Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Angel Wings and Finished Cookie Tins

Adapted from: Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars 2008
Made by: Cathy and Carol

These are cute cookies. I've always grown up calling these butterfly cookies. The ones I used to eat were a little more sticky though. These are nice and flaky cookies that are sweetened by the light sugar coating.

1 cup cold butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, divided
sugar for dipping
Colored sugar, optional

1. In a bowl, cut butter into flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the sour cream. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 6-8 times or until mixture holds together. Shape into four balls; flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

2. Unwrap one ball. Flour the surface of the wax paper. Roll into a 12-in. x 5-in. rectangle between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove top sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle dough with 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Lightly mark a line down the center of the dough, making two 6-in. x 5-in. rectangles.

3. Starting with a short side, roll up jelly-roll style to the center mark; peel waxed paper away while rolling. Repeat with other short side. Wrap in plastic wrap; freeze for 30 minutes. Repeat three times. Place remaining sugar or place colored sugar in separate bowls. Unwrap one roll. Cut into 1/2-in. slices; dip each side into colored sugar, then in white sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

4. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Turn cookies; bake 5-8 minutes longer. Remove to wire racks to cool.

These can also be made with puff pastry sheets for a shortcut.

Here it is, our finished cookie tin:

My sister brought these tins to work, I brought tins filled with ginger cookies, gingerbread cutouts, and oatmeal cookies.

These were a big hit at my office. I should start thinking about next year...

Pineapple Cranberry Cookies

Adapted from: Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2008
Made by: Cathy and Carol

This cookie sound good and looked good in the magazine, however the taste was a little off to me. This is more of a cakey cookie, and I usually don't like that those types of cookies. Nonetheless, here is the recipe.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (8 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the pineapple, walnuts and cranberries.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 425° for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Some of the cookies became mushy after a day in the ziploc bag. We might have not drained the pineapple enough.

To me, these weren't the best tasting cookies, but my sister's coworkers liked them. I'm glad someone did :).

Cream Cheese Cutouts

Adapted from: Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars 2008
Made by: Cathy and Carol

This is another one of the cookies we made for our cookie gifts. We wanted to venture out of our comfort zone this year and did 2 types of cutout cookies. Cutouts are hard! You have to have the right consistency and temperature, otherwise it will be mush or hard as a rock.

This is one of 3 refrigerator cookies we made. We made the batter on Saturday and my sister came back on Sunday to help (more like she did all the rolling). Yes, I'm going to give her credit for that. I was fed up with the rolling. She seemed to have a knack for it. Me, not so much. I got frustrated since the gingerbread cutouts dough was so sticky, but I was hesitant to add more flour. But of course, she saved the day and rolled out most of the dough.

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened (we had bricks, so we cut out 3 oz)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened (5 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring, optional
Assorted sprinkles, optional

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture just until blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle. I refrigerated overnight. It was pretty hard at that time. I recommend splitting into 2 balls and wrapping the entire thing in saran wrap instead of leaving it in a bowl if refrigerating overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour. Bake at for 7-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks.
4. In a small bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Decorate cookies with frosting and sprinkles as desired.

We definitely did not get 7 dozen cookies from this recipe. We got more like 3 dozen. We didn't really count.

The flavor was much like shortbread, but not as flaky.

As you can see from the picture, we made only 2 colors of frosting. We should have had white and yellow, but oh well. It's done and in my stomach now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Spicy Gingerbread Cutouts

Adapted from:
Made by: Cathy and Carol

I've always wanted to make cutout cookies. They're just so cute. I first attempted to for Halloween, but the recipe I used was a disaster. This recipe for gingerbread cutouts was great though. I used a recipe originally from This was a recipe for a spicy gingerbread cookie, but I like my gingerbread spicy. I read a few of the reviews and adapted it to my own taste. I was trying this recipe blind by the way. I have never tried this recipe before, so I didn't have anything to compare to. These turned out wonderfully tasty.

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk (I think my sister may have added a little egg white also)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Divide the dough in half, flatten into disks, wrap in saran wrap, and chill for at least one hour. I chilled it overnight.
3. Between two sheets of floured wax paper, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

I left my cookies plain. They tasted great just the way it was. This was definitely the best gingerbread cookie I've ever had, but I may be partial. ;P

White Chocolate Cranberry Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from: Bake Me More
Made by: Cathy and Carol

Oatmeal cookies can very well be one of my favorite cookies. Gary is always asking me to make him oatmeal raisin cookies, as well as my grandma. I would make it for my grandma because I don't see her that often, but for Gary...well that would be really boring if I only made that everyday.

If I was given the opportunity to jazz up a plain old oatmeal cookie, of course I would! This was the perfect holiday cookie with all the festive ingredients. This was my favorite cookie out of the many we made this year.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 tbsp oil
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup raisins
6 oz white chocolate chips or chunks (I used a 10oz bag of swirled white chips)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup packed coconut, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Once heated, toast coconut till lightly browned, remove and set aside to cool. (I heated it in a pan on my stove top)
2. In your mixing bowl using the paddle attachment cream sugars and butter. Add in eggs, vanilla and oil. Stir until smooth.
3. In separate large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (flour through coconut) and mix well with fork.
4. Gradually combine the dry ingredients to the wet. Batter will be thick.
5. Use a tablespoon size cookie scoop to prepare evenly sized cookies and place at least two inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. The centers will still be pale and moist. Cool cookies on cookie sheets until the center is set. Cool completely and serve.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

The original recipe yielded 3 dozen. I was able to get 5 dozen out of this batter! We didn't really taste the coconut, so for next time I will add another 1/4 cup of that (already adjusted in the recipe). I love how the red and green white morsels gave it such a colorful look.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Adapted from: Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars 2008
Made by: Cathy and Carol

I'm not a fan of spicy foods, but I love ginger cookies. This year, my sister and wanted to make cookies to give away to coworkers and friends. We made 2 types of ginger cookies. These ginger cookies and gingerbread men. The original recipe yielded 4 dozen, but I was only able to make 32 cookies. We tried the first batch as written and it was good, but not as flavorful as I hoped. For our second batch, we added some more spice, and it was perfect.

3/4 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
3. Roll into 1-in. balls; roll in remaining sugar. Place 1-1/2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. For even cookies use a tablespoon size cookies scoop.
4. Bake at for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

My cookies were thin probably because I used butter instead of shortening. The cookies had nice chewy centers with a slight crisp edge. Yum!

Crockpot Chicken Adobo

Adapted from: A Year of Crockpotting
Made by: Cathy

3 to 5 pounds of chicken meat (I used 4 pieces boneless thighs)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used 1/2 cup)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 2 tsp minced garlic)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (can use regular white) (I used 3/4 cup)
4 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 yellow onion, sliced in rings
2 potatoes peeled and sliced thick

1. Rub the chicken with salt, pepper, and crushed garlic. I placed everything in a bag then shook and rubbed it. If using a whole chicken, shove 2 bay leaves inside. I had 4 thighs so I nested a bay leaf in each thigh. Set aside.
2. Slice the onion in rings and place the rings at the bottom of the crockpot. Add in the shredded carrot. I grated my carrots. Layer the potatoes on. Put the chicken on top. Pour in the soy sauce and vinegar.
3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. This is done when the chicken is cooked through and has reached desired tenderness.

I cooked the chicken on high for a little over 4 hours. I put a little more vinegar and soy sauce because I added the potatoes, but I probably didn't need to. It was a bit sour for us. Next time, I will probably try it with some wine or grape juice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Banana Spice Cookies

Adapted from: Taste of Home Magazine - Best of Cookies and Bars
Made by: Cathy

I was able to get my hands on a bunch of very ripe bananas. They were from work, so the right thing to do was to bring something to work using those bananas.

I received the Taste of Home cooking magazine as part of my holiday gift from my gift exchange. One of the recipes used bananas. It looked pretty interesting, so I tried it.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar. Add eggs and bananas; mix well.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Cover and refrigerate until dough is easier to handle (dough will be very soft).
3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 3 dozen.

I didn't refrigerate my dough. I think I missed that part somehow. I used a medium cookie scoop to make even sized cookies. The size is a bit bigger than a tablespoon. I was still able to get 42 cookies with the scoop. I also ended up baking for around 14 minutes instead of the 8-10 minutes the recipe actually called for.

I wasn't too crazy about the flavor. The recipe said spice cookies, but I didn't really taste any spice. It was more like a banana bread in cookie form.

I brought this to work, and apparently, they love it. I don't know if I will try it again. If I do, I will definitely add more flavor to it.

Banana Cake with Spiced Rum Glaze

Adapted from: The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
Made by: Cathy

This is the dessert I made for our anniversary dinner. We never saved our wedding cake to eat on our anniversary. The thought of eating freezer burned year old cake just doesn't seem appetizing to me.

This is a really good cake. It's moist and flavorful.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter, softened
3 eggs
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt (I used plain fat free yogurt)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I inadvertently used only 1 teaspoon)

3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract (I used Captain Morgan Spiced Rum)
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Set aside.
3. Beat brown sugar and butter at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating until well-blended.
4. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
5. Pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Glaze:
Combine powdered sugar, rum, and melted butter; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

Note: When using rum extract add 2 tablespoons skim milk to glaze.

I brought some leftovers to work and got rave reviews. I'll try adding the correct amount of vanilla next time to see how the flavor varies.

Rave of the Day: Pineapple Corer Slicer

I saw the Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer a couple of years ago on the Food Network. It was one of the kitchen marvel shows that had cool kitchen gadgets. One of the items I noticed was the pineapple slicer.

Anyone who's ever had to cut and peel a fresh pineapple knows it takes forever to do it. This gadget makes it so much easier to get perfect rings of pineapple in seconds! Well, maybe not seconds, but it's certainly faster than cutting then get my drift.

All you have to do is cut the top off, align the gadget with the core, press down and twist clockwise. Remove the top from the base and slide the rings out from the top.

It takes a little getting used to, especially to make perfect equal sized rings. Mine were a little uneven, but it still looked good.

The core and shell of the pineapple is left intact. You can use it to put fruit in, or make a nice mixed drink. Go ahead, I won't tell :). There is juice leftover that can be reserved for something else.

There are the rings! I like to soak them in water with a little bit of salt to preserve the sweetness. However, pineapple doesn't last long with us, so there wasn't left over after I made my shrimp and beef skewers, and since Gary ate the rest of the pineapple.

The problem with this gadget is that it's geared towards smaller pineapple. If you have a bigger fruit, it will not get the sides of the shell. You can always run a knife on the side to cut off the leftovers.

Shrimp and Steak Skewers

Made by: Cathy

Part 2 of our anniversary dinner. I made shrimp and beef skewers with pineapples.

Using a fresh pineapple and juice, I created this.

1 dozen shrimp
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce and marinade
1 teaspoon sliced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
pineapple wedges
juice from fresh pineapple
1/2 lb steak cut into cubes
Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

1. Peel and devein the shrimp. Combine the shrimp with the teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, ginger, sugar. Marinate in the fridge for half hour.
2. Cut the steak into cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
3. Soak some wooden skewers with water. Assemble with pineapple, steak and shrimp.

4. Grill on the George Foreman Grill for 3-4 min depending on the desired doneness of the steak. You can also grill under the broiler.

The steak and pineapple were good. The shrimp was so so. I may have to marinate a little longer to get a better flavor next time.

Ginger Scallion Lobster

Made by: Cathy

It's been one full year since we've been married. So for our anniversary, we had a special dinner of my own version of surf and turf.

So, we had a 10 course meal for our wedding, but I didn't get a bite after the 3rd course. One of the courses was ginger scallion lobster, another was steak. I didn't get to eat any of it. So to compensate I made a Chinese style lobster to enjoy.

This was my first time making lobster. I could have very well called my dad and asked him what was in it. I didn't want to bother him. I should be able to figure it out for myself. I googled it and came up with something on my own.

