Thursday, July 31, 2008


Aaaww, I'm really loving our mini garden. This year was my first attempt at gardening, so I started small with just a few tomato plants (two of which got eaten by gophers) and some herbs including basil! It's so nice to be able to walk outside and pluck a few leaves and not worry about having to go to the store and paying way too much and then worry about using it up before it goes bad. I've really learned a lot and have big plans for next year. And hopefully, the provisions that I plan on putting into place will be enough to protect my hard work from those darn gophers. I've been setting traps out for them for months now and have yet to catch anything! They keep detecting the traps somehow and kicking dirt into them while closing off their tunnels. We've got some smart gophers in our yard. One trap has even gone missing! I doubt the gophers are THAT smart though!

Anyway, back to the food. Bruschetta! Easy peasy and oh soooo yummylicious!

I even made my own baguette! Now, if I just learn to make my own olive oil, salt and pepper, this entire dish would be homemade =P

- Baguette
- Garlic clove
- Tomatoes
- Basil
- Olive oil
- Salt
- Pepper

- Slice the baguette and toast it. Even better would be grilling it! Then rub it with a clove of garlic.
- Dice the tomatoes.
- Chiffonade the basil.
- Mix everything all together and pile it onto the bread.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hamburger buns

The hubz had been craving a big juicy burger for quite a while, so we decided to make some. We had everything we needed except hamburger buns, so instead of running to the store to grab some, we decided to try making them! It was definitely more work, but also a lot more fun. Besides, we had that monstrous bag of flour just asking to be used.

We looked around the internet for a recipe that we had all the ingredients. We were also looking for something quick since we were hungry and finally settled on this 40-Minute Hamburger Buns recipe. While it did the trick, there are a few things that we plan to do differently in the future. For one thing, the buns were waaay to sweet. It reminded me of those sweet hawaiian rolls (which I love, just not with a burger) rather than a burger bun. So next time, we're definitely cutting back on the sugar. We're also going to do a better job of shaping the buns next time. We're going to make them less ball-like and more bun-like. But overall, it wasn't too bad and homemade burger buns are probably something we'll try again in the future.


  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets.
Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.

And for our burger, it was just a patty of plain ground beef, some blue cheese, and carmelized onions. Delicious. The leftover buns made great egg salad sandwiches too!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

BLT with a Twist

Yum. My hubby makes the best BLT's (and his other sandwiches are pretty darn good too). You would think that sandwiches are pretty straightforward and if you use the same ingredients, it would taste the same no matter who makes it, but somehow, that's just not the case. Hubby's sandwiches are waaay better than mine, and one of his favorites to make is the BLT. Who doesn't love some crisp bacon and lettuce with some juicy tomatoes? This time, for an extra little twist, I asked him to add a bit of blue cheese. It's hard to improve on something as simple and great as a BLT, but personally, I liked this even better! If you are a fan of the smelly goodness of blue cheese like I am, I encourage you to give this combo a try.

And just because I want to, here's a picture of my first tomato ever! It was small and the skin was a bit on the tough side, but the flesh was oh so sweet. And look, it's shaped like a heart <3>
P.S. - I just learned from the hubz that one key to making this sandwich is to put the cheese on the mayo because it helps it stick better. See, I told sandwich making is more complicated than it seems! He was also the one who taught me to put peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I used to try to put the jelly on top of the peanut butter and always had such a difficult time. I mean, duh! Doesn't that just make sense? How come I never thought of it?

2 slices of bread 2 slices of bacon 1/2 tomato sliced 1 leaf of lettuce Mayo Blue cheese

Toast the bread and smear on a layer of mayo. Add the blue cheese, bacon, tomato, and lettuce. Cut in half and savor the goodness.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Banana and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Costco strikes again! We have a ginormous bag (25 whole pounds!) of flour from Costco and we're going through it surprisingly fast. I guess knowing that I have a ton of flour encourages me to bake more. I'll slowly post all the goodies that we've been making in this house as I get them written up (but I tend to be super slow about it - so I apologize in advance).

Baking still makes a bigger mess than I'd like it to, but I gotta say, it's not nearly as scary or hard as I once thought it was. The key is to follow the directions. You can't get away with eyeballing measurements, flavoring stuff "to taste", adding little extra somethings, or making substitions for things you don't have on hand or find icky like you can in cooking. Having a stand mixer definitely helps to. And I'm also getting better about cleaning up after myself as I bake like I do with cooking. Yay for me!

Now on to what I made with this big bag of flour - banana and chocolate chip cookies! I really like the combo of bananas and chocolate, so I thought this would be a great little treat to make and to use up some of the mushy bananas, plus I wanted to try an alternative use for mushy bananas besides smoothies and banana bread. It turned out pretty good for the most part. Some things to keep in mind if you want to try this are that the texture was more like a cake than a cookie as you can see below.

