Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sugar Cookies

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Duncan Hines cake mixes.  Because I got so many samples, I kept looking for alternative things to do with it because I don't really eat cake.  But I do eat cookies!!!  This was another super easy one and surprisingly tasty too.  I didn't think cookies made out of cake mix would be any good, but these were!  I'm definitely doing this again in the future.

From Skip to My Lou
- 1 box of cake mix (I used White Cake Mix)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup oil
- Strawberry frosting (optional)

- Mix the cake mix, eggs and oil together.
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Scoop out 20 portions of the cookie dough on a silpat (smooshed down a bit) and bake for 10-13 minutes
- When the cookie has completely cooled, frost it if desired.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pumpkin Devil's Food Cake

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Duncan Hines cake mixes.  I've seen this on Pinterest.  It looked easy and tasty so I decided to give it a try.  All you have to do is mix the cake mix with a can of pumpkin puree and follow the rest of the directions on the back of the box.  No eggs, oil, etc, so it's healthier too!

- One box of cake mix
- One 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

- Mix the cake mix and pumpkin puree until fully incorporated.  The consistency will be super thick and brownie like.  You'll probably be tempted to add something to it because it just doesn't look right, but keep with it.  It'll work, I promise.   
- Follow the rest of the directions on the back of the box.  In my case, I lightly oiled and floured a pan and poured the batter in and baked for 35 minutes.
- And even though the batter is thick like a brownie, the completed product is more like a moist cake and yummy too!
I wonder if this would work with other purees like sweet potato or butternut squash?  If you've tried it, let me know!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ji Se La Pi

This isn't the prettiest dish, but it's a tasty dish that is great for leftover turkey.  This shredded chicken and mung bean sheet cold salad is best served fresh, ie not after being refrigerated.  Refrigeration tends to make the noodles hard.  And, another thing to look out for it getting the right kind of noodles.  I'm not sure what to tell you here because that's where I screwed up.  The kind that I bought was way too thick.  It said something like TianJian style on the bag if that helps.

So keep from refrigerating this and buy the right noodles and you'll be sure to enjoy this!  :)

- Mung bean sheets
- Shredded chicken (or turkey)
- Cucumber
- Peanut butter
- Water
- Soy sauce
- Vinegar (rice vinegar or regular is fine too)
- Wasabi (optional)

- Cook the mung bean sheets according to the package directions.  Run them under cold water and then cut them into approximately 1"x1" pieces (though shape and size really don't matter).  Set aside.
- Shred the chicken/turkey and julianne the cucumber.
- In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter and a bit of water until it's nice and creamy, about the consistency of a thick gravy.  Heating the water will help it mix.  If you put too much water, just pop the bowl with the water and peanut butter into the microwave for a bit and stir.  It's better to have it too thick than too watery.  You'll get more liquid from the other flavorings and the noodles/cucumbers will give off water too.
- Add soy, vinegar and wasabi to taste.
- Mix the sauce with the cucumber, chicken and noodles and enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

So I've decided to jump on the bandwagon again and try another recipe that I've been seeing all over the internet lately.  This one was a bit disappointing though.  Not that it wasn't good, but it wasn't as amazing as I expected based on all the accounts I read.  It tasted like sweet hummus, not cookie dough.  Maybe if I didn't know it was made out of chickpeas, I wouldn't have thought that, but I did.

Even though I generally like to make healthy alternatives whenever possible, I think this is one of those times the real deal with all the unhealthiness is worth it.

- Chickpeas
- Peanut butter
- Vanilla extract
- Salt
- Sugar
- Honey
- Chocolate chips

- I used canned chickpeas, so I drained 2 cans of chickpeas while reserving the liquid from the can.
- Put the chickpeas in a food processor along with the peanut butter (about 2 tbs), vanilla extract (2 tsp), salt (a pinch), sugar and honey (I don't know how much I used because I just kept adding it until it tasted like I wanted it to).
- Puree the mixture until sooth and creamy.  I found it to be a bit dry, so I added a bit of the liquid from the can until I got the desired consistency.
- Stir in chocolate chips and then top it with a few more as a garnish.
- Serve with graham crackers or vanilla wafers.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crash Hot Potatoes

This is my version of those crash hot potatoes that are all over the internet.

