Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

It's the only day of the year when responsible parents will allow their scary, spooky kids to dress in costumes and demand candy from total strangers in the dark. That alone sends shivers up my spine! Wooooooooo!

I found these cute silicon cupcake thingy in my cabinet from last year. You simply pour the muffin batter into these cuties, bake, decorate and serve them. Don't you just love those goblin shoes?

With the kids hovering around, I managed to bake some pumpkin muffins and decorate them for the kids. The last monster was made by sticking 2 muffins together with some frosting, trimming the top and frosting it to make an orange face and purple-ish hair. Used soft black frosting for the eyes and mouth and stuck 2 candy corn onto the mouth for fangs. Not very scary but then I'm catering to toddlers. Will be busy giving away candy tonight. HAPPY HALLOWEEN! BOO!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stir-fry Basil Beef

Thought I'd better catch up with some of my drafts for this food blog. Made this easy stir fry dish to drop off at a potluck recently. Brought brown rice with it and everyone wanted the recipe except one who wanted me to cook for her.
2 lb flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
4 tbs soy sauce
4 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs light brown sugar
1/2 c salted peanuts, crushed
4 large shallots, sliced
4 Thai chilies, chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced
10 green beans, sliced
4 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 c chopped fresh basilMarinade the flank steak with 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tsp fish sauce, and kosher salt for 30 mins. Combine the remaining 2 Tbs soy sauce and 2 tsp fish sauce with 2tbs of the lime juice and brown sugar. Set aside.
In a non-stick skillet, add 2 tbs oil over high heat. Add beef (it'll sizzle), and cook till the beef loses it's raw appearance. Remove from skillet onto a plate.
Reduce heat to medium, add 2 tbs oil and add shallots, Thai chilies, and stir till shallots are soft and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the shallots. Add red peppers and green beans and stir-fry for another 2 mins. Return beef to the pan and stir everything together. Add soy mixture and stir fry for a min. Add 1/2 of the cilantro and basil, and stir-fry for 2 mins. Add remaining lime juice, cilantro and basil and stir-fry for 1 min. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

Monday, October 29, 2007

One Autumn Morning

Not much cooking or baking this weekend as one of my kids woke up on Saturday morning with croup (sounded like a seal barking) and her sibling also showed similar signs of stridor (squealing sound and difficulty breathing) the following day. Their pediatrician confirmed that this is the season and most kids will have it for 3-5 days.

But on a lighter note, I want to share with you this picture captured early Sunday at daybreak. The air balloon seemed to floating effortlessly by. The dawn air smelled of pine trees and the northern breeze was chilly, but it felt good to be outside listening to the birds chirping and the winding dancing in and around the trees. I felt recharged in my 10 minutes of solitude before running back into the house for warmth in the form of a cuppa hot chocolate. Later, the sun came out and warmed everything up by late morning. Winter is around the corner, but this was a great autumn day. And I'm hopeful that my kids' immune system will be stronger after this episode.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Breasts, Bacon and Pine Nuts Stir Fry

Brussels sprouts are the kind vegetable that are loved by many and similarly loathed by plenty. According to this site, it is a "very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate" (a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food.)

Also found on the brussels sprouts site, these vegetables are especially high in Vitamin C, and have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent that. And H loves brussels sprouts, so it usually makes it's way to our dinner table, especially this time of year.

Catering to the special requests for this family can be a challenge sometimes. My dear Hubs requests that there be no carbs on his dinner plate tonight, and I was wondering what to make that would feed him and the family. So I came up with this healthy stir-fry with cubed white chicken breasts, bacon, brussels sprouts, pine nuts that is flavored with shallots, garlic and sesame oil. The kids and I had this with steamed rice.I microwaved the brussels sprouts to get it partially cooked before stir-fry to speed up the cooking time, and added crispy cooked bacon and toasted pine nuts in the end to elevate the texture of this dish. A quick easy weeknight all-in-one dish it also satisfy a special request from a special person.

1 lb brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
2 med shallots, minced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs sesame oil
2 half chicken breasts, diced
5 slices of bacon, cooked til crispy for garnish
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted for garnish

Note: Hubs loved this dish and the kids ate most of the chicken and bacon. This is the 10th time I've exposed my kids to this robusty tasty little vegetable and they were eating some (2 bites). Experts (their pediatrician) says that you have to expose your kids to a food for 13 times before they will eat it. What can I say?

Cellophane Noodles Stir Fry and I'm a Schmoozer!

I love the bouncy texture of cellophane noodles made from mung bean flour, and their translucent appearance adds to the appeal. And I like the versatility of it's bland taste as it takes in the flavors of the sauce or soup very well. Made this flavorful stir-fry recipe that I adapted from Fine Cooking.

To cook the cellophane noodles, boil a pot of water and remove from heat. Drop in a bundle (about 3-4 oz) of cellophane noodles and let sit for 3-4 mins til it's just softened. Drain and rinse well in running water. Add 1 tbs of vegetable oil, toss and set aside in a colander to continue draining.

