Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chinese Take-Out Craving?

I've been craving Chinese food so I decided to make my version of some common dishes!

Some common ingredients that I always have on hand for simple chinese cooking are
ginger, garlic, corn starch, flour, salt, pepper, onions (or green onions), rice wine, soy sauce

... with these ingredients you can spice up any dish as well as lay a foundation for many dishes

Chicken and Egg Stir Fry

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cubed
3 T rice wine
1 T corn starch
1/8 tsp flour
1 T soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs

2 scallions

1) Coat chicken breasts in rice wine and soy sauce
2) Mix flour and corn starch then sprinkle evenly over cubed chicken
3) Heat a wok on high heat and add 1-2 T vegetable oil (coat evenly)
4) Stir fry chicken 3-4 minutes until done. Remove from heat and set on plate.
5) Reheat wok and evenly coat with vegetable oil
6) Beat the 4 eggs and cook in wok over high heat.
7) Put chicken back into wok and space evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste
8) Scramble with egg. Garnish with sliced scallions

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple and Red Pepper

2 large chicken breasts, cubed
1 T corn starch
1 tsp flour

1/2 cup sliced pineapple
1 sweet red pepper, cut into 1" pieces

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 T soy sauce
2 T rice wine
4 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T corn starch

1) Cut chicken into equal pieces and sprinkle with cornstarch, flour mixture
2) Heat a wok on high heat. Coat evenly with vegetable oil
3) Cook off chicken on high heat for 4-5 minutes
4) Add in pineapples, mushrooms and red peppers
5) In a glass measuring cup, mix sauce ingredients evenly
6) Pour sauce over hot contents and allow to simmer until sauce thickens
7) Add salt and pepper to taste accordingly

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Korean Perfection

We just had 2 days of flurries last week and it was really cold. Thankfully the ground wasn't cold enough to freeze over but we definitely saw our first round of snow.

I'm looking forward to my Vegas trip in November where it will be warmer! My flip-flops are on hold until then ...

I made Korean food last week to warm up our tummies from the cold weather.

Sirloin Bulgogi

1 lb sliced sirloin
2 T soy sauce
2 T rice wine
1 T granulated sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions
2 T red pepper paste

1) Beat the sirloin with a meat mallet to break down some of the connective tissue. Slice sirloin into smaller pieces
2) Marinate sirloin for 4-8 hours with the ingredients listed
3) Heat a hot pan on high and coat with vegetable oil
4) Cook off the beef for 1-2 minutes
5) Pour reserved marinade over beef, cover, allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes

Kimchi Jigae

1/2 lb thinly sliced pork
2 T rice wine
1-1.5 cup kimchi

2 tsp ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 zuccini, 1/4" slices
1 pkg firm tofu
1 box chicken stock
1/8 cup red pepper paste

1) Massage rice wine into thinly sliced pork
2) Heat a large pot (with lid) over high heat
3) Drizzle hot surface with 1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4) Add ginger, garlic and onion to hot oil. Saute until fragrant
5) Add sliced pork and cook for 2-3 minutes
6) Cut kimchi into smaller pieces Add kimchi, zuccini and tofu. Mix evenly with pork
7) Thin out red pepper paste with a little chicken stock. Pour remaining chicken stock and red pepper paste mixture into pot
8) Bring to a boil then lower heat allowing soup to simmer

Tip: Red pepper paste can be bought in most asian super markets. It is basically a paste made from red pepper, flour, corn syrup with a thick consistency. It isn't very spicy but brings some heat to a dish and gives Korean dishes the signature reddish color

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I love mangoes especially when I'm back in Taipei during the summer.

One favorite dessert in Taiwan is my sweetened mango over shaved ice drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. This is an absolute indulgence

Recently, I bought some mangoes from the grocery store and decided to make a mango chutney to serve with my simply grilled ahi tuna.

Ahi Tuna with Mango Chutney

1 lb fresh ahi tuna
salt and pepper to taste

Mango Chutney
2 ripened mangoes, diced
1 serrano pepper
1/4 cup orange juice
2 T lime juice
1 tsp minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced

1) To make mango chutney, diced mangoes into small cubes

2) Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat
3) Add 1 tsp vegetable oil and add ginger & garlic
4) Remove seeds from serrano pepper and finely mince
5) Add pepper, mangoes and orange juice to saucepan
6) Allow to simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat
7) Add lime juice to brighten up the chutney
8) Serve warm or cold

9) Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over ahi tuna
10) Heat grill pan on high heat
11) Grill ahi tuna 2-3 minutes on each side (do not over cook)
12) Slice thinly and serve with mango chutney

Tip: To speed up ripening process of produce, put desired produce like avocado or mangos in brown bag with apples. The apples give off ethylene that encourage ripening in surrounding produce

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Madness!


