Monday, December 31, 2012

Polenta with Chicken Mushroom Sauce

I have been wanting to try the organic polenta for sometimes but I needed time to think of how and what to serve it with.  The above was the result of much thought.  I loved how soft and nutty the polenta tasted and the slight crispness from the edges resulting from pan-frying it in olive oil.  It didn't look much but was actually quite filling and well served as an alternative to rice or bread.  It was delicious to pair it with the creamy mushroom sauce.  The pine nuts added a wonderful crunch to the mushroom sauce and juicy white chicken.  You can choose to grill the chicken breast or pan-frying it in extra virgin olive oil.  Overall, it was a satisfying and balance meal.

Pantry essentials are those go-to ingredients that you love to reach for when thinking up new ways to create holidays dishes that wow friends and family.  Polenta is a great meatless dish to add to your weekly cooking repertoire, their Crepes are an easy no-muss-no-fuss dessert and Pine Nuts make for a wonderful crunch to any dish whether savory or sweet.  Not only that, they have lots of unique, hard to find and specialty items such as exotic fruits and vegetables. Check out Friedas for any of your pantry essentials need and specialty items.

I love these ready-to-use French Style Crepes, it makes making a delicious dessert super quick and easy.  I just spread it with a thin layer of Jif Chocolate/ Nutella and roll it up and sprinkle some powder sugar on top.  Can I say YUMMY!!   You can also use this to make the famous Crepes Cake and cut down on hours of labor!

* I received free samples from Friedas.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cream Cheese Milk Loaf

Making the bun that uses the Dough function can be quite time consuming as it usually took more than 3 hours to get it done.  Sometimes it was hard for me to allocate the time as I have to fetch my little one at noon and another one three and half hours later.  I did over proving the buns once.  So, I need to find a loaf recipe that creates softer bread without using the Dough function.  This bread machine loaf is soft with light crust.  I added walnuts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and black sesame seeds for the extra nutrients.  You can add any nuts and seeds that you have in your house, it is not limited to what I listed here.  After day two, you can warm it up in the microwave to soften it again.  Enjoy it as it, or with peanut butter or jam.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cranberries Salsa

I was never a fan of cranberries sauce until I tasted the cranberries salsa.  I was changed then and wanted this as one of the side dishes for my Thanksgiving meal.  Spicy, sour and sweetness increase one's appetite and which makes this dish so appealing and irresistible.  The crunchy apple added a nice bite to it as well.

If you make this dish, please feedback to me and link back to my original post.  Thank you!

Cranberries Sauce:

1 cup water, 1 cup cane sugar, 1 pkg. cranberries, zest of  2 clementines or 1 orange.

Dissolve sugar in water, then add cranberries and zest.  When boiling, turn the heat to low and let it simmer uncover until thicken, about 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tricolored Soft Coconut Candy

This is a soft and chewy coconut candy that is very easy to make.  This is different from the hard coconut candy with bright coloring (from Malaysia).  Instead of making it tricolored,  you can shape each color into a ball (wear plastic glove) and serve it individually.  I think it would help in tasting the different flavors of the candies.  I found that when combining the three, I couldn't taste the individual flavor as the rose paste seem to be over powering the rest of the flavors.

When I flipped through my friend's recipe cards the other day, I saw a recipe that was very similar to this and it is called Coconut Ice, it is a traditional English candy that required no baking too.  You can read more about it here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brined Turkey Breast

Brined turkey breast is definitely the choice for my small family.  But I heard that deep-fried turkey is also very good.  Someone told me if I ever tried a deep-fried turkey, I won't switch back.  Since I don't have a deep-fryer for turkey, brine turkey is sufficient for me.  This turkey doesn't have the turkey smell at all, I am not sure whether it is because it only has white meat or because I added ginger into the brine and also lemon slices into the cavity before roasting?   Anyway, since whatever I did this time worked, I will keep doing it.

Moist and juicy carved turkey breast.  This time I carved it the American way instead of the Asian way.  Haha...  You can see my Asian carving under Turkey posts.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Korean Smoked Fish Ham

Look what I found while shopping at the Korean supermarket, H-Mart?  Smoked Fish Ham!!  I didn't know that fish can be made into ham, that was new to me.  A lady was doing the sample booth and offering me a sample of this fish ham and I really was impressed as it really tasted like ham.  Best of all, it was made of fish which made it slightly healthier?

It was on sales for $5 (usual price $8) and according to the lady it might increase to $10.  I certainly wouldn't pay $10 for it but since it was on sales and all of us loved it, I bought one along with some fish cakes.

I just sliced it into pieces and pan-fried it in a little oil as demo and served it with Udon noodle soup (not picture).  I put vegetable and mushroom into the noodle soup to make it more balance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Everyone has their own way of making the mashed potatoes.  Posting this recipe seem a bit out of place because I assume everyone knows how to make it.  Haha... Anyway, making the mashed potatoes using an electric beaters was taught to me long time ago by an American friend.  That was when I realized making mashed potatoes from scratch was so easy.

Coming from Malaysia, my exposure on mashed potatoes was mostly from KFC and it seem so processed and difficult to make at that time.  And since my mom only cooked Chinese food, making American food seem so far fetch and difficult.  After living here for a while, I slowly realized American food is actually not difficult to make at all.  This recipe is more on the sinful side so enjoy!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Mushrooms with Hijiki Seaweed

My first exposure to Hijiki sea vegetable was on ANA Japanese airplane.  It came in a small dish along with other small dishes in a set meal.  It think it was just a seasoned hikiji salad.  The shape and size was unlike any sea vegetables that I tasted and I actually liked it.  My girls said it looked like little black worms.  Hehe...  Then, I read some where that the ancient Chinese practitioners actually used Hikiji as one of the prescriptions for low iodine.  Interesting right?

Hijiki is a brown sea algae that cultivated in Japan, China and Korea.  Then, it was boiled and dried to be sold as dried hijiki, the color turned black when dried.  It is a rich source of iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber.  Because it has 10 times the calcium of milk, Japanese eat it for the calcium intake and overall balanced diet.  All sea vegetables are low in calories and contains many minerals that our bodies need.  I read that seaweed can detoxify and convert the toxic metals in our bodies to harmless salts which then pass through the body's intestinal tract.

One drawback that I read about Hijiki seaweed is it contained inorganic arsenic and might cause cancer if consume in a large amount.  But there is no ban and no known illnesses associated with consuming hijiki seaweed to date and the Japanese have been eating this as part of a balanced diet for centuries.  You can read more about it here.  United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Canada have issued a warning on hijiki seaweed.  I think the health benefits out weight the negative as it's impossible to consume this in large amount anyway and I only cook it once in every two weeks and used it as an extra for mushrooms or noodle dish.  I put some in Japchae and it was delicious.

By the way, I think it looks like Chinese "Fai Chai", the one that looks like black hair that Chinese consume during Chinese New Year because of it's auspicious meaning.

Fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh Shiitake mushrooms

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Thanksgiving Meal for 2-4 persons

Everything made from scratch except the pumpkin pie which I bought at Sprouts.  This was about 5 lb. worth of turkey breast and it is good for 2-4 persons (4-6 persons in our case).  Cranberries sauce for my girls and cranberries salsa for me.  Creamy mashed potatoes top with melted Kerrygold butter and chopped scallions.  My banana oats buns and easy crunchy green beans.  Turkey gravy, short-cut method (turkey dripping, chicken stock and thicken with potato starch).