In a small bowl mix
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs sesame oil
1 1/2 rice vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar

1/2 - 3/4 lb flank steak, partially frozen for 20 mins, and sliced thinly across the grain. Season beef with salt and pepper.Heat 2 Tbs of sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over med. heat til hot. Add 1-2 tsp minced garlic and stir fry for 1 min. Careful that you don't burn the garlic. Add sliced flank steak, and stir-fry quickly til it's no longer raw, about 1 min. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add shallots and vegetables to pan and stir-fry for 2-3 mins til vegetables are softened. Add beef and noodles to skillet and mix the ingredients together. Add soy sauce mixture and stir-fry til everything is coated, about 2-3 mins. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Note: This is very good, especially if you want to turn up the heat and add some thinly sliced thai bird's eye chilli.... Wooohoooo! There also another cellophane noodle recipe here.

I also want to thank Padma's Kitchen for sending this award my way, although I don't know if I am that good at schmoozer, especially if you ask my family as they think I'm a tyrant. But I will gladly accept it and keep it. Just kidding! I'll share, of course. To be fair to all the bloggers that are linked here, I will be passing this award to the following friendly bloggers whose names were the first 6 picked out by four little helpful hands:

Retno Prihadana
Beau Lotus/East Meets West
Cris/From our home to yours
Little Corner of Mine
Kelly Mahoney

The reason there were six picks was because the kids had to have 3 picks each. And they continued picking til all the names on the sticks were gone, so that just proved that you are ALL schmoozers! YAY! Hooray! Happy Day!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Easy Easy Easy Key Lime Pie

My girlfriend P from Atlanta, Georgia came over for a nice visit and gave me this fun, easy recipe for Key Lime Pie. This is such an easy recipe that I'm thrilled to share with you. Especially to Marty and Kathryn over in the bay area. The secret ingredient, according to P, was the special key lime juice that you can get at the grocery store. Top it with freshly whipped cream infused with lime zest and you have yourself a delicious treat. Here's a picture of the key lime pie.Here's the recipe she gave me:

Ready-made graham cracker pie crust
1 can 14 oz condensed milk (used fat free)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

Fresh whipped cream
In a heavy mixer, beat heavy whipping cream with sugar and grated lime til soft peaks or desired consistency.

Set oven at 350. Blend condensed milk, egg yolks, 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice til smooth, and pour into pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 mins. before putting into refrigerator. When ready to serve, top pie with fresh whipped cream and serve. Enjoy!

Note: Since I don't reside in a citrus friendly zone, fresh key limes are a rare find in this land-locked state. So P recommended using Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice as a substitute and it worked very well. You can find this bottled key lime juice in the baking section of your grocery store. It was by the Jello aisle in my store.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

15-Bean Soup with Chicken and Turkey Kielbasa Sausages

With the cold wind knocking on my door and windows, it's the time of year for hot delicious soups for the family. And there's no easier way than making bean soup. And the house smells so good and homey when the soup is cooking. I was inspired by Kalyn's post on bean soup, and when I was at the grocery store, I chanced upon this 15-bean packet for chicken, and decided to try it. The beans came with a packet of seasonings that made this soup so convenient. With the help of a pressure cooker, these came out in 1 hour and lunch was ready.

Rinse and soak the 15 variety beans overnight for minimum of 8 hours. Drain the water and place beans in pressure cooker with 2 quarts (8 cups) water, 2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced turkey kielbasa sausage, 1/2 c chopped onions, 1 c carrots, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 c chopped celery, and 1/2 c chopped bell peppers.

Cook in the pressure cooker for 45 mins to 1 hour. After an hour, allow the steam to escape the pressure cooker completely, and you're comforted with a bowl of chicken, kielbasa bean soup.

Another Tag/Meme for this month

This is a picture of a pumpkin field where we picked some pumpkins for Halloween.

Onward to a totally different subject.

It seems like when I get a tag/meme, there's bound to be more coming soon after. And this has been send my way by a nice fellow blogger Bokjae who tagged me on this blogger interview, and here is it... Warning: this is a long one...

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? Hubs

2. What were you doing at 0800? Getting breakfast ready for my kids

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Taking cookies out of the oven

4. What happened to you in 2006? Started blogging on August 31.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? Don't hit your sister!

6. How many beverages did you have today? Caffeinated or Decaff?

7. What color is your hairbrush? Which one?

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Groceries at Safeway

9. Where were you last night? With my family

10. What color is your front door? Green

11. Where do you keep your change? Where else?

12. What’s the weather like today? Cold, Windy, Grey Skies

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia

14. What excites you? Fruits

15. Do you want to cut your hair? No if you're going to cut it.

16. Are you over the age of 25? No, cause I'm taking the BIRTHDAY control pill.

17. Do you talk a lot? Define 'a lot.'

18. Do you watch the O.C.? Yes

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes

20. Do you make up your own words? Would like to, especially during scrabble!

21. Are you a jealous person? Sometimes, I jealous of my shadow.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Ah Friend

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Kool Friend

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? Hubs

25. What does the last text message you received say? Call me!

26. Do you chew on your straw? Why not?

27. Do you have curly hair? Does chemicals count?

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? Heaven I hope

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? People who don't matter

30. What was the last thing you ate? Cupcakes

31. Will you get married in the future? Hope Not Again

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? Happy Feet on DVD

33. Is there anyone you like right now? Yes

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? Does loading dishwasher count?