Even though it seems that everyone out there is in love with it, I was resistant to believe the hype.  While I do love potatoes, potatoes are potatoes, right?  And the recipe is so darn simple, can it really make that much of a difference?  Apparently so!  It's darn tasty!  So tasty in fact, that Mr. Gaga requested it again for  dinner the next night and asked "Why don't we do this more often?!?!?!"  The answer is because I didn't know that it was so easy and so tasty and we will do this more often in the future, and so should you!  :)

- Potatoes (I used red potatoes, but I'm sure you can use any and it'll still be good)
- Olive oil
- Salt (I used kosher)
- Pepper
- Rosemary or your favorite herb or none at all

- Wash and scrub the potatoes.  Put them in a large bowl and microwave until cooked through.  For me it took about 5 minutes for 10'ish potatoes.  You can also boil the potatoes, but microwaves are much faster and easier.
- Lay out the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Using a potato masher (or fork or bottom of a pan/plate/cup) and smush each potato.  If necessary, flip the potatoes over so that the potato innards are face up.  You'll get better crispiness out of it that way.
- Drizzle olive oil over the tops, sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.
- Pop the potatoes in the oven until the tops are crispy.  The first night I made them, I put them in for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees and the second night I tried it for 15-20 minutes are 425 degrees.  They both turned out just fine.
- Eat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sugar-Free Banana Bread

This is something I made a long time ago, but I haven't been great about keeping up with this blog as you can tell, so I'm posting it now, many, many months later.

I'm not a huge fan of this, but I was looking for something interesting to make for my daughter besides the usual boring purees.  She was 9 months at the time and loving finger foods.  I wanted to expose her to as many flavors and textures as possible, and thought this might be good.  Unfortunately, she wasn't a fan either and I ended up tossing most of it.  It was just bland and a bit on the dry side and not very tasty.  The sugar is very important :)

Anyway, if you decide to give this a try anyway, from what I've read, it's not a good idea to give babies too much sugar or salt, and this fits the bill.  It's also not a good idea for babies to eat egg whites, but we have no history of allergies in our families and our pediatrician cleared it.  If you're being more careful about allergies than we are, you might want to steer clear of this until your kid is a bit older.  I left out the nuts from the recipe because that's another common allergen.

Inspired by
- 3/4 cups of bananas (mashed)
- 1/3 cup of veggie oil
- 1 large eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Mix the banana, oil, eggs and water.
- Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well.
- Pour mixture into a well-oiled 9x5 loaf pan.
- Bakd at 325 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack, then slice and serve.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Corn with Chicken

Growing up, I knew that if my mom wasn't around to make dinner, this was what we were having, because it was the only dish my dad knew how to make.  Well, this and egg fried rice (one of my favorite by the way).

So, given that, you can assume that this dish is pretty easy to make, and it is!  And even better, my daughter will actually eat it (she's been on a self-imposed mostly vegetarian diet of as late).

I also tried out a little trick that I think I will be using from now on.  I always wondered how Chinese restaurants get there meat so darn tender.  I was always told it was because they marinated it in corn starch, which is something I always do, but it's never the same.  After a bit of internet research, it looks like they're using baking soda!  So I tried just a pinch of baking soda and it seemed to have worked.  It's not as obvious with chicken, especially when the chicken pieces are so small this case, so the real test will be the next time I make beef with broccoli.  I'll let you know how that goes...

- Corn
- Chicken (I used breast)
- Salt
- Baking soda
- Oil

- Cut the corn into ~1/2" cubes and sprinkle a dash of salt and a pinch of baking soda and mix well.  Set aside and let it marinate for a bit.  10 minutes is probably enough time.
- Heat some oil in a pan or wok and add the chicken in.  Keep the chicken moving in the pan until it is mostly cooked through.
- Add corn and keep the contents of the pan moving until the chicken is cooked through and the corn is heated through.  Add a bit more salt to taste if necessary.
- Serve with rice.

Told ya' it was easy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Potstickers Revisited

Yes, I'm still alive.  No, I'm not cooking nearly as much as I used to, and when I do, it's not all that exciting.  That's one reason for the lack of posts.  Another reason is that I'm pregnant again!  Baby #2 is due on January 5, 2012 and we are super excited for the new addition!

So while the posts will still be far and few between, I promise that this blog is not dead and I will be back periodically with little additions here and there.  And today, I'm blogging about dumplings again!

