Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My fave trip!!!

One of my favorite things to do when we leave town is to stock up on my Asian spices. It is one of those things that you take for granted until you permanently relocate to an area where they don't even sell rice in larger than the 5-lbs bag.

Here are some pictures of my pantry must-have that I got during my trip to Michigan.

Picture 1: I found these cool tofu earlier this year. You know why they're cool? They don't have to be refrigerated, which lets me put them in the trunk and forget about it until I have to unload them. So in my mind, I am thinking that they must have added enough additives to make them stay "fresh" without refrigeration. But around where I live, they cost me an arm and leg of $3.99 or $4.99, while these are about $1.19. What about that!!! So anyways, aside from the weird concept of having non-refrigerated tofu, both Red and I had eaten them plenty of time before, and we both are still well, alive, and eating!

Picture 1: I don't know why I dedicated an entire paragraph on these tofu, but a small paragraph should rightfully goes to ready to eat Peanut Sauce. They sell two variety: one for Satay (Skewered Meat) and another one for Gado Gado (which is an Indonesian-style salad). Gado gado is very time consuming to make, but the satay one is a fave at our house. Red made sure that we bought enough of these paste so we can grill up some chicken in style!

Picture 2: Fried Chips - If you have ever been to Southeast Asia, you would notice that we absolutely love chips (and condiments!). Everywhere you go, you will see so many variety of them that it makes my heart sing! Here are some of the flavors that I was able to find here: shrimp, onion, and paddy oats. They come uncooked, and then you will have to spend an afternoon frying them. And then I will beg Red to bag them up and lock it down in the basement, or I would finish them in one sitting.

Picture 3: Sesame oil (great for a lot of things, like Chinese or Korean style dishes), Pandan Essence (I don't know yet what to do with it, but I will find something to use it in!), Fish Sauce (2009 may be the year that I finally try my hands on those gorgeous Vietnamese Style Pork Chops!) and tons of hot sauces!

With these items in my pantry, I feel like I am ready to tackle another year, well a few months of cooking, until my next trip to one of my fave places in the world.

Molten Chocolate Cake


Serves 6

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped Cream or Ice Cream for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin.
  • Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined.
  • Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  • Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
  • To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

When they say "generously butter" the muffin tins, you seriously need to do this, or the cakes will not come out from the pans, like mine did.

Courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Classic Lapis Legit

Classic Lapis Legit

20 egg yolks
150 g confectioners sugar
350 g butter, at room temperature
2 Tbs. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. bumbu Spekoek (All Spice powder)
1/2 tsp vanila powder
35 g all purpose flour
10 g powdered milk
  • Beat the butter and the sweetened condensed milk until white and fluffy using paddle attachment, set aside.
  • Meanwhile, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, bumbu Spekoek, vanili powder, and powdered milk) and set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar using the balloon whisk attachment until very thick.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and continue whisking until well incorporated.
  • Add the beaten butter to the egg mixture and mix well using the paddle attachment or fold gently using spatula. Make sure that there's no streak of butter left, or else you will have a rubber like layer in the bottom of your cake. The batter would be very thick with spreadable consistency.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Grease and lined a standard loaf pan with a parchment paper.
  • Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly using the back of a spoon. Bake for about 10 minutes until the top is golden brown. The time will vary depending on different oven and how much batter you put in the pan.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and change the oven setting to low broil (if you're in the US). Press the top of the cake using anything that's flat (I even use the back of a spoon). Then, add another couple of tablespoons of batter and spread it evenly. the heat from the pan will help soften the butter to make it easier to even out.
  • Put the pan back in the oven and cook for about 6-10 minutes until the top is brown (not burnt!).
  • Repeat this step until all of the batter is used up.
  • Remove from the oven, let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then unmold.
  • Cut the four sides of the cake to make it neat and so that all of the layers are shown.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sauteed Tofu

My grandmother used to make this dish when I was growing up in Indonesia. It is so simple to make, uses one of my fave ingredients, tofu, and a great pairing to a meat dish with strong flavoring. Sometimes I throw in some shitake mushrooms, and use chicken instead of shrimp as variation. If I decide to use chicken, you can still follow the same steps below, except that you need to cook the chicken first before adding in the tofu.
As many other grandmothers out there, she really didn't give me exact measurements to everything, she's used to a pinch of this and a little bit of that. This recipe is my best shot of her recipe.