35. Are you currently depressed? Hahahhaha!

36. Did you cry today? Tears of joy from laughing too hard?

37. Why did you answer and post this? Because I like the person who send me this.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey. Little Corner of Mine, Kookyculinary, Lee Ping, Padma's Kitchen, Big Boys Oven.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween Cupcakes Part Deux

I must have offended the blogger spirits over the weekend, but all is well now as I finally succeeded in uploading all these pictures today. As you may already know, I made some pumpkin cupcakes over the weekend, and the recipe I used made 36 cupcakes which was perfect for a group of mom's get-together. As I wasn't very creative at 4 am that particular morning, I simply stuck with a few simple frosting designs for the cupcakes, and here's the results. The kids enjoyed them too.
The wiggly ghosts were fun to make with a round tip filled with white frosting.
When the kids woke up, they helped put the eyes on the ghosts and the spiders.
The eyeballs were simply gummy candy I have in the pantry with chocolate chip in the center. Then lots of squiggly red frosting for the red-eye. The bats and cat below were last minute addition from the kids.
It's not my best work, but I had fun decorating them. Which one do you like best?

Here's some more halloween cupcakes from last year at this link.

I used Wilton's frosting/icing recipe:
1 cup solid white vegetable (no trans-fat) shortening
1 lb pure can confectioner's sugar (approx 4 cups)
1 tbs wilton Meringue Powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp Flavoring (used vanilla)
1-2 tbs water
Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Sift confectioner's sugar and add it with the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix over medium speed til blended and creamy.

This makes a stiff consistency.
For medium consistency: add 1 additional tsp of water to a cup of stiff consistency frosting/icing to achieve that.
For thin consistency: add 2 tsp of water to a cup of stiff consistency frosting/icing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It Snowed!

Here's a picture of the large flurries falling early yesterday morning. The strange part for me is that the trees still have their fall colored leaves on them when the snow started. Usually the deciduous trees would be bare when it snowed. It was quite a sight!

It cleared by 1 pm, but it was a sure sign that winter is around the corner!

Had been tagged by Big Boy's Oven over the weekend, so here it is...

5 things:

A. Found in my room
1. cooking magazines
2. cookbooks
3. laptop
4. cell phone
5. small fish tank

B. I have always wanted to do
1. a long vacation
2. visit old friends around the world
3. cooking lessons in Tuscany
4. Disney cruise
5. Drive cross-country

C. found in my bag
1. kid's toys
2. car keys
3. coupons
4. cell phone
5. mentos

D. found in my wallet
1. driver's license
2. change
3. credit cards
4. pictures of my kids
5. a picture of my hubby

E. I am currently into
1. playing with my kids
2. making halloween treats
3. reading a new cookbook
4. visiting other food bloggers
5. rearranging furniture in the living room

5 candidates to tag

Beau Lotus
Grandma Stories

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Halloween Cupcakes Part 1

We took a leisurely mini road trip today towards Estes Park, and drove by the perfect setting for a Halloween party - the infamous Stanley Hotel that was made popular by Stephen King in the book and movie The Shining. In the movie, it was named the Overlook Hotel, and rumor has it that Mr Stephen King stayed in room 207 and wrote the story there.

And driving by it in cool misty rain with grey clouds hovering did send chills to my bones as I remembered that sinister look on Jack Nicholson's character's face when he said "Honey, I home!" EEEEE! Why was the door left ajar??? Who opened it???

Soon after we arrived back home, I turned on the satellite radio, and on came Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo. And to the tune of that song, I baked these cupcakes and decorated them while the kids took a nap. Used this great recipe from Dede Wilson, Author of Bake It To The Limit.

For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (used chopped pecans)
1 cup raisins (omitted)
1 can (15 oz.) solid-packed pumpkin (about
1 3/4 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs

For the frosting:
14 oz. pure white chocolate, finely chopped
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature, cut
into tablespoon-size pieces
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
temperature, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

Food coloring
Colored sugars and decorating pens

Set and heat oven to 350. Line three 12-cup muffin tins with decorative cupcake papers.

To make the cupcakes, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Toss the walnuts and raisins with the flour mixture. (This will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin tins.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, stirring with a large wooden spoon until just combined.

Fill the muffin tins about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the tins to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tins and let cool completely.To make the frosting, in a double boiler, melt the white chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Let stand until just warm to the touch. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth and blended. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth. Use the frosting immediately, coloring it as desired. Spread 1 to 2 Tbs. frosting over each cupcake and decorate with colored sugars and decorating pens. Makes 36 cupcakes.

These moist pumpkin cupcakes can be tailored to your family's preferences. For a more grown-up version, substitute chopped crystallized ginger and dried cranberries for the walnuts and raisins.

Unfrosted cupcakes will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Once frosted, cupcakes are best eaten within 1 day.

Dede Wilson, Author, Bake It To The Limit

Note: Though these cupcakes are more kid-friendly and far less scary than Halloween movies, the pumpkin flavor and frosting did bring out the little horns in me.

For some reason, I'm having trouble uploading pictures tonight. Will try to upload the frosted muffins pictures later. Sorry guys! Come back tomorrow, and I'll try to get the problem fixed by then.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Road Trip

Just returned home and wanted to upload this picture for you guys. We took a mini road trip to the a little town nestled in a valley above 7500 feet from sea level and took this picture in misty rain and fog. Wanna make a guess where we went? Hint: This was the site for a Stephen King movie and a very scary one, I thought.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Crabby Mommy Omelette

It was raining again this morning, and fog with the cold temperature were all seducing me back to slumber land. It would have been nice to sleep til noon, I thought. But no matter how many times I hit the snooze button, the alarm kept shocking me back into reality... Then I remembered that I don't have the luxury of sleeping in these days when I heard my kids woke up from their sleep. The next thing I know, they were climbing up my bed, jumping on me, laughing, smothering me and giggling as they try to tickle me with their little hands. One of my kids must have spotted the tired look on my face when she asked why her mommy was so crabby. I was surprised and happy that she had learned that word and thought about it (like where did she learn that) all the while I was ushering them to the kitchen and preparing them breakfast. That's when I thought this omelette would be the order of the day. And it did put me in a brighter, cheerier perspective. Because by the time I finished making the omelette, the rain had stopped, the wind had calmed down, and the sun had popped out to play. Oh Happy Day!

Crabby Mommy Omelette
1 cup mixed fresh vegetables (used shallots, fresh thyme, red bell pepper, celery and tomatoes)
1 Tbs green onions
1 cup fresh crab meat, picked over
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup feta cheeseIn a non-stick pan over medium high heat, add a tbs butter and saute fresh vegetables for a 1 min.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped green onions and
crab and continue to saute. Add beaten eggs. Flip omelette to cook the top side.
Serve with toast and your choice of breakfast beverage. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shredded Pork Mantou Sandwich Buns

I enjoy many cuisines, and lately my cooking had steered toward Hawaiian cuisine. This is often persuaded by which cookbook(s) I am reading. One of the many cookbooks I've been enjoying lately is by chef Sam Choy (the guru that made spam and char siew fried rice better known to mainland Americans, and also widely popular for home cooks in South-East Asia). This is one of his recipes that used the home-friendly oven to roast Hawaiian pork instead of an imu (underground oven using coals and sand), and I love this as a shredded pork dish for my little mantau (chinese steamed buns) sandwiches. I also made this with some vegetables for the asian women's meeting last weekend, and had compliments for this dish. Some of the ladies had asked for the recipe, so I'm sharing it here. The traditional way of serving this is with sweet potatoes and poi (mashed taro root). I adapted his recipe and this serves 6-8. The original recipe also appeared in Bon Appetit.

7 lb boneless pork butt
3-4 tablespoons Hawaiian alaea sea salt
2 tbs light soy sauce
4-5 frozen banana leaves, thawed and rinsed
6-8 cups water

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Set the oven at 350F. Cut 1/4-inch-deep slits 1 inch apart all over pork roast. Rub 2 tablespoons sea salt and light soy sauce all over pork. Rinse and towel dry banana leaves. Unfold 1 or 2 banana leaf on work surface and place pork roast atop leaf. Fold up leaf around pork, enclosing completely. Repeat wrapping pork in remaining 2 banana leaves.

Tie securely with kitchen string, then wrap roast in foil. Make sure to wrap foil securely so that you save some of the juice from the roast. Place pork in roasting pan and pour about 4 cups water into pan..Roast pork in oven until very tender when pierced with fork, about 5 hours. You may have to add more hot water to the water-bath once or twice during the cooking process. After cooking, wait a few mins. and carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven.

Unwrap pork and cool slightly. Shred pork and place in large bowl. Pour the juices into a gravy separator to remove fat. Bring remaining 2 cups water and remaining 2 teaspoons salt to boil in saucepan. Add the juices from the roast. Add liquid smoke, and pour over pork and stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to allow liquid to flavor pork. Serve

Note: I have done this once without using the banana leaves, and it came out fine. Great with a green salad and/or cucumbers as sides. In the picture above, I prepared this recipe with steamed plain Chinese mantou buns as a fun delicious sandwich for this pork dish and my keiki loved it. I added some green onions and red peppers in mine for an extra crunch.
I have also read somewhere (I think it's one of the forums) that you can use a oven bag to cook the pork in and I intend to try that next time I make this.Here's a shot from the asian women's meeting last weekend. I didn't get many shots as my flash wasn't working properly that day. The famous Lily Ng was present with her freshly baked pastry and A.Y. brought her tasty assam fish and biryani. J.K. brought some beautiful sausage rolls, S.H brought sweet kuih dadar and P.K. brought a nice, dark, spicy chicken dish. E.W. brought yummy meatballs, and J.H. brought her very spicy chicken curry. There were many more, but I can't recall who brought what though. I finally got to chat with some old friends and met some new ones. Didn't cook much myself except for a chicken drumstick curry dish, basmati rice, Hawaiian pork with veggies, bubur hitam (that I inevitably forgot to stir in all the excitement), and some mini cocktail sausages. All the ladies brought wonderful feast for the potluck and I thought everyone had a great time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quick Chicken Curry Noodle Soup

I was just telling a friend yesterday that this is the perfect time of year to cuddle up to a good book and a cup of hot, steaming tea as the weather turns colder each passing day. However, it was so cold waking up this morning to rain, fog, and grey skies that I felt like having a little spicy noodle for lunch to warm me up fast. I often make this as a quick, simple, and spicy lunch for one, and it works well with different vegetables and meat too. The contents will fill two little appetites nicely as well. The kids were busy munching on with their mac and cheese, shredded chicken breast and broccoli as I prepared this dish for myself. Will be sending this entry to Presto Pasta Week Roundup #34 hosted by the wonderful Ruth Daniels at

Quick Chicken Curry Noodle Soup
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp red curry paste (or more depending on your heat preference)
1/2 c to 1 cup green peas
1/2 c red bell pepper
dash of fish sauce (I like the 3-crabs brand)
1 c cooked Noodles (I used egg noodles)
2 c coconut milk (use light evaporated milk if you don't like coconut milk)
1 Grilled Chicken Breasts (used my leftover from dinner)
fresh thai basil
Crushed up peanuts for garnish (optional)
Crushed pepper flakes for garnish (optional)Add a little oil to a non-stick pan and add onions, garlic, and red peppers. Cook til fragrant, about 2-4 mins. Add red pepper paste and mix well. Add coconut milk, green peas and chicken, and stir til just simmering. Do not let the coconut milk come to a full boil. Add basil leaves and simmer for 2-4 mins. Pour over noodles, garnish with ground peanuts and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Note: I had made this with bamboo shoots, asparagus, and eggplant and it came out wonderful too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Halloween Green-Tea Pancakes

I am turning green. Or is it yellow-ish?

It's more like a mellow green-ish, yellow-ish color. Like green eggs and ham?

It started with that awful cold my family had last week, and it was followed by the stretch of rainy days. Come to think of it, it is all because of my little can of matcha that's been sitting at my counter, staring at me across the room, and constantly reminding me to make something of it. So I finally gave into that voice in my head. Seeing that it's the season for yellow-ish green, orange, purple and black. The other colors will come soon, so I'll start with this yellow-ish green. There's a name for it, but what is it? I was about to call it Shrek green! But that's not it.

So I made these yellow-ish-green-ish pancakes for a group of ladies last Tuesday morning as an early Halloween treat. I added some semi-smashed red beans for effect and served it with organic maple syrup and President unsalted butter for the total breakfast treat. I used my favorite buttermilk pancake recipe and added 2 tsp matcha to the mix.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp matcha (green tea powder)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups sour cream
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extractMix the dry ingredients together and whisk in the wet ingredients. Stir tilled mixed but still lumpy.

Melt butter on non-stick pan over medium heat and add batter by 1/4 to 1/3 cupfuls. Once it's bubbles on top of batter, turn it over and cook about another 3 mins. or til golden brown. Transfer to plate.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Note: The kids enjoyed the colors too. I also added fruits on their pancakes for fun. The ladies thought the color was 'awesome.' Very subtle green tea taste, but great effect for Halloween.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hearty Chicken Roti Sandwich for the Ski Slopes

It's going to be ski season again, and I can't wait to bring my little ones onto the ski slopes. Most of the ski slopes open around the 3rd week of November, and there will be a line of cars heading towards the mountains then.

In the meantime, I'd like to share this fun little recipe that I often make for breakfast before hitting the ski slopes in the early mornings. The ingredients are so versatile and you can use leftover chicken and mashed potatoes from the dinner the night before.

Whole wheat bread
Cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
1/4 c chopped red onion
1 bird's eye chilie, choped (optional)
1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c chopped celery
1/4 c green peas
1/2 c mashed potatoes
Worcestershire sauce
pepper and salt
1 egg

Heat non-stick skillet with some butter. Saute the chopped onions, celery and red peppers together for 2-4 mins over low heat. Add chicken, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Add in desired amount of mashed potatoes (I usually use about 1/2 cup).
Spread some butter on bread and top with cooked filling. Brush egg over the bread.

Place in a broiler and heat til golden brown.

