Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Dinner: prime rib, mushroom risotto, and stuffed mushrooms

For Christmas this year, we spent it in Los Angeles (horray! no painful east coast weather for me!), so we had our cousin and her family over for dinner.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous prior to the dinner because I was afraid that:
1) The food will come out horrible and they will never want to eat anything I cook ever again.
2) I would not be a very good person to work with in the kitchen  (I usually work solo in the kitchen, so I have no idea how to share a kitchen with someone).

To avoid #1, I looked for recipes on the internet and printed them out and followed them step-by-step (SO not my style!) to ensure nothing went wrong.... and if it did, I could blame the recipe (teehee).
For #2, I was not sure how to be a good team player!  But it seemed like everything worked out just fine anyways so I had nothing to worry about.

I was very happy with the recipes for the prime rib, risotto and the stuffed mushrooms, so I'm sharing the recipe here.
We also enjoyed a vegetable side dish consisting of roasted asparagus and Italian squash  (olive oil, salt, pepper, into the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes), which I really liked.  For drinks, I served some hot pear cider (from trader joes!) and spiced it with some cinnamon sticks, star anise, and orange slices.
Sadly, I did not get a picture of the meal on my camera, since I dove right into the food.

For the prime rib recipe, I think the only thing I would change is to mince the garlic into even smaller pieces, and double the garlic-oil mixture.

For the mushroom risotto recipe, I actually did not follow all the directions.  I left out the truffle oil (what am I, rich?) and the chives.  I doubled the mascarpone cheese, and quadrupled the parmigiano cheese (no such thing as too much cheese!). Also, there was way too many mushrooms -- we ended up using about 3/4 of the 2 pounds of mushrooms this recipe called for. 

For the stuffed mushrooms, I would probably use a little less cream cheese next time, but that's about it.


Garlic Prime Rib
Ingredients:
    1 (10 pound) prime rib roast
    10 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons dried thyme

Directions:
Place the roast in a roasting pan with the fatty side up.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.
Spread the mixture over the fatty layer of the roast, and let the roast sit out until it is at room temperature, no longer than 1 hour.
Set the roast on a roasting rack, over a drip pan.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
Bake the roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and continue roasting for an additional 60 to 75 minutes.
The internal temperature of the roast should be at 145 degrees F for medium rare.
Allow the roast to rest for 10 or 15 minutes before carving so the meat can retain its juices.




Mushroom Risotto:
Ingredients:
10 cups Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Diced shallots
3 cups Arborio rice
1.5 cups White wine
1 pound Shitake mushrooms sliced 
1 pound Oyster mushrooms sliced
¼ cups Mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon White truffle Oil
3 tablespoons Chopped Chives 
Salt & Pepper 

Directions:
Bring chicken stock to a boil.
In a 6 quart sauce pan add in olive oil.
Next add diced shallots and let them cook for a minute or until they turn translucent.
Add in the rice and make sure to stir so that all the rice kernels are coated with oil. Make sure rice kernels are warm before adding in the wine.
After the wine has been added reduce the liquid by 60 %, now the hot chicken stock can be added too. Just cover the rice with liquid and when the rice is beginning to stick to the bottom it is time to add in more liquid.
On the last stage of adding in the stock add in the mushrooms too.
Finish cooking for about 5-8 minutes.
When the risotto is Al dente, turn off the heat and finish with the mascarpone and parmigiano cheese, this is when you really want to stir the risotto feverishly, finally add in the truffle oil and chives. 


Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients:
    24 whole fresh mushrooms
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.
Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic. Set aside to cool.
When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick.
Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 types of foodies? Now I have an idea what the heck a "foodie" is.

I was never entirely sure what a "foodie" was, and never wanted to call myself (or anyone) that.  In fact, I think some people actually get offended if you call them a "foodie".

If I were to describe myself, I would simply say "I really like food", or "I cook a lot", or "I really like eating", and leave it at that.

This latest post from Huffington Post finally help shed a little light on what the heck a "foodie" is.
Apparently, there are 10 types of them:
  1. Made It Myself!
  2. The Organivore
  3. The Europhile
  4. The One Upper  (I hate these folks)
  5. The Snob
  6. The Anti-Snob
  7. The Avoider
  8. The Blogging Food Pornographer
  9. The Bacon Lover
  10. The DIYer

As I read through them, I can definitely think of people I know that falls into one of the 10 types.
I think if I were to pick one that I fall under, I would probably fall into the 1st type (but I'm not as crazy as they describe Type #1 to be =D)


----
Is everyone enjoying entertaining for the holidays?
How does one entertain for all 10 types of "foodies"??  
Beats me =O

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkey leftovers: make turkey meat floss (Rou song (肉鬆))

I'm not a fan of the typical options for turkey leftovers:  turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey wraps, turkey burritos, turkey pasta... I can go on all day.  These all seem so monotonous and not any different than just eating the plain ol turkey.  (And if that's the case, then why not just eat the plain ol turkey on its own? It will help get rid of the turkey faster than "hiding" it in a sandwich or burrito.)

One thing I *am* a fan of, is Rou song (肉鬆), or as some other people call it "meat floss".  This is most commonly made using pork (second most common is fish).  However, why not use turkey?
One of the toughest part of making rou song is getting the meat dried.  And hey... turkey is already a dry meat to begin with!  You're already halfway there!

I made Rou Song out of fish a few times as a kid, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.  The process is very similar with turkey, except that turkey is much easier since fish is so wet!

Here are the simple, but very time consuming, steps to make turkey Rou Song:

1. Cook The Turkey.
The easiest way to do this is to follow my World's Simplest Roasted Turkey recipe!



2.  De-bone the Turkey
When turkey is cooked and has rested for at least 10 minutes, carve the turkey and save the bones for later (you can make soup with the bones).

3. Feed Hungry Husband



4. Shred The Leftover Turkey
When said husband is no longer hungry, take the leftover turkey meat and shred it into tiny pieces.  Use both hands for this job!
This took me about 3 hours.
My pregnant self cannot sit in one place for 3 hours so said husband came and lent a helping hand (well, 2 hands if you want to be exact).
 

5. OPTIONAL: Fuzzy up the meat the meat
Get a ceramic bowl and press it against the meat in a "twisting" motion to make the meat appear more fuzzy and fluffy.
This was very time consuming, and I would totally omit this next time.
I don't need to spend an hour twisting my meat to make it look fuzzy.  As long as it tastes good, that's all I care about.

6. Dry The Meat on the Stove Top
Using the largest wok or pan that you have, cook the turkey on medium-low heat, stirring every 3 minutes to ensure that the meat on the bottom does not burn. 













