Sunday, December 6, 2009

Corned Beef Pasta

This was just an experimental dish due to food that needed to be used and hunger. I had a bag of corned beef that I only ate 4 slices from, and I had some cauliflower and bell peppers, plus this grated Parmesan-Romano cheese, so I figured I might as well make pasta.

I just sauteed garlic, then the cauliflower and sliced red bell peppers, throwing in some dried oregano and basil in for good measure. Added some of the cheese and chive cream cheese until it had some sauce on it and came out with this!

To be honest, it was light and good on the tongue, but not necessarily delicious. Next time, I will make a white sauce first, then add the cheese and cream cheese to get more flavor, but, hey, lets just say this is healthier.

Nov 9 Birthday Dinner at Milanese Caffe

Hi ya'll. I decided to finally get my lazy butt on this blog and actually post something up. I always go on blogger, but I just browse other people's blogs and never want to write up my own.

In that time, though, a lot has happened.

My birthday was on November 9, and my housemates threw a surprise birthday party for me! I came home early from dance practice and stumbled in upon them still decorating! My roommate baked this cute cake for me! She's so good at decorating cakes! It was X's birthday yesterday, and she made the cake look like a basketball.

The next day, we went out to eat, restaurant of my choice. I didn't want to force them to spend a lot to eat and I wanted to try this cheap Italian place just up the street called Milanese Caffe. General price range is around $8 for entrees. Pizza though is only about $4, and they an interesting one called Egghead Pizza, which is just a pizza with a fried egg on top. My friend got it, but she threw most of it away when it got cold. I would say that fried eggs taste good on almost anything, so I think I would've liked it. We came in at 8:30pm, and they close at 9pm, so the guy told us we could only get to-go. I wanted to have a sit-down dinner for my birthday, so we ordered to-go and sat there. What's really stupid is that they force you to leave when they close. That is not at all like other restaurant courtesy. Other real restaurants let customers stay till they finish eating. But nope, not Milanese. When it's nine, it's out! So, we packed up our half-finished to-go boxes and headed home at closing...


I got the Spinach Fettuccine Smoked Chicken. It was tasty, but had too much creamy sauce, if you can tell by the picture below. If they toned down the creaminess and sauciness a little, it would've been just perfect. They also serve pastas with their garlic bread and pizza bread.

It's like green and red islands floating in a sea of cream...

Left is pizza bread, right is garlic bread. I didn't like the garlic
bread and the pizza bread was decent.

Overall I'll give Milanese Caffe: 3/5
Decent food, good price, but poor service

The next few posts will be the food I've made since my last post: a simple pasta dish, recreating Mom's comfort food, and sweets.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala and Stitches

Forgive me for not posting in so long. I've been quite busy (*cough* and lazy) with school. I just finished my physics and organic chemistry midterm this week, so now I just have catchup reading to do in my other classes and to get ready for finals. I've been busy, also, with club events. I just did an acting audition for Cal VSA's Spring Culture Show! Pretty excited to see if I get a spot, although I am a little anxious about how busy I will be next semester with my tentative schedule: Biology, Physics, Engineering, Undergrad research apprenticeship, Culture show choreographer and actress. Whew! Time management will be key.

Anyways...on to what this post is supposed to be about:

Chicken Tikka Masala.

Or, at least, my attempt at making it. Granted, this tastes very good, but I doubt any Indian would say it's authentic. I used what I had on hand and threw in as I saw fit. This dish also occurred around the slashing of my finger by a glass cup, the finger which proceeded to bleed for an hour before I went to the ER to get it stiched up. While it was cut, I applied paper and pressure to it while still on and off cooking this tikka masala. Such an eventful Friday night!

So, I looked up a recipe for chicken tikka masala and proceeded to add ingredients as stated, not measuring anything and crushing whole coriander and cumin seeds with the back of a wooden spoon. This was very much a "whatever's-on-hand" kind of endeavor.

I marinated cubed chicken in yogurt, lime juice, cumin, coriander, paprika, black pepper, chili powder, and ground ginger the day before. I then somewhat followed this recipe with the change in marinating the chicken.

