Monday, March 28, 2011

Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I may have attempted to a while ago, but I just felt that it was easier to buy the ready-made cookie dough at the supermarket. I love chocolate chip cookies. I love chocolate chip cookie dough even more. So I always buy the large tub from Costco and never felt the need to make them from scratch. Until I came across this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Sing for your Supper... Its originally called the Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. This recipe has made its way all over the blogosphere. I've seen it in quite a few other blogs and I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

I happened to have bags and bags of chocolate chips that I bought from a local Cost Plus World Market that was closing. So I figured I should start using them before they go bad. This was the perfect recipe for them. And just like its name, these were big, fat and chewy chocolate chip cookies. Just the way I like them. I always love eating chocolate chip cookies when they're soft and chewy. Almost like they're only half baked. Perfect with a glass of milk. My daughter couldn't wait to dig into them. And neither could I.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Line cookie sheets with wax or parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2) In a medium bowl or mixer bowl, cream together melted butter, brown sugar and sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula. Drop cookie dough by the tablespoonful or by using a mini ice cream scoop onto prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

3) Bake 15-17 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dinner and a Game

Hubby and I haven't been on a real date in a while. Probably ever since our daughter was born. Yes, we'll go on a quickie movie date while we leave her at my parents house for 2-3 hours tops. We always feel guilty leaving her because we've been inseparable from her ever since she was born. When she started learning to talk, we would always leave my parents house one at a time, because it was better than leaving together where she would think we were both abandoning her. So we never really get to enjoy our movie, because all we do is worry and think about her. Tonight, however, we prepared her and told her we'd be watching a basketball game while we left her at my parents house and that we'll be sleeping over their house for the night. Surprisingly and thankfully, she was okay with it. And so off we went.

This date had been a long time coming. Remember what we gave each other for Valentine's Day? I got the mixer and he got tickets to see his favorite basketball team, the LA Clippers vs. the Toronto Raptors. After the long anticipation, we were finally going to see the Clippers. We decided to start off the date by going out to dinner before the game. We decided to have dinner at Trader Vic's at LA Live, which was across the street from the Staples Center. Hubby and I are very much into the Hawaiian fusion themed restaurants. That's why we go to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion a lot. So it was nice to eat at another island-themed restaurant.

Since I'm not much of an alcohol drinker, I ordered this virgin Mai Tai called the No Tai Mai Tai.

Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a watered-down Pineapple and Orange Juice with lots of ice. I guess its not really a Mai Tai without the alcohol.

For appetizers, we decided on this yummy Hawaiian Ahi Poke served with Taro chips.

Reminiscent of the islands.

For my main course, I decided to have the Cantonese Sea Bass.

Sea Bass has always been my favorite dish. Whenever there's sea bass on the menu, you know its what I'll be ordering. This dish did not disappoint.

Hubby had this Wasabi-encrusted Filet Mignon with Hawaiian-style fries.

The filet mignon was so tender and flavorful. And the Hawaiian style fries was encrusted with macadamia nuts and had somewhat of an Indian spice taste.

For dessert, we had the Tahitian Snowball.

It was nothing more than a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with caramel and toasted coconut. Disappointing, but it satisfied my sweet tooth and I just wanted to get to the game. So I had not time to really complain.

Finally, we had an after-dinner cocktail of some Blake Griffin ;)

Yup, we were that close that I was able to get this shot. From Section 109, Row 2. It was an exciting game and the Clips won. I can't wait to go on our next Clippers game. We're hoping we can go more often next season. I've become a huge Blake Griffin fan and now hubby and I are talking about becoming Season Ticket holders. Maybe. But this was definitely a date to remember.

Custard Cake

Custard cake is a Filipino dessert made of a chiffon cake topped with Flan. Its one of my favorite desserts. I haven't had this in a long time and I miss eating it. One of my aunts used to own a restaurant and she would come over and bring us some custard cake whenever we had family functions at my parents' house. They no longer own the restaurant and we don't see her as often anymore, so its been quite a while since I've had custard cake.

One day, I decided to do a search for a custard cake recipe and found quite a few versions. Some made out of boxed cake mixes, most made from scratch. But I decided to settle with this recipe from Panlasang Pinoy, a website dedicated to Filipino cuisine. Its quite complex recipe, with 3 things going on: the caramel syrup, the flan, and then the cake. But organize your ingredients and it should be pretty simple and so worth all the preparation.

1 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk

1) In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of sugar over medium heat. Do not mix sugar until the end, when sugar is almost all brown. Pour caramel in a 9 x 13 pan and evenly spread on the bottom and allow to harden like candy. Set aside.

2) In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, eggs, condensed milk and milk. Mix well. Pour over hardened caramel. Set aside while making the cake.

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk, mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 tsp. grated lemon peel

6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

2) Sift together cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks then gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue beating for another 2 minutes. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated. Add 1/2 of the milk/water mixture. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and then the other half of the milk mixture. Beat until incorporated and add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add grated lemon peel. Set aside.

4) In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites on high speed for about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and continue beating for 3-4 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

5) Fold meringue into batter until well incorporated.

6) Pour 6-8 cups of hot water in a roasting pan. Place a rack in the roasting pan, and then place the prepared pan on top of the rack. Bake for 60 minutes, until toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove cake from the roasting pan cool completely. Invert cake on a serving tray and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuna Melt

I've always associated tuna sandwiches with Lent Fridays. That's because its what my parents used to always pack for lunch for us on Lent Fridays. It was either a tuna sandwich or an egg salad sandwich. With that said, I never really eat tuna sandwiches outside of Lent. Its not something I crave to eat. Nor would I go out of my way to get a tuna sandwich. So when hubby recently asked for a plain tuna sandwich, you can only imagine how I cringed at the thought. I decided to make a tuna sandwich for dinner tonight. But with a twist.

I've never really had a Tuna Melt, but I figured it was a great way to spruce up a plain old tuna sandwich. And maybe, just maybe, I would be able to look at a tuna sandwich in a different light. After doing my research on how to make the perfect Tuna Melt, I learned that it was nothing more than a tuna salad on toasted bread with melted cheese. So here is my take on the old classic. It came out pretty good. A warm tuna sandwich. However, I think I'll still be keeping the tradition of eating my tuna sandwich or melt on Lent Fridays.

12 oz canned tuna in water, well drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/4 of a medium onion, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. paprika
salt & pepper to taste
8 slices bread
tomato slices
1/2 cup shredded cheese

1) Lightly toast bread. While the bread is toasting, combine tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion and seasonings in a medium bowl. Stir until well incorporated.

2) Place about 1/4 cup of the tuna mixture on 4 slices of lightly toasted bread. Top with about 2 tablespoons of cheese (or more if you like it cheesy). Place in the toaster oven and set to "broil" for 8-10 minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from oven and top with tomato slices and the other slices of toasted bread. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crock Pot Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten is a German-style pot roast usually served with buttered noodles, Spaetzel, potato dumplings or potato pancakes. Its known to be one of Germany's national dishes. Therefore, this dish is an ode to my mom who lived and worked in Germany for a few years before I was born. I came across this recipe from and immediately thought of her.

In those years she lived in Germany, she learned to love the language and the culture. Ever since I was a child, my mom would boast about her life there. I was always in awe when she would tell her tales of Germany. How she and her friends would just take a bus ride to Switzerland or Holland for the weekend. How she ate this food and that food. After completing her contract, she went home and married my dad. And the rest was history. But you could tell how much she missed Germany. That's not to say that she would rather be there than here. It just goes to show how much of an impression it left my mom.

She hadn't been back to Germany until our family trip to Europe in 2000. During our trip to Germany, we visited my Godmother, who she used to work with at the hospital where they were both nurses. They took us to the old hospital they used to work at, which became a Mental ward. We had lunch at the cafeteria where I had my first taste of Sauerbraten. With German cuisine, I learned that they tend to blend sweet and sour in their dishes, which is exactly how Sauerbraten is. Sweet and sour. This German-style pot roast came out quite tasty. The meat was so tender with a sweet and sour gravy. It was a different type of cuisine than what we were accustomed to, but we gladly welcomed the change in taste.

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. whole peppercorn
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 (4 - 4 1/2 lb) lean top round roast
1/4 cup brown sugar
12 gingersnaps, crushed
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1) In a large saucepan, combine the first 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Cool completely.

2) Place beef in a 9 x 13" baking sheet or freezer bag. Pour cooled marinade over beef and seal. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, turning twice daily.

3) Remove meat and place in a slow cooker pan. Strain marinade and pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or until beef starts to fall apart around the edges.

4) Remove beef to a platter and slice 1/4" thick and set aside.

5) Strain liquid and return to the crock pot. Turn on high. Add brown sugar and gingersnaps, stirring until dissolved. Mix flour into 1/4 cup of water. Stir flour mixture into the broth and heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Return beef to the gravy. Cover and cook on high until gravy thickens, about 30 minutes. Serve with buttered noodles or spaetzel.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mongolian Beef

I'm craving another good Asian beef recipe for dinner tonight. Perfect to use up some of the sliced beef I bought at Costco over the weekend. Then I remembered that I had saved this Mongolian Beef recipe from What's Cookin' Chicago? for later use. It looked pretty simple to make and I love Mongolian Beef. I love how tender the beef always is when I eat Mongolian beef at local Chinese restaurants. This one came out pretty good. It almost tastes similar to my Beef Pepper Steak. I'm not quite sure if this is the Mongolian Beef I was looking for, but it was pretty close. I may continue looking for another Mongolian Beef recipe.

2 bunches of green onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. lean beef, sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. oil
1 onion diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce

1) Season sliced beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Sprinkle cornstarch over beef and toss to coat. Set aside.

2) Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened. Add meat and cook until browned. Stir in oyster sauce and soy sauce until well incorporated. Just before serving, add green onions and toss to coat. Serve with steamed rice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thai Style Sweet and Sour Fish

My parents and lola each had their own versions of Sweet and Sour Fish. I think my parents used a bottled sweet and sour sauce, and lola would make her sauce from scratch. Each were equally delicious. I've missed those days of home-cooking.

Today, I couldn't decide on what to make for dinner. I haven't used my Thai cookbook in a while, so I looked through the recipes and found this easy Sweet and Sour Fish recipe that I decided to try out since I had all the ingredients it called for. The sauce for this dish is a tomato based sauce unlike my parents' or lola's version. It came out delicious and reminiscent of their dishes. I'm glad to have found my own version of this dish. The picture above doesn't do the dish justice. I apologize that its a horrible picture. But just know that hubby was pleased with the end product, as was I.

2 medium or large fish (Tilapia, snapper, mullet), head removed
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. chopped onions
3 Roma tomatoes, cubed
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
3 Tbsp. water
cilantro, green onions for garnish

1) Rinse and dry fish. Score the skin diagonally on both sides. Lightly coat both fishes all over with 4 teaspoons of cornstarch. Shake off any excess.

2) Heat oil in wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add fish and cook each side for 6-7 minutes, until brown and crisp.

3) Remove fish and place on a large serving platter. Pour off all but 2 tablespoon oil from the pan. Add garlic, ginger and onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden.

4) Add tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, sugar, ketchup and fish sauce. Lower heat and simmer gently for 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more vinegar, sugar and/or fish sauce if necessary.

5) In a cup, mix the remaining 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water to make a paste or slurry. Stir into the sauce to thicken. Pour finished sauce over the fish. Garnish with coriander and green onions and serve with steamed rice.

Lemon Sunshine Bites

Its a gloomy, windy and rainy day today. Quite unusual for this time of year when we begin to prepare for spring. A lot of people hate the rain. I, on the other hand, love the rain. I just hate how people don't know how to drive in the rain. I was a little disappointed, though, that we couldn't take our daughter for a walk or bike ride around the block today. So she rode her bike around the house instead, while I tried to bring sunshine into the house by making these Sunshine Bites from Sing for your Supper.

I've been trying to use up the batch of lemons I got from my parents' lemon tree almost a month ago. Yup, I've had a batch of lemons for almost a month. The only thing I can think of to use them for were lemon cupcakes. The flavor in these cupcake bites were delicious. The cake was light and probably a lot more healthier than other cupcakes because it only uses egg whites. Almost like Angel Food Cake. However I wasn't too happy about how the batter stuck to the cupcake liners. So we weren't able to fully enjoy the cupcake because we literally had to rip the paper off the cupcakes. I don't know how I can improve on the cake, but I'm definitely keeping the frosting recipe. It was probably the best part of the cupcake. But frosting is always the best part of a cupcake ;)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line mini cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

2) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg whites. Set aside.

3) In the mixer bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub together sugar and lemon zest with your fingers until sugar is moist and fragrant. Add butter and beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until mixture is very light.

4) Beat in vanilla extract and lemon juice. Add one third of the flour mixture. Beat in half of the buttermilk mixture, then beat in half of the remaining flour mixture until incorporated. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture and then the rest of the flour mixture. Continue beating for another 2 minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
juice of one lemon
yellow food color (optional)

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, 4 cups of confectioner's sugar, milk, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, beating well before each addition, about 2 minutes or until desired consistency. Add a few drops of food coloring (if using).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tomato & Basil Marinara Sauce

Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes. Its my daughter's all time favorite too (I guess she takes after mommy). In fact, any pasta is a favorite of ours. However, spaghetti is number one. I love using Trader Joe's Tomato & Basil Marinara sauce whenever a recipe calls for prepared marinara sauce. It tastes fresh and not from a jar. But I've always secretly wished that I could make tomato/marinara sauce from scratch the way I see the Italians do it on TV. They all had secret recipes that their "mama" taught them.

While searching for new recipes to try out, I came across a recipe for Vodka Sauce that included a tomato sauce recipe from Smells Like Home. It looked pretty easy and I figured I should try it out tonight since its a vegetarian sauce that we can eat for Lenten Friday tomorrow. It came out pretty tasty. Almost like Trader Joe's sauce, but probably a lot healthier because it doesn't have the preservatives. I added more basil to the sauce because I just love the flavor of basil. This is a great recipe to double up and freeze for later use whenever we have a craving for spaghetti. Since this recipe isn't from my "mama," maybe my daughter can take pride that its from her mama.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
6-10 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1) In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot, then season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick.

2) Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to balance the flavor. Pour hot tomato sauce in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Sauce will freeze well for up to 6 months.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chop Suey

My daughter has come to love baby corn. In fact, whenever we order anything that has baby corn in it, she'll just pick them out of the dish and all she would eat is the baby corn. Seems like its the only vegetable she'll voluntarily eat. So it gave me the idea to make chop suey at home so that she can have more of her baby corn.

This is a similar recipe to my Pancit Canton, but without the noodles. We don't often eat vegetable dishes, so this was a nice change of pace from our regular pasta or rice dishes. You can practically use any type of vegetable you'd like in this dish. I've made this a few times before and learned the recipe from my dad. After serving this to my daughter, I almost forgot that she also loves eating the quail eggs in this dish.

3 Tbsp. oil
1 cup sliced, cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, cut into large chunks
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
10 pieces snow peas, sliced in half
1 medium carrot, sliced thin on a bias
1 cup celery
1 (14 0z can) baby corn
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 (14 oz can) quail eggs

1) Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken and continue to stir until heated through.

2) Add soy sauce, black pepper, salt and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in all vegetables except the cabbage. Cook for about 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

3) Reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid and add cornstarch into the liquid to make a slurry. Return cornstarch mixture into the the pan to help thicken the liquid. Once the sauce thickens, stir in cabbage and quail eggs and continue to cook until cabbage is almost done. Serve hot over steamed rice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bananas Foster Cupcake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently learned that hubby likes Cream Cheese frosting in any of my cakes or cupcakes. I say "recently" because he usually just eats anything I make and usually likes it, no matter what it is. He hardly ever makes any requests for me to make anything specific. What a sweet husband, and great critic.

Last week, we visited my mother-in-law and found some cupcakes that my sister-in-law, Deby, had brought over. One of them was a banana cupcake with a cream cheese frosting that hubby took a liking to. It was then that he commented how much he loved cream cheese frosting. No wonder he loved my Red Velvet Cupcakes so much. I still had a never-ending supply of bananas in the freezer (Remember the Banana Caramel Cream Pie and Jenny's Banana Spice Cupcake I made from those bananas? Yeah I still had some that I decided to freeze). So I had an idea and found this recipe for Bananas Foster Cupcakes from What's Cookin Chicago? and decided to do my own version.

I made the cupcakes using my recipe from The Elvis. The frosting was from my Red Velvet Cupcakes. However, instead of using the brown sugar it called for, I substituted it with the my leftover caramel sauce from my Banana Caramel Cream Pie. The final product is something hubby will absolutely love.

18 prepared Banana Cupcakes, cooled completely

for the frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4-6 Tbsp. prepared caramel sauce
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4-6 cups confectioner's sugar
2-4 Tbsp. milk, depending on consistency

1) Cream the cream cheese with a mixer for about 1 minute. Add butter and beat for 1-2 minutes, until well incorporated.

2) Add caramel, salt, and vanilla extract and continue beating until well incorporated.

3) Slowly add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar and beat well. Continue adding sugar and alternating with the milk until desired consistency. Frost cooled cupcake.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sotanghon (Filipino Rice Noodle Soup)

This is one of those comfort foods my dad used to make often. Especially when we were sick with a cold. Or if he wanted to make a quick meal for us, because this is a very simple recipe. I haven't made any Filipino dishes in a while and was craving Sotanghon, so I decided to make some for dinner tonight. Just like dad, I make this often when I want to make a quick, hot meal. This is one of my daughters favorite Filipino dishes.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (boiled and shredded)
6 0z package rice noodles (soaked in warm water for 8 minutes then drained)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch long fresh ginger, julienned
2 quarts chicken broth
1 Tbsp. annato oil (optional for color)
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1) Heat oil in a pot. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add shredded chicken and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in annato oil if using)

2) Add chicken broth and heat until it begins to boil. Add noodles and continue to simmer until noodles are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve hot in bowls.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Apple Cider Beignet with Caramel Rum sauce

I've been wanting to make some apple donuts because we always buy loads of apples from Costco. Don't get me wrong. Hubby and daughter loves eating them, but I just wanted to make something out of them other than eating them on their own. Then I found an awesome recipe for Apple Cider Beignets from Smells Like Home. OMG were these delicious! And easy to make. I especially love dipping it in the caramel sauce. The original recipe includes making the caramel from scratch. But I had some caramel sauce leftover from my Banana Caramel Cream Pie that I didn't want to go to waste. I just added a splash of the rum and apple cider vinegar it called for. These were great to eat by itself, but dipping it in the caramel sauce takes them over the top. Make these now if you love apples. These will not disappoint.

vegetable oil
2 Golden delicious apples (or any apples you have on hand), peeled and core removed
1 1/2 cup self rising flour
1 egg
1 cup sparkling apple cider
confectioner's sugar for dusting

1 cup caramel sauce
splash of rum
splash of apple cider vinegar

1) Preheat oven to 250 deg F. Set a cooling rack on a large shallow pan inside the oven. Heat 2 inches of oil in a pot over medium heat to 275 deg F.

2) Place 1 cup flour in a shallow bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, beat egg. Stir in apple cider and 1 tablespoon of oil. Pour mixture into the well of flour. Stir with a fork until lumpy batter forms. Set aside.

3) Cut peeled apples crosswise into 1/4" thick slices. Pat apple rings dry.

4) Place 1/2 cup of remaining flour in a small bowl. Dredge 3 apple rings into flour, shaking off excess flour. Then dip apple rings in the wet mixture until well coated. Fry in oil until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to rack in the oven to keep warm. Dust with confectioner's sugar when ready to serve with caramel sauce.

5) To make the sauce: Combine prepared caramel sauce, a splash of rum, and a splash of apple cider vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Serve warm with beignets.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quick Friday Night Fish Tacos

I make this dish often on Fridays around the Lenten season. Its quick and easy and convenient, especially if I don't feel much like cooking on a Friday night and want to just relax after a long week at work. There are only 5 ingredients in this recipe, with the main ingredient being ready-made battered fish. And its delicious. I think it'll be even more delicious if the battered fish was made from scratch. But then, it wouldn't be called "Quick Friday Night Fish Tacos" anymore.

frozen battered fish (like halibut, or even fish sticks)
corn tortillas (but you can also use flour tortilla)
coleslaw mix
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sour cream
splash of milk

1) Heat frozen fish according to package directions. While fish is heating, combine mayonnaise, sour cream and milk in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.

2) To assemble tacos: place fish on tortilla. Top with coleslaw mix and drizzle mayonnaise sauce over the taco and serve.


A few months ago, I had watched the movie Julie & Julia, because almost everyone I knew suggested I should. Its about a girl who blogs about recipes she makes from Julia Childs' cookbook. Hmmmmm, sounds familiar. I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the movie left a lot to be desired. The story sort of dragged. So I was rather disappointed. However, there were some recipes that Julie made that caught my eye. Like her bruschetta (although they didn't really identify the dish in the movie. I just guessed it to be bruschetta). It looked delicious and I've always loved eating bruschetta as an appetizer in restaurants. So I vowed to someday try to make some. Julie's bruschetta had, what looked like, both yellow and red tomatoes. For this recipe, I only used red Roma tomatoes.

Hubby absolutely loved these. He couldn't stop eating them. He said they were quite tasty. And I have to agree with him.

1 loaf french baguette (about a foot long), cut into 1/4" thick slices
olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, cut in half
5 Roma tomatoes (or any medium tomatoes you like), seeded then chopped
3 stems fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade
salt & pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Place sliced baguette on baking sheets. Drizzle the top of the baguette slices with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown. Cool for about 2 minutes. Rub garlic (cut-side down) on toasted baguette. Set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, combine chopped tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. Top prepared baguette slices with tomato mixture and serve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Steamed Fish with Black Bean Sauce

Tomorrow is the first Friday of Lent. That means we have to abstain from any meats for every Friday until Easter. So I wanted to search for another good seafood recipe because, frankly, I'm running out of ideas for non-meat meals. I came across this recipe once again from Steamy Kitchen. I've always loved Black Bean sauce when I order it at Chinese restaurants, so I wanted to give this a try.

This dish was so easy to make. And you can use practically any type of fish for this recipe. I love buttery white fishes such as halibut, cod, and especially sea bass. For this particular meal, I happened to have cod fillets and so its what I used. The recipe called for sake, which I didn't have, so I used white wine and it came out fine. Deeelicous, actually. I'm so excited to have found a great recipe for fish rather than just grilling or baking it.

4 thick fish fillets
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp. Chinese Black Bean sauce, mixed with a splash of sake or white wine
8 Tbsp. sake (or any white wine)
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 green onions (or one bunch of fresh chives), chopped
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sesame oil

1) Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of Black Bean paste on the top of each fish fillet. Place in a heatproof dish. Add sake or wine on the bottom of the dish and steam for 10-15 minutes over high heat in a steamer.

2) While the fish is steaming, use a vegetable peeler to slice ginger into thin slices, then use a knife to jullienne into thin slivers.

3) When fish is finished, pour the cooking liquid into a deep dish for serving. Place ginger and green onions over the fish.

4) In a small frying pan, heat olive oil and sesame oil just until it begins to smoke. Pour over fish (ginger and chive will sizzle). Transfer fish into the serving dish with the liquid. Serve with steamed rice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Killer Cajun Shrimp

Its Fat Tuesday. And for those who are not familiar with what Fat Tuesday is really all about, its a day for many Christians (mostly Catholics) in the South indulge or binge on food before the Lenten season starts on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is usually a day of fasting for many of those who want to partake in some sort abstinence. Some fast entirely for the day of Ash Wednesday. Others, like myself, fast all sorts of meats or poultry for Ash Wednesday (and then every Friday after that until Easter). And since its our last day to really eat meat whenever we want, hubby and I decided to indulge (but not too much as we're still watching our caloric intake). However, I still had to prepare food for our lunch tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. That meant only seafood or vegetarian dishes.

I didn't have much of a selection of seafood recipes in my archives. So I decided to search through the archives of blogs I frequented and found this recipe from Steamy Kitchen. Living in LA, I've never been to a restaurant called Killer Shrimp, which is where the name of this recipe comes from. So I don't have much of a comparison as far as taste. But I can say that this dish was quite yummy. It reminds me of some dishes I've tried at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The recipe was quite simple to make, but required some ingredients that I didn't readily have. So I had to make a quick run to the supermarket. I served this with some french bread that hubby brought home to sop up all the spicy broth.

2 Tbsp. dried or fresh rosemary
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. dried fennel seeds
2 tsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes (less if you like it less spicy)
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 small onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
16 0z bottled clam juice
1/2 lemon (cut in half)
3 oz tomato paste
1 cup white wine
2 lbs. shrimp (de-veined)

1) Using a mortar and pestle, smash all the spices (rosemary, thyme, fennel, celery seed, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt). You can also quickly run a knife through the spices on a cutting board to help release its flavors. Set aside.

2) In a large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until fragrant and soft. Stir in prepared spices.

3) Add broth, clam juice, lemon, tomato paste, and white wine. Simmer on low for at least 1 hour. Add more salt if needed.

4) Just before serving, add shrimp and simmer until shrimps are pink, about 3-5 minutes. Serve in bowls with french bread or white rice.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chinese Broccoli Beef Noodle

I came across this when I was looking through some recipes at Steamy Kitchen. I love eating Chinese noodles, specifically Chow Mein. It looked really easy to make, and I had bought a huge batch of thinly sliced beef from Costco that I wanted to use up, so I decided to try to make it for dinner tonight. This recipe called for egg noodles, but it also indicated that you can use spaghetti pasta, which is what I used tonight. I didn't find Chinese broccoli, so I used some broccoli rabe that I found at the supermarket. The flavors of this dish was so yummy. Its reminiscent of Mongolian BBQ that I get at the mall. However, I think I may just use regular broccoli the next time I make this and can't find Chinese broccoli. Broccoli rabe was a little too bitter for this dish. But I'm definitely making this a regular dish at home.

3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
3 Tbsp. rice wine or dry white wine
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 lb. beef, thinly sliced
1 lb. fresh or dried noodles/spaghetti pasta
vegetable or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 lb. Chinese broccoli, regular broccoli, or broccoli rabe
black pepper

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, oyster sauce and white wine. Add sugar and continue whisking until sugar dissolves. Stir in cornstarch and continue stirring until smooth. Add sesame oil and beef. Mix well. Marinate for at least 20 minutes. Discard marinade.

2) Cook noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3) Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat and stir-fry garlic until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add beef, a single layer at a time, and stir-fry until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add more oil between batches as necessary. Transfer beef to a plate.

4) Heat another 1 tablespoon oil in the wok or skillet over high heat. Stir fry broccoli until they are coated with the oil. Pour 1/4 cup broth and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover broccoli and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer broccoli to the beef plate.

5) Add remaining 3/4 broth, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, oyster sauce and wine to the wok and bring to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, but lightly moistened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked beef and broccoli and mix thoroughly. Season with pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Korean Style Taco with Cabbage Slaw

In search for a Korean taco recipe (preferably a Kogi taco recipe), I came across two versions. One was with a Kogi BBQ sauce. The other was with a Korean style salsa roja from Closet Cooking. The version with the Kogi BBQ sauce had a slight sweetness to it. This one had a kick to it and was more spicy. Both were equally good, depending on how you like your tacos: sweet or spicy. But I feel that this one was a little bit closer in taste to Kogi's tacos. However, this one required a few more steps. The good thing about this is it made a lot of sauce, so I put the remaining sauce in an airtight container to use again later on. I used my Bulgogi Beef in this recipe and then topped it with a Cabbage/Lettuce slaw. You can also top this with cilantro and chopped onions, as well as kimchi. But we opted to keep it as is. Hubby and I really enjoyed these.

Korean Style Salsa Roja
1/4 lb. plum tomatoes
1/4 lb. tomatillos (husked and washed)
1 cup water
20 dried chiles de arbol
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. grated garlic
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
2 Tbsp. Korean fermented hot pepper paste (Gochujang)
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (toasted and crushed)

1) Roast tomatoes and tomatillos until charred on all sides, about 10-12 minutes.

2) Place tomatoes, tomatillos, water, chiles, and onion in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until onions are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

3) Place everything (except the sesame seeds) in a blender or food processor and puree, adding reserved liquid a little at a time to get the desired consistency. Strain liquid. Add prepared sesame seeds.

Cabbage Slaw
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
juice of half a lime
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Korean chili powder (Gochugaru)
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded cabbages

1) Whisk together sesame oil, lime juice, chili powder, and sesame seeds. Toss with lettuce and cabbage.

To assemble the tacos
cabbage slaw
Korean Style salsa roja

1) Place 2 warm corn tortilla on a plate. Top with cooked beef, 1 teaspoon of sauce, and then cabbage slaw.

Korean Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce

Many people know that I have a huge love for Korean Tacos. Preferably from the Kogi truck. Unfortunately, the trucks are not readily accessible. So I don't get to eat it as often I would like. I have been craving for some Kogi tacos lately, but they haven't been anywhere near me. I wondered if anyone on the internet had a similar recipe for Korean tacos and to my surprise, I found a couple of recipes that tried to replicate Kogi tacos. I decided to try both recipes for dinner tonight. This recipe is from Steamy Kitchen, which has become a new favorite blog of mine.

The recipe for Kogi BBQ sauce comes from Kogi chef himself, Roy Choi. I couldn't believe that he actually gave out a recipe, but Jaden managed to nudge one of the owners of Kogi to get this recipe from Chef Roy. The sauce was really simple to make. Its adding all the extra toppings that make the tacos pretty complex, but oh so delicious. I used my recipe for Bulgogi Beef and topped the whole thing with a cabbage/lettuce slaw that I found from another Korean Taco recipe from Closet Cooking. You can also top the taco with onions and cilantro, even Kimchi. But we opted to keep this as is. The end product was something any Korean taco lover would love - Hubby and I included.

Kogi BBQ Sauce
2 Tbsp. Korean fermented hot pepper paste (Gochujang)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil

1) Whisk all ingredients together until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth.

To assemble the tacos
1/2 lb. cooked Korean Bulgogi Beef
corn tortillas
cabbage slaw
Kogi BBQ sauce

1) Place 2 warm corn tortilla on a plate. Top with cooked beef, 2 teaspoons of sauce, onion/cilantro mix, kimchi and then cabbage slaw.

Crab Hush Puppies with Aioli sauce

We used to frequent Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and order their Hush Pups, which I absolutely love. So I was excited to find this recipe again from my Costco cookbook. I had bought some canned lump crab meat from Costco about 2 weeks ago with the intentions of making this recipe one day. And so before the crab meat goes bad, I decided to finally make it for lunch today. And boy were they good. I served this with a quick Aioli that I made. This recipe makes a huge batch, so I called my brother up to see if he wanted me to set him aside some. He loves Bubba Gump's Hush Pups as well. So he'll be coming by later today.

4 cups canola oil for frying
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 - 2 Tbsp. hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 lb. lump crab meat
1 cup corn kernels
5 large green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
Aioli sauce

1) Heat oil in a heavy pot over high heat until it reaches 275 deg F. Preheat oven to 250 deg F.

2) While the oil is heating, stir together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and hot sauce. Add liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir until combined. Fold in crab and corn kernels.

3) Over medium heat, saute green onions in butter until soft. Stir into batter.

4) Using 2 teaspoons, carefully add 1 rounded teaspoon full of batter to the hot oil and fry, turning until golden for 3-4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain briefly. Transfer hush puppies to a shallow baking pan and keep hot in the oven while frying the remaining batter. Serve immediately with aioli sauce.

Aioli sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. pepper onion relish (or regular pickled relish)
salt & pepper to taste

1) Stir all ingredients together until well combined. Season with salt & pepper to your liking

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Sweet Design

Since I haven't posted any new recipes this week, I decided to do a review of this awesome new custom cake studio I encountered last week. A Sweet Design is a bakery that I've been dying to try out. I first discovered this place a couple of years ago, when they were located about 2 miles from their current location. Because that location was closed down, I, unfortunately, did not have a chance to check them out. I thought they went out of business. Then, I was driving around one day and was so stoked to discover that they had just moved to a new location. I searched online and discovered that they now sold cupcakes! And everyone knows how much I love cupcakes.

I decided to pay them a visit last week with my daughter to try out some cupcakes. My daughter's birthday is coming up in a couple of months. Those who know me well know that I prepare for this event for almost 6 months in advance. So I wanted to try out some of their goods to see if we can order her birthday cake here.

My friend, Kiran, had shared her experience with me when she decided to check them out as well. Unfortunately, her experience wasn't that great. She said the workers she encountered didn't seem like they wanted to help her. So when I walked in the shop, I was already armed with the attitude that the workers will be rude. But they were far from it. My daughter and I walked in a rather plain looking store. You would never know that this was a cake store if they didn't have their cake display. It just looked so plain inside. On one small counter were their cupcakes. We picked out 6 cupcakes to buy. The girl at the counter even made recommendations on what to pick. I then asked the girl at the counter some questions about their custom cake ordering and she directed me to the girls behind the desk, who were assisting others at the time. I was later approached by the owner, Joeleen, who was so sweet and accommodating. Just her attitude alone made me want to come back here. And we definitely will after trying these yummy cupcakes when we got home:

Oreo - a vanilla cupcake with Oreo crumbs
Cola confetti - recommended by the girl at the counter. Hubby said it tasted like cola
Cafe Latte - this is a delicious twist on a regular old mocha cake
Sherbet - tasted exactly as it sounds, sherbet
Reese's pieces - a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting
Pink Velvet - their signature cupcake, which is, more or less, a strawberry cupcake

You can probably already guess which one my daughter picked out - the Pink Velvet Cake. Hubby and my favorite is the Cafe latte. So we've decided these two flavors were probably what we're going to choose from for my daughter's cake, if not both ;) All the cakes were flavorful and moist. But these two seemed to have unique flavors we're looking for. I can't wait to go back again for the consultation and try more cakes.