I love that dumplings are so versatile.  You can use any meat, or no meat at all and any veggie(s).  This time, I used ground turkey, bok choy and ginger and that's it!  Easy, delicious, healthy and baby friendly too!

- Ground turkey
- Bok Choy
- Ginger
- Soy sauce
- White pepper
- Oyster sauce
- Sesame oil
- Dumpling wrappers

- Finely chop the bok choy.
- Grate the ginger 
- Mix the turkey, bok choy, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and oyster sauce in a bowl
- Take a wrapper, put about a tablespoon of filling in the center, dab water around the edge of half of the wrapper, fold it over and squeeze closed, pleating it you've got the skills to achieve a half moon shape (you can skip the pleating if it's too difficult).
- When you're done wrapping all the dumplings, heat a nonstick pan with a bit of oil.  Line the dumplings in the pan, making sure the bottom of each one is coated in oil.  Add about a cup of water and cover the pan.  Turn the heat up to high and let it boil and evaporate.
- Once the water has mostly cooked off, take the lid off and let it continue cooking until the water has completely evaporated and the bottoms of the dumplings are nice and crispy.
- Serve it with your favorite dipping sauce.  I like mine simple, just black vinegar and soy sauce.

Friday, April 15, 2011

No knead bread

I just realized that I've never posted the recipe, so here it is!

We used to keep a starter for artisan bread in 5 minutes a day in the fridge at all times, but because you're supposed to take some out and add more every once in a while, and of course, we couldn't waste what we tossed out, we ended up baking (and eating) bread waaay too much (if there is such a thing) and eventually stopped :(   

Now we use this recipe instead when we're in the mood for fresh baked bread.  It's quick, easy and delicious and we love it.  In fact, when we make it, we tend to make several loaves at once, which kind of defeats the purpose of not keeping the old starter because we still end up eating too much bread.  Well, at least I get the fridge space back :)

- 3 cups of flour (bread flour is preferable but all-purpose will work too)
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt

- At least 8 hours ahead of time, or up to 24 hours in advance, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl (make sure to leave room for the dough to rise) and cover.  Let rise.

- When the dough is ready, it will look very wet and bubbly.

- Gently knead the dough a bit with your hands to punch down some of the bubbles and shape it into a messy ball.  You can shape it into a pretty ball if you'd like, but just be sure to slit the top before putting it into the oven.
- To make transferring the dough and clean easy, I like to plop the ball on parchment paper and put it back in the original bowl.  Let it rise for an hour or two.
- Preheat the oven and a dutch oven to 450 degrees.
- Carefully transfer the dough into the HOT dutch oven.  If you're using parchment paper, you can just place the parchment paper into the pot along with the dough.  
- Put the lid on the dutch oven and place it back in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Then remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the bread and let it cool on a rack.
- Slice and enjoy!  Our favorite is to pair it with cheese :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chive Boxes

I love all dumpling'ish foods such as dumplings, pot stickers, steamed buns and of course chive boxes, also known as jiu cai he zi in Chinese.

Garlic chives or Chinese chives are much more potent than regular chives and I love the flavor and fragrance.  I started growing garlic chives in the garden, but I still don't have quite enough to make a decent batch of chive boxes, so store-bought will have to do for now.

The main components of chive boxes are egg, glass noodles and of course chives!  If you like, mini dried shrimp make a tasty addition as well.  And if you decide that you don't like the flavor of garlic chives, which can be a bit strong, you can easily substitute it for other veggies such as spinach and even add some ground pork or shrimp to make your own tasty creation!

I'm also submitting this dish to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Chris at Mele Cotte.  Check out the other submissions if you get a chance!

- All Purpose Flour
- Hot Water
- Garlic chives
- Glass noodles aka mung bean noodles, cellophane noodles, etc.
- Eggs
- Salt and/or soy sauce
- Sesame oil

- Mix together the flour and hot water (about 2 parts flour to 1 part water) until a nice smooth dough is formed.  Cover it and set it aside.
- Chop the chives into 1/2-1/4 inch bits.
- Scramble the eggs in a pan with a bit of salt and/or soy to taste.
- Soak the glass noodles in hot water until soft and pliable.  Then chop the noodles into approximately 1 inch lengths.
- Mix the chives, glass noodles and eggs together in a bowl.  Season with soy sauce and sesame oil as needed.