 7. Keep Stirring
Stir for about 1 hour 45 mins, or until the meat looks dried.  It will take on a golden-brownish color.

8.  Season Up the Dried Turkey
All you need is white sugar and soy sauce.
I like mine extra sweet, so I probably used about 1 cup of white sugar and maybe about 1/2 cup of soy sauce.
Just add them in slowly and keep tasting until you like it.  =)

9. Stir Until Blended.
Keep stirring the turkey until everything is equally seasoned. Do this for maybe another 15 minutes, to let the soy sauce soak up into the meat, making the total cook time 2 hours!





The Finished Product!


 It looks a lot like the pork Rou Song sold at the Asian super markets.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

World's simplest (and world's best) roasted turkey

Up until Nov 29th of this year (several days after Thanksgiving), I thought I hated turkey.
I pick at it and push it around my plate at Thanksgiving dinners.
I avoid it at pot lucks.
The closest I ever came to eating turkey is eating Oscar Mayer turkey deli meat, and that doesn't even taste like meat (more like sodium and ambiguous meat paste mashed together into a thin disk).

After I learned that you can make turkey meat floss out of  leftover turkey meat (more about that in the next post), I decided to go out and buy a frozen turkey on clearance.
Ralphs came through and had turkeys on sale at 44 cents per pound.  I grabbed the last 14 pound turkey (the rest were all 20+ pounds).

I quickly scanned the web to see the easiest, simplest way to roast a turkey.  All that I cared for was a fully cooked turkey that I could shred and make into dried turkey meat floss.  I came across this recipe on the Food Network website:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/worlds-simplest-thanksgiving-turkey-recipe2/index.html

This recipe looked very simple, straight forward, and had plenty of postive reviews.  I was very surprised by the number of positive reviews considering that this recipe did not require any brining (which seems to be every one's "trick" to making a "juicy" thanksgiving turkey.  I would like to know their definition of juicy...).  The recipe appeared to be just like roasted chicken recipe.   

I made a some minor alterations to the recipe and did the following steps:
  1. Rinse and dry the turkey with paper towels.  Remove the giblets
  2. Cut up 1 onion and placed it in the cavity
  3. Salt & Pepper the interior and exterior of the bird
  4. Drizzle olive oil on the breast.
  5. Place the bird on a roasting rack and tent the bird with foil.  (I admit, I had no idea what to do with the wings.  I just let them all hang out ... lol).
  6. Place the bird into a preheated oven for 2.5 hours at 325 degrees.
  7. Remove the foil, and bake for another hour at 425 degrees.  (Notice that I did not baste!  Did you know that basting does not really help a turkey stay moist, and it actually dries it out?)
VOILA
The bird came out beautiful.
As I was de-boning the turkey (and saved the bones to make turkey soup later), I tasted a piece of the turkey, and HOLY COW, it was delicious.
It did not have that awful turkey after taste, the meat was not hard and stringy, and the meat was oh-so moist.  It melted like butter in my mouth.
I called Jeff over to try some, and he agreed, that it was some damn good turkey.

We both agreed that this turkey is better than other turkeys that we have had, and I now have to retract my statement (that I hate turkey).
Here is my new statement:  I like eating turkey when it is done well.

Not only was this turkey moist and tasty, but it was REALLY EASY to make.
I did not prep and brine the day before.
I did not slave over the oven all day long, watching the bird and basting.

(the funny thing is, I actually did not hear the timer go off, so the turkey roasted for longer than intended.  yet it still came out good! imagine how much better it would have been if I actually heard the kitchen timer?)

In the end, I decided to save some meat turkey for eating, before making the leftovers into turkey meat floss. 

I know that there are lot of people that are stuck in their own ways and think that their turkey recipe is the "tried and true" method.  But the next time you see people drown your turkey in gravy, maybe it's time to try something different and see how that turns out.
Won't know 'til you try!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds

For Halloween this year, our cousin invited us over to carve pumpkins with her and her family.  It was a lot of fun!
Not only did we come out with 4 amazing looking pumpkins, but I had a humongous bag of pumpkin seeds to take home and enjoy.  It actually ended up being more pumpkin seeds than we could eat, but luckily, another cousin came to visit us, and he helped us eat it all.
Phew!  I was just about to toss them too.

You can make pumpkin seeds both savory (salt & pepper) and sweet (cinnamon and sugar), but I always make mine sweet.  Of course, going down the sweet route means a higher risk of coming out with black, bitter, burnt seeds, but when it comes out right.. it tastes soo perfect.

Here is ingredients you will need for the sweet roasted pumpkin seeds.
I had to double the recipe amount since I came out to about 2 cups of pumpkin seeds.
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Wash and pat dry your pumpkin seeds with a paper towel. Toss seeds with the butter, sugar, and spices.
Heat oven to 300°. Spread coated seeds in a shallow baking sheet turning from time to time, for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours, or until nicely browned and crunchy.
If you are using 1 cup of seeds, it will most likely be around 1 hour of baking.  But because I had 2 cups of seeds and used 2 baking sheets (with 1 thin layer of seeds per sheet), the 60 mins simply was not enough.  It really took close to 1.5 hours to get the seeds to our desired crunchiness.
I kept my eye on it like a hawk to ensure it did not burn and turn biter.

Seriously, the best pumpkin bread

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! 
No traditional Thanksgiving for me (we had hot pot at home with my family), but the funny thing is, I went out today and purchased a 15 pound frozen turkey.  It was on clearance at 44 cents per pound, and I plan on making turkey meat floss out of it (more on that later!).
I'm here to blog about my pumpkin bread recipe!


If you have seen me within the last couple of months, chances are, you have eaten my pumpkin bread.
I stumbled upon this recipe by accident one bored evening while surfing the web.  After reading the instructions and realizing that the recipe sounded like a winner, I made the bread that very evening.  After one taste, Jeff and I were in love. (with the bread....  I mean, we ARE in love with each other as well... but I was referring to the bread).

After that, we made pumpkin bread for friends, giving it away when visiting people, serving it to people that came over to our house, and we even brought a loaf to a Thanksgiving pot luck.  There were a couple of weeks where I felt like I was running a pumpkin bread factory out of my own kitchen!
Every one that has tasted it have said they liked it.  And what makes it so special is that, not only is it festive (for fall time), but pumpkin bread not one of those things you can easily find in a store.   And another reason why I like this recipe is because even though I am a crappy baker, I cannot screw up pumpkin bread.

Ready to bake?

What you need:
15 ounce can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
2.5 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, cream pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices. Add dry mixture to wet and beat until all flour has been combined. Pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Green onion / scallion pancakes

As most of you dont remember, I made green onion / scallion pancakes (蔥油餅) back in June 2008 and I even blogged about it with step-by-step visual directions.
Of course, 3 years later, I actually forgot how to make it, even after following the steps.  After a really failed attempt, I tried again.
The main problem in my failed attempt was that I added too little water to the dough and by the time I realized it, it was too late to add additional water.  I was stuck with rock-hard dough.

