Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taiwanese Spaghetti

I'm always looking for creative ways to serve spaghetti pasta because I absolutely love spaghetti. Its one of my favorite things to eat. And I think I've rubbed off on my daughter because she loves it as much as I do. So when this recipe came up on my reader from Steamy Kitchen, I was intrigued. An Asian pasta. Hmmmm....

The preparation was real easy. However, I wasn't too satisfied with the flavor. Maybe my preparation was off but it needed more umph. The meat mixture, however, would probably go great as a filling for a lettuce wrap. Or maybe with real Asian noodles. But not in a pasta. Not sure if I'd make this again as a pasta dish.

1 lb. noodles or any kind
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce (or oyster sauce)
2 tsp. regular soy sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. five-spice powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. cooking oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc.)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 oz can bamboo shoots, diced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, diced
1 stalk green onion, chopped

1) Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2) In a small bowl, combine broth, soy sauces, balsamic vinegar, five-spice powder, and brown sugar. Set aside.

3) Heat wok over medium-high heat. Swirl in cooking oil. Add onion and cook for about a minute. Add ground meat and cook until almost all the pink is gone. Push meat mixture to the sides of wok. Add garlic in the center of wok and cook until fragrant. Add bamboo shoots an mushrooms in the center. Toss everything together in the wok.

4) Pour broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in green onions. Serve over  noodles.

Monday, August 27, 2012

King's Hawaiian Chocolate Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

I've never had bread pudding before. It is one of those so-called comfort foods that never used to appeal to me. I hated mushy bread whenever I ate a sandwich, so why would I eat mushy bread as a dessert? The mere thought of that mushy texture in mouth used to make me cringe. Then I saw a show on the Food Network that was featuring food trucks. This was a time before the food truck craze went rampant. They featured a bread pudding truck that served chocolate bread pudding. And it actually looked really good. But I didn't want to try making it myself for fear that I would only cringe at eating mushy bread and it wouldn't be worth the effort to make.

I recently came across the King's Hawaiian website. I skimmed through the recipes and found their recipe for Chocolate Bread Pudding and it was calling out to me. I figured that maybe I never liked bread pudding because it wasn't prepared right. So I thought maybe I should finally face my fear of this dessert. It was quite simple to make. The bread pudding truck that I saw on the Food Network served their bread pudding with some sort of vanilla sauce. So I paired this with this vanilla sauce from My Recipes and it came out really well. It didn't even seem like mushy bread, but more of a custardy dessert that I really enjoyed. Hubby enjoyed this dessert a little too much because he had 2 servings in one sitting. Word of caution, however: this dessert uses a lot of heavy cream, so it isn't diet friendly. Therefore eat with caution. But enjoy this classic dessert warm.

2 1/2 cups Half & Half
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
6 cups lightly packed cubed King's Hawaiian bread (rolls, loaf or whatever you have)

1) Heat half & half in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Mix until completely melted and incorporated. Cool slightly.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Temper the eggs by slowly whisking in 1 cup of the chocolate mixture until well incorporated. Whisk in the remaining chocolate mixture. Pour custard mixture over cubed bread and slowly stir until bread is well coated. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3) Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Lightly apply a non-stick spray on a 8x8 baking dish, or six 6-oz custard cups.

4) Place cups or baking dish on a baking sheet. Spoon soaked bread. Bake for 45-50 minutes for the baking dish, or 35-40 minute for the baking cups, until knife inserted in center comes out nearly clean.
Serve warm with chocolate or vanilla sauce.

Vanilla sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1) In a saucepan, whisk together sugars, flour, nutmeg, egg and cream until well incorporated. Add butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.

2) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Corn Dogs

The kind of hot dog I used to eat when I was a kid was of the frozen variety that my parents would buy from Costco. I always thought that a corn dog was a corn dog, so there weren't any variations to it. As I got older, I began noticing that there were quite a few different varieties. There's the honey corn dog which uses a chicken type of hot dog with honey in the batter. There's corn dog made of beef franks. There's even vegetarian corn dogs. Go figure. I've learned that I tend to like the ones made out of beef franks. And then I came to learn of freshly made corn dogs at Disneyland and I became a corn dog connoisseur.

Because I've mostly known corn dogs of the frozen variety, I never really considered making it from scratch. Until I came across this recipe at Shine from Yahoo. I decided to give it a try. With so much anticipation, I was a little disappointed with the way it turned out. I may have done something wrong with the deep-frying or my technique may have been off, but the dough on the corn dog was thin and therefore the whole thing turned out pretty greasy. The flavor was dead on, but I didn't really like eating a stick of oil. I may have to tweak it a bit more, but I'm going to keep this recipe.

8 hot dogs
Popsicle sticks or wooden chopsticks
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour, divided
8 cups vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken

1) Grill hot dogs over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Cool slightly. Insert wooden stick into hot dogs. Place 3 tablespoon in a plate. Roll hot dogs in the flour and shake off excess flour. Set aside.

2) In a deep, heavy pot, place about 3 inches of oil and heat to 350 deg F over medium-high heat.

3) In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in buttermilk until well incorporated.

4) Transfer some of the batter into a tall glass, filling almost to the top. Dip hot dogs, one at a time into glass with batter to coat. Deep fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Return oil to 350 deg F and continue cooking the rest of the hot dogs and refill glass with batter between batches.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tea Time at the Montage Beverly Hills

I have many friends and acquaintances. But  I only have a few really good friends that I consider my best friends. So few that I can count them in one hand. I only have a few best friends because only these few truly understand how busy life can be, being a wife, a mom, and a career woman. Sometimes life is just too busy to go out drinking, partying, going on trips, etc. And these friends understand that because they, too, have busy lives. They know that we all have different priorities. However, even though we have our own priorities, we still make it a point to hang out to celebrate each other's birthdays or just to hang out to be together because we hadn't seen each other in a while. And when we do go out, we go ALL out.

When I go out with these particular friends of mine, we like elegance and sophistication. Maybe because we're all big goof balls in real life and we like to change it up a bit and pretend to be sophisticated. lol! But its fun to pretend. Like pretending to be sophisticated ladies having afternoon tea. I never really got into having tea until one of the friends suggested we try it out. And now, we like trying out the many tea houses we have here in LA. Like the Afternoon Tea Time at the Montage in Beverly Hills.  

After much scheduling and re-scheduling, we finally decided to hang out this past weekend for afternoon tea at the Montage. You enter the restaurant that has the feel of an elegant living room. We were seated in the sofa area. We ordered the traditional tea and one kid's tea that we thought my daughter and one of my friend's daughter can share. Each serving consisted of your choice of a pot of tea.

(my daughter's Passion Fruit Tea)

As with any afternoon tea service, we were served with tiers of finger foods. The kids had their own finger grilled cheese sandwich, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and nutella sandwich.

The adults had the usual cucumber, egg salad, and chicken salad curry sandwich. 

Everything was delicious. Everyone at the restaurant was real gracious and accommodating. Even better was the company I was in. I'm glad that I am able to share these little experiences with my good friends. I sure love them to pieces.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


During the weekday, our meal at breakfast is often not spent together. My breakfast usually consist of either some sort of cereal or oatmeal that I often just eat on the desk in my office. I leave the house earlier than hubby because I drop the little munchkin off at my parents, who in turn feed her breakfast before they drop her off at school. Because weekday mornings are always so rushed, weekend breakfast is usually something special that I like to make so we can sit down and eat together as a family and enjoy a nice, slow day off.

The only other time I've ever made waffles was when I made these Carrot Cake Waffles. My daughter likes to eat things plain with no surprises like shredded carrots in her waffles. So she wants her waffles plain. So I did a search among the blogs I frequently visit and found these awesome waffles from Annie's Eats. Known as Waffles of Insane Greatness (or WIG), this recipe has apparently travelled all over the blogosphere for its awesome goodness. And I can definitely attest to its awesomeness. And so can the little munchkin, who ate all of hers up. She said I make the best waffles ♥

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together milk, buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until incorporated and a few lumps remain. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

3) Preheat waffle iron. Fill waffle wells and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. Cook until crisp and golden. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I was in the mood to make lasagna the other day. But I didn't want just a plain ordinary lasagna. Then I remembered that I had saved up a great casserole recipe from Martha Stewart that I've been dying to make. Pastitsio is a Greek casserole dish. I learned of this dish when I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network and was curious about how different this dish was from my Baked Ziti recipe.

When I was looking for recipes last week, I came upon this recipe from Martha Stewart and I realized the only difference with this recipe from my Baked Ziti is the cinnamon. Its actually an easier recipe because the sauce base is just tomato paste and wine. I loved the hint of cinnamon in this dish. This is a great make-ahead recipe as well. Just prepare and assemble the casserole and bake when you're ready. I'll definitely be making this new comfort food again.

1 lb. pasta (preferably penne), cooked and drained
oil for cooking
2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey, lamb)
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a large sauce pan, heat about 3 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Break up meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Transfer meat mixture to a colander to drain the fat. Return meat mixture to the pan and add the wine. Cover and allow to cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon and  water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3) Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

4) In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until incorporated. Slowly whisk in milk. Continue whisking until there are no more lumps. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and set aside.

5) Add pasta to the meat mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to a 9x13 inch pan. Pour white sauce over the pasta mixture, smoothing it out until leveled. Bake until tops begin to brown in spots, about 30-40 minutes (40-50 minutes if you've made the casserole ahead and have placed in the refrigerator). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars

I came across this recipe for Coconutty Macadamia Nut Bars from Cooking Hawaiian Style. It almost got buried among all the recipes I had saved up during my Fat Flush Diet last week. I saved several recipes a while ago from Cooking Hawaiian Style. I figured I'd better start making them. Especially this one, because I still have a couple of bags of macadamia nuts I've been wanting to use from our trip to Hawaii last October.

The recipe was really quite simple and used simple ingredients. The outcome was reminiscent of Pecan Pie. It also reminds of the macadamia tart I had at a luau that we went to last October.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour

4 large eggs
3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside

2) In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar over medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and continue beating until crumbly. Press dough on the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

3) In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the filling. Spread mixture evenly on top of prepared crust. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Copycat Disney French Toast

I've been on a hiatus the past week or so because I went back on my Fat Flush Diet, which lasted a week. So there obviously hasn't been any cooking or baking. If you followed me in 2010, the Fat Flush Diet consist of no salt, no sugar, no flavor! But it cleanses your body of toxins. This time around, however, it was easier to plan for our meals. All I did was grill/pan sear a lot of fish. Because fish tended to have natural flavoring in it. That diet was so hard, but so worth it. I lost about 5 pounds, where 2-3 pounds were probably water retention. So I'm sure I'll get that back once I get my body back to consuming the salt. So, I probably lost a solid 2-3 pounds. A good weight to kick start a diet. I had been calorie counting for about a month or so and I just couldn't shed any weight. So this will help me continue with the calorie counting.

To celebrate the newer me, I wanted to finally make a good breakfast for us today. During this week-long diet, all I did was look for new recipes. I saved up so many, so I'm going to be consistently making new recipes in the next month or so. One of those is a copycat recipe for
Disney's French Toast that I found on food. com. I first had this yummy breakfast a few years ago when my brother-in-law and his family invited us to stay with them during a trip to Disneyland. They brought us along for breakfast at one of their character breakfast. I had some of their french toast and its all I look for when we have breakfast at Disneyland. I'm so glad to have found this recipe because it was delicious. You don't even need to use any syrup because its already sweetened with cinnamon sugar. Hubby and my daughter were thoroughly pleased with this supped up classic breakfast. I modified the recipe and used regular sandwich bread and cut the recipe in half. But you can use Texas loaf as the recipe calls for if you would like larger french toast.

8 slices white or wheat bread
1 egg
1 1/4 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
oil for frying

Cinnamon Sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. sugar

1) In a large bowl, whisk all the batter ingredients together, except the bread, until thoroughly combined and smooth.

2) In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

3) Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet or griddle. Dip bread in batter and fry on both sides until golden brown.

4) Pat french toast on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and serve warm.