Happy New Year’s!

31 12 2010

From both Chris and myself, we want to wish you all a very Happy New Year! May 2011 be filled with happiness, laughter, love, and food!

Chris and I went on a ski trip to the Poconos for Christmas. We both tried snowboarding for the first time! While Chris excelled successfully and quickly, I took my sweet time learning the art of balance and falling. In fact, I’d say 85% of the time I was snowboarding, I was actually falling on my bottom or face. Even so, I can now say that I have learned and can (somewhat) snowboard! We had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the trip. We also did quite a bit of cooking, but unfortunately have no picture proof.

On our first day on the trip, Chris (assisted by yours truly) made mussels, similar to the Mussels Josephine we had at Bonefish Grill a few months back. Can we get a yum-yum?!

On the second day, Chris and I made guacamole cheeseburgers, which are absolutely delicious by the way. I made the guacamole and Chris heated up the beef and buns, prepared mushrooms, cheese, spinach, and tomatoes. Let’s not forget the spinach salad appetizer too!

A few photos of our snowboarding endeavors:

Down for the count!

Snowboarding King!

Snowboarding Queen! ....

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Here comes MMXI!

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Hamburger Macaroni from scratch!

12 12 2010

We made hamburger macaroni with fresh ingredients! Hamburger macaroni is very simple, but delicious! We really liked it, so we made hamburger macaroni a second time in no longer than two weeks :)

Here is the recipe we used –

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1-2 minced onions
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 green pepper
  • 2 cups of uncooked macaroni
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs. oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Defrost ground beef.
  2. In a small pot, heat up boiling water and put in uncooked macaroni. Drain when done. You’ll be putting the cooked macaroni in later.
  3. Chop onions, garlic, green pepper, and tomatoes.
  4. In a pot/pan, brown the ground beef with garlic and onions. Drain fat.
  5. Add in green pepper, tomatoes, macaroni.
  6. Add some salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.
  7. Place heat on low for ~30 minutes.

Hamburger macaroni!

Yummy and delicious! With a recipe as easy and delicious as the one above, who would want to buy Hamburger Helper ever again? :D





Bœuf à la bourguignonne!

19 11 2010

Last night, we made bœuf à la bourguignonne, a very popular French dish. Bœuf à la bourguignonnet is a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine, beef broth, flavored with bacon, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and carrots. There is more than one way to prepare this classic dish.

We prepared this dish in accordance with the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which can be found on page 315 for those who have the book in their possession; although we did take the liberty to make a few changes here and there, mostly due to lack of certain materials and items. For instance, we do not possess a fireproof casserole dish, so we had to make the bœuf à la bourguignonne without it.

Bœuf à la bourguignonne

Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. chunk of bacon
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups of red wine
  • 2-3 cups of brown beef stock
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • Olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Remove the rind from the bacon and cut into lardons, or sticks, about 1/4 in. thick and 1.5 in. long. Simmer the rind and bacon for 10 minutes in water. Drain and dry.
  2. Saute the bacon in a pan (casserole dish really, but like I mentioned above, I don’t have one) with olive oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to the side. Keep the pan (or casserole dish) for the beef. When it’s time to saute the heat, reheat the pan (casserole dish).
  3. Wash and pat dry the beef. Cut into 2 in. cubes. Dry the beef in paper towels (it will not brown if it is damp!). Saute the beef, a few pieces at a time, in the oil and bacon fat until the beef is nicely browned on all sides. Remove the beef when done.
  4. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Remove and pour out the sauteing fat.
  5. In a big pot (casserole dish), add in the bacon, beef, and vegetables. Also add in some salt and pepper. Keep on medium-to-high heat.
  6. Add in some wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
  7. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Continue to keep it on medium heat for 2.5-3 hours.
  8. The meat is done when a fork pierces through it easily.

Bœuf à la bourguignonne

One of the best things about bœuf à la bourguignonne is that you can prepare it even a day in advance and the dish gains in  flavor when reheated.





Lemon Chicken

18 11 2010

 

Lemon chicken is a classic American dish. It’s pretty simple to make.

Ingredients:

For the marinade –

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (we used 1.5 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the chicken –

  • 3-4 lbs chicken parts (preferably thighs and legs)
  • 2-3 tbsp melted butter

Preparation:

  1. Wash and pat dry chicken parts. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut into each chicken piece one or two times by about 1/2 an inch so the marinade can penetrate into the chicken.
  2. In a big ziploc bag, squeeze out the juice from the lemons.
  3. Add thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper into the bag. Make sure the bag is closed and shake well.
  4. Place chicken parts into the bag. Ensure the bag is closed and shake well, mixing the marinade with the chicken pieces. Place bag in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Remove chicken from the bag and place on a single layer on a large baking dish, skin-side up. Keep the marinade aside for later.
  7. In a small pan, heat your butter until it’s melted. Brush a little melted butter on to each chicken piece.
  8. Bake chicken for 50-55 minutes; at ~25 minutes, baste the chicken pieces with the remaining marinade. Continue baking until the skins are crispy brown and the chicken is cooked through.
  9. Pour juices from the pan into a bowl. Be sure not to wash the juices down the drain!

Lemon Chicken

Our lemon chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, with just the right amount of lemon flavor. Delicious!





    Sautéed chicken and noodles with mushrooms and cream

    6 09 2010

    On Sunday night, Chris and I made sautéed chicken and noodles with mushrooms and cream, fried potatoes, and broccoli for dinner. I like to think of it as a a combination of Julia Child’s sautéed chicken with mushrooms and cream and chicken marsala and a side dish of our very own fried potatoes and broccoli for all the nutrients for a heart-healthy dinner.

    Ingredients:

    For the sauce:

    • Pan
    • ~3 teaspoons of butter
    • Small box of bella mushrooms (~2-3 cups)
    • 1 onion
    • 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup of dry white wine

    For the noodles:

    • Pot
    • Water
    • Vermicelli noodles

    For the chicken:

    • Pan
    • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
    • 3 boneless chicken thighs
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    For the fried potatoes:

    • Pan
    • 2 potatoes

    Preparation:

    1. Peel and cut potatoes, dice mushrooms, and chop the onion.
    2. Rinse the chicken in cold water, pat dry with clean paper towels.
    3. In a pan, place butter in and add mushrooms. Sauté them around on high heat.
    4. Add the chopped onion in with the mushrooms and stir.
    5. Pour in some heavy whipping cream into the same pan with the mushrooms and onion. Stir and mix well.
    6. Add some white wine, salt, and pepper for taste into the sauce pan. Boil down rapidly for a minute or two, or until the sauce starts to thicken.
    7. In a separate pan, sauté the boneless chicken thighs in butter and olive oil. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 5-6 minutes until underside is browned. Turn pieces over and sauté the same way for an additional 5-6 minutes until browned.
    8. In a separate pot, add water and place on high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the vermicelli noodles.
    9. In another separate pan, fry the potatoes. Make sure they do not burn.
    10. Take a plate and place the vermicelli noodles on it. Add the fried potatoes next to the noodles. Finally, pour the sauce over the noodles and chicken.
    11. Optional: For a vegetable side dish, boil some broccoli and add next to your noodles and fried potatoes for a colorful addition.

    The sauce cooking

    Finished product!

    The sauce was my favorite part; it really elevated the taste of the otherwise dry chicken and thin noodles. I thought the fried potatoes was a great touch and you don’t feel too guilty eating it because you’ve got chicken, noodles, mushrooms, onion, and broccoli all on the same plate. Of course, this isn’t exactly what you call a diet dinner, but it’s just too irresistibly delicious to pass up. A little butter and cream certainly never hurt anyone. Anyways, I thought this dish was very creative; it incorporated a little bit of Julia Child’s culinary delight with the chicken in mushrooms and cream, but also let us follow our culinary drive and add in some other common ingredients that made the dish even more rewarding.





    21st Birthday!

    20 07 2010

    My last big milestone birthday has been passed. I am now 21. What a wonderful birthday weekend it was, and how fortunate I am to have such loving family and friends celebrate the day/weekend with me.

