Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Hot Pot!

Chong and I had Hot Pot this weekend. It’s been on my long list of To Eat. Prepping wasn’t too bad. I had planned on making dumplings but I decided to forgo that idea so we could eat sooner. I hate when people rush me, especially when I’ve mentally planned out my agenda (hint: Chong). Although the broth was at a low simmer, when I poured it into the HP pot, I didn’t let the pot+broth to heat up so it took a while to cook the veggies+meat. And the potatoes? Don’t even ask me. I didn’t even get to eat them because they never cooked!

Tofu, leafy greens (spinach, bok choy, napa cabbage, watercress, & yuchoy), bean thread noodles

Beef meatballs/pork/beef, mushrooms, potatoes, & seafood mix

Slowly cooking away

The morning after (includes potatoes)

I have to admit, it is fun to dump add veggies and meat into the pot.  It’s a great way to socialize while waiting for the food to cook.  It’s even more fun to eat.  I had 4 different kinds of dipping sauces (not pictured) and Chong, Pua, and I had a blast trying new combinations.   The next day, I pre-cooked the potatoes and added it to my broth.  Then I added the slower-cooking veggies, meats and noodles, let the pot simmer til everything was almost cooked and then add the fast-cooking veggies and beef.  This was easier and faster and just as good.  Chong liked the tofu, bean thread noodles, meatballs, and beef while I liked the tofu, mushrooms, watercress, spinach, and potatoes.

I’d prefer something where I can have my grilled meats and soup at the same time, but unfortunately, Chong and I live in an apartment and don’t want to be kicked out just yet.  Maybe I’ll try this during the summer at my parents’ house.

Brazilian cheese bread aka pao de queijo

My brain just loves going on tangents. I was googling restaurants in Chicago (since Chong and I, along with some family and friends, will be going to Chicago during Memorial weekend) and reading restaurant reviews and websites when I found a Brazilian steakhouse near Chicago. That brought me back to when Chong and I went to Fogo de Chao and I first tasted their cheesebread. Oh.My.Goodness. Their cheesebread were SOOO good! Besides the all-you-can-eat meat, I remember their cheesebread and their water. So I googled up some recipes and wouldn’t you know it, I had almost everything except for the cheese. So after a hop, skip and jump, I came back with a package of Parmesan cheese to start my Brazilian cheesebread.

Pao de Queijo

Ingredients:

* 2 cups tapioca flour
* 1 1/4 cups milk
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 eggs
* 12-14 oz parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Pour tapioca flour into a plastic bowl.
3. In a pot, bring the milk, oil and salt to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Pour the milk and oil mixture into the flour and stir.
5. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
6. Stir the eggs and cheese into the dough and mix well.
7. Oil your hands and form the dough into golf-size balls and place on baking sheet.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Brazilian Cheesebread aka Pao de Queijo Pictorial

Tapioca flour

Milk, oil & salt

Dough!

Dough + eggs

Plus cheese

Want to play ball?

Oven ready


Stomach ready

Dinner (pan-fried chicken breast, steamed broccoli & cheesebread)

These were good…but if I decide to make them again, I’d use more cheese and make them smaller.  The bread/dough was too elastic for my taste and I think that’s because I made them too big.  Next time, I’ll try baking them in my mini-muffin pan.


Birthday Weekend Dinner Part II

Ok, I think I’ve gotten through the harder part of posting up pictorials.  So on with the dinner.  Along with Manicotti Alla Romana, there was:

Garlic bread

Yummy salad my sister got from her workplace

Cheese fondue

French bread to dip

Here’s a picture of my plate

And for dessert, along with the PB cake, there was:

To Chong, from Leng&Tia:  Peanut Butter Silk Pie (Perkins)

To me, from Pua&Matt: Strawberry Cheesecake (Cafe Latte)

Even though I gave away most of the cakes and pies, Chong and I still have a few remaining slices of pie and cheesecake left.  I don’t think we’re going to finish it so into the trash it goes.  : (  Even though they’re sooo good, we’re done eating dessert for a while.

Ah….fondue, how high my hopes were when I first heard of you.  After youtube-ing and googling recipes and store-hopping, I decided to go with the pre-made fondue vs. making my own because 1) it was cheaper and 2) less hassle.  I even bought 2 packs just in case it was a big hit.  Unfortunately, ding dong me didn’t really pay attention to the instructions on the package and only “cooked” the fondue for about 3-4 minutes instead of the recommended 10 minutes.  Hence, when we started dipping the bread into the cheese, it tasted very alcoholic-y because I hadn’t burned off the kirsch so fondue was ruined for everyone.

