Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not your Average Pumpkin Bread!

ok, due to popular request from workplace colleagues to hurry up and post my pumpkin bread recipe, here it is, sorry for the procrastination, but you still have between now and Christmas to slide in this recipe ! This is sooooo good even big Al, who only eats chocolate chip cookies, took a bite of it and could not put it down! Now that, is AMAZING!

Not your Average Pumpkin Bread (recipe makes 2 loaves)

3/4 C mashed pumpkin or pureed (either from fresh pumpkin or Libby's canned pumpkin)
3/4 C mashed sweet potato or pureed
3 C sugar (can be reduced down to 2 1/3 C)
2/3 C vegetable oil
2/3 C milk (or water)
4 eggs
3 1/2 C flour
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder (optional)
1 or 2 diced apples (depending on the size of the apples, either granny smith or any apples in your pantry would do)

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients except apples and mix well with a mixer.  I typically add the eggs one at a time and continue baking, not sure if it would make a difference if you dump all 4 eggs in the mixing bowl?  When all ingredients are evenly mixed and blended, gently fold in the diced apples in your doughy mixture.  Divide into 2 loaf pan and bake for approximately 1 hour.  Make sure you check the middle of the bread with a knife to make sure that it comes out clean before you turn off the oven.  Alternatively, you can cut all the ingredients in half and make 1 loaf.  Do not overload your loaf pan as the baking would take longer than 1 hour, and be on the soggy side.  The lovely baked apples in the bread gives it a surprise to everybite you take. Enjoy!

Yummcious Hummus

First of  all, I would like to apologize to the audience out there this recipe does not have a picture due to several reasons that I will outline later in the blog. However, if you guys out there try this recipe and really like it, please take a moment and take picture and send it to us, we will surely post it with this recipe and will greatly appreciate it.

I decided to make this is for our weekly lab meeting. During the lab meeting, each person gets rotated to bring breakfast to feed 15 people that we have in the lab. This is my first time having to bring breakfast to the lab. Since I am in a tight budget as a grad student, I decided to set a budget for under $10 to feed 15 people. I knew going to get rotated since 3 weeks ago (we have a list of people to when to get rotated), I have started "collecting" breakfast items and formulating my menu based on what is on sale at the store. I have decided to make a breakfast casserole and hummus with french bread. I know most of you out there think hummus is an appetizer, and surely it is, but our lab members love hummus so much that it doesn't matter if it's for appetizer, entree or dessert, they can eat it anytime of the day! (and it is healthy fo ya!)

So back to the seasons that I do not have a picture for this recipe:
  1. I almost burn my blender (I thinks it's a 20 year old blender donated by a someone I know whom I appreciate very much)
  2. Uniqueness of the blender: CAN crush ice and make smoothies
  3. Disadvantage of this old blender: DOES NOT blend chickpeas, mixture is too thick-> blades got stuck->motors still running-> blender began to smoke-> chickpeas eventually got blended
  4. Lesson learned: Time to get a new blender with better motor/ Getting a real food processor

This recipe is fast and easy, should not take as long as I had, serve 10-15

  • 2 cans chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • 4 T tahini paste (a big shout out to Josh for contributing the paste for my dish), can get at spice store
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t papprica
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5T olive oil
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup of water or chicken broth (depending how thick you want the mixture to be)
  • salt to taste
1. Add all ingredients into the food processor/ blender, and blend until smooth
2. Depending on your spice taste pallet, add more cumin/cayenne as you like 

Aycaramba Spicey Fall Vegetable Linguine

Another post with total utilization with the recently home-made Aycaramba Spicey Cranberry Hot Sauce! Who doesn't love Fall vegetable? Here are two that is being used in today's recipe, and the blend is out of this world and totally healthy, without the Eeeeky cardboardy taste.

Aycaramba Spicey Fall Vegetable Linguine

1 box of Linguine (or any other kind of pasta in your pantry)
1 bunch kale (no its not only for decoration on a salad bar!)
1/4 - 1/2 (depending on size)  of Calabaza pumpkin, cubed in bite size
1 purple onion, rough chop
1/2 head of garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
4-6 tbsp soy sauce (this is for a whole lb of pasta, so don't be alarmed!)
1-3 tbsp of Aycaramba Spicey Cranberry Hot Sauce (http://foodieliciouslife.blogspot.com/2010/11/aycaramba-spicey-habanero-hot-sauce-and.html)
Salt and Pepper to taste, if desire.

Wash and rough chop the kale.  Boil for about 10-15 minutes to soften the vegetable.  Drain and set aside.  Boil pasta according to manufacturer's direction, set aside.  In a large skillet or wok, add a couple tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil  and stir fry garlic and onion on medium heat, and add in the Aycaramba hotsauce.  Add in the pumpkin and stir fry for a few minutes, then add soy sauce and cover for 5 minutes to soften the pumpkin.  Add in brown sugar, continue stir fry, and add in kale and finally, pasta.  Mix well.  Taste your creation, and if additional brown sugar, soy sauce of salt is required, please, feel free to add some more according to your tastebud.  This is a nice twist on a spicey creation for a pasta dish, and goes well with your favorite bottle of Riesling (at least for me anyways, but what do i know about wine?!)  Bon Appetit.

Aycaramba Habanero Sauce with Sweet Potato Wedges

So we got the recipe to the Aycaramba Habanero Sauce that was just posted (http://foodieliciouslife.blogspot.com/2010/11/aycaramba-spicey-habanero-hot-sauce-and.html), what do we do other than using it as a vaccine against sinus congestion?  Slather onto sweet potato and bake it in the oven, of course!

Aycaramba Sweet Potato Wedges

As many sweet potato as you so desire to eat, cut in wedges
Lightly coat with olive oil, and sprinkle generously salt, pepper and dried rosemarry (about 1 tsbp).  Optional is to also finely chopped garlic into the mixture.  Depending on your spicebuds, start with 1 tsp and increase accordingly, the Aycaramba Habanero Sauce onto the sweet potato, and mix everything evenly.  Pre-heat oven at 375 degrees, and bake the wedges for 25 minutes, and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.  SWEET SPICE IN HEAVEN!

Aycaramba, Spicey Cranberry Habanero Hot Sauce and Salsa if You Dare!

Alright, long absence from the City of Charm, but the test kitchen's never stopped cooking.  Today's posting is long due from late summer.  One of the nearby neighbor donated some homegrown habanero peppers and some other mixture of milder peppers (got no idea of the name, but check out the picture).  Habanero, as you know, is one of the hottest tasting chilli pepper available, ranking on the Scoville scale of 350,000–580,000 heat units.  To compare, Jalapenos are only about 2,500-8,000 Scoville heat units.  And if you are not familiar with the Scoville heat measurement unit, just google it.  Anywho, the recipe is to make a blended habanero spice paste that can be frozen and used for cooking, add to your ketchup for spicyness, or eat it straight up with your favorite chips and take it like a man!

Aycaramba Cranberry Habanero Hot Sauce / Salsa
10 - 15 habanero / scotch bonnet peppers or mixture of mild and spicy peppers
1 large purple onion, roughly diced
1/2 head of garlic (approx 10 cloves)
1-3 carrots depending on how big the carrots are
4 roma tomatoes
1/3 cups of dried cranberry
1/3 - 1/2 cups of brown sugar
Sufficient salt, approximately 1 tbsp
1-2 tbsp cumin
1-2 tbsp corriander
3-4 tbsp honey
a dash of worchestire sauce
1 spritz of orange juice

Roughly dice the vegetables and peppers and blend everything, including spices in a blender.  May require 2 batches of blending depending the size of food processor or blender, and voila, take a whiff and it will knock any pneumonia or influenza virus out cold!  Aliquot in smaller portions and freeze if desire.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ginger Fish Pouches

I know that a lot of people are scared of using ginger in their food dishes. However, ginger is very commonly used in the Asian cuisine. In this case, we used ginger to mellow out the fishy taste of seafood (in the western countries, we use lemon!). Nonetheless, the use of ginger as spices is now getting more and more popular in modern cuisines, such as "asian-style" salad dressing, BBQ sauce, as well as other meat marinades. This dish is light and packed with lots of asian flavors infusing re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame oil (another amazing kitchen must have!) all in one pouch!

  • 3 heads of dry shiitake mushrooms (re-hydrated in water for at least 5 hours)
  • * 3-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a bunch of scallions, chopped (for garnish)
  • 2 T vegie oil
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 6 tilapia fish fillets
* If this is your 1st time using ginger, you might want to try with less of it

Marinade (combine all in one bowl)
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin
  • 1 T chinese rice wine
  • 2 t rice wine vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Heat a small saucepan on low heat and add the vegie oil and sesame oil.
3. Sautee ginger and garlic until fragrant and turn golden (this will tone down the spicyness of the ginger and
    infuse it into the oil).
4. Assemble however many fish fillet you want per pouch (I had 3 fillet/ pouch, and 2 pouches). Make sure
    the aluminum foil is big enough to fold into a pouch
5. Squeeze out extra water from the mushrooms and remove the stems, thinly slice the caps
6. Evenly distribute the sliced mushrooms and sauteed ginger/ garlic oil mixture into each fish pouches
7. Divide and spoon the marinade evenly per pouch
8. Wrapped the fish into pouches and oven baked (aka steam) the fish for 25 min.
9. When ready, unwrap the foil slowly (don't burnt yourself by the steam) and garnish the fish with scallions.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fabulous Pasta with Ingredients So Simple It Blows Your Mind !

Aight, you know how you go to those fancy restaurants and you order them fancy seafood pasta and they taste soooooo succulent yummy, and there's just a hint of something that you know you cannot recreate it, i think i got it!  Yes, yes, butter plays a big role in making the yummy ..any yummy pasta sauce..but this one can go without and you won't be missing any bold flavors, but of course, you can definitely add butter in you're on a Paula Dean mode.  The second dish, was an inspiration by Mrs. MAS (shoutout), went over to her place for dinner and got inspired to create my own, such a seasonal fall dish>>  Roasted Rosemarry Buttnernut Squash Lasagna.  This lasagna recipe is slightly easier than Viking sister's previous post (http://foodieliciouslife.blogspot.com/2010/10/satisfying-lasagna.html), in a sense i'm not making a separate bechemel sauce, mine is a super lazy white sauce !

Dish 1: Shrimp linguine (or any pasta in your pantry) with Herbed White Wine Sauce:

Key to this dish is to get shelled in frozen shrimp (any size, but of course like anything else, bigger better:)
Do not thaw out shrimp during preparation, keep frozen.  Let the shrimp+shell and whatever frozen liquid in the bag thaw while in the pot, hence the juice creates the yummy seafood broth  like you've been collecting stinky shrimp shells and clam shells forever!

1 box / lb linguine or any type of your favorite pasta
1 box of standard frozen spinach (daily dose of vege is important!)
1 head of garlic (yes the entire head), minced
~1 lb of frozen shrimp (or more if its super cheap), the one i used was 24-26 count large shrimp
1 C any cheap or open bottle of white wine, mine was an opened bottle from a party from the previous night.
1/2 to 1 C of chicken broth (or water if you don't have it in hand)
Salt and pepper to taste (you will need a lot, don't be shy, it is afterall, a whole freaking pound of pasta!)
Dash of chili flakes (optional)
Chives and parsley (as much or as little depending on what you like)
~1/2 tbs Sugar (as with any of my cooking, you always need sugar to balance out your flavors!)
Butter >>> totally optional, but can't hurt the pallete

As standard pasta dish, boil your pasta the way you like it or base on the box directions.  It is important to have it Al dente as we want to pasta to finish cooking in the superscrumptious seafood "broth" and soak up all the flavors.

In a separate pot, pour a few tbsp of your favorite olive oil or vege oil and sautee a couple minutes the entire head of garlic.  Before garlic starts to brown, add in your frozen shrimp and the "juices" in the frozen packet.  It will take over 5 minutes for your frozen shrimp to thaw out, so stir on occasion to keep it moving in the pot.  Add in the spinach (semi thawed / drained) and start layering the flavor with a couple pinches of salt and pepper.  As the shrimps are getting semi cooked (based on turning red), add in your wine and broth and let simmer for another 6 minutes or so.  Add in your sugar and taste your sauce, add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desire.  Remember, you are adding a whole pound of pasta into this sauce, so its ok if its on the salty side!  Add in your pasta, and let it sit in your sauce to simmer, stir and mix well. You can always add more broth if things are cooking too fast and liquid is low in the pot. Add in your herbs, and or butter for a final touch.  This dish is best overnight as the pasta is soaking up the delicious seafood flavor.

(this dish takes less than 3 minutes to prepare >> mincing garlic, and less than 20 minutes to finish cooking. Boiling the pasta doesn't count, as you just throw the pasta in the pot, and go do whatever you like, and only 1 pot to cleanup!).

Roasted Rosemarry Buttnernut Squash Lasagna (Can't you tell i am in Autumn mode, Full swing!)
This recipe can be for 1 side dish, or as a main course lasagna. And did i say this dish lasted me 5 days, eating it 2X a day!! Great dish for entertaining guests and is super hearty!  Thanks for the inspiration Mrs. MAS!

Roasted Rosemarry Butternut Squash (this can be your individual side dish, served as is or mashed)
1 butternut squash
1 tsp dried rosemarry (crumble them before you sprinkle)
1 tbs brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
and of course, olive oil

Quarter your butternut squash as shown in picture below, coat with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemarry.  Cover with foil and roast i oven at 350 deg C for about 40 minutes or until fork tender.  If you are serving this as is, then sprinkle some brown sugar and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes, ready to serve.  For my purpose, i scooped out my squash, mash them (to as fine or as bite size as you like for your lasagna) and then incorporate my brown sugar.  This can be served again as is for a side dish >>> mashed roasted butternut squash.  I will be using it as my lasagna layer.

Ingredients for lasagna:
1 box lasagna noodles
1-2 shallots
1-2 tsp butter (for rue / bechemel)
1 tbs flour
1/4 to 1/3 C milk
3/4 to 1 C of ricotta cheese (you could go low or nonfat as i do not find any taste difference between low and regular cheese)
1 box of frozen spinach
a pinch of nutmeg
Liberal amount of salt and pepper
About 1 C of your favorite red pasta sauce (or you can make your own sauce)
shredded mozzarella cheese for topping (optional)

Boil 1 box of lasagna noodles per box instruction, in salted water.  In a medium size sauce pot, add in olive oil sautee the shallots until translucent, push aside and add a couple pats of butter, and flour.  Stir for a minute and add in a couple rounds of milk.  This will be our quick and easy bechemel sauce.  Add in your spinach, salt and pepper, nutmeg and continue stirring.  If it is getting too dry from the rue, add a few more rounds of milk.  You need to liberally salt and pepper this as this is your flavor layers in between your plain noodles. How much salt and pepper you ask, man i tell you if you want to attempt to learn to cook, you gotta taste your food and add or subtract during the cooking process.  Everybody's taste pellet is different.  Dare to try your food, stick your fingers in and pick out your food and taste it.  Need more salt, add some more.  Too salty, remember, its a pasta dish, it will be blended out eventually, but for real too salty, add broth, water, and in our case, milk.  Ok enough rambling about salt and pepper.   Turn off heat, and add in your ricotta cheese and slowly incorporate by stirring.

Now you are ready to assemble your lasagna.  On your casserole dish, coat your pasta sauce at the bottom and place your noodles on top (about 4 noodles per layer, if you are using the same size casserole dish as i am).  Evenly spread a layer of your spinach/ricotta layer on the noodle, and place 4 more noodles on top of this.  Spread some red sauce on the noodle, and now place your mashed roasted squash on this layer (you can layer them liberally and make it a freaking hearty meal!).  Place another layer of noodle above this, do the sauce, spinach/ricotta and noodle layer again. Just keep repeating until you finish everything or your casserole can no longer hold its weight.  The final layer should be just the noodle, and sauce above it.  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on this top layer (optional), or just leave as is with the sauce as the final topping.   Cover with foil tightly and bake for 40 minutes, and the result is just super super..gratification... its ...how do i say...super favoloso in Italian!!!  Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Bacon

Greetings from the Land of Vikings-
Fall is all about warm comfort food, preparing us for the winter to come. This fall the Chan sisters will feature a variety of pumpkin and squash recipes ranging from soup, main course, to desserts. We hope y'all will enjoy.
I usually make my acorn squash by just roasting them in butter and brown sugar and serves as a side dish. However, this time I decided to do something different by making a soup dish. This dish will definitely open your taste pallet!

Serves 5
  • 5 strips of bacon (any kind on sale)
  • 3-3.5lb acorn squash
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (skin on)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 golden delicious apple (or any on sale), cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1T curry powder
  • 2T brown sugar (for roasting), another 2T for mixing into soup
  • a big pinch of cayenne
  • a big pinch of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Scallion for garnish
- fry bacon strips in pan (w/o oil) in medium heat until crispy, then set aside on a paper towel

Roasting of Squash
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Halve squash and brush both sides with a mixture of olive oil, a little salt, and brown sugar
- Place squash cup side down and roast for 50 min
- Let squash cool until can be handled by hands
- Remove charred squash skin
- Roughly chop squash into pieces

Making into the soup part
- In a medium pot, sautee onion, celery, and apple until tender
- Then add curry powder, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper 
- Add squash into the pot and stir thoroughly
- Transfer squash mixture into blender and puree it
- In the same medium pot, heat 1 cup of chicken broth
- Transfer the squash puree back into the warm broth and mix
- Just before boiling, add evaporated milk (boiling of soup will curdle the milk)
- Serve immediately with crumbled crispy bacon and chopped scallions

Viol la!

Bachelor's Apricot Tumbprint Cookies

Greetings from the Land of Vikings-
I was invited to a friend's house party a couple of weeks ago to celebrate his "last day of being single". He did not call it a bachelor's party because female friends were invited too and yes, your guess is right- there was no hookers/ strippers/ lap dance involved, it was more like a friendly get together.
Anyways, I decided to make these cookies because I was busy at work and did not get the chance to get booze. Knowing that other people were going to get those, I thought why not make cookies!!! Nobody would turn down a cookie offer!
I also brought an extra batch to lab meeting the next day and was a huge hit. 

This recipe is from the Pillsbury Baking book that I inherited from my b'more sista
This recipe yields 3 1/2 dozen buttery, soft cookies 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup margarine or butter, softened (I used butter)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (or more depending how deep the prints are) apricot preserve (or any jam you prefer)
- Preheat oven at 350F
- In a bowl, combine and beat sugar, butter, vanilla and egg yolks until light and fluffy
- Gradually add flour and baking powder; mix well
- Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for ~15- 30 min
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls and with thumb, make imprint in center of each cookie
- Bake at 350F for ~11min or until the edges turn brown
- Microwave apricot preserve for ~15 seconds so that it is easier to spoon it into each baked thumbprint.
- Let cool


Friday, October 22, 2010

Muffins and crumbles..time to warm up your house with lovely Autumn Baking!

Alright, its getting cold, and I'm trying to save on heating.  What do i do? Crank up the oven and start filling the kitchen with lovely delicious Autumn baking.  I love Autumn, better than Fall, it may even be my daughter's middle name, whenever that may happen.  Oh, back to the topic of baking.  I've tested these 2 recipes out with the lab people (i.e. my co-workers), and received several feedbacks.  Modified them based on feedbacks, and voila...the last recipe is just a quick and simple joy to make on a chilly evening, wiht the smell of spiced bake apples overfill your entire house... enjoy!!!

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins (sorry i can't think of any more attractive name to call it)
Alright, with this version, the blue font will be for the healthy conscious peeps, and the red will be for the ones with sweet tooth.

2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C brown sugar  or 1/2 C brown sugar and 1/2C white sugar
2 large eggs
1 to 1 1/2 C pumpkin puree (peer review quoted as not enough pumpkin flavor when i used 1 C, so its ok to go as high as 1 1/2C)
1/4 C milk
a pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven at 400 degF.  Mix well dry ingredients flour, baking powder,cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream softened butter, then add in sugar and eggs one at a time.  Beat until all is incorporated. Slowly fold in the pumpkin puree into the mixture and pour in the milk.  Lastly, add in all the dry ingredients, mix well or blend with mixer until it is in batter consistency.

Divide the batter into 12-hole muffin pan that is lined with paper cups (for easy cleanup purpose), since i am so lazy washing my muffin  pan.  It is ok if it looks overflowing>>> this creates muffin tops!
Bake for about 25 minutes or test with a clean knife, insert into the middle of the muffin and see if it comes out clean.

This second recipe was inspired by TKM who called me up and ask if i have any muffin recipes that contains ooey gooey surprise filling inside.  I tested this one out, and it turns out to be surprisingly, a success! Peer reviewed by lab people also, and feedbacks were positive.  I am also providing a healthy (in blue) and a "normal"  (in red) measurements for some selective ingredients.

Chocolate Muffin with Surprise Ooey Gooey Cream Cheese Filling

Cream cheese filling: 
1 package cream cheese (please do not use light or reduced fat!!)
¾ C to 1 1/4  Cup sugar, on the low side if you want less sweet, but can go up to 1 1/4C, but more than that you need to go see a diabetes doctor!
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
A splash of lemon juice, and can add some (~1/2tsp) shaved lemon rind if you so desire (I usually do).
1/2C chocolate chip morsels (optional)

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add lemon juice and rind, vanilla, beat some more.  Add in egg and beat thoroughly.  (for your filling, can add some semi sweet chocolate morsels at this point, if so desire, and fold it in evenly)

Cup Cake recipe:
Use your favorite cupcake recipe, or the following:
1 ¼ cup flour
1 to 1 1/2 C sugar
1/3   C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ C milk and ½ C water (total of 1 C fluids)
1 tsp of instant coffee (in 2tbsp hot water)
1/3 C Vege oil or melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
A dash of salt

Mix flour, sugar cocoa, baking powder and salt (dry ingredients).  Then add in the 1 cup of fluids (milk and water), coffee mixture and vanilla extract.  Stir well until blended, or slow mix it briefly with blender.

Fill in muffin tin with 1/2 of the cupcake batter, layer in 1 tbsp or so of the cream cheese filling, and top it off with a little bit more of the cupcake batter.  You can probably play around the ratio and try ½ and ½ of batter and cream cheese.  
Don’t forget to pre-heat oven at 350 degC and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Check with a knife in the middle to see if its runny, just like any cake recipe!  But also remember, the cream cheese will continue cooking and settle once cooled.  You don’t want to overbake your batter and let that dry out.  And voila, a favorite in the family!


The next recipe is one of the most versatile recipe for autumn, especially after an apple picking trip with your family, and you don't know why in the world you picked 20 lbs of apples!?!!  Here's one scenario on how to get rid of all the apples your 3 year old picked:

Baked Spiced Apples with Oats and Walnut Crumble (with a surprise melted brie layer - optional)

A spin off of the traditional apple crumble, do this individually on a ramekin to make it a custom size dessert for anytime of the day.

Oats and Walnut crumble:
2/3 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 C uncooked instant oats
1/2 C crushed walnuts (just ziplock back the nuts and pound them like crazy Madea with your wine bottle)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 stick cold butter
always, a pinch of salt

Here's the secret, once you made your crumble, you are good as gold! ziplock bag what is not used and freeze it in your freezer.  Pull it out and use it anytime when you have a small serving size of fruits that you would like to bake and top it off with!  Heaven!!!

So, for the apples, however many apples you want to prepare, slice them up, toss them with just a little bit of sugar, or if you think they are sweet enough, just leave them as is and pile them up into your individual ramekins, place a slice of brie cheese (optional), and top it off with the crumble toppings you just made.  Place ramekin(s) into a preheated 350 deg F oven and bake for ~15 minutes, or 25 minutes if you have 4 ramekins in the oven. Serve with a scoop of vanilla, and lets call it an all American dessert for a lovely autumn snack or dessert.  Enjoy the post!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving spread ...yes...in September!!

Alright peeps, nothing like an early thanksgiving trial dinner.  Like i always say, there's company in town, its always thanksgiving day!  Last day of the IT guy in town before getting his grove in the Midwest, Cleveland, to be specific.  Minnesota viking goodiefoodie sista is also in town, and chocolate bear is here for the occasion too.  Most of the family is in the same city for ONCE! Thanksgiving dinner on a Sunday in midSeptember!! (shoutout to the missing skinny brother who is stuck in Boise Idaho)
On the menu: (bear in mind our thanksgiving meals are never traditional to start with, heck, the family is not even a traditional family)...French onion soup (this was a failure, viking's sista's recipe, so we will not even mention this until it has been revised), home made garlic bread (this too was over salted, will need revision), oven roasted spare ribs (too cold for outside grilling, but equally super delicious), lemmongrass chicken satay with peanut sauce, curried summer squash and corn pie, roasted vege (for recipe see previous post) and for dessert, spiced apples cream cheese brulee with vanilla ice cream.  OMG blogging this at midnight just makes me hungrier....this is impossible!

Appetizer: Satay and French Onion Soup

Chicken (or beef) Satay with Peanut Sauce:
1.5 lbs or so Boneless Chicken thighs or breast, depending on your preference for the meat type
2 stalks of fresh lemon grass
3 shallots
1 bulb of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
3 or more thai chili or serano or whatever spicy pepper of your choice, amount to be added to your personal taste
1 tsp tumeric powder
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp coriander and cumin each (these are optional)
Everything else, you must have the ingredients, otherwise the taste, man it just wouldn't be satay!

Rough chop whatever that needs to be processed, ie. shallots, garlic, lemongrass etc, and throw everything in the food processor. If you don't know by now, i try not to use a lot of oil in my cooking, hence we get be stay to be skinny bitches! But we substitute fats with powerful flavors...KAPOW! so, if your food processor is not spinning due to the lack of liquid, you can add some oil to it, or just substitute with some more soy or fish sauce, or just add a little broth or water to it to get the motor going.

slice your chicken in strips, and marinate the blended spice with your meat for 2 hours or longer.  Safe about 1/4 of the blended marinade for the peanut sauce later on.  Skewer your meat and throw them on the grill.  I did mine in the oven, standard, 375 for bout 20 minutes. Voila, super yummy appetizer. Serve it with or without peanut sauce, its equally yummy.

Peanut Sauce:
Warm up a small skillet or sauce pot with a little oil, and sautee the leftover blended spice for a few minutes, add some stock (less than 1/4 cup) into the mixture, and proceed to add a couple tablespoon (heapsfull) of chunky peanut butter into the mixture, and continue to heat it until thickens. Add sugar to balance the saltiness out, and add some more spicy chili flakes if you want.  The sauce will look watery and running while boiling and warm, but when it cools, trust me, it will thicken up.

French Onion Soup:
For the most part, this recipe needs a little bit more tweaking, but we have much hope for improvements, so wait for take 2 of this recipe (the error here is that we overdid our Guinness stout...yup..lesson learned.more is not better).  But here's a picture of the lovely brioche and fontina cheese topping.  The same with the attempt to make home made garlic bread, it was good, but tooooooooo much salt!! Will re-post once i perfect it.

ps: i even bought 6 ramekins for this occasion too.  While i'm at it, i will give a shout out to Crate and Barrel, my first fancy purchase from that store.  These ramekins are AWESOME! Super cheap, i thought everything from Crate and Barrel are for hoity toity people and is out of my budget, but these are 10oz and only cost $17 for 6 of them !! And if you're looking for a smaller size that fits your wallet, this one is AWESOME too:

hmmm, my first promotion / advertisement for a product, i wonder if i get any freebies or commission?

Spare ribs:
1 rack of pork ribs (good size, probably had 20 ribs).
1/2C brown sugar
a squirt of honey
1/2C BBQ sauce, any flavor (we used a mixture of honey and mesquite, yes, you can mix!)
1tbs curry powder
1 tbs dried rosemary (NOT OPTIONAL!)
1/4C sweet asian chili sauce (if you can't find it, i suppose i should say its optional)
liberal amount of garlic salt, regular salt, a lot of pepper, and some more chilli flakes in the mixture to satisfy your spice buds.

rub all things together with the meat, cook in oven at low heat at 250-300 deg for 3 hours, at least, longer is encouraged, and crank it up to 350 for the last 30 minutes, and..voila, fall of the bone meat..yummy...

i wished we had taken a classier picture of the spare ribs. What the heck, its ribs, 'spose to be messy!

Summer Squash Pie:
This is an awesome recipe for those out there that loves a one dish entree meal. Super easy to make, and goes a long way (not for me, as i eat at the equivalent of 3 men), but for you skinny models out there...this dish will go a long way.

4-6 yellow and green zucchini (depending on how fat or skinny they are)
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot or 1/2 onion
1 egg
1 -2 tbsp curry powder
1 can cream corn (or regular corn, whatever thats in your pantry)
1/2 to 1 C of shreded mozzarella
Pie crust, one pair, dos, top and bottom.
Salt, pepper  and sugar to taste  (by now you should now that salt, pepper and sugar always go hand in hand when balancing out your pallet!)

Heat up your skillet with some oil, sautee onions and garlic (don't brown them, this is not chinese stir fry where you brown your spices, just until they turn translucent is good enough).  Throw in your veges, spices, and seasoning, let them simmer and brown the zucchinis for a little while.  Add in cream corn, and stir in egg to thicken up.  Veges, done.  Let it sit at room temp for a moment so that all liquids evaporate.  Grease a square pyrex (standard size, i cant remember how many inches, see picture and you will know what i am talking about), put in bottom of the pie crust, set in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees to set the bottom crust.  Proceed to throw all your sauteed veges into the pyrex with bottom crust, and top it with cheese (optional).  Fold in the top crust and nicely crimp the sides (or if you're me, you just randomly crimp it as you go).  Oven the entire thing per pie crust's manufacturer's suggested temperature.  I think it took 40 minutes for the pie go brown.  You can always check your oven and see if the pie crust browned or not, you know...;)

Again, viking foodie forgot to take a picture of a nice, sliced pie to show, so this will do.

Roasted Veges:
See previous post by viking foodie, pick any hardy, woodie veges like brocoli, carrots or cauliflower. Yummy as is...

Dessert: Spiced Apples cream cheese cake.
What is the start of Fall without some apple dessert?!?! and some good quality french vanilla ice cream... oh writing this just makes me hungry!!
Prepare your apples with your favourite apple crumble recipe, and here is mine:

4 gala or red delicious (sweet eating apples) i know this goes against convention, but i love the natural sweetness.
1 or 2 tart granny smith apples
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger each
a dash of salt (remember..balancing salt and sweetness, mui importante!)
a squeeze of lemon juice, and some lemon peel if you so desire.
Mix all above, and set into your buttered / greased pyrex baking pan while preparing for the best part of the dish..the cheesecake topping!!!

1 block of cheesecake (no fat free ones please!)
1 stick or 8 tbsp butter, softened
2 eggs
3/4C sugar (you can go up to 1 or 1 1/4C if you are on the sweet side, 3/4C does fine for me)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C of flour

In a mixer,  cream the butter and sugar. When it's nice and fluffy white, beat in the eggs, then the softened cream cheese and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour by hand.  Pour this thick batter mixture onto your apple, it won't cover evenly, don't worry. The outcome will be fine.  Remember to preheat your oven (i knw i should've mentioned this before hand, but you'll survive this round), and bake your apple cheesecake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  This is super yummy paired with vanilla ice cream, or as is.  What a great recipe, if i may say so myself, for the Fall.  Can you imagine, cheesecake and apple pie hybrid!?!?!

And to top of the wonderful meal, some lovely bubbles..and some aperitif supplied by the neighbor guests..no pic though. 

And Voila, the spread.... Happy September Thanksgiving!!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

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Greetings from the Land of Vikings-

Fall is finally here in MN!! The trees have all turned colors, the temperature has lowered as well...which means 6 months of winter is coming our way soon. Anyhow, I thought about making tomato soup. I love tomato soup, but often find it over priced in restaurants. Therefore, I decided to take the challenge to make this sophisticated and yet so simple to make soup when I saw the tomatoes on sale (probably the last batch from summer). I used recipes from various websites and came up with my own combination.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
  • 2.5-3 lb of roma tomatoes (or any on sale), quartered
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and quartered
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • sugar
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme
  • 1 cup of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup of evaporated milk
  • 5 cloves of garlic skin on
Preheat oven to 425F

Arrange tomatoes, red peppers (cup side down, skin side up), and garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil and season it with liberal amount of salt and a pinch of sugar and thyme

Roast for 50-60 min until the skins are charred

Let cool for 10' or until they can be handled by hand. Peel of the charred skins of the peppers and tomatoes. squeeze garlic our of skin and throw everything into a blender together with the basil and puree them.

Heat a medium sauce pan and heat up a cup of chicken broth, add in the pureed tomato mixture and stir.

Add in evaporated milk before the soup boils, and stir (boiling will curdle the milk).

Serve soup immediately with warm crusty bread. Top soup with more basil (optional).

Nectarine Slump

Greetings from the Land of Vikings-

I just tried this recipe and brought it to a friend's party (this recipe is submitted by Amanda from food52.com http://www.food52.com/blog/1138_nectarine_slump) . And no, this is not a slump like what the title describes. This recipe is amazingly easy to make and scrumptious to the taste! I know that mascarpone can be expensive, therefore when I made this I used regular cream cheese instead, and trust me, it still taste good! Also, you can try any fruit combo you want besides nectarines.

Easy Vegetarian Pasta

Greetings from the Land of Vikings-
In case y'all haven't noticed, most of our recipes have been of vegetarian, not that I am a vegetarian, just that it's easier for busy people like us to prepare, plus, I often forget to thaw my meats. I promise will be posting some meat recipes soon (when the meats are on sale hehhe!)
I made this dish because I realized I haven't used any of my Must Try Slow Roasted Tomatoes slow roasted tomatoes that I made a couple of weeks ago, and this recipe only takes 30' to whip out!

Ingredients (serve 4)

  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 15-20 pieces of slow roasted tomatoes 
  • 1 box of pasta (any kind)
  • 1/2 cup of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 t of salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 jar of artichoke hearts with peppers and olives + save 1/2 cup of the marinade juice (from aldi)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

Boil pasta with salted water. While boiling the pasta, start heating a skillet with olive oil.

Sautee garlic and red onions until tender, then add the slow roasted tomatatoes. Next, add in the artichoke mixtures until heated. Lastly add in the saved marinade.

Cook pasta until al dente and save 1/2 cups on pasta water. Add pasta into the artichoke sauce and mix until the pasta is fully coated, add the remaining pasta water and mix well.

Lastly add in the chopped parsley.


Must Try Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Greetings from the Land if Vikings-
For y'all the tomato lovers out there please check this out. I got this recipe from a website call Food Mayhem: http://www.foodmayhem.com/2009/10/slow-roasted-tomatoes-revisited.html
Seriously, this recipe is SICK!!!! I have never tasted tomatoes soooo full of flavor before until I took the time to make this.
I must warn you first and foremost, these yummy delicious will require 2 days to prep. 1st day is seasoning the tomatoes, and the 2nd day is 3 hour of slow roasting in the oven. I made this over the weekend. These tomatoes can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You can make pasta or sandwiches with them.

Satisfying Lasagna

greetings from the Land of Vikings-
I have always wanted to try making my own lasagna (usually I buy frozen stouffer's), finally I have collected cheap ingredients that enable me to do so. I must say, it is easy to make, but it takes a lot of time for a busy grad student like most of us scientists. This recipe is originally adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, but with my own cheap twist of course! (no cooking oil is added in this recipe) Also it took me 1 week to finish this pie ...good more my money and tummy!

Bechamel Sauce
  •  2 T butter
  • 4 t all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • a pinch of nutmeg
Meat sauce
  • 1lb ground beef (85/15)
  • 1 26oz can Hunt's Zesty and Spicy spaghetti sauce (or any red sauce on sale)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 (15oz) tub of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella 
  • 12 dry lasagna sheets
Direction (serve 9)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix the ricotta, onion, garlic, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, egg, honey, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 4 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. On top layer with another sheet of lasagna sheet, then top with meat sauce, followed by the bechamel sauce. Repeat this 2 more times to make it a 3-tier lasagna pie.

Sprinkle the mozzarella over the pie. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Carbonara - by Eric Liftin of Food52

Greetings from the land of vikings-
Ha~ It's Sunday again, which means time for me to cook in bulk for the upcoming week! I have been so busy in the lab this weekend working full days and I am definitely not feeling making anything complicated. So, I happened to stumble upon this very simple recipe on my favorite food blog at food52.com. I decided to give Eric's "Daddy's Carbonara" a try since it was voted recipe of the week. However, I made a little twist to this dish by adding some sweet red onion (my friend Krista Bledsoe makes hers this way)...absolutely love it!

All you need are a few relatively inexpensive ingredients: (serves 6)
  • 1lb spaghetti 
  • 1/4 lb bacon (the original recipe calls for 1 lb- i think this is a little to much for us skinny bitches), if you are vegetarian- omit the bacon, if health conscious- sub with turkey bacon
  • 10oz frozen sweet peas
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan 
  • lots of black pepper
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely (the original does not call for this, but i think it makes the pasta tastes better)
  1. Boil the pasta until al dente
  2. Cut bacon across the slices into 1/2" wide blocks. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until bacon turns brown and crispy
  3. Steam peas with a little water and microwave 3-4 minutes, until they are warm, stirring halfway through.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the egg, parmesan, and pepper. It should have the consistency of thick batter.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain it quickly. Don't linger, as it's good to capture some of the water. Dump the steaming spaghetti into the egg mixture, and quickly mix well with a tong to cook the egg. Mix in the bacon, peas, and red onion.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Momma Chan's Stir Fry Green Beans w/ Eggs

Greetings from the land of vikings-
This dish was first created by our mother, Momma Chan- amazing mother of 3/ housewife/ cook :)
Since I have some free green beans- thanks to the courtesy of Josh from his backyard, I decided to make this dish to go with my roasted vegetables.
The ingredients are pretty simple as follow: (serves 3)
  • 1lb green beans
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4T oyster sauce
  • 2T soy sauce
  • 3T vegetable oil
- Heat frying pan at medium high heat and add the vegetable oil
- Add in the garlic and sautee until fragrant
- Add 2 eggs and lightly scramble them in the pan
- Add the green beans and stir fry it for 1-2 min, then add the oyster sauce and soy sauce
- Put a lid over the pan and steam it for 5 min, or until the vegetables are tender with a little crunch

- Posted by skinny bitch #2

Roasted Vegetables

Greetings from the land of vikings-
I decided to make this dish last night because I got home late and I was tired. This is the most simple dish I can think of to go with my rice. It consists of ingredients that I have in my fridge waiting for me to be used before they rot.  
The first time I had this dish was at the Red Square, a Russian restaurant/ bar in Baltimore, MD. It came as a side dish of my main course, which I can barely recall ...some chicken breast stuffed with chesee (obviously the side dish outshines the entree). It was the most flavorful roasted vegetables I have ever had! The vegetables were a little charred from the roasting, and developed a nice nutty flavor, and the onions were sweet and tender (totally opened up my pallet!). Before this I had never thought of roasting vegetables, so I tried to re-create this dish myself at home...and voila, this is it! so EASY! Ever since then this dish has been a great hit among us- busy working sisters.

Ingredients: (serves 5)
  • 1 head of broccoli crown
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 large onion (sliced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (miced)
  • 2-3 sticks of carrots (depending on the size)
  • generous amount of salt
  • 1T black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven at 365F.
- Chop all the vegetables into bite size and toss them together with the salt, pepper, and olive oil
- Roast vegetables for 50 minutes
- Enjoy!
(Note: you can also add bell peppers if you have any)

-Posted by skinny bitch #2

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Malaysian Char kuey teow

almost taste like malaysia!

yo yo yo holler from B'more. Here's a southeast asian delicacy, SPECIFICALLY Malaysian (sorry you Singaporeans out there). A simple flat noodle stir fry with stinky but oh sooooooo yummy "belacan", aka dried shrimp paste.  If you're making anything with shrimp paste, best be making it in a well ventilated location, and that's a warning!
a'ight, basic pantry must have to stay true to the Malaysian char kuey teow (fried flat noodles):

-oil for stir frying, of course
-1 packet of dried flat noodles, or fresh, whatever floats your boat
-2 eggs
-a bunch of bean sprouts or your favorite crunchy veges, such as bell peppers
-LOTSA garlic, at least 6 cloves
-soy sauce, enough to coat all noodles brown (a great cook can't tell you exact measurements sometimes!)
-sugar, by taste
-your choice of meats, shrimp or hard tofu >>> depicted in the picture, and no, not the grocery store type firm tofu, you have to go to special asian store to get the "fake chicken" tofu>> TASTE LIKE CHICKEN!
-Spring onion (scallions, if you don't already know they are interchangably used)

Basic sambal sauce: if you can make a big batch once and store it, this would just create the stink only once!
-3 tbsp stinky shrimp paste
-2 shallots
-3 tbsp sambal oelek 2 tsp sugar
- vege / corn oil for stir frying (again, its a guestimate >2 tbsp?)

Start out with the sambal sauce, coat pan with oil, add in shallots and fry on med/high for a few minutes, throw in sambal and shrimp paste, simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes, then add sugar and simmer for another 3 minutes.

On a separate pot, boil flat noodles until  Al dente (asians are just like italians!), drain and keep the boiling water in a reservoir, and throw in noodles to continue cooking outside of heat > this is the trick to not let the noodles stick and overcooked while you are still getting your other shit together! no other recipes tell you that, and i am giving you the chef's tip!

Coat wok, pot, whatever you have, with oil, and throw in your loads of garlic, before it turns brown, scramble in 2 eggs, then add your meats, cook till almost done, add in the rest of your veges, cook till soften, then ...at this point, you should add some salt to taste to all the ingredients >> you need to layer in your salt flavor!

Then, add in your flat noodles, toss in your sambal mixture and stir fry GENTLY so you don't kill your noodles.  Add in more soysauce to coat your noodles, and also SUGAR >>> a very important ingredient to balance out the taste. I can't tell you how much to add, man you just gotta get down and dirty and experiment with your own palate!  Trust me, the end result is a very fulfilling accomplishment when you cook a great dish!
Lastly, add in some scallions and cilantro (or not, if you hate those 2 flavors).

and.. Voila..