So the key now in making scallion pancakes, is for me to slowly add more and more water until it feels very sticky.  And I'd rather have sticky dough than dough that is too hard and dry, because at least, if the dough is too sticky, you can always add a little flour to fix it.

To make scallion pancakes you will need:
- all purpose flour
- hot-to-warmish water
- minced green onions
- salt  (I also like to add in a little chicken boullion powder into my salt too. hehe.  give it a little extra flavor, rather than just plain ol salt).
- canola oil

I don't have specific proportions for the flour and the water, for fear that I might lead you astray with dough that is hard as a rock.
My suggestion is: in a large sturdy bowl, pour in as much flour as you desire. I use maybe..  4-5 cups of flour?
Then heat up about 3 cups of water, and just slowly drizzle it into your flour, mixing it slowly with your fingers, until it becomes very wet ball of dough.  You probably will have leftover water -- make yourself a cup of tea?  :)
Let your dough rest for about 10 minutes while you start your assembly line:  dough, oil, salt, green onions, cutting board, and rolling pin.

Grab a small dallop of your dough, maybe about the size of a plum, and roll it out on your cutting board, until it is very thin.  drizzle on a thin layer of oil, using your finger to spread it evenly on your pancake.  do the same with the salt.  then do the same with the minced scallions.  Then either cut your dough into 8 flaps and roll them into a ball, or simply roll up the entire pancake into a ball.  Set it aside on a plate.
Repeat the steps above until all your dough is gone.

These dough balls lasts for several days in your fridge, if you store it in tupperware or ziploc bag.

When you are ready to eat, roll out your ball of pancake again, into a very thin  round pancake.  In a skillet, heat up some oil, and fry your pancake on both sides (oil both sides!) until its bubbly, crispy, and golden.
Cut the pancake into 4 pieces using the spatula and enjoy!
It's so tasty and savory... no dipping sauces for me!

Mini Jack O Lanterns (stuffed bell peppers)

For Halloween last year and this year, I made Mini Jack O Lanterns (stuffed bell peppers) to celebrate!

Last year, I was able to find red and orange bell peppers at a decent price, so my stuffed bell peppers really did look like mini pumpkins.  Unfortunately this year, the red and orange bell peppers were at a ridiculous price, so green mini pumpkins it is. 

The difference in bell pepepr color is not the only changes I made, I actually made a number of changes:
- I used ground turkey instead of ground beef because its healthier
- I used rice instead of bread crumbs, since rice is more filling (and cheaper too!)
- Instead of using a lot of hot sauce as the seasoning, I used garlic and herb seasoning instead.

I alloted myself around 1 hour to prepare the jack o lanterns and bake them, but turns out I needed closer to 2 hours!!  I was an hour late to our Halloween pot luck.
Buffer plenty of time to cut the jack o lantern faces on the bell peppers!


The ingredients I used is:
- 6 bell peppers
- 1/2 cup of cooked white rice
- 1 egg
- 1.25 pounds of ground turkey
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp italian seasoning or garlic and herb seasoning
- 2 tsp garlic powder

- 1 tomato, chopped.

- salt and pepper.
- 1 tsp of minced garlic

Wash and cut the tops off the bell pepeprs.  Discard the  the seeds but keep the lid/stem.  This is the top of the jack o lantern's head!
In a pan, brown the onions and minced garlic in a little bit of oil.  I've seen a lot of recipes omit this step, but if you do, you will end up with crunchy-raw-semi-steamed onions!
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients (other than the bell peppers).  When evenly mixed, distribute the mixture into your 6 bell peppers, and bake the bell peppers (with their lids on) at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shrimp with Spicy Salt (椒盐虾)

It looks just like the 椒盐虾 in restaurants.
It tastes just like the 椒盐虾 in restaurants.
But what is different?
It is a fraction of the cost in restaurants, and you can enjoy it at home whenever you want!  =)


This dish is actually quite simple.
For the shrimp, you can purchase it anytime at the store (stock up when it's on sale!), and store it in the freezer.  Did you know shrimp stores very well in the freezer, because its shell prevents the shrimp from getting freezer burn?  
Along the same vein (teehee.  vein, get it?), if you are eating at a "Seafood" restaurant whose menu mainly consists of shrimp dish, then that most likely means that most of their seafood is NOT fresh because their shrimp are all frozen.

All you really need to do is know how to deep-fry in your home without making a god-awful mess or setting the house on fire.  
I don't usually advocate deep-frying in home cooking since you get enough grease in your meals when eating out, but I will make an exception for 椒盐虾.


Here is a quick crash course in deep-frying in your home.
  • Don't waste your money on a deep fryer, unless you plan on turning into a Southerner and deep frying everything and anything.
  • In a deep saucepan or wok, pour about 3/4 inch of high temperature cooking oil.  I use canola.
  • When the oil starts showing little bubbles on the bottom of the pan, it should be ready.  Drop a tiny piece of flour or shrimp leg into the oil.  If it starts frying, then its ready.
  • When you start adding the shrimp (or whatever it is you are frying) into the oil, don't overcrowd the shrimp because you want the oil temperature to stay hot. So only do a few at a time. 
  • Drop the shrimp close to the oil, so you don't splash hot oil on yourself.  (this should be fairly obvious but I will mention it anyways. I have been "splashed" by others in the kitchen who did not follow this rule).
  • I use old chopsticks as my "tongs" to fish out the fried shrimp.  But if you own some kind of tongs or net, then even better.
 Simple right?


Writing this recipe reminds me of the story of when I was in undergrad.
I lived in the apartments (a fraction of the cost of dorms), and I did a lot of home cooking because, hey, I was a poor college kid.  I made 椒盐虾 twice and on both incidences, my roommates (different people on both incidences) approached me with quizzical and disgusted looks.  
They couldn't wrap their head around the fact that:  1) You can fry foods at home.  2) You can fry in something that is not a deep fryer. 3) Yes, I cook and consume my shrimp with the head and shell still on  4). To make the shrimp crispy, you dredge the shrimp in flour.  They really had no idea why i was shoving the shrimp into flour just to place it into oil.  5) When you are done frying, you can let the oil cool then use it later in cooking.
After having to defend my both, my cooking methods and my choice in foods, I never felt comfortable to make this dish (or any other non-Westernized dish) while still living with my roommates. 


Flash forward 6 years to 2011:
I found some large head-on shrimp in the freezer.  

When I was trying to think of a dish to make for dinner that evening, all I could think of, to utilize the entire shrimp (the head and the shell), was to make 椒盐虾!!
I really do enjoy the dish, and I do order it from time to time in Chinese restaurants.  And I no longer live in an apartment with judgmental, close-minded roommates.  
Instead, I share a house with a guy that knows Chinese food and does not question or ridicule my cooking.  (his name is Jeff, if you didn't know...).

The dish was really quite easy to make, was not too time consuming (I love food that is zero prep work), and it came out tasting just like at the restaurant.


Here is the ingredients list:
- Shrimp
- Canola oil
- Corn or tapioca starch
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper.  
- Green Onions.  diced
- Jalapenos.  sliced thinly


Here are the instructions!!  
Follow closely!
1. Defrost and pat dry your shrimp.
2. Pour corn starch or tapioca starch in a large bowl.
3. Heat up your oil in the sauce pan (following deep frying instructions above).
4. Dredge each shrimp in the starch bowl, then drop into the oil.
5. When the shrimp is completely cooked, maybe about 2-3 minutes each, remove it from the oil and onto a paper-towel-lined plate.
6. When you have fried all of your shrimp, in a separate pan, heat up a little cooking oil (or you can use a little of your frying oil).
7. Add in the green onions and jalapenos until slightly cooked.  Then add in all the fried shrimp.
8. Sprinkle salt and black pepper all over the shrimp, and the turn the contents a couple of times, to evenly distribute the salt, pepper, jalapenos, and green onions.
9.  Serve it on the plate.  So pretty!  So good with rice!!  (well.. everything is good with rice).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chinese steamed trout

Last week when I went to Costco to pick up some bagged salad and celery, I decided to go take a peek in the meat and seafood department to see what goodies they have.
Of course, my conscience told me to stay away because I have plenty of meat and seafood in the freezer so I should eat that first before buying a giant economy size pack of meat.  But I went over anyways!! 
I am SUCH a rebel, my mama would be proud. 

Boy, was I glad I went over to the meat and seafood section.  I walked down the fish aisle, glancing at the fish selection and prices.  I first picked up the tilapia filets because typically, tilapia is one of the cheapest fish at the store.  But geez, the price was $4.99 per pound!  What the eff?
Then right next to the tilapia, I saw there was a sign that said $2.99.  The $2.99 was for whole trout!  Not trout fillets, but the entire thing!  Score!
I'm Asian, so you should know that I prefer my fish intact (head on, tail on, bones still in it, the way nature intended).  The fish looked pretty fresh (glossy eyes), so I picked up a pack.
I knew immediatly what I was cooking for dinner that night:  Chinese steamed trout!

I searched high and low around Costco for green onions, and after asking a grumpy employee where their green onions were located, I leanred that Costco did not sell green onions! 
After paying at the cashier, I walked across the parking lot to the Albertsons next door to buy 1 bunch of overpriced green onions.

After driving through the snail-paced Costco parking lot, I drove through the snail-paced streets of LA to get home.
When I got home, I debated between using my gigantic Chinese steamer, or my steaming apparatus involving my wok, a kitchen towel, and a bowl.  The haphazard steaming apparatus won (ask me if you want to know details on how you can make your own steaming apparatus!).

I gathered the following ingredients for the dish:
4 whole trout
6 spring onions, thinly sliced.
2 clove garlic, sliced thinly
sea salt
(If you have fresh ginger root, you need 2 inches of it, sliced.  I didn't have any).

For the sauce: 1 clove garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
6 tablespoons Shaosing (Chinese brown rice wine)
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark soft brown sugar
2 teaspoon, grated root ginger

I think the prep work is the most time consuming part!
Pat dry the fish with the paper towel then sprinkle the fish with sea salt.  Set the fish aside for 30 minutes.
Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bringing it to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Set up the steamer and bring the water to a boil.  Place the garlic and ginger on the fish and place the fish in the steamer.  Steam the fish for 18-20 minutes. 
Serve the trout with the sauce poured over and garnished with the spring onions.

Enjoy it with steamed rice.  Yum.

Steak Chili

I think when most Americans think of "chili" they think of the greasy ground meat goo with mushy beans.
(and apparently, some Asians think that "chili" is synonymous with the word "spicy".  But this is not a story about Asians and their confusion with the English language).
When I think "chili" I think more along the lines of a steak chili or chili con carne, where I can actually taste the beef and bite into it.  So if I ever invite you over for a chili night, this will be the kind of chili you will be served!
And that's exactly what happened when my sister came over for dinner & movie night.  We enjoyed a hot bowl of heartwarming chili with a side of tortilla chips, while our eyes were glued to Beetlejuice.

This recipe can most definitely be made in the slow cooker, but since I had some free time that afternoon, I decided to make it on the stove top.  That way, the beans and tomatoes would still have a bite to it (rather than just one homogenous glop).

Ingredients:
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 or 2 pounds of steak (whatever is on sale), cubed.
2 large cans tomatoes.  (I also added in some fresh tomatoes since I had some in the house)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper

If you are cooking on the stove top, make sure you are using a deep skillet, since there are a lot of ingredients and liquids in this dish!
You start by adding some oil in your skillet, then add in the onions and garlic and cook until browned.  Add in the steak cubes and cook until seared/browned on all sides.
Pour in the tomatoes with liquid, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and oregano. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Lastly, stir in kidney beans, and cook for another 15 minutes.

If you are cooking in the slow cooker, add in all the ingredients except for the kidney beans into the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 5.  In the last 30 minutes, add in the kidney beans.

-----
Note #1:  Enjoy the chili with sides such as corn bread or tortilla chips.  Or as some people prefer.....  steamed rice...  =/

Note #2:  Chili freezes very well!!  After we finished our dinner, I immediate placed a portion in the freezer and I gave another portion to my sister which fed her 2 more meals. 
I think in total, this dish made about 7-8 meals.

Note #3: The cost of the ingredients came out to around $7, so its ~$1 per meal.  Way cheaper than eating out AND you have enough food to last you a few days.  So you can spend your time doing more important things... like watching Beetlejuice

Friday, October 21, 2011

Homemade chicken pot pie (but not the crust)

A few weeks ago, a made the wonderful decision to make chicken pot pie at home.
Unfortunately, I also made the terrible decision to double the recipe and make TWO chicken pot pies.
(see exhibit A on the right).

We ended up eating chicken pot pies for every meal for over a week, that I think it's safe to conclude that we won't be eating chicken pot pies anytime in the near future.

The ingredients inside the pot pie are typical ingredients that I usually always have around the house:  chicken, carrots, potatoes, celery and onions.
The stuff I had to buy especially for this dish was the half&half  and the pie crusts. 
(When it comes to me and pies, i ALWAYS buy the pie crust.  I am no good when it comes to making dough, and I really don't think that the time and effort that goes into making pie crusts is worth.  When does someone ever eat a pie and say "this crust is spectacular.  Much better than store bought" ?  Exactly.


Making the actual filling is very easy.  And the entire pot pie is not hard at all, just kind of time consuming since you have to make the filling on the stove, then bake the entire thing in the oven.  I typical prefer cooking meals that requires only 1 heat source (the stove only, or the oven only).  But hey, its chicken pot pie, so.... gotta make some exceptions  :).

Here are the filling ingredients:
    1 cup potato, diced
    1 cup onion, diced
    1 cup celery, diced
    1 cup carrot, diced
    1/3 cup melted butter
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 cup half-and-half
    salt and pepper
    3 chicken breasts.  cubed

In a skillet, with a little bit of oil, cook the chicken breasts until fully cooked.  Remove the chicken then in the same pan, saute the onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in the butter for 10 minutes. Add the flour to the skillet, stirring well, to cook out the raw flour.  Add the broth and half&half to the mixture and cook until bubbly.  Stir in the salt and pepper and chicken and stir well.

Here is the fun part!
In your handy dandy baking dish (pyrex), add 1 pie crust then pour in the chicken mixture. Then lay the 2nd crust on top and make sure that you make the edges of the pie crust stick together and look pretty! Cut slits in the crust to allow steam to escape, then place the pie into your 400 degree oven.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grilled Chicken Breast with Cilantro Butter

Now that I have more free time, it makes a great opportunity to eat better.
At the store this week, boneless skinless chicken breast was on sale for $1.99 per pound!  Too good to be true.

Of course, one of the best ways to enjoy chicken breast is grilled, but I always get so wary that I would overcook the breast and make it dry like cardboard  (since poultry always needs to be cooked completely).  Then I thought "I know how to avoid that! I will use a food thermometer so I know exactly when to take the meat off the heat".

When I got home, I sprinkled salt and pepper on the chicken breast, and grilled the chicken breast on the grill pan.  (I really did not want to drag the backyard gas grill out from the garage).

I grilled the chicken on each side for 5 minutes then stuck in the meat thermometer.
The outcome?
Nothing!!
The meat thermometer arrow did not move!

Apparently, the last time Jeff used the meat thermometer (which was actaully the 1st time we used it), Jeff dropped it, leaving a crack in the glass on the thermometer display.
I thought "a crack on the display. no biggie. it should still work"
But no, the entire thing was broken.

So I had to do it the old fashioned way -- make a cut into the chicken breast to see if the meat was still raw.  (I hate doing this method, because I feel like too the juices are lost when the meat is poked while it's still cooking).

Apparently, 5 minutes on each side was too little, as the meat was still raw, so I had to cook the meat for an additional 8-10 minutes.

The meat did not come out too bad; it was still moist with some juices (phew), but I made sure to get a meat thermometer next time I'm at the store.

Right before the meat comes off the grill, you need to make the Cilantro Butter!
For the cilantro butter, I combined 1/4 stick of butter (not margarine), 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tbp of freshly minced cilantro, and some salt and pepper.

As the grilled chicken comes off the grill, place a small pat of the cilantro butter on the chicken breast, and let the butter melt all over.  mmm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

The last time I made pulled pork in the slow cooker, I remember it being very difficult because I avoided using bottled bbq sauce, and instead, tried to add in all the flavors myself using all sorts of herbs and spices that I can no longer remember.  All I can remember is, the entire process was so difficult!

This time, I decided to try slow cooker pulled pork again, but using bottled bbq sauce.
Not only did it come out tastier, but it was also more moist and just so much easier than my previous attempt at pulled pork.  Moving forward, I will only do this following method:

Ingredients:
1 bone-in pork shoulder, skin and excess fat removed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bottle barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
Scatter onion over bottom of slow cooker and place the whole chunk of pork on top. Add broth, cover and cook on low until very tender, about 8 hours.
When the 8 hours is up, remove the meat and onions into a seperate bowl, and discard the bone.  Discard the liquid in the slow cooker.
Get 2 forks, and pull the pork apart into shreds, discarding any fat you find.
Return the pulled pork to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce, mustard, honey and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour on low.

Sorry for no pictures!
The day I made this dish, I made it for a pot luck lunch at Jeff's company, and I had to cook the pork during the middle of the night, pull the pork at 8am in the morning, and let it cook for the last hour while I ran off to a doctor's appointment.
After rushing back from the doctor's appointment, I hastily poured the pulled pork into a glass tupperware and sent it off to work with Jeff.
It felt like the longest morning ever!
So that was why there was no time for a picture.  =)

Jeff reported back saying that a lot of people enjoyed the pulled pork.  horray. 

Home made char siu pork > bottled marinade char siu pork

If you remember from a few posts ago, I wrote about marinating pork chops in bottled marinade.
That dish came out OK, but not very close to the REAL char siu pork that you get from the cantonese reastaurant.

I finally took the time to make my own char siu marinade and took my sweet time basting the pork in the oven over and over.  All that time really paid off.
My  char siu pork was so flavorful, so moist, and the best part is: it tasted like the real thing for the fraction of the price!!!

The only change I would make the next time I make this, is to do a better job removing the fat off the pork chops.
I usually just buy whatever pork is on sale at the store, and remove the fat myself, which is fine and all, but I should have done a more thorough job.  The fat really put a damper on my experience. 


Your ingredients:
Pork- remove the bone, remove the fat. Buy about 2.5 or 3 pounds.
Hoisin sauce - 3/4 cup
Soy sauce - 1/2cup
Rice wine - 1/2cup.  I don't have any so I used xiao xing cooking wine.  good enough.
Honey - 1/3 cup
Sugar - 1 tablespoon
Minced ginger-1 tablespoon 

Instructions:

Slice pork butt into strips. Mix together all the ingredients in a gallon ziploc bag and place the pork strips into the ziploc bag. Let it marinate overnight (the longer, the better). 
The next day, heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place a rack on top of a lined baking sheet and pour water onto your baking sheet.  The water keeps the meat moist and the baking sheet will catch all the drippings.
Place the strips of pork on the rack, then roast the pork for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees Farhenheit  and roast for another 40 minutes, turning and basting 3-4 times with the remaining marinade.
Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and serve.

Frozen Tilapia is not so bad afterall

Apparently I am very behind on my food blog, so lets see how many posts I can get up today!

I was always afraid to buy frozen fish from the seafood section because it's simply not fresh.
You can smell and taste that fishiness, and let me tell you something:  FISH SHOULD NOT SMELL AND TASTE "FISHY".
When you pick up a fish and smell it, it should smell like water. 
When you eat it, it should taste mild.
So I've been afraid of frozen fish because I have smelled that fishy smell before.

Well, on a trip to the store, there was a lady that was cooking fish and handing out samples, and let me tell you.. that fish tasted pretty DG (damn good)! 
I was really surprised to find out she was using frozen tilapia filets.

Skeptical, I bought 1 pack of the frozen tilapia.
When I got home, I found that each filet was vacuum sealed.
I took out a few filets and marinated it in a little soy sauce, garlic, and xiao xing cooking wine.  Pretty basic stuff.
I heated up my skillet with some veggie oil (to give the meat a good sear), and cooked the filets a few minutes on each side.
I was so surprised how the fish came out:  Not fishy at all, mild tasting, and moist.
It was lovely.

Does this mean I can bring frozen fish back into my life??


(by the way, if you have any questions about how to pick fresh fish and other sea foods at the market, ask me!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roasted chicken with cheese stuffed baked potatoes

This last Sunday, I made roasted chicken and baked potatoes simultaneously in the oven.
I also made steamed green beans on the side, but I did not bother taking pictures of that.  (if you don't know how to steam some green beans, you should be worried!).

I like roasted chicken because its pretty healthy and its not hard.  Its just time consuming!

The way I make roasted chicken is a 2-day process.
Day 1 is when I rub in all the salt and herbs into the meat under the skin.  Don't let anyone tell you that "dry rubs" should only be put on the meat right before cooking.  That is NOT true.
The salt softens the meat and keeps moisture in the meat.  Something about salt attracting water molecules... I don't know, I'm not a science major.  All I know is that this is not a kitchen myth, it's science.

So if you don't want your chicken breast dry, then rub on your salted dry rub the night before.


On Day 2, place your chicken on a roasting rack (breast side down, to catch the juices as it falls), and roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn down the temperature to 340 degrees for an additional 40 minutes.  Then turn the chicken over to brown the breast side, and bake for another 30 minutes.

I also baked up several potatoes at the same time as the chicken,  when the oven was at 340 degrees.  I pricked the potatoes with a fork, rubbed on olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper and baked in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

When the potatoes were done baking, I popped each one open and shoved a little pat of butter and reduced fat cheddar cheese .  Voila!  cheesy stuffed potatoes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fresh seafood at home

When my friend Lucy visited me over 4th of July weekend, we pretty much spent the entire weekend eating.
And that is not an exaggeration.

Over the weekend, we hit up must-have dishes such as ayce korean bbq, pho + com tam, chinese roasted duck and crispy pork, sushi, dim sum, and fresh seafood at home.
These might all sound pricey, but we actually found ways to make the entire weekend very affordable, since we picked affordable places (korean town for kbbq, westminster for vietnamese, monterey park for dim sum, grocery store for duck, pork, and fresh seafood).

I think the best bang for our buck was enjoying the fresh seafood at home.
We went to Ranch99 and purchased live Dungeness crabs, live rock crabs, salmon and tuna sashimi, and live oysters.  The entire bill comes out to no where near the price it would be at a restaurant.  (Lucy so generously paid for the entire bill).

Then we merrily drove home and prepared all our wonderful dishes.
We sent Jeff out to the backyard to shuck oysters while us girls busied ourselves in the kitchen.

Here is the fruits of our labor, and the fruits of the sea:


Jeff shucking oysters
A hammer and screwdriver are not your typical oyster-shucking instruments but it sure got the job done.


Salmon and tuna sashimi, oysters, on a bed of ice
I thinly sliced the sashimi myself and overworked my fridge to get the crushed ice!
I should run my own 5 star restaurant.


Steamed Crabs
 I steamed these bad boys in my incredibly fobby 3-tiered steamer


The entire spread
I blame jeff for constantly arranging the dining chairs as 3 seats per side,
rather than my preferred method of 2 seats per side and 1 on each end


Our lovely house guest
 Lucifer


I normally don't eat a lot of seafood and shellfish, because, not only is it pricey and makes terrible leftovers, but I also don't want to get mercury poisoning.
However, for this meal, if I got mercury poisoning, it would definitely be worth it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chunky Vegetable Beef Stew (slow cooker)

Notice that I put the word "vegetable' before "beef" in the name of my dish: Chunky Vegetable Beef Stew?
That's because this stew has way more veggies than beef.  YUM!

I knows its summer time, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy stew.
Also... using the slow cooker is just way more convenient :).
When I stop working (in 3 weeks), I expect less slow cooker meals and more elaborate meals!

This stew is so hearty and so tasty, and I barely had to use any seasoning!  All the flavor is simply the natural flavor from all the vegetables and beef.


Ingredients
1 large onion. chopped.
6 carrots, cut into coins.  (I used small carrots.  But you can use half the amount if you have large carrots)
4 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh green beans, in bite-size pieces.  (I would have used more but string beans were crappy at the store)
2 pounds beef, cut into small cubes.  Just use whatever beef is on sale, like stewing beef.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups low-sodium beef stock
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Put everything in the slow cooker, except put only 3 tbps of the flour in the slow cooker.  
Cook on high for 5 hours.
Using some of the soup, put some in a bowl and mix tog3ether the other 3 tbps of flour, and pour it into the stew, then continue cooking the stew for an additional 30 mins - 1 hour.

Yum!

Egg-dipped bread = french toast?

I have heard some people call "egg dipped bread" or "eggy bread" as "French Toast".

I am not entirely sure if this is true, because the only French Toast that I know is bread that is dipped in a batter consisting of egg, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.  Fried in a skillet then consumed with some butter and syrup. :)
Egg-dipped bread is pretty much what it sounds like: bread dipped in beaten eggs, fried in a skillet, and eaten just like that.

Just to keep things clear, I will refer to these dishes by their separate names to avoid confusion.
I love French Toast, however, Egg-dipped bread holds a very special place in my heart.
I remember when I was very very young (younger than age 7), my mom would occasionally make egg-dipped bread in the morning.  This was very rare, because we typically had cold food for breakfast (pb &j sandwiches, cereal and milk), so having a hot breakfast was such a treat.  On top of that, I really love eggs, so anything with eggs in it was very special to me.

I can still remember crawling out of bed and smelling the scent of egg-dipped bread wafting through the house on a sunny weekend morning.

Now as an adult, I find myself also rarely ever having egg-dipped bread since eating a quick piece of toast in morning is just so much easier.

Today at the store, lots of loaves of french bread was sitting by the cash registers (ugh. how dare they tempt me with their impulse buys, and get away with it).
I purchased a loaf, sliced it up into 1 inch slices, dipped the bread into a beaten egg wash (I beaten an entire dozen of eggs!), and fried it up on a skillet.

I can't wait to eat them.

Creamy Cheesecake

Its been so long since I've had cheesecake, that I thought that it wouldn't be too naughty of me to make some cheesecake!

Usually, when I search for cheesecake recipes online, I always end up finding some recipe that uses sour cream, which I hate.
I have finally (after several attempts) perfected my own version of cheese cake that does not use sour cream.
It comes out so rich and creamy.
Crust
    1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    3 tablespoons sugar
    3 tablespoons margarine, melted

Filling
    3 (8 ounce) packages Cream cheese/American Neufchâtel cheese, softened
    3/4 cup white sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions
    1 Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
    2 Combine crumbs, sugar and melted margarine and press onto the bottom of a pie pan.
    3 Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 450F degrees.
    4 To make filling, combine softened cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beating at medium speed until well mixed.
    5 Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition; blend in vanilla then pour into crust.
    6 Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 250F and for 60 minutes more, or until the center is no longer watery.
    7 Let the cheesecake cool at room temperature then place into the refrigerator until the cheesecake is chilled

I don't have a picture of the entire cheesecake because we dug right in before having a chance to take a photo!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Marinate, cook, dinner!

This last week, I made 2 protein dishes to feed us throughout the work week.
The first one was pork chops and the second was salmon steaks.

Both were so easy, because I just put the pork chops and salmon steaks in (separate) ziploc bags, and added marinade to the bag, and the let meat marinate for a couple of nights.
When I was ready to eat, we grilled the pork chops on our outdoor grill.  And we baked the salmon steaks on a sheet pan in the oven at 465 degrees for 18 minutes.

What marinade did I use?

For the pork chops, I used a combination of bottled "char siu" marinade from the Asian grocery store and hoison sauce. 
For the salmon steaks, I simply marinated the steaks in teriyaki sauce.  That's all.  I typically make my own teriyaki sauce, but I was feeling lazy, so I used the bottled stuff as well.

(Big thanks to Lucy for buying me lots of yummy groceries, including as the char siu marinde and the salmon steaks).

Both the char siu pork chops and the salmon teriyaki can be enjoyed with steamed rice and sauteed green veggies.  so asian!  just the way I like it!

 the char siu pork chops, hot off the outdoor grill!


the teriyaki salmon steaks, hot out of the oven!
These could be made on the outdoor grill as well, but I was too lazy to take out the grill 2 times during the week!

Is broccoli beef considered chinese food?

I never really considered "broccoli beef" a Chinese dish.  I always joked that it was "bastardized Chinese food made by Americans".  but hey, what do I know.  Sorry if I insulted some Chinese region's most notable dish. hehe

Doesn't matter.  It sure tastes good.  I mean... broccoli, beef, how can you go wrong?

I got the idea to cook this dish when my friend Lucy made the dish herself.  A lot of times, when I hear of all these wonderful dishes, I want to cook it, but when no one reminds me of the dishes, then I forget, and I fall back on basic dishes that I make over and over again.
So I was glad to switch it up and make broccoli beef for the first time in several years.

I added a twist to the broccoli beef and threw in some crimini mushrooms that were sitting in the fridge, waiting to be eaten.

You first slice up the beef across the grain, then I mix in tapioca starch, to give it the thicker, gooier, texture that is common in Chinese dishes, and marinated the meat in some soy sauce and xiaoxing cooking wine.

I cut up the broccoli and boil it until al dente.
In a skillet, stir fry the broccoli until almost done, add in the sliced mushroom and boiled broccoli.  Top it all off with oyster sauce.


I always get greedy when I cook and make a huge pot full that is too full to stir, unless I want to get broccoli beef all over the kitchen floor.  =/


I don't know where all the gravy came from actually.  Maybe it was from the water trapped in the broccoli florets when I boiled it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How To Butterfly Lobster Tails

Yesterday was the first time I made lobster tails at home, and it turned out to be quite a success!

Lobster tails were on sale so I purchased two.
I decided to "Butterfly" the lobster tail, which is how its typically done in restaurants.  To butterfly lobster tails, you are basically pulling the meat out of the shell and placing it on top the shell.


How to Butterfly Lobster Tails:
  1. Hold the lobster tail with the top side facing upward.  Using kitchen shears, you cut a line through the top of the shell all the way to the base of the tail.  Don't cut the meat!.  (If you can see.. I cut a line down the top lobster tail).
                                       
  2. Using your fingers, gently (emphasis on gently!) separate the entire lobster meat from the lobster shell.  but leave the tail intact, so the lobster meat is still connected to the tail part.  Keep working until the entire lobster meat is separated from the shell.
  3. Close the empty lobster shell together and gently rest the lobster meat on top.
  4. Cut a small slit down the center of the lobster meat, and seperate the two flaps (I could have done that more....)

How to cook:
Lobster is so good on its own.  So no need for a marinate or salt or pepper.
Simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, and bake the lobster tails for 12-14 minutes.
Make sure to check on it periodically to make sure it does not burn.
Before eating, put a small pat of butter on top (optional).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Black Bananas = Banana bread

It surprises me when I hear that people toss black/overripe bananas.

What?!

What a waste! 
Throw that banana in your freezer and use it later!
There are 2 ways to deal with black /overripe bananas:
  1. Make a smoothie
  2. Make banana bread!
I can only drink so much smoothies, and it only gets rid of banans 1 at a time.
If you start to accumulate a lot of black banana, then the best way to get rid of all of them is make banana bread!  Also, I personally prefer banana bread over smoothies (taste wise) and are much more filling for breakfast too.  =)

Here is what you need:
2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, ~2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until its mixed together. Stir in the flour and baking soda then pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Bake in the oven at 350F for about 70 minutes, or until it's baked thoroughly.

It's soo yum! 

Bugolgi at home

A couple weeks ago, we enjoyed bugolgi at home!
Jealous?  =)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy) - slow cooker version

The french dish, Boeuf Bourguignon (beef burgundy), is normally made in the oven, however fpr this dish, I decided to adapt it for the slow cooker, since it's much easier to make on a work day.
(However, one of these weekends... I *will* tackle the dish with the traditional oven method).

When I had boeuf bourguignon in France, it tasted like every other regular beef stew that I make.
But when I made my own slow cooker version of boeuf bourguignon, it tasted different than my regular beef stew, and it was very delicious! 
Jeff was a fan, and we finished the dish faster than I expected! =D. 
It's always a compliment when food is consumed quickly.

