Thursday, February 24, 2011

Banana Caramel Cream Pie

I'm still trying to use up all the bananas that my mom had given me when I made Banana Spice Cupcakes a few days ago. This past NBA All-Star weekend, hubby was watching all things basketball on TV. But I managed to sneak-in a few episodes on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel and caught an episode of Kelsey's Essentials where she made this recipe for Banana Caramel Cream Pie. It looked so good on TV and I know hubby would really like it, so I had to try to make this. And plus, I couldn't possibly pass up anything that has caramel in it.

I realize that this may look like a long recipe. But I actually cut the recipe by using ready-made pie crust. The original recipe called for making the crust from scratch. But using a ready-made pie crust worked just as well. The caramel sauce was a little tricky for me. My first attempt to make the caramel sauce was a failure as I had burned the sugar mixture. The second attempt resulted in the sugar clumping up when I added the heavy cream. But I returned the mixture back on the stove to heat up and melt the sugar and it came out fine. Overall, this pie was yummy. My daughter loved licking the paddle for the whip cream. Both hubby and daughter couldn't wait to dive into this pie.

1 (9") ready made pie crust

Pie filling
3-4 bananas, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Whipped topping
1 cup fresh whipped cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Bake pie crust according to directions. Cool completely.

2) First make the caramel sauce: In a saucepan, combine sugar and water over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil without stirring. Use a wet pastry brush to brush off the sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan. Boil until syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully whisk heavy cream (mixture will bubble). Stir in butter and salt to taste. Transfer caramel on a dish and cool completely.

3) For the filling: In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour. Over medium-low heat, slowly whisk in milk.

4) In a separate small bowl, beat egg yolks. Once milk mixture begins to boil, transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture into the egg yolks and whisk to temper. Return egg yolk mixture into saucepan and whisk constantly to prevent burning the bottom. Continue whisking until custard coats the back of the spoon and is smooth and thick. Strain mixture through a sieve.

5) Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Stir in 1 cup sliced bananas. Allow mixture to cool completely.

6) For the topping: Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form.

7) Cover the bottom of the crust with sliced bananas. Drizzle 1/4 cup of salted caramel sauce over the bananas. Top with more bananas. Spread banana custard over bananas. Top with whipped topping. Chill pie until filling sets, about 2 hours.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

This is another recipe that I had bookmarked from one of my Costco cookbooks. I love my Costco cookbooks. It has so many easy and yummy recipes in them. And the cookbooks were FREE! Costco usually gives these cookbooks out every year after Thanksgiving (aka "Black Friday"). So whenever I can't find a way to get to my local Costco on Black Fridays, I usually ask people to pick one up for me whenever they make a visit. This recipe was developed by Mario Batali of the Food Network fame, and it came from last year's edition, which my boss was kind enough to pick up for me. Thanks chief!

This dish was really easy to make and quite delicious. Its almost restaurant quality. Hubby and daughter really liked this. I'm definitely making this regularly.

1 lb. spaghetti or linguine pasta (be sure to reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1/4 cup marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Marinara)
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
salt to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1) Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon and onion. Stir frequently and cook until bacon is lightly browned and onion has softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in marinara sauce and season with salt to taste.

3) Add pasta and 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water to the bacon mixture and toss over medium heat until pasta is well coated. Continue adding pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve immediately and top with more parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Greek Turkey Burgers with Spiced Yogurt Sauce

This is a recipe I found from one of my Costco cookbooks. It was the NBA All-Star weekend yesterday and I was planning on grilling these. But it was a rainy weekend and, as much as I used to love cooking on my grill pan, I didn't want to do the cleaning for the grill pan. So I opted to make soup yesterday instead.

Well, I finally made these today and decided to fry them in a pan. Even though it was a beautiful day to barbecue. However you decided to cook these (whether you grill or fry them) these burgers will be delicious. It has so much flavor in it and its quite healthy. I'm definitely making these again.

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup feta cheese (I used shredded cheese because its all I had)
2 tsp. dry oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. dry thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 hamburger rolls, toasted
tomato slices
cucumber slices

1) In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, cheese, oregano, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Shape into 4 patties.

2) Heat oil in a frying pan (or heat grill). Cook patties for 4-5 minutes on each side or until burgers are cooked through and has an internal temperature of 165 deg F.

3) To prepare sauce, season yogurt to taste with cumin, salt and pepper.

4) Serve burgers on toasted rolls. Top each burger with 1 Tbsp. of the yogurt mixture. Garnish with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber slices.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jenny's Banana Spice Cupcake

I came into work one day and found 2 sheets of paper stapled together with a recipe for Banana Spice Cake and I wondered who had left it on my desk. Then I found another sheet of the same recipe on a co-worker's desk and asked her whose it was. She said that another co-worker, Jenny, had printed out the recipe for us. Jenny had been raving about this Banana Spice cake that her mom would make, but she would never bring us any. So I asked her if this was a hint that she wanted us to make this and bring some to work. Uh-huh.

My mom just gave me a whole bunch of bananas that a co-worker had given her. This was the perfect recipe to make as it calls for a lot of bananas. And hubby loooooves anything that's banana. So I was excited to be making this. Making the cake was quite easy. I was a little worried, though, that the cakes would come out dry because the recipe didn't call for much liquid other than the eggs and the bananas themselves. But they came out pretty soft and moist. I wasn't too happy about how my frosting turned out runny, though. I may have to tweak it some more. The original recipe was made into bundt cakes or layer cakes. I decided to make them into cupcakes because its easier to give out leftovers to my folks and co-workers. Because everyone knows that I always give out cupcakes whenever I make them. So yes, Jenny, these are going to you. Thanks for the recipe! These were yummy with a strong banana flavor. If you love bananas, you'll definitely love these.

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups mashed bananas, mixed with a splash of fresh lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

2) Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all the spices. Sift dry mixture 2 additional times. Set aside.

3) Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla and then the bananas. Add flour mixture into banana mixture in small amounts, beating well after each addition.

4) Evenly distribute batter into prepared muffin pans using an ice cream scoop. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Banana Frosting
1/2 cup mashed banana, mixed with 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

1) Cream together butter, cream cheese and confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time. Slowly add banana mixture until you reach the desired spreading consistency.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Its a cold and rainy day today in SoCal. I was planning on grilling some burgers for dinner today in honor of the NBA All-Star weekend. But that's out of the question. So I thought to make something that will warm us up.

I remember finding this recipe for Italian Wedding Soup from What's Cookin' Chicago? one day. I figured now was a good time to give this a try. This soup called for tiny pasta to go with the tiny meatballs. So I used a Pastina pasta. It also called for different types of ground meat. Whenever a recipe calls for some type of ground meat, I almost always use ground turkey because I always have ground turkey.

This soup really hit the spot for me. It had a little kick from the red pepper flakes, but the heat didn't overpower the soup too much that it was even safe enough to feed my 2 1/2 year old daughter. She actually really liked this dish, especially because I used a tiny pasta, shaped into stars. She even ate the spinach in the soup.

2 slices sliced bread (I used wheat bread), torn to pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. ground turkey

1) Place milk and bread in a large bowl and mash together with a fork until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, except ground turkey, and mash to combine. Add ground turkey and knead by hand until it's well combined.

2) Using a melon baller, scoop mixture and roll into uniform sized balls with damp hands. Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 quarts chicken broth
1 cup pastina pasta (or any other tiny pasta like orzo)
1 large bunch fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste

1) Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking until it's fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add chicken broth and meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are almost halfway done. Add pasta and continue simmering until pasta and meatballs are cooked through. Stir in spinach and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil over soup and top with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Carrot Cake Waffles

Hubby and I used to love going to Paradise Cove in Malibu to have breakfast. It was a nice cafe right on the beach and I used to love ordering their Carrot Cake waffles. We've gone there a few times, until hubby got a serious bout of food poisoning from there. So we haven't gone back since. But I really miss eating their Carrot Cake waffles and always wondered when I would get another taste of it.

Yesterday, we went on our weekly trip to Costco and I came across a cookbook that had a recipe for carrot pancakes. "Light bulb!" I didn't buy the cookbook, but I decided to search for it online and came across this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. I haven't used my waffle iron in a long time, so I decided to use it for this recipe.

It came out pretty good, but it wasn't the Paradise Cove waffles I came to love. However, my daughter really liked it. What's even better is that she was actually eating carrots without knowing it. She hates carrots or any other vegetables. So this was another great way to sneak-in something healthy for her. I'll probably attempt another version of this recipe, but I'm definitely making carrot cake waffles again.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1) Combine flour, salt and all the spices in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, buttermilk, oil vanilla extract and eggs. Add sugar mixture into flour mixture and stir just until moist. Fold in shredded carrots and crushed pineapple.

2) Heat waffle iron and coat top and bottom of pan with a nonstick spray or brush with melted butter. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter onto waffle iron, close lid and cook until done. Serve warm with maple syrup and/or whipped cream.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chicken Tequila Lime Fettucine

Its Valentine's day and I'm pretty much spending it with just my daughter. Hubby and I sort of celebrated Valentine's day last weekend and gave gifts to each other because we knew that he had to work and go to class this evening. But that doesn't mean I can't make a nice dinner waiting for him when he gets home.

I have come to love California Pizza Kitchen's Chicken Tequila Lime Fettuccine and order it often when we're there. I was craving some one day and decided to look up the recipe and found this one from that I wanted to try out for Valentine's Day. This dish was surprisingly easy to make. But I found it to be a bit bland so I modified the recipe a bit and added some salt and it came out delicious. Hope hubby likes it. And I hope everyone has a great Valentine's day.

1 lb. Spinach Fettuccine (or you can probably use plain fettuccine)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus 2 Tbsp. more for garnish
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. tequila
2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/4 lb. chicken breast, diced 3/4 inch
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt

1) Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.

2) Cook 1/3 cup cilantro, garlic and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoon butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add chicken broth, tequila and lime juice. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until reduced to a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

3) Pour soy sauce over diced chicken. Set aside for 5 minutes.

4) Cook onion and peppers with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables have wilted, add soy sauce and chicken mixture and toss.

5) Add reserved tequila lime mixture and cream. Season with salt. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil until chicken has cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Toss-in drained pasta and remaining cilantro. Serve hot.

**Note: you can substitute the cream with half & half to make the dish lower in fat, but keep in mind that the sauce will be thin.

Happy Valentine's Day to me with my new toy

We had an early Valentine's Day this year because 1) We were out of town this weekend, and 2) Hubby had to work and has class until late tonight. So we decided to give each other's Valentine's Day gift last week. I gave hubby tickets to a LA Clippers game - his favorite basketball team. Then he surprised me with this new kitchen tool.

I've been wanting this stand mixer for so long. Don't get me wrong. I have a hand mixer. It was a gift off of my bridal registry we got 8 years ago. And its gotten me through a lot of mixing. However, I didn't use my mixer much back then as often as I use it now. And there were times when I wished I had four hands, because while mixing, I had to add this ingredient and that ingredient. I would have to be forced to shut off the mixer first in order to add ingredients. When I want to whip cream or egg whites, I have to stand there, mixer in hand, for 10 minutes at a time. Very tiring.

This stand mixer has different attachments, unlike the hand mixer which only has one attachment. So I can use it to make dough, regular cake batter, or even to whip cream and egg whites. It also has more speed than a regular hand mixer. I'm really excited to have this new kitchen tool. You know it'll be put to great use. Thanks boo!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pistachio Cupcakes

My mom's favorite is Pistachios. She'll eat anything that is Pistachio. Pistachio ice cream, cookies, chocolate, you name it. So when I found this recipe from Annie's Eats, I immediately thought to make this for my mom one day. I kept delaying trying to make this recipe, and when I had mentioned to my mom about these cupcakes last week, there was no backing out. I had to make these ASAP. And since we're going out of town this weekend with my parents, I figured I'd take some along for her.

The frosting I used for these cupcakes is a Pistachio and Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream I found from a link that Annie included in her recipe. The original recipe is from Use Real Butter and it made a lot of frosting. I would probably reduce the ingredients to half to accommodate the 16-18 cupcakes this recipe makes. There were a lot of steps to making this recipe. But the cake came out really moist and flavorful and has a burst of pistachio flavor. I'm sure my mom will love these.

3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp., shelled pistachios
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1) Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2) Place 1/2 cup pistachios in a food processor and process until finely grounded.

3) Combine butter, pistachios and cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar on medium-low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add flour and salt and mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Coarsely chop the remaining pistachios and fold into batter.

4) Divide batter in prepared pans, filling it up about 3/4 full. Bake, rotating halfway through baking, for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then place on wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Pistachio & Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
8 oz egg whites
16 oz sugar
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 /2 cups shelled pistachios

1) Blanch pistachios in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and place pistachios on a cotton towel. Fold towel over and rub the pistachios vigorously to loosen and remove the skin. Toast the skinned pistachios for 15 minutes at 325 deg F. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature. Finely chop 2/3 cup of the the pistachios.

2) Combine egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Place in a double boiler until mixture reaches 140 deg F, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Whip mixture with a balloon whisk on medium speed until stiff. Lower speed to the 3rd speed and continue whipping until cool to touch. Switch to a paddle and continue beating. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency is reached, add vanilla. Fold in chopped pistachios. Frost cooled cupcakes. Top cupcakes with the remaining pistachios for garnish.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Alfajores is an almond flavored sandwich cookie often found in Latin cultures. There are many different versions of this cookie from different parts of Latin America. This particular recipe is a Peruvian version. I came to learn about this delicious cookie from one of my co-workers when she brought some back from lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant. I was totally hooked and I had to find a recipe. I found this recipe from that I thought I should try. We're going on a trip to the mountains this weekend and I figured these would be perfect to take along with us.

The cookie itself was pretty easy to make. The tricky part was the caramel filling. It didn't thicken enough to spread on the cookie. It was very runny, but the recipe specifies that if the caramel is too thin, I had to add confectioner's sugar and it came out fine. Since our weekend trip falls right before Valentine's day, I wanted to be festive and make heart-shaped cookies, rather than the traditional round shapes. Overall, these cookies were delicious. I hope everyone likes them.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds (ground slivered almonds in a food processor)
3 cups all purpose flour

Caramel Filling
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream, or evaporated milk)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2) Cream butter, confectioner's and granulated sugar until fluffy. Stir in salt, almond extract, vanilla extract, ground almonds and flour. Continue beating until well incorporated. Wrap the container and chill for 30 minutes.

3) Once chilled, roll out dough on a floured surface 1/4 inch thick. Cut desired shape of cookie and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks before spreading filling)

4) To make the filling: combine brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. As it cooks, brush inner sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wipe away sugar crystals. Continue heating mixture to 238-240 deg F. Remove from heat and cool to 110 deg F.

5) Stir in butter. Beat mixture until it is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. If mixture is too thin, add confectioner's sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Add vanilla. Cool mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to further firm up the filling. Spread on bottom side of one cookie. Place another cookie on top of filling. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Ribs

Its Superbowl Sunday. I don't really watch American Football, but I like to use these types of events as an excuse to try new recipes. And this kind of event almost always calls for BBQ. I found this recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs from my new favorite blog, What's Cookin, Chicago? that I had been saving up. I haven't had BBQ since the summertime. And I haven't tried Crock Pot BBQ either. So I was really excited to try this recipe out.

I love my Crock Pot. Its always a life saver for a busy mom like me. And it didn't disappoint me this time either. The pork came out so tender that it fell off the bone. I wasn't too happy about the sauce I used though. I'll probably use my favorite bottled sauce until I find the right homemade sauce. But I'll definitely be making BBQ this way whenever I can't fire up the grill. And the next time I do this again, I'll put some kind of a liner in the pot. Because it was a pain cleaning up the caked-on, charred sauce on the bottom. What a mess to clean up.

2-3 lb. pork ribs
2 cups prepared BBQ sauce (I used my homemade sauce, or any of your favorite BBQ sauce)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano

1) Combine BBQ sauce, garlic and oregano in a small bowl. Place ribs in Crock Pot. Pour sauce mixture over the ribs and cook on low for 6-8 hours, on on high for 4-5 hours.

BBQ Sauce

I've been wanting to make BBQ sauce from scratch for the longest time. But I haven't found a good recipe that caught my eye. Then I found this Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs recipe made of Homemade BBQ sauce, from What's Cookin, Chicago? which was adapted from the Neely's on the Food Network. So I had to give it a try.

It came out a little spicy, so I modified it and lessened the black pepper and added honey to the mix. I like sweet BBQ sauce. After using this on my pork ribs, however, I felt like it needed a lot of salt. I'm not sure if this is the BBQ sauce I'm looking for yet. I guess my search continues.