    On Saturday (07/17), I was off to Chris’ house for dinner (chicken marsala, yum!), video games (I’ve been really getting into Okami lately), and a movie (The Young Victoria). The chicken marsala was delicious and we finished the black bean and corn salsa.

    On Sunday, my birthday, Chris came over around 12:30 PM with a pot of Victory roses and a bottle of Lucky Duck red wine. Then, my parents, Chris, and I went to A&J Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was a bit packed and we had to take a number. While waiting, my mom, Chris, and I went to Maria’s Bakery, which is right next door, for some bubble tea and to buy a cake for me. I had a strawberry bubble tea while Chris got an original bubble tea and we decided on a coffee-flavored birthday cake for after dinner.

    Our number was finally called and we got a table near the window and quickly placed orders. We all ordered beef noodle soup (牛肉面 aka Niu Rou Mian), with three appetizer platters. They also make bubble tea, but I prefer Maria’s because it’s catered especially for bakery items and bubble tea. Everyone seemed to like their beef noodle soup. Chris and I both prefer our noodles to be thick rather than thin (force of habit, perhaps? Refer to earlier posts about NRM). We both scarfed everything down fairly quickly, while hot steam from the soup wafted around our faces, causing a bit of perspiration, but nonetheless, it was a great lunch. Chris is usually not a big fan of A&J because according to him, the soup is like “soy sauce soup”, but he thought that it was pretty flavorful. Perhaps it was a stroke of birthday luck on my part? ;)

    For dinner, Chris took me to the Sea Pearl, a restaurant off of Strawberry Lane. The restaurant was very classy; as soon as we walked in, I could tell it was a high-end restaurant. There was a bar, with dozens and dozens of liquor bottles along the walls. A chandelier made of sea shells and sand dollars glimmered above the bar. Sand dollars and sea shells made up a curtain, illuminated by lights hidden beneath. Mahogany dark tables and matching chairs decorated the interior of the restaurant. Each table had white plates, a black napkin in which two silver forks and a knife were wrapped, a salt/pepper shaker (counterclockwise spin gave salt, while a clockwise spin revealed pepper), and orange table mats which looked like they were composed of ramen noodles or something from the sea (sounds much less exceptional than it actually was; I thought it was a very creative and fitting touch!) on which all the dishware and cutlery was placed. The hostess led us to our table, next to some high windows, and gave us our menus.

    Sea Pearl's interior

    While looking over the menus, our waiter came by to introduce himself most graciously. He then went to get two glasses of ice water and a basket of bread and plate of butter. The bread had a hint of onion, and it was very delicious. The waiter came by as we munched on our bread and took our orders. Chris and I decided to share an appetizer of blue crab and corn soup with green chili crème fraiche. I decided on the oven roasted Chilean sea bass with spicy shiro miso glaze, sliced jalapeno, baby bok choy, and coconut jasmine rice as my main course. Chris ordered the pan sheared sea scallops with pureed celery root, celery, mandarin oranges, shaved fennel, baby greens, and lemon vinaigrette.

    The waiter had thoughtfully split our soup beforehand and presented our appetizers to each of us in a dishware similar to a gravy boat. As soon as he placed the soup before me, I could already smell the blue crab; I love seafood soups because of its distinctive smell. I selfishly spooned my soup until it was gone and put it aside. Some more bread, and then the main course arrived!

    Our appetizer: blue crab and corn soup!

    My eyes popped at the sight of my main course. A huge portion of sea bass, as well as two ginormous bok choys and a towering block of jasmine rice and sliced carrots that made up the “hair” of the block of rice. Chris’ dish portrayed six huge sea scallops arranged along the circumference of the plate. Between each scallop stood a mandarin orange. In the center was a salad of greens. We shared our main courses, and I tried some of his scallops and he tried the sea bass. We ate our meals with some pinot noir that the waiter had recommended, my first sip of  being 21. I love the way the restaurant prepared the sea bass. Chris finished his main course before me, and helped me with some of my carrots and rice.

    Two glasses of pinot noir to accompany our dinners

    My main course: oven roasted Chilean sea bass.

    Chris' main course: pan sheared sea scallops.

