Saturday, May 30, 2009

Everything In Soup

Are you wondering why I named this soup Everything In? For pure simple reason because we needed to go away for a 4 days vacation to South Dakota and I needed to clear my fridge. I had some tofu leftover, half open canned of button mushroom, some leftover baked chicken breast and a packet of Enoki mushroom that won't keep long in the refrigerator, so I just dumped everything in a pot of chicken stock. I added a canned of corns, a bundle of "Tang Hoon" (vermicelli) and 2 beaten eggs. I also thicken the soup with potato starch and tada, a bowl of yummy and feeling soup to last us for a day. So good for cold weather too!

Closer look of my ingredients.

I made similar soup before which was named Golden Prosperity Soup by a reader. I made that for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rice Dumplings/ Zongzi

Zongzi is traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival which falls on the fifth day of the Fifth month of the Chinese calender. You can read more about it here. I decided to make Hokkein Bak Chang this year (Meat Dumplings) as it was easier to prepare for me. All items ready for wrapping. I added dried scallops with my dried shrimps this year. The other ingredients were Chinese dried chestnuts, Chinese dried mushrooms, 5-spices pork and for my glutinous rice I added mung beans in it.

Nicely wrapped waiting for boiling. For the rice that was soaked overnight, the boiling time was only 1.5 hours. However, I didn't prepare enough rice, so I had to use the glutinous rice that was not soaked and for that the boiling time took 3.5 hours.

Zongzi that was done and ready to be served.

The inside was packed with ingredients. I didn't make Zongzi last year and I sort of lost my touch because my Zongzi turned out not salty enough. Luckily it can be saved by sprinkle some salt on top before serving. Enjoy and Happy Duan Wu Jia!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

South Dakota Vacation

If you have noticed that I have been missing in action for couple of days, that was because we went to a little family vacation to South Dakota. We took a spontaneous four days three nights trip to South Dakota. I literally only had two days to plan this trip, as I am a planner while my hubby is the spontaneous kind of person. Luckily with the help of the Internet, anything is feasible and I managed to find the lodging and places to visit in time. I will guide you through our visit to South Dakota with short illustration.

We first arrived at Mouth Rushmore National Memorial in the afternoon. Just nice to have a quick lunch at the cafeteria and walked around the area.

Bright sunny sky after our lunch, nice for photo shoot.

Evy enjoyed her chocolate chips mint ice-cream after lunch.

Edda loving her strawberry shortcake ice-cream.

Then, we took a stroll at the 1/2 mile loop Presidential Trail. The last 1/4 mile was stairs.

We stayed at Palmer Gulch Resort in Black Hills National Forest, 10 minutes from Mt. Rushmore. No cellphone signal here.

Enjoying the free continental breakfast.

Cosmos Mystery Area- unusual happening happen in this area where water flow uphill and ball rolls uphill. We couldn't stand straight in this room as well, some unexplained forces at work here. The tour guide was trying to show us his Matrix move here. Haha...

The ground is level and yet one seem to be taller standing on one side, how is that possible? Definitely blow our mind! $9.50 for adult and kids free.

Bear Country U.S.A. - A place fulled of black and brown bears, I think at least hundred. I never seen so many bears in my life before. The animals roam freely in this 200 acres natural Black Hills habitat.

This black bear just enjoying himself walking back and forth at the entrance and blocking our car from entering.

Timber wolves and bears run wild here. They have Elks, Big Horn Sheeps, Mountain Goats, Arctic wolves, mountain lions, reindeer, Dall Sheep, miniature donkey, buffalo, Grizzly bears, lots of small animals and baby bear cubs too.

Cool up close and personal experience with wild animals.

We even got a bear bite souvenir here, look at our bumper. Luckily my hubby didn't drive his favorite car.

One of the many tunnels at Custer State Park.

Sylvan Lake Area at Custer State Park.

Peter Norbeck Visitor Center at Custer State Park.

Wildlife spotting along Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park.

Wildlife Loop.

Bison herd at Wildlife Loop.

Casually walking by our car.

Rocky Mountain Goat spotted at Mt. Rushmore area.

Second longest cave in the world. Named for the jewel-like Nailhead and Dog-tooth Spar crystals which line over 143 mile of passages.

234 feet under the surface. Temperature in cave is 49'F. Evy didn't enjoy the cave, too dark and scary for her.

Walking up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop in 1.5 hour tour. I was sweating at the end of the tour because I had to carry Edda. What an exercise!

Storybook Island- home of fairy tale and storybook characters for kids.

Storybook Island train ride ($1/ride). My girls loved this place but we couldn't stay long because we had a long drive home.

And back to Colorado!

The trip was enjoyable. The taxes and prices were cheaper than Colorado and we got to see lots of wildlife. If you loved nature, wildlife, hunting, fishing, horse trail riding and camping, you will like South Dakota. But be warn, this place is pretty rural, certain places have no cellphone signal and Chinese restaurants are only found in Rapid City.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Crispy Baked Fish Fillets

Since I had a successful crunchy baked chicken strips the other day, I thought why not try it on fish fillets. We loved baked fish and it would be an extra yum if the baked fish is crunchy right? I was out of the cereal that I used before, so I had to make my own coating for my fish. I was trying with the combination of homemade bread crumbs, walnuts and cornflakes. The resulted fish was not as crunchy as my chicken strips, I think I know the reason. I did not use a lot of the cornflakes, also my cornflakes was crushed too finely. The walnuts and bread crumbs did not give out too much crunch, only the cornflakes. So, make sure you don't crush the cornflakes too fine and pat it on a lot. Added nuts just because I wanted to add more nutrition to my girls diet. By the way, both my girls loved this crispy baked fish as both of them asked for more after given two pieces each. I definitely make it again with just cornflakes and walnuts. This coating is healthy as cornflakes came packed with vitamins and minerals, and walnuts is high in omega 3 fatty acids and an antioxidant food which are heart healthy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stir Fried Chicken with DOM

What to do with the leftover Benedictine DOM from the confinement? I know I supposed to drink a little each night before going to bed, but I just never do it. A bottle of this is not cheap at all and I really like the sweet fragrant taste, throwing it away is definitely not an option. So, I used it in cooking! The alcohol content will evaporate during cooking and leave us with the sweet DOM smell. So, instead of using the Chinese cooking wine or Japanese rice wine asked for in a recipe, I just substitute it with DOM. I have used it in making spaghetti sauce too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ginger Scallion Fish Fillets

This dish was inspired by a dish we ordered at a Chinese restaurant in Denver. Theirs was drier and managed to keep the fish fillets from broken out. Mine was wet because I needed the stock to cook the fish fillets without the fish broken too much. Anyway, here is my version of the Asian-style ginger scallion fish fillets. You can use any white fish to make this dish, perhaps a more solid white fish would be ideal. Regardless this dish is delicious and healthy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lazy and Easy Loh Mai Kai (Glutinous Rice Chicken)

Want to eat Loh Mai Kai (glutinous rice chicken) without all the work? Oh, that's me for sure! I'm too lazy to pack each individually in a bowl and steam it, those are extra work for me. So, have to come out with my super lazy way to satisfy my craving. It is so not authentic okay, but it satisfied my craving, that's the point. I'm living overseas, so anything convenient/easy and yet manage to produce a dish similar to what I miss at home is the key. I really don't care whether it's authentic or not. :P So, stay away from this post if you like yours authentic. But for those who just want a quick fix, come, come, read further, I will share my lazy method with you. :P

First, wash the glutinous rice as you normally would when preparing white rice. Place in the rice cooker according to the water level (same with cooking white rice). Then, add in soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shao Xing wine and a little white pepper, stir-well. Let the rice cook in the rice cooker. When cooked, stir the glutinous rice to mix well.

Second, preparing the chicken and mushroom (you can add Chinese dried sausage too). Marinate the chicken breasts with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shao Xing wine, oyster sauce, a little sugar and white pepper. Soak the Chinese dried mushroom until soften, marinate with the same marinade above. Slice some shallots for stir-frying as well. In a wok, add oil, fry shallots until fragrant, then add in marinated chicken and mushroom, stir-fry until chicken is cooked, add a little water and the same sauce as the marinade again. Dish out when the sauce thicken slightly.

To Serve:
For presentation, put some chicken and mushroom (plus a little sauce) in a rice bowl and top with glutinous rice. Pat it down firmly and turn it over on a serving plate. Serve with your favorite chili sauce.

Without presentation, just pour the cooked chicken and mushroom along with the sauce inside the rice cooker and stir together with the glutinous rice. Serve as is. :P

Saturday, May 16, 2009

American Ginseng Chicken Herbal Soup (洋参须鸡汤)

Hmm...I don't know how to call this 洋参须 in English and the one I found on the net was translated by Noobcook as American Ginseng Beard/ Fiber 洋参须. You can visit her site here for picture and explanation. This is the cheapest type of American Ginseng and available in most Asian stores. Instead of the Ginseng root, this is like the hair under the root. American Ginseng is traditionally used to increase energy, relieve stress, enhance the immune system and provide overall health. Normally I boil it with water for 10-15 minutes on the stove and pour as drink to sooth sore throat or make it into chicken herbal soup to drink once a month. The taste of this herbal soup is not as delicious (a bit bitter) as Dong Quai so often time I prefer to cook Dong Quai herbal soup so that my girls can enjoy some herbal soup.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Green Peas Cookies

This was one of those unplanned baking day. I was snacking the green peas with Edda which we bought two weeks ago and then "ding dong". Finished one packet of this green peas had been slow and I really wanted to get rid of it fast instead of seeing it in front of my computer all the times. And then while snacking some today, the idea of making it into cookies came into mind. I always loved green peas cookies and I know it will get eaten faster than just the green peas alone. I only left with 1 cup of green peas and thus my experiment began and luckily the cookies turned out well. While making this cookie, another idea came to mind, you will have to stay tune to see what new cookies I will invent in the future. ;)

This green peas cookie is melt-in-the-mouth soft but with the crunchy bites from the crushed green peas. This recipe yields 49 cookies for me. It is a sweet cookie, you can slightly cut down on the icing sugar if you prefer it less sweet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crunchy Baked Chicken Strips

I was inspired by Gert and decided to make my own version. I have some leftover whole grain cereal with oats and almonds that no one wants to eat anymore so I thought this would be the perfect crispy coating for my chicken strips. If you have any cereal left at home, use it to coat your chicken, it is the perfect way to use it up. I used very simple seasoning grinders that I have at home, you can season yours however you liked too. My cereal is slightly sweet so my baked chicken strips turned out to be crunchy sweet. It's good eating like this without any dipping sauce. My girls totally loved it. Crunchy Crunch and Crispy Crisp!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tropical Sheet Cake

I have cans of crushed pineapple in my pantry waiting to be used. I bought them to make pineapple jam for my CNY pineapple tarts, but my lazy bones kicked in and I didn't make any pineapple tarts this year. So, I went online to search for a quick and easy recipe for me to use up the crushed pineapple. I found this recipe very interesting, very easy to do and no butter and oil required. It really got me curious and hence I had to try this recipe.

Hmmm...this cake is very interesting indeed. The texture is spongy, moist and kind of sticky. A bit like eating "kuih" instead of cake. The sweetness is just nice but sure make a big cake. I gave half away because we couldn't finish the whole cake. Because I added coconut flakes and dried fruits, you can taste that in the cake too.
I think the dried fruits gave this cake an extra sweetness.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Chinese Ginger Tea (黑糖薑茶)

This Chinese ginger brown sugar drink is said to be very beneficial. Not only it can fight cold but can fix the problem some women encounter when having their periods such as headache, stomachache, heavy flow, etc. Ginger had been used in ancient Chinese medicine to treat illnesses so this is a no surprise. Chinese women consumed lots of ginger after given birth for the full whole month to prevent the "wind" to get into the body, because we believed if the "wind" gets into the body, it will create problem later in life. It is also said that for people who live in the tropical country, if you do travel to another country during the cold weather, boil this tea and drink, it will prevent your body from getting sick. I know for a fact that ginger is anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. So, if you see a cold is coming, make this tea and drink it hot. Then, cover yourself with a blanket and let your body sweat. You should be recovered naturally. Call me old-fashion but I believed in ancient natural remedy. Now, I make this tea occasionally just to strengthen the body. It is best to use the age old ginger and drink it hot.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tofu Glazed with Salted Bean Sauce

I loved this Crab Classic, chunk style imitation crab meat! It came in Lobster Classic too but the only difference I can see is more red coloring added (since it's redder in color), other than that, everything looks identical to me (I forgot to look at the back of the ingredients list, might have a little lobster meat added instead of king crab?). I always buy more and freeze it in my freezer when it is on sales for buy one gets one free (it can freeze up to 9 months). Crab Classic is made with a mixture of seafood, mainly Alaska Pollock. So this is an excellent source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Not only that, the shape holds well so it's great in stir-fry, in soup and in spaghetti. A great food to substitute for meat/poultry and for the vegetarians who don't eat meat/poultry but do take seafood.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Stir Fried ShanDong Ramen (山东拉面)

ShanDong ramen (山东拉面) is a Chinese style dried noodle. It came in three different sizes, thin, medium and thick. The one I got here is medium. It is suitable for cold noodle, in soup or stir-fry. I usually used it in stir-fry, I guess it is easier than cook up a flavorful stock to go with the ramen. I think Taiwanese used this kind of dried noodle for their beef noodle soup.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Stir Fried Sweet Sugar Snap Peas

I fell in love with sweet snap peas when I discovered it in the market few years ago. Now, I preferred to buy this versus snow peas. I found this to be sweeter, crunchier or has more bite to it as compared to snow peas. But why is this veggie so expensive huh? It is quite pricey even in the Asian market, I bought a small bag and it costs me almost $4!! Sharing an easy and delicious way to enjoy sweet snap peas. One of my home cook dishes.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Reduced Fat Panna Cotta

We loved panna cotta but it was so fattening. So, I was trying to cut down some of the saturated fat in this delectable dessert by cutting down on the heavy cream and used whole milk. I placed it in a jelly mold which was probably not the best idea as it was stuck to the mold. I had to use the satay stick to scrape it down, thus the broken design. Despite the ugly look, it tasted divine. Still fattening but a reduced fat version.