Monday, August 31, 2009

Chicken Lu'au

Hubby received a Hawaiian cookbook, Best of the Best from Hawaii cookbook, a couple of years ago from friends of ours who went to Hawaii. They knew how much we loved Hawaii and how much I loved to cook. Their only request was for me to cook something for them out of the cookbook. I have yet to cook for them, but I have tried a few of the recipes, like the Chicken Lu'au. There were 3 versions of Chicken Lu'au. I figured Chicken Lu'au was a popular dish, so I decided to try it. This version seemed quite salty. And I realized that there might've been a typo when it asked for 1 1/2 Tablespoon of salt. At first, I thought Hawaiian food is usually salty. But then I saw the other version of Chicken Lu'au, and they each called for 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt. So I've changed the recipe on here so I won't make that mistake again.

2 lbs. chicken pieces
4 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
3 lbs. fresh spinach, washed
3 cups coconut milk

1) Melt butter in a stock pot on medium heat. Brown chicken in butter. Add water and salt and simmer until chicken is tender.

2) Remove chicken from broth. Add salt and pepper to further season the broth. Add spinach and cock on low until tender.

3) Add 2 cups of warm coconut milk and simmer for 2 minutes. Return chicken in broth and cook for another minute.

4) Transfer in a serving dish and pour remaining coconut milk over the chicken. Serve with rice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lemon Bars

I've been making lemon bars for years using this recipe. I used to make them out of a box, and like my other recipes, I wanted to learn how to make it from scratch. I'm fortunate enough to have parents who have a lemon tree. Whenever they have a huge harvest of lemons, I would ask for bags and bags of them so I can make fresh lemonade, lemon cake and lemon bars. They haven't had a large harvest yet this year, but I managed to pick a few lemons for this recipe.

2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 cups sugar
4 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon peel
sifted confectioner's sugar

1) Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Cut butter into the 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. Blend until mixture is crumbly. Pat mixture into ungreased 13x9x2 in pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

2) Combine eggs, sugar, 4 Tbsp. flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel and mix with a hand mixer. Pour mixture on top of hot crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Cut into bars and sift confectioner's sugar over the top while it is warm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crockpot Carnitas

I love Carnitas. I used to have a really good recipe that I made a while ago. Alas, I lost that recipe. So I tried searching for another recipe and found this one. Although it tasted pretty good, it isn't as good as my old Carnitas recipe. This dish actually lasted us 3 meals. I served this with my spin on tomatillo sauce.

3 lb. pork roast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

1) Combine all dry ingredients together. Rub onto roast.

2) Place bay leaves on bottom of crockpot pan. Place roast on top of bay leaves. Pour broth around the roast. Slow cook on low for 10 hours. Shred roast with two forks and serve.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pad See Ewe

Another Thai noodle dish I love is Pad See Ewe. This recipe is surprisingly easy. Easier than my Pad Thai recipe. I found several different ways to make Pad See Ewe, so I've altered them to come up with my own recipe. One thing that was pretty tricky was cooking the noodles. The noodles came out a little softer than I'd like, so I would suggest adding the noodles a little later in the cooking process or using the dry packaged noodles. The original recipe called for Chinese broccoli, which isn't readily accessible, so you can use regular broccoli.

3/4 lb. beef strips
1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1tbsp oyster sauce
a splash of dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh, flat rice noodles
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1/2 lb. chopped broccoli

1) Combine fish sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Pour over beef. Sprinkle cornstarch over the beef mixture and knead the cornstarch into the beef. Marinate for 30 minutes.

2) Heat a wok to high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Drop in the chopped garlic and stir. Add the sliced beef. Stir to cook until the beef is almost done and is no longer pink

3) Add rice noodles. Stir to break up the noodles. Add soy sauces and sugar. Stir to mix the seasonings into the noodles and beef. Open a spot in the middle of the pan, and drop the egg in. Scramble the egg until it is almost all cooked. Fold in the noodles and mix well.

4) Add the broccoli and stir until it is cooked, turn off the heat. Serve hot.

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

Last week, I said I wanted to make brownies, and I found this recipe in the archives of the Food Network. But it called for 1 pound of butter, which I didn't have. So I made brownie cookies instead. Today, I had all the ingredients in hand so I decided to finally make it. I'm glad I did, because these brownies are pure chocolate heaven. So yummy! I modified this recipe a little and substituted the unsweetened chocolate with more semi sweet chocolate chips, totalling to 30 ounces of chocolate chips.

