’t actually have dessert here since we’d already made plans to have ice cream at Lick.  Go there too.

This was one of the yummiest meals I’ve had in a while.  Vietnamese cuisine has a way of leaving you totally satisfied but not stuffed.  I think it’s the abundance of fresh veggies and herbs, differences in textures and the heat and intense flavor of the sauces.  We shared the pork belly steamed buns, pork  bánh mì on house-made baguette, and the keffir lime fried chicken bún.  All delicious.

This meal inspired me to make my own Vietnamese noodle bowl at home.  I decided on a Vietnamese turkey meatball instead of fried chicken.  Thanks to my Farmhouse delivery last weekend I had fresh carrots and cucumbers to use in the bowl.  I made the dressing for the bún, nuoc cham.  It’s a basic Vietnamese dipping sauce of lime juice, fish sauce, peppers, garlic, a touch of sugar and water.  I think this a really great summer dinner.  Fresh crisp veggies and herbs with warm meatballs and a spicy cool heat from the sauce.

I baked the meatballs instead of pan frying.  I think there was too much liquid in the meat mixture because the baked meatballs were sitting in a pool of meatball juice (you know what I’m talking about, and it ain’t pretty) so I had to drain them.  They tasted delicious and with some tweaking they could definitely be something I’d make again.  Although, these meatballs I know are good and could easily be used here.  The recipe below makes about 35 meatballs.  I wanted to have enough to make bánh mì later in the week, which we did (2 nights in a row, in fact).  Cut the meatball recipe in half if you’re only planning to use the meatballs for one meal with some leftover.

The meatballs do take some time to prep with all the chopping you have to do, and the chopping and slicing doesn’t end there.  The bún is full of shredded lettuce (I used iceberg but you could use romaine) julienned carrots, cucumber slices, chopped cilantro and mint.  So get your best knife and cutting board ready!  I made the meatball mixture, dressing and chopped everything during nap time.  This made dinner time pretty easy.  All I had to do was scoop and bake the meatballs, and cook the rice noodles.

In looking at different recipe for bún I saw other vegetables used like bean sprouts, daikon and red radish.  Traditionally beef is used as the protein as in this recipe from Leite’s Culinaria that looks dleicious.  But pork can also be used, like in this recipe from Fine Cooking which is making me crave grilled pork at 9 in the morning.

Vietnamese Turkey Meatball Bún



(Makes about 35, you may want to cut this recipe in half)

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 3 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger root
  • 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Nuoc Cham (Dressing)

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 red or green Asian chile, or serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds


  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (or you can use romaine)
  • 6-8 ounces of rice noodles (this depends on how many people you’re serving and how much you like noodles. We used 5 ounces and it made 5 servings.)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half moons or halves
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped mint
  • chopped basil
  • chopped peanuts
  • sriracha (if you need more heat!)



  1. If baking right away, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Position a rack in the top third of the oven.
  2. Combine the turkey, fish sauce, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, herbs, egg, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until well combined but without overworking the mixture.  At this point you can either refrigerate the mixture in the bowl, form into balls and cover and refrigerate on the pan, or form into balls and bake right away.
  3. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using slightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet and bake them for 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly browned and cooked through.

Nuoc Cham (Dressing)

  1. Combine warm water and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.


  1. Cook rice noodles by bringing a pot of water to a boil.  Add the noodles and remove from the heat.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse the noodles in cool water.
  2. Layer in deep, wide bowls: lettuce, noodles and meatballs.  Arrange vegetables and herbs around the sides.  Sprinkle with peanuts and green onion and drizzle with nuoc cham.  Toss everything together and enjoy using fancy chopsticks (or a nice reliable fork!).

Potato Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe has been bookmarked in my Pastry Queen cookbook for a couple years at least.  The photo of these always makes me pause and swoon a little whenever I’m flipping through the pages.  You’ll have to buy the cookbook to see it.  My photo doesn’t come close.

I find it hard to resist the sweet, bready, ciannamony, yeasty goodness of a cinnamon roll.  My favorite rolls are at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas.  They’re a totally different type of cinnamon roll with a crunchy cinnamon sugar coating instead of a gooey frosting.  If you’re ever in Austin, you must go get one.

The problem with me and cinnamon rolls is the commitment (and the mess).  Make the dough, let it rise, make the filling, roll and fill, cut and place in the pans, rise again, bake, frost or glaze, then enjoy…if you even have the energy at that point.  And if you want to make these fresh for breakfast you have to either get up at a ridiculous hour or use some time management skills to get them ready for a morning rise and baking.  So much work!  But these are well worth the effort.  You can even freeze them for later, which does require some work on the front end, but you get yummy cinnamon rolls straight from the oven without having to touch a bit of flour.

For some reason (could have been the 2 lonely potatoes on the counter) I just felt compelled to commit to these last week and am so very glad I did.  I baked 2 pans of these rolls and there are 3 more in my freezer that are a mere overnight thaw and hour rise away from being enjoyed.  Yes, this recipe makes 5 pans of cinnamon rolls.  So make sure you either need to feed a hungry army, give these away as gifts or have room in your freezer and save them for later.  Oh, and make sure you have 2 good sized bowls for rising.  The recipe says to let the dough rise in one bowl and then divide it in half.  Well, I do not have a bowl big enough for that and I don’t know who does…except for maybe my mother-in-law.  So I divided the dough in half before rising and still had to use 2 of my biggest bowls.

The pecans are optional.  I made one half of the rolls with and the other half without.  If I’d really been thinking I would have baked one pan of the with and one pan of the without, but I wasn’t thinking.  So all of my rolls with pecans are in the freezer.  I am sure they’ll be delicious since most baked goods are better with pecans.

