Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Club

With the baby this year, I opted out of hosting Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, it was a nice break.  I didn't even realize Thanksgiving was coming up until a few days before it instead of stressing and agonizing over the menu for weeks.

We had a lovely dinner at my in-laws and even got to take home lots of delicious leftovers.  It just doesn't get any better...until my husband made this fantastic turkey club out of the leftovers!  Making a sandwich is not just slapping together two pieces of bread with some stuff in the middle.  It takes real talent to get the right combo of ingredients and put them in the right order etc, and I just don't have that talent, but I'm glad my husband does!  And don't sandwiches just taste better when someone else makes them anyway?  :)

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

potato salad

We had a big BBQ this past weekend.  It was such a contrast from last year.  This year was filled with a lot more kids and a lot less alcohol.  I guess we're growing up!

I also have to say that prepping and hosting a BBQ with a baby is a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, but we survived and I think everyone ate well and had fun.  At least I hope so!

We made smoked brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, and I tried a new recipe for the potato salad this year.  My hubby really liked the tanginess of it and I thought it was pretty good too.  I'm definitely keeping this one bookmarked for the future.

Adapted from Accidental Hedonist
(this is a double and a half batch because we had so many people and because I bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes)

- 5 pounds of Sierra Gold potatoes (they were on sale, Yukon was not)
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 Tbs pickle juice
- 5 tsp yellow mustard
- 2 1/2 brown mustard

- 2 1/2 Tbs pickle juice
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped pickles
- 1 1/2 tsp celery salt 
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 1/4 cup mayo
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 red onion, chopped very finely

- Peel and cut the potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces
- Place the potatoes in cold water, covered by 1 inch of water
- Bring the water to a boil, add 2 1/2 tsp salt and the simmer until tender (about 10-15 minutes)
- Drain potatoes and spread them out on a baking sheet
- Mix 5 Tbs of pickle juice with the mustard and pour it over the potatoes and toss gently
- Let the potatoes cool
- After the potatoes have cooled, mix 2 1/2 Tbs of pickle juice, pickles, celery salt, pepper, mayo, sour cream and onion
- Refrigerate until ready to serve

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts, but I've been a bit busy with a new baby!  I'm still cooking here and there and also have a huge backlog of pictures of previous things I've cooked and just never got around to posting about, but for now, I'll leave you with this :)

1. Get pregnant
2. Have baby
3. Wait a few days
4. Squeeze/suck boob 
PS - I started a baby blog too.  If you're interested in reading it and know me in real life, let me know and I'll invite you.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

apricot bread

I'm on maternity now and so you'd think I'd have more time for things like cooking and blogging, right? I thought so too! Sorry about the neglect... :(

I still have a bunch of fruit from last year's bounty in the freezer. It's really a shame that we have so many gorgeous fruit trees in our yard but are not a frequent fruit-eating household. I know it's something we should change, and I'm working on it. But for now, I'm also working on clearing out the freezer because before you know it, our fruit trees are going to be abundant with fruit again and I'm going to need that freezer space!

One of the fruits that my freezer is overflowing with is apricots. I looked up recipes to use up my apricots, but everything I found was for dried apricots. So I looked up peaches instead. They're pretty similar, right? One that caught my eye was this peach bread recipe. I just substituted the peaches for apricots and it worked out nicely. It actually doesn't taste very apricot-y, but it's a tasty bread either way. It could be that my apricots weren't all that flavorful, who knows.

I also substituted half of the flour with white whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier and have been eating it for breakfast this week.

If you have any other great apricot recipes, I'd love to hear them!

Adapted from A Life Less Sweet
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups very ripe, mashed apricots
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs melted butter

- Combine the flours, sugars, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
- In a second bowl, combine the peaches, egg and butter.
- Stir in flour mixture.
- Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and pour the mixture in.
- Let it stand for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove it to a cooling rack to finish cooling. minutes. Bake at 350 for 45-55 min. Cool
bread in pan 15 min; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chicken & Sausage Scarpiello Arrabbiata

Here's another sauce that was sent to me by Bertolli - Arrabbiata sauce. I followed their recipe for chicken & sausage scarpiello arrabiata. Again, I was surprised to find that the sauce needed more salt. I also would have preferred pasta over potatoes, but the recipe called for potatoes, so that's what I used. Otherwise, it was tasty and made a great meal.

6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. hot or sweet italian sausage links, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup red vinegar
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red peppers, drained and thinly sliced
1 jar Bertolli Arrabbiata Sauce
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. all-purpose potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into wedges

Heat oil and brown chicken and sausage in 12 inch deep nonstick skillet or 5 quart saucepot over medium high heat; remove. In same skillet, cook onion and fennel over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes or until tender and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar and roasted red peppers and cook 1 minute. Stir in Bertolli Arrabbiata Sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add back chicken and sausage. Simmer covered 30 minutes. Stir in potatoes and parsley and cook 5 minutes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pink Shrimp with Bacons & Onions

Being a member of Foodbuzz means that I occasionally get sent goodies to test out. This time I got a jar of Four Cheese Rosa Sauce from Bertolli along with a few recipes on how to use it. I decided to go with Pink Shrimp with Bacons & Onions. All the ingredients sound fabulous, don't they?

It was a tasty dish overall, however I was a surprised to find that it could have used a bit of salt. Usually jarred sauces are way too salty. Otherwise, I definitely recommend this recipe.

I'm also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, a fun event created by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. Check out her blog on Friday to see the other submissions.

4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 jar Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa Sauce
8 ounces fettuccine, cooked and drained (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)

Cook bacon in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon; reserve drippings. Cook onion in reserved drippings over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until onion is golden. Add shrimp and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes of until shrimp turn pink. Stir in Sauce and reserved pasta water; heat through. Toss with hot fettuccine and garnish , if desired, with shredded fontina cheese and parsley.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cabbage and Tomato Stir Fry

This is a simple and healthy side dish. That's all there is to it, really. If I ever need a quick veggie dish, I whip this up in a few minutes.

- Cabbage
- Tomatoes
- Garlic
- Salt


- Mince the garlic and set aside.

- Cut the cabbage into strips, about a quarter inch thick or so.

- Slice the tomatoes into thing wedges.

- Heat some oil in a pan.

- Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant.

- Add the tomatoes and a bit of water and cook until the tomatoes soften a bit. Adding a sprinkle or two of salt will help with this.
- Add the cabbage and salt to taste.

- Stir everything in the pan until the cabbage is cooked through.

- Enjoy this healthy side dish guilt-free!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken

When you order teriyaki chicken at a restaurant, it's usually just grilled (or even boiled) chicken smothered in teriyaki sauce. Not too exciting. I really like teriyak chicken, but just not when it's made like that. I like marinating the chicken in the sauce instead and then grilling it up. A light drizzle of extra sauce over to eat with the rice or veggies is fine, but I don't want it drowning in sauce.

So, this is how I make teriyaki chicken. Super simple, super delicious.

- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Teriyaki sauce
- Sesame seeds and green onions as a garnish
- Rice and steamed veggies to round out the meal

- Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki sauce for a few hours (I tend to do it overnight)
- Grill the chicken
- Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and green onions
- Serve it with rice and veggies

That's all!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Whenever I go to Vietnamese restaurants, I always have an internal struggle between ordering the fried eggrolls and the fresh spring rolls. Usually, the fried ones win, but since the weather is warming up, this seems more fitting.

Side Dish Showdown Blogger Event And since this month's Side Dish Showdown has a theme of Spring, this seems fitting. Check out Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice and the end of the month to see some other Spring inspired side dishes.

- Rice paper
- Rice noodles
- Shrimp
- Thinly sliced meat (I used eye of round that was pre-sliced for hot pot purposes)
- Lettuce

- Peanut butter
- Hoisin
- Water
- Fish sauce
- Crushed peanuts
- Chili sauce (optional)

- Boil the rice noodles until fully cooked, then rinse it with cold water and set aside.
- Slice the lettuce into quarter inch strips and set aside.
- Cook the shrimp, then cool it, slice them in half if desired and set aside.
- Cook the meat, cool it, and set aside.
- Fill a pan large enough to fit the rice paper with water.
- For each roll, quickly dip two sheets of rice paper in the water (on both sides) and stack them on top of each other, flat on a cutting board. On my first roll, I let the paper soak in the water until it was fully soft. That was too soft and the rice paper fell apart. On my second, I just dipped it quickly, but found that it was still not enough because it'd rip when I tried rolling the spring rolls. Then I tried to dip two quickly and found that was perfect. You can experience yourself too, to see what works best for you.

- Lay a line of shrimp (pretty side down if you sliced them in half) on the softened rice paper.
- Lay a line of the meat on top of the shrimp.

- Lay a line of noodles on top of the meat.

- Lay a line of lettuce on top of the noodles.
- Fold in the edges and wrap up the filling into the spring roll.
- Repeat for each roll.
- Scoop some peanut butter into a bowl and add a bit of water.
- Pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to help melt the peanut butter.
- Stir the peanut butter/water mixture until smooth.
- Add hoisin sauce and just a dash of fish sauce to taste (a little goes a looong way, so don't add too much).

- Add some chili sauce if desired.

- Stir everything together until it achieves the taste and consistency you desire.
- Top with crushed peanuts and dip spring rolls in the sauce.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chimichurri Sauce

Grilling season is back! That means less cooking for me and more for my hubz! I like grilling season :)

Instead of doing the standard grilled tri-tip that we do so often, we decided to make things a little more interesting by adding a nice chimichurri sauce.

We went to Argentina last year, and as much steak as we ate, we had surprisingly little chimichurri. But what we did have was fantastic! And now we don't need to fly all the way down there to get some.

Chimichurri is so easy to make and definitely worth the effort. If you've never tried it, I highly suggest you do.

- Grilled tri-tip or other steak
- Parsley
- Garlic
- Oregano
- Olive oil
- Vinegar (red wine or something similar would be nice) or lemon juice
- Salt
- Pepper
- Red pepper flakes

- Start with a nice piece of meat like this
- In a food processor, blend the parsley, garlic, oregano, oil, vinegar/lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Drizzle the sauce on the meat of your choice. Beef works best in my opinion, but I'm sure it tastes great with other meats too. Heck, just smearing it on some bread tastes great too!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

No-fried Beans

Like I've said before, we eat a lot of Mexican food at home. I used to buy cases of refried beans from Costco to use in our Mexican concoctions, but I decided to try making it myself. I figured it probably wasn't too difficult and that it'd be healthier and cheaper this way. I was right on all counts and haven't bought the canned stuff since. The only problem is that you have to plan at least a day ahead because the beans require soaking. I suppose if I skipped the soaking and just used more liquid and cooked it longer, that would work too.

We use our no-fried beans in burritos, tacos, nachos, etc, and add salsa and cheese to it for a tasty dip for chips, so even when I make a big batch, we end up finishing it all. If we ever have trouble finishing it, I'm sure that it would freeze well. Just freeze them into single serving size batches and defrost them as needed.

- Dried pinto beans
- Water or stock
- Cumin
- Chili powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Salt
- Pepper

The day before -
- Rinse the beans and pick out any rocks or ugly beans.
- Fill a container half-way (or less) with the dried beans and then fill it to the top with water. The beans will expand A LOT, so give it room to do so. I learned this the hard way when I woke up to see that they had overflowed all over the kitchen counter.

Pressure cooker version -
- The next day, drain the beans and dump them into your pressure cooker.
- If you're using a pressure cooker, you don't need much liquid at all, so just barely cover the beans with liquid.
- You can add a bit of the seasonings if you want, or none at all. If you do season now, do so lightly. You can always add more later.*
- Cook the beans at full pressure for about 15 minutes. Then let the pressure come back down naturally.
- Open up the beans, if they're not soft yet, cook them for another 10 minutes. You don't really have to worry about overcooking them since they're going to be mashed anyway.

Crockpot/Other pot version -
(I've never done it this way, but I'm assuming this would work)
- Dump the beans into the pot and fill it with water or stock until they're covered by at least an inch.
- Add a bit of the seasonings (not too much though as the water will evaporate and the flavors will concentrate. You can always add more at the end)*
- Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid when necessary.

Do for all versions -
- If there is still a lot of liquid left, pour enough of it out (but set it aside as you may want to add more later) so that the liquid covers the beans by about half an inch or less.
- Use a potato masher and mash the beans until smooth (or slightly chunky if that's the way you like it) while seasoning to taste.
- If the beans are thicker than you like, add some liquid. If it's too watery, you can cook it down a bit, but just remember that it will thicken up as it cools.
- Serve it in your favorite Mexican dishes!

*I've read that adding salt to the beans while cooking results in them splitting. I add salt while cooking and mine do split sometimes (usually just the ones on the top layer), but since I'm mashing them anyway, who cares?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crispy Pan-Fried Noodles

Chow mein is great on it's own, but frying the noodles makes it even better!

Liang mian huang or crispy pan fried noodles are noodles that are fried into a crispy disk and topped with a stir fry of meat and vegetables and a nice, flavorful, thick sauce. Mix the noodles, meat, vegetables and sauce at the table. The perfect bite has a bit of noodles that have soaked up the sauce, a bit of noodles that are still crunchy, and a bit of meat and vegetables. It's a fun dish to prepare and to eat!

I'm also submitting this for Presto Pasta Night which is hosted by Once Upon a Feast this week. Check it out to see all the other yummy submissions.


- Yellow noodles (you can find these in any Asian supermarket. You can go with thick or thin, I happened to go with thick)
- Any combination of meat (typical options are chicken, beef and shrimp)
- Cabbage
- Carrots
- Garlic
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Water
- Corn starch

- Cook the noodles according to the package directions, drain them and set them aside.
- Slice the meat into bite size pieces. Marinate them in a mixture of corn starch and soy sauce while you prep the other veggies.
- Slice the carrots into thin slices (I like to do it at a bias)
- Chop the cabbage into roughly 1 inch squares
- Mince the garlic
- Mix a few teaspoons of corn starch with a few teaspoons of cold water and set aside.
- Heat about at least 1/2 inch of oil in a pan (you can deep fry the noodles too if you'd like) until placing placing a chopstick into the oil makes it bubble.
- Carefully dump the noodles into the oil and fry until crispy.
- Flip the noodles and fry the other side until crispy.
- Remove the noodles, drain the oil, and set them aside.
- Heat a bit of oil in another pan (or dump most of the oil out of your original pan) and add the meat, some soy sauce, and the garlic. Stir fry it until it's mostly cooked. If you're using shrimp, add the shrimp at the last minute so that it doesn't overcook.
- Add the veggies and oyster sauce. Cook through while keeping everything in the pan moving.
- When everything is done, add more water if you need to (you should have quite a bit of sauce for the noodles to soak up) and the corn starch/water slurry to thicken up the sauce.
- Spoon the meat, veggies and sauce over the noodles and serve while hot.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Miso Soup

Since I already had the miso out, I thought a nice accompaniment to the salmon would be a miso soup. This was also simple, quick and healthy with minimal cleanup. I love meals like this!

- Miso
- Water
- Dashi (pellet-like fish stock base)
- Wakame (dried seaweed - but not the sushi kind)
- Tofu
- Green onions

- Boil some water in a pot.
- Add dashi according to the package directions, stirring to dissolve the pellets.
- Add miso paste to taste.
- Add in the wakame.
- Dice the tofu and gently slide it in.
- Gently stir the soup so that everything is mixed.
- Garnish with a bit of freshly chopped green onions.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Miso-Glazed Salmon

This dish was inspired by my continued effort to eat healthier and eat more fish. I've already reached my "recommended" weight gain for this pregnancy. I'm an over-achiever that way. And since I still have a while to go, I am (sometimes) watching what I eat a bit more carefully. Apparently, it's a good idea to watch what you eat, even if you're not pregnant, but whatever. Plus fish is good for the baby's brain development - grow baby brain, grow! :)

I've always adored miso-glazed fish that you get at restaurants and was surprised to find that it is SUPER easy to make at home. Hardly any prep and minimal clean up, it's so quick and so good for you too. I'm definitely adding it to the regular rotation!

- Salmon
- Miso paste
- Honey
- Soy
- Rice wine vinegar
- Ginger
- Mirin
- Water

- Mix the miso paste, a bit of hot water, honey, soy, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger (I used a microplane grater), and mirin in a bowl to taste. If you're missing any of the ingredients (besides the miso), feel free to substitute. Honey and mirin can be replaced by brown sugar, etc. And honestly, if you're missing any of the other ingredients, it's fine to omit them altogether. The main thing you need is the miso and something sweet.
- Put the mixture in the microwave just long enough so that it thickens up a bit. It shouldn't take long.
- Put the salmon on some foil to make cleanup a cinch.
- Brush half of the glaze onto the salmon and pop it under a broiler for about 15 minutes. Since I was just making this for the two of us, I used our toaster oven instead of the full-sized and it still turned out great.
- After 15 minutes, take the fish out and brush on another layer of glaze and pop it back under the broiler until the fish has cooked through. For me, it took another 15 minutes, but it really depends on how thick your fish is and how strong your broiler is.
- Serve it with brown rice and steamed broccoli and you've got yourself a quick and healthy dinner. And if you have any extra sauce left, drizzle it over the rice and veggies.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My first un-assisted cookie success! I'm sooooo happy!!!!

My entire life, every cookie that I've baked on my own has turned out bad. Usually, the texture is more like a cake than a cookie. And usually, I'm attempting to make chocolate chip cookies.

Well, this time I decided to tackle a different type of cookie, hoping to get better results. Oatmeal raisin is classic, right? But I still wanted my chocolate, so I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead. It was a brilliant idea if I do say so myself, haha.

I used an oatmeal raisin recipe from Smitten Kitchen but substituted chocolate chips for raisins. It turned out soft and chewy and wonderful. Maybe I can tackle regular chocolate chip cookies next!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour (I used bread flour because that's all I had in the house, and it still turned out well)
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
- 3/4 cup of chocolate chips

- Cream the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla together in a bowl.
- Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt to the butter/sugar mixture.
- Fold in the oatmeal and chocolate chips.
- Scoop the cookies onto a lined cookie sheet, giving them plenty of space to spread, and stick them in the fridge (or freezer if you're impatient) until they're cool.
- Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. I found that they actually need more like 15 because they started off cold. Basically, you want the edges to be slightly brown and the middle to be slightly undercooked.
- Remove them from the oven and let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Dip them in some cold milk and indulge!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Garlic Steamed Scallops

This is a dish that I had in Hong Kong and Singapore and I absolutely adored it. There are these restaurants with live seafood. You go up to the tanks, pick what you want and tell them how you want it prepared. This is a picture of the tanks at one of the restaurants on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. So fresh and delicious!

My favorite dish to order at these types of restaurants was the garlic steamed scallops. Humongous fresh scallops, steamed with garlic and glass noodles. Yum, yum, YUM!

I'm not sure what else they put in because as I tried to recreate it, it just wasn't quite the same. If you've ever had this dish, please help me out and let me know what I'm missing. I'm dying to recreate it properly.

In the meantime, here is what I did...

- Sea scallops
- Glass noodles
- Garlic
- Scallions
- Sea salt
- Oil (I used sesame, but I suggest using olive oil or butter instead)

- Soak the glass noodles in hot water until soft. They should be pretty much cooked since they won't be steaming for long.
- Finely dice/crush the garlic.
- Lay down a bed of the noodles, then the scallop, then a generous dollop of garlic and a bit of chopped scallions.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top and drizzle a bit of oil on top. I used sesame oil, but the flavor was way too strong. I'm thinking maybe olive oil or butter would be better.
- Place it in a steamer for about 5-10 minutes or until the scallop is cooked (be careful not to over cook them).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spicy Eggplant

Eggplants are so pretty raw, but after you cook them, they're one of the most unappetizing looking foods out there. And using a phone to take the picture because my camera was out of batteries and I couldn't find the charger doesn't help matters either. But it's the flavor that's more important, right? And with this dish, the flavor was definitely there!

- Eggplants (I like using the thinner Japanese style ones)

- Ground meat (pork or turkey)
- Enoki mushrooms (totally optional, but I love the texture of these mushrooms)
- Garlic

- Chili sauce

Soy sauce

- Oil


- Slice the eggplant into wedges about 2-3 inches long. The thinner you cut them, the faster they'll cook.

- Finely chop the garlic.

- Heat some oil in a pan or wok.
- Add the garlic and stir it for a few seconds until it's fragrant.

- Add the ground meat and some soy.
- Cook the meat, breaking it up as you go and then remove it from the pan and set it aside.
- To cook the eggplant, you can either deep fry it (faster, crispier, tastier and prettier, but not as healthy) or "boil" it.

- To deep fry, heat a lot of oil in the wok, toss the eggplant in (you may want to do this in batches to keep the oil hot) and keep the eggplant moving until it's cooked through.

- To "boil" it, just add the eggplant to the wok with some soy sauce and water. Keep the stirring the eggplant until it's cooked through, adding more water as necessary.

- Add the meat back in with the eggplant, add chili sauce and the enoki mushrooms and stir until everything is well combined and the mushrooms are cooked. It shouldn't take very long at all.
- Serve it over a bed of rice.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fish Tacos

Fish is good for you, so I bought a bag of frozen tilapia in an effort to "be healthier". HA! We'll see how long that lasts :)

We made fish tacos with the tilapia and it was super tasty. If this is what all "healthier" food tastes like, I think I can definitely keep this up!

- Tilapia or other mild flavored fish
- Salt
- Pepper
- Chili powder
- Tortillas (corn is more traditional, but all we had was flour, which worked out great too)
- Garnish
- Cabbage
- Black beans
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced avocado
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce/salsa (we like Tapitio)
- Lime

- Season the fish with salt, pepper and chili powder.
- Pan fry the fish with a tiny bit of oil until cooked through.
- Place the fish along with the garnishes of your choice on a tortilla.
- Fold it over and enjoy it guilt-free!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Carrot Bread

I've been getting tired of cereal for breakfast every morning, so when I saw my friend make zucchini bread, I asked her for the recipe. It looked like the perfect solution to my breakfast boredom.

Along with the recipe, she mentioned how next time she wanted to try carrots, and since I already had carrots in my fridge, I went with carrots. She also gave me notes on 3 separate attempts she did using different amounts of different kinds of sugar and her opinions on its effects. She said 1 cup of white sugar was too sweet. 3/4 cups of brown sugar wasn't sweet enough and 3/4 cup of white sugar was still a bit too sweet. Using this info, I decided on 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar and thought it was a good level of sweetness. You can tweak it however you like.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
(the original calls for 1 cup of sugar instead of the mixture of white and brown sugar)
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup walnuts (I forgot these)

- Stir the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and baking powder together and set aside.
- Mix the sugar, brown sugar, carrots and egg in a separate bowl.
- Add the lemon zest and oil to the carrot mixture.
- Slowly mix in the flour mixture until evenly mixed.
- Fold in the walnuts.
- Grease a 8x4x2 loaf pan and pour the batter in.
- Cook in a 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes than transfer it to a rack to finish cooling.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chinese New Year Dumplings

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Happy Chinese New Year!

When I was a kid, my mother always made a Chinese New Year feast with all the "lucky" foods and my favorite was always dumplings. She'd hide a peanut, candy, or a quarter in a select number of the dumplings (yes, we'd bleach the quarter and then wrap it in saran wrap - which was always my job) and a select lucky few would eat these special dumplings. Whoever got a peanut would be blessed with good health, the candy symbolized love, and the money meant fortune. It was a fun tradition that I definitely intend to continue with our kids!

- Ground meat (I used a combo of ground pork and turkey. Shrimp is also a common filling)
- Vegetables (I used napa cabbage, but garlic chives, spinach, mushrooms, etc are all great options)
- Aromatics (Ginger, garlic, scallions, etc)
- Soy sauce
- Salt
- White pepper
- Sesame oil
- Dumpling wrappers

- Finely chop the napa cabbage, salt it and set it in a colander to get rid of the excess water. Once it's been wilted, rinse off the salt and drain it. You can also put it into the food processor and then use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the water.

- Finely dice or grate the aromatics.
- Mix the meat, veggies, aromatics, and seasonings together in large bowl.
- Take a dumpling wrapper, place about a tablespoon of filling in the center along with one of the little surprises if you want. If you're having trouble getting it closed, use less filling or more if you want plumper dumplings. You'll get better at folding them with practice.
- Wet one half of the edge of the wrapper with water, fold over to close it and if you can, pleat the edges like this.

- Repeat the previous step until you run out of filling or wrappers. At this point, you can freeze them to cook at a later time or cook them now.

- To cook, you can use one of the following methods:
  • Boil - Bring a pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop in the dumplings and give it a stir to keep them from sticking (there's no need to defrost them if they were frozen first) Bring it back up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add a cup of cold water and bring it up to a boil again. Repeat this again. The third time it comes up to a boil, the dumplings should be floating and cooked through.
  • Steam - Line a steamer basket with napa cabbage leaves. Put the dumplings into the steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes.
  • Pot stickers - Pour enough oil to coat the bottom of a non-stick pan. Line the dumplings in a single layer (my husband likes to make it pretty, while I just dump them in haphazardly). Add a cup of water and cover with the lid. Let it boil/steam until all the water is almost dry. Remove the lid and keep cooking until the bottoms are crispy. Flip them out of the pan.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Personally, I like black vinegar and soy. Enjoy and happy year of the tiger! Rawr :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Parmesan Bread Twists

I had leftover dough when making pizza, so I decided to make some parmesan breadsticks. They're fun for entertaining and easy to make. I did have some trouble keeping the bread from unraveling after twisting them, but in the end, I think they turned out okay.

- Pizza dough (you can use store bought or this recipe)
- Parmesan cheese
- Garlic powder
- Oregano or parsley or other herbs
- Salt
- Oil

- Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle. If you have trouble rolling it out because it keeps bouncing back, let the dough rest 10-15 minutes and try again.
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese, garlic powder, herbs, and salt to taste on the bottom half of the rectangle.
- Fold the top half of dough over the part with the filling and using a knife or pizza cutter, cut it into ~3/4" strips.
- Twist each strip and place it on a lined baking sheet.
- Let them rest for about 20 minutes.
- Brush them with oil.
- Put them into a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they're golden brown.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Sorry for the long silence, but I have some news...

We're having a GIRL!!!

So in honor of this news, I went through my pictures of yet to be blogged about dishes and found something pink :)

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes (minus the lemonade).

I found this recipe at Annie's Eats and it looked tasty, so I decided to give it a try. But I got lazy and skipped the lemonade part. :P

These were definitely better than my previous attempt at strawberry cupcakes. They weren't as gorgeous as Annie's but by my standards, this was a huge improvement. These were much fluffier than last time, the flavor was great and the icing wasn't a total disaster! I still need more practice baking, but I there is hope! :)

Inspired by Annie's Eats

Cupcake Ingredients:
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 cups strawberries, chopped (I used thawed frozen strawberries)

Frosting Ingredients:
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped (I used thawed frozen strawberries)
- 12 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
- 18 tbsp. unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
- 3 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

- Mix flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Beat the butter on medium in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time until combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated.
- Add the milk and mix.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture until everything is smooth and incorporated.
- Fold in the strawberries.
- Fill up paper-lined cupcake tins about 3/4 way full.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

- Blend the strawberries in a blender for the frosting.
- Strain the strawberries to remove the seeds.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly mixed.
- Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.
- Mix in the strawberry puree one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the texture, flavor, and color you want.
- When the cupcakes are totally cool, frost them and serve!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Egg Rolls (vietnamese style)

I love egg rolls, especially Vietnamese ones, so when I make my own, I always go for that style.

I've blogged about these before, but last time I baked them. Since fried ones are so much better and you're allowed to indulge during the holidays, I fried them this time. Everything else was pretty much the same.

I made these weeks ahead of time and froze them individually and fried them up the day of and served them with chili sauce. A tasty and easy appetizer for any time of the year!

- ground pork
- carrots
- onions
- glass noodles (mung bean noodles)
- garlic
- wood ear mushrooms
- fish sauce
- soy sauce
- egg rolls wrappers
- oil (for frying)

- Shred the carrots and set aside.
- Finely dice the onions and set aside.
- Mince the garlic and set aside.
- Soak the glass noodles in water until they're pliable (about 15-30 minutes), then cut them into shorter more manageable pieces.
- Soak the wood ear mushrooms until they're soft (hot water will speed this up), then cut it into thin strips.
- Mix everything together, seasoning to taste with soy and fish sauce. You can always fry up a small portion of the filling before wrapping the egg rolls to make sure it tastes good.
- Take a sheet of egg roll wrapper and fill it with a diagonal line of filling and wrap it up.
- You can either fry them immediately or put them in the freezer at this point to fry up at a later date.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Artichoke Dip

Here's another appetizer that I put out on our buffet table for Thanksgiving. I put the artichoke dip in a mini crock pot to keep it warm.

The crackers are rosemary crackers, also homemade. But since my husband made them (and refuses to share the recipe) I can't tell you how he made them. I'll keep bugging him about it, but in the meantime, here's the artichoke dip recipe.

- Marinated artichokes
- Mayo
- Cream cheese
- Salt
- Pepper

- Drain and chop the artichokes.
- Mix the artichokes, cream cheese and mayo together, microwaving it periodically, until it reaches the consistency you desire.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with crackers, pita chips, or veggies.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cranberry Sauce (revisited)

This is another one that can be made ahead of time to reduce stress on Thanksgiving day. An even better way to reduce stress is to ask your husband to do it! Thanks babe! :)

We used the same recipe as we did last year, except we made a bigger batch. Too big in fact (we bought the Costco size bag of cranberries). Anyone want some frozen cranberry sauce or have any ideas of what we should do with all the leftovers? If you do, PLEASE let us know!

- Cranberries
- Orange juice

- Sugar

- Lemon zest
- Ginger


- Rinse the cranberries and then pour them into a large pot.

- Add enough orange juice to cover barely cover the cranberries (they won't look covered because cranberries float)

- Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

- Add LOTS of sugar to taste.

- Add some lemon zest and grated ginger to taste.
- Simmer until all the cranberries of popped and the sauce has thickened.

- Let the sauce cool and then place it in the fridge to set.