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

1) Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

2) Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Grease and flour a 13 x 18 x 1 1/2 inch pan.

3) Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

4) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pancit Canton

As a lot of people probably already know, my daughter loves pastas and noodles. So when I was at the Filipino store the other day, I decided to buy the ingredients for Pancit Canton to make for her. Pancit Canton is the Filipino version of the Chinese Chow Mein. Its another staple in the Filipino kitchen. Its so common at many Filipino functions. I hadn't felt the need to make it myself because I ate so much of it at other people's places or at restaurants. And I'm somewhat of a Pancit Canton "snob." There's a certain way it has to be prepared, and a certain taste that I look for. Aristorcrat, one of my favorite restaurants in Manila, makes the best Pancit Canton. Its one of my favorites. I don't think I've ever had anything that can compare. Therefore, I have never really attempted to make it myself, for fear that it might not come out as good as I like it. Until now.

Again, I would normally use the powder stuff, but I found a recipe I wanted to try out. Its a pretty simple recipe and it came out pretty good. Its not as good as Aristocrat's, but it'll do. Hubby and daughter loved it, so I'll definitely make it again.

3 Tbsp. oil
1 cup sliced chicken
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chicken broth
10 pieces snow peas, sliced in half
1/2 medium carrot, sliced
1 cup cabbage, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
1 can mushrooms
1 package canton noodles

1) Sprinkle fish sauce and cornstarch over chicken and thoroughly coat. Set aside.

2) Heat oil in a wok. Add garlic and onions and sautee for about a minute, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add chicken mixture and cook until it is no longer pink.

3) Add soy sauce, black pepper, salt and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add snow peas, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and add cabbage. Cook until cabbage is almost done.

4) Add the Canton noodles. Stir until noodles are done and most of the broth has been absorbed. Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff

Its the first week of hubby's night classes. That means that I'm flying solo in the evenings for the next 2 years or so. That also means that I need quick and easy dinner recipes so that I'll have time to feed, bathe, and put my daughter to sleep myself, on top of getting everything ready for work the next day. While shopping at the grocery store last week, the first thing I thought of making was a huge batch of my bolognese sauce. That should cover at least 3-4 different meals (Spaghetti, lasagna, baked pasta, moussaka). Then I thought, "The crockpot!" I remembered glancing over some quick crockpot chicken recipes that I wanted to try out when the time came. So this was the first recipe I wanted to try from It only had 5 ingredients and looked pretty easy.

When I made it for dinner today, I came home to an almost dried out crockpot. I guess that was my mistake, because the directions said to only cook for 6 hours. But I didn't get home until 4 hours later, so it sat in the crockpot. The color didn't look anything like the picture and didn't look too edible. I poured it over some cooked pasta, and when I finally had a chance to taste it, the chicken was very dry and tasted pretty bland. My daughter liked the pasta, though, and she ate quite a bit of it. I don't think I'll be making this again. I decided not to take a picture of it, but I thought to add it here anyway. Maybe someone else will have better luck with this recipe.

6 pieces boneless, skinless chicken
1 can condensed mushroom soup
16 oz sour cream (I used plain yogurt because I didn't have sour cream)
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix

1) Pour enough water to cover just the bottom of the crockpot pan. Place chicken on top of water.

2) Combine the remaining ingredients together and pour over chicken. Cook in crockpot on low for 6 hours. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beef and Broccoli

When I first decided to try to make Beef and Broccoli at home a long time ago, I used to buy the powdered mix stuff at the grocery store. I was never really satisfied with the powdered stuff. Then I got into making dishes from scratch and came across all kinds of ways to make Beef and Broccoli. I have easy versions and some that require a little bit more. This version involves a few more steps. Its also a little bit more salty than my other beef and broccoli recipes, but I think its got more flavor to it too.

1 1/4 cup oil
3/4 pound lean beef, cut into strips

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (substitute rice wine if desired)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 tablespoon oyster sauce
4 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon water
2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1 pound fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste

1) In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade, except the cornstarch. Stir in the meat to completely coat. Add cornstarch, using your fingers to rub the cornstarch into the meat. Marinate the beef for 30 minutes.