The ingredients list is a bit long, so be prepared to make a grocery list:
1.5 cups red wine (what a good excuse to use up that opened bottle of red wine that is sitting in the fridge!), 2 tbps dry minced onion, 1 tsp dried leaf thyme, 2 tsp dried parsley flakes, 1 bay leaf, salt & pepper, 4 pounds lean stew beef (you can cube it up, but I just threw the entire chunk into the slow cooker), 1/3 cup flour, 8 slices bacon (diced), 1 large onion (chopped), 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 box of sliced mushrooms.

In a ziploc bag, add in the wine, minced onion, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, pepper, and the hunk of beef,  Marinate overnight. 
The next day, heat up a large skillet with some oil and brown the hunk of meat.  When carmlized and browned add the meat to your slow cooker.  In the same skillet, add in the bacon until browned, then add in the garlic and onions.  Add the bacon, garlic, and onion to the slow cooker.  In the same skillet, add in the mushrooms and cook until it softened.  Add the mushrooms to the slow cooker, than pour the red wine marinade from the ziploc bag into the slow cooker. 

Turn on the slow cooker on low for about 9 hours.
Come home to a house smelling like red wine and beef!  Mmm!
Enjoy the dish with some bread or some baked potato.

Fresh Strawvberry Pie


It's nearing the end of strawberry season, so I had to hurry and bake a strawberry pie before the season ends!
I normally do not bake my own pie crusts because they are so much work and I can just buy a yummy pre-made one from the store.

If you are not maki ng your own pie crust, then this dessert is SO easy.  and no one will have to know that it was easy to make  (If you buy one of these from Marie Calendars, you are paying at least $13 for one of these).

Just make sure that if you are making the pie to give to someone, and you need it to look pretty, don't get the red jelly stuff spilled onto the pie crust!  Does not look nice! oops!


To make two pies, you wil need:
2 pie shells (already baked), 2 1/2 quarts of fresh strawberries (this is about 2.5 boxes), 1 cup white sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup boiling water, 1 (3 ounce) package of strawberry jello.

In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and corn starch; make sure to blend corn starch in completely. Add boiling water, and cook until everything is mixed and thick. Turn off the stoveand add in the jello powder until its all melted. Let it cool to room temperature.
Wash the strawberries, remove the stems, then place the strawberries in the pie sell with points facing up. Pour cooled gel mixture over strawberries.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours until the gel is hardened.

Making your own strawberry gel tastes WAY better than the store bought stuff.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I thought I already posted about my mac & cheese recipe, but now that I look through my archive, I guess I did not!
Good thing I caught it.  How can good ol' mac & cheese not make it on the blog?  =)

I think both Jeff and I are spoiled from eating lots of homemade mac & cheese bakes.  Now, whenver we hear people say "i made mac & cheese today", or "I ate some mac & cheese", we automatically think that they are referring to homemade macaroni and cheese bake casseroles! 
But no... majority of the time, they are referring to the boxed macaroni and (fake) cheese sh*t. 

Well, boxed-macaroni-and-cheese eaters, here's your chance to make your own crispy, (real) cheesey, noodley goodness.  It's actually quite easy.

For your ingredients, you will need:
8 ounces macaroni, 4 tbs butter, 1/4 cup flour, salt, pepper, 1 cup half-and-half, 1 cup, 1 cup bread crumbs, 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.

Cook the macaroni, then pour the macaroni into your baking dish.  In a seperate sauepan, melt the butter, then stir in flour. Add the salt, pepper, and milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add 2 cups of the cheese.   When everything is melted, pour the sauce over the macaroni in the baking dish, and mix.  Top it with the rest of the cheese then top it with bread crumbs.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly.

Some toppings you can add with the bread crumbs and cheese is ham or bacon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sautéed Swiss Chard

Recently, my sister moved to a different apartment, and was unable to take her plants with her (no balcony at the new place). So she harvested her swiss chard and gave some of the chard to me.  In addition to the chard was 1 leek.

I was not sure what I can do with simply 1 leek, so I decided to mince it up, and sauté it with the Swiss chard! 
After washing all the soil out of the chard, I seperated the leaves from the stem, and chopped the stem into little pieces.  I minced up a little bit of garlic, and the 1 leek, and added it to a heated pan with olive oil in it.  It was so frangrant already.
Add in the chard stem first as they take a while to cook, then add in the leafy green part later.  Season it with kosher salt, stop cooking when the stem is tender.

The red is quite pretty.
You can also add in spinach if you like, to add a little more green to red ratio.  :) spinach takes the least time to cook, so you would add that in at the very end.

Beef Pot Roast

I actually made this dish a couple of months ago, but forgot to mention it on my blog!
I was making beef pot roast in the slow cooker, as a "test trial", in preparation for a beef pot roast dinner with my next door neighbors.

The photo you see here is of the "test trial" pot roast.  There is no photo evidence of the actual pot roast I made on the day of, because I was running late, so I never stopped to take pictures.

Making pot roast in the slow cooker is actually quite simple.  All you need is some beef  (whatever is on sale. usually beef chuck roast is cheap), onion soup mix (its a powder that comes in a pouch), beef broth, carrots, potatoes, carrots, potatoes, salt and pepper.  That's it!

I like to pan sear the meat first before putting it into the slow cooker, but you don't have to.  I'm not entirely sure if it really makes a noticable difference once you cook it in a slow cooker for several hours. haha.
I also prefer putting the entire chunk of meat in the slow cooker whole, rather than cutting it into cubes first.  up to you.
Then add in the rest of the ingredients, then cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.

Right before serving, slice up the chunk of meat into think slices, and serve it with the vegetables on the side.
I served it with a side of egg noodles and salad.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pan Seared Yellow Croaker

Yellow Croaker fish is a very popular fish among Chinese people.
Then why am I barely learning about yellow croaker now?!?

It's so delicious, and so easy to prepare.  a quick pan sear on 2 sides with a bowl of steamed rice, and you are good to go.

On our last trip to the Asian market, they were having a special Mothers Day sale where their frozen fish was a fraction of the cost.  Now, I typically prefer fresh fish but when frozen fish is on sale, then I go where my wallet takes me.  

The 5 pound box of fish contained a bunch of small sized yellow croakers that were not yet gutted.  The fish gutting process took much longer than the actual cooking time (especially because the fish were so tiny) so it was tedious and I had to do it gingerly. 

After gutting, I simply rubbed a little salt on each side, added a drizzle of oil in a heavy pan on high heat, and seared the little suckers.
Only sear each side once (do not flip the fish several times), and turn the fish when the skin is loosened from the pan and there is a crunchy char (this is true anytime you sear anything).

Both Jeff and our dinner guest enjoyed the fish.  She was even more happy with the fact that she was eating a home-cooked Chinese meal -- these are hard to come by.
I love cooking for people when they appreciate it  (both the food, and my efforts).  =)