Friday, May 30, 2008

Sushi revisited

The hubz had a craving for sushi the other day, and I could ALWAYS go for some sushi, so I was more than happy to oblige. I dug around the freezer, fridge, and pantry and found imitation crab, eel, fish roe and cucumber, but no avocado. What a shame...I loooove avocado. But I'm also lazy, so I made due without it instead of making a trip to the store.

You can see the directions and more pictures here. So, like I was saying, this time I made 2 kinds - one with crab, cucumber and fish roe. The other with eel, cucumber and fish roe. Dee-lish!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pad Thai

Pad thai is a HUGE contributor to my freshman 30. Yes, I said freshman 30, not 15. I'd go to the cafeteria, pick at some french fries or something else unhealthy but edible. Then I'd get hungry again around midnite because I didn't eat a real dinner, and I'd walk down the street to the food court and get pad thai. Sooo worth it! =)

Now, you may ask why my pad thai so pasty white instead of that gorgeous orange color like the ones you get at restaurants? To be honest, I'm not really sure. This was my first time making pad thai and my best guess is that I didn't use enough tamarind. I didn't measure out any of my seasonings and just did it to taste, and to be honest, mine was a bit bland and I definitely could have used a bit more flavor. I'll be less stingy next time with the tamarind (and other flavorings) and see if it makes a difference.

Here's my recipe, though I recommend following Chez Pim or Thai Table's recipes since they have measurements.

- Rice noodles/sticks
- Garlic (minced)
- Green onions
- Bean sprouts
- Chicken
- Shrimp
- Egg
- Tofu (extra firm)
- Pickled turnip (optional)

- Tamarind paste
- Palm sugar or brown sugar
- Fish sauce

- More bean sprouts
- Ground peanuts
- Chili flakes
- Lime (lemon in my case)


First soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes or until they're pliable. You don't want them to be cooked, just soft enough to work with.

Slice your chicken into bite-size pieces. I always like to coat them with corn starch and soy at this point. The soy for flavor and the corn starch will help keep the chicken tender and prevent it from being overcooked. I'm lazy and don't like to stir fry ingredients one at a time - cook the meat, set aside, cook the veggies, set aside, cook ..., set aside, then mix all together. Instead, I like to put in the meat, put in the veggies on top of it, from slowest cooking to fastest cooking, so it makes a huge difference for me, but it's definitely optional.

Prep your other ingredients: Slice the tofu into small cubes. Slice the green onions into ~1 inch strips, or at a diagonal slant. Peel and devein your shrimp. Wash your bean sprouts. Mince your garlic.

Some people like to premake their sauce and dump it in, so you can do that at this time also.

Heat up your wok until almost smoking. Add oil and swish it around until it's coated and heated through.

Add the chicken and stir it until mostly cooked. Add garlic, tofu, green onions, and pickled turnip. Toss around a bit.

Add the noodles, bean sprouts, and the sauce. Keep everything moving until the noodles are cooked through. If you find your wok is dry and the noodles are still too hard, add more sauce or some water.

When the noodles are ready to go, push everything aside and crack an egg in the middle of the wok. Scramble it. After it's cooked, fold it into the noodles.

Add the shrimp and toss until it's cooked.

Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Shrimp, mango and avocado soft tacos

Hmm...the jury is still out on this one. The mango that I used was overripe and so it made it too mushy. I see the potential though. I truly think this could've been good with a better mango. Anyway, here's how I made it...

- Shrimp
- Mango
- Avocado
- Tomato
- Black beans
- Cilantro
- Salt
- Lemon or lime juice
- Garlic
- Tortillas
- Jalapeno (optional)
- Onion (optional)

- Peel and clean the shrimp. Toss it with a bit of salt and minced garlic and saute or grill until cooked.
- Dice the mango, avocado, and tomato. Chop the cilantro. Dice the optional jalapeno and onion.
- Mix everything together and put it into a warm tortilla

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I'm gonna cry ='(

I'm having a very bad gardening day. First, I go out to my yard this morning to water my tomatoes, and guess what I see...

Stupid gophers! It's bad enough that they're making holes in our lawn, they're eating my tomatoes too! I suppose I should've known it was coming, tomatoes being one of their favorites and all. But it doesn't make me any less upset. I have 3 more tomato plants that I'm sure won't last long. We're going to go buy some traps today because nothing else we've tried have worked and our yard is starting to look like the face of a teenage boy with all those gopher holes. Grrrr.

After mourning my tomato and tending to my surviving garden, I go inside to water my orchids. I'm quite proud. We got 2 orchids as housewarming gifts and I've managed to keep both alive and one of them WAS re-flowering, which from what I hear, is very difficult to do for beginner orchiders. BUT, stupid me. I accidentally knock off the entire branch of flowers! Who knew it was so delicate? Seriously, I barely tapped it.

So, like I said. WAH!!!! What a horrible gardening day. I'm plant-sitting for my mother in law while she's on vacation and should probably stay away her orchids until my luck turns around.

Well, I guess I'm off to the hardware store. I'll teach those gophers to mess with me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Japanese Cold Noodles

There was a heat wave coming through, so I thought it'd be nice to make some cold noodles. Japanese cold noodles are quick, easy and perfect for a nice hot day.

The picture is a bit fuzzy and the presentation is definitely lacking, but the flavor is definitely there. Things I would do differently next time though is cut the egg thinner and use non deli ham and and cut it thinner as well.

- instant noodles
- eggs

- ham
- cucumber

- bean sprouts (I didn't have any on hand so I just used extra cucumbers)

- sesame or furikake (optional)

- soy sauce
- vinegar

- sesame oil

- grated ginger
- wasabi

- Cook the instant noodles without the flavoring packets and then run it through cold water. Toss it with a bit of sesame oil to keep it from sticking together (this part is optional). Set aside.
- Beat the eggs and spread it in a thin layer in an oiled non-stick skillet. Cook until the edges are firm, then flip to cook both sides. Julienne the egg "pancake" and set aside.

- Julienne the cucumber.
- Julienne the ham.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl to taste.

- Put eggs, cucumber, ham and bean sprouts over the noodles. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or furikake.

- Mix all ingredients and enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

Not particularly blog worthy, but I've never made it before, so I thought I'd blog about it.

Broccoli is a super healthy and yummy veggie, but I always stir fry it with a bit of garlic and soy or oyster sauce and sometimes with some other veggies or meat. That doesn't particularly well with western food like a steak or grilled chicken, and steaming is boring, so I decided to give this a try. Lemme just say, YUMMY!!! I think I might be doing this from now on instead, even with Asian dishes. I can do variations like sesame seeds and soy or teriyaki sauce to make it more fitting, right?

- 1 broccoli
- 1/2 tsp oil
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- sprinkling of salt
- 2 pinches of red pepper flakes

- Preheat oven to 475deg
- Wash broccoli and cut florets into even sized pieces. Peel the stem of the tough skin and cut into bite size pieces.
- Toss oil, garlic, salt, pepper flakes and broccoli together
- Lay on a sheet in a single layer
- Roast for ~10 minutes or until the desired tenderness and color is achieved
- Pair with something else yummy or eat alone!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Baked Potato Wedges and Accidental Chips!

I looove french fries. Unfortunately, my double chin and muffin top do not. These potato wedges are usually good enough to satisfy that french fry craving when I get it, and is much healthier, and pretty easy too!

Look what I let happen to my potatoes. How embarassing!

I had a whole bag (10 pounds), untouched, all with some monstrous sprouts. Oops. Normally I just give the potatoes a good scrub and leave the skin on, but this time, I had to peel them. I peeled them down a few extra layers to get down under the sprouts, and then the potatoes were as good as new! After peeling them, I sliced, seasoned and baked all 10 pounds. We ate what we wanted, then I layed the rest in a single layer on a cooling rack, froze them, and then transferred them to a plastic storage ziploc baggy to be rebaked and enjoyed at a later date.

- Potatoes
- Seasoned salt*
- Oil (optional)
* You can season it with anything you want. Garlic powder, onion salt, etc

- Peel or scrub the potatoes, then cut into wedges. I actually don't cut them into real "wedges". Instead, I cut them in half, then cut them into thin slices. The thinner the slices, the faster they cook, and the crispier they will potentially be. As you can see here, I sliced a few so thin that they turned out like those fancy kettle potato chips! (Hence my title of "Accidental potato chip") Crispy and delicious. Next time I might slice all of them that thin and make potato chips instead!

- (Optional) After cutting, you can toss them in a bit of oil and seasoning. I was being super stingy with the oil because I was trying to make them as healthy as possible. I even did a few batches with no oil at all and found that they were still tasty and still crisped up nicely, so oil is actually completely optional.
- Lay out the wedges on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer. If you want (especially if you skipped the previous step and didn't use any oil), you can sprinkle on additional seasoning now.

- Put it into a 450deg oven until browned and crisped to the consistency of your preference. The timing will also depend on how thin you cut your wedges. Mine were pretty thin and took maybe 25-30 minutes. You can probably also precook them in the microwave for a bit to cut down on baking time, but I didn't try this.
- (Optional) If you want, after one side is done, you can flip them to get both sides cripsy, but I'm too lazy for that and felt like they were good enough with only one side toasty (I'm always looking for shortcuts).
- Serve plain, or with a dipping sauce of your choice (a nice aoli would probably be good) or as a side to your main dish. When it's just me and the hubz, I just bring the baking pan straight to the table and we eat them off of that =)

* The picture above is the baked potato wedges with frozen corn that was heated in the microwave and tossed with a squeeze of lemon juice and some seasoned salt and a tri-tip that the hubz marinated and grilled. He won't tell me what he marinated it with, but I do know there was some tequila, lots of brown sugar and some paprika among other things. It was VERY tasty.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Strawberry Lemonade

We've got a monstrous lemon tree in our yard and a small strawberry patch that provides a surprising amount of strawberries. I'm out there every other day picking strawberries, and this is a great way to get good use out of both.

For Mother's Day, we went on a hike with the in-laws and and a picnic afterwards. Part of my contribution to the picnic was strawberry lemonade. It's perfect for a picnic on a nice day and ridiculously easy to make.

- 1 cup of lemon juice
- 5 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of strawberries
- LOTS of sugar (to taste)

- Put lemon juice, water and strawberries in a blender and blend. There will be lots of foam at the top.

- Give it some time to settle and scoop the foam off the top.
- Serve over ice (and maybe a bit of vodka too!)

Thanks to Paved with Good Intentions suggestion, I'm entering this post to Joelen's Tasty Tools Event! Yay, my first blogging event!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dan Dan Noodles

aka dan dan mien.

I was cranky and stressed out the other day, and had a craving for something carby but quick since I was tired and not really in the mood to cook. You've heard of 30 minute meals right? This took me about 10! And what's even better is that you can make this dish entirely with the microwave if you want!

*makes enough sauce for about 2 servings, depending on how much sauce you like on your noodles
- 2 tablespoons of sesame paste or peanut butter (I used chunky peanut butter but sesame paste would be best)
- 3/4 cup water or chicken stock
- 1 clove finely minced garlic

- some grated ginger
- soy sauce to taste

- vinegar to taste (preferably rice wine, but any will do)
- chili oil (optional)

- chili flakes or chinese style hot sauce (optional)

- 1 scallion sliced thinly (optional)

- chinese pickled turnips/radishes (optional)

- ground pork, chicken or turkey (optional)

*I'll explain the microwave method, but keep in mind you can do all this on the stovetop as well.
- Put the sesame paste/peanut butter, water/chicken stock, and garlic in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute.
- Mix until the sesame paste/peanut butter is melted and a smooth consistency (no need for a whisk: the fork or chopsticks you plan on eating with will do just fine). If you like your dan dan noodle sauce to be more watery, add more water/chicken stock. I've had it restaurants where it was almost like a soup, and other places where there was no liquid at all, so it's really up to you and your preferences. If it gets too watery, toss it back into the microwave to help some of the water evaporate and make the sauce thicker. Keep in mind that it will probably thicken a bit as it cools but will also become more watery as you add in the soy and vinegar.

- Add soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, chili sauce/chili flakes to taste. If adding the seasoning liquid makes your sauce too watery, go ahead and toss in the microwave as explained above.
- Add in scallion (or you can save this to add at the end as garnish, or both)
- Add pickled turnips/radishes (I like the crunch and saltiness it adds to the dish but is optional)

- Add cooked ground meat if desired (I believe traditionally, dan dan mien has no meat, but whatever)
- Pour the sauce over noodles (you can microwave some instant ramen noodles to really stick to the microwave theme).
- Enjoy all your 10 minutes of hard work!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mango, Black Bean & Carne Asada Burrito

Sorry for the crappy picture, but it sure was yummy! And super easy too.

So I considered doing a mango chicken stir fry with the leftover mango from my Grilled Salmon and Mango Salsa post, but the hubz made some carne asada to make nachos to eat while watching basketball, so I got a great idea - mango, black bean and carne asada burritos!

For the carne asada, the hubz said he just took london broil, salt and peppered it and grilled it up. Not exactly authentic, but it was very tasty! I just added some diced mango, some canned black beans, a squeeze of lemon, some very finely diced onion and and some salsa and wrapped it up in a burrito. Easy peasy and yummy in my tummy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kimchi Tofu Stew

Argh, terrible picture, but oh so delicious dinner! I took this picture before I stirred the tofu in, that's why it looks so pasty white. Stir carefully when you do so that the tofu doesn't break.

Kimchi tofu stew or kimchi jigae is like korean comfort food (at least to me it is). It comes in a burning hot black stone bowl still bubbling at restaurants. At our house, it comes in a dutch oven.

So after going for a hike with my friend Stephanie, we were talking about going out to dinner. She suggested Korean. Then after some more discussion, we decided we'd come over to my house and MAKE Korean instead. We made the kimchi fried rice that I posted earlier and this! It was much better than the restaurants if I do say so myself =P Now, I just need to go get some of those special bowls they serve these in!

I usually put seafood (shrimp, imitation crab, baby clams, etc) but since this was a spur of the moment thing, I didn't have any. Steph suggested ground pork. OMG, sooo much better and I'm not going back to the seafood version again.

Kimchi tofu soup is easy, delicious and healthy.

- One onion sliced thinly
- 4-5 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
- 5-6 mushrooms (I used shitake, but button or cremini is fine too) sliced thinly
- 1/3 lb of ground pork
- 3/4 cups of kimchi and kimchi juice
- 1 box of tofu (soft or silken, I prefer silken) cut into cubes
- soy or fish sauce to taste
- korean chili paste or chili flakes/powder to taste
- egg (optional)

- Heat up your pot and add a bit of oil. Add the onions and cook until soft.
- Add garlic and mushrooms.
- Add ground pork and break it up with your spatula.
- Add kimchi and some kimchi juice (to taste). If you used dried shitake mushrooms, add the water that you soaked the mushrooms in, minus the gritty stuff that fell to the bottom.
- Add tofu and stir gently to avoid breaking the tofu.
- Taste. If it's not salty enough, add a bit of soy or fish sauce. If you want more liquid, add some water or chicken broth. If you want it spicier, add a bit of chili paste or chili flakes.
- If you want, you can add an egg at this point like they do at restaurants.
- Serve over rice.