First, I stir fried some chopped onion with ground ginger and garlic. I added cumin, coriander, curry powder, turmeric powder, paprika, and more chili powder and sauteed some more. I then added some chopped tomatoes that I blended. Simmer a bit, adjust flavors to taste. Then, I added the whole shebang of marinated chicken, with the yogurt marinade and all. Since I wouldn't be thickening the sauce with any cream or the like, I figured the yogurt would be a fine substitute. It was all right, but cooked yogurt tends to become grainy in the final product. I let this simmer until the chicken was cooked through. ^Above, I served it with brown rice - no basmati, I know :'( - and mixed field greens. Haha, soooo not Indian. Lets say it's Indian fusion or something wild like that. In all, it was pretty good. Next time, cream or whole milk would make the texture better and more curry and turmeric powder.

And finale!

Came out of the ER with a splint. Looks like I broke my finger,
but it's just 6 stitches! :P

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Taste of Home - Vietnamese Noodle Salad "Bun"

Being an 8 hour drive from home, I often miss the good home-coked meals that my mom makes. Especially her Vietnamese food. My mom has been the main cook and caretaker for her family since she was just a kid, and despite being one of the youngest of 11 siblings. Through all her years of hard work and experimentation, she has become a master at Vietnamese cooking. If she were asked what her specialties are, they would have to be her pho (beef noodle soup), mi hoanh tanh (wonton noodle soup), and com chien (fried rice). My relatives rush over to our house when they hear she has made mi hoanh tanh or pho. Everyone praises the hearty, delicious taste. And my mom puts hours and intense labor into her work. The wontons are individually wrapped into pockets the size of ping pong balls, then steamed till perfect. The pho soup is simmered for hours to extract the flavors of the beef bone and vegetables. The com chien components are individually sliced and chopped and added one by one to create an enticing mix. It's a Vietnamese heaven at home.

But, at UC Berkeley, despite our medley of diverse and cheap cuisines, the Vietnamese selection is decent and much more expensive than where I am from. I often have cravings for bun (noodle salad), nem nuong cuon (BBQ pork salad rolls), and other Vietnamese dishes. So, I decided to make some bun for myself!

Bun is basically a mix of cooked rice noodles with some kind of meat, a medley of fresh julienned vegetables, mixed with nuoc mam cham (fish dipping sauce), and topped with a generous serving of fresh herbs. The meat can be thin-sliced beef, tofu, chicken, egg rolls (really good!), BBQ pork, or whatever. The simple meats can be stir-fried in finely-chopped lemongrass for flavor and texture. I only had chicken and firm tofu on hand, so I simply stif-fried that with ginger powder. I made the nuoc mam cham myself, adjusting until it tasted just sweet, salty, and tangy enough. I like to put heaps of garlic and thinly-sliced carrots in the sauce. I was pretty happy with how it came out. Eating it let me remind myself of home and how happy I am for being Vietnamese! Yay food and culture!

(I don't have the exact amounts, but this a kind of dish that you throw together to your own preferences. Bell peppers aren't usually in Vietnamese dishes at all, but that's what I had on hand and it went in as a good substitute for mung bean sprouts.)

Bun Ga (Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Chicken)
1. Cook rice noodles. Drain and let cool.
2. Saute chicken breasts (cut up into small pieces), tofu (cut into small cubes), ginger powder, and 1 white onion (chopped) until cooked through.
3. Make Nuoc Mam Cham: add 2-3(???) Tbs white sugar, 3 chopped garlic cloves, and 1/2 fresh squeezed lime in a small bowl. Let flavors absorb for a while. Add a good amount of fish sauce and water until it the salt, sugar, and tangy flavors balance out. Sorry, I can't explain better. If you've tasted this before, try to go towards that. If not, you can find recipes online with exact amounts. Add thin slices of carrot. It all came out to about 1 very full cup.
4. Put noodles in bowl. Add meat and tofu and top with fresh vegetables (julienned cucumbers, mung bean sprouts, lettuce) and herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, mint, VIetnamese coriander)

Friday, September 25, 2009

French Onion Soup

As promised, here is the French Onion Soup I made at the beginning of this week.

I bought a bag of onions a couple of weeks ago, so I wanted to use the rest of it. Onions are used in basically every recipe for extra flavor, and they're chock full of good vitamins. They have the flavanoid called quercetin, which protects against cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. They also contain 20% of your daily recommended vitamin C. Flavor and taste! What better reason to eat them?

