Sunday, September 12, 2010

Noodle Bowl!

Sometimes it takes someone else getting excited about something to remind you that those things you've grown accustomed to are, in fact, quite amazing.

I had the subtle pleasure of going to the giant Asian market, Super H Mart, in Carrollton with someone who had never been. We spent two hours browsing every single aisle, probably driving the regular just-coming-in-to-pick-up-a-few-items shoppers bananas. As I watched my friend take in every single product on every shelf down every aisle, many of which I recognized from years ago, I was reminded that growing up in Taiwan is pretty freaking cool.

I guess the moral of this recipe / story is that sometimes you just have to remember to appreciate the simple things that you so often take for granted. Like a bowl of noodles.

Pictured above:
udon noodles (fresh from the refrigerated section; mine came with 5 individual servings; I used one serving for this dish)
2 bunches of bok choy, sliced
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 egg
chili paste & green onions for garnish

I cooked the noodles according to the directions (which were in Japanese! I couldn't read them, so I looked for numbers and saw "5-6" in the midst of the gibberish).
I removed the noodles, but kept the broth in the pot to which I added 1 tbsp of vinegar to poach my egg.
Once the egg white set, I gently dropped in the bok choy cooked for another minute.
In went the mushrooms.
Then all the contents were poured over the noodles.
I topped with chili paste and diced green onions and a little soy sauce.

Then I ATE IT! (and thought of my mom and grandparents and thanked my lucky stars.)
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A recipe for happiness

While everyone (or at least I felt like "everyone") was doing Labor Day stuff with their families, I was stuck in Dallas sans family and feeling pretty bummed about it. I admit, I let it get the best of me yesterday. But as much as I wanted to bawl my eyes out, all I could squeak out was a measly half tear. And then, an idea. There is what's known as a burger institution in Dallas called Keller's Drive-In. I was reminded by coincidence that I had always wanted to try it. Gave them a call, confirmed they were open, and went on my bummed / merry way.

The recipe for happiness when you're bummed and lonely on Labor Day is as follows:

transportation to Keller's Drive in
#5 off the menu (a double-patty burger with lettuce, tomato, and some sort of sauce that is kind of like the Big Mac sauce)
+ cheese on that burger
chili cheese tots
Diet Coke

Eat there and order yourself a beer, or take it home and wallow a bit in your misery as I did. The misery will vanish. I promise.

Note: If you are not prone to bumminess often, this is a great recipe for cheering you up. However, if you often find yourself bummed out and need cheering up a lot, I recommend Keller's only once or twice and then a psychiatrist. We don't want you to add weight problems to your mental health problems.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Today felt like a split-pea-soup kind of day. This was an odd conclusion for me to come to while shopping at Sprouts (my new Sunday morning ritual) since I've never made nor had split pea soup, and it's May. But the morning was a bit dreary and surprisingly cool, and all the ingredients I figured were necessary for this dish were right there in front of me.

Here's what I grabbed / had on hand:

1 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 Russet potato
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb split peas
1.5 lb ham hocks
1 bunch Italian parsley
salt + black pepper

In my favorite red Dutch oven, I drizzled some canola oil and sauteed my chopped onion (seasoned with a bit of salt).
Once the onions were soft, I added my chopped garlic.

While the garlic was cooking over med-low heat, I peeled and diced my potato. This also went in the pot and was seasoned with a little more salt.

I stirred these around for few minutes, added the ham hocks, poured in my pound of split peas (no soaking. really! it wasn't necessary) and the six cups of chicken stock.

This all came to a boil, and I turned the heat down to very low and let it simmer for about 3 miles on the treadmill and 6 miles on the stationery bike (50 minutes. Yes, I run very slowly).

When I got home, I stirred my soup and it turned green. Apparently split peas disintegrate after enough cooking.
I gave it another 10 minutes uncovered on low and took out the ham.

I had a huge bowl with a few sprigs of parsley on top and toasted sourdough bread on the side. Not bad for a first try.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lollipop Pies

The boyfriend forwarded a link to a blog post about lollipop pies (or is it pie lollipops?) last week and said to me yesterday, Make those this weekend; that can be your Sunday project. I'm hardly one to turn down a food challenge, so I headed to Central Market to pick up supplies. (That's right: I use any excuse to go to Central Market.)

I cheated and bought refrigerated pie dough, but I did make my own filling. I grabbed a couple of pints of blueberries and blackberries and some lemons. That was way too much fruit, but I digress. Here's the filling recipe.


1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar (or more if your fruit isn't very sweet)
1/8 cup cold water
2 tsp cornstarch

Put the first four ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Combine the cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the filling . Continue to heat for another minute.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Other supplies

Lollipop sticks
Pie dough
2 in. round cookie cutter (or similar size)
1 egg (for eggwash)

Pie preparation

Preheat oven to 375F.
If you're using store-bought crust, you will need to let it sit at room temperature for maybe 15 minutes before unrolling it.
Roll dough out as thin as you can. Using a 2in round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as you can from your dough. (I only got 30 per pie dough roll, or 15 pops). Don't discard your leftovers - roll up, roll out, and cut again.
Put a small amount (maybe a teaspoon or less) of filling on half of the rounds. Pop a lollipop stick in the center of the filling, lay another round on top and, using a stick, press down the sides of the rounds.
Brush lightly with eggwash.
Cover the sticks with foil. You can just lay a strip of foil across the sticks.
Bake for 15 minutes.

Notes: Yeah, they were really cute. I got an "it's charming" comment from the boyfriend. But it took 45 minutes to make 15 mini-pies (and another 15 minutes for baking). Worth it? Sure, as long as you've got an extra pair of hands to help to speed up the process!
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mex-Asian Spice Rub

This'll be a quickie...we had a package of pork chops in the fridge on the verge of being past its "best by" date. I considered using barbecue sauce, but we just had barbecue for Garth's birthday on Thursday (on May 28th, Garth turned 35! old man...) You really can't have barbecue more than once a week, in my opinion. So I improvised a spice rub with ingredients on hand:

Canola oil
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Chile paste
Lime juice

Oh, did you want ratios? Err...well, I listed the ingredients in order of amount from greatest to least (except for the oil which was used to make a paste).

The flavor was just right. It was sort of a combination of Mexican & Asian, as both cultures tend to use cilantro and lime and chile / chili. Perfect for the pork chops.
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A Bluth Experiment

I love bananas. If you know me, you know why. (If you don't, it's because we grew up on a banana plantation in Costa Rica & the Philippines.)

I also love Arrested Development. Something reminded me of the Bluth banana stand in that show today, and since I made plans not to make plans this weekend, I had time to goof off in the kitchen.

Two things you have to love about this: bananas & chocolate. Really, how can you go wrong with this combination?

I almost don't want to write this in recipe form because it's too simple, and I don't want to seem condescending. Here goes:

Frozen Chocolate Bananas

3 bananas (see below on how to pick out the perfect banana)
6 oz semi-sweet, dark, or milk chocolate chips (your choice)
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
sprinkles or nuts
popsicle sticks or skewers
(parchment paper)

Slice your bananas in half. Freeze for 15-20 minutes.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine your chocolate chips and oil and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then heat another 30 seconds. Stir again (that did it for me, but if you need to keep going, just do 30 seconds at a time till your chocolate has melted).

Insert the popsicle sticks / skewers in the bananas. Dip in chocolate. Sprinkle with your toppings. Set aside on parchment paper.

Freeze another 15-20 minutes before serving. You can keep the bananas in an airtight container in the freezer for several days.

*Picking the perfect banana:
For this recipe, you will want to pick out a banana that is all yellow (no green at all) but with very few spots. If no spots, your banana will taste "raw." If few spots, it will be ripe enough but still firm. If very spotty, your gonna get a mushy banana, great for banana bread but not for this recipe...
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bustier Cake!

This past weekend, I was charged with making a bustier cake (and a penis cake or, as I like to call it, a rocket cake) for a lingerie shower for a friend. I fretted for about two weeks, debating the best method, the right frosting, the decorating...I think I worried more about this cake than I did my last work interview.

I did a lot of research (google images) and asked for sage baking advice from Michelle at work ( The conclusion we came to was that baking the boobies in a bowl and doing a chocolate ganache frosting would be best. I lost my nerve on the ganache as I am completely inexperienced in this area and, as a last ditch effort, I went with homemade cream cheese frosting.

The first go at the frosting was lumpy and homemade-looking. Some quick thinking led me to the sink for some hot water on my finger tips. Using this method, I smoothed out the frosting to make a more professional(professional for me, anyways)-looking frosting. Eureka! It worked!

The final touch was the "lace." The design was ripped from a google image of someone else's bustier cake attempt.

All in all, a complete and total success! Angela, the bride-to-be, was a little skeptical when I told her I made it myself. I consider this the ultimate form of flattery. She thanked me for the cake, while I mentally thanked her for giving me the opportunity to bake something so fun!
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