Saturday, March 30, 2013

Barley-Asparagus-Sweet Pepper Salad

Opening my pantry yesterday and saw half a bag of dried pearl barley, I took it out and cooked them right away without any plan. The dried pearl barley had doubled their size after cooking. And now I had 2 cups of cooked barley that I still had no idea what to do with them. So I was snacking on them while thinking if I wanted to make soup or else.

But let me tell you, the earthy taste of the barley was so awesome and I just couldn’t stop snacking on them. Clearly, I was hungry! So, I decided to use half of cooked barley which was one cup to make a quick salad with some blanched asparagus, mini sweet peppers and the quick lemon vinaigrette with a little kick of dried chili flakes.

Oh my! I was glad I did. The salad was so filling, refreshingly tasty and delicious. It was perfect for a light lunch before my dinner time.  It's best serving as a side salad, and perfect for those who are vegetarians as well.  

And for the healthy part of this dish is one word – lots. You do the math.

1 cup cooked pearl barley
1 cup blanched asparagus, cut into small size, whichever you like
3 small sweet pepper – red, orange, and yellow, thinly sliced

The dressing:
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice + zest (I used 1 small Myer lemon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dry chili flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

- combine cooked barley, blanched asparagus, and sweet pepper in a bowl and set aside.
- whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the prepared salad, stir to mix well, and serve.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Thai Steamed Banana Cakes

Nobody wants to eat brown banana, right? I have 3 of them sitting on the counter and no one wants to touch it. Well, it can be used in smoothie but I just don’t like banana in a smoothie at all. I don’t know why either!  

To solve problem, I decided to make banana cake – Thai steamed banana cakes, that what I meant. These dessert reminded me of the process of how I learned to make them from my family. I remembered that my mom, my grandmother, and my aunties would get together at my parents’ house to make this, and they made lots of them to share and to take them to the temple, and that how I learned to make steamed banana cake. Though the different type of banana were used (Gluay Naam Waa), but any types of banana would work as well, for my opinion, but the level of sweetness may be differ.

Originally, banana leaves were used as a “wrapper.” Just like Mexican tamales that wrap dough stuffed with meat/cheese with cornhusks, and then steam. However, “how-to” cut banana leaves to wrap the banana cakes depends on how creative you are. Some people make banana “cup” or “cone” and fill it with the banana cake batter and then steam; some people just wrap them all around (like tamales), and then steam. 

Instead of using banana leaves this time, I filled the batter into the silicone muffin cups and the mini tin tartlets, and then steamed. I didn’t used banana leaves to wrap my banana cakes because I didn’t have enough banana leaves left on my banana plants as the freezing weather had destroyed them all from the last winter. Luckily, they started to come back with a few green leaves in the last two weeks, whew!  

What I was missing when finished making this was the aroma of banana leaves that give banana cakes an earthy flavor when eating. Overall, there were great and I just couldn’t stop eating them.  

Dessert snacks for children on Easter Day? YES! Absolutely!  

*Notes: if used the paper muffin cups, they have to have a sturdy cups or plate to hold its shape, otherwise it will collapse to the side. Or using small ramekin cups, loaf pan, or round cake pan to steam the batter and then cut into pieces to serve. 

What you need:

3 banana, mashed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 c coconut milk
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tropioca flour
1 cup coconut flaked, divided
Pint of salt

How to:
- Sprinkle a pint of salt in 1/4 cup shredded coconut and set aside for topping
- Stir in sugar and a pinch of salt into mashed banana
- Whisk in coconut milk, rice flour, tropioca flour, and another 3/4 cup shredded coconut until it - well combined
- Fill the batter in the silicone muffin cups (if used – see notes) and sprinkle some of coconut topping on the top of each one, and bring them to steam on high-heat for 20-25 minutes
- Let them cool down before handling and serving with tea or as dessert snack
* It’s ideally served at room temperature but I like to eat it warm, not too hot. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Citrus-Avo with Honey Mint Salad

It’s officially spring with the sunshine outside that is so bright and warm. And if anyone has noticed, there are lovely citrus fruits everywhere – in supermarket, farmer market, and on our neighbor’s trees. Since my kitchen is now filled with some gorgeous citrus I got some from my awesome neighbor, I attempt to make a few things with them and just go nuts about it. Why not? I’ve actually started with “Blood Orange Margarita with Honey” that looked so awesomely gorgeous from the previous post.


To celebrate lovely spring, I’m making this simple citrus and avocado salad with a little hint of honey and mints for a light lunch today. I just love the dazzling color of this salad – simple, easy, and delish! After that, I’m going to make tea – ice green tea with orange and honey. How’s that sound?  

What you need:

2 medium orange, cut into section
2 medium blood orange, cut into section or crosswise
1 medium avocado, seeded and sliced
1-2 tsp. honey
3-4 mint leaves, chiffonaded
1/4 fresh squeeze orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest, finely grated

How to:

Arrange orange segments and avocado in the plate. Whisk together orange juice and zest, honey, and mints to mix well and pour over orange segments and avocado. The salad is best when served chill.

Enjoy and be happy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blood Orange Margarita with Honey!

Today is such a beautiful day, with the sun that is so bright and warm. I guessed spring has just sprung! So…what are we waiting for? Let’s celebrate the beginning of the warm southern California weather with this margarita with blood orange and honey!


I’ve got some blood oranges from my lovely neighbor last weekend and they are so insanely sweet and awesome!

I must say, after having this drink…I could no longer communicate with anyone even though I have tried….Cheers! 

What you needserve 2

3-4 blood orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 lime, juiced (about 1 tbsp)
4 oz. Gold Tequila
3 oz. triple Sec.
2 oz. honey
Crushed ice to serve

 :Stir blood orange juice, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and honey to mix well and serve with crushed ice


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spicy Tuna & Avocado Ceviche Mini Cups

Whenever I have a feeling of “don’t know what to do, or don’t know where to start” moments, I’d turn into food.   And this feeling happens a lot!............................... sigh!

Just like today, instead of focusing on the more important things that have to be finished with the dateline in two days, I am thinking about cooking. The next thing I knew, I find myself rampaging through the fridge looking for something to make.

I found a beautiful piece of yellowtail tuna (was planning for dinner, supposedly), half of a package of wontons wrappers, and one ripe avocado, took them out, and turned them into these cuties spicy tuna ceviche cups.

I’d like to say…they were…pretty good!

I made these tiny wonton cups by using the small 2-inch size tartlet tins and they came out just perfect. No small tartlet tins, small muffin pan would do it. If the raw tuna is an issue, cook it and mix with the rest of the ingredients. No problems!

Those cups could be made ahead and kept them in a Ziploc. The tuna ceviche can be put together in just under 10 minutes.

These tiny mini cups will make a great party apps!   don't you think?

12 mini wonton cups   ** or use store-bought phyllo mini cups

you will need wonton wrappers and cooking spray

- Preheat the oven to 350’F

- Use the round cookies cutter cut out the wonton skins to round shape

- Press each of wonton skin onto the small tartlet tin by another small tartlet tin to shape the wonton. If you do not have small tartlets tins, you can use mini muffin tins.

- Spray with cooking oil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Be watchful for this since it will get burn very quickly.

 What you need: makes 12 mini cups

1 cup fresh yellowtail tuna, diced into small cubes
1 large avocado, diced into small cubes
1 tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce + for garnish
1 tbsp. Toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds + for garnish
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped

: combine the entire ingredients into a medium bowl and gently stir to mix well. Let the tuna marinade in the fridge for at least 5 minutes before serving in the mini wonton cups, in which should be served and consumed right away.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Green Tea Smoothie

Just have to believe it, we've entered the month of March already!

Last few weeks the weather in L.A. was still under the cold radar and I was getting tired of being under the layer outfits with heavy sweaters lately. Today my wish is granted because today’s weather can’t be any better than this. It’s sunny. It’s warm, 84’ F!!!...and it’s just gorgeous! And top of that, I’m wearing shorts! Loving it!

 However, just as they say, “Great power comes with great responsibility.” My gorgeous weather has brought along microorganisms of pollens and dusts in the air that caused me to sneeze more than I wish for. Oh well, it’s a gives and takes situation, isn’t it?

As you know, green tea has tons of health benefits (can be found here), I think I will start this month with something that tastes good and yet helps keeping me stay healthy to get ready for beautiful spring and summer, yet soon to come, with this green tea smoothie that may help reduce my allergic reaction a little bit, if not much.

When look at the ingredients for my smoothie, you might think that is very interesting combination. And to be honest, those ingredients are what I have in hands at the moments. Since the pineapple juice has already provided the sweetness, honey was just the optional. I added honey because I just loved the taste of honey. Overall, the combination of green tea + honey + pineapple + baby spinach + Greek yogurt, is the bomb!

If you have an awesome idea to make it better, please share!

What you need:

1-2 tsp. Matcha Green Tea powder
1/2 cup frozen pineapple tidbits
1/2 cup pineapple juice
6 oz. Nonfat Greek Yogurt (or yogurt of your choice)
1 tbsp. honey – optional
10 leaves baby spinach
1/2 cup crushed ice

: Everything goes into the blender and blend it on high speed until smooth and frothy. 

Enjoy & Stay Healthy!

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