...Well, I guess the tears.

So, I was cutting just 3 medium yellow/Vidalia onions and I was crying for at least 6 hours afterward. It was rather annoying. My nose kept running and the onions left their bite on the cutting board, so when my house-mate cut peaches, it had an undertone of onions. Whoops. Ah well, the soup came out good enough.

So, I made my own vegetable stock from scraps of carrots, lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, onions, and cilantro from the past two weeks. Just threw them in a pot of water and boiled with dried basil and oregano and sea salt. I did this first, then proceeded to make my French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup (serves 4-5)
1-2 Tbs butter
3 yellow/ Sweet Vidalia onions, chopped into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
3-4 or 5 cups vegetable broth (beef broth would probably taste better)
~4 Tbs or more of balsamic vinegarette to replace white wine (I'm a sophomore, I don't have access to alcohol...)
Oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in stovepot. Layer in onions with sprinkles of salt. Don't pan-fry them. You want them to turn translucent and soft. Cook for some 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Pour in vegetable broth and garlic. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring periodically. Pour in balasmic vinegarette halfway through, maybe. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Once satisfactory, turn off heat, let cool a bit.

Now, you can serve it with some toasted bread with cheese melted on top! The classic way is to pour them into broiler-safe crocks, top with slices of crusty French baguette and Gruyere cheese, and broil until they look GOOOD. As you can see from my pictures, I didn't have that stuff, so I just used my Oroweat potato bread and grated parmesan cheese. Good enough. Oh, and the picture has ground turkey in it, but it's as good without as well. Enjoy this college-version of French Onion Soup!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A lot of Things I've Made

So, I've done a lot of cooking since the last post. What with school starting and all, there's been less time to post. I took pictures of the food and planned on blogging about them, but then a day would pass and then suddenly it'd be a week since I'd made that dish! Here's a listing of what I've done in the past couple of weeks:

Sesame Fish Sticks

Paprika Pepper Salmon

Cilantro Pesto Pasta (with Pork Fu and Lettuce)

I've done a couple of other random things, but didn't take a picture. I also made Sauteed Vegetables and Turkey in Bechamel Sauce, and today I made French Onion Soup. It's been fun trying out new recipes and experimenting at will with whatever ingredients I have on hand. I don't really have exact measurements for any of my recipes, but here is the basic ingredients for the Salmon and Pesto. To make them is fairly quick and simple - contrary to making the fish sticks, which required deep-frying. I put them in a low-rim pan and hot oil was spraying all over me! It was not fun, and I was in a rush to take it to my friend's Disney Movie Marathon. But, people liked it, so I guess it was worth it.

Paprika Pepper Salmon:
Salmon, Paprika, Pepper, Onions, Garlic
Pan-fry in olive oil until cooked through.

Cilantro Pesto:
1/4 cup Almonds, Bunch Cilantro Leaves, 3 Garlic Cloves, Enough olive Oil to desired consistency, Salt + pepper (to taste)
Blend in a food processor.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Vegetable Empanada

Cooking with friends is both fun and time-saving. Not only do you get a few extra hands in the kitchen, but you get enjoyable company that gets to taste the delicious product when the cooking's all done! This is what I finally got to do two weeks before going back to school. I invited five of my friends over to have a cooking/ice cream/crafts party. I said I'd make them vegetable empanadas for lunch, and then we'd make chocolate gelato, and then we'd crochet or do whatever else they wanted to do at my house. I always wanted to make empanadas (it's not just because I went to that Tapas place earlier!), and finding a baked version peaked my interest.

I didn't have any of the Mexican spices on hand, so I sub'd in a good amount of tabasco sauce. I also used whole wheat flour because I was low on normal white flour. I also made some other tweaks, which you'll find in the recipe below. One of my friends who came over was really helpful with the preparation. She helped make and roll out the dough. When she asked for a rolling pin, I gave her a wine bottle wrapped in a cookie sheet because I didn't have one. She laughed at my paucity of baking tools, but I was laughing too. I'm used to it. ;P

Baked Whole Wheat Vegetable Empanadas (adapted from here) Serves 8
3 carrots, chopped (I recommend using less. The carrot flavor overtook the empanadas)
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 - 2/3 can of whole sweet kernel corn (low sodium, preferred)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
4 Tbs (?) Tabasco sauce
2 tsp (?) sea salt
2 Tbs flour mixed with 1/4 cold water
1 cup (?) shredded Mexican cheese
3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 Tbs baking powder
8 Tbs chilled butter
2 tsp soy sauce
1-1/4 cups ice cold water
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbs water


1. Boil carrots over medium heat until tender.
2. Mix tomatoes with Tabasco sauce and salt. Blend in the 2 Tbs flour-water mixture.
3. Saute onions, then add zuchinni and saute, then add garlic and saute, then add corn. Stir in tomato mixture, bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 3 minutes; uncover and constantly stir until sauce is thickened.
4. Stir in carrots and cheese. You can add more salt, cheese, and/or Tabasco sauce to taste.
5. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F. For empanada crust, combine 3-1/2 cups flour and baking soda. Cut in butter and mix into a coarse meal. Make a well in the center.
7. Mix soy sauce and water and pour into the well of flour. Stir with a fork until the dough rolls away from the sides of the bowl.
8. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 30 seconds.
9. Divide dough into 8 pieces (we made 7). Roll into an 8" circle.
10. Spoon generous amount (3/4 cup) of filling into center. (You'll have extra leftover. You can set these out at the table if anyone wants extra.)
11. Moisten edges with egg-water mixture. Fold dough over into half-moon shape. Pinch and flute edges.
12. Transfer empanadas onto ungreased cookie sheets on baking pans.
13. Prick tops with fork multiple times and brush with egg-water mixture.
14. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool before serving.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tapas Restaurant and Nightclub

Tapas Restaurant and Nightclub 3/5
Anything wrapped in dough and fried is delicious. I had my first empanada for the first time at Tapas Restaurant and Nightclub. My aunts took me and my sister there for one of my aunts' birthday. That night, there was entertainment from the belly-dancing group The Jewels that Raq. Admission to see the show is $10 a person, which doesn't include dinner. Darn. :P

The belly-dancing was interesting. A little strange and exotic, but enjoyable. They even danced with snakes, which they let us play with after the show. We talked with one of the dancers and she was very nice. It was also fun when they pulled up people from the audience to dance. One funny thing I noticed was that more women than men were smiling while watching the show. My family joked that it was because the guys didn't want to upset their significant others by showing interest in belly-dancing women. Haha. :D

I forgot to take a picture of the food, but the dim lighting wouldn't have gotten very good shots anyways. What we ordered was:
  • Antipasto Madrid: Combination with Tortilla Espanola, Sauteed Mushrooms, Crab Crouquettes, Chorizo, Empanada de Pollo and Albondigas $16.50
  • Roasted Piquillo Peppers: Marinated and served with Fresh Garlic $6
  • Chicken Marsala: Tender chicken breast topped with a Marsala Mushroom Wine Sauce, served with Bomba and Vegetables $15
  • Stuffed Chicken Breast: Chicken breast stuffed with jamon serrano, spinach and cheese, served with Bomba and Vegetables $19
The appetizer platter was delicious. It comes served on a bed of lettuce. We split up each item so each of us could try some. Everything was really tasty. I would order this for my meal if I ever came back (which I don't think I would...). My order, the roasted pepper was not that great. I chose red snapper for the filling, and it was only all right. Cream sauce good, but the texture of a roasted pepper is not that delectable. The two chicken plates were good, but my aunt and I thought they were a bit too salty. I could get better marsala and stuffed chicken elsewhere for cheaper. But, it is a Spanish restaurant trying to do Italian for those two chicken dishes. I bet if we ordered other real Spanish stuff, it would have been better.

Decent entertainment, decent decor, and decent food. This place gets a 3 out of 5.

Other than that, I love the look and taste of empanadas, so I made some with my friends at a baking party I had two weeks ago.
We made healthy vegetable empanadas. I'll post that up tomorrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Black Cherry Muffins

On the same day that I made my banana bread, I made cherry muffins so I could use the oven at one time. We had some dark cherries from a few sales at the supermarket, and my mom forgot that we had them. I took them out and decided to remake the fresh cherry muffins I had at Souplantation!

I used the Black Cherry Sour Cream Muffins recipe from Baking Bites. As I never have sour cream, I used vanilla yogurt instead. And I used whole milk instead of cherry juice. Whole milk really adds flavor to all these baked goods. Even though I did not glaze the top with an egg wash or milk, they came out shiny and moist. My sister asked if I did, and I said, "No, they just came out like that." I think it has to do with the yogurt and milk giving it a nice sheen. Pitting and chopping the dark cherries covered my hand in a dark red juice. This stuff really stains! But it was well worth it.

The first bite, I thought they were bland, but as you let the taste come out, it is a really good muffin. Not too sweet, just right. Perfect for a light breakfast or after-meal snack. The warm cherries are great too. I bet a little white icing drizzled lightly on top would be a tasty and pretty addition.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Best Healthy Banana Bread

My absolute favorite baking dish has to be banana bread. It must be because of how much I love bananas and sweet yet hearty breads. The combination is perfect. Ever since I was a little kid, I always had to have a banana every day. And I was picky, too. The banana had to be the perfect ripeness. Yellow with hints of green. Not ripe, but just getting there. I had a thing against those really yellow bananas. They were just too ripe and mushy. But...ripe bananas are exactly what you need for baking!

My quick breads are made with whole wheat bread for the hearty texture. I added graham cracker to the top, which added a little something extra to the banana breads I've had before. Man, when I ate a slice of this, I was simply in heaven. My face just goes into an expression of pure bliss and all I want to do is enjoy that bite forever. My mom took it to work and liked it a lot, too, even though I didn't use any white flour - all whole wheat! This made me pretty happy.

Graham-Topped Whole Wheat Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1.5-2 graham cracker sheets, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour an 8.5" by 4.5" loaf pan.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl.
3. Mix vegetable oil, egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix into dry ingredients.
4. Mix in mashed bananas. Pour into loaf pan, then sprinkle top generously with graham cracker crumbs.
5. Bake 55-60 min until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

My bread came out slightly moist near the middle when I tried it, but it was actually very good. The next day and following, the texture gets better in the bread. Enjoy this for breakfast or dessert; this is a great quick bread!

Friday, August 7, 2009

General Tso's Chicken

Chinese? Puh-lease. Delicious? Yes!

General Tso's Chicken is an Americanized-Chinese dish. As Racialicious de-mythifies: "General Tso’s chicken is unrecognizable to people in China. It is the quintessential American dish, because it is sweet, it is fried, and it is chicken." It really is just KFC, slightly less fried, and with Asian ingredients for the sauce. But, really. We all like how it tastes in America so we don't care if it's really authentic or not. Heck, I seriously don't care. This is a real tongue-pleaser! It hits the spicy, sweet, tangy, and salty parts of your tongue. Plus, it can be paired with almost any vegetables and rice. It is quick to prepare and it delivers.

My dad came home from work, ate a bowl, and later went up to my mom to compliment the dish. She replied that I actually made it! He came to me, with a beaming smile, saying how good the chicken was. It made my really happy and I shall for sure have to make it again.

(I got this recipe from some blog somewhere. I can't seem to find it now.)
General Tso's Chicken
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs hoisin sauce
3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
3 Tbs kethcup
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 lb skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 Tbs cornstarch (less is better, trust me)
2 stalks green onion, chopped
2-3 inch piece ginger, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
Red pepper flakes (fresh or dried, optional)

1. Mix ingredients from brown sugar to water together.
2. Dredge chicken in cornstarch. Saute in pan over med-high heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
3. Using another pan, stir-fry the green onions and ginger in sesame oil until lightly browned. Add the sauce. Boil, then simmer until thick. Add cubed chicken and cook through.
4. Add red pepper if desired. Top with fresh green onions. Serves 4-5 people.

You can serve this with steamed broccoli, carrots, or cabbage
or just fresh lettuce for vegetable pairing ideas.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Got the Blues? Make Muffins!

Summer is that special time for berries, berries, and more berries! The entire food community is chock full of cool (in both meanings of the term) berry desserts and dishes that just highlight the vibrant colors of the season. Muffins hold a special place in my heart (and my mouth!), and the sound of "Blueberry Muffins" has such a wonderful ring to it. After going to Souplantation, my mom really enjoyed their blueberry muffin and their cherry muffin. The cherries came out piping out; so good fresh! The blueberry muffin I didn't taste, but they used tiny little dried ones, which are never as good as the real things!

Henry's Marketplace had a sale two weeks ago: blueberries for only 88¢! She bought a few cases. Also on sale that week (and for the past few weeks) were the dark red cherries. Dark, delicious, and juicy. My mom really liked the little muffins and asked if I could make them. I was so happy she asked me to bake for her!

I borrowed the blueberry recipe from Baking Bites. It's called Big Blueberry Muffins. The blueberries we got from Henry's were definitely big, and I added more blueberries than called for. I thought it was a good amount of blueberries, but my aunt thought it was too much. With so many blueberries packing the batter, I ended up making 24 scrumptious muffins instead of just 16. I tried to sneak in just a touch of wheat flour, but my mom could still taste it. Just stick to the all purpose flour if you got non-healthy eaters. Otherwise, this tastes very nice!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Original Pancake House

Restaurant Review: The Original Pancake House 4/5

No. I'm not referring to IHOP. This is the Original Pancake House. And no, not the ORIGINAL Original Pancake House, which first opened in Oregon. I mean the Original Pancake House in California. This one is hidden behind a EZ-Lube, so for a long time, I drove past the sign and never knew where it was. I had heard about their famous apple pancakes and Dutch babies. They've been getting rave reviews and pictures showed their decadence and enormity. I'd been really dying to try this place out. Finally, a reunion with two of my high school friends gave me the chance to eat here.

The wait was not too long. We came on a weekday morning, but I heard that weekend mornings are super crowded. The three of us were seated and we looked through the menu. I figured the apple pancake and Dutch baby were too big for me to eat alone, so I opted for their Western Omelette, which comes with three buttermilk pancakes. I wanted to save the omelette for lunch. One friend ordered Canadian bacon and eggs, which also came with buttermilk pancakes; and the other ordered the Eggs Benedict, which came with potato pancakes (latkes) and applesauce and sour cream for toppings.

Western Omelette

When my order came out, they set down an omelette the size of a dinosaur egg. It was seriously daunting! In it was ham and diced tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Cheese was $1 extra, but the flavor was good enough that it didn't need the cheese. When I ate it for lunch (finishing the whole thing), I felt full enough to last the rest of the day without food! It was literally a 2 pound omelette (I weighed myself after, no joke). The pancakes were good too. I spread each with some butter and topped them with syrup. Too bad they don't have the wide selection of syrups that IHOP has, but it was good and fluffy.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Another look at the Western Omelette

My friends really enjoyed their dishes. The one who ordered the Canadian bacon plate also got the seasonal melon to share with us. They brought out a delicious half of a cantaloupe. When my friend took a bite of her Eggs Benedict, pure bliss covered her face. It was messy over her fingers, but she really was relishing it. Must have been real good.

All in all, I'd say this place is tasty and the service is fast and nice. Next time, I'll have to come back with a couple of people to try the apple pancake. It's a mountain that beckons to be scaled!

Procrastination and Ginger-Steamed Fish

I've done quite a bit of baking and cooking and visited a couple of restaurants since my last post. I've been meaning to post, but I just keep putting it off. Procrastination. Not just in doing schoolwork, but even in easy hobbies such as this blog. I suppose I just need to get into the habit of it. I'll first start out with the first thing I made since my last post.

Seafood really isn't my thing, except for fish. While up at the University last year, I would make an effort to go to the dining commons when they said they would have their Japanese Ginger Baked Fish. There are some things that the dining halls do right, and this was one of them. I can't remember exactly how it tasted, but the sauce was good in that dark salty way, and the fish was tender. I wanted to reproduce it at home.

The dish at the dining hall was usually served with rice. If you know me, I would usually choose rice over noodles just because it makes everything easier to eat. You just toss everything together, shove a spoon in, and you get a neat round of everything in the dish. With noodles, you have to pick at everything separately because things don't stick as well. Despite my pickiness, I had been wanting to use up my soba noodles I bought a couple years back. I still had 3 bundles left and thought it would go all right with the dish since it's Japanese.

The recipe is Ginger-Steamed Fish with Stir-Fried Veggies. I replaced zucchini with broccoli and doubled the sauce so I could marinate the fish in it as well. I also, thanks to my mom's help, mixed chopped ginger with the fish to give it more of that warm flavor. My mom was such a big help. I could never have cut everything as skillfully and quickly as she did. If I had done everything myself, I probably wouldn't have eaten that night until 10 pm! In the end, the fish came out SUPER juicy because I steamed it in a bowl inside the steamer. It came out in a pool of its juices mixed with the sauce and ginger. Each bite released the flavorful liquid, which was reinforced with the sauce in the vegetables. It was all right with the noodles, which were a bit too slippery. Next time, I think I'll stick with rice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I absolutely love pumpkin. Ralph's, year-round, has these amazing Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. My mom first found these 2 years ago. They are huge and so light. We fell in love with them. I don't know how Ralph's does it, but they are heaven in your mouth. I wanted to try my hand at them last year and found a recipe on This year, I made another batch, but did the whole recipe this time, coming out with 55 cookies! I gave bags away to 4 friends and family. Everyone enjoyed it. My family loves how these cookies are so fluffy. My sister said they are like pillows! Baking it for 13 minutes rather than 15 keeps the soft texture.

The recipe can be found here (I didn't use walnuts). I used an ice cream scooper to try and keep all of my cookies a uniform size. I also never have nutmeg, so I threw in some ground ginger and cloves. Nutmeg would be nice to have one day...Oh, and I also changed half whole wheat flour and half brown sugar, just so I could get my favorite nutty, hearty flavor in there. Pumpkin may be associated with the autumn holidays, but this shows that pumpkin is a treat to be enjoyed throughout the year!

Monday, July 6, 2009

White and Wheat Snickerdoodles

I love holidays. They are the perfect excuses for me to bake sweets for fun. I'm always in for some good exploration in baking, and July 4th just happens to come along. I have a book at home from Pillsbury called, "Cookies, Brownies, and Bars," and it's a fabulous collection of these baked goods. Everything in there sounds and looks delectable. One of the ones I've been itching to make is their Wheat Snickerdoodles. I absolutely love things with cinnamon, and to have it paired with a sugar cookie??? Fantastic creation, truly. And, now, Pillsbury has the genius to add wheat flour to the recipe to add that hint of nuttiness and heartiness that I love. I just had to make these things.

It was rather quick to make, I just couldn't find my cream of tartar, so I switched it with equivalent fresh lime juice. The recipe said to roll it into balls then roll these in cinnamon sugar, but the dough was too sticky to do so. I added some extra flour to the dough to try to make it pliable, but it still was sticky. Instead, I just plopped tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over them. I was really happy taking them out of the oven: I didn't burn them! :D When you first take a bite, it takes a second for the flavor to hit you, but when it does...Mmmm!!! It takes so good. The buttery sugary goodness is heaven in the form of a cookie. Enjoy!

White and Wheat Snickerdoodles (adapted from Pillsbury)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla and eggs.
2. Stir in both flours, lime juice, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
3. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Drop dough by tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart, and attempt to mold into round shapes. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
4. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets immediately and let cool on rack. Serves 30.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lower-Fat Peanut Butter Banana Cookies | Recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Oh man! These look amazing it's almost impossible to believe they're vegan! I'll have to try this soon. I just bought a bunch of bananas; just have to wait for them to ripen.

Lower-Fat Peanut Butter Banana Cookies | Recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Shared via AddThis

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sauceless, Yeastless, but Delicious Pizza

Again and again, the predicament in my home is an over-abundance of food that needs to be eaten before they expire or mold. The case this week consisted of a Costco pack of Provolone cheese, a couple of tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggs. The back of the BelGioiso cheese pack had a recipe for Provolone, Tomato, and Basil pizza, so I decided to try my hand at that. I never have yeast in the house (yeast breads are really daunting, as many of you would agree!), so I looked up a no-yeast pizza dough recipe online. I adjusted the recipe slightly to include 25% whole wheat flour, which turned out well. We have a jar of pesto spread in the refrigerator, which I thought of using, but I felt too lazy to get it out yesterday morning. I was also too lazy to slice and cook the mushrooms and onions to put on the pizza as well, so it just became Margherita-style for all my laziness. ;-P My aunt and parents liked it, so I'm pretty proud of this, especially since it's healthy.

(Pacman Pizza?)

Tomato White Pizza (serves 8)
Dough: (adapted from here)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 olive oil
3-4 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Italian seasoning, bay leaves, oregano, or thyme (your choice!)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
7-9 slices mild Provolone cheese

1. Mix together flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and olive oil. Stir thoroughly until mixture leaves the sides of the bowl. Roll into a ball, then knead 10 times. Divide into 2 balls.
2. Preheat oven 420°F. Roll out dough to a 13" round on a lightly floured surface. Move to a baking pan (I used parchment paper so the edges wouldn't burn). Brush with olive oil. Pinch up edges to create a crust so the cheese doesn't run over. Sprinkle grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on top. Layer Provolone slices on top, then place tomato slices cocentrically. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and your choice of seasonings to taste.
3. Bake about 15 minutes in the center of the oven, until the crust is brown but not burnt. Make sure the dough is baked through. Cut into 8 slices, 2 slices per person. Then do the same for the other dough ball and enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Homemade Vegetable Dumplings

This was not just an experiment in making dumplings; this was an experiment to use up vegetables sitting unused in the refrigerator. My mom bought some mushrooms last week to make stir-fried egg noodles, but we made Bun Bo Hue instead. So, the mushrooms were just sitting there for a while and I kept saying I'd make something with them. I decided to try my hand at dumplings! There were also leftover cabbage, carrots, and onions that I knew I could use. So, this morning, I got up, made myself another french toast with cinnamon apples and began preparing the dumplings!

It took 3 whole to get it all done. I didn't really measure anything out; rather, measured using my eyes. I felt so pro by not using a recipe, because that's how real cooks do it. Good food comes from feeling, not written instructions. At the beginning of making the actual wrappers, it was difficult and the dumplings were shaped funny. Eventually I found a better way to fold the seams together. Since I didn't measure, I can only rough out the recipe for you guys here. Just add what seems necessary to make it work! This made about 20-25 dumplings for me, with a little filling leftover which I just ate with my lunch cause I didn't have time to make more wrappers.

6-7 large mushrooms, diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1/4 white onion, diced
1/4 head of cabbage, diced
(Use less onion and carrot compared to the mushroom and cabbage. Also, make sure sure sure! that you cut the carrots small!)
Soy sauce (2-3 teaspoons?)
Sesame oil (1-2 teaspoons?)
Rice vinegar (1-2 teaspoons?)
Black pepper
Flour (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. Mix the vegetables together with the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and black pepper, adjusting the seasonings to taste.
2. Mix flour with enough water to produce a dough ball that sticks only a little but also slightly recoils when stretched.
3. Take an approximately 1 1/2 inch ball of dough and stretch out to a thin oblong shape. Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the center. Starting from one side, pinch up both edges up and over the filling. Pinch up the seams outward so the dough isn't too thick there.
4. Prepare a steamer and steam the dumplings. I think I steamed them for 5-8 minutes.
5. Enjoy by themself, or with soy sauce or sweet chili dipping sauce!

Pound Cake

My Dad's birthday was Tuesday, and my mom wanted to get him a cake, so I offered to bake him one. That day, I asked (nonchalantly) what his favorite cake was, and he said it was pound cake! So, that night, when he was sleeping, I baked it for him, which was basically at midnight! Luckily, it finished sometime after 1 am - not too late. The recipe called for a loaf pan, but we couldn't find one, so I just did it in an 8" round cake pan, which probably was the reason 1 hour 20 minutes seemed to long for the cake to bake. If it wasn't for my mom, I would have left it longer in the oven and it would have burned! She told me to take it out. Mom's are so good. The cake came out very good, but I think I'll reduce the sugar next time I make it.

(H B D 47 stands for "Happy Birthday 47." We didn't have all the sprinkle letters -_-" )

2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beating well after each one.
3. Mix milk and vanilla together.
4. Mix the dry ingredients, then add in batches to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk mixture. Do not overbeat.
4. Fill the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown.

(Recipe adapted from Southernfood.about)