About cosmoswithinus

Atheist, passionate cook, hardcore Whovian.

Hoisin Pork and Cashew Stir Fry

Hoisin Pork and Cashew Stir Fry
adapted from Belly Full


  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 28 ounces pork shoulder (or pork loin), sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, julienned (or about a cup of bagged shredded carrots)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (about 3 oz.) roasted cashews
  • salt and pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 10 ingredients. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high in a wok or large nonstick skillet; swirl to coat. Add the pork and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the sauce, carrot, scallions, and cashews. Bring to a simmer to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes. Taste; season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve mixture over rice or noodles.


The original of this recipe was outstanding as it was, but the second time, I very slightly adjusted certain ingredient amounts to perfectly suit our tastes. I also used pork shoulder rather than the loin because I almost always have sliced or cubed pork shoulder portioned away in the freezer.

Bottom line: this is our new favorite stir fry. The pork and cashews together make it incredibly meaty and hearty and the spicy, savory, sweet sauce just brings it all together. This one is definitely going into long-term rotation.


Chinese Spaghetti


Chinese Spaghetti
slightly adapted from The Woks of Life


  • 12 oz. dried spaghetti
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon chile oil (optional, but highly recommended)


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions, undercooking it by about a minute (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a wok or large deep skillet over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the ground beef and cook until slightly browned, breaking up any large chunks of beef. Add the onion, garlic, and Shaoxing wine, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook until the onion is transparent, and then add the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a hard simmer. Stir in the oyster and soy sauces, sesame oil, and white pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, add the peas, and stir for one minute.

Stir up the cornstarch slurry and drizzle the slurry into the sauce while stirring constantly. The sauce should thicken until it coats a spoon.

Turn heat to low and add the cooked pasta. Toss until the noodles are coated in sauce. Add some of the pasta cooking liquid if the sauce is too thick or add more cornstarch slurry if the sauce is too thin. Add the chili oil and toss again. Serve!


The minute I stumbled across this recipe, I knew I had to have it. The flavors are right up my alley and it’s quick and easy to boot. It’s genius. It’s perfect. I am going to be putting it on our weekly menu for years. *INSERT MORE EXCITED FOOD TALK* Seriously, I cannot talk this one up enough. Go make it!

Kung Pao Ground Chicken

IMG_3203IMG_3201Kung Pao Ground Chicken


  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 10 arbol chiles, heads cut off, left whole
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon grated (or minced) fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated (or minced) fresh garlic
  • 4 ounces dry roasted peanuts
  • Cooked jasmine rice, for serving
  • Crushed chile flakes (optional), for serving


Combine the black soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok (or large deep skillet) over high heat. Add the ground chicken, season with the salt and pepper, then stir fry, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it browns, for about 4 minutes, until mostly cooked through. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini and continue to stir fry for another 2 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the chiles, scallions, ginger, garlic, and peanuts to the pan. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the stir fry sauce. Bring to a boil and stir continuously until the sauce has thickened.

Serve over white or brown jasmine rice with additional chile flakes, if desired.


I’m a little bit in love with this dish. It is essentially my Kung Pao Chicken recipe, but with ground meat, different vegetables, and an easier and more streamlined cooking process – which makes me want to replace my original with this one for the foreseeable future!

Ancho Chorizo Chili

Ancho Chorizo Chili
slightly adapted from Simply Scratch


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or regular crushed tomatoes)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup of stock or water

Suggested sides/toppings: sliced avocado, pico de gallo, cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheddar or jack cheese, hot sauce, cornbread, tortilla chips, corn chips


Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in a tablespoon of olive oil along with the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Saute for about 4 minutes or until the onion is just tender. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add in the lean ground beef and chorizo. Use your wooden spatula to break up the meat into small crumbles and cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink. Drain off all the fat in the bottom of the pan.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, ancho chili powder, salt, cumin, Mexican oregano, sugar, and stock. Stir and bring to a gentle bubble, then reduce to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Serve with desired sides/toppings and enjoy!