Diana and I carved some pumpkins a week ago for Halloween! I hope our next carving is more successful! Mine is a "cat" and hers was a spider web. I hope you guys can tell.

Here are some cute ideas to add something extra when people come for dinner!

I bought some little black spider rings ($1 for a huge bag) and some orange napkins. I folded the napkins (fan-style) and slipped a ring over it to hold them together. The rings are very small so I cut the spider ring so that it became a clasp to hold the napkin. Make your incision directly on the opposite side of the spider so the slit is right in the middle.

With the remainder spiders, I cut off the ring all together (leaving the spider) and put them in ice cube trays with water to give my sisters a "spooky" surprise in their drinks.

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

3 bags butterless popcorn, pop in microwave according to directions
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg

1) Preheat oven to 250 oF. Put popped corn in a large mixing bowl or two mixing bowls
2) Melt butter in a medium saucepan
3) Stir in brown sugar, cornsyrup and salt until it boils. Stir the entire time to prevent burning
4) When it's boiling, leave alone to boil for 3 minutes
5) Remove from heat and stir in baking soda, and spices
6) Pour slowly over popped popcorn a little at a time until the caramel is well encoporated into the popcorn
7) Place parchment paper over two baking sheets. Spread popcorn mixture evenly over the two sheets
8) Bake for 1 hr, stirring (gently) with a spatula every 15 minutes

Orange Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed 1-2" pieces
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 T black pepper
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup flour
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T rice wine

Orange Sauce
3 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp water
1/4 tsp chilli powder
5 tsp rice wine vinegar
5 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1 orange

1) Mix egg, salt and pepper. Mix into chicken pieces evenly.
2) Sift flour and corn starch into a bowl and pour onto chicken pieces until evenly distributed
3) Heat up oil on high in a wok until 300oF. Fry chicken pieces 5-8 pieces at a time for 3 minutes.
4) Leave chicken on paper towels to dry
5) When all pieces are fried, empty out oil safely and heat wok for 15 seconds on high
6) Pour in one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add in garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and onions
7) Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes before adding the orange sauce mixture
8) Allow sauce to boil before readding chicken pieces again
9) Juice the orange and stir in 2 tsp of cornstarch with orange juice (Add orange zest for more orangey flavor). Add orange juice into sauce and allow to thicken

Teriyaki Steak w/ Grilled Pineapple

1 lb sirloin steak
1/2 cup teriyaki marinade
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup rice wine
2 tsp honey

8 slices of pineapple

1) Marinade steak in teriyaki, soy sauce, rice wine and honey mixture for 3-4 hours. (Don't overmarinade or the steak turns tough)
2) Heat up the grill on medium high heat
3) Grill up the steak until desired done-ness
4) Grill the pineapple on the hot grill and lay the slices ontop of the steak

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Asian Tail-Gate Food

Chinese Pork Spare Ribs

1 lb spare ribs
1/4 cup hoisin
2 T honey
2 T light soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground chilli

1) Mix marinate and rub over spare ribs. Refrigerate for 4-6 hrs
2) Preheat oven to 350oF
3) Spray non-stick spay over a foiled baking sheet. Place ribs on the baking sheet. Reserve marinade
4) Roast for 30 minutes and brush on marinade over the meat
5) Roast for an additional 30 minutes or until meat cooks and shrinks up
6) Let ribs sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing into individual portions
7) Serve over steamed spinach or other vegetables

Thursday, October 23, 2008


My first samosa was in high school at our World Food Fair that had a booth where Indian food was featured made by our Indian parents.

A samosa is basically like a Chinese Spring Roll. It's filled with potatoes and peas and sealed with a light dough. It is fried and served with a light herb dressing.