Serve immediately with your choice of breakfast drink.

Odeh Odeh/Oneh Oneh/Ondeh Ondeh/Onde Onde

You must be wondering what I did with those gorgeous coconuts by now...

Well, besides stringing the half shells together for a quick replica of my favorite Hawaiian top (just kidding!), I've drank the coconut juice/water, made coconut milk with half of the coconut, and grated the other half of the coconut using two gadgets. One was this contraption that would be great for Halloween's torture chamber or time travel machine as one fellow blogger called it. The other was this hand-held scrapper that was very tedious work, but great for my upper arm aka turkey flaps. And I'm sure I don't have to go into details on those.

Made some fun kuih/kueh that are sweet sticky desserts from Malay/Nonya beginnings that are commonly found in South-East Asia.

The first one I made was Odeh Odeh or Oneh Oneh or Ondeh Ondeh, or Onde Onde depending where are you from and which source it was from. One of the many Nonya kuihs of my childhood, this is indeed my favorite. This is a cute little snack, usually sold in little groups of 3-5 round chewy, bouncy balls filled with sweet brown palm sugar (gula Maleka) and coated with freshly grated coconut. When you bite into one of these, it a combination of sweet crunchy coconut texture with the chewiness of the glutinous rice dough and then you reach into the sweet half-melted molasses-like and tasty palm sugar. It's a treat to your taste buds. There are many variations to this snack and this is the first recipe I attempted since I found my coconut shredder.

Used Amy Beh's recipe:
8 pandan (screwpine) leaves, cut into 3cm lengths

200g glutinous rice flour, sifted

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup boiling hot water

A few drops green colouring (omitted)

1/2 fresh grated coconut, mixed with a pinch of salt and steamed on pandan leaves for 5 mins.

Filling (combine):

100g gula Melaka

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

Put pandan leaves and a little water in a blender. Blend into a coarse pulp. Strain using a fine sieve to obtain two tablespoons of thick juice. Set the juice aside.

Put sifted glutinous rice flour and pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Pour in boiling hot water and pandan juice. Stir well to form a smooth dough. If dough is too stiff, add a little water; if it is too wet, add a little glutinous flour.

Divide dough into small pieces and form lime-size balls. Flatten each piece, put half a teaspoon of filling in the centre and roll again into onde-onde balls.

Drop the onde-onde into boiling water. When the balls are cooked they will float. Scoop up the onde-onde with a perforated ladle, drain and toss in grated coconut.Note: I can only find frozen pandan leaves and used a few more to get the thick liquid. This onde onde recipe is a new one for me, and quite tasty, but I can't wait to try the other recipe that called for sweet potatoes as it would be softer in texture according to my friend SS.
Will try to make this cute little snack again soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

C-O-C-O-N-U-T A-B-C!

Funny how the songs of our childhood can be stuck in our heads for such a long time, and little things we do a minute ago can be lost... like where did I place the car keys?

I remembered my older cousins spelling C-O-C-O, N-U-T, and singing coconut, coconut, A-B-C! I shouldn't have said that out loud while attacking my coconut earlier, because now my kids are singing it too. Over and over and over and over .... not again!

Yes, you heard me right. I was attacking the coconut and trying to crack it's hard stubborn shell. All for a little fresh coconut treat inside this little round tropical fruit. In my previous life, I had grown up in an area coconut trees would sprout along the beaches (if space would allow) and coconut vendors at the wet market where my mom could purchase coconut in any form for cooking, but I never thought I would be here today writing about my own little experience. And that's what we have to do when we don't have the conveniences of our desired location.

In case you're wondering why I was singing coconuts, it's because of a sinister looking gadget/contraption called a coconut shredder. It is made in India and none of my friends in South-east Asia knew what this was or why I would want this thing.I had been searching the globe for this apparatus from my little red chair in front of my laptop, and emailed every friend I had (or used to have) asking if she/he/they have seen a coconut shredder of that sort. Finally, my dear SS (she prefers I call her that in my blog) send this to me two months ago. Well I received it yesterday (HOORAY!) and ran out to buy two coconuts for my experiment.

Now comes the tricky part. I am aware that cracking open coconuts are no small feat, and I am venturing into unknown territories. Done my little research in the form of reading everything about how to crack open a coconut. And I have read a few scary and funny stories on this subject. But actually doing it is.....well, INTERESTINGLY something I would do again. But not sometime soon.

Here's my attempt.

First, I used a short screwdriver and poke into one of the eyes of the coconut. Sounds cruel and so Halloween-like, don't you think?

The first eye was easy to piece through. The second one was tricky and I had to use a hammer and an ice pick. Maybe the coconut didn't like two of it's three eyes pieced. I was done after that making those two holes. Drained the liquid out of the coconut as you saw in the first picture. One of the sites I visited suggested tapping the coconut with the back of a Chinese cleaver to crack open the coconut. Nothing. Tapped again. Nope. Nothing happened to my coconut when I did that. So I stopped doing that.

