Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clam Chowder

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!!

While I didn't do any cooking for the holidays, I still haven't finished my Thanksgiving posts, so here's one more.

I was a bit worried that the soup wouldn't get eaten and that I'd have a ton of leftovers, but apparently, it wasn't something that I needed to worry about. I made the clam chowder the day before and then popped in the crock pot in the morning to heat it up and left it there during dinner to keep it warm. Anyone who wanted it, had to get up off their butts, walk over, pour themselves a bowl, and bring it back to their seats.

The crock pot happened to be near my father-in-law who took it upon himself to tattle on people who went for seconds. I told him it was fine and that we had plenty - people could go for seconds and thirds as much as they wanted. Apparently that wasn't the reaction he was looking for out of me, so he decided to report to everyone, how many bowls each person had helped themselves to. Luckily, that didn't deter anyone from going back for more and we had less than one bowl's worth left at the end of the night. I'd call that a success :)

Happy New Year!!!

- Clams and clam juice (I used canned clams that were packed in its own juices)
- Stock (clam stock would be best, then fish, then veggie or chicken. I used chicken because that's all that I had on hand. Water will do too if you don't have any stock at all)
- Milk (I used soy milk)
- Cream (I used half & half though I'm sure heavy cream would have been wonderful)
- Potatoes
- Onions
- Celery (optional)
- Parsley
- Salt
- Pepper
- Flour
- Butter

- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- Finely dice the onions.
- Finely slice the celery.
- In a heavy bottomed pot, add a bit of butter or oil and the onions and sweat them until softened.
- Add the potatoes and celery.
- Saute everything until the potatoes and celery have softened a bit. They don't need to be totally cooked through yet at this point.
- Remove everything.
- Make a rue by mixing equal parts of melted butter and flour and cooking it until it is just starting to turn a bit golden in color.
- Add any of the liquids (milk, cream, stock) and whisk the mixture until the rue has been fully incorporated into the liquid and it has thickened nicely.
- Add the rest of the liquids, the clams, clam juice, onions, celery, potatoes, etc and bring everything to a simmer.
- If the soup is not thick enough, either add more cream or make more rue in a separate pot, add a bit of the liquid from the soup to the rue and add the entire mixture back to the soup once it's been fully incorporated.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the parsley at the last minute.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baked Brie

I've been wanting to try this forever! I keep hearing how fabulous baked brie is and how it's always such a hit at parties, but I never got a chance to try it. Well, I still didn't get to try it this year since brie is on the "do not eat" list for pregnant ladies, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it!

Next I had to decide on what kind of baked brie I wanted to make. Wrapped in puff pastry? Topped with a fruit compote? What kind of fruit compote?

In the end, I decided to save myself a bit of trouble and just go with the easiest version out there...topped with honey and nuts.

I can't give a personal report on whether it was good or not, but it seemed to go over well with the guests. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try it myself one of these days...

- Brie

- Honey

- Nuts (I used sliced almonds)
- Crackers


- Place the brie on a piece of foil and pop it in the oven at 350 until the middle is soft and gooey. It shouldn't take very long at all.

- Transfer the brie onto the serving plate and drizzle honey on top.

- Garnish with nuts.

- Serve with crackers.
(I also placed a few apple slices around for a bit more color)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet Potatoes

Normally, I'm a bit of a control freak. I like to do everything myself, but seeing as how we had 20 people coming and I was low on energy because of the pregnancy, I was forced to concede and let my mom help me out. But even then, I couldn't quite bear to give up control on anything too big like the turkey, so I let her be in charge of the sweet potatoes.

I had all sorts of ideas for the sweet potatoes, but my mom claimed she had a fabulous way of preparing them and I was too tired and short on time to fight her, so I bit my tongue and let her do them her way. And lemme tell ya, they were really good! I might even steal her recipe in the future and pass it off as my own :)

And next time, I'll remember to get a picture of the completed dish instead of it just simmering in the pot.

- Sweet potatoes
- Orange Juice
- Brown Sugar
- Butter

- Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into bite size pieces.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot with orange juice, brown sugar, and LOTS of butter.
- Simmer the sweet potatoes, gently stirring them ocassionally until they're mostly cooked through. (You can skip this part if you want and put them directly into the oven, but since oven space is scarce on Thanksgiving day, we did most of the cooking on the stovetop and just finished them in the oven).
- Transfer everything to a baking dish and bake them at 375 until they finish cooking and have a bit of crisp and color to them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sauteed Green Beans II

I'm not a fan of the typical cream of mushroom green bean casserole, so I served sauteed green beans instead.

I made something similar last year and used a lot of bacon grease and decided to go a little healthier this year. There's still bacon, but it was crisped and crumbled separately and just sprinkled on top. Still delicious and a bit healthier :)

- Green beans
- Red onions (or shallots)
- Mushrooms
- Bacon
- Oil
- Salt

- Clean and trim all the green beans.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
- Blanche the green beans until they're cooked but still crunchy.
- Immediately remove them from the water and plunge them into an ice bath.
- After the green beans have cooled, drain them.
- I did all this a few days ahead of time and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge to make the day-of less stressful.
- Slice the onions length wise.
- Quarter the mushrooms.
- Cook the bacon until crispy and then crumble it into large chunks.
- In a large pan, heat a bit of oil.
- Add the onions and a bit of salt. Saute them until they're soft.
- Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked and slightly browned.
- Add the green beans and a bit more salt if necessary.
- Mix everything together until the green beans are heated through.
- Put it on the serving platter and top it with the bacon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pork Roulade

Since we had 20 people coming over for thanksgiving dinner and the turkey was only 20 pounds, we decided to do a second meat dish, just to be on the safe side. We decided on trying something new and made a pork roulade.

My husband went out and bought a big old pork tenderloin while I decided on a pear butter, bacon and mushroom filling. I've never tried it, but it sounded like a tasty combo.

The day of, my husband cut the pork loin in half to make it easier to work with. He then butterflied, but in 3 sections, is that still called butterflying? Anyway, he made 3 long cuts length-wise in each half of the pork loin to open and flatten them out. I diced and sauteed the mushrooms, my mom crisped and crumbled the bacon, and then I mixed the filling together and slathered it on the pork. My husband then rolled up the roulades, tied them up to keep them from unrolling and oil, salt and peppered them generously. We then browned them on our griddle and popped it in the oven at 350 for a little less than an hour and then took them out to let them rest.

Unfortunately, it turned out a little overcooked and dry because the turkey had hogged both of our probe thermometers (the turkey is more important after all) and we guess-timated how long it would take. Plus, this was our first time making something like this, so it really wasn't our fault. Especially for a first attempt and with all the other craziness going on in the kitchen, I think my husband did a fabulous job. With a little more practice and access to a probe thermometer, I think this could be a lot juicier and prettier in the future. It's definitely a keeper.

What do you think?

- Pork tenderloin
- Pear butter
- Mushrooms
- Bacon
- Oil
- Salt
- Pepper

- Dice the mushrooms and saute them to release most of the liquid. Set aside
- Crisp up the bacon and crumble it. Set aside.
- If your pork loin is really long, consider cutting it in half to make it easier to work with.
- Make 3 cuts into the pork loin (length-wise), so that it can be "unrolled" into one large piece of pork that is evenly thick the whole way through. (This is much easier said than done and may take some practice).
- Mix the pear butter, mushrooms and bacon together.
- Slather the mixture on the "cut" side of the pork loin, leaving about half an inch to an inch of empty space along the border.
- Roll the pork and filling up and tie it every few inches with kitchen twine to keep it from unrolling.
- Generously coat the outside with oil, salt and pepper.
- In a large pan (we used our griddle), brown each side of the pork roulade.
- Put it on a baking sheet and place it into a 350 degree oven.
- Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160.
- Take the pork out and let it rest for at least 20 minutes (you can tent it with foil to keep it warm).
- Cut off the strings, slice the pork and serve. If there are any juices, pour those on top. Cranberry sauce and gravy go well with it too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

This year, we had a 20 pounder and I decided to do my own brining. I definitely think it was worth the extra hassle. The meat was juicy and flavorful and I believe that it definitely made a significant difference.

Last year, I bought a pre-brined turkey from Trader Joe's and I think this year was better, though it is difficult to remember and compare against something I had a year ago. Even if it wasn't, brining is not difficult, so I'd rather not pay more for the pre-brined and do it myself.

I used Alton Brown's brine recipe and used the same tips and tricks I used last year to get a nice juicy bird with perfectly browned crispy skin.

Here's a recap. The night before, brine the turkey. I put the turkey and brine in a gigantic brining bag and stuck the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

Brine Ingredients:
(adapted from Good Eats)
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 tbs of black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tsp of allspice berries
- 1 1/2 tsp of chopped candied ginger
- 2 gallons of water

Brining Directions:
- Heat 1 gallon of water and mix the rest of the ingredients in until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Let the mixture cool. I made mine 2 nights before and chilled it in the fridge overnight. If you don't have time to chill the mixture, add lots of ice to bring the temperature down (take that amount of liquid out of the 2nd gallon of water if you do).
- The night before, put the turkey in a large brining bag and pour in the mixture along with another gallon of water.
- Make sure the turkey is fully submerged and that the cavity is filled with the brining liquid instead of a big air bubble.
- Place the brining bag in a large pan (I used the roasting pan) to catch leaks and refrigerate it overnight.

Turkey Ingredients:
- Vegetable oil
- Rosemary
- Garlic
- Lemon zest
- Salt
- Pepper
- Aromatics (such as onions, apples, lemons, oranges, etc)

Turkey Directions:
- Take your brined turkey out of the fridge.
- Dump all the brine down the sink and rinse the turkey well (be sure to get both the inside and the outside)
- Carefully use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat whereever you can reach (mostly the breast).
- Either pat the turkey dry, or put it on the baking rack in the roasting pan and place it in the fridge for a while to dry out the skin.
- Flip the turkey so that it's on the baking rack, breast side down.
- Place a bag of ice inside the cavity, resting against the breast and another bag of ice underneath the turkey breast.
- Let the rest of the bird come up closer to room temperature while icing the breast. Since the breast tends to cook faster than the dark meat, this will help the two reach the perfect temperature at the same time, resulting in perfectly cooked and juicy light and dark meat.
- Mix the oil, finely chopped rosemary, minced garlic and lemon zest together in a bowl.
- Remove the ice bags from the turkey.
- Slather the mixture all over the outside of the turkey and underneath the skin in the areas that you were able to separate it from the meat.

- Generously salt and pepper both the inside and outside of the turkey.
- Stuff the turkey with the aromatics.
- Place one probe thermometer in the deepest part of the breast without hitting the bone and another in the deepest part the leg and the body, without hitting the bone.
- Put the turkey into a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes until the skin is crispy and browned.
- Cover the breast with foil and turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook until both thermometers reach 161 degrees.
- Take the turkey out and tent it while letting the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Carve the turkey and serve it to your hungry guests!

Saturday, December 5, 2009



I know. I've been MIA lately and I apologize, but I have a good excuse (at least I think it is).

We have a bun in the oven!

I've been pretty tired (though that's getting better these days) and I have had no interest in food, hence the lack of posts. I don't enjoy cooking, eating, or even thinking about's really quite sad. Even tried and true favorites have no appeal to me, though that's starting to ease up it seems.

We did manage to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for 20, so I'll be slowly posting those.

In the meantime, I want to thank Juliana at Simple Recipes for the Kreativ Blogger award! I promise to try to blog more regularly so that I'm more deserving of it.

Thanks Juliana!

So, to play by the rules, here are 7 things about me (I'm going to cheat a little here):
1. I'm pregnant!
2. I'm pregnant!
3. I'm pregnant!
4. I'm pregnant!
5. I'm pregnant!
6. I'm pregnant!
7. I'm pregnant!


And here are 7 bloggers I'd like to share the award with:
1. Skinny food by Amy
2. Elizabeth's Edible Experience
3. Made with Love
4. Petite Nyonya
5. Journey of an Italian Cook
6. Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way
7. Pig Pig's Corner

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ginger Pork

I really like the flavor of ginger and really don't use it enough in my cooking. I always have it on hand and keep it in the freezer, but because it's in the freezer, it's one of those out of sight, out of mind things and I never really use it. To remedy this, I decided to make ginger pork and make ginger the star of the show!

This is a quick and tasty dish to make and since the hubz has taken a liking to keeping the freezer stocked with pork tenderloin (I think he's tired of chicken), I'll probably be making this a lot more in the future.

- Pork tenderloin
- Onions

- Ginger
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- Corn starch

- Edamame (optional)


- Slice the pork into thin strips.
- Marinate the pork in some soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch and lots of grated ginger (I used a microplane zester) while you're prepping the rest of the ingredients.

- Slice the onions into thin strips.
- Slice some ginger into super thin strips (you can skip this step if you want. I just thought that the grated ginger was a bit mild, so I added more strips of it for more ginger flavor).

- Heat a wok or pan with a bit of oil in it.

- Add the onions and saute until they are mostly softened.

- Add the sliced ginger and the pork along with the marinade and keep everything in the pan moving until the pork is cooked through, adding more soy sauce and brown sugar to taste as needed and water/stock if it gets too dry or you want more sauce.

- Add the edamame if you want it to just heat it through.

- Serve everything over rice.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet Potatos Fries

Sweet potato fries have become so darn popular that I wouldn't be surprised if McDonald's started selling them soon. I know I'd buy them!

When my husband decided to smoke 25 pounds of meat, he also decided to send out an email (at midnite, mind you), inviting some people over that night for a last minute dinner party to help us eat it. I was informed of our dinner guests when I woke up in the morning :) Which is totally fine by me by the way. I love having people come over. Short notice or no notice, if show up at my doorstep, I'll gladly feed you. Plus, it forces me to clean, and sometimes, I need that extra push of motivation.

Since this was literally last minute, I whipped up some cole slaw before heading off to work and picked up some sweet potatoes on my way home because I thought it'd be a nice pairing. And they really were. I especially like them dipped in the BBQ sauce my husband made.

And because sweet potato fries tend to be quite soggy, I used my good friend google for some tips and tricks. The secrets that I decided to use were soaking the sweet potatoes in water after cutting them and dusting them with corn starch before frying. The fries came out crisp and delicious, but I'm still open to suggestions on how to make them even crispier. If you've got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

- Sweet potatoes
- Corn starch
- Salt
- Chili powder

- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into matchsticks.
- Soak the matchsticks in water until you're ready to fry.
- Heat some oil (a heavy bottomed pot would be best) to about 350 degrees.
- Dry the sweet potatoes (I used my salad spinner).
- Dust them in corn starch right before frying. (If your first batch doesn't come out as crispy as you'd like it to be, use a thicker coating)
- Carefully drop the coated fries into the oil and fry until they are golden browned and crispy.
- Remove them from the oil and spread them on a cooling rack, letting the excess oil drip away.
- Sprinkle salt and chili powder while the oil is still hot so that it will stick better.
- Stuff your face - these things are seriously addicting!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

(Secret) Homemade BBQ Sauce

My husband always complains that I don't give him credit for his creations on this blog, but I always do. If he made it or helped, I mention him. He also complains that I don't post about all the goodies he makes around the house, but every time I ask him for the recipe so that I can post it, he refuses to tell me! I just can't win, can I? Well, hopefully this post will shut him up for a while :)

My husband has been wanting to break out the smoker one last time before the end of the year, so when pork butt went on sale, he bought two huge honking ones to make pulled pork sandwiches. Then he figured, if he's going to go through all the trouble of smoking the suckers for 14 hours, he might as well maximize his efforts. Since he can fit 4 pork butts on the smoker, he asked me to pick up 2 more. We ended up with 25 pounds of pork. No, I'm not kidding.

I went to bed at a normal person hour while my husband napped all afternoon. He woke up about an hour before I went to bed, and stayed up all night to smoke the pork. I kept waking up in the middle of night, smelling smoke, onions, garlic, and other tasty aromas that aren't exactly what you want to be smelling while you're trying to sleep, while he toiled away smoking the pork and making this awesome homemade BBQ sauce. It's nice and rich and full of flavor. It's the perfect consistency, isn't too sweet, has a bit of smokiness to it, has the perfect amount of acidity, and packs a lot of heat, just the way I like it.

And here is where I would usually share with you the recipe for this BBQ sauce... BUT HE WON'T SHARE IT WITH ME! In fact, he's joked (at least I hope he's joking) about splitting the recipe in two so that if someone ever finds it (ie me), they'll only have half of it.

So I apologize for posting this teaser of a post, but I had to do it so that he'll stop accusing me of taking credit for his work and for not posting the stuff he makes. If you want to try this magic BBQ sauce, maybe I can convince him to sell you a jar? Or maybe, if I do enough snooping, I can find both halves of recipe and expose it to the world!




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nachos Grande

The hubz pointed out that we eat a lot of Mexican food. I never noticed but suppose it's true. Maybe that's a product of growing up in San Diego, but honestly, I didn't eat much Mexican growing up. I eat as much as I can every time I visit these days, but as a kid, it was always Chinese food, even when we went out. It's interesting though. Mexican food is one of those cuisines that you can't really find outside of Mexico, California and Texas. When I was living in Hong Kong, boy did I crave a good burrito! I was really excited when we planned a trip to New York and I thought I was finally going to get some decent Mexican, but nope, I was sorely disappointed.

On that note, we love Chevy's. Yes, I know it's "gringo" Mexican food, but that doesn't make it any less tasty. They have the best chips and salsa. So light and flaky. And you can't beat El Machino, pumping out fresh tortillas right before your eyes! A great bonus is that Chevy's has the absolute best happy hour. $3 margaritas (and beer and cocktails) and $3 for select appetizers. Full-sized appetizers, and their appetizers are big!

Even before we tried out their happy hour, the hubz and I always enjoyed going there for a few margaritas and getting a nachos grande to share. Now with the discovery of happy hour, we can't go back to paying full price. So when I came home from work too late to make it to happy hour, we decided to make our own at home.

- Tortillas chips
- Salsa
- Refried beans
- Chicken
- Shredded cheese (mexican blend)
- Additional things that I didn't have on hand but would be super tasty if I did are tomatoes, avocados, corn, black beans, sour cream, guacamole etc.

- Lay a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a oven-safe plate. (I used a casserole dish)
- Put down a single layer of tortilla chips.
- Put a few dollops of refried beans every few inches.
- Put a few dollops of salsa every few inches.
- Put a few pieces of shredded chicken on the chips, also a few inches apart.
- Sprinkle everything with shredded cheese.
- Lay another layer of chips and layer of beans, salsa, chicken and cheese.
- Pop it in the oven until it's warmed through and the cheese is melted.
- Top it with diced tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, guacamole, etc.
- Serve with margaritas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lu Rou Fan (Stewed Pork Rice)

I'm a huge fan of Taiwanese food. This wasn't always the case though. When I was 4 years old and spent a summer in Taiwan, I begged for hamburgers, pizza and spaghetti, and there was just none to be found (this was before McDonald's made their way out there). When my mom finally found spaghetti, I refused to eat it becuase it was was basically ketchup over noodles, yuck. So what was a kid to do? I survived off of yakult yogurt drinks, sa chi ma (chinese rice krispy treats), and whatever healthy items my mom managed to force down my throat.

Now that I'm all grown up, I love Taiwanese food and just can't get enough. The best part about visiting Taiwan is the food! But since I can't just hop on a plane to enjoy all those goodies, I make it at home.

- Ground pork (or fatty pork belly would be even better!)
- Shitake mushrooms
- Shallots
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- Fried shallots
- Eggs (optional)

- Rehydrate the shitake mushrooms if you're using dried. (Using hot water or popping it in the microwave for a minute will speed up the process if you're in a rush).

- Finely dice the shallots and set them aside.
- Dice the mushrooms too.
- In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up some oil.
- Add the shallots in and saute them until soft.
- Add the ground pork and some soy sauce. Brown until mostly cooked through.
- Add the mushrooms, the liquid from the mushrooms (being careful not to pour in the grit at the bottom) and enough water to barely cover everything.
- Add some fried shallots to taste.

- Add more soy sauce and brown sugar to taste.
- If you want, you can add some peeled hard boiled eggs and simmer them until brown and flavorful for soy sauce eggs.

- Simmer until the flavors have come together and serve it over rice (garnishing it with more fried shallots if desired).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hot & Sour Cabbage

I love hot and sour flavors together, and I'm assuming I'm not the only one since hot and sour soup seems to be pretty popular (which I'm dying to make one of these days btw, so if you if you have a great recipe, please share it with me).

Anyway, this hot & sour cabbage is a quick and easy veggie dish to go with any meal. It's also decent alternative for when you're craving kimchi but don't have the patience to wait for it to ferment.

And since the secret ingredient for Weekend Wokking is cabbage this month, I'm submitting this to Erbe in Cucina who is hosting it this month.

- Cabbage
- Dried chili peppers (chili pepper flakes will work too if you don't have the peppers)
- Chili oil (optional)
- Vinegar
- Salt
- Oil

- Chop the cabbage into bit size squares. Wash and drain them.
- Heat up some oil in a wok or pan.
- Add the chili peppers or flakes and toast them until you can smell the spice. Be careful not to let them burn.
- Add the cabbage and salt and vinegar to taste. If it's not spicy enough, I also like to add a bit of chili oil too.
- Stir everything around until the cabbage is cooked through but still has some crunchiness to it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Banana Oatmeal Cookie

This time it wasn't my fault. I stopped buying bananas because they always get mushy and then I'm forced to use them for baking and I've learned my lesson. This time, I had mushy bananas because my in-laws brought them over one day and left them behind. Then, to no one's surprise, they got mushy and I had to find something to do with them.

I found this recipe on There's always thyme to cook. I really liked these cookies. They weren't overly sweet and I felt (sorta) healthy eating them since they had bananas and oatmeal. I did mess with the recipe a bit because I had 4 rotting bananas, not 3, but it still turned out fine, which is surprising because if you've followed my blog at all, you know that I suck at baking. Oh, I also kept them in the oven much longer than 12 minutes the original recipe called for because they weren't browning and came out mushy. With or without my tweaks, they were yummy and I definitely approve of this recipe.

Adapted from There's always thyme to cook
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 ripe bananas (the original recipe calls for 3, so 3 would probably work too)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup walnuts

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar together.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
- Mix in the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon until well-combined.
- Mix in the banana, oats, walnuts and chocolate chips.
- Put spoonfuls of dough on a greased baking pan, parchment paper or silpat and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to brown. (The original recipe says 10-12 minutes, but I found that it wasn't enough)
- Cool on a cooling rack and then share them with your friends!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tsatziki (on a Chicken Plate)

Back in college, we used to live off of Durant Food Court aka Asian Ghetto. And while most of the restaurants there are Asian, there was a non-Asian place that we really enjoyed as well - Meesha's Gyros. We'd always order the same thing when we went there, "Chicken plate over rice, with hummus, extra yogurt sauce and spicy on the side - to go". The thing that made this dish was really the yogurt sauce, which I how realize was probably tzatziki.

I hadn't thought about that dish since we graduated (there's no need to mention how long ago that was) until a few weeks ago. It was like all the stars aligned and I really had no choice but to try and recreate it. I had leftover grilled chicken thighs in the fridge, a cucumber that I didn't know what to do with, and a tub of plain yogurt that needed to be eaten before it went bad. The other ingredients I needed are constant staples in this household, so I was set. I cooked up some rice in the rice cooker and got to work on the highlight of the dish, the yogurt sauce, and was very happy with the results. It's quick, easy, healthy and delicious. I'm definitely not going to forget this dish again any time soon.

- Chicken (I like thighs)
- 1 cup of greek yogurt or plain regular yogurt, drained
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic (to taste)

- 1/2 cucumber

- juice of 1/2 lemon (to taste)

- Salt & pepper


- Salt and pepper the chicken thigh and grill until cooked through. Let it rest, then cut it into bite size pieces and set it aside.

- Put the yogurt in a bowl. If you're using regular yogurt, put in a cheese cloth and let some of the excess liquid drain for a little while first.
- Using a microplane zester, zest the garlic into the yogurt.

- Wash and peel the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds (I find using a spoon works well).

- Grate the cucumber and add it to the yogurt mixture, squeezing out the excess liquid with your hands first.

- Add lemon juice to taste.

- Add salt and pepper to taste (though I found that I didn't need any at all).

- Mix well and let it sit in the fridge for a while for the flavors to really meld together (or serve immediately if you're impatient like me).
- Serve the chicken over a bed of rice with a healthy dollop of yogurt sauce on top, a sprinkling of chili powder if desired, a side of hummus and some steamed vegetables, and you've got yourself a healthy and delicious meal.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chicken Orzo Soup

The weather is getting cooler and while I'll definitely miss the summer, I will also enjoy the fact that it's also soup season! Plus I've been saving all the bones from all those summer bbq's in my freezer and have lots of stock on hand for some great soups.

This is a simple and easy classic, but instead of using noodle, I used orzo. I love the fun shape and texture of orzo, it's like fat rice!

- Chicken (I used chicken breast)
- Onions
- Celery
- Carrots
- Potatoes
- Orzo
- Chicken stock (recipe can be found here)
- Salt & Pepper

- Dice the onions, peel and chop the carrots, and chop the celery. Set everything aside.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot and add a bit of oil. Add the onions with a sprinkling of salt and saute them until they're soft.
- Add the carrots and celery and cook until they've softened as well.
- Add chicken stock to the pot and bring it to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and orzo and chicken.
- When the chicken is cooked through, pull it out, let it cool, shred it, and put it back in.
- Salt and pepper the soup to taste and let it warm you up on a chilly night.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chao Mi Fen

If you're Chinese, you call this mi-fen. If you're Filipino, you call this pancit. If you're Malaysian, you call this bihon. In America, they call it Rice Vermicelli. Regardless of what you call it, I call it yummy!

Asian foods have a lot of overlap. I had a friend in high school who was Korean, and we used to have arguments, along with a Filipino friend of mine, on whether something our moms made was Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, etc. And if she couldn't win the argument, she'd just throw her hands up in the air and declare "It's Mongolian! We all descended from Mongolia!" Whether or not that's true, I don't know (I suck at history), but it was her way of saying "If I can't win, no one can!" :)

I like that there's a lot of overlap in the types of food Asians make and I love how each culture puts their own little spin on the same dish. In fact, even within each culture, there are countless ways to make this dish. I learned this way from my mom, but I've never seen it made like this in a restaurant or anyone else's house, which makes me think that she made it up to get me to eat more carrots, but who knows. Regardless, it's what I grew up with and what I enjoy, so I continue on the tradition by making this way too.

I know it looks like a scary amount of carrots, but somehow, it just works. The carrots lend a sweetness to the dish that I really enjoy and it doesn't taste too carrot-y. Plus it gives the dish color and makes it pretty. It's also a great way to use up carrots that have been sitting in the fridge for waaay too long!

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, a wonderful event created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, which is being hosted by Joanne of Eats Well with Others. Check out the roundup at the end of the week for more noodly goodness.

- Half a bag of dried rice vermicelli
- 5 carrots
- Half a head of napa cabbage
- 2 to 3 chicken breasts or pork chops
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce

- Soak the rice vermicelli in water while prepping the other ingredients. It should be soft and pliable by the time you need to use it, which should take about 10 minutes or so. Soaking it longer does no harm.
- Slice the chicken or pork into thin strips of about a quarter inch thick. If you want bigger pieces of meat, that's fine too, there are no real rules to this.
- Mix in a bit of soy sauce and corn starch with the chicken/pork to marinate and tenderize it.
- Peel and shred the carrots. I find the shredding blade of the food processor especially handy for this task.
- Wash and thinly slice the napa cabbage. You can use more or less if you'd like, or use regular cabbage or even other veggies such as spinach if you'd like too. There's a lotta flexibility here. My mom used napa cabbage, so that's what I use too.
- Heat a bit of oil in a large pot or wok.
- Put the marinated meat into the pot/wok and stir it until it's about 80% cooked through. You can add more soy or oil if it seems to be sticking to the pan too much.
- Add the carrots and cabbage and give everything a good stir. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top and put the lid on. Check on it every few minutes, giving it a stir if necessary, until the carrots and cabbage have wilted and softened significantly.
- Add the soaked noodles in and flavor with soy and oyster sauce to taste. Stir everything together until the noodles are soft. If the pan keeps drying out while you're stirring or the noodles are too hard, add more water.
- I love to serve this with Sriracha sauce.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tortilla de Patatas

To go with the delicious tri-tip that my husband grilled up, we wanted some potatoes. Having just come back from Argentina and having eaten some great Spanish Potato Tortillas there, I wanted to try making it at home.

This is a great alternative to boring old mashed, baked or fried potatoes. It looks so fancy but is really not difficult to make at all. Well, actually, I don't know that for a fact because I didn't make it. The hubz made it while I watched. But he didn't seem to have any trouble with it, so I'm going to say that it's not that difficult to make, though he might have a different opinion :)

The hubz probably did a better job of making this dish than I could have. It turned out crispy, flavorful and delicious, not to mention pretty! If it were up to me, I'm sure I would've broken it or dropped it during the flipping process and it would've come out a dreadful mess. Thanks goodness for my hubby!
Look how perfect that is!

- Potatoes
- Onions (optional)
- Eggs
- Oil
- Salt
- Pepper

- Slice the potatoes as thin as possible. A mandoline or the slicer blade on your food processor would work nicely. My husband decided to do it by hand and it turned out fine.
- To speed up the whole thing, a nice little shortcut is to pop the sliced potatoes in the microwave until they are slightly soft, but not so soft that they fall apart. You can also fry the potatoes in oil to be more traditional and less healthy :)
- Dice the onions and saute them in a bit of oil until softened. If you want to skip the onions altogether, that's totally fine.
- Beat some eggs in a bowl, mixing in the onions, salt and pepper.
- Carefully stir the potatoes into the egg mixture, being careful not to break too many of the potatoes.
- Heat a heavy bottomed skillet and coat the bottom with oil.
- Pour the egg, potato, onion mixture into the pan and let it cook on medium until the sides have solidified and you can easily slide the tortilla around without it falling apart. The edges and bottom should also be a nice crispy brown.
- Using a large plate, flip the tortilla upside down onto the plate.
- Carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan (adding oil if necessary) to finish cooking and crisping up the other side.
- When the other side is brown and crispy and the tortilla is cooked all the way through, remove it from the pan and slice into wedges to serve.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grilled Tri-tip

Even though it's technically fall, the weather here has been hot and that means more grilling! My husband loves to grill up tri-tip. Every time it's on sale, he buys it, slaps on a tasty homemade rub and grills it up to perfection.

I've never posted his tri-tip before because he's never shared with me the secrets of how to make this beautifully cooked hunk o' meat, so I have nothing to share with you today. The only thing I can say is that there's a suspicious amount of brown sugar, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper missing from my spice rack, and that the meat thermometer is dirty. But other than that, I'm at a loss ;)

I'm hoping that if I butter him up a bit by posting this tasty picture and singing his praises, he might just cave and teach me, or make more. I'll be happy with either outcome. But on second thought, since he does it so well, there's really no need for me to learn. I should really just sit back, kick up my feet, and enjoy it while I can!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pear Butter

Our pear tree was extremely productive this year. After giving away bags of pears to everyone who would take them, we were still buried in pears.

I've heard a lot about apple butter and was always wanted to try it. With pears and apples being so similar (in my mind at least), I figured I could make some pear butter instead! It turned out really nicely.

I used it instead of mayo on a ham sandwich and it was a nice salty/sweet combo. It was also a nice change of pace from boring old ham sandwiches. Do you have any other suggestions on how to use it?

This is my submission to the Grow Your Own blogging event which shows off things people grow and the things they make with it. Check out Mowgli Chic's blog on Sept 30th to see what everyone else made!


- Wash, cut and core the pears.
- In a pot or pressure cooker with just a tiny bit of water (the pears will release a lot of their own liquid, so you don't need much), cook the pears until they are soft.
- Use a stick blender or an actual blender and blend until smooth. It'll probably have a consistency similar to watery applesauce.
- Put the mixture in a heavy pot or slow cooker and reduce it until it reaches the desired consistency (similar to peanut butter). This will take a looooong time, so be patient. I reduced mine by more than 2/3 before I was happy with the consistency.
- Stir it every once in a while to keep it from burning, turning the heat way down when the mixture becomes thick. I propped the lid using two chopsticks so that it wouldn't splatter all over the place but would still allow steam to escape.
- Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (and any other spices you like) to taste. Add this at the end just because if you add it in the beginning, then cook it down, you'll probably end up with something way too sweet.
- If you want to can your pear butter, fill up sanitized, heated jars with the pear butter. Cover and process in a boiling water bath for at least 10 minutes. Let them sit overnight and then check them to make sure that the seal is tight. If not, you can reprocess it or put it in the fridge and eat it right away.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Soba Noodles

A few months ago, my office moved less than 6 miles away from home! It still takes me about 15 minutes because it's all local, but it's still nice to be so close.

One of the benefits of being so close is that I can go home for lunch! I don't do it often, but it's nice to know it's an option.

On this particular day, I didn't bring a lunch like I usually do and didn't have lunch plans with anyone, so I decided to go home. There were no leftovers in the fridge (otherwise I would've brought those for lunch), so I needed to make something quick. We're going through a heat wave right now in California, so I decided on cold soba noodles. Quick, refreshing, healthy, and delicious!

This is my submission for Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Sara of I'm a Food Blog. Check out the rest of the submissions on Sept 25th!

- 1 serving of soba noodles
- Edamame (I used frozen)
- 1-2 slices of ham
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar (or any vinegar will do if you don'to have rice vinegar)
- Mirin (honey or sugar is fine if you don't have mirin)
- Miso paste (if you don't have this, just leave it out and put more soy)
- Wasabi paste (optional, if you want a bit of kick)

- Boil a pot of water and cook the soba according to package directions. Put the edamame in also, just to heat them through. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water when done and set aside.
- Mix a bit of soy, vinegar, mirin, miso paste, and wasabi in a bowl to taste. If you're missing some of the ingredients, no big deal. Just substitute the soy and miso with something salty, the vinegar with something sour and/or citrusy, and the mirin with something sweet.
- Toss the noodles in the sauce and top it with the edamame and julienned ham and you've got yourself a quick and easy summer meal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


We went to Argentina for a week and a half and I thought I'd share a few pictures. But first, an apology. I scheduled a bunch of posts while we were away so that it wouldn't look like this blog was being neglected, but then I came back and never got around to posting anything until now. Oops. At least I had good intentions :)

Ok, onto the pictures. The main reason we went to Argentina was to visit Iguazu Falls. Even though it we didn't go during the rainy season where the falls are even more impressive, the falls were still gorgeous.

Purty, huh?

We had some good food while in Argentina too. One of our favorite meals while there was at La Cabrera. The line was long, but they offered beer and appetizers while we waited. They also have a sister restaurant across the street, and the line there was just as long. When we finally sat down, we ordered the ribeye and it was HUGE! It also came with about a million little side dishes, all of which were super tasty.

Argentina is famous for their beef and parillas or bbq/grill restaurants are all over the place, with the grill usually in plain sight.

And a typical dish at a parilla is to get the mixed plate, with various meats like beef, sausage, blood sausage, kidneys, intestines, etc.

Anyway, we're back now and will be returning to normal posting!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Black Box Wines

Being a member of Foodbuzz is awesome. Look at the latest goodie I got from them - wine! Black Box Wine to be exact.

I know, I know, wine in a box? Ick! But this wasn't ick at all. In fact, it was pretty darn good.

I'm by no means a wine expert, so I'm not going to go into the hints of this and that that I detect or its floral notes, etc, but I am going to say that this makes a good table wine. It's not great, it's not bad, in fact it's a bit boring, but that's what I expect from table wines.

Plus it's super convenient because it's resealable, so if you don't want to finish a whole bottle, no problem, it keeps for at least a month! Keep it in the fridge and you can have a glass here and there any time you want. The opposite is also true though. You really have no idea how much you've had because you can't see in the black box, and before you know it, you've finished the box, which is the equivalent of 4 bottles! oops! I'll let you guess which scenario happened in this house :)

So if you're looking for a pretty good, affordable, convenient table wine, consider giving this a try.