Another important thing is that usually with cookies you take them out before they look done and they'll firm up as they cool. With these, don't do that. My first batch was undercooked and was super mushy, and even putting them back in the oven didn't really help. It was kind of like all the banana floated to the top of the cookie and created a sticky, mushy layer on top that just wouldn't go away no matter how long I re-baked it for. I baked my second batch longer and they turned out much better (they still have the consistency of cake though).

Anyway, if you're interested in trying it, I got the recipe from Simply Recipes


  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2 In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

4 Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tomato with egg

This dish is the very first dish my mom taught me to cook. I think it was in the early years of elementary school - I learned while standing on a step stool so that I could see over the counter and reach the stove. At 5' 1/2" (don't you dare forget that 1/2 inch!), I still have a step stool in the kitchen that I use more often than I'd like to admit.

Anyway, eggs and tomatoes. Really? Growing up, I thought this dish was something my mom made up. First of all, it was a combo that I had never heard of and seemed weird to me. On top of that, besides the occasional spaghetti, my mom didn't cook any non-Chinese dishes - and this certainly didn't look "Chinese" to me. Where's the soy? Yes, we ate it over rice, but that doesn't make it Chinese. But I have since learned that it is a Chinese dish. I've seen other Chinese moms make it and have even seen it on a restaurant menu once or twice! Who knew?

The theme ingredient for this month's Weekend Wokking happens to be tomato, so I'm going to submit this recipe to Blazing Hot Wok who's doing the roundup. If you haven't checked it out yet, it's a fun event created by Wandering Chopsticks and the roundup will be posted the first Wednesday of the month.

I'll also have a lot more tomato recipes coming soon since my tomatoes have been ripening (yay). Unfortunately, I'm a little behind, so it might be a while before I get to writing up the posts. But I hope you enjoy this one for now!

- 1 tomato

- 4 eggs

- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

- Slice the tomato into thin wedges. I try to get at least 12 wedges out of a single tomato. You can even cut some wedges in half if you'd like. The reason I like the tomatoes in thin and smaller pieces is that it cooks faster and the more pieces you have, the more likely you'll get a bite of tomato along with that bite of egg.

- Beat the eggs in a bowl. Set aside. (You can add the salt here if you'd like, or with the tomatoes in the next step, or do half/half)

- Heat up your pan and add a bit of oil. Put the tomatoes in and if you'd like, the salt (see the previous step for details). If you have one, put the lid on the pan to help the tomatoes cook and soften. If you feel like it needs it, add a teaspoon or two of water to keep it from burning and to help it steam. The tomatoes will release liquid on it's own, so this may not be necessary, it's up to you.

- Once the tomatoes are soft and more or less mushy, add the eggs in and scramble everything together. I know some people who like to add shrimp or a few pieces of thinly sliced chicken or pork, but I like it best without any of that. If you'd like to add those things though, I'd toss them in before the eggs and then add the eggs after the meat is cooked through.

- Serve over a bowl of fluffy white rice and call my mom to tell her how good it was. Actually, skip that step and call me instead =)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cheesy bread

I saw these heavenly looking cheesy buns of goodness on I Like to Cook's blog and knew I had to try it. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour and theirs looks so gorgeous! I'm so jealous, but seeing as how I'm still very new to the world of baking, I must say that I'm quite proud of myself. Up until very recently, the only time I ever used my oven was to make something out of a Betty Crocker box. And even then, I'd manage to screw it up once in a while. I've come a long way baby! But I still have a long way to go, as you can see below...

Recipe from King Arthur

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (I used all purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water

all of the starter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) to 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) lukewarm water*
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
(I used all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

*Use the greater amount of water in winter, when conditions are dry; and the lesser amount in summer, when the weather is humid.

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, or the grated/shredded cheese of your choice (I used a blend of cheddar and jack)

To make the starter: Mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix till well combined. Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.

To make the dough: Combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast. Knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to make a smooth dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and pat and stretch it into a ¾"-thick rectangle, about 9" x 12". Spritz with water, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Starting with a long side, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface. Cover it and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it’s puffy though not doubled in bulk. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices, for mini-breads; or simply cut the dough in half, for two normal-sized loaves. Place them on one (for two loaves) or two (for four mini-loaves) lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up. Spread them open a bit, if necessary, to more fully expose the cheese. Spritz with warm water, and immediately place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes (for the mini-loaves), or 35 minutes (for the full-sized loaves), or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yield: four mini-loaves or two standard-size loaves.