3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen sweet peas

2 tablespoons ginger, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
phyllo dough, defrosted in the fridge
flour and water, for sealing

vegetable oil for deep frying

1) Boil pototoes in water until fork tender (15-20 minutes). Drain and put in a large mixing bowl.
2) Boil peas in water for 5 minutes.
3) Mash potatoes with fork then mix in peas
4) In a small pan, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add ground spices, ginger and garlic. Stir with oil and sprinkle with 2 T of water. Heat until aroma fills the air (3 minutes).
5) Mix spice mixture with potato and peas mixture until well combined
6) Take one rectangle of phyllo dough. Place a tsp of potato mixture in the top corner and fold into a triangle down the long length of dough. Fold until it makes a triangular cup and fill it with 1-2 tsp of potato mixture. (Do not overfill)
7) Seal dough with flour and water. Cut off additional dough
8) Heat vegetable oil in a deep wok until its 375oF. Add the samosas into the oil (2-3 at a time). Phyllo dough is very thin so they will take less than 1 minute on each side. Remove when brown.
9) Leave samosas to drain on paper towels

Tip: Serve with chopped mint, coriander, fish sauce, lemon juice and yogurt.
Tip2: Phyllo dough is very fragile so cover with dampened paper towel on dough not being used while rolling samosas (prevents drying out)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Picture Perfect

Seared Sirloin Beef w/ Reduced Mushroom Sauce
4 - 8 oz of your favorite cut of beef

1 cup of heavy cream
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup white wine
2 T all purpose flour
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper (to taste)

1) Heat up a pan on high heat. Drizzle surface of pan with olive oil.
2) Season sides of beef with salt and pepper
3) Sear the beef about 8 minutes per side (for medium rare)
4) Remove the beef and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest at least 5 min before slicing.
5) Using the same pan that the beef was cooked in, pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Be sure to stir in the brown beef bits into the wine to capture the beef flavor
6) Put mushroom and shallots into the mixture and allow to sautee
7) Stir in heavy cream and allow to simmer
8) Sprinkle sauce with flour and allow to thicken (stir constantly to prevent chunks)
9) Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over sirloin steaks

Tip: The juices that come from the steaks when it is resting shouldn't be tossed out! Dump the juices back into the sauce. ALL OF THAT IS FLAVOR!!!!

Tip2: The reason steaks are allowed to rest before slicing is because it allows some of the juices to remain in the steak while it is cooling. If you automatically start slicing, the juices run free and a lot of the moisture is taken out of the meat. Also even when taken off the grill, the steaks are still cooking because the temperature is still high. Take that into account when you are looking to cook your steak perfectly to (medium, rare, well done) because the meat is still cooking after being taken off!

Garlicy Mashed Potatoes
2 medium sized pototoes, peeled
4 cloves garlic
2 T butter/olive oil spread
1/4 cup cream or milk
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cube the potatoes into even sized portions (approx 1.5"x1.5")
2) Peel garlic
3) Emerse potatoes and garlic with cold water
4) Boil contents for at least 15 minutes (or potatoes are fork tender)
5) In a large mixing bowl, mash the potatoes and garlic
6) With a spatula, mix in butter and cream
7) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste

Tip: By boiling the garlic, the pototoes still have the nice garlic aroma without being too overpowering or leaving garlic breath!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

indian inspiration

Recently, I invested in an Indian recipe book after perusing the International recipebook aisles of Barnes and Nobles. After looking through several, I picked up Meena Pathak's Complete Indian Cooking. Since I only know a few Indian recipes, I wanted a book with pictures that I can strive to make my own food look like. Pictures are a must!

Here are a couple of dishes I attempted to make with twists of my own. Most of the time recipe books serve as a springboard for inspiration. I try to make my weekly dishes interesting, adventurous for myself and the people eating them. I rarely follow a recipe step by step. I get the "gist" and I go from there. I'm hoping I can try all the recipes in the Indian recipe book so it becomes 2nd nature to me.

For lactose intolerant people, coconut milk is a great cream/yogurt/milk substitute in most of these dishes. It gives the creamy texture you are looking for minus the "eww" factor that comes with dairy products.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Peas

Indian Coconut Chicken

Chicken in Tomato and Onion Sauce

Spicy Indian Meatballs (Beef not Lamb =P)

Samosas with a Cilantro/Mint Yogurt

Chapati (Indian Flatbread)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fail-Proof Cookies

If I had to name my one weakness besides shopping, it would have to be my ginormous sweet tooth. I cannot turn down dessert. A meal is not complete unless you have something sweet to munch on.

