Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mini German Pancakes with honey-orange berries

I adore these mini version of German puffed pancake so much every time I see someone pinned it on Pinterest.  They are such cuties!  I thought to myself that I’d make them one day.  This is the day. Wooohooo!   These mini pancakes look very similar to popovers, except that these pancakes use more eggs and less flour than popovers.  However, the results are almost identical.  They are puffed and light and gorgeous and awesome!   I made popovers once and loved it!    Did I mention that they are awesome! 

The most awesome part of making these mini pancake is that they are sooooo quick and easy to make with a few ingredients.  Since they are so light and puffy, it’s so perfect for breakfast with a good cup of coffee or your favorite tea on the weekend morning.   Believe it or not, I had 5 of them and didn’t even want to stop!   I didn’t feel bad at all because I went for a little hike every day!    I will absolutely be making them again soooon.

Berries compote
1/2 cup of each cut strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup (half of orange) fresh squeeze orange juice
: toss all the ingredients together and set aside

Pancake batter:  make 12 muffin-size
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter (cold or room temp is fine)
1 tsp. fresh squeeze lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 425’F    
2. Beat all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except the butter
3. Cut and divide the butter evenly into the non-stick muffin pan  
4. Put the muffin pan in the hot oven and watch carefully for the butter.  Once the butter melted, pull out the pan
5. Fill the pancake batter evenly into the muffin pan (about 1/2 way)
6. Bake for 13-15 minutes (mine was exactly 14 minutes) to light golden brown color on the edges and take them out.  The pancakes will puff up high but will flatten out almost immediately when pull out from the oven
7. Serve immediately with berried compote, or jams of your choice (and a cup of coffee or tea!)  *dusted with powdered sugar is optional!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chicken Paprikash

I had a chance to taste chicken paprikash for the first time in my life when my then future mother-in-law made on her 71th birthday as everyone in her family requested because she was known to make the best chicken paprikash.   It was 15 years ago!  And if you think she was Hungarian, you are wrong.  She was born and raised in Oklahoma with the Native American blood in her.   But that was not the case.  She married to her husband whose parents immigrated to the US from Hungary early in 1900s.  I think that is the reason why my mother-in-law had become the best cook of chicken paprikash.  She was taught to perfect it by the original and most authentic Hungarian lady first hand -- her mother-in-law, who i'd never had a chance to meet.   Unfortunately, that was the only first and one time I’d ever tasted chicken paprikash from her, and unfortunately,  I’d never had a chance to learn from her.  That’s a shame! 

The hubby has been asking me to make chicken paprika for years, but I’d never have a chance to fulfill his request.   It’s not because I don’t want to, but I was concerned that I would not meet his expectation he used to get from his mother.  Basically, I just can’t withstand the criticism!   It may sound pity but I think you know why, do you?

Today I have the courage to cook this dish with confidence after I’ve learned how easy that is to cook chicken paprikash.   My mother-in-law had been collecting a bunch of cookbooks and hundreds of recipes she cut out from newspapers and magazines, and I’ve found two chicken paprikash recipes from her collections.  I've read and compared them carefully.  Both recipes are almost identical, except one doesn't use tomato sauce and the other doesn't use flour.  And both don’t add baby potatoes, green Anaheim pepper and garlic in their recipes.   
The added ingredients is my version of chicken paprikash that give the dish more interesting texture without interrupting the original intense flavor of the Hungarian paprika.  For the flour I think it can be skipped if you like the sauce to be a little thinner.  But if you want to add the flour for the thicker sauce, you may want to add more liquid of water or chicken broth to the pan to make enough sauce for every serving.    The result was approved by the hubby who missed his mother dearly while eating my Chicken Paprikash.   Let’s cooking, shall we?

 What you need:   for 4-5 servings  
 2 1/4 lbs. Chicken drumsticks
1 medium white or yellow onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 large green Anaheim pepper or bell pepper, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
2 cups baby golden potatoes, washed clean
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour (optional)
2 tbsp. cooking oil or butter
Cooked noodles to serve with (I used Linguine pasta) 

1. wash and pat dry the chicken drumsticks, then seasoning with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
2. set a large frying pan or pot over medium high heat and add cooking oil or butter, add chicken drumsticks  into the pan and brown them on both side – about 5 minutes on each side.
3. after finish browning the chicken, take them out to a bowl and set aside.
4. then add chopped onion, garlic, and pepper into the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are wilted.
5. add paprika into the pan, stir quickly to combine
6. add tomato sauce and chicken broth and stir in incorporate all of the ingredients.
7. add the chicken back to the pan as well as the baby potatoes
8. reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for at least 50 minutes to an hour until the chicken drumsticks are tender fall-off-the-bone
9. serve with cooked noodles of your choice and enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sriracha Honey-Orange Chicken

Everyone loves Chinese food!  Who doesn’t!  I think Chinese food is the most popular food in the world.   Noooooo…..I’m not stereotyping, but think about it.   Not only that they are fast and easy to find, they are also delicious and tasty and everyone loves it, especially Orange Chicken.   My version of Orange Chicken today has a hint of sweet from honey and spicy from Sriracha hot sauce.   It is also very easy to prepare and can be finished in little time as long as you have all the ingredients ready to go.  

There are two parts of making this dish – first cook the chicken and  then cook the sauce.  Then let them hangout together in the pan just a bit for that all the flavors would have their chance to mix and mingle.    The finished version of my Sriracha Honey-Orange Chicken is very citrusy tangy and savory with a hint of sweetness from honey and slight warm heat from Sriracha hot sauce, yet, I drizzled more of it on the top for some more heat.  I love hot spicy stuff.  You know?  ^_^

What you need: for 4 servings

1 lb. chicken breasts, boneless skinless cut into small chunks or strips
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour  
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup white onion, chopped
2-3 tbsp. oil, any kind
*Sesame seeds and green onion for garnish

For sauce:
3/4 cup orange juice + zest from 2 small oranges
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic

1 tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients and set aside
2. Seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper and toss in the flour to coat well
3. Add the oil into a pan over medium heat, then add the chicken pieces and fry undisturbed about 1 minute on each side until slightly browned. *chicken breast pieces tend to dry out really fast and if cooking too long the chicken meat will become too dry.
4. After the chicken cooked, remove them and there should be a little oil left in the pan about 1 tablespoon. Leave it.
5. Add the sauce into the pan and let it boil down for a minute or so.  Then add the chopped onion and green bell pepper and cooked chicken into the sauce, toss them together. Let the sauce cook down for another 2-3 minutes or until the sauce become thicker and glossy.
6. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onion.
7. Serve with steamed rice, white or brown as you preferred.   Enjoy!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gingery Chicken, Rice, and Avocado soup

OMG!  I was sick with nasty cold and flu for a week.  And I was like, “please somebody just kill me.”  It was terrible!   Anyway, I feel a lot better today except just a little cough and stubborn congestion that wouldn’t go away.  For the past week I made lots of soup, all kind of soup that loaded with ginger.  Ginger is my obsession!  If I find out I only have 1 root left, I’d freak out. Seriously!    As you know, ginger is known for fighting cold and flu, reducing pain, headache, migraine, and inflammation.  For me, it’s never too much to add ginger in my diet for my own good. Just gimme some more.....pleaseeee! 

Today’s soup was made with the leftover cooked rice and chicken I’ve saved in the fridge the day before and things I already have around my kitchen for quick instant soup.  I served this soup with the finishing touch of fresh ginger instead of adding them when boiling the broth.  If you are wondering that the fresh ginger might be too strong.  Yes, it is very strong and that’s my point.  Its intensity works perfectly in clearing the bacteria that got me a sore throat.   Not only that, I had added some more dried red chili pepper flakes in my bowl for the back up!  It gave me a little sweat and it was so good.   The creamy avocado cubes in the soup would help subtle down the intensity of the fresh ginger, and the tangy sweet of sundried tomato gave the soup even more interesting taste.   Miso, avocado, and sundried tomato may sound a little weird, but it works together nicely!

Okay. This soup is so easy and very quick to make.   If you know how to bring water to boil, chances are you can make soup.  It takes less than 30 minutes from the start to the end.  I promise.    

Gingery Chicken, Rice, and Avocado soup

What you need:  for 2-4 servings
1 1/2 cups leftover cooked rice (white or brown)
1 cup leftover shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie/grilled)
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
3 tbsp.  Fresh ginger, finely julienned
2 tbsp. mellow white miso paste (or more if needed)
5 cups water (+ 1 cup more if needed)
1 large Hass avocado, chopped in cubes
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. sundried tomato, chopped
Pinch of salt to taste if needed
(Dried red chili flakes is optional)

1. In a medium pot, bring water add chopped carrot, celery, and sundried tomato to boil at medium high heat.
2. Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes, then add cooked rice and shredded chicken. Allow the rice and chicken to heat through for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat
3. With the miso paste in a small bowl, use the hot soup broth from pot stir or whisk in the miso paste until there is no lumps, then gently stir back to the pot and add avocado.  **add more miso paste or seasoning with salt for your preferred taste.
4. Serve each serving with a sprinkle of fresh ginger strips and cilantro leaves (and dried red chili flakes if you like!) 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Almond-Orange Cake.....

The first week of the New Year bring such an amazing sunny and beautiful days plus chilly crisp cold air that turn the water in my bird bath into rock-hard ice and my banana trees got burn overnight.  But on the Sunday morning as the ray of the morning sun came through the window while I was sipping my coffee and trying to get warm from the sunlight, I felt like I wanted to bake a cake.  But what kind of cake?   I have fresh organic oranges sitting on the counter, and then I remember I have a bag of almond flour (aka almond meal) in my pantry.  Yep! Let bake orange cake using almond flour.  Eating oranges on a first day of the New Year is believed to bring good luck.  Well, may be not exactly on the first day but the first week of the New Year or perhaps during the first month should have the same effect…..bringing me some good luck.  Right?  Right!   hehehe.... 

This cake is so easy to make. Neither flour, oil, butter nor milk is needed.  Sounds great!.  Honestly, I've never tried to bake this kind of cake before but I've always wanted to try one day.  And today is my day.  Did I mention it flourless?  ^_^
I baked the cake in my 10-inch tart pan (along with 1 4-inch paper tart pan because of a little bit of the batter left and I didn't want the cake to overflow from the tart pan) as I thought it would come out looking prettier than using a regular round cake pan.  And when it's done, I couldn't have felt happier. The cake looked amazing.  The cake itself is so moist with tangy orange flavor and not too sweet which makes it perfect with tea or coffee.  Though the cake still has a hint of the bitterness tastes from the oranges skins and pith, as many recipes have cautioned about skipping the boiling process of oranges before add in the batter, but it was not too bad at all.  I finished the little one in no time. 

Note*  if you like the cake more on the sweet side, add more a half or one cup of sugar into the cake batter, or serve the cake with orange glazed or sweet cream whipped. 

Scrumptious and incredibly moist Almond-Orange Cake  

1. For the quick orange marmalade

2 large fresh navel oranges (preferably organic and seedless)
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp. water

1.  wash dust and dirt from the oranges and cut them into small pieces, discard the seeds if any. Put the cut orange pieces in the blender or food processor and water and blended until they turn into tiny pieces (see picture).
2. pour the orange into a medium pot with sugar and bring to a boil at medium-high heat. When it comes to full boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
3.  Let the cooked orange cool down completely. This makes approx.  2 cups.

2. For the cake:  preheat the oven to 350'F

1 1/2 cups Almond flour/meal ( I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup sugar (or1 cup if you like sweet)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. almond extract
A tiny pinch of salf
3 large eggs – room temperature
1/2 cup almond slides/slivered for toppings
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. grease the tart pan with butter and lay parchment paper on top. Set aside.
2. whisk the eggs, sugar, almond extract until thick and pale, add the almond flour, baking powder, salt, and fold to combine. add cooled cooked orange into the batter and mix well.  Pour into the greased tart pan and sprinkle slivered almonds on top of the cake.
3. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top and the edges of the cake turn slightly golden brown. 
4. serve warm (I found it tastes better than cold…) with tea or coffee or as dessert after dinner.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Spinach, mushroom, and bell pepper with sweet potato crust quiche

Happy New Year 2015 everyone!

First of all I have to apologize for my absent for the past whole year in 2014.  Many things in my personal life had happened and needed to be taken care of.  But I will not go into any details about what was going on with my life (sorry for not sharing!). There were some good news (nooo! I did not win a lotto!) and bad news that keep my life interesting and wonderful! (at least that what I thought!)

 As the 1st day of the New Year started off bright and shine with the gorgeous clear skies along with cool crisp air of the winter in Southern California, it inspired me to get off my year with the right start.  Making heart healthy quiche for breakfast would be a great idea to start the day and year right. Right?  Right!

Let’s move on to my first post of the year “Spinach, mushroom, and sweet potato quiche.”  I love sweet potato! Do you?    Cooking in the microwave for a few minutes (depends on the size) and eating plain without anything on it is my instant joy.  But adding it into the egg dish for breakfast is such amazingly amazing!  

What you need:  can be served 4-6 people
1 large sweet potato (yam) shredded into 3 cups
5-6 large eggs
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach (or frozen)
2 cups mushroom, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 small yellow bell peppers (one chopped, another cut across)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400`F
1. add a pinch of salt and pepper into shredded sweet potato and gently toss together with your hands. Then spread them over the pie pan (spray your pan slightly with cooking spray first to prevent the sweet potato stick to the pan.  I didn’t!  L ) and onto the rim evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Take it out if the edges start to burn and cover with foil.  When the time is up, take it out and turn the oven down to 350`F.
2. add olive oil in the sauté pan over medium high heat, add onion and cook for a few minutes, then add mushroom, bell pepper, and spinach and cook until all the vegetables are wilted and let it cool down a bit. 
3. beaten the eggs in the large bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, then add milk and 1 cup of cheese, stir to combine. Add the cooked vegetables (it may still warm, but ok!) into the eggs and gently stir to combine. Pour over the egg filling into the sweet potato crust, and arrange cut yellow bell pepper on top as well as another 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes.
4. serve immediately with any of your favorite hot sauce or salsa!  Enjoy!

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