Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

We had our neighbors over for dinner and one of them brought over this yummy Hearts of Palm Salad. It is soooo yummy. I had to share with you all. Enjoy.

Mache salad or spring mix or arugula or butter lettuce- anything works
Half jar of hearts of palm (chop them or dice them)
Handful of edamame (cooked)
Handful of dry roasted pistachios

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon champange vinegar
2 teaspoon dijon mustards
1-2 cloves of shallots
IMG_2345 - salad


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Growing up, I had fond memories of things my family did together. Those memories often were things we did often i.e. camping during the summers and having pancakes on Sundays.

Traditions are fun for the family especially the kids. Traditions allow you to spend time with your child and thus wonderful memories are created. They create and provide stability, something that is familiar and has routine. It is nice to start traditions when children are young because they are so eager and interested in spending time with you. When they are teenagers, they start having their own lives and sometimes this time can be a very confusing time for them. If you have traditions of talking at dinner or before bedtime, you may have an easier time getting them to talk to you about their problems because they have a habit of already sharing with you.

Some of the things we already do can be considered a tradition. For example, at our house, we eat dinner together and read books and say gratitude (what we are thankful) before going to bed. For fun, every year, we spend time together planning his birthday party. We talk about the theme, what activities we will have, what will the goody bags will have inside, and how we might decorate. It is something that we both enjoy and it is fun to talk about together. Last year, we had a Lego theme.

A new tradition, we started is having upside day. Have you done this? We have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. We invited Sunshine’s school friends over for dinner and they loved it. It was so American, they said! If you are interested, this pancake is delicious. We took it one step further so he started having breakfast for lunch. Fun, right??

Breakfast for lunch! Yummy.

If you are interested in creating your own traditions, read what DocJennifer has to say about traditions. Feel Connected’s recommends the book Got Traditions. And, Enough Time Moms gives lots of good advice on how to create traditions.

What traditions do you have with your kids? Love to hear what you do.

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Have you had  Hot Pot? It is really popular in Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore…) Growing up in US, my family loved Chinese hot pot as it reminded my parents of their home. We had it at home and restaurants. It is quite healthy as there is no frying only boiling.  Hot pot is literally a large pot where you boil veggies, meat, tofu, etc. The pots are a little different because they have a plug so you can cook while you eat. You find the pots online.

The prep work is not too bad but you do need lots of ingredients. You can cook any veggies you like.  Meat is best if thinly sliced. In many of the Asian supermarkets (i.e. Marina Foods or Ranch 99), you can find premade hot pot packages.

I recently inherited a hot pot pan from my parents and we started having it at our house . Sunshine loves it and I’m so glad to share with him this part of Chinese culture. It is fun to pick what you like to eat,  watch it boil, scoop it out, then dip and eat. It is particularly good on a cold and rainy day. On this particular night, we had spinach, Chinese cabbage, tofu, lots of different fish cakes (from the premade packages), fish balls, and Enokitake mushrooms.  The key to a good hot pot is to always have broth in the pot so the goodies can cook quickly. And, once it boils and you aren’t ready to add anything else, turn down the heat. When you do add new goodies, turn the heat up.

Ready for Hot Pot.

We use a chicken soup base for our hot pot but you can use salt or plain water for your base.

My family makes a Taiwanese style dipping sauce. Raw egg, soy sauce, and green onions and a little garlic. The raw egg is key but make sure it is fresh. It may sound a little weird but when the hot pot item is dipped, the sauce is so yummy. My friends loves to make a spicy version with chilli sauce! HOT.

We end the hot pot meal by cooking vermicelli noodles in the broth. The noodles taste the best because of the veggies and meat flavors have simmered into the broth.

See how they eat hot pot in Beijing at Red Hibiscus or how Japanese and Chinese hot pot are different at the Pixel Diaries.

Hope you have a chance to try it someday and maybe it will allow you to experience of little bit of Asia. Food does that for me.

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Have you had a turtle?? They are the best. Savory and Sweet all in one little bit. The Rolos have a bit of carmel so it is an extra surprise when you eat these. Our neighbor shared this treat with us during Christmas and since then we have been dying to try to make them ourselves.