I had an event recently where I decided to bring some cookies. These two recipes are permanently in my brain. I don't even need to consult a recipe during this process. This can mean one of two things: I am a brilliant master baker OR these recipes are ridiculously easy. I'd like to believe it's the first but sadly, it's the latter of the two.

These recipes are crowd pleasers for any situation. The first one is dairy free so it's less fatty than the 2nd recipe. The second one is a heart attack waiting to happen. MODERATION IS KEY

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons (Dairy Free)

3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1) Pre-heat oven to 325oF
2) In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. (It'll look almost like whipped cream.
3) Add in the salt and beat a little more with the mixer.
4) With a plastic spatula, fold in the sugar, vanilla extract and coconut flakes. (Folding is the idea of using big circular strokes that prevents the whipped substance from losing its fluffiness)
5) Fold in chocolate chips
6) Put parchment paper on two large baking sheets. Place 1 tablespoon of mixture on to the baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between the spoonfuls.
7) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the cookie become golden.
8) Take the cookies out and do not attempt to remove until the cookies have cooled.

Florentine Cookies

2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/3 stick butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 375oF
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan or put in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave. (I normally use the defrost setting and slowly melt the butter stirring every minute to prevent burning)
3) Pour butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix in oats, milk, flour, corn syrup, and vanilla extract.
4) Place parchment paper on two baking sheets. Measure out teaspoon-fuls of the mixture and place on the parchment paper (approximately 6-8 per large baking sheet). Please leave at least 2-3 inches between placements because the mixture will spread out a lot in the oven.
5) Spread mixture evenly in a circle with a butter knife or spatula
6) Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are brown

Tip: The cookie will be extremely soft when it comes out. Do not attempt to move until the cookie has cooled and hardened. The parchment paper makes it an easy clean up.

Inspiration: Melt some semi-sweet or milk chocolate morsels and spread evenly between 2 florentine lace cookies (sandwich style). When cooled, the cookies look very pretty and gift-worthy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Romantic Brunch for Two

This is a simple dish that can be altered in so many ways.

Crepes are very thin pancakes originating from France. When I was in Paris this summer, every street had a crepe stand. Crepes can be both sweet or savory. My favorite is Nutella and banana crepes. (Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread that can be found in the peanut butter aisle in any grocery store). A simple sweet version would be lemon juice and granulated sugar over the crepe. The possibilities are endless.

This dish was inspired by my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Spats. They serve a Crabmeat Cannelloni Florentine, which is simply a crepe stuffed with crabmeat topped with a tomato, hollandaise sauce and cheese.

Mushroom Chicken Crepe Cannelloni

Basic Crepe Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Sauce Ingredients
3 slices Smoked Turkey Bacon, diced
1 tsp cooking oil
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

1) Mix the crepe ingredients together (easiest way is in a blender). Refrigerate the crepe mixture for at least 30 min.
2) Heat a frying pan at medium high heat. Allow enough time for pan to heat through before pouring crepe mixture.
3) Spray pan evenly with cooking oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe mixture in the pan. Tip and rotate the pan so the mixture is evenly distributed on the pan. Allow enough time for the side to cook. (Check with metal spatula.)
4) Flip crepe and cook opposite side
5) Place cooked crepe on plate and continue making the rest of the crepes

6) Heat a sauce pan to medium high heat. Pour in 1 tsp of cooking oil, cook the garlic, onions and turkey bacon in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomato sauce and cream.
7) Allow to simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.
8) Pour sauce over crepes

Tip: I had leftover grilled chicken that I put in the crepe and wraped it taco-style before I poured the sauce over the crepes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

When a man craves meat

Sometimes boys just crave a nice cut of meat (mind out of the gutters people!). I found some really nice cuts of fillet mignon the other day and decided to make a simple steak with it.
I thought the simple sides of a homemade salsa and avocado mash would go with the steak well.

When I splurge and buy a really nice cut of meat, I only season it with salt and pepper to let the quality of them eat speak for itself. My family prefers medium done.

I served it with a simple pizza made from store bought pre-made pizza dough. I only used half of the pizza dough and I rolled it out on a baking sheet. I baked the pizza at 400oF for 8 minutes then I took it out. I sliced and seeded a tomato, and tore some fresh basil. On the half-baked pizza, I spread tomato sauce evenly followed by the tomato and basil. I sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top of it. The pizza baked for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

Fillet Mignon with a Salsa and Avocado Mash
Homemade Salsa
1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and cubed
2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Avocado Mash
1 avocado
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

(1) Mix all ingredients for salsa together and refrigerate.
(2) Peel an avocado and remove skin and seed. Roughly chop the avocado and mash with fork. Mix in lime juice, onion and salt. (Acid helps keep avocado bright green instead of brown). Refrigerate.
(3) Grill meat of choice seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides
(4) Serve steak with the two sides immediately

Pizza Margherita

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Korean Fascination?