Using mashed potato in these rolls gives them a lighter texture than your normal roll.  They don’t taste like potato.  They are just slightly sweet, unless you drench them in frosting (like I do).  If you bake and don’t eat all the rolls in the same day, cover and refrigerate the rolls.  Warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to recreate the fresh-from-the-oven flavor.  Store for 3-4 days at most in the fridge.  They’re just not as good after that.

Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls

From The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather



  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
  • Reserve 3 cups of potato water
  • 1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 9 cups flour


  • 4 cups toasted pecans, optional (I used 2 cups and made half with and half without pecans)
  • 4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter, melted


  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Grease two 9X13 disposable foil pans (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 5).
  2. Wash, peel and quarter the potatoes and boil until fork tender, 10-15 minutes.  After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet.
  3. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside.  Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.
  4. Whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together.  Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth.  Switch to a wooden spoon, and add the flour 3 cups at a time, mixing until combined.  Mix until all the flour is incorporated.
  5. Place the dough in 2 large greased bowls.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day.  You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.
  7. With floured hands, remove one batch of the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10.  Spread the rectangle with half the butter, then half the brown sugar mix, then half the chopped pecans.
  8. Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough.  Using a very sharp floured serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan.  Repeat with the other bowl of dough.
  9. At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks.  Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point.  Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.
  11. Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.


Cilantro Peanut Pesto Pasta

When it comes to pesto, I tend to think only of the basil and pine nut variety.  This one is my favorite.  But there are so many combinations of herbs and nuts that you can use to make pesto!  I find basil and pine nuts to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, so using cheap ingredients like cilantro and peanuts make this a wallet friendly pesto as well as a delicious one.  The pesto is tossed with some linguine and shredded chicken to make for a complete meal.

My Everyday Food magazine on the iPad is proving to be quite the handy resource.  I can put the iPad in my cookbook holder.  I don’t have to print out the recipe, and I don’t have to have my big laptop next to the stove and sink.  In addition to being convenient, there are a lot of quick and simple recipes, like this one.

I didn’t change much about the recipe.  I used less pasta than the recipe calls for.  I did this for a couple reasons.  I’d rather have more stuff in my pasta dishes and less pasta.  Also, my pasta was a 1 pound package.  I’d rather use half and have enough to use later for another recipe instead of using 3/4 and trying to incorporate 1/4 into a meal.  I had some pesto left over, so I should have just used the 3/4 pound.

The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but spice hasn’t been my friend lately.  So I left that out.  I used a little more ginger, added shredded rotisserie chicken for some protein, and used 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and found that to be plenty.  But start with 1 tablespoon, taste and adjust as you see fit.

Martha says you can use the entire bunch of cilantro, including the stems.  I’m not sure if the same is true for basil and parsley.  I would think parsley would be since the two are so similar (I’ve bought one instead of the other at the store on more than one occasion).  Basil, I don’t know.  But since basil leaves are so big it isn’t a difficult task to remove them from the stem.

This cilantro peanut pesto has inspired me to search out some other interesting pestos.  Here is a kale and walnut pesto from Lauren of Healthy Foods for Living.  And Cookie + Kate’s arugula and walnut pesto sounds amazing.

Cilantro Peanut Pesto Pasta

From Everyday Food


  • 1 bunch cilantro, 1/4 cup leaves reserved for serving
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, divided
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (optional)


  1. In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, ginger, vegetable and sesame oils, lime zest and juice, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup peanuts. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. Season with soy sauce and pulse to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, toss pesto with pasta.  Stir in shredded chicken.
  3. Roughly chop remaining peanuts and sprinkle over pasta along with cilantro leaves.

Baby Shower: Strawberry Cupcakes, Lemon Coconut Cupcakes and Flower Sugar Cookies

This past weekend I got to help host a baby shower for a good friend.  Everything turned out wonderfully.  I think the mommy-to-be felt showered with love and lots of pink and ruffles!

One of the ladies suggested a onesie making table.  I ordered some adorable iron-on appliques and bought onesies in various sizes.  When people were done they could pin them up on a clothesline.  Here is the Etsy shop I ordered them from, NanaBleu.

The space we used for the shower didn’t need much decoration, but I made these Martha Stewart tissue paper pom poms.  We hung a few and scattered the rest around the room.  Here is the link to the craft.  The instructions say to use 8 sheets of tissue, but I discovered that 10 made for a much fuller pom pom.  Use different widths of paper to create different sized pom poms.  Now that I know how to make them, I think I am going to use some in baby girls nursery!

For dessert I made strawberry cupcakes using the Sprinkles cupcake recipe that I also used to make this strawberry cake.  One batch of batter and frosting is the perfect amount for a dozen cupcakes.  If you’re not a generous froster, you will have some frosting left over.

These lemon coconut cupcakes were a bigger hit than I expected them to be.  I breathed a sigh of relief when someone said she loved them since it was the first time I’d tried the recipe.  I tinkered with the recipe a bit, which isn’t always a smart move the first time you make something.  Thankfully it was a good decision and they were delicious.

These flower cookies were party favors and turned out well.  I used a new sugar cookie recipe.  Big mistake.  The dough softened too much during the rolling and cutting which made getting them from board to cookie sheet a very frustrating task.  I think I might have muttered some not so nice language under my breath more than once.  On the bright side, the cookies tasted better than my usual sugar cookie.  I’m just not sure if the frustration is worth it.

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

Adapted very little from Taste of Home

Makes 15 cupcakes


Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted



  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat just until combined. Fold in coconut.
  3. Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
  2. Beat in grated lemon peel, vanilla and lemon juice until combined.
  3. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth; stir in 1/4 cup coconut if desired.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes; sprinkle with remaining coconut.