Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tofu Gyoza

I tried making some gyoza with tofu instead of ground pork. Taste-wise it was pretty good but the texture was a little on the soft side. I made some extra and froze them. It'll be interesting to see if deep frying will make it harder to distinguish from the meat kind.


Into this batch went into some cabbage, firm tofu (drained all day), nira (garlic chives), bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, salt and pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Matcha Green Tea Syrup

It's snow cone season! One of my favorite flavors is sweet green tea with condensed milk. I haven't had this treat for at least a couple years since sweet green tea costs so much. Thanks to the internet, I found a recipe and made my own. ^_^

In small pan, put in 1/2 c water with 1/2 c sugar. Heat till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 t matcha powder. Do not stir, let sit 10 minutes. Then stir. Strain, if desired. If you like this stuff, double the recipe like I did. There's got to be more uses than just snow cones. Maybe on yogurt??? That, actually might be quite good.

Mmmmm. It was soooo good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup

Lately I've been really bad with meal preparations. The kids don't mind eating whatever and making it themselves so meal planning has not been priority. Life's been pretty hectic, maybe that's why. (not that I'm looking for an excuse...) The other day David pulls out a bag of split peas from the pantry and says, you need to make some soup with these. Of course, I don't get on it first thing in the morning and start my crock pot, rather I waited around till 3pm or so when I realize I need to cook these babies. Hmmm, I wonder how they'd turn out in the pressure cooker... guess I'll find out. One hour later, whola, split pea soup! At first they seemed a little runny but after they sat a couple hrs they thickened up just nicely. Recipe from The only change made was that I omitted the ham and used some ham stock.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kim Chi Fried Rice

I had just made some kim chi a couple weeks ago so I had some kim chi in my fridge. And then in my inbox comes a recipe for Kim Chi Fried Rice by Dr. Ben Kim. I happen to have a some leftover rice so I tried making this, thinking "if my kids don't like it, at least I'm not making a whole lot so it won't be a huge waste of food." Turns out they all liked it. Even Emi who doesn't like kim chi ate it. It was very simple to make too, and it's another rice dish I can add to my recipe box.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Banana Peppers Barley Salad

The other day I had a pepperoncini barley salad that was really good I looked for it online. Looks like there is a recipe floating around that came from Cooking Light. Pepperoncinis are usually kinda spicy and I wasn't sure if my kids'll eat them so I subbed banana peppers instead. I didn't have all the ingredients so I omitted and subbed things, the recipe seems pretty flexible as most salad recipes are. In the end, my salad comprised of pearl barley, banana peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh basil. The kids loved them and kept swinging by the kitchen to grab a few bites. I doubled the recipe and it was mostly all gone by the end of dinner. It is a very refreshing salad, and the barley added a nice bite as well as goodness for the body. ( Recipe here.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wild Rice Mix Pilaf

I don't know if it's the asian in me but I really like rice. All kinds of rice. I like it when I go to a restaurant and there's rice on my plate, a different kind of rice other than my usual short grain white rice. Wild rice mix pilaf is one of my favorite restaurant rices. I've never had much luck making it at home, it always come out gooshy or the opposite, way too hard. I found some wild rice mix at a bulk bin and thought I'd give it another try. But this time in my new pressure cooker. I had high hopes.
I thought I'd season it this time, so I threw in some chicken stock, parsley, and garlic. I wasn't quite sure about the water and the time, with several different grains with their own separate cook times, I took an average and went with that.

Well, turns out it was too much water (1 cup rice to 2.5 cups water) which maybe I should of adjusted to the pressure cooker. The brown rice was soft but the barley still had a nice bite to it. Taste wise, it was tasty. Just wasn't the nice rice like the restaurants. Next time will be better. I hope.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Gatorade

The other day I was running short on time to make dinner so I got some frozen fish sticks. I ask my kids if they liked them and my son says he likes the homemade kind better. He follows that with a "everything is better homemade" statement. Oh yeah, well how about Homemade Gatorade? You didn't like that the last time I made it... What??? You made homemade gatorade? I don't remember, they all reply. So I made it again, but this time instead of OJ I used Kool-Aid and with some research and a little tweaks, whola! homemade gatorade!
Here's what I came up with: 1 pkg kool-aid (this batch was with Lemon Lime), 1/2 t LITE salt, 1/4 t regular salt, 5 pkgs Sun Crystals (pure cane sugar and stevia mix), 1/2 t sour salt (aka citric acid), 1/4 c sugar, and 1/2 gallon of water. I think it turned out pretty close and it was so much cheaper.
Nutritional Info (per 8 oz serving), homemade vs store-bought:
Calories: 25 vs 50
Sodium (mg): 111 vs 110
Potassium (mg): 44 vs 30
Sugar (g): 7 vs 14
Homemade version has less sugar and calories which I like since my kids tend to drink these more for enjoyment than as a "sports drink" during exercise. If they were to be used as a sports drink and they needed more calories, I might add maltodextrin or sub more sugar for the Sun Crystals.

Round 2: Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade "Gatorade". The kids liked this flavor better than the Lemon Lime.
I've read that if you double the water, it'll taste like Gatorade Rain.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Muffins and quickbreads really taste good when I'm at work so I made a couple muffins from Allrecipes. I've been trying to encorporate whole grains into my baked foods so I specifically looked for something with oatmeal. Oatmeal blueberry muffins and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal. The chocolate chip muffin tasted like a choco chip cookie, a little too much chips but I liked the batter part so I might try it different add-ins.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Italian Bean Soup

It's been so cold lately, it's been definitely soup weather. I had some cooked navy beans in my fridge that needed something done to them quick, so I searched for a bean soup and found one in a Better Homes and Gardens soup cookbook. It sounded really interesting, had basalmic vinegar in it. It gave a nice interesting flavor to the soup, unfortunately that taste was gone the next day. All in all, a good soup recipe. I didn't have green beans so I subbed some spinach, and didn't bother with the bread topping. Recipe was also found on their website.

No Knead Challah

Having been making no-knead 5-minute artisan bread and seeing how simple yet delicious these breads are, I had to give this no-knead challah bread from King Arthur a try. The recipe yields three loaves, I baked all three since fresh baked bread doesn't last too long around here. For the honey, I used a wildflower honey which has a pretty distinct and strong flavor. Next time I'd probably use a milder flavored honey. It was still good, nonetheless, and I like how the braids look.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Okay, this one's not completely from scratch but I think it's been modified enough to be called 'homemade'. I had about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table and usually I simmer my spaghetti sauces a while but given the time crunch I made it with my pressure cooker. Chopped a couple onions and mushroom (didn't even saute them first), put them into the pressure cooker with some minced garlic, bay leaves, italian seasoning, black pepper, and a couple cans of commercial spaghetti sauce. PC-timed it for 10 minutes and let it naturally release steam for about 10 minutes while the pasta was being cooked and then quick released it when the pasta was done. The sauce came out pretty good, except it was a little runny, I guess because it didn't get to evaporate some of the liquid, being in a fully enclosed pan and all. It thickened up a little the next morning though. Very simple and easy way to make spaghetti sauce without all the mess (that I experience, not sure about the rest of you...) that happens when I open the lid to stir during the simmer stage. And since I have an electric PC, I really enjoyed the Keep Warm feature.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homemade Natto

The pressure cooker and the crockpot got to share the action this time. Cooked 4 cups soybeans in the pressure cooker, mixed it with one package of commercial natto, put it in a bowl covered with a damp napkin, placed it inside a dishcloth lined crockpot on the WARM setting, covered the lid with a slight opening so it doesn't get too hot, and a day and a half later... natto!

And then I let it chill in the fridge overnight and scooped about two tablespoons each into a muffin tin and froze them to make individual servings. Started with four cups dried soybeans, made 34 servings.