We had a sisterhood dinner at Seoul Garden last week so when I was making my weekly dining plan, many of the dishes were Korean inspired.

I also found a big jar of Kimchi in my fridge that I was trying to use this week.

Kimchi Pajun (Korean Pancake)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 egg
3/4-1 cup of Kimchi, roughly chopped
2 thinly chopped scallions (green onions)
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper paste
2 tsp of oil

(1) Dissolve red pepper paste in the water. Mix flour, water mixture and egg together (use whisk if you have to) and get rid of all the lumps.
(2) Heat a frying pan on high heat
(3) Stir in Kimchi and scallions to the pancake mixture
(4) Evenly distribute a layer of oil on the pan (Pam is really effective for this)
(5) Pour in pancake mixture and spread kimchi evenly on the pancake with utensil
(6) After 3 minutes check with a spatula to make sure it slides easily. Slide the pancake (cooked side down onto a plate)
(7) Spread another thin layer of oil on the pan
(8) Flip the hot pan over the pancake and carefully hold the plate on the bottom and flip the pan upright (so the uncook part is on the bottom)
(9) Remove plate from the pan carefully. Cook pancake for 2-3 minutes
(10) Cut into 8 wedges and serve with vinegared soysauce (1 part soysauce: 1 part rice wine vinegar)

Note: Feel free to experiment with different flipping methods

Korean Spicy Chicken and Potatoes (Tak Toritang)
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large russet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 cup of chicken stock
2 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste

(1) Mix uncooked chicken with rice wine while preparing other components
(2) Cube potatoes and immerse in water to prevent browning
(3) Pre-heat a Dutch Oven (or any pot with a lid) on high heat
(4) In a mixing bowl, mix together soy sauce, granulated sugar, red pepper paste and chicken stock
(5) Cook chicken in the pot a few minutes on each side. Add garlic and potatoes
(6) Pour in liquid over the chicken and potatoes. Lower heat to medium high when liquid starts to boil
(7) Simmer for about 30 minutes then stir in onions
(8) Allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender

Tip: I always have boxes of chicken stock in my pantry. Whenever a recipe calls for water, I tend to substitute it with stock to add another depth of flavor to my dishes. Chicken stock is basically a liquid that is extracted from boiling water with vegetables, chicken and bones. You can make homemade stock but I skip this step because I like smaller containers that I can use sparingly.

Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
1 lb flank steak, sliced into thin pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Korean Red Pepper Paste
2 tsp rice wine
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
10 lettuce leaves
3 cups cooked white rice
1 cup Kimchi

(1) Mix together sugar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, red pepper paste and wine. Stir in the beef with the marinade for at least 3 hours (overnight if it's easier to allow meat to get tender)
(2) Heat a skillet to high heat. Allow the vegetable oil to heat in the pan
(3) Cook the meat until cooked through. Stir in sesame seeds over the meat
(4) Serve meat and keep the sauce to spoon over rice to give more flavor
(5) Fill a lettuce leaf with a generous spoonful of rice, kimchi and beef. You can pour a little of the meat sauce on the white rice
(6) Serve and eat immediately

Tip: Flank steak is a tougher cut of meat. When slicing the meat, slice against the grain meaning cutting the meat perpindicular to the natural lines of muscle fibers. If you cut parallel to the fibers, the meat will taste more tough and fibrous. Also, marinating meats in acids or wines breaks down the muscle making meat more tender.

Note: You can also add other vegetables in the wrap. I cooked some bean sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the marinade while the beef was cooking in a separate pot. You can also substitute the beef for chicken or other meats.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lazy Sunday

I didn't want to exert too much time to cooking today because I think I'm coming down with a cold. 2-3 ppl around me have colds.

I had some chicken breast in the kitchen so I was inspired to make some quick sesame chicken reminiscent of chinese take-out except I know exactly what I'm puting into the chicken.