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 Tbsp. light brown sugar
5 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1) Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spam Musubi

Hubby decided to surprise me with breakfast this morning. So he locked me up in the bedroom while he prepared everything. The last time he did this, he made some Malasadas, a Portuguese style donut that is a favorite in Hawaii (and our family's favorite too). So it was pure torture when he made me wait in the room while I was able to smell whatever he was cooking.

He was finally done and to my surprise, he made another one of my favorite Hawaiian delicacy - Spam Musubi. I know that not everyone is a fan of Spam. But its quite popular in the Asian/Pacific Island culture. Especially in Hawaii. You see, in the old war days when food was scarce, food that was not perishable (like Spam) was brought into the islands for the soldiers. The locals had to find creative ways to make dishes out of Spam and the Spam Musubi was born. Its basically a Spam Sushi and it was a great, portable meal for a lot of the farmers in Hawaii.

So that was my brief history on this yummy dish. And hubby did a great job with it. It came out yummy. I'm glad he made this because I had been meaning to try to make it myself. I may have to ask him to make some again :)

1 1/2 cup uncooked glutinous, sweet rice
1 1/2 cup water
Nori sheets, cut in half
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup sugar (or more if you like it sweet)
1 Tbsp. oil
1 (12 oz) can Spam Lite, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1) In a rice cooker pot or regular saucepan, pour in rice and water. Cook rice until done.

2) In a skillet, heat oil and lightly brown sliced spam on both sides.

3) Combine soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Pour in the skillet with spam. Cook until sauce begins to boil. Remove from heat.

4) To assemble the Musubi, use a square sushi mold. Place half a sheet of the Nori on the bottom. Place enough rice to reach about 3/4 up of the mold. Sprinkle with a little bit of the Furikake. Top with a slice of Spam. Fold the Nori over the Spam to seal. Serve warm.

*Note: you can also use a prepared teriyaki sauce in place of the soy sauce and sugar mixture.

**Furikake is a Japanese topping which is a mixture of dried fish, seaweed flakes and sesame seed, found in Asian stores

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Korean Bulgogi Beef

Here's another great recipe for Bulgogi from What's Cookin, Chicago? It looked so yummy that I absolutely had to try it out. I love Korean BBQ, and I think I've made all kinds of different versions of it. From Korean BBQ Short Rib to Crockpot Korean Short Rib. So I guess this is another addition to my Korean BBQ repertoire.

Its been a while since we've eaten at a Korean BBQ restaurant. So I was really excited to make this. This came out so good. I served this wrapped in lettuce leaf and a side of white rice. It tastes just as good as what you'd find at a Korean restaurant. I am definitely making this again.

3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sesame seed, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup pear nectar (like Kern's or Jumex)
1 lb. sirloin beef, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 green onion, chopped into 1-2 inch length
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced

1) In a large resealable plastic bag, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic (fresh and powder), onion powder, salt, black pepper and pear nectar. Add beef and let marinate for 3 hours to overnight.

2) In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Remove meat from marinade and place in hot skillet. Discard marinade. Brown beef on both sides and add carrots, green onions, and yellow onion. Cook until vegetables become tender but maintains a slight crunch. Garnish with more sesame seeds and serve over steamed white rice or lettuce leaves (to wrap like a burrito).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Smoky Mac 'n Cheese

I received a Betty Crocker calendar in the mail a few days ago and in it were some yummy looking recipes. The Smoky Mac 'n Cheese recipe caught my eye because we all know how much my daughter loves pasta and Mac & Cheese. So this was a must-try recipe for me.

This dish had so much flavor in it. Its a grown-up version of the old classic. With that said, my daughter wasn't too keen on it. Probably because of the flavor and a little bit of spice. I really liked it and will probably make this again for an adult crowd.

3 cups uncooked pasta
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt (preferrably sea salt)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded smoked cheddar (I used regular cheddar and a drop of liquid smoke)
1 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp. olive oil

1) Cook pasta according to directions. Return to saucepan; cover to keep warm.

2) Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 deg F. Grease a 13x9 inch glass baking dish. In a saucepan, heat whipping cream, mustard, salt, and cayenne pepper to boiling. Reduce heat and stir in cheese (and liquid smoke if using) with a wire whisk until smooth.

3) Pour sauce over cooked pasta. Stir in tomatoes and onions. Pour into baking dish. In a small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in oil. Sprinkle over top of pasta mixture. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.