Sauteed Tofus
  • 1 firm tofu, chopped into 1-inch cube
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely deveined shrimp
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • 1 generous tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ground white pepper
  • Chopped green onions
  • Fried shallot for garnish
  • Sautee the chopped garlic in canola oil until soft and slightly browned in medium heat.
  • Add shrimp, tofu, fish sauce, salt, and white pepper. Let it sit for about 10 mins, covered. Turn down the heat.
  • Fold in the green onions.
  • Sprinkle fried shallots before serving.

Merry Christmas from Charlotte

This is Charlotte Mae, my 19-month old St. Bernard puppy. Charlotte was born on May 29, 2007 in Michigan. "C.H.", as I dearly call her by, is a very well-behaved puppy. We first adopted her brother, which we named Noodle. A couple of months after we brought him home, Noodle died from heart-attack in the middle of the day. Charlotte came later, healed our broken heart with her big loving heart, wet sloppy kisses, and has been with us for about 15 months.
She loves snow and this is how she looks like after playing and digging out in the snow. Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I was thrilled to run into this recipe on Smitten Kitchen's website. I am not a chocoholic like my husband is, but I do like good quality chocolate treats. Since I first tried this heavenly treat many years ago, I have been searching to find something similar to this everywhere (at the malls, chocolate shops, upscale bakeries, none!) but haven't run into one yet. The ones that I have found on chocolate shops are usually orange gummy bears dipped in chocolate instead of actual orange peels. This also gets my husband motivated to eat two oranges in one sitting!

Thank God for this recipe.



3 large oranges
1 1/2 cups water
4oz semi-sweet chocolate


Bring a pot of water to a boil (not using the above 1 1/2 cups water) and blanche orange peels for a couple of minutes.

Remove the peels, rinse with cold water, and repeat. Drain well.
Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Carefully add the peels to the saucepan. Allow to return to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.

Be sure to periodically check on the syrup level - you don’t want the peels to burn.
After an hour, remove the peels from the syrup and let them cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler and when peels are cool, dip them in the chocolate. Let them dry on a piece of parchment paper set on a cookie sheet.

When all have been dipped, move them to the fridge for 20 min or so to allow the chocolate to set up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bar

My sister is a Starbucks' addict. I seriously think that she needs to go talk to one of my college classmates who work at Starbucks, to see if she can get a job there. I believe it would cut down on her daily commute to Starbucks for her coffee and treat fix. When I saw several recipes on line, I knew that I had to make it for her. I decided to use the one from Mr. Breakfast's website as a starter and made several modifications to the recipe since there are several versions out there.

This version below turned out pretty good, with a good mixture of sweet and tanginess (from the frosting). I did, unfortunately, feel that this was baked a little bit too long because the edges were browned pretty good. The recipe requested 20-25 minutes, but I think mine would have been sufficient with just 20 mins or even less ~ although the flavor was still excellent.

Some of the reviewers on line said that it was too sweet, so when I added cream cheese to the frosting, I only added a little bit of the powdered sugar. I also omitted the melted white chocolate garnish.

For Cake Base
2 sticks margarine (or butter if you want to indulge), softened
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup minced dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup Lindt or Perugina or other quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced candied ginger

For Frosting:
4 ounce cream cheese, softened (I used 6 ounce)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 1 -3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier (since I didn’t have any orange extract or real orange for some zest, and I really thought that cranberry would go great with orange)
2 tbsp butter, softened (I omitted the butter)

For Garnish:
(I decided to skip the melted white chocolate, so I just sprinkled the cranberries )
2 Tablespoons minced dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips (e.g. Ghiradelli or Guittard) -- melted

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
Beat butter and sugar together for the cake base, and add eggs/vanilla beating until fluffy.
Sift together flour, ginger, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture beating well.
Fold in the cranberries, chocolate and ginger.
Spread thick batter in pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden.
When cake is cooled, mix all frosting ingredients together and spread a thin layer over the cake. Immediately sprinkle with the minced cranberries.
Then use a cake decorating bag of melted white chocolate with a tiny decorating tip (like the size used for writing on cakes) and drizzle the chocolate over the cake.
Cut this into bars immediately because the white chocolate hardens pretty fast and makes cake cutting messy