    After the main course, Chris and I decided to share a passion fruit crème brûlée. The dessert, served in a ramekin, was placed on top of a black napkin, a leaf of spearmint placed next to the dessert – all this was placed on a rectangular white plate. The waiter presented the plate with a single candle for me and wished me a happy birthday. I blew the candle out, and Chris and I shared the task of breaking the crème brûlée.

    Dessert: crème brûlée

    Most unfortunately, dinner ended too soon, but it was absolutely exceptional. I loved every dish, especially the blue crab and corn soup and my main course, the Chilean sea bass. The sea bass is what Sea Pearl is known for, according to the restaurant and Chris and its many reviewers. And now I can say that I fully agree, because it was the best sea bass I’ve ever had.

    After dinner (although not too soon after dinner, considering how very full we both were!), Chris, my parents, and I celebrated the end of the night with a coffee-flavored birthday cake that my mom bought from Maria’s Bakery earlier that day. This cake was almost like a mousse cake, very fluffy and not super sweet.

    What a fantastic 21st birthday!  A special thanks to Chris, for spending the day with me and for dinner and the gift and everything <3





    Sushi, miso soup, and hibachi steak

    17 06 2010

    Last Friday, we made sushi from scratch. Making sushi isn’t difficult, but it does take preparation, work and time. First, we had to gather all my necessary ingredients.

    Equipment:

    • Bamboo sushi-roll mat
    • Clean cutting board
    • Knife
    • Rice cooker
    • Spoon/rice paddle for spreading rice
    • Plastic wrap

    Rice ingredients:

    • Rice vinegar
    • Granulated sugar
    • Salt
    • 3 cups of uncooked Japanese medium-grain sushi rice

    Sushi ingredients:

    • A pack of sushi nori
    • 1 large cucumber
    • 2 ripe avocados
    • Surimi (imitation crab meat)
    • Optional: soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi for sauce

    After buying everything we needed, I first made the sushi rice. Using my rice cooker, I scooped out three cups of Japanese medium-grain sushi rice and steamed it. When it was done, Chris sprinkled the rice vinegar, sugar and salt dressing over the sushi rice and then using a rice paddle, folded the rice.

    Meanwhile, I prepared the sushi ingredients. I washed, peeled and seeded the large cucumber and then sliced it in half lengthwise before cutting them into long, slender strips. With the avocado, I first cut it in half, removed the pit, scooped out the avocado and then sliced it vertically into long, slender strips as well. Chris cut the second avocado. Finally, with the surimi, I simply unwrapped it from its wrapper and then sliced it in halves. I placed each respective sushi ingredient into different bowls.

    Rolling the sushi:

    1. Lay out your sushi-roll mat.
    2. Cover your sushi-roll mat with a sheet of plastic wrap.
    3. Place a single sheet of nori  on top of the plastic wrap.
    4. Spread a thin layer of the prepared sushi rice over the nori.
    5. When finished, turn over the nori/rice sheet so that the nori is facing upward and the rice is facing down.
    6. Arrange the strips of cucumber, avocado and surimi along one edge of the nori.
    7. Making sure the ingredients don’t spill out, carefully bring the bottom end of the rolling mat and the plastic wrap up and over the ingredients.
    8. Pull back the rolling mat and plastic wrap so it doesn’t get rolled into the sushi. Make sure you are rolling tightly with pressure!
    9. Continue rolling the sushi and pulling back the rolling mat and plastic wrap, as necessary, until you’ve completed the sushi roll.
    10. Gently squeeze the rolling mat around the sushi until it is firm and forms an even roll, but be sure that you’re aren’t squeezing too tightly or else the ingredients may get crushed or spill out.
    Afterwards, Chris placed the sushi roll on the cutting board and using a knife, he sliced the sushi roll in half first and then cut them into 6ths. He made sure his knife was wetted between each cut to make it easier by keeping a wet paper towel next to him so he could wet the knife after each cut.

    California Sushi Roll

    Miso Soup

    We served the sushi along with some hibachi steak & 青菜 (Chinese bok choy) Chris cooked and miso soup. Everything was very delicious and healthy!