Friday, November 5, 2010

What's for Dinner Tonight? A Peek into my Childhood

No time for a long post so here's a  quick little peek into some basic Cantonese dishes I made for dinner  the other night. Enjoy :) 

 Steamed Egg with Pork and Mushrooms 

Chinese Chives with Sliced Beancurd and Mushroom
1 pack of Chinese Chives (flower buds cut off)
1 pack of Five Spice Bean Curd (sliced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red chili pepper, deseeded and dsliced
1 green spring onion, sliced
4/5 chinese mushrooms, soaked till soft and sliced

2 tbsp of canola oil
1tbsp Chinese Shaoxing Wine
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp soy sauce

Heat up frying pan with oil. Add garlic, green onions, ginger and chili pepper until sizzling. Slide the chives, mushrooms in and stirfry. Add wine and keep stirfrying. Put beancurd in and add salt and soysauce to taste.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sweet Dessert Dumplings (Tang Yuan) 湯圓

"Sweet Reunion". This is what this classic Chinese dessert represents. As a kid, these chewy delights were served at every festive occasion or family gatherings. I don't know what came over me the other day when I had the sudden craving for these late at night --- maybe my brain is impatiently awaiting that sweet reunion come December when I head home for Christmas.

The more popular and common version of these sweet dumplings are filled with red bean or sesame paste, but the traditional plain version serves well with a sweet gingery soup. Ginger is well known to keep skin well-hydrated and plump when the weather gets dry, which is what every girl wants as the years roll along, right?

 A little food coloring creates more fun in the kitchen :)

Sweet Chewy Roundness. NOM NOM NOM

Can't wait for December :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back with a Bang: Best Chicken Salad

I'm back and I'm still trying to forgive myself for having left this blog sad and lonely for the last four and a half months. Life is great and productive and I have never felt more fatigued but satisfied with what I'm doing. I'm officially a third year medical student and more than half way to getting that degree and long white coat I have always been so envious of. 

With all the fatigue and time in the hospital, I still find solitary bliss in my home kitchen. With Neurology finishing up and a free weekend before my Pediatric Rotation, my girlfriends and I decided to utilize the warm breezy weather for a picnic out at New Kent Vineyards. 

I've always had a romanticized view of picnics and it's not a picnic without an awesome chicken salad sandwiches and a good pesto pasta salad. I searched for endless chicken salad recipes online and this is the one I decided to settle for. Not only does it have the crunch of almonds, the sweetness of fresh grapes add a special touch to this chicken salad. Top it off on a slice of Italian Loaf from Trader's Joe and a bottle of Chardonnay and you got yourself the perfect afternoon.

Best Chicken Salad Recipe
  • 2 cans Premium White Chunky Chicken from Trader Joes 
  • 1 or 2 stalks celery, chopped- about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup seedless grapes, halves
  • 3/4 cup salad dressing, such as Miracle Whip brand
  • 2 Tablespoons coleslaw dressing (Marzetti's is good)
  • 1 teaspoon  paprika
  • 1 tsp Ground Mustard (optional)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
Simply mix everything together well. Chill for at least one hour before serving. It tastes much better if allowed to chill overnight. Top it on a slice of fresh italian loaf or ciabatta. Enjoy :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Simple, Beautiful, Everyday Bread

It's crunch month time. My future career and life will depend on this 8 hr exam exactly one month away. It's hard to think that my life will depend on a 3 digit score but that's how the field of medicine works. With the courtesy of Dr. Costanzo, I have my study schedule down to the minute second. It also means a whole less blogging time and the need for quick, easy meals. 

 1 of many books I got to know

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When 2 become 1 ------- Banana Peanut Butter Bread

If you guys were thinking of the Spice Girls when you saw the title, that is exactly what popped in my mind the moment I tasted this fusion of deliciousness. No one can deny how great banana bread is when you have 2 ripen black bananas sitting on the kitchen counter. If anything can possibly be better than warm banana bread fresh out of the oven (besides the Spice Girls that is ), then it's this Banana Peanut Butter Bread.

Chunks of chocolate chips interspersed between sweet nutty goodness

Not your average Banana Bread

Recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Bread (adapted from SugarPlum

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium ripe mashed bananas
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided use
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together banana, peanut butter, 2 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes; beat in eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in milk and flour mixture until just combined; stir in chocolate chips

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven, melt additional tablespoon butter, brush evenly over the top, and top with sugar. Continue to bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 20 minutes before running a knife around outside edges, removing, and transferring to a wire rack to cool an additional 30 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Better than Papa John's Pizza

As you can see, I have been fully utilizing my bread machine lately. Better use it while I still can. My big Board exams are set  for June 21st and by the end of this week, I might have to take a full time  break from blogging. It will miss blogging a lot, especially since I just started having a good flow with it. Anyways, back to the spotlight of the night. I made my first homemade pizza!  