My Latest Toy

Times have definitely changed... choosing to spend my x-mas money on a kitchen appliance??? The younger me would of never guessed... I had been wanting a pressure cooker for some time now but wasn't sure if the return was worth the investment. The one I wanted was $100 and with that kind of money there are surely many other things I could get. But the time in my life where being healthy was becoming a priority has come and so I splurged.
This thing was a lot bigger than I expected, I went to the store to buy one but they were no longer carrying it in-store so I had to get it off their website so I had no clue of its size till the day it showed up at my doorstep. My rice cooker is a 10-cup one, looks so small in comparison!
Immediately that day I cooked some brown rice for that was the main reason I got this thing. It came with a recipe booklet but I chose to follow the rice/water ratio from a Japanese food webblog and was glad I did. Came out pretty good. The next day I tried some beans, presoaked them overnight even though I knew this step could be by-passed. Old habits are hard to break... The beans ended up being overcooked, but still edible. Cooked in under 30 minutes, not days like it usually take since I live at high altitude. Also tried making some beef stew with some cheap meat. They came out oh-so-tender. I think my meat-eating members of the family were pleased. It had been at least two years since my last beef stew. I think the pressure cooker will mainly be to cook brown rice, good for the family and even for Marmu, the dog. I have a pressure cooking book on hold at the library I am looking forward to reading and experimenting with.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I was having one of those days where I wasn't home all day and I hadn't pulled anything out of the freezer but still needed to make dinner. So I made a frittata. It was one of those very quick and easy dishes that taste real good. I couldn't really tell you how I made it because I combined what sounded good from three different recipes. But it had potatoes, onions, spinach, cilantro, tomatoes, and colby jack cheese in it. It was delicious.

Banana Cream Pie

I've been craving banana cream pie for some time now and finally got around to making it. I cheated a little, used frozen pie crust (which cracked during baking... :( ), vanilla pudding packs, bananas, and whipped cream. I've tried using instant pudding in the past and just didn't like the taste. I've never made homemade vanilla pudding before but knew these pudding cups weren't bad so I used those instead. Baked the crust, spread two pudding cups on the bottom, layered some sliced bananas, and then spread two more pudding cups on top of that.

I didn't want to use canned whipped cream nor Cool Whip (don't really care of the taste) so I whipped up my own whipped cream following this recipe from called Stabilized Whipped Cream. I used powdered sugar instead and added a little more sugar cuz I didn't think it was quite sweet enough. It made just enough to top the pie and make little mounds. BTW... this whipped cream was sooooo good. Decorated it with some blueberries and whola, a beautiful pie. It tasted fresh without being too sweet, very yummy. ^_^

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Greek Yogurt

I had my first Greek Yogurt the other day, honey flavored Zoi yogurt. It was really, really good. The creaminess, the right amount of sweetness, oh I fell in love. Turns out greek yogurt can be made at home, all it is is strained regular yogurt, AKA yogurt cheese.
Lined a bowl a strainer and a cloth napkin (didn't have any cheesecloth) and let it sit overnight in my fridge.

Next morning it had become pretty thick.

Mixed in some wildflower honey.

The cold yogurt hardened the honey a little and made it hard to stir so I switched gears and added some agave syrup.

The addition of the honey and agave syrup made the yogurt less creamy but it still tastes pretty good. I can really taste the wildflower honey, might be better to use a milder honey. Next time I'll flavor the yogurt first then strain it. The amount of yogurt decreased to half the original amount, so I guess that justifies why they cost more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Modified Rice Krispies Treats

We're not big cereal people but every now and then my kids'll go through a cereal phase. They like eating them for afterschool snack rather than breakfast. Corn Flakes and Cheerios are usually stocked in our pantry because I love corn flakes with bananas after my workouts. ^_^

And we never buy cereal when it's not on sale, regular priced cereal isn't worth the money in my eyes, especially the sugary sweet kinds. But quite often different ones go on sale but many times they are one of those bundle deals, like you must buy four. And so we do. But soon after I buy these cereals, my kids' cereal phase is over and we are left with half boxes of cereals. That's when these modified Rice Krispy Treats come into play. Basically the recipe for rice krispy treats but with different cereals mixed in. Todays treats were made with Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs, and Cheerios.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homecured Olives

This year I tried curing my own olives. It was something that has crossed my mind in the past but it never went beyond the curiosity stage. I guess I was having problems finding raw green olives in small quantities (didn't want five gallons of the stuff.) But last x-mas my friend gave me a jar of her home cured olives which tasted sooooo good I was hooked. Turned out that the town at the bottom of our hill has streets lined with olive trees and after a call to the supervisor of Streets and Parks and got the ok to pick them, I was in.

Having picked the olives late in the season, many of the had already changed color and had begun to ripen. In the end I had olives in three different stages of ripeness so I experimented with different processes (future post). The green olives I used the lye method. I was a little scared for I read lye is poison and commonly used as drain opener. But after reading many, many blogs, I was assured it was safe.

About a day in the lye solution, followed by five days of water, and then two days in a brine, my olives were done. Aren't they gorgeous?

Even straight out of the brine solution the olives were very tasty but I decided to give them some extra seasoning. For all of them I added garlic and peppercorns as a base. I tried some different flavorings: one was with rosemary and italian seasoning, the other was bay leaves, and the third was hickory smoke flavor added by liquid smoke. They were all good in their own way. Once we start eating them it's hard to stop. Maybe that five gallons wouldn't of been too much after all. ^_^

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spinach Quiche

Spinach quiche... one of those foods I don't really follow a recipe. Just throw in what sounds good at the time and bake it. But one thing that I like every single time... sliced fresh tomatoes and melted monterey jack cheese on top and some freshly ground black pepper. Mmm mmm mmm. ^_^

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cattle Tendon Soup

I think I buy tendons only once every couple years and last year was one of those years. I put half into my oden (Japanese hot pot) and froze the other half of a later use, having this soup in mind.
I always wonder why tendons and intestines aren't sold at american grocery stores. So I have to get them at a chinese store. I'm sure U.S. butchers don't throw them away, maybe it all goes into hot dog weiners...
Here's a quick and easy beef tendon soup recipe found at The only change I made was to cut the salt in half (maybe even less salt next time, it was quite salty) and subbed sake instead of yellow wine (since I didn't have any.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Boiled Chestnuts

Sometimes the simplest things taste the best. I'll have to learn how to roast chestnuts one day cuz that sounds good too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dark Chocolate Corn Flakes

I had some dark chocolate lying around in a bowl, leftover from my holiday goody making. It sat next to my toaster and every time I made some toast I'd see it but ignore it because I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't want to go down the candymaking path for it seemed like too much work right now for my normal paying job's got me working hard lately. I don't know how or when but chocolate covered corn flakes entered my head. Internet research pointed to just chocolate, to some peanut butter added, even mix-ins such as raisins. But I kept it simple and kept it just chocolate. Melted it and stirred in some corn flakes. For some reason it's one of those things that sounds kinda weird but when you eat it it is really good. Can't really taste the corn flakes but can definitely feel the crunch. I guess it's kinda like crunchy chocolate. You just gotta try one to understand.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Soondubu Jjigae (Korean soft tofu soup)

Cold weather has got me thinking about warm soups and the other day I remember this Korean tofu soup I had at Tofu House in San Diego that was really good. Online research led me to find that I pretty much had all the basic ingredients already so I tried making a vegetarian version. Although I went for the mild version, it was still a little too spicy for the kids, but it turned out pretty good. Found a recipe by Maangchi and added a little gochujang (korean red pepper paste) for a little extra flavor.

Making the soup stock with dried anchovies (in pouch), shiitake mushrooms, onions, kelp, and garlic.

Decided to make it a mushroom dish with various mushies. This one is Bunapi (white beech mushrooms.)

Maitake (hen of the woods.)

King Trumpet mushroom.

Also threw in the shiitake mushrooms from the stock to make a four-mushroom-tofu-soup. Garnished with green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil on the top, and served with rice. Delish!

Cranberry Orange Bread

We all have out favorite quickbread. Mine is banana bread. Never really ventured out into trying other stuff, well except maybe apple bread once and cinnamon bread a few times. I was happy with my banana bread. Till one day my friend gives me a loaf of Cranberry Orange bread. Citrus in my baked good hardly ever happens. Not a big fan of that, and the only exception I can think of are Lemon Bars, but even that is a somewhat recent development. But I was pleasantly surprised. Man, these are good! And it was a nice change to have something different. So she shared her recipe she found at Allrecipes. The fresh cranberries were a nice touch to celebrate the season. This will make it into my "keeper" recipe box. Although it still doesn't beat my banana bread. ^_^

New York Cheesecake

I remember making cheesecake at least once every year. Always at x-mas and usually someone in the family requests it for their birthday dessert. But things changed the last couple years and there wasn't a request for cheesecake and so I hadn't made it in a while. And then recently in my email inbox, my food newsletters were all about cheesecake. Never really associated cheesecake with the holidays but I wonder if they are related. I've always thought cheesecake was a year-round thing. So it seemed like it was a sign, "you need to make cheesecake!" So I listened. (^_^) I've been making the same cheesecake recipe for years, it is so good there was no reason to search for a better recipe. It was a recipe I found in a Joy of Cooking cookbook, but the same recipe can also be found here. You do have to give it about 48 hrs fridge time to let the flavors develope, but if you restrain yourself that long, trust me, you will not be disappointed.