All you need are Rolos (lots), pretzels, and pecans. Bake the pretzels and Rolos at 250 degrees for 4 minutes. Then, press the pecans on the melted chocolate (the chocolate will not look melted but it is soft).

Ready to be bake!

Sunshine was able to help me setup the pretzels and unpeel the Rolos wrappers. He even helped me press the pecans in (the tray was hot so he was warned not to touch). If you are in a hurry to eat them, put them into the freezer to cool the Rolos. Otherwise, let them cool otherwise they are super sticky.

Yummy!!! Not sure how long these will last.

These won’t last around the house so be prepared to make a few trays.  You can try different variations with different size and shape pretzels i.e. square pretzels are super cute. Also, instead of pecans you can use M&Ms.

Hope you enjoy them. Let me know how they taste.

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The last 2 weeks, we have been making mini pizzas. It has been really fun do with the kiddies. Surprisingly, it is pretty simple. We used pre-made pizza dough (trader joe’s or wholesfood has them) with spaghetti sauce and chopped veggies.

I love making these mini pizzas because you can use whatever you have in your fridge including leftovers. One night, we used leftover meatballs to pizza and Sunshine was so intintrigued with the process. Another variation has been to substitute the pizza dough with portobello mushrooms. This is super yummy.

Tonight, we are making calzones. Hoping these will turn out well.

What are you making tonight?

Rolling out mini pizza doughs.

Mommy, my pizza dough is so round. Look. Look!

Sunshine: Mommy, I don't like bell peppers... Do I have to?
Mommy: Yes. You want pizza?
Sunshine: Fine (resigned tone)

I'm going to put a lot on.

Ready to eat!


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So, I’m been on a stew craze. I love these one pot wonders for dinner because I can prep at night and cook a few hours before dinner. I usually freeze a portion and have it for as a backup dinners on days I don’t have time to cook a yummy meal. These recipes made the cut so hope you enjoy them too!

White Bean & Kale Soups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (or more) dried white beans
1 diced yellow onion
3 chopped carrots
3 chopped celery stalks
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 (32-ounce) box chicken or veg broth
1 bunch of chopped kale
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Day of cooking, rinse the beans in cool water. Cover the beans in approximately an inch of water and let them soak until you are ready to cook. About 2 or more hours before serving: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 3 more minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the broth and beans with their soaking water. Bring to a rapid/big boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then cover and simmer on low (see how low you can go and still get the occasional simmer bubble). Simmer for approximately 2 or more hours and the beans are tender. Add kale and tomatoes and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Serve hot.
Sunshine’s favorite out of all the stews we have tried .. White Bean and Kale.
Cod Chowder with Kale and Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 thick-cut slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
½ cup water
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, but into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup whipping cream
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ pounds Pacific cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium bunch kale (about 5 ounces), finely chopped (about 2 cups)
Cook the bacon in a heavy large pot over medium heat until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel and drain. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme to the pot. Sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Add the clam juice, ½ cup water, and then the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the potatoes are just tender about 8 minutes. Add the cream and drained bacon to the chowder. Sprinkle the cod with salt and pepper. Add the cod and kale to the soup. Simmer until the fish is opaque in the center (to check, cut into a piece of fish with a small knife or break apart with a spoon), stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and serve.
Autumn Lamb Stew
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds lamb stew meat, preferably cut from the shoulder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 cups small new red potatoes, halved
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium parsnip, roughly chopped
1 medium white turnip, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cumin, pepper, rosemary, paprika, and salt together with your fingers. Spread the mixture on a large plate. Roll lamb in spice mixture, coating well on all sides.In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Working in batches if needed, add lamb and brown well on all sides. Add 2 cups water and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and onions. Cover and continue to simmer for another hour. Add green beans and peas. Simmer another 5 minutes, just until beans and peas are tender. Ladle stew into bowls and serve.

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So, I tried my 2nd pot roast last week. It turned out great. Like the receipe’ name, it is the Perfect Pot Roast. I did add celery and increased the potatoes and carrots amounts. Sunshine couldn’t get enough of the potatoes so I know that next time I will need to add much more potatoes! Hopefully, you will have a chance to try this receipe. It is super tasty esp on a winter day and the house smells delicious.

Just finished browning my beef chuck. Ready to be baked.

Ready for eatting!

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