 The crust I had made ahead of time with the bread machine thru a recipe I found online. The crust turned out thick, chewy with a definite crispiness to it. If you like a slightly crispy crust, then this recipe is just for you! The assembly was the fun part. We put sausages, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and basil over a homemade tomato sauce and generously sprinkled mozzarella cheese over it. 

It always taste better when it's homemade. I can't agree with it more! 

Homemade Pizza Sauce (updated
1 can of Herinz tomato sauce
2 tbsp of tomato paste 
1 fresh tomato, sliced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp of dried basil
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt 
2 cloves of garlic, minced
sugar (adjust as needed)
water (adjust as needed)

1. Heat up your frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil/ canola oil.
2. gently fry the garlic until fragrant.
3. throw in your tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste, seasoning, basil.
4. Bring it to a boil.
5. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add salt and pepper.
6. When the sauce has thickened, taste and adjust with sugar
7. Use 1-2 tbsp on a 9 inch pizza. 
8. Freeze the rest for your next awesome pizza!
p.s. if you want more tomato flavors, feel free to add more tomato paste and adjust consistency with hot water. 

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Who needs Panera Bread? Homemade Tuna Melt with Avocado & Tomatoes

It was 1130am. I was craving a panini but feeling too lazy to drive out to the closest Panera. I rushed to the kitchen and started raiding my fridge and cabinets. A-HA! I found a can of tuna fish. One glance in the fridge and I knew I was set for an awesome lunch. I grabbed an avocado, a tomato and the bottle of Light Mayo and turned on the Panini maker. Luckily, I still had some homemade whole wheat bread I had baked with the Bread Maker the other day sitting around. A couple of slices and a dash of pepper later, I was settling on the couch with a hot crunchy panini oozing with yummy goodness and  a glass of raspberry lemonade.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010!

14 years ago, it was Earth Day on April 21, 1996. I was in sixth grade and that day my story was published in the front page of the The South China Morning Youth Post in Hong Kong. I searched hard in the archives to share with you the story but unfortunately couldn't find it. The story was set in the not so near future, where humans lived in a concrete jungle, where trees were a rarity and fresh produce was a thing of the past. With a touch of a button at home in front of the television, there was nothing humans could do without leaving the house. 

 beautiful scenery in Williamsburg, VA

The story might seem somewhat cheesy now but I realized I have lost some of that optimism I had as a child. What I have achieved in the last fourteen years in my vow to protect what Mother Nature has given us? Besides the occasional use of environmentally friendly light bulbs and remembering to turn off the lights when I go out, I still run the dishwasher far too many times and go through enough plastic bags to fill a landfill. I am ashamed but  this post has inspired me and given me a chance to redeem myself.

On a positive note, I recently planted some seedlings at home: sweet basil, dill, and yellow pepper. I am hoping the greenery will be a constant reminder to me how much work and time it takes for a plant to blossom. Oh, and I am definitely bringing that recyclable shopping bag with me tomorrow to the supermarket. 

Do you have any goals on Earth Day?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Pork Loin Roast worth "Glee"ing for

I've always had a soft spot for musicals and Broadway and if I were living in New York City, I would be lining up to see a new musical every night. Sadly, I do not live in the Big Apple or anywhere near. Luckily, the latest TV show Glee has brought the broadway back to me in the comfort of my own home, on my 24 inch plasma screen. What can be more entertaining than a TV show that combines music, dance and high school drama all together? (maybe except the High School Musical). The second new season of Glee proves even better than the first, with more sex appeal, drama, glam and music. They even showcased Madonna's classics in the latest episode.

Glee airs on Fox every Tuesday

 How better to complement this awesome entertainment during dinner than making one of the best pork roast recipes ever introduced by Ina Garten from Food Network Barefoot Contessa. This recipes practically screams GLEE--- it makes me want to start twirling and start belching out tunes on my dinner table. 

Yes, it's that good. The pork is moist and when it melts in my mouth, I can taste the blend of fresh rosemary and thyme with the tanginess of lemon and touch of garlic.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Swirly Cheesecakes

The first food blog I ever visited was Mandy's Fresh from the Oven, a home chef from Singapore who made the most delicious cakes but was still able to maintain a down-to-earthness to her blog. Her entries inspired me to start baking and one of the first recipes I ever tried from her blog were these delicious "Lil Cheesecake Fellas". Don't underestimate these teeny weeny cheesecakes. They might be lower in calories but definitely not any less in flavor. This is definitely one recipe that has never yet failed for me. 

I mean, who can say no to such innocent looking cheesecakes? :)

        Fresh out of the Oven

 Proud and Puffy

Recipe for cheesecake filling with Oreo base(adapted from Fresh From the Oven)
two 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese (use either full fat or 1/3 less fat Neufchtel), at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs (I used large eggs)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1.5 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder
25 oreo cookies, mashed to fine crumbs
1 tbsp of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment, or paper liners.
To assemble the oreo/cookie base, mash 20-25 oreo cookies with any equipment that can do the job until fine crumbs. Mix a tbsp of butter with the crumbed oreos. Lay a thin layer of base in each of the muffin tins and bake for 10 min. Meanwhile, continue with filling.

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to be overmix. Remove 3/4 cup of the batter and stir in the cocoa.

Divide the white batter among the 12 muffin cups. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the chocolate batter in the center of each, pushing each down slightly. Using a small knife or skewer, cut through the batter until dark swirls appear.

Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan and add hot water until it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the tin. Bake the cakes until set and slightly puffy, about 30-45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours.*Transfer the cake to a container and chill for at least 4 hours.
*note: instruction from the book: After 2 hours of cooling, cover cake with plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least one day.

To remove the cakes, lift them out with your hands and peel off the liner. Although I find it more convenient to hold and eat it with the liner on. For a dressier version, place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates, Top with the chocolate curls if you wish and refrigerate. Serve drizzled with the hot fudge sauce, if you wish. If there are any cakes left, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shake Your Bon-Bon Cinnamon Rolls!

In light of Ricky Martin's coming out announcement this week, I have decided to entitled these my "Shake Your Bon-Bon Cinnamon Rolls"! The bread machine is one of the best inventions ever and made this Cinnabon journey so easy and convenient. I found this recipe online and it promised Cinnabon like rolls and I cannot agree more!

Who can say no to this swirly bun of goodness and cinnamon?!?!?!?! The frosting was absolutely spot-on and my only improvement for next time is add an extra tsp of cinnamon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Strawberry and Peach Birthday Cake

My latest creation for a special birthday occasion: Strawberry and Peach Cream Chiffon Cake. The light and fluffy cake layers really complemented the strawberries and peach. Perfect for a spring birthday :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homemade Banana-Pecan Bread

My new SunBeam bread machine has long been awaiting its turn in the kitchen. I was intrigued with a machine that could turn something as intimidating as bread-making to something as easy as singing the ABCs. As I had a craving for sweet bread, I decided try my hand at the Banana-Pecan Bread recipe. First, throw in the liquid ingredients, then the dry ingredients, put it in the machine, press a button and walk away! I had a lot of fun watching the kneading blade go up and down, round and round. It was as if a little person was mixing and kneading my bread for me in the machine :)

As a virgin in the bread-making business and a Type A medical student, I decided to read the instruction booklet inside and out, in English and Spanish, backwards and forwards. Alas, in the midst of excitement, I forgot to put the yeast in the nook I made in the flour. However, it all gets mixed together in the end and my first time product came out beautifully, with the sweet aroma of bananas and the crunchy nuttiness of fresh pecans.

The bread next day was still soft, with a mild chewiness to it that I loved. I spread strawberry jam on mine and that was the best start to an 8am school day ever :)

Do you have any good bread recipes to share? What do you like to put in your bread? Any good suggestions on how to preserve homemade bread?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Break!

I know i've been MIA for a while (blame it on med school!) 

Today marks the end of Behavioral Science and the beginning of Spring! I'll be in Vegas this weekend and LA all of next week.
Go Three Musketeers!!!!! 


Friday, March 5, 2010

Best Chicken Pot Pie

I'm a big fan of all-in-one meals.

As a full time medical student, I am always studying. Whether that is the whole truth or not, we must admit there are never enough hours every day so anytime saved in the kitchen means an extra hour or two of Food Network studying. 

Not only does a hearty Chicken Pot Pie have the starch, the protein, vegetables, dairy we need everyday,  it is also one of those satisfying meals that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The bite of crunchy flaky buttery crust over a mouthful of creaminess,  I just couldn't stop going for seconds. 

Can you?

-adapted from various sources on allrecipes

2 pieces of chicken breasts or thighs (if you're a dark meat lover like me), cut into chunks
1 can of pea and carrots
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup of chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Italian seasoning 1 tbsp
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 sheet of frozen puff pustry sheet (Pepperidge), defrost at room temperature
1 frozen deep dish pie crust (Pillsbury)
egg+ 2 tbsp of water

Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Fry onions and garlic over medium-high heat olive oil in the pan.
2. Add chicken.
3. Season with salt, pepper and italian seasoning.
4. When the chicken is almost cooked, add peas, carrots and chicken broth.
5.  Combine milk and flour in a bowl and add to chicken mixture.
6. Adjust taste accordingly with salt and pepper.
7. Place the mixture in the pie crust and overlay the puff pastry over the pie.
8. Cut off excess from edges and crimp with a fork.
9. Brush egg mixture over the top and bake for 25-30 min, until golden brown.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wonton Soup the Taiwanese Way

You guys might not know the distinction but Wontons comes in many different forms. Growing up in HK, my favorite dish to order was Wonton Noodle Soup. The wontons contain shrimp and ground pork wrapped in a thin yellow wrapper and were served with yellow thin noodles in soup. Having been exposed to the Taiwanese cuisine :), I have discovered a whole new way of making Wontons that are equally delicious. The crunch of the celery gives a whole new dimension to eating Wontons. Not only is it a great meal for cold rainy days, you can also save time by whipping a big batch and freezing them for later use.

Recipe (adapted from Jerry's homemade recipe)( makes about 60)
1.5 lb of ground pork (fattier the juicer :P)
2 stalks of chinese celery (finely chopped)
Green scallions 2 stalks (finely chopped)
Ginger, minced
White pepper, 1 tsp
Sesame Oil, 1-2 tbsp
Soy sauce 4 tbsp
1 pack of Wonton Wrapper, square shaped, defrost in room temperature

Dashi- Bonito Fish Stock. Follow directions on packaging.
Celery, finely chopped
Green scallions, chopped
Fried shallots 
Salt and white pepper to taste.

1. Prepare filling ingredients. If you are worried about taste, you can microwave some of the filling until cooked. Adjust taste accordingly.
2. Place a tsp of filling in the center of the the wrapper and fold as you like *.
3. Serve with hot soup. ENJOY!

I can eat about 15 in a row. How many can you eat????

* There are many ways to wrap wontons and there is no "right" way. Different cultures have different ways of wrapping wontons as well.  Here is a good link to different methods of wrapping wontons. I pretty much use something similar to Style 7 (the lazy man's way :P)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birthday Quesedillas

The older you get, the more practical the birthday gifts become. This year, my friend Renee gave me a snazzy Panini Grill <3. My sister and cousin got me a brand new breadmaker. I can officially open my own Panini Cart with homemade bread outside the hospital (back up plan in case med school doesn't work out?! haha)

Jerry and I have been making quesedillas almost every other day the past week. It takes less than 15 minutes and the product is crunchy and deliciously oozing with cheddar and fresh tomatoes.

Meat of your choice: chicken, beef, portobello mushrooms. Here I used chuck steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Green Peppers (diced)
Tomatoes (diced)
Yellow onion (diced)
Cheddar Cheese
Tortilla Wraps

1. Prepare all your ingredients.
2. Stir fry the steak on a hot frying pan with no oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Assemble Tortilla: meat first, then the veggies, cheese comes last.
4. Brush panini grill with oil. Turn on high heat.
5. Heat quesadilla until cheese is oozing and the wrap is crunchy hot.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Welcoming the Year Of The Tiger RAWR!

lCNY is all about the reunion, the "hong bao" $$$, the candy, the flowers, the atmosphere, the firecrackers but most important of all, Chinese New Year is all about the FOOD. It is one week of the year when you can eat whatever you want, as much as you want and it's all for good luck! I invited some good friends over and had our own mini CNY feast in the middle of Richmond. For 2 hrs, it kinda felt like home :)

Spicy Beef Tendon (麻辣牛筋)

Turnip Cake 

Scallop Blossoms 花開富貴
 Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables (梅菜扣肉)


Braised Mushrooms with Vegetables 

Taiwanese Style Clams

Wishing you all a Happy New Year of Good Health, Prosperity and Happiness :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

L-O-V-E: Happy V-Day :)

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been an awesome and LOVE-ly weekend. My birthday celebration at Bistro Bouchon with great company, homecooked romantic dinner with someone special--- man I feel like a princess :)

Favorite appetizer: Caprese

Perfect Medium Rare Round Eye Steak w/ Mashed Potatoes

Homemade shortbread cookies

Sweet P's Chocolate Truffles

You make me smile.....