2) In another bowl, mix together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, water and cornstarch mixture and set aside.

3) Heat 1/2 cup oil in wok. Add the beef. Blanch the beef by letting it lay flat for 30 - 40 seconds, and then stirring to separate the pieces. Remove the beef when it changes color and is nearly cooked (the entire process takes 1 - 2 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil.

4) Add the crushed garlic to the wok and stir briefly to bring out the flavor. Add the broccoli, salt and sugar, and stir fry briefly, turning down the heat to prevent burning. Add 1/2 cup water. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green and is tender but still crisp. Drain all the liquids.

5) Add 2 more tablespoons oil to the wok. Once oil has been heated, add the beef and the sauce and stir quickly to thicken. Cook for another minute and serve hot over steamed white rice.

Gooey Chocolate Brownie cookies

I've been in a chocolate fix lately and have been craving for a really good brownie. At the grocery store, I decided to pick up the ingredients to make brownies. I hadn't found a recipe yet, but I knew that the kind of brownie I wanted to make was the one where you melted the chocolate instead of using cocoa powder. So I bought the walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I thought I had the rest of the ingredients at home. So I searched for a good recipe and found Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. It called for a pound of butter that I didn't have. So I came across a Brownie cookie recipe on which looked pretty easy, and I had all the ingredients it asked for. I added a few more things to it to make it my own, and "Gooey Chocolate Brownie cookies" was born.

4 tablespoons butter
12 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 cookie sheets.
2) In a double boiler or in a microwave, melt chocolate and butter and stir together. Set aside to cool.

3) In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar on high speed of an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes. On low speed, add the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla while mixing.

4) Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; fold into the egg mixture with a large spoon. Stir in the nuts and white chocolate chips, and let the batter rest for 5 minutes.
5) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies should spring back to touch. Cool cookies on a baking rack.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala used to be a favorite of mine and would order it all the time at the Cheesecake Factory. And ONLY at the Cheesecake Factory. I didn't like the Chicken Marsala at the Olive Garden or any other Italian restaurants. It had to be from the Cheesecake Factory. And then I tried to order it again when I became pregnant because I was craving it. Huge mistake. It made me nauseous and I have never ordered it since. Must be the pregnancy hormones. lol! I have since given birth and still couldn't stomach the idea of eating their Chicken Marsala, so I end up usually ordering something else. In an attempt to rekindle my love for Chicken Marsala, I looked for a recipe that I could make at home. I've tried making Chicken Marsala in the past, but it was never successful. This time I looked at a few recipes and combined them together. This is what I came up with. Its almost as close to the taste as the Cheesecake Factory's. And I actually liked it!

4 boneless , skinless chicken breast (which I cut in half)
1 cup flour
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. oil
3 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
8 oz sliced Bella mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Marsala wine
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1) In a shallow dish, combine flour, oregano, salt & pepper to taste. Coat chicken with the seasoned flour, shaking off excess flour.

2) Heat oil in a skillet. Add chicken and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

3) Add bacon to the pan and sautee until browned, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Remove bacon once its been browned. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute (do not let garlic brown). Turn off the heat and slowly add the Marsala wine. Turn on the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes until sauce reduces to almost half and is almost syrupy (note: if sauce is not syrupy enough, take a few tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl and mix 1 Tbsp. of flour. Stir vigorously to remove lumps and then return to the pan to help thicken the sauce).

4) Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice. Return the pan to the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until it is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and add parsley. Place chicken back into the sauce to coat. Serve over your favorite buttered pasta.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Peanut Butter Ice cream

I was craving some type of Peanut Butter dessert one day and I came across this recipe. I've had this recipe for a while now and haven't really tried it yet. So I decided to make it today. It tasted pretty good, but I guess I lost that Peanut Butter craving. I'm sure it would've been awesome then. Hubby said it tasted pretty good and "very Peanut Buttery." I didn't have too much chocolate chips in hand, so I added all that I had left. Which wasn't much. I'm sure it would've been better if I had more chocolate in it.

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 2/3 cups half & half
pinch of salt
1/3 tsp. vanilla
crushed peanut butter cups or chocolate chips

1) Puree peanut butter, sugar, half & half, salt, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Chill mixture thoroughly.