Red Velvet Cake Balls

My dad is a very picky eater. He doesn't eat chicken, hates cheese unless it's mixed into a lasagna or sprinkled on top of spaghetti or salad. He likes iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. He's a meat and potato kind of guy. His fave dessert is yellow cake with chocolate frosting and ... you guess it, Red Velvet Cake with seven-minute frosting. When I saw this recipe on Bakerella website, I knew that I had to try it. They were absolutely divine, and lighter in comparison to the other truffle recipes that I tried. We'll see if he likes them or not.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

1 Box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 Can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.) --I used regular white frosting
1 Package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate) --I used regular baking chocolate, since it is easier to work with than the chocolate bark
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Tip: Melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It's easier to work with when it's hot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

I have been craving these yummy appetizers for about a month now. I used to live within five minutes driving to a PF Chang restaurant and really enjoyed the convenience of having easy access to their great menu selection. The closest PF Chang location now is about two and a half hours from where we live now. So I decided to try making these appetizers myself. I found this recipe on line, and couldn't think of anything that I would change to make it differently next time. The key here is the ability to tailor the flavoring from the amount of sauce that you'd use. If you like a more spicy version, just mix in the spicy sauce into the original sauce.

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnut
2/3 cup mushroom
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard
teaspoons water
1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

  • Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
  • Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
  • Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.
  • Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
  • Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
  • Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
  • Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done.
  • Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
  • Keep oil in the pan, keep hot.
  • As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
  • Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
  • When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.
  • With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.
  • Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.
  • Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce"cups".
  • Top with"Special Sauce".

Hopscotch Candy

I first tried this sinfully delicious cold treat at work many years ago in one of the goodies tins that I received for Christmas. I quickly asked for a recipe, which I don't do very often. I have been making them every year since then.

I used to make two batches of this recipe and brought them to work frequently for birthdays as well, as this was often requested. I made two big batches last weekend for the holiday party and Red, my loyal taster and part-time dishwasher.

Hopscotch Candy
Servings: 24-30 pieces

Combine in a double boiler or a pan:
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 6-oz package butterscotch morsels
Place over low heat, stir until melted.

1 3-oz can chow-mein noodles
1 1/2 cups of miniature marshmallows
Stir until coated, remove from heat.
Quickly drop by teaspoon-full onto waxed line cookie sheet. You want to make sure the marshmallows retain its shape.

Chill until set.
Store in an airtight container inside the frig for up to two weeks. At our house, it doesn't last that long.

Perfect Roasted Turkey

I really haven't had the time to post all of the delectable recipes we tried for Thanksgiving this year. But we finally survived making our very first turkey! The turkey breast was tender, moist, and flavorful. We decided to brine it using Martha Stewart Perfect Roast Turkey.

Roasted Brine Turkey

1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), brined
Turkey Brine - see recipe below
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine.
  2. Pat turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Place, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan.
  3. Let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position.
    Fold a piece of cheesecloth (about 3 feet long) into thirds, place inside turkey cavity, and open up to create a pouch.
    Loosely fill cheesecloth pouch with stuffing (do not pack tightly), and tuck in ends of cheesecloth to close.
  5. Tuck wings underneath the turkey, and tie legs together with kitchen twine.
    Brush turkey all over with butter, and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes and rotating the pan after 2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
    Remove stuffing pouch, and then empty it into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
    Cover if desired, and return stuffing to oven; bake until it registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes more.
    Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving pan juices for gravy.
    Let turkey stand for 30 minutes before carving.
Turkey Brine

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) water
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse salt
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
  • 1 bottle dry Riesling
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
Turkey Brine Direction

  1. Bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping turkey once.

Spirited Southern Sweet Potato Bars

I wanted to find a dessert recipe to use up my apple and sweet potato casserole from Thanksgiving, so I made these last weekend for our Holiday Party.

After searching endlessly in the Internet, I saw this recipe on Quaker Oatmeal website. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they turned out. It had a perfect combination of sweetness and smoothness that you'd normally find in a pie, yet with a little bit of earthiness (from the sweet potatoes), along with the oatmeal and sugar topping that gave it a really nice crunchy texture. Definitely a winner for the use of leftover sweet potatoes.

2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato or canned pumpkin (I used my sweet potato and apple casserole, mashed in a food processor)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine oats and flour; mix well. Remove 2/3 cup and add salt and red pepper; set aside for filling. To remaining oat-flour mixture, add butter, granulated sugar and vanilla; blend with electric mixer on low to medium speed until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Bake 15 minutes; remove pan from oven. In separate bowl, combine sweet potato, eggs, brown sugar, bourbon and reserved 2/3 cup oat-flour mixture; mix well. Spread filling over warm crust. Add nuts to reserved topping mixture; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over sweet potato filling.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until topping is light golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack; cut into bars. Serve at room temperature. Store in refrigerator tightly covered.

Chocolate Truffles

I have been obsessed about trying to make these heavenly treats for the past two weeks. I made Oreo Truffles last week and again this week. But I also have been thinking about these little truffles that I first tried many years ago that were rolled in cocoa powder. The unique part of these truffles is that you can roll them in cocoa powder. So you will then experience the intense cocoa flavor in your first bite, but yet as you dig in deeper, there's this nice welcoming depth of chocolate that melts in your mouth.

I found a recipe that looked delicious on Williams and Sonoma website, and here's my proud result. The only thing that I would probably try to change in the future is trying to add in some liquor flavoring in the truffle.


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar or unsweetened
cocoa powder


Chop the ingredients
Put the butter on a cutting board. Using a table knife, cut the butter into small chunks. Set aside.
Put the chocolate on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, chop the chocolate into small, even bits. Set aside.

Warm the cream
Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and warm until tiny bubbles appear in the cream around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat.

Melt the chocolate
Add the butter and chocolate to the saucepan and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is melted and the mixture is very smooth. If the chocolate does not seem to be melting, turn on the heat to medium and warm for about 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir again. Repeat the heating and stirring process, if necessary, until the mixture is smooth. Do not let the mixture get too hot.

Chill the mixture
Let the mixture cool to the touch, about 15 minutes. Using the rubber spatula, stir in the vanilla. Scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl. Cover the chocolate mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is solid, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Scoop the truffles
Using a melon baller, scoop the chocolate mixture to make rough balls the size of a gumball. Place each scoop of truffle mixture onto a cool work surface.

Shape the truffles
Put the confectioners' sugar or the cocoa in another shallow bowl. (The confectioners' sugar will give the truffles an extra layer of sweetness. The cocoa will make the truffles intensely chocolaty.)

Working with 1 truffle scoop at a time, use the palms of your hands to roll it into a smooth, round ball. After rolling, put the balls in the bowl with the coating of your choice.

Coat the truffles
Roll each truffle in the confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder until it is completely coated, then put in a serving dish. Cover and store the truffles in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. (You can even freeze the truffles for up to 3 months.)

Makes 25 truffles. Note: mine made about 45 truffles because I really wanted them to be bite-size!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oreo Truffles

I first saw this recipe on Kraft website while I was browsing for ideas. I was floored at how simple the recipe was, and was doubly pleased when I found out how wonderful they tasted! This is a must for any holiday get together. Who doesn't like Oreo and chocolate mixed together?


1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted


Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls

Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

From Kraft

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Overnight Fruit Salad

I first saw a recipe in my mom's Taste of Home magazine when I was in High School, and it soon became my mom's favorite. I would go home during college breaks and made this just for my mom.
Overnight Fruit Salad


1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups green grapes
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
2 medium firm bananas. sliced
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a double boiler over medium heat, cook and stir eggs, sugar and vinegar until mixture is thickened and reaches 160 degrees F.
Remove from the heat; stir in butter. Cool.
In a large serving bowl, combine grapes, marshmallows, pineapple, oranges and bananas; add cooled dressing and stir to coat.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, fold in whipped cream and pecans.

Classic French Toast

This is a traditional breakfast recipe using a very simple custard mixture for one of our best-loved breakfast food.

Recipe courtesy of my all time fave woman, Martha Stewart.


Serves 6

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 slices (1-inch-thick) bread, preferably day old
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)


  1. Whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Place bread in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold bread slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread; soak 10 minutes. Turn slices over; soak until soaked through, about 10 minutes more.
  3. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry half the bread slices until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to wire rack; place in oven while cooking remaining bread. Wipe skillet, and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and bread. Keep in oven until ready to serve. Serve warm with pure maple syrup, if desired.

Lime Meltaways

As the weather is turning seriously cold, nothing warms up our home more than baking!


Makes about 4-6 dozen ~ depending on the thickness

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.
  3. Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tart


Makes one 9-inch tart or pie plus about 1 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips, (about 12 ounces)
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch pie tin with vegetable-oil cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Press 3 cups of this dough into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden and center is almost set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes, and remove from pan. Bake remaining dough as cookies at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spinach-Cheese Swirls

1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese OR Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 pkg. (about 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it's easy to handle. Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Stir the Muenster cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder in a medium bowl.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Top with the cheese mixture and spinach. Starting at the short side closest to you, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place the slices cut-side down on the baking sheets. Brush with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the swirls are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tip: Make sure to remove as much liquid as you can from the spinach before adding it to the pastry. If it's too wet, it may make the pastry soggy.

Southern Comfort Punch

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.


Serves 12 to 20

  • 6 lemons
  • 4 navel oranges
  • 2 six-ounce frozen lemonade, concentrate
  • 1 six-ounce frozen orange juice, concentrate
  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda
  • 1 liter Southern Comfort


  1. Line two baking sheets with plastic wrap, and set aside. Slice lemons into rounds as thin as possible. Arrange lemon slices in layers on one prepared baking sheet. Repeat with oranges; layer on second baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until fruit slices are frozen.
  2. Just before serving, open the cans of frozen lemonade and orange juice, and place the frozen concentrates, whole, in a large punch bowl. Add the soda, Southern Comfort, and several handfuls of ice. Remove frozen fruit slices from freezer, and arrange over the top of punch. Serve immediately.

Chicken Pot Pie

Courtesy of Ina Garten from "Barefoot Contessa"


  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Moroccan Chicken with Squash and Dried Plums

Courtesy of Amy Finley from "The Gourmet Next Door" (Food Network)


  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced (about 2 to 3 tablespoons juice) plus 2 lemons, quartered, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs, (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Pinch saffron strands
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
  • 3 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch half moons or chunks
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup dried pitted prunes (about 10)
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted
  • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Special Equipment: coffee grinder, Dutch oven

Serving Suggestion: flatbread

In a medium glass bowl, combine the spice mixture, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and harissa. Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours. Warm the chicken broth and add the saffron strands, then allow to steep at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade. In a Dutch oven over high heat, brown the chicken thighs on both sides in 2 tablespoons olive oil, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set chicken aside on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, and saute the onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Place the chicken thighs on top of the onions and add any accumulated juices from the plate. Arrange the zucchini and yellow squash and tomato quarters on top of the chicken and tuck in the prunes and olives. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken broth and saffron. Cover and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Let cook undisturbed 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and transfer the contents of the Dutch oven to a large serving dish.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the almonds and fry until the skins begin to crackle, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the almonds and hot oil over the vegetables and chicken on the serving dish. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve, spooning over the sauce in the dish and garnishing each plate with the lemon quarters.

Cook's Note: If you're using a tagine: An unseasoned ceramic tagine may crack in the oven. Before using the tagine for the first time, submerge and soak it overnight in cool water. Pat dry and rub the inside with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then place in 350 degree F oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool, then proceed with the recipe.

Spice Mixture:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine the spices in a coffee grinder and grind to a medium-fine powder. Add the kosher salt and pepper. Store in an air-tight container, if not using immediately.

Yield: 2 to 3 tablespoons

Autumn Sweet Potato-Apple Bake

  • 8 large sweet potaotes
  • 2lbs McIntosh apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 6+ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5T honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until cooked but still firm. When they have cooled enough to handle, peel them and cut them into 1/4 inch slices.

Peel the apples, core them and cut them into 1/4 inch slices.

Mix the sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon together.

Grease a 2-quart casserole. Put in a layer of sweet potatoes, and dot them with butter. Sprinkle some of the nutmeg/cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Arrange a layer of apple slices on the potatoes, and drizzle on about 2tsp of the honey.

Continue alternating layers of sweet potatoes with nutmeg/cinnamon/sugar and apples with honey. Finish with apples and dot with butter to taste.

Bake for one hour until the top is brown.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pasta with Sausage and Escarole

We saw this dish featured on one of the old Martha Stewart magazines that I collected, and thought that we should try it. And it was definitely worth it! It was simple enough to make on a weeknight, but has fancy enough flavors to impress company with.

Pasta with Sausage and Escarole
Yield: 4 servings, prep time: 15 mins, total: 45 mins

Coarse Salt
1 lb rigatoni or other tubular pasta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (~ 1 tbsp)
1 lb hot Italian sausage, remove from casting and crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large head escarole, cut horizontally into thirds and stemmed
(Spinach can be substituted for this)
Parmesan cheese, for shaving

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and paste, cook 2-3 minutes less than package instruction. Drain pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add sausage , cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
4. Pour in wine; stir to deglaze pan. Add cream, parsley, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer.
5. Add escarole, cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted 8-10 mins.
6. Stir pasta into skillet, cook until cream has just started to thicken and pasta is al dante, about 3 minutes. Garnish with cheese, and serve.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Banana Pudding

We finally had the opportunity to make this Banana Pudding a couple of weeks ago when we had company over for dinner. The recipe makes a generous 13x9x2 inch dish, and you really want to finish them in a couple of days or the bananas or the cookies would get too soggy and gross.

Banana Pudding

2 Bags of Pepperidge Farm Cheeseman Cookies
(or 1 box of Nila Wafers)
6-8 Bananas, sliced
2 cups whole milk
1 box (5-oz) instant French Vanilla Pudding
1 pkg (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 container (12-oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed.
(You can also substitute an equal amount of sweetened whipped cream)

In a bowl, combine milk & pudding mix. Blend well using a hand-held electric mixer.
Using another bowl, combine cream cheese and condensed milk together, mix until smooth.
Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mix and stir until well-blended.
Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with a bag of cookies and layer sliced bananas on top.
Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas.
Cover with remaining cookies.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mini-moon for Foodies!!

One of the biggest challenges for us while planning the wedding was a honeymoon destination. Since we got married on Mackinac Island, Michigan, we wanted the event to be in the peak of the summer, this was why we chose August 2. But then we were left wondering as to where to go for honeymoon in August.

Europe is pretty much dead in August and hot! The Carribean? Mexico? Nah - we didn't think that they would be appropriate in the summer. Therefore, Red and I decided on Napa for our mini-moon and boy, were we glad!

We're back and married!

We've been back now for about three weeks - and we're married! I absolutely love not having to deal with the stress of planning a destination wedding and look forward to just spending some quiet time at home with my new hubby and puppy Charlotte. One of the things that I had been wanting to do was to update my new FOOD BLOG!!! So here you go: a recipe to a fave staple at our house!!

Ham & Spinach Quiche
Yield: 6-8

9-inch one crust pie
1 c. sliced/cubed ham
1 c. shredded natural swiss cheese
1/3 c. finely shredded onion
4 large eggs
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 pckg frozen spinach, thawed, drained.
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Roll the pie crust onto a pie dish carefully.
Layer the dish with onion, ham, and then spinach.
Top with shredded cheese.
Whisk eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and ground pepper together.
Pour the egg mixture onto the dish.
Bake in the oven at 425 deg for 35 mins.
Reduce temp to 350, and bake for another 10 mins.
Let stand for 10 mins before slicing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Onion Soup

This one is a favorite at our house all year long. Since we had extra chicken broth on hand, we decided to make this for dinner (along with my Ham & Spinach Quiche, recipe will be published next).

Onion Soup
Yield: 6 servings

4 tbsp of butter
4 Large Sweet Onions, sliced
5 c of chicken stock
One pinch of dried thyme
One pinch of dried parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 c of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Mozarella Cheese

2 tbsp of cognac

  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a pot. Add the sliced onions and cook for 30-45 mins until soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the chicken stock, and turn the heat to medium to high. Bring just to a boil. Turn down to simmer.
  • Add herbs, cognac, pepper and salt to taste. Cook for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
  • Place croutons & one tbsp of parmesan cheese on the bottom of bowl (or skip this if you prefer them without croutons). Add soup, top with mozarella cheese.
  • Bake for 10 mins until cheese melts.

Crab Rangoons

While I have not been able to put in any entries to the food blog, the cooking did not stop at our house! This weekend, we decided to try our hands on the delicious Crab Rangoons, yes, those yummy little delicacies you find at Chinese restaurants. Red and I purchased some frozen ones at Sam's Club several months ago and they were okay. Not very great.

This was our first attempt, and we were very pleased at how well they turned out! The filling is chunky and has a good flavor combination of just enough tanginess & sweetness. It looks like we found ourselves a winner!

Crab Rangoons
Yield: 24 pieces

1/3 lb imitation krab meat, chopped
1 package light cream cheese, softened
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp light soy-sauce
24 won-ton skins
Vegetable oil

In a small mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together except the won ton skins and oil.
Place one generous teaspoon of filling on the center of won ton skin.
Moisten all four edges with water.
Press the closest two edges together and seal. Repeat for all four edges. Seal tight to ensure no air is trapped inside the bag.
Deep fry won-tons, turn once, until all sides are golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve with sweet & sour sauce.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Breakfast Fruit Parfait

Breakfast is probably the hardest meal to prepare since I'm always in rush to get out the door in the morning. But I created this delicious parfait last year that is flexible, yet easy to prepare and full of nature goodness.

Breakfast Fruit Parfait

1 small organic banana, sliced
1/3 cup of berries (My fave is blueberries)
1 c. of organic french vanilla yogurt (My fave: Stonyfield)
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
Granola topping, optional

Layer bananas and berries on a small bowl.
Top with yogurt.
Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and granola.

Yield: 1 serving

Grilled Chicken Breast with Red Wine & Feta Cheese

Red and I always buy this big pack of chicken breast (10-12/pack). So we always try to find a creative way to cook them. This was the recipe that Red thought of today.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Red-Wine and Feta Cheese

3 chicken breast
6 strips of center-cut bacon
1/3 c. of feta cheese

2 c. of red wine (we used a dry German wine)
1/2 c. of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of pure honey
one clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of Herbs du Provence (can be obtained from grocery store)

  • Mix in the marinade ingredients together.
  • Flatten the chicken breast to about 1/2 inch. thickness and soak in the marinade for at least an hour.
  • Remove chicken from the marinade and place on a flat surface (such as cutting board).
  • Place two strips of bacon under each chicken breast, sprinkle cheese on top, and roll them. Secure them with two toothpicks. Repeat the process for all of them.
  • Grill them for about 15 minutes, turning approximately every five minutes, until the juices run clear.
  • Serve them with vegetables or salad.
Yield: 3 servings

Delightful Blueberries Squares

I decided to make this yummy fruity treats to use up our big pack of fresh blueberries.

Delightful Blueberries Squares

2. c of crushed vanilla wafers
2 tbs of butter melted
3/2 c. of sugar
1/4 c. of cornstarch
1/4 c. of water
3 c. of fresh blueberries, divided
3 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of grated lemon peel
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbs. confectioners' sugar
2 c. miniature marshmallows

  • Combine wafers and butter, press into a greased 8-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 deg until browned. Cool.
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Whisk water gradually with a whisker until smooth. Add 1.5 cups of blueberries, bring to boil, cook and stir for 1-1.5 minutes until thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon peels and remaining blueberries. Cool completely.
  • Using a small cooking bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken, and add confectioners' sugar. Beat until small peaks form and add in marshmallows.
  • Spread over crust, top with blueberries topping.
  • Cover and refrigerate until set, about 45 minutes.
Yield: 9 servings

Eat, Drink and Be Married!

As our wedding day gets closer (27 days and not counting!), I decided to add more things to do for myself - and create a food blog!

"Red", as I dearly call my future husband who's red-headed, and I have been cooking up a storm at our house since we moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, five months ago. Early on when we just started dating, w
e used to schedule our weekend solely around "where we'd eat". We really miss the variety of food that we could find when we were living in Michigan (Lansing for me, and Dearborn area for Red).

Since we both are just huge foodies, I thought having a Food Blog would be appropriate. Here you will find all types of recipes that we try at home and commentary on the restaurants that we try (which probably won't be too many, unless we travel).

Thank you for reading my blog.