Then I took my coconut, an old chopping board, my hammer, and headed into the garage. There I used my hammer and knock on the coconut several times, singing that silly coconut song. My kids had followed me out and soon I heard their childish voices echoing to my song again from five feet behind me. Good thing the garage doors were shut, as I didn't want my neighbors walking by and looking into the garage as I hammered my coconut while wearing goggles and rubber gloves. And better for me that Hubs was not around the corner laughing! That coconut shell is a hard thing to crack. After the ninth hit, it cracked! YIPPEEE!.

Back into the house with everything and kids in toll chanting that song in their little voices, I clean up all the tools, and proceeded to use my new found sinister coconut shredder.So what were your thoughts on that little mystery dish that required me to sought out the evil apparatus that seemed so appropriate for Halloween and for me to go through all this trouble with my coconuts?

A little guess, perhaps?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Asparagus Sesame Delight

When I started my kids at preschool for a few hours a week this fall, I thought that would free up some time from my crazy schedule. But that was wishful thinking. Have been spending the first week at Starbucks mobbing, the second week home attending to a sick family including myself. Now the third week's here and I still haven't gotten to my halloween projects. Maybe I should take up a time mangement course. If I ever find the time!

So this week I have been preparing simple dinners like bbq-ing meat dishes since the weather have been cold and dry. Have been preparing the side dishes over the stove, and one of the more favorable vegetable dishes that was also family-approved was this easy asparagus side dish. I made it twice so far, and added chicken in the second time I stir-fried it for a complete meal, and it was delightful both ways. Adapted this recipe from Jamie Elizabeth Flick of Staten Island, NY and was published in Bon Appetite.

3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal into 2-inch-long pieces
4 teaspoons sesame seeds

Stir soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Heat oil in heavy large skillet. Add garlic and stir 15-20 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add soy mixture and toss until asparagus is coated, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.Note: A simple, healthy and tasty side dish that can be whipped up in no time. If only more dishes can be done that way. This recipe will be good for french cut green beans too!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Buns with Chicken

First I thought of naming this post chicken buns, but Hubs thought that it would imply that I was actually fixing chickens' butts and bottoms like 'nice buns', or bums...

I also thought of calling it Chicken Stuffed Buns. And he laughed.

So I changed it to Buns of Steel! Oh No. I'm just kidding!

It's now Buns with chicken. Unless I hear different for you?

I know....

You can go so many ways with that too, can't ya?

Now on with the recipe.... before my mind goes down the gutter again. And that's not hard to do with all the cold and decongestion medicine in my head at the moment.1 med onion, diced
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, rinsed and fat pockets removed
1/4 inch ginger knob, grated or minced finely
1/4 c finely chopped scallions
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce
10 frozen dinner roll dough pieces, thawed
1 lg egg, beaten
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Add 1 tbs of vegetable oil to a non-stick skillet over med heat. Add onions and saute til soft. Remove onions. Add 1 tbs oil, chicken and ginger to the same skillet and cook 4-5 mins on each side til done. Place them onto a bowl and add scallions, rice vinegar, cayenne pepper, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce. Mix well.

Flatten dough into circles with a rolling pin on a floured surface. Place a piece of chicken thigh onto dough and spoon some sauce on top of it. Bring edges of dough over filling and pinch to seal. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil. Coat dough with some vegetable oil. Cover and leave for 20 mins. In the meantime, heat oven to 375F.

After about 20 mins. brush dough with egg-wash and bake for 15-20 mins or til golden brown. Serve buns while hot or warm.

Adapted from Cooking Light as I added some more ingredients to the original recipe.

Note: I did some without shredding the chicken and it made some good size buns. It's an easy recipe and not bad, but the buns were not as soft as the ones sold in Asia. A nice change from the norm and convenient snack for the family

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chicken Soup for the Cold

Firstly, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your well-wishes. I couldn't stay away from the computer for long, although it's feels fussy to write with all the cold meds in my head.

Dear Judy of Grandma Stories was right about kids getting sick easily when exposed to an array of germs in the classroom at the beginning of school. I'm glad that this will help build up their immune systems. Was also glad I'm building mine up too, although I hadn't anticipated that.

Had a great weekend with my in-laws while they were here. Then came Monday morning when one of the kids had a runny nose dripping like a out-of-sync faucet all day. As with most kids in a family, it wasn't long before the other one followed. And follow she did today. Now with a duo of runny noses, raspy voices and a constant chanting of "MOMMY", I gathered whatever I had in the fridge, freezer and pantry to make some chicken soup for all of us. And yes, I was sneezing too!

Homemade Chicken Broth
This is something I always try to have on hand for those days that I need a little boost to a stir fry or a day like today. I needed broth in a hurry before the next kid hollered for her mommy. Here's a great tip: before you make your broth, freeze several used big bottled water containers in the freezer that's filled with tap water. This will make the cooling of the chicken broth much faster and help decrease the growth of bacteria in your broth. This was taught to me by a chef neighbor ions ago. I learned that when the broth is cooked and left out for more than a couple of hours at room temperature, bacteria will begin to multiply so quickly you won't be able to see the smoke from the dust. Since most bacteria do not give out a bad odor or change the color or texture of the broth, it can go unnoticed. Putting the broth in the fridge as soon as possible will help slow down the growth of some bacteria, and freezing can also slow and stop most bacteria. Reheating the frozen broth to a rolling boil for a few minutes will thoroughly destroy the bacteria. So now it make sense to me why my mom used to say "eat it while it's hot!".

1 4 lb chicken, inlets removed and rinsed
5 quarts of water
3 leeks white part only cleaned thoroughly and quartered
3 ribs of celery with leaves halved
10 parsley stems
2 thumb size ginger, smashed with the side of a cleaver (optional)
3 large carrots quartered
3 large onions quartered
10 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt
Salt and pepper to taste

Rub kosher salt all over chicken (inside too) and let sit for 30 mins. Rinse well and place in a large pot. Add everything to pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 hours. Remove chicken and save the meat in a bowl for other uses. Return carcass to pot and simmer for another hour. Turn off the heat. Plunge the frozen bottled-water containers into the soup. I normally use three big frozen bottles. In a few mins, the broth will be cool enough to go into the fridge. When it's cool, fill up some ice cube trays with broth, and you will always have homemade broth on hand. Recipe adapted from

Note and tip: I usually like my chicken stock a hint of smokiness, so I add 2 tbs soy sauce in the cooking process.

Homemade Chicken Soup
Homemade chicken broth
2 Chicken Breasts
3 stalks celery
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbs chopped fresh dill
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minces
1 med onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
egg noodles or rice

That is what a good, healthy mom would do for her sick kids. But I am a sick kid too. Since we were tired of chicken noodle soup by now, I made a slight variation with this my short-cut version with homemade chicken broth.Made a braised pork roast with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, homemade chicken broth and seasonings in the crockpot, cooked some bow-tie pasta and steamed vegetables in chicken broth and combined everything together. My taste buds were shot at that moment, but the kids consumed all of it and asked for seconds, so it must not have been that bad.

Tip #3: With all that chicken stock that you made, freeze them in ice-cube trays so that you can easily use them in stir-frys, soups, or sauces when you need them. Pour into ice-cube trays and place in freezer til frozen. Then remove from trays and place in ziplock bag. That way when you need to use it, just drop the desired amount of ice cubes into your cooking when you need it. This works especially well for my stir-frys.

Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise Sauce

Since we are all fighting a cold, I thought it would be good therapy for me to make a sit-down breakfast for the family. They enjoy Eggs Benedict, and love dipping their potatoes into the pool of 'yellow sauce' as they call it. Used this recipe for hollandaise sauce and it worked very well.

3 egg yolks (to combine the fat-based and water-based liquids, and because of that, we can enjoy things like cakes, mayo and Cesar dressing.)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs water
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
a pinch of white pepper
1 1/2 to 2 sticks (6–8 ounces) melted butter

Put the egg yolks in the pan and beat them with a wire whisk for a minute or two until they are slightly thickened.

Beat in the lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper until they are well combined.

Place the pan over low heat and stir the mixture with the wire whisk until it becomes smooth, creamy, and thicker. You’ve now created the initial emulsion.

During cooking, the pan from the heat occasionally to keep the mixture from cooking too quickly.Turn off heat and remove pan from heat. Begin adding the melted butter by no more than a quarter teaspoon at a time, quickly beating in each addition before you add the next. Make sure you scrape the mixture from the sides and bottom of the pan. When the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, you may beat in the butter by half tablespoons. It takes about 5 minutes to create the final emulsion.

Serve at once—or keep the sauce warm by setting it over a pan of lukewarm water. Hollandaise is served warm, not hot. Recipe adapted from

For the cholesterol conscious friends of mine, I have yet to find a tasty, suitable replacement to the egg yolks in hollandaise sauce, but will let you know as soon as I find a great recipe.

Eggs Benedict recipe for 4 pax.

8 ounces 1/4-inch-thick slices Black Forest ham

4 English muffins, split, toasted

8 large eggs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or chopped fresh Italian parsley

Using 3 1/4-inch biscuit cutter or clean 6-ounce tuna can as template, cut ham slices into rounds.

Preheat oven to 300F.

Fill large skillet with enough water to reach depth of 2 inches. Add white wine vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to water. Bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Spread 3 tablespoons butter and some Dijon mustard over split sides of English muffins.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ham rounds and cook just until beginning to brown, about 1 minute per side. Place ham atop prepared English muffins. Arrange English muffins on baking sheet.

Keep warm in oven while preparing eggs.

Crack eggs into skillet of simmering water. Cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes for medium-set yolks. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to plate.

Stir hollandaise sauce (recipe given earlier)

Place 1 egg atop ham on each prepared muffin half.

Spoon warm sauce over eggs, sprinkle with basil or parsley, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit