Monday, February 20, 2012

Key Lime Bars

       Before I decided to make this, I was thinking back and forth of what to make between Lemon bars and Key lime pie.  Well, I had Meyer lemons sit on the counter side-by-side with key limes…hmm…but I didn’t want a pie, and Meyer lemons don’t have a strong lemons taste like the regular one has. That’s right… Key limes bars!    Since I am neither a girl who likes to bake nor a sweet kind of girl, I found this recipe (adapted from Real Simple) happen to be easy for me to give it a try…for my sweet tooth hubby!  And the result?  He loved them!  

For crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup sugar
A pinch of salt

For the filling
¼ key limes juice
2 tbsp key limes zest
3 eggs
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 350’F

2. in an 8-inch, line the pan with aluminum foil over and left an overhangs all sides so it can be lifted out easily when cooked, and spray the aluminum foil with the cooking spray

3. Make the crust by combining flour, sugar, salt, and butter into the food processor and give it a several pluses until it forms into crumbs

4.  Press the flour mixture into the pan and press it firmly into the bottom and bake to a pale golden for 25 minutes

5. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, key limes juice and zest, baking powder, flour, and salt

6. When the crust is baked, pour the filling into the hot crust and bake for another 20 minutes until it turn to light golden and firm in the middle. 

7.  Allow it to cool down completely for about 1 or 2 hours, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cut into bars and serve


Friday, February 17, 2012

"Laab Kai" or Spicy Ground Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite dishes, Laab Kai, the classic Thai cuisine with the balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. This is actually a really healthy dish that you can eat all you want and you’ll never gain a muffin top! I swear! It makes with lean protein of ground chicken and no oil is involved in preparing it. Basically, it’s a salad; and it must be eaten with lots of vegetables such as cucumber, raw cabbage, carrots, lettuce, or whatever veggies you like, the more veggies the better. 

However, I want to inform you that one of the interesting ingredients using in this dish that you might think it’s wired, if you are not Thais, is the roasted glutinous rice powder. It gives this dish the spontaneous aroma, texture, and taste like no others. Well, I can’t really say that when we have the same similar dishes and some of you might have tried that before at some Thai restaurants (I say “some” because not all of Thai restaurants will use roasted rice powder in this dish.) which they are “Laab Moo” or Spicy Ground Pork Salad, “Laab Nua” or Spicy Ground Beef Salad, “Yum Moo Yang” or Spicy Grilled Pork Salad, “Yum Nua” or Spicy Grilled Beef Salad! Okay, here is the hint…”Laab” = ground, “Kai” = chicken, “Moo” = pork, “Nua”= beef, and “Yang” = grilled! How fun! ^__^ Anyway, those are dishes using roasted glutinous rice power.
However, if you find it too difficult or too complicate to find the glutinous rice to roast since you are not normally using it, you can just leave it out. And don’t worry there is no rules for that, but you will be seriously missed out the true authentic Thai taste in this kind of Thai food. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s have some fun and get cooking.

What you need:
1 lb ground chicken
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup fish sauce – or more adjusts to your taste buds
¼ cup fresh squeeze lime juice – or more adjust to your taste buds
2-3 tbsp ground chili pepper – or more adjust to your taste buds
2 stalks lemongrass, white part inside only, finely chopped
5-6 small shallots finely sliced
¼ cup green onion thinly sliced
1/ cup mint leaves thinly sliced
¼ cup roasted glutinous rice powder

**And as much or as little of your favorite veggies such as lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, or carrots to accompany the spicy salad

How to:

1. To roast glutinous rice, put the rice in small skillet over medium-high heat and stir continuously to prevent burn for about 3-5 minutes or until it’s just turning to light golden brown and fragrant. Use coffee grinder or food processor to grind the rice until it turns into powder, set aside.

2. Put ground chicken, water, and salt in the medium saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat, stir persistently to cook the meat so it won’t stick to bottom, cook until the meat is no longer pink and the water is reduced but not too dry.

3. Transfer cooked ground chicken into the not-so-large bowl and add all of the rest of ingredients into it and stir gently to combine all the flavors together

Serve with your favorite veggies – and with rice if desired. Now that’s easy!

Enjoy and stay healthy! 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Steamed Egg "SoufflĂ©’" with Baby Shrimp Breakfast

When I was a child living in Thailand, I remembered my dad made this steamed egg for breakfast that only had 3 ingredients -- egg, soy sauce, and chopped scallions on top, and I just adored and loved it so much! I loved the subtle texture with a little bit of saltiness from soy sauce mixing with the sweetness from egg created the soup-like broth at the bottom that was just so delicate to me.  
However, my busy life today makes me stop eating breakfast in the morning and turns me into the coffee-addict for many years and counting… It’s just a bad habit that I developed for decades -- grab a cup of coffee and run out of the door as fast as I can so I won’t be late for work…what‘s an excuse!!! 
Anyway, the past weekend morning I got out of the bed on the bright side - I guessed! – so I wanted to make something nice for breakfast when I had some times to sit down and enjoyed the morning like this, after a cup of coffee, of course! ^__^

What you need:    for 2 servings 

4 eggs 
½ cup salad size baby shrimp cooked 
¼ cup chicken stock 
¼ cup mushrooms - any kind 
2 tbsp red bell pepper chopped into small pieces 
2 tbsp light soy sauce 
¼ scallions chopped 
ground white pepper 
2 tsps Fried shallots 

How to:

1. Set the steamer on the high-heat.
2. Beaten eggs until it turn into the smooth consistency texture
3. Stir in soy sauce, chopped scallions, red bell pepper, chicken stock, ground white pepper, and mushroom to combine
4. Slightly spray the ramekins with cooking spray or brush with oil, pour the egg mixture equally into the ramekins just about the inside-top rim of the ramekins
5. Carefully place the ramekins into the hot boiling steamer and steam for 3 minutes and then arrange shrimp on the top of each and cover and let it continue steaming for another 10-15 minutes
6. Garnish with fried shallot and cilantro leaf before serving


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pork Spare Ribs and Vegetables Stew

What can be more perfect than a hearty healthy soup for a cold cloudy day besides a big cup of hot chocolate! My husband and I love having soups no matter when the weather is hot or cold, and I make more soups than other meals over the years. Today, he brought home 2 racks of pork spare ribs which he was planning for a barbecue. However, the weather turned out to be so windy and was too cold to do a barbecue outside and the ribs have not been marinated as it supposed to. So, I decided to make soup and nothing could go wrong with that. Just as a little bit over an hour later, for for the times that went to the simmering part to make the ribs soft and tender that was almost melt into your mouth, it just so worth the wait!   It’s so easy to make yet it's so awesome! 

What you need:
  • 2 quarts water or stock
  • 2 1/2 lbs pork spare ribs cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup cabbage roughly chopped
  • 1 cup yu-choy chopped, or any kinds of your favorite greens such as kale,
  • collard green, Chinese broccoli or bok choy   
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp fresh ginger thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

How to:
1. Heat oil in the large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add pork ribs and cook for about 2 minutes on each sides. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook them just for a few seconds until fragrant

2. Add carrot, celery, ginger, sesame oil, and stir and cook to soften the vegetables for about 10 minutes

3 Add water or stock, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper and stir. Bring down the heat to medium-low to simmer, cover the pot with lid but let a little peak opening.  Let it cook for another 35-40 minutes until the pork ribs are tender and all the flavors are blended together

4. Add cabbage, yu choy, and cilantro and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes

You can serve it with a scoop of rice or noodles or just soup as it is.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strawberry in Pom Juice n Red Wine Sauce

Have I ever mentioned that my husband loves grocery shopping! If I told him that we were out of eggs and milk, he would quickly drive to store and come home with not just a dozen of eggs and a carton of milk, but also, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, oranges, grapes, and so on…which we didn’t really need more since we already have all that!   And I... have to manage all of those he brought home to fit into the refrigerator.   Anyway, today he brought me 2 boxes of really good looking strawberries (I told him that I only need 1 box for my smoothie) and said, “here's for dessert tonight.”   O-k-a-y!  Just cut them up, add some sugar, and top with whip cream, done! That’s what I told him.  His response was, “c’mon, you can do better than that!”  and I just gave him a blank stare thinking…hmm…what I can do with those strawberries!  Opening the refrigerator and browsing from top to bottom…I see half a bottle of Chianti red wine I had the  other night with dinner.  I see Greek yogurt. I see pomegranate juice.  Wham!  Here we go…the quick and easy dessert of all time.  Let's have some fun!

What you need:  for 2 servings
2 cups strawberries halved
1 cup red wine – I used Chianti red
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp lemon rind thinly sliced or grated

Yogurt topping:

1cup non-fat Plain Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp honey and lemon zest
Mix well and chill

How to:

1. In small saucepan, combine red wine, pomegranate juice, sugar, and cinnamon stick over the medium-low heat.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add lemon rind or zest and let it cool down.

2. Place strawberries in the medium bowl. Pour the wine mixture over the strawberries include cinnamon stick, cover and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to blend flavors.
3.  Serve chilled strawberries with a dollop of yogurt mixed topping or whipped cream as desired.



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tri-color Pasta-Jumbo Squid-White Wine/Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

I went shopping at Cost Plus World Market store over the weekend and found this gorgeous tri-color pasta nest egg Grand’Mere made in France and I thought…umm…white wine, squid, and homemade sun-dried tomato I made from last summer using tomatoes from my own garden!  And this dish just popped up in my head right away. 

I grabbed a bag of this colorful pasta and quickly walked over to the wine section thinking what kind of wine that I can drink and use for cooking at the same time.   Dry white wine? I knew that some recipes are called for dry white wine in pasta dishes but I have tried it before….nah!  And then I remembered watching Rachel Rey and all the food guru on the cooking channel which I heard it so many time over and over again of what they said…“cook with any wine that you like or usually drink, don’t waste it!”  Aha…Chardonnay?  Yeah, I can drink Chardonnay.  That’s it.   Here we go…let's have some fun.  And remember, life is not perfect, so food doesn't have to be either!

What you need:  serve 3-4 servings depends on how hungry you are!

6 nests Tri-color pasta Grand’ Mere
1 ½ lb. packed frozen jumbo squid sliced crosswise
½ cup red onion sliced
3-4 clove garlic chopped
½ cup yellow bell pepper sliced
½ cup sun-dried tomato chopped
2 cups baby spinach chopped
¼ cup parsley chopped
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup white wine – any that you like to drink
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese
**Tabasco hot sauce or Sriracha chili sauce is optional for those who like some heat.  I do!

How to:

1.  Cook pasta according to the package.

2.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the large pan on the medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, and onion and cook about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add squid and make a few stir, and add sun-dried tomato, bell pepper and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  Note: squid doesn't required that long to cook.  if they are overcooked, they will become rubbery.

4. Add white wine, salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Toss in chopped spinach and basil at the end when you are happy with the taste, and turn off the

**Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley on top... and the rest of Chardonnay if you may!



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Green Goddess Smoothie...

I’ve always wanted to try a green smoothie but one of the ingredients that make this smoothie turn green is either spinach or avocado, and that make me think…uuhhh may be I will try it later.  Since I’ve been saying that I will try(I will try...) to have smoothie every day, today was a day that I was thinking green….in which exactly I was telling myself that if not today maybe it’s not going to happen ever! …and the result?  It was AWESOME!  And I pinched myself of being such a chicken and tedious and afraid of trying this green goddess.  I used a handful of baby spinach for the bright green color which I've added a little of lime juice so the spinach would leave you a bad taste in your mouth  since the acid in the lime juice would help reduce that tartness.  And if you not a fan of Greek yogurt, you can use plain or any yogurt of your choice.....I don't make a rule here.
So, if you’ve never tried it before, you must!  and I promise, you'll like it!   ^____^

What you need:
1 medium apple of your choice
1 medium Kiwi
1 medium or half of large ripe banana
½ cup or a handful of spinach
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp honey - you can add more if you like
8-ounce non-fat plain yogurt
½ cup crushed ice
 :Blend everything until it turn smoothly. 


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