OH MAN. This was amazing. I am not usually a big fan of chili (I know, sacrilege!), but for some reason when I randomly stumbled across Laurie’s post, the words “ancho” and “chorizo” took hold in my brain and wouldn’t leave. Maybe because I’ve been so into my recently tweaked homemade chorizo and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it. Whatever it was, I had to make this immediately – and I did not regret it. I admit being hesitant about adding in a full three tablespoons of ancho chile powder, but I’m glad I trusted her judgment and went for it. CRAZY good.

This made a solid six portions for us. I gave two to a friend and then ate my two servings as shown above. Steve had his first with just Fritos and pico and his second with Fritos and… hot dogs! I say that with a bit of a laugh only because we normally don’t think of chili with beans as being good hot dog chili, but we were both pretty blown away by how well it worked. Not a big hot dog fan myself, but for those of you who love them, I highly recommend.

Chorizo-Stuffed Hatch Chiles


Chorizo-Stuffed Hatch Chiles
with a nod to Once A Month Meals


  • 10 large fresh hatch chiles (hot or mild)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb Mexican-style chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz roasted hatch chiles, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To prepare the chiles (pro tip: WEAR GLOVES), cut the heads off, then slice on one side, down the middle, devein, and seed.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the chorizo and saute until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes, until just soft.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, diced hatch chiles, cumin, oregano, chile powder, and salt; stir to combine and simmer for a few minutes, until heated through.

Remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup cheese and stir into the chorizo mixture until melted.

Spoon one-tenth of the mixture into each of the chiles, taking care not to rip the chiles all the way open.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Remove pan from oven, top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then put the pan back in the oven for another few minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve.


This is the third year in a row I have made these with in-season hatch chiles and I figured it was about time to get a recipe down. This is a spectacular and impressive (yet simple!) meal, and a great way to highlight the best of the season. I love serving mine with hatch chile cornbread on the side, but refried beans or a pile of Spanish rice would also do quite nicely.

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

IMG_1998Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)
courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) salted butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup (185g) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (160g) all purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) M&Ms
  • Coarse salt for topping, if desired


In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed. Mix in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla (in that order). Slowly mix in the baking soda and flour. Do not overmix. Fold in the M&Ms with a wooden spoon. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (I left mine overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop chilled dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet or silicone baking mat. I pressed a few M&Ms on top of the dough balls. Press the balls down (only slightly) since they won’t spread much while baking. Bake for 8-9 minutes (SEE NOTES). Cookies will be soft and may appear undone. They will firm up as they cool.

Transfer to wire rack, sprinkle with coarse salt (if using), and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!


Best. Cookies. Ever. No exaggeration. And super easy to boot. I highly recommend the salt – it adds that perfect balance to the sweet and the nutty. This is definitely one for my back pocket for family gatherings and birthdays.

Note about the cooking time: Sally says they only take 8 to 9 minutes – and they may, if I use my plain cookie sheet. But with my silicone baking mat, they took closer to 14. Watch the first batch closely and adjust from there.

Lasagna Hamburger Helper

IMG_0989IMG_1004Lasagna Hamburger Helper
slightly adapted from Jo Cooks


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. dry mafalda pasta (SEE NOTES)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


In a large, deep skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is well browned and no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.

Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and stir. Season with salt, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper, and cook until the onion gets soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, pasta, and chicken broth and stir everything together. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through; most of the sauce should be absorbed.

Stir in the cheese and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.


So freaking good. This was the last of Steve’s helper meal nostalgia tour. At this point, I think I have made every recipe from when we were kids, plus a couple extra. List below.

If you can’t find mafalda pasta nearby (I CANNOT), then buy two boxes of Lasagna Hamburger Helper and just use the noodles from that! That was a brilliant “duh” suggestion from Steve when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to buy the right kind of pasta. Two helper boxes end up being cheaper than buying the specialty noodles online, so it’s a win. Alternatively, you can use any kind of shaped pasta like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes: