• 06Sep

    One night last week, I came up with this dish while going through our refrigerator.  I was too lazy to go grocery shopping and there was food in the refrigerator.  All I had to do was make sense of it.  I found chicken tenders, cilantro, scallions, and a box of penne pasta in the pantry.  With some olive oil, a little butter, soy sauce, black pepper, crushed red peppers, and some garlic and it evolved into this recipe.  We’re up in the mountains and my husband requested it again.  I just kicked it up a few notches by adding a few extra ingredients and took it to a whole new level.

    Spicy Asian Chicken Pasta

    Recipe:

    1 box of penne pasta (you can use any pasta)

    1 lb of chicken breasts/tenders/skinless boneless thighs

    5 cloves of garlic

    1/2 an onion sliced or chopped

    2 cups of sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned)

    2 Tbs of olive oil

    2 Tbs of butter

    1/2 tsp of salt

    1/2 tsp of black pepper

    1 tsp of crushed red peppers (can adjust to taste)

    2 Tbs of soy sauce

    1/2 cup of light cream

    a splash of a good white wine (optional)

    Directions:

    1.  Before you start prepping the chicken.  Start to boil water for your pasta!

    2.  Slice chicken into small slices  (1/2 inch x 1 inch) place in bowl

    3.  Slice or chop half an onion

    4.  Mince garlic cloves

    5.  Add garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper, crushed red peppers to chicken

    6.  Put oil in a big pan, medium to high heat

    7.  Sautee Onions until the onions are soft, then  add mushrooms, if you’re using fresh toss them until slightly soft then add your optional splash of wine; canned mushrooms are already soft so there’s no need to wait

    8.  Add chicken and cook thoroughly then add cream

    9.  Add cooked pasta into pan and toss until pasta is covered in sauce

    10.  Garnish with slice scallions and chopped cilantro (optional)

    Serves 6 to 8

    I want to point out that it’s always a good idea to try your dish before you serve it and that it suits your taste buds.  Although I follow recipes, I don’t follow them to a tee.  Everyone’s palette is different.  The first time I made this dish, I didn’t add the mushrooms, wine, and cream.  Boy it sure made a difference, and the cream didn’t make it too heavy.  You can omit these ingredients and the dish would still turn out great.

    I own a ton of cookbooks, but usually cook from memory or create new dishes on the fly.  I had to really pay attention to take a stab at putting this recipe together.  Please feel free to test it and give me feedback.

  • 12Dec

    My girlfriend and I decided to start a new tradition this year, well a tradition which is new to us.

    Each year, my husband’s grandmother, aunt, mother, cousin, and her daughter, spend days before Christmas making cookies and candy for Christmas. I have not joined them yet in this tradition, because they always gathered up in the mountains at the vacation home. So this year I decided to just do something here at home. My girlfriend and I went to the store and went nuts buying this ingredient and that ingredient. We spent way too much time and money at the store! I had all these great plans of making 3D sugar cookies and a whole list of other things. We ran out of time and ended up using Pillsbury’s sheets of sugar cookies. We made mini chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with vanilla frosting Christmas sprinkles. Okay, so we didn’t get to be super pastry chefs but we had sooo much fun! After all, that was the point of this experience. To spend time together and have fun, talk, and share time in the kitchen. We definitely had several tastings to make sure that our cookies and cupcakes were good enough to give as gifts. Oh and they were so delicious.

    Once we were done I put them in two big boxes. One for my girlfriend to take to work the next day and one for my mom to take to her work. I also made a little box to share with my other girlfriend and her husband.

    Here is the recipe for Christmas Sugar Cookies which I was going to use, but ended up having to pass on.

    Christmas Sugar Cookies

    Ingredients:

    1 cup butter, softened

    1 cup sugar

    1 egg

    1 tsp. vanilla

    1/2 tsp. almond extract

    2 3/4 cups flour

    1 tsp. baking powder

    1/4 tsp. salt

    2 Tbs. milk

    Directions:

    1. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extract.
    2. Add flour, baking powder, salt and milk; mix until blended.
    3. Gather dough into a ball and wrap wit plastic wrap.
    4. Chill dough for 1 hour. Heat oven to 400 degree F.
    5. Divide dough into fourths. On lightly floured surface, roll dough portion to 1/4-inch thickness.
    6. Dip cookie cutter in flour; cut dough with cutter.
    7. Place 1inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-7 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
    8. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
    9. Frost and decorate as desired. Allow frosting to dry before assembling.

    Makes 2 dozen cookies

    Royal Icing

    Ingredients:

    1 egg white

    1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

    1 tsp water

    food coloring (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Combine egg white and powdered sugar, and beat on low until well blended.
    2. Add water, and mix until well blended.
    3. If icing is too think, add water, drop by drop.
    4. If too thin, add a small amount of powdered sugar.
    5. Add food coloring, if desired. Icing will harden on cookies.

    100_4103.jpg

    This is the only 3D cookie which was made. My girlfriend was determined to at least make one. :-)

    I bought a 3D cookie cutter set from Plow & Hearth over the Summer to try out.

    100_4105.jpg

    Boxed mini chocolate cupcakes.

    100_4106.jpg

    An assortment of sugar cookies. YUM!

  • 05Dec

    Thoughts

    Planning my Christmas dinner menu has been harder than I anticipated. Now I’m down to planning just the big Christmas Eve dinner. My family, being of Asian decent and having lived in Europe, we make a bigger deal about Christmas Eve than Christmas morning. We would eat and go to midnight mass and then come home and open presents. Luckily, my husband’s family and he follow the Christmas Day tradition. So it’ll work out just wonderfully! We’ll spend Christmas Eve at our house, have my parents and siblings come over. We’ll head out to midnight mass and then come home and open presents. Christmas Day we’ll head up to the mountains to spend time with his family. Sounds pretty simple, but it isn’t. Some of you probably can relate to how I feel. Unless we have access to and can afford a personal shopper, a maid, a chauffeur, and a chef, things just get away from us. My ambitions of throwing a get-together for our friends and then Christmas Eve dinner for my family was great, but now looking at our work schedule and some of the things we have to do (not food related at all), it just doesn’t seem realistic anymore.

    If I find time to have a small gathering with friends, I’ll go with hors d’oeuvres only and drinks. I have a few drink recipes up my sleeve as well. I can always whip up a pretty mean Long Island Iced Tea that’s really yummy and of course my wide array of martinis. (I learned these from my days of working my part-time job at Tabouleh Mediterranean Restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD) I think that would be fun!

    I am planning on something really scrumptious for a main course for my Christmas Eve dinner. I’m going to prepare a Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding. Here’s a recipe:

    Roast Beef
    Serves 8

    1 Prime Rib of Beef Joint (6 lbs / 2.7 k)

    2 Tsp Dry English Mustard

    3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour

    1 1/4 Cups Red Wine

    1 1/4 Cups Beef Stock

    2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)

    Salt and Pepper

    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F / 230 degrees C.
    2. Season the meat to taste with salt and pepper. Rub in the mustard and 1 tablespoon of the flour.
    3. Place te meat in a roasting pan large enough to hold it comfortably and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C and cook for 15 minutes per 1 lb / 450 g, plus 15 minutes (1 3/4 hours for this joint) for rare beef or 20 minutes per 1 lb / 450 g, plus 20 minutes (2 hours 20 minutes) for medium beef. Baste the meat from time to time to keep it moist, and if the pan becomes too dry, add a little stock or red wine.
    4. Remove the meat from the oven and place on a warmed serving plate, cover with foil, and let stand in a warm for 10-15 minutes.
    5. To make the gravy, pour off most of the fat from the pan (reserve it for cooking the Yorkshire pudding), leaving behind the meat juices and the sediment. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and scrape all the sediment from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle in the remaining flour and quickly mix it into the juices with a small whisk. When you have a smooth paste, gradually add the wine and most of the stock, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to heat a gentle simmer and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining stock, if needed, and a little Worcestershire sauce, if you like.
    6. When ready to serve, carve the meat into slices and serve on warmed plates. Pour the gravy into a warmed pitcher and take direct to the table. Serve wit Yorkshire pudding.