2) Freeze mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Once it has finished churning, Fold in peanut butter cups or chocolate chips. Pour in a container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vegetarian Samosas

You know that almost every Asian culture has its own version of an eggroll. I guess you can say that this is an Indian style eggroll. This is another great recipe that my good friend, Kiran, and her mom were kind enough to share with me. Traditionally, the crust on the outer part of the samosa is made from scratch, but I was suprised when Kiran told me that her family just uses Tortillas as the crust. She said it tasted just as good as the one you would make from scratch. It sounded pretty easy, so I jumped on the idea. The difficult part was making them into perfect triangles. I'm still working on that.

1 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red chili flakes (or 1 Tbsp. minced green chilies)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups chopped boiled potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
flour tortillas (soft taco size)
paste of flour and water mixture

1) Heat oil in a pot. Add cumin seeds and cook for about a minute. Add ginger, peas, salt, lemon juice and chilies. Cook for another minute.
2) Add boiled potatoes and mix well. Let mixture cool completely.

3) Once mixture has cooled, return to heat and add onions, cilantro, garam masala and turmeric powder. Continue cooking until mixture is well incorporated.

4) Cut flour tortillas in half. Roll into a cone shape. Stuff the cone with the potato mixture. Fold the open-end over to close. Seal with the flour paste. Deep fry the samosa until golden brown. Serve with cilantro & mint chutney (recipe to follow).

Cilantro & Mint chutney

I've found that Samosas taste better with cilantro & mint chutney.

2 cups cilantro leaves
1 tsp. red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt to taste

1) Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water a little at a time to get your desired consistency. Chutney will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Girls night in

It wasn't really all girls. Since he's part owner of the house, hubby joined in on the fun. lol!

Its been a while since I got together with my old girlfriends from high school, so I arranged a get-together at our house for dinner tonight. I ordered kabobs and rice for dinner from my favorite take-out Kabob place, Superior Kabob. I also made a side dish of Tzatziki sauce (recipe to follow). Charity arrived with a green salad that I had requested her to bring. And Araceli soon came after, bringing a fruit tart from Porto's. One of my favorite bakeries. Unfortunately, Marina couldn't make it because she was getting ready to move into her new house tomorrow (yay! congrats marina!).

The kabobs and rice were a hit. Salad and fruit tart is always a plus too. I had a really fun time catching up with them and getting updates of what has been going on in our lives for the past 3 years. We're gonna have to do this more often. We always say that whenever we get together, but it never happens. So I'd settle for once every 3-6 months. Its great getting together around great food and great friends.

Tzatziki sauce

In an attempt to see if I can save money by making my own (plus I forgot to buy some), I decided to try to make Tzatziki sauce for my get together with the girls tonight. You'll see Tzatziki sauce in a lot of Mediterranean menus and has many different names for it. Tzatziki sauce is actually the Greek name for this awesome cucumber yogurt sauce. This turned out awesome with the Kabobs and rice pilaf I bought for dinner. This recipe calls for thick Greek yogurt, but you can also use plain yogurt that you strain the liquid out of. It turns into the consistency of soft cream cheese. Which is what I did.

48 oz plain yogurt, strained out of its liquid
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. dill
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
salt to taste

1) Combine lemon juice and oil in a medium bowl. Fold in yogurt and mix well.

2) Add garlic according to your taste, cucumber and dill. Mix well. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Turkey Meatloaf

My husband is a meat and potato kind of guy. And he loves any type of meatloaf. I've tried quite a few meatloaf recipes and this one has been the best I've tried. Its adapted from Giada Di Laurentis' Stuffed meatloaf recipe. It comes out really moist and flavorful. Its great with mashed potatoes. This is another great make-ahead recipe that I like to do.

1 small onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup marinara sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Pre eat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in parmesan and bread crumbs. Mix in ground turkey. Place mixture into a loaf pan leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges.

3) Spoon marinara sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered until meatloaf is firm to the touch and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Banana Bread

We always have a lot of bananas in hand to make smoothies for my daughter. But we also always have too much of them that they end up all browning. This is a great way to use up your bananas without having to throw them away.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 /2 cup mashed bananas
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine first 3 ingredients and beat until frothy.

2) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Add to wet mixture. Add bananas (and nuts if you decide to use) and blend thoroughly.

3) Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick test comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.