Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leftover Turkey, Butternut Squash, and Zucchini Soup

After the Thanksgiving I’m pretty sure that almost every (small) family (like mine) will have some leftover turkey in the refrigerator waiting to be eaten. And the hubby and I have been eating leftover turkey sandwich and leftover turkey salad for a few days now. It’s time to make some leftover turkey soup, and today is such a perfect day to make soup because it’s a little chilly…and it’s definitely a time to get back on a healthy track.

Making soup, any soup, is the easiest and most fun when it comes to cooking for my opinion. Because you can use anything, whatever you have in your refrigerator or pantry to make soup, seriously! Just use your imagination. And I don’t mean like just a can of beer and Sriracha hot sauce! But that is all you have, a can of beer and hot sauce can become a pot of soup easily if you can find some sausage and any green of your choice to add into it. And I’m not joking!

I use butternut squash for my soup because it has been sitting in my kitchen waiting to be eaten since last year! Yes, you heard me right, last year, imagine that?! Now it’s time for a good use. And also, I love eating butternut squash, in the soup, with its creamy texture that make the soup more enjoyable when left them in chunks. With the additional of zucchini and baby spinach and, voila, I have the simplest leftover soup ever in no time.  There is nothing could be more perfect than a hot soup in a cold day.  Right?


What you need:  serve 4-6
6 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups butternut squash chopped
2 cups zucchini chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1/4 cup onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped  
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups packs baby spinach
2 cups cooked turkey chopped

How to:
- Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat
- On the sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, cook garlic and onion until they are soften.
- Then add butternut squash and celery, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook another 5-7 minutes.
- Add the cooked vegetables into the broth pot, add chopped turkey, bay leaf, sugar, chopped oregano, thyme, and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add zucchini and cook for another 3 minutes, and add baby spinach and turn off the heat immediately.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The hubby wished for carrot cake for his birthday and he’s been reminding as he afraid that I would forget about his request.   So yesterday (Nov. 17th ) was his birthday and his wish was granted with these Carrot Cake Cupcakes with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

At first, I was telling him that I would do a “healthier” version using whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, and low-fat cream cheese.   And his reaction to my idea was “Ughhh!” and “Nooo!” to the low-fat cream cheese. “I want a real thing, please.”   He convinced. Well, how could I say no since it’s his birthday, right?

I got the original recipe of carrot cake from myrecipes.com But I’ve modified and added something else in to the recipe for my liking and just to satisfy my curiosity of “why not add this or reduce that” kind of thing!

The cupcakes turned out pretty moist and tasted yummy-licious and the cream cheese frosting was the hubby favorite.   Well, his crazy about carrot cake is only the cream cheese frosting.   As he claimed, "it isn’t a carrot cake if there is no cream cheese frosting, lots of it and not just splash of thin layer."    For me, I just gave him the frosting and I happily only ate the cupcake!

What you need: make 20 cupcakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups grated carrot
2 large eggs
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup crushed or puree pineapple – fresh or can

How to:

- Preheat the oven to 350’F. Line the muffin liners into a muffin pan and set aside. 

- in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped walnut, and mix well with a whisk. Set aside. 
- In another medium bowl, beat together eggs, canola oil, and milk until it’s creamy. 

- Add the grated carrot, coconut flaked, pineapple puree, and egg mixture into the dry ingredients bowl and stir to mix well. 

- Fill the mixture into each muffin liners about 3/4 cup full and bake for 26-30 minutes or until the toothpick insert comes out clean. - Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream cheese Frosting:
8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp salted or unsalted butter, softened in room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

- Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract with a hand electric mixture with a medium speed until it’s creamy
- Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and beat until smooth.
- Start to frost your cupcakes as whatever you wish.  

***Topping - optional
chopped toasted walnuts
Candied carrot


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mini Blueberry Tea Cakes

You know? I haven’t had pancakes for breakfast for a while but when I woke up this morning, I was craving for pancakes, blueberry pancakes to be specifically.    Lucky that the hubby brought home a package of fresh blueberry yesterday for my smoothie, but I kept hearing the rebellious side of me saying, “blueberry pancakes, blueberry pancakes, blueberry pancakes!”    So, I decided to whip up some batter with a touch of Greek yogurt to make pancakes! 

BUT…………………………….here I go again! My “other side of me” said, “let’s put in the oven!” Instead of making pancakes, I suddenly found myself turning on the oven, brushing up and filling the mini muffin pan with the pancake batter, and here they went, in the oven! 


I was anxiously waiting for them to cook by setting the time of the oven for 30 minutes.   But when the 30 minutes has gone, the mini cakes were still plainly white and barely cooked, but the berries started to breeding out a little.  So I decided to give it another 12 minutes and I just literally stood there and stared at them to turn golden brown. Oh goodness! Those mini cakes looked just lovely! 

The taste test? The mini cakes were fluffy, nice and light, just as the pancakes usually are, with the gorgeous sweet tart of blueberries. Though they were not as sweet as other cakes because the batter was made for pancakes supposedly to be eaten with syrup or honey, but they were absolutely perfect companion for a cup of hot green tea and hot brew coffee.  So I called them "Mini Blueberry Tea Cakes."  What could go wrong with that, right?

What you need: make 26 mini muffins 


1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar (add more if you like sweet)

: Mix all dry ingredients with fork and set aside

* 5 oz. fresh blueberries


1/2 c low-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large egg

: Beat together all wet ingredients, and stir into the dry mixture just to blend well, do not over mixed and then gently toss in fresh blueberries

How to:

- Preheat the oven at 400’ F
- Brush or spray mini muffin pan with coconut oil or butter or cooking spray or use muffin liners
- Fill the muffin minis with the batter to full
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top turn lightly golden brown and the toothpick insert in center comes out clean
- serve warm with coffee or tea


Friday, November 9, 2012

Pot Stickers with Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce

I’ve tried those frozen pot stickers from supermarket twice because of the convenience and I was too lazy to make them; the taste was just not the same. So I decided to make them myself this time, the way I wanted. Pot stickers are quite easy to make and they are great for appetizers. You can use basically anything for the filling and even skip the meat and go for meatless vegetarian and follow the rest of recipe.


My pot sticker this time came out looking not so pretty after they’ve been frying and steaming, but they were definitely looking yummy!  I think.....that was because I didn’t realize that the pot sticker skins were too thin, plus, I should have refrigerated them a little before cooking; however, they came out so tasty and d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! ...…and for that reason, I have completely spoiled my dinner! 

What you need: make 22 pieces

8 oz ground turkey
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
3 cloves finely grated garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion
A tiny bit of sugar
1 tsp white ground pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 package pot sticker wrappers/or Gyoza wrappers (I only used 22)
1 c water or as needed
Canola or vegetable oil

For dipping sauce
1 tsp Asian chili garlic sauce
4 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Red wine vinegar
1 tsp finely chopped scallion
: Mix everything to blend well and garnish with finely chopped scallion

How To:

- In a large bowl, add all the ingredients – except the pot stickers, cooking oil, and water – and mix well for the filling.

- Spoon 1/2 tbsp of the filling onto the pot sticker skin and brush around the edge of the pot sticker skin with water, and then fold over to create a half-moon shape and press the around the edge to seal up.

- Pleat each pot stickers if you can, or just leave them the way they are without pleating, it’s perfectly fine!
While you are making pot sticker, cover those you already made with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap so they won’t dry up until you finish.

- When it time for cooking, the pot stickers are needed to be cooked in batches if you make a lot (I made 22 pieces and I cooked in two batches)
- add 1 tbsp of the oil into the nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is getting hot, add the pot stickers, but do not crown the pan, with the flat bottom down and fry for 1-2 minutes or until the bottom of the pot stickers turn golden brown.
- slowly pour about 1/4 cup water into the pan and cover the pan with the fitted lid to steam the pot stickers for 3-5 minutes – depends on how many of pot stickers you are cooking.
- Open the lid and lets it continue to cook until the liquid disappear.   Continue cooking another batch with the same steps.
- Serve immediately with the sesame-soy dipping sauce.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tom Yum Po-Tak Sea Bass

I believe there is almost everyone around here pretty much know the famous Thai dish “Tom Yum.” And I also believe that there are not too many people who know another kind of Thai spicy soup “Po-Tak” which is similar to “Tom Yum” but has very distinctive flavors from Thai holy basil, shallots, and ginger that Tom Yum doesn't has, and I like it much better than regular Tom Yum since it has a taste on the lighter side and spicier than Tom Yum.

Po-Tak is famously made with mixed seafood, but I usually make with either fish or shrimp or chicken and straw mushrooms are usually used in this soup, like regular Tom Yum, but you can basically use any mushroom you can find or like. 


If any time you have a cold that last for weeks and have tried everything that didn’t help you feel any better, why don’t you give this soup a try? The infused herbs in the clear and clean broth can help your get over of your sickness from cold instantly. I promise.

Oh,  it's so easy to make and it so good for you, too!  ^__^

What you need:

10 oz White Sea bass, cut into pieces - or any white fish and/or seafood
1 pk. (3.5 oz) Shimeji mushroom or 1 cup mushroom of your choice
7-10 Thai chili, crushed (adjust to your spicy preference)
5 small shallots, crushed or coarsely chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, crushed and sliced
3-4 Kaffir lime leaves, torn off in pieces by hand  
2 tbsp galangal, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Thai holy basil
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh squeeze lime juice
4 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

How to:
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat, add sea salt.
- Add lemongrass, galangal, and Kaffir lime leaves into a pot let it boil for 5 minutes.
- Add fish, ginger, and mushroom in the boiling water and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
 - Add crushed chili, fish sauce and turn off the heat, and then immediately add Thai holy basil, scallions, and lime juice to taste.
- Serve the soup hot with steamed jasmine rice if desired. 


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