The next day, I reheated the fondue and cooked it for 10 minutes but I could still taste a hint of the kirsch in the cheese and it was not a pleasant taste.  So into the trash the rest of the fondue went.  We returned the other package and made French toast out of the other French bread we got.  I think that might be the last time we’re eating fondue, at least for a few years or so.  : |

Birthday Weekend Dinner

I can’t believe it’s already Friday. How does the week pass me by so quickly? Feels like I haven’t even done anything productive with my time. Well, I did “win” the poker tournament that Chong and I frequent every week. Actually, I came in second place but Dave, the winner, was nice enough to split the pot with me this week (since I split the pot with him 2 weeks ago) and then we played for the remaining $4. Poker is actually pretty fun. I started playing online and then graduated to real life and I think I can read certain people (my husband) well. : )

Ok, so last weekend turned out pretty well. I thought I wouldn’t have enough food to thinking I had too much food, to thinking I had just enough food. Man, can my brother eat! I spent a good 4-5 hours prepping and cooking and then when it came time to eat, I was too hungry and too pooped to enjoy my food. : ( But it was still good, especially dessert!!!

I made Manicotti Alla Romana (stuffed manicotti) and PB cake for Chong. My cousin and her husband bought me a Cafe Latte Strawberry Cheesecake and her younger brother and his gf bought Chong a Peanut Butter Silk Pie from Perkins. We went to Perkins last week and I wanted him to try the pie but unfortunately, they were out. So he had a piece of PB cake and pie and he was in heaven.

Manicotti Alla Romana

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 pound ground beef
* salt to taste
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
* 1 (12 ounce) package manicotti shells
* 2 cups ricotta cheese
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Saute garlic for 1 minute and stir in ground beef. Cook until well browned and crumbled. Season with salt and set aside to cool.
2. Cook spinach according to package directions. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add manicotti shells and parboil for half of the time recommended on the package. Drain and cover with cool water to stop the cooking process and prevent the shells from cracking.
3. To the ground beef mixture add the cooked spinach and ricotta cheese. When the mixture is cool, add the beaten eggs. Spread 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Gently drain the manicotti shells and carefully stuff each one with the meat and cheese mixture; place shells in prepared dish. Lightly cover the dish with plastic wrap or a clean, damp towel to prevent shells from cracking.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
5. Prepare the white sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and chicken bouillon. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble. Stir in half and half and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Pour or ladle the sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.
6. Stir the basil into the remaining spaghetti sauce. Carefully pour or ladle spaghetti sauce over the white sauce, trying to layer the sauces without mixing.
7. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more.

It looks like a lot of ingredients and work, but it’s not as hard as the recipe makes it AND it’s SUPER delicious so it’s worth it.

Mannicotti Alla Romana Pictorial


Cooking–>Cooling off

Garlic & onion–>Add sausage

Sausage/Ricotta/Spinach–>Mix together

Stuffed

Sauced

Baked (used mozzarella instead of parmesan)

Ready to serve

Results:  These were pretty good.  I loved the creamy white sauce combined with the tangy tomatoe sauce.  The filling could’ve used a bit more salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning but I didn’t want to make the stuffing out-taste the rest of the dish.  Everyone loved it, including P’s husband, who is a very picky eater.  I have leftover stuffing and sauce in the fridge so maybe I’ll make stuffed shells this weekend.

As promised, I made Chong a PB cake and after his first taste of the cake, he wanted to devour the rest of the it.  I think he was really hungry at this point, but dinner was an hour away so I didn’t want him to spoil his appetite so he only got a small bite. The cake and frosting were  really easy to make.  I didn’t have enough time to make the cake look pretty so it’s just a plain half-frosted cake in case some people didn’t want frosting.  Oh, and silly me bought whipping cream instead of heavy cream but it didn’t make a difference since I used such a little amount.  Even milk could’ve worked.  Darn, now I have to find a way to use up the rest of the whipping cream before it goes bad.

Peanut Butter Cake II

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package butter cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each one. Add cake mix alternately with the water. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Assemble and frost with Peanut Butter Frosting once cool.
  4. To Make Peanut Butter Frosting: Combine 1 cup peanut butter, and 1/2 cup butter or margarine cream together until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Mix in enough cream to make the frosting of a spreading consistency. Apply to cool cake.

Peanut Butter Cake Pictorial

Butter & pb–>Cream together

Add eggs & water–>Stir

Add cake mix–>Mix

Oven-ready

Golden deliciousness

Butter & pb–>Mix with powder sugar & whipping cream

Frosted and ready to eat!