Sesame Chicken with Cashews
2 skin-less chicken breasts, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
4 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons of teriyaki marinade
2 tablespoons of roasted cashews
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
light soy sauce or salt to taste

(1) Mix flour, half the sesame seeds, coriander, red pepper flakes and black pepper together in a medium bowl. Coat chicken pieces evenly with flour mixture.
(2) Heat a wok on high heat. Pour in vegetable oil and make sure oil is hot. Move the wok around so oil is evenly coated.
(3) Cook chicken pieces about 3-4 minutes on each side. Brown each side.
(4) In a medium bowl, wisk together honey and teriyaki marinade. Taste mixture and add salt as needed (keep in mind cashews if salted contribute salt also)
(5) Pour sauce over chicken and stir evenly. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until sauce thins out. Stir in cashews and remaining sesame seeds.
(6) Serve.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Highlights of This Week

Here are a few things I made this week. Most of it is pretty self explanatory but I included the recipe for Potato and Cheese Patties (it's like mashed potatoes with a crispy side that tastes like a cracker/potato chip if done correctly).

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with a side of Mango Salsa

Peanut Chicken Egg Noodles

Grilled Salmon with a Tomato Basil Salad

Turkey Burger

Potato and Cheese Patties
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled quartered into large even size cubes
3/4 cup of Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper
olive oil

(1) Put quartered potatoes into a pot emersed in water. Bring to a boil (make sure you are heating water and potatoes together and not dropping potatoes into boiling water)
(2) Boil for 15-20 minutes or until tender
(3) Mash potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cool off for 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and green onions.
(4) Section off the mash into 6 even sized balls and press onto a plate into even sized patties
(5) Refridgerate for 10-15 minutes or until the patties seem firmer
(6) Heat a flat pan on medium high. Drizzle surface with oil. Place a few patties on the surface at a time leaving 1-2 inches between the patties. Sear each side for 3-4 minutes or until brown. (Do not flip too soon or a crispy brown skin will not form)

Rainy Day Inspiration

Happy Valley enjoyed a lot of rain the last few days. My roomies both came down with a cold so I was inspired to cook some feel-good, health conscious dishes.

I made Mung Bean Soup (Green Bean Soup) because it has detoxifying properties.
It's an Asian sweet dessert soup.

Green (Mung) Bean Soup
1 cup dried Green Beans
6 tablespoons granulated sugar (crystal sugar)
4-5 cups of water

(1) Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water (at least 4-5 hours)
(2) Boil the beans over medium-high heat in 4-5 cups of water and sugar
(3) Lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes
(4) Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature for 2-3 hours
(5) Turn heat to medium, allow to simmer for 30 minutes
(6) Serve
* You can add a few slices of ginger during the boiling process if you want to infuse the green bean soup with the scent. Ginger has numerous health benefits including relief of muscle or joint pain.

Curried Buttersquash Soup

1 (2-3lb) butternut squash
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tsp curry powder

1 cup of heavy cream
2 seeded, finely diced jalapeno peppers
2 cups finely diced onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper

(1) Pre-heat oven to 400F
(2) Peel and cube squash. Toss cubed squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread evenly on a foiled baking pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper (1/2 tsp each) over the squash. Bake in the pre-heated oven (on covered) for 25 minutes - 30 minutes
(3) In a Dutch oven heat at medium high heat, heat up one tablespoon of olive oil and sautee onions for 2 minutes. Stir in curry powder and jalapeno peppers and sautee for an additional 3 minutes.
(4) Put roasted squash into the pot and pour chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes at medium heat.
(5) Pour in parts of the soup into a blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. Continue process until entire soup is pureed.
(6) Stir in 1 cup of heavy cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cooking fast....

I originally planned on having Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts for lunch with a Creamy Parmesan Orzo. Dinner was originally Grilled Salmon with a Parsley-Parmesan Pesto. Primping took longer than anticipated this morning so I made quick adjustments.

I switched dinner and lunch because salmon cooks faster. I had both chicken breasts and salmon fillets defrosted in the fridge.

Today's speedy lunch menu
Grilled Salmon with Parsley Parmesan Pesto
Creamy Parmesan Orzo

Grilled Salmon with Parsley Parmesan Pesto
3 (4 oz) salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Pesto Ingredients
1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup of pre-grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/8 cup of fresh basil leaves
1 glove of garlic (or adjust if you dont like garlic)
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp pine nuts

(1) In a food processor, process til smooth all the ingredients under "pesto ingredients." Scrape the sides of the food processor (be careful of the blade).
(2) Heat a grill to medium high heat
(3) Using a brush, brush olive oil along the sides of the salmon fillets. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side
(4) Grill the salmon fillets 3-4 minutes on each side (or until desired 'doneness')
(5) Serve with a side of the pesto
3 Servings

Creamy Parmesan Orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Orzo
1 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup grated parmigiana-reggiano

1/4 cup of pre-grated carrots
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp pine nuts
1 tablespoon dried basil flakes

(1) Heat a medium sauce pan at medium high heat. Melt the butter.
(2) Brown the orzo in the butter for 2-3 minutes stirring with a spatula
(3) Pour in chicken stock and water. Mix evenly with spatula. Add salt and pepper into cooking liquid so spices are dispersed evenly.
(4) Heat until boil then turn down the heat
(5) Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed). Stir every few minutes to make sure orzo cooks evenly
(6) Turn off heat. Fold in cheese, basil, carrots and pine nuts to orzo with spatula
(7) YOU ARE DONE! <3>

Tips: Orzo looks like a rice but it's actually a type of pasta. It cooks very fast and what's nice about it (as opposed to pasta) is that it's a one-pot dish. You can season the pot you cooked the orzo in a variety of ways.

I'm saving the left over orzo to accompany my herb crusted chicken tonight! I'll update later on how dinner goes. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cooking daily .. it is possible!

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and thunder beating against my window. I almost dreaded going to class. I looked forward to tasting my version of my mom's classic.

Tuesday *my super busy day with 4 classes*
My Mom's Roasted Chuck Roast
LO (left overs) - Risotto from Monday
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Mom's Chuck Roast
1lb~1.5lb Chuck Roast
1 cup of low-sodium, fat-free chicken stock
2 Tablespoons of rice wine
4 Tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves smashed, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of Pepper
salt to taste
Aluminum Foil

(1.) Mix all the ingredients except the meat together. Taste the marinade. Adjust salt and sweetness according to personal preference.
(2.) Emerse the cut of meat fully. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4-5 hours.
(3.) Preheat the oven to 220oF.
(4.) Take the meat out and let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes
(5.) Discard the marinade. Wrap the meat tightly with aluminum foil. (Be sure the sides of the foil are on the top of the meat (a lot of liquid will be inside the package)
(6.) Place the foiled-wrapped meat in a baking dish (make sure it is not too shallow in case liquid seeps through).
(7.) Bake for 2hrs - 2.5 hrs. Take out the dish and set on counter for 10-20 minutes.
(8.) When opening the package please be careful because a lot of liquid will be come out so open on a deep dish.

Tips: Chuck roast is a very tough cut of meat perfect for braising or slow-roasting (like this recipe). The aluminum foil acts as a sealing agent pressure cooking the meat because of how tightly wrapped the meat is. This is my go-to meal on tuesdays because I marinade the meat the night before and I put it in the oven when I go to my morning class and have my roommates watch the oven. By the time I get home, the meal is ready to be served with a simple salad.

Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
1 Large Cucumber (peeled, halved, seeded and diced)
6 Grape Tomatoes (quartered or halved)
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (or substitute with 1 finely diced, seeded serrano peppers)

(1.) Mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and peppers together. Taste the mixture and adjust according to personal preference
(2.) Toss and coat the cucumber slices and tomatoes in the vinagrette
(3.) Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving. This allows the sweetness of the tomatoes to mix with the vinagrette.

...this week is starting off rather well...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Planning ahead...

Last year, I barely entered the kitchen to cook unless I was making a sandwich. Take-out and delivery were my best friend. This year I vowed to cook 99% of all the food I ate.

So far, I'm 4 weeks into my (super) senior year of college and I've managed to cook almost all my meals at home. I bought a huge white board that I've stuck on my fridge labeled with all the days of the week. Under each day, I put down the dishes I plan on cooking for (L)unch and (D)inner. Since I have access to a car this year, grocery shopping is very simple. I plan my meals and go grocery shopping once a week taking into account my weekly schedule of classes and extra-curricular activities.


Spicy Grilled Lamb Loin
Sweet Corn and Baby Portobello Risotto
Mixed Greens with Asian Sesame Dressing (store bought dressing)

Tilapia with Spicy Panang Curry Sauce
Spicy Thai Curry Egg Noodles

Tilapia over Thai Curry Sauce

2 Fillets of Tilapia
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
3 Tablespoons Panang Curry Spices (can be bought in Asian speciality stores)
1/2 can of Coconut Milk
1 cup of low-sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 Finely Diced Green Peppers
1/2 Finely Diced Sweet Onions
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

2 cups of cooked egg noodles (if desired)

(1.) Heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil.
(2.) Stir the peppers and onions for 2-3 minutes or until onions are semi-translucent
(3.) Stir in half the panang curry spice into the pepper mixture
(4.) Pour in the coconut milk and remaining curry spices
(5.) Add the sugar and stir on medium high until it simmers.
(6.) Keep it warm on low heat

(7.) Heat a grill pan to high heat.
(8.) Sprinkle salt and pepper over each side of the tilapia
(9.) Spray cooking oil lightly over the grill pan.
(10.) Grill each side of the tilapis for 2-3 minutes or until its cooked through
(11.) Plate the tilapia and spoon the curry sauce over the fish
(12.) Toss remaining sauce with egg noodles to serve as a simple side dish

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Potluck Staples

I had a sisterhood potluck Friday Night where the idea is that every person brings one dish.

Personally, I love potlucks because it's my chance to try new recipes without having loads of left overs later. Empty dishes equal repeat-worthy dishes. Barely touched dishes either require extra tweaking or total abandonment.

These were the dishes I decided to prepare for our potluck.

Tomato Pasta with Mushrooms and Ground Beef
Barbequed Chicken Wings
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Mayo-Free Deviled Eggs
Tomato Bruschetta
Smokey Shrimp and Red Pepper Wonton Cups
Thai Lettuce Wraps*
Inspiration came from tasting it at Cheesecake Factory. Adapted from the recipe from Meemo's Kitchen.

Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Macaroons w/ Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Almond Gelatin with Fruit Cocktail

Dishes that have never failed me in the past include the tomato bruschetta, deviled eggs, tomato pasta, cucumber salad, coconut macaroons, chocolate chip cookies and the almond gelatin.

Dishes that I made for the first time and won't change for anything include Thai lettuce wraps and the barbequed chicken wings.

The shrimp cups and the chocolate mousse weren't bad but definitely are a work in progress.

Barbequed Chicken Wings

Tomato Bruschetta

Almond Gelatin with Fruit Cocktail
8 cups of milk
2 cups of water
8 packages of unflavored gelatin
4 Tablespoons of Almond Extract
1 Glass Baking Dish (15" x 10" x 2")
1 (106 oz) canned Mixed Fruit Cocktail

(1.) In a large sauce pan, slowly heat up milk and water
(2.) Be sure to stir constantly
(3.) When mixture simmers, add one gelatin package. Stir until thoroughly absorbed.
(4.) Continue to add remaining packages, stirring thoroughly after each package
(5.) Remove mixture from heat and pour the mixture through a mesh strainer (seive) to capture un-dissolved gelatin
(6.) Pour in almond extract and mix evenly. Pour mixture into glass baking dish.
(7.) Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set
(8.) Cut the set gelatin into small cubes. Using a metal spatula, run the spatula under the gelatin mixture to separate the bottom from the dish
(9.) Mix in fruit cocktail carefull. Chill and then serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, September 4, 2008

and it all begins....

Last year of college, I rarely cooked in the kitchen anymore. This was really out of character for me since I normally love spending hours in the kitchen. During the summer, I vowed to make some changes this new year of college including cooking all my meals at home instead of eating out. Not only will I be saving money, I can rediscover my deep love of cooking.

I'd love to get any feedback or comments ~ I'm not new to blogging but I am rather new to blogging about food.

Today for lunch I made

Peppered Roast Beef with a Mustard Mushroom Sauce

2lb Beef Eye Round Roast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

(1.) Pre-heat oven to 325oF
(2.) Mix together mustard and pepper. Rub the mixture over roast
(3.) Place roast in a oven-safe roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 1hr45 minutes to get a light pink center
(4.) Take roast out of oven and let stand for 15 minutes prior to serving/carving

(5.) In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients under sauce except milk, flour and mustard. Bring contents to a boil then lower heat and allow to simmer
(6.) Combine milk, mustard and flour in a small bowl. Gradually pour in mixture into simmering sauce and stir
(7.) Carve roast and serve with sauce

Broccoli Orzo Pilaf

For dinner I made..

Aloo Gobi (Indian Potato and Cauliflower Curry) & Grilled Tilapia