2 one pound lobsters (I had 2 lobsters that weighed a total of 2.32lbs)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root
1 scallion (I didn't have any, so I left it out)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 heaping teaspoon black bean garlic sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with water
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
sea salt

1. Peel and slice the ginger. Clean and cut off the end of the scallion. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Mix the cornstarch with a little bit of water. Set aside.
2. Clean and rinse the lobster. Separate the head from the tail. Cut the tail lengthwise, then cut each half of the tail into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size of the lobster. Separate the claws from the head. Cut the head lengthwise, clean and gut the head. Grab the legs and separate from the shell. Discard the shells from the head.
3. In a hot wok, add the the ginger to the cooking oil. Mix for a few minutes, then remove the ginger from the wok and set aside.
4. Add the lobster to the wok. Add the black bean garlic sauce and scallions and sautee together.
5. Add the ginger back in, as well as the cornstarch mixture, rice wine and a dash of sea salt. Continue to saute for a few mintues until the meat starts to turn opaque. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the meat is completely opaque and the shell is bright red.
6. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy.

Now, for my first time making this, it was pretty tasty. It tasted a lot like something they would serve at a Chinese restaurant.

What really creeped me out while I was making this was the fact that the arms were still moving when I was cooking it! Next time, I will probably boil it for a few minutes to make sure it's not alive anymore before I cook it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cream of Broccoli and Potato Soup

Adapted from: $5 Dinners
Made by: Cathy

I bought a huge bag of broccoli from BJ's that I needed to use up. We didn't have much leftovers from Thanksgiving, but there were loads of leftover recipes floating around. I took $5 Dinners' basic recipe for cream of broccoli soup and came up with this. I used leftover ingredients I had on hand.

1-2 cups broccoli heads
2 medium potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (or leftover mashed potatoes)
2 1/4 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups low fat half and half
1/2 cup light cream
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
a little extra virgin olive oil

1. Peel and cut up the potatoes. In a pot of water, add the potatoes and a teaspoon of salt and boil until tender. Drain and mash up. Add to stockpot.
2. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli heads, finely chop the onions and celery. Toss into stockpot.
3. Add the liquids, stir well, bring to boil.
4. Add cheese, garlic powder, s&p to taste, drizzle with oil, then reduce heat and simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
4. If necessary, blend with immersion hand blender.
5. Garnish with sour cream.

I don't have an immersion blender so ended up pouring it into a blender and blending on low. Transfer to a large bowl, then blend the rest. Combine it all again and mix well. I ended up making a mess because of the steam pressure in the blender caused the soup to spill out, even though I was holding on to the top.

Other than that mess, It was very tasty.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mock Shake n Bake Chicken

Made by: Cathy
Entry for: December Tasty Tools

We grew up eating Chinese food, so our fried chicken usually just had a flour coating that my mom would whip up and fried in wok. It was tasty, but a little too messy for me. I love fried foods, and I was thinking what I could do to jazz up some chicken drumsticks. I suddenly thought of shake n bake. I never had Shake n Bake when I was a kid. I didn't know what the ingredients were, so I wiki'd it, :). It seemed simple enough, so I tried it.

2 chicken drumsticks (skinned if desired)
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a roasting rack on top of the foil. Spray the rack with cooking spray.
2. In a gallon plastic zip bag, combine all the dry ingredients. Shake to mix well.
3. Add the oil and shake again until it resembles crumbles.
4. Clean and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
5. Add the chicken to the bag and shake to coat well, using your hands to coat as needed.

6. Transfer to the rack. Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until juice runs clear.

I really liked this. It's a great alternative to fried chicken. It should also work with panko crumbs or flour.

Shepherd's Pie

Made by: Cathy

I didn't have much leftovers Thanksgiving this year. We had a lot of people over. The only things left in my fridge that could be made into something else on Monday night were mashed potatoes and gravy. So to use everything up, and also using things in my pantry and freezer, I made Shepherd's Pie.

1/2 lb ground beef
half bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup chopped cooked taro (I had some left over so I threw it in also)
1 1/2 cups gravy
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups mashed potatoes
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In a deep casserole, combine the all the vegetables and seasonings.
3. In a skillet, brown the ground beef, drain and add to the casserole dish. Add the chicken stock.
4. In a small pot, heat up the gravy.
5. Pour the hot gravy in the vegetables and meat and combine well.
6. Spread the mashed potatoes over the mixture.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until everything is incorporated.

I was going to add shredded cheddar cheese on top, but Gary didn't want cheese, so I omitted. If you do add it, add it about 5 minutes before you finish baking so it melts on top.

I usually use ground turkey instead of beef, but I had extra ground beef left from a lasagna I made, so I used that instead.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chinese Turnip Cake

Adapted from: Appetite for China
Made by: Cathy

Turnip cake (law bok gow) is one of my favorite things to get when I go for dim sum. My mom has always made a variation with taro, but never with the white turnip (daikon). My aunt always made it for Chinese New Year every year, but I never attempted to make it myself.

I also had a couple of bags of white rice flour from Gary's gluten free days. I needed a recipe to use up the flour, so this recipe was perfect.

3 1/4 cups rice flour
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup Chinese dried shrimp
3 Chinese sausages
1 large Chinese white turnip, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

1.In a large heatproof bowl, combine rice flour and 2 cups of water. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and velvety, and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, soak shiitake mushrooms in about 1/2 cup of cold water for 30 minutes to soften. In a separate small bowl, do the same with the dried shrimp.

3. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a small pot. Place Chinese sausage in the pot and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to soften. Remove from heat and pat to dry. Peel off the skin of the sausage. Finely chop and set aside.

4. Once the shiitakes are done soaking, remove from water, squeeze out excess water, finely chop, and set aside. Remove shrimp from water, finely chop, and set aside.

5. Peel the turnip, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Then cut slices into strips about 2 inches long. Set aside.

6. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Add shrimp and mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the cooking wine and soy sauce and stir until the shrimp and mushrooms are well-coated. Add the Chinese sausage, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

7. In the same wok, toss in the turnip strips and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, adding a bit more cooking oil if necessary. Then pour in 1 cup water, cover the wok, and let the turnip steam for 10 to 15 minutes until just cooked. Drain the liquid from the turnips. Pour the hot turnips into the bowl with the rice flour mixture and mix thoroughly, until the turnips are well-incorporated into the mixture. Add the sausage, shrimp, mushrooms, and salt. Stir until evenly distributed. Pour the resulting mixture into a round 10-inch cake pan and smooth out the top.

8. Steaming: Bring water to boil in a large steamer big enough to fit the cake pan. (Unless your pan is part of a metal steamer set, in which case the pan should fit right in.) Carefully place the pan into the steamer, cover, reduce heat to medium-low. Steam 1 hour, or just until cake is set and is firm to the touch. Check the water level regularly and replenish, if necessary, with boiling water. Carefully remove the pan from the steamer and allow to cool on a rack for about 1 hour.

When cooled, run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen sides. Invert to unmold and flip the cake right-side up onto a cutting board. You can serve the turnip cake as-is and sliced, or wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate until ready to stir-fry.

To slice: Instead of cutting into wedges, slice the cake into rectangles 1 inch thick strips, then again into 3 inch long rectangles.

To stir-fry: Heat a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to barely cover the bottom and fry the cake in batches, about 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Serve immediately plain or with oyster sauce, soy sauce, or chili sauce.

I didn't have a 10" pan, so I steamed it in my 8x8 glass pan. I also steamed it in my wok. That's how I always steam my food. My mom has done the same thing for years.

Instead of oil, I sprayed the pan and pan fried that way. It tastes better after frying. I made this as one of the dishes for Thanksgiving this year. It was great. I tastes a lot like the ones we get at the restaurants. We like to dip it in oyster sauce.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Made by: Cathy

Happy Black Friday!

So for Black Friday, we decided to sleep in. There weren't that many great deals this year. We ended up leaving the house around 2:30 to look around for deals. We went to a few stores and drooled over the HDTVs. It was making us go crazy! We ended up buying a new TV. We were in the market for one, and it was time we got one. We didn't get home until after 8pm.

Last night, we gave a lot of the leftovers away. We also ate some leftovers for lunch before leaving the house, so we didn't have too much left. My sister made stuffed mushrooms. I defrosted the spinach in the microwave for her, but in the midst of craziness, we both forgot about the spinach in the microwave. I noticed it in the end when I put a bowl of cranberry sauce in there to heat up. I also forgot to make a rice casserole dish with chicken. I already defrosted the chicken the night before in the fridge.

So, chicken and spinach it was for dinner tonight. Here it is, spinach stuffed chicken. This was also made on my George Foreman grill.

4 chicken breast tenderloins
1 10oz box frozen leaf spinach, defrosted
15 ritz crackers
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Place chicken in a plastic bag. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken until is is flat. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a small food processor, grind the cracker into fine crumbs.
3. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray. On medium heat, saute the spinach for 2-3 minutes. Add the cracker crumbs, red pepper flakes, garlic, cheese and salt to taste. Mix well until combined, about 3 minutes.
4. Divide the spinach mixture evenly for each piece of chicken. Spread the spinach on the chicken. Wrap and stick a toothpick through to keep it together. Repeat with remaining chicken.
5. Grill on the George foreman for 4-5 minutes.

I only had 3 pieces of chicken, so I had a lot of spinach in each piece of chicken. It was a pretty simple dinner, but still tasted good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping

Adapted from: Recipezaar
Made by: Cathy
Also for: Local Eats

A couple of months ago, my cousins bought an Italian cheesecake for someones birthday. As we took a bite into it, it clearly wasn't as good as a classic New York Cheesecake. I told them I will make them a cheesecake to show them what a REAL cheesecake is!


For the crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (this is one package from a 4 pack of graham crackers)
4 tablespoons butter, melted or softened
1 tablespoon sugar

For the filling:
4 8oz packages cream cheese
2 eggs
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:
1 pint fresh strawberries, or 1 bag frozen
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. To make the crust, mix graham crackers crumbs, butter, and sugar in bowl.
3. Press mixture in bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

4. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar for 2 minutes.
5. Add eggs and vanilla to mixture and mix until well blended.
6. Then stir or fold in sour cream.

7. Pour mixture in crust filled pan. Lightly tap the pan on the table to even out the batter. Smooth out with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
8. Bake for 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce to 200° and continue to bake for 45 minutes.
9. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and leave in oven for at least 2 hours.
10. Transfer pan to refrigerator and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Topping recipe adapted from here:
1. Combine all ingredients and cook for 5 minutes under medium heat, stir well.
2. Using a masher or a fork, mash up about 2/3 of the strawberries.
3. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring well.
4. Refrigerate with the cheesecake until ready to serve.

The sides of the cake have already loosened from the pan since the night before. It has a nice indentation to put the topping. The cake is also firm to the touch.

Here is the finished piece with the fruit on top.

It's a work of art! It was very tasty. I had rave reviews, and the best part - it was the first cheesecake I've ever made!

Rave of the Day: Pie Crust Shield

For Thanksgiving, I made an extra pie for my sister-in-law to trade. I recently got a pie crust shield as part of my bank points redemption.

I got the Mrs. Anderson's 10-Inch Pie Crust Shield. I think it works wonders. I made 2 sweet potato pies at the same time. One was made with the pie crust shield and one with foil. In both instances, the foil and shield were removed 15 minutes before the pie was done.

This is the outcome:

The one on the left was made with foil on the crust, the right with the pie crust shield.
Here is a close up of the crusts. I got more even results with the shield. It's also much easier to work with than foil.

I usually don't make 2 pies at one time, but for the price, I think it's a good idea to have an extra.

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

Adapted from: Recipezaar
Made by: Cathy

In the midst of cooking for Thanksgiving, we still needed to eat dinner. We had some frozen mahi mahi we bought in bulk from BJs. Mahi Mahi is a pretty good fish. It doesn't smell, it has a nice texture, and it tastes good.

I remember seeing a recipe for macadamia nut crust fish before. I wanted to try it out. I had the nuts on hand because I bought that in bulk at Amazon.

I used my George Foreman grill for this.

2 mahi mahi filets
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

1. In a small food processor, grind together nuts and coconut flakes. Pour into a bowl, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
3. Whisk together egg and milk.
4. Dip in this order: flour, egg, nuts. Coat evenly.
5. Grill for 4 minutes on the George Foreman grill.

The recipe posted is adjusted from the recipe I used to minimize waste. I used up all the nuts, but there was still egg (I used 2) and flour left (I used 1/4 cup). This recipe should work.