Wow, I realized I took ALOT of pictures but I didn’t think it would take this much work to post them up!  Ok, this will be Part I and will come back later with Part II.




How Time Flies By!/Chinese Steamed Buns

Sometimes, time just seems to stand still, no matter what I do to pass it and sometimes, when I don’t want time to fly by so quickly, by the time I know it, 2 days have passed by already! Or is it just me and my mentality? Usually, if I’m waiting for something to happen or come, then the week goes by soooo slow but I can’t believe it’s already Saturday, and almost noon! Have to do some last minute shopping for tonight then come home and prep/cook my food. It’s going to be a yummy night! The menu for tonight will be: Italian salad (from my sister’s workplace), cheese fondue with French baguettes, Manicotti Alla Romana (stuffed manicotti), Peanut Butter cake (for Chong), and I’m assuming my cousin’s going to buy me a cheesecake since she told me not to make one for myself. Oh man, everything sounds so fattening but delicious! Ok, after all the good eats today (and whatever leftovers we have to finish), Chong and I are going to start (again) on our healthy lifestyles. We haven’t been working out since Christmas so it’s time to get back on track.

I made some Chinese Steamed Buns on Thursday and they were really good! I call them Galangbao and they’re a bread-like bun filled with meat. Asian stores and delis sell these for about $1.50 for a big bun but when you’re feeding a lot of people, it’s a lot cheaper to make your own. They’re pretty easy to make, it just takes a lot of prep time to make the filling, and it takes a little getting used to closing up the bun but it’s well worth it.

Chinese Steamed Bun/Galangbao

Ingredients:

-2 packages Chinese Steamed Bun flour
-2 cups milk
-2 tbsp oil
-3/4 c of sugar
-1.5 pounds ground pork
-1 bunch of green onion
-4 garlic cloves
-5 eggs, cooked
-1 package of Chinese sausage
-1 tbsp vinegar

Directions:

There are step-by-step instructions on how to make the buns and what to use for the filling and that’s what I followed so I’m basically rewriting the directions on here.

1. Pour the flour into a bowl and save 4 tablespoons of flour for later use.
2. Mix the flour with the milk, oil, and sugar and stir until well-blended.
3. Cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
4. In the meantime, slice the green onions and chop up the garlic.
5. Mix the ground pork with the green onions and garlic and set aside.
6. Chop up the egg into quarters and set aside.
7. Slice the Chinese sausage into 1/2 inches (5 slices per sausage) and set aside.
8. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 1 tbsp of vinegar.
9. Cut some wax paper or parchment paper (works better) into 2″ squares (I ended up making 16 buns).
10. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes and cut into into 16 pieces.
11. Take a small lump of dough, flour your cutting board, and roll the dough flat (a little larger than the size of your palm).
12. Add a heaping spoonful of the ground pork mixture, 2 slices of eggs, and 2-3 sliced of Chinese sausage and bring the ends up together to close the bun.
13. Put on parchment paper.
14. Repeating steps 11-13 for the rest of the buns and when you have enough to fill the steamer (3-5 buns, depending on the size), cover with a lid and put the steamer on top of the boiling pot of water.
15. Steam for 20 minutes and enjoy when done.

**I’m still getting used to writing down my own instructions : )

Chinese Steamed Buns/Galangbao Pictorial

Bags of flour I used

Flour

4 tbsp of flour

Sugar, salt, & oil added to the flour

Add milk

Stir til mix

Ground pork, green onions, garlic, salt & black pepper

Mixed together

Quartered eggs

Chinese sausage

15 minutes later

Rolled (this was obviously too small)

Filled and ready to be steamed

Waiting for the steamer

Steaming away

Open sesame!

Dissected

Dissected part deux

Wrapped and ready to eat!

I haven’t made these in a while but OMG, I had forgotten how good home-made ones are!  I gave 9 to my parents and left 6 for us.  I think we still have 1 left in the fridge.  : )  Chong says he’s not tired of eating the Galangbao yet, but he will if I end up making it once a week (which I won’t).  He’ll probably take that to him for snack/lunch tomorrow.  I’m tired of eating them already.

Next time I make these, I won’t French cut the Chinese sausage because the rough edges made it harder to close up the buns.  Lesson learned.

Happy Belated Birthday to Mee!

Darn, I missed out by 9 minutes. Oh well, it’s all the same to me. I’ve been so busy all day and when I wasn’t busy, I wasn’t on the computer so no time to blog til now. Actually, Chong and I just got home and are unwinding from playing poker and a late dinner/early breakfast at Perkins. It’s been a LONG day. *Yawns* Looks like that’s it for now. G’night!

Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Sharing some raspberry cheesecake cupcakes that I made during the summer, when raspberries were everywhere. My mom has regular raspberry and black raspberry bushes in her yard and since no one really eats them, I found a great recipe to use some up.

Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Ingredients

* 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans
* 3 tablespoons butter, melted
* 3/4 cup fresh raspberries, crushed
* 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
* 10 1/2 fluid ounces sweetened condensed milk
* 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions

1. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cup liners. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, crushed pecans and melted margarine, mixing well to blend. Spoon mixture evenly into a 12 cup muffin pan lined with paper cup liners. Press mixture with a spoon to firm bottom. Puree raspberries and set aside.
2. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add condensed milk and 1/2 cup of the raspberry puree and mix until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.
3. Spoon evenly into baking cups. Freeze for at least 5 hours. When ready to serve, remove paper liners. Invert cakes onto individual serving plates. Drizzle remaining raspberry puree over cakes. Garnish with a few whole raspberries. Serve frozen.

Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes Pictorial

Crushed graham crackers

Melted butter

Crust

Red raspberries and black raspberries

Mashed and strained

Raspberry juice

Block of cream cheese

Yum…I can eat this all by itself (cream cheese + sweetened condensed milk)

Mixed together

Add Cool Whip

Fold together

Add raspberry juice

Fold

Fill into piping bag

Filled

These should be called Raspberry No-Bake Cheesecakes because that’s what they basically are.  If I decide to make these again, I’ll fill up the liners with more cheesecake because after you peel off the liners, they looked really tiny.  They’re really easy to make and taste really good on a hot summer’s day.

Battle of the Breads Pictorials

It’s only the beginning of February and I can’t wait for summer to come! I love all the fresh vegetables and fruits that come along with the warmer months. Last year, I somehow ended up with so much zucchini that I didn’t know what else to make with it (besides stir-fries) so I found a great zucchini bread recipe and ended up baking tons of it for myself and my family and friends.

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F ( 165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and nuts; stir into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done.

Zucchini Bread Pictorial

Dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, & cinnamon

Wet ingredients (eggs, sugar, oil, & vanilla)

Stir wet ingredients, add grated zucchini and stir again

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients

Mix well

Pour into 9 x 13 pan sprayed with Pam for Baking

1 hour later: a delicious golden brown bread

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep this for myself so I didn’t cut into the bread but you can see the green flecks of zucchini on the top so you know you’re getting your vegetables. Ah…I love having my family be my guinea pigs and I know they love it, too.

Speaking of bread, I fell in love with banana bread after my first attempt at making it. Who knew that baking sweet breads could be so easy? After a few attempts and trying out 2 recipes, I’ve finally found my perfect banana bread recipe. It comes out moist and delicious every time! Trust me, I’ve made this bread about 30 times within 2 years.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine. Beat the egg slightly, and mix into the creamed mixture with the bananas. Mix in sifted ingredients until just combined. Stir in milk and nuts. Spread batter into one greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 minutes.

Banana Bread Pictorial

Oops, I microwaved my butter a bit too long

Add brown sugar

Cream together

Such a lonely egg, isn’t it?

Mixed in

Add buttermilk

Add mashed bananas

Stir

Add dry ingredients

Pretty, isn’t it?

Ready to be baked!

A long 50 minutes later…

Care for a slice?

Okay, I saved the best (at least, according to DH) for last. Who doesn’t love a sugary-cinnamonny piece of Monkey Bread?!?!?! I first made this for DH for brunch and he fell in love with it. This is now one of his favorite breakfast food.

Monkey Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 (12 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9 or 10 inch tube/Bundt® pan.
  2. Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Cut biscuits into quarters. Shake 6 to 8 biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the prepared pan. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in pan. If using nuts and raisins, arrange them in and among the biscuit pieces as you go along.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the margarine or butter over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the biscuits.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Do not cut! The bread just pulls apart.

Monkey Bread Pictorial

I just couldn’t resist buying this cute mini-bundt pan

I only used 2 cans of biscuits

Quartered

Cinnamon-sugar mixture

Rolled in cinnasugar

Almost ready for the oven

Melted butter (I used the microwave)

Pour into dough

Baked

Cooling

Close-up

Plated

I love Monkey Bread because 1) it’s so easy to make 2) Anyone can make it and 3) it tastes good! Yum…look at that buttery, golden deliciousness!