    Yorkshire Pudding
    Serves 4

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220 degrees C.
    2. Make a batter with 3 1/2 oz / 100 g plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1 beaten egg and 10 fl / 300 ml milk and water mixed. Allow to stand for half an hour.
    3. Heat 2 Tbsp roast beef dripping or olive oil in an 8-inch square roasting tin in the top of the oven.
    4. Remove the tin from the oven, pour in the batter and bake for 25-30 minutes until it is puffed up and golden brown.

    ***Recipe taken from ‘Steaks, Chops, Roasts, & Ribs’ by Parragon Publishing

  • 03Dec

    As much as I love to cook, I must admit I sometimes dislike to do dishes. If it’s one or the other, I’m fine with washing dishes. It may sound silly but it’s soothing and allows me to have time to think or just not think. When I have to do both, I don’t enjoy washing dishes so much. Therefore, I welcome one-pot meals. Less pots to wash, maybe not so much the dishes. :-)

    Venison Stew

    Here’s a stew I put together tonight. I went with the “whatever-I-have-on-hand” concept and cooking without a recipe. That is really how I cook. I really don’t follow recipes and just do it by taste and my knowledge of what spices, sauces, and just flavors in general go together. Freestyle!

    • 2 lbs of venison loin, cubed
    • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
    • 5 large carrots, chopped
    • 8 medium sized Red Skinned potatoes, quartered or halved, depending on size
    • 1 onion, quartered
    • 5 bay leaves
    • Ground Cumin
    • Garlic Powder
    • Salt & Pepper
    • All Purpose flour
    • Cooking oil
    • 2 large cubes of beef bouillon ( 2 cups of beef broth)
    1. In a large pot heat oil. Whisk in a 1/4 cup of all purpose flour until it turns a golden color to create a roux (usually done with butter and flour).
    2. Add venison which has been coated with 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and brown meat.
    3. Add chopped celery and carrots. Stir and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Then add 4 boiling cups of water or enough to cover meat.
    4. Add potatoes, quartered onion, bay leaves, and beef bouillon. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
    5. Add about 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
    6. Simmer on low to medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes or until meat and potatoes are tender.
    7. Serve with bread.

  • 02Dec

    As the days grow shorter and it gets darker sooner, with the cold moving in, I crave for food that warms and comforts me. On a weekday though, I’m not so motivated to slave over a hot stove to put together a meal which takes a lot of time. I discovered this dish through my husband who ordered this, at a little quaint restaurant on the side of the road, some years back. We were on our way up to the mountains. I never had an Open Faced Turkey Sandwich before. It hit the spot! Later on, when we were trying to decide what to have for dinner and it was cold outside, once again, he’d say “Damn, it’d be nice to have an Open-Face Turkey Sandwich. Oh and some mashed potatoes with some gravy and stuffing!” Of course I had never made it before, but I figured how hard could it be? You know what? It wasn’t!

    Here’s a really quick and short way to do it!

    1 lb of turkey chops / boneless turkey breasts / turkey loin (turkey slices should be about 1/2 inch thick)

    A pinch of salt to taste

    A pinch of black pepper to taste

    2 jars of fat free turkey gravy

    Cooking spray

    1. Spray skillet with cooking spray and heat on high.
    2. Brown turkey on both sides.
    3. Lower heat and add gravy.
    4. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until turkey is cooked.

    Serve with mashed potatoes and stuffing of your choice.

    I use boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing. :-) Follow the instructions on the box!

    Enjoy!

    open-face-turkey-sandwich.jpg

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