- Cut off a chunk of the dough and roll and stretch it into a rope of about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter.
- Slice the rope into approximately 1 inch chunks (depending on how big you want your chive boxes to be and how thick you like the skin to be), turning the rope 90 degrees in between each cut so that you the dough doesn't get flattened into an oval.

- Smoosh each chunk into a circle, dust with flour, set aside, and cover them with a kitchen towel so that they don't dry out.
- Using a wooden dowel, roll out the dough into a circle (or as close to it as you can get).  I find that rolling the dough from the edge closest to me halfway to the center of the circle and back out with my left hand while using my right hand to turn the dough a quarter turn in between each roll of the dowel works best for me.
- When you have achieved the desired thickness (depending on how dough-y you like your chive boxes to be), you can use a cookie cutter to get a prettier circle, but I'm lazy and don't bother with this step.
- Place some filling in the center of the dough and wet the edge of half the circle with water.  Bring the wet edge and the dry edge together (sort of like a taco) and press the edges together.  You can make pretty pleats if you want, but it's really not necessary.  Just make sure it's closed tight.
- Set aside and repeat until you are out of dough or filling.
- Heat some oil on medium in a non-stick pan.  Place as many of the chive boxes in the pan, seam side down, as you can.
- If you want, add a bit of water to the pan as if you were cooking potstickers.  You can also cook them without water too.  Both methods work and will just give you a slightly different texture in the dough.
- Let them cook until the crust is a crunchy and has a light golden brown.  Flip them and cook the other side until light golden brown as well.
- Serve plain or with a mixture of black vinegar and soy sauce.
- You can also freeze these and pop them back in the pan to reheat whenever you're in the mood for them!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grilled Chicken Burrito

I've always had trouble wrapping burritos.  I can never get the filling to stay inside, and I've discovered the reason is because I've never used the proper tortillas.  Burrito tortillas are HUMUNGOUS!  And the only place I've found them at are Mexican grocery stores.  Having the right tortillas really makes a difference.

Oh, and you know those Grilled Burritos that they have at Taco Bell?  They're really on to something!  Grilling burritos may not be authentic, but it sure does make them tasty!

- Chicken breasts
- Salsa
- Shredded cheese
- Burrito tortillas

- Put chicken breasts in a heavy bottomed pot and pour in salsa.  You don't need to cover the chicken all the way because it will release a bit of liquid on its own.
- Bring the chicken/salsa to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender enough to shred with a fork.
- Shred the chicken and flavor with salt and pepper (or other spices of your choice) if necessary.
- Take a tortilla and layer the cheese, beans, rice, chicken and any other extras you like (tomtatoes, guacamole, sour cream, etc) and wrap up the burrito.  Be generous with the fillings, those tortillas can hold a lot!
- Grill the burrito on each side until brown and crispy.
- Share with a friend...these suckers are big!

Mexican Rice

Oh poor neglected food blog.  Hello again and happy new year.  Have I really not posted since last year?  Ack.  So sorry.  I'll try to post here a bit more regularly in 2011.

Mexican rice is so much more fun than boring old regular rice and is so easy too.  I'm assuming you can dump all these ingredients in a rice cooker and it'd turn out great too, but since I'm already dirtying a pan for sauteing the onions, I just finish it in the pan instead of dirtying the rice cooker too.  I've never cooked rice without a rice cooker and still depend on it to tell me how much water to put in, but who knew cooking rice was so easy?  This doesn't mean I'm giving up the rice cooker though!

- Oil
- Rice
- Water or broth
- Minced garlic
- Diced onions
- Tomato paste
- Salt
- Cumin
(optional - bell peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, etc)

- Pour a bit of oil in a pan and add the onions.  Saute until soft.
- Add the other veggies if you're using any.
- Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds.
- Add the rice and saute until the grains are coated with oil and are a bit toasty.  Then add the water/broth.  Or, if you're like me and have no clue how much water to add without using the lines in the rice cooker, add the rice and water together.
- Stir in the tomato paste (to taste/color) until melted.
- Add salt and cumin to taste.
- Bring everything to a simmer, turn the heat down and put the lid on.
- Simmer until the water is gone and the rice is cooked through.
- Fluff the rice, garnish it with cilantro, and serve it with whatever Mexican goodies you want.