Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tangerine Beef Stir Fry

I'll just get right to the point. This dish was so awesome and so flavorful. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised how well this dish came out because it came out of Spark Recipes, which means diet food, which means bland, right? No way! This was soooo good! Who knew that Asian food would taste this good using only a few ingredients? It literally only took a few ingredients and you can use practically any vegetable to stir-fry with. And the end product is this orangey-delicious dish that tastes just as good as any other take-out Chinese food.

2-3 tangerines
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 lb beef, cut into thin strips
5 Tbsp. oil
1 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger

1) Zest 1 tangerine and set aside. Juice tangerine to equal 1/2 cup of juice. Stir in sherry/wine and hoisin sauce and set aside. Place beef strips in a medium bowl. Add soy sauce and sprinkle cornstarch. Massage the meat so the that it is well coated with the soy sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

2) Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, ginger, and orange zest. Cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are tender-crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.

3) Heat an additional 2 tablespoon to the skillet. Add half of the beef and stir fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining beef.

4) Add juice mixture to the skillet and cook until boiling, about 1 minute. Return vegetables and beef to the skillet and continue cooking until heated through. Serve with steamed rice.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Juicy Lucy Burger

Happy Memorial Day! Let's not forget those who have lost their lives for this great country of ours. But did you know that its also National Hamburger Day? I didn't either. It just happened to pop up on my Facebook page from Betty Crocker (yeah, I'm fan of Betty Crocker on Facebook. Wut of it?). I had planned on making burgers today anyway. But what a great reason to make them.

I was looking for hamburger ideas to make for this weekend from What's Cookin' Chicago? and found this recipe for a Juicy Lucy. I've heard of a stuffed burger being called a Juicy Lucy before on the Food Network. I haven't made my Stuffed Burger in a while. And even then, I used ready-made hamburger patties. I've always wanted to make the burgers from scratch. So this recipe was perfect. This burger was dangerously delicious. Nice and juicy, with a surprise in the center. I've definitely found a new way to make stuffed burgers. So in honor of Memorial Day and National Hamburger Day, I now introduce you to the Juicy Lucy!

1 lb. ground beef (the more fat, the better)
1 large egg
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 cup shredded cheese
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Hamburger buns
sliced red onions
sliced tomatoes

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and all the seasonings. Mix well using your hands to thoroughly combine. Divide and shape into 4 patties. Set aside.

2) Take one patty and create a large well in the center. Fill the well with about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Top with 1/4 Tbsp. of the butter. Fold the meat over the cheese to completely cover the cheese. Re-shape into a patty. Repeat with the other patties.

3) Grill burgers to desired doneness. Try not to work the meat too much. Don't worry, some cheese may leak out. Place on hamburger buns and top with your favorite toppings.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Banana Crumb Cake

I've bookmarked this recipe for almost a year from Southern Plate. I've also saved up a bunch of frozen bananas in the hopes of finally making it. Well, I looked at my freezer full of bananas and I figured I better start using them.

I usually have my go-to Banana Bread recipe. But I felt that it was missing some "umph." I've always loved any loaf cakes with a crumb topping on it. And so when I found this recipe, I wanted to give it a try. Its a pretty straightforward recipe and the end product has become my new go-to recipe for a banana bread fix. This was delicious with that the extra flair of crunchy crumb topping.

2 cups sugar
3 ripe bananas
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Crumb topping
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup flour
1 cup (light or dark) brown sugar, lightly packed

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease 2 loaf or 8x8 pans. Set aside

2) Place peeled bananas in a bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar. Beat on low-medium speed until bananas are liquefied, about 1-2 minutes.

3) Add butter and continue beating until creamed together with the banana mixture, about 2 minutes. (Note: there will be small lumps of butter in the mixture).

4) Add remaining ingredients and continue beating until well combined. Set aside.

5) In a medium bowl, place all ingredients for the crumb topping. Cut together using a fork or 2 knives until you get a crumbly mixture.

6) Pour 1/4 of the mixture to each of the prepared pan. Sprinkle 1/4 of the crumb topping on top of each pan with the batter. Pour remaining batter on top of each pan, and sprinkle the remaining crumb topping . Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until toothpick test comes out clean.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chex Mix

I've been eating packaged Chex Mix for as long as I can remember. Its a great snack with lots of flavor. I also remember hearing that it was just as easy to open a bag of Chex Mix as it was to make it. But I don't know why I've never made it before. I've made other Chex snacks from Chex cereal, like Monkey Munch (aka Puppy Chow), and recently, Chex Lemon Buddies (which the recipe I got from the back of the box). The traditional Chex Mix recipe was also on the back of the box, and I had some cereal left over from so I decided to make some today. I can honestly say that these were totally better than the packaged stuff. Its nice and buttery and crunchy and fresh.

3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup garlic flavor bite size bagel chips, broken in to small pieces
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder

1) Preheat oven to 250 deg F.

2) In a large bowl, mix together the cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Pour sauce over the cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated.

3) Spread prepared cereal mix on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread Chex mix on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mongolian Chicken

I've been doing pretty good as far as making healthy recipes lately from Spark recipes. So far, I think this is my favorite recipe that came out of that website. Its a very easy recipe that only required about 10 ingredients and approximately less than 20 minutes to cook. Who could use a quick recipe like this? Me, of course. Along with many other busy and working moms out there. I was a little skeptical about the flavor of this dish because it only required very few ingredients. I figured it might end up bland again, but it is so far from that. This dish had a sweet and savory flavor that reminds me of many take-out meals. One good tip in making this dish is to make sure the chicken is still slightly frozen for easy slicing of the chicken. You'll end up with nice, thinly sliced chicken. Hubby really enjoyed this one, so I'm definitely making this quick and easy meal again.

2 boneless, skinless chicken, still slightly frozen
2-3 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar, slightly packed
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
chopped green onions for garnish

1) Cut chicken into thin slices. Heat a skillet to medium low and add chicken. Cook chicken until no longer pink.

2) While chicken is cooking, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add grated ginger and crushed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in soy sauce, water and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

3) In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water  and whisk together to make a slurry. Whisk slurry into sauce. Add sauce mixture into the skillet with the chicken. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens. Top with green onions (or broccoli would also go well) and serve with steamed white rice.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's day to all you great mothers out there. We do a helluva job managing our families along with school, work, and other things. So be proud of yourself. Its tough being a mom and wife, but I am loving every minute of it and wouldn't change it for anything. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter that I work hard for and absolutely love and wouldn't have it any other way.

I didn't have a recipe to share for this special day, but I did want to post about these cute matching aprons I just got for me and my daughter. I love being in the kitchen with her. She's my little helper, especially whenever I bake something. She's already shown a trait of being a foodie like me. When baking, she loves to help put the vanilla or vanilla extract in the dough or batter because she loves the smell of vanilla. She always claims that it was her favorite part of the baking, because she loves the smell. I love how she is starting to appreciate her sense of smell to explore great food using her nose. Now her sense of taste? That's another story. If it doesn't have pasta and cheese, or the name "macaroni and cheese," you'll have to practically force her to eat it. But once she gets a taste of it, she's usually okay to eat it. Begrudgingly, but she'll eat it. My hope is that she will someday explore all the different types of foods out there and not limit herself to macaroni and cheese. That was one of the goals of this blog, to explore and chronicle different recipes, new and old, for my daughter to experience.

Cooking and baking is a huge part of our family. And my kitchen, I believe, is the center of our home. It is where I spend time with my daughter. It is where I prepare great meals to feed my family. It is where I find comfort. I enjoy buying cool things for my kitchen. And these aprons were just an addition to our kitchen that will bond me with my daughter.

Happy Mother's Day and Happy cooking/baking!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Baked Crispy Chicken Wings

This is another great recipe I found from Spark Recipes for Baked Crispy Chicken Wings. I absolutely love Korean Fried Chicken after discovering it during a recent  trip to the Philippines, of all places. I was stoked to find Kyochon locally near my mother-in-law. So you better believe that we always stop by Kyochon whenever we visit her. When I saw this recipe, I was hoping it would have a similar taste and texture of the Korean Fried Chicken I've become addicted to. However, the flavor was not quite there. It was somewhat crispy, the way I like my fried chicken. But it lacks in the flavor category. The great thing about this recipe, though, is that its baked. So you don't have to worry about the extra calories you get from frying the chicken. The chicken gets its grease from the skin during baking, so it doesn't stick too much to the surface. I think I may use the technique in this recipe and tweak the flavor to achieve that signature sweet flavor from the Korean Fried Chicken that I love.

16 chicken wings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
pinch of onion powder
pinch of garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour for dredging

1) In a freezer bag, combine soy sauce, wine, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add chicken and massage marinade into chicken. Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours.

2) Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Place flour in a shallow pan. Remove chicken from the marinade and dredge each chicken piece in the flour. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, until crispy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Soba Noodles with Chicken Veggies and Caramelized Garlic Sauce

In keeping with my diet and with my theme of Spark Recipes, I decided to give this recipe a try. I found it while searching on the site for some recipe ideas. This dish reminds me of my Chinese Broccoli Beef Noodle recipe, except with a lot of other extra veggies and the use of soba noodles. Soba noodles is another type of Japanese noodles made of wheat or buckwheat.

The original recipe only yielded one serving, so I modified it to fit 2 meals each for both hubby and me (one for dinner, one for lunch). Feel free to play around with different types of vegetables for this dish. The original recipe used red cabbage, carrots and red bell peppers. I happened to use bok choy, zucchini, carrots and bell peppers. Although a flavorful dish, I think I'll stick with my go-to Chinese Broccoli Beef Noodle recipe. It was a much quicker recipe for me with less complicated ingredients. Because, where else can I use Tamari in a recipe? That will probably be my next goal. To find a use for Tamari.

8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tsp. vegetable oil
4 tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine, or sake or dry sherry
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Tamari (dark soy sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz soba noodles
2 bulbs of baby bok choy
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped red onion
1 stalk green onion, chopped
2 cooked chicken breast, sliced
sesame seeds for garnish

1) Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Strain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

2) Heat sesame and vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until dark yellow, not brown (lower heat if necessary to prevent browning). Add sugar and stir. Add cooking wine, soy sauces, salt, and pepper to taste. Allow to cook until sauce slightly thickens and bubbles.

3) Add chicken and all vegetables. Coat all ingredients with the sauce. Cook until chicken is warm and vegetables are cooked to your liking. Toss noodles in the sauce until thoroughly coated and top with sesame seeds.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole


After all the festivities and leftovers from the past weekend, I'm pooped. And I don't really feel like slaving over the stove. But I think we've had enough of the leftovers. Its time for some freshly cooked meals again. So what can I cook?

Recently, I reverted back to my calorie-counting diet and was searching through some recipes on my online calorie tracker, Spark People, for some diet friendly foods. In honor of Cinco de Mayo this weekend, I settled on this recipe for Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole. It had great reviews and it looked really simple. And so I gave it a shot. At first, I was real leery over the use of canned soups, because the dishes I make with them never turn out well and always bland. But I'm dieting, so I guess its supposed to bland. This dish was so far from being bland. It was quite yummy, actually. I even used my Homemade Taco Seasoning which helped lessen the amount of sodium in the dish. Served with warm tortillas and only about 280 calories per serving, this was actually an awesome dish that hubby really liked too. He actually suggested we serve this for the Mother's Day Luncheon we're hosting next weekend. We'll see :)

1 can fat free Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can fat free Cream of Chicken soup
1 can water
1 package taco seasoning (or 2 Tbsp. homemade Taco Seasoning)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
chopped cilantro for garnish
2 green onions, chopped
shredded cheese for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together soups, water and taco seasoning.  Evenly spread rice over sauce. Arrange chicken on top of rice. Top chicken with black beans, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, and green onions. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes.

3) After the baking time, remove foil. Shred chicken, if desired, and top with desired amount of cheese. Continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted. Served warm with tortillas.