I liked the taste. It had a nice golden crust. I think it could use a little more salt. It totally reminded both Gary and I of Hawaii.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

White Chocolate Walnut Gingerbread Blondies

Adapted from: Peanut Butter and Julie
Made by: Cathy

A couple of months ago, I bought white chocolate and macadamia nuts in bulk from amazon. I'm almost done with nuts, but I still have an overwhelming amount of white chocolate. I needed to use it up, so I started looking up recipes white chocolate. Actually, they sort of have a way of finding me. It's the holidays, so many people are using white chocolate in their recipes. I saw this on

Please ignore my ugly yellow kitchen. :)

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
10 ounces coarsely chopped white chocolate (I used a 12oz bag of white chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts (I didn't toast them)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a rimmed half-sheet pan (17X12 inches) with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla and molasses until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Mix in the white chocolate and walnuts.

4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set and the edges are golden, 22-25 minutes. Let the bars cool completely in a pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares or your desired shape.

These were amazing! The batter was pretty thick. I had to spread it out on the pan, and it was sticking everywhere. I'm so used to cookies and cakes where I just pour and leave it alone. This was worth the extra effort (not too much effort, I'm just exaggerating). They're just a little harder than cake.

I switched the order of the original recipe because I like to prepare the dry ingredients before starting up my mixer.

Honey Molasses Chicken Wings

Made by: Cathy

This is a slight variation of the chicken wings my dad taught me to make. It's pretty easy even Gary can make it. It usually doesn't turn out the same every time. I try to change it up each time I make it. This is how I made it this time.

Sorry for the blurry picture. For some odd reason, I couldn't take any clear pictures of this dish!

3 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lb chicken wings, tips removed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon sugar
half cup cold water

1. In a hot wok, add the oil. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds.
2. Add in chicken wings. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add soy sauce, honey, molasses, and sugar. Continue to saute for a few minutes.
3. Add the water, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes.
4. Transfer to a plate along with the liquid.

If there is not liquid left, it's ok. It tastes even better when all the sugar is caramelized into the wings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watercress Soup

Made by: Cathy

Watercress soup has been one of my favorite soups growing up. It's fairly easy to make and is good for you. There are 2 ways to make this: simmer for hours with dates, meat, dried goji berries; or make a quick soup where the watercress is still actually edible. I like the latter, Gary likes the former. I was making it, so I did it my way.

~3 quarts water
2 big bunches watercress
1 filet swai or catfish (you can also use fishballs, pork, chicken, or sliced beef)
white pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce temperature to medium, add watercress to the pot. Cook for about 20-30 minutes.
2. Add the meat and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to a simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the desired tenderness of the watercress.

It's a great quick weeknight soup that can be made fairly quickly.

Easy Grilled Sesame Ginger Salmon

Recipe from: Lawry's
Made by: Cathy

This has got to be the easiest salmon recipe ever! I had some marinade in the fridge as well as some salmon we got from Trader Joe's. I went to the Lawry's site and used their recipe. I wouldn't call it a real recipe with only 2 ingredients though!

1-1/4 cups Lawry's® Sesame Ginger Marinade With Mandarin Orange Juice
1-1/2 lbs. salmon fillets

1. Pour 1 cup Lawry's® Sesame Ginger Marinade With Mandarin Orange Juice over salmon in a large non-aluminum baking dish or resealable plastic bag and turn to coat. Cover, or close bag, and marinate in refrigerator about 30 minutes. Remove salmon from Marinade, discarding Marinade.
2. Grill or broil salmon until fish flakes with a fork, brushing often with remaining marinade and turning once.

I used my George Foreman grill and grilled it for 3 minutes! That's right, 3 minutes! Record time for dinner on the table. Whoo hoo!


Adapted from: All Recipes
Made by: Cathy

My sister was making tiramisu for Thanksgiving, so I told her I had a recipe for ladyfingers and I could make it for her. They're pretty hard to find in the stores, so might as well make something from scratch that tastes better than store bought.

The original recipe was for 48 servings, but it has all weird measurements for the ingredients. I changed it to 36 servings and it worked perfectly. I didn't get 36 cookies though, I only got 24. I guess I made them a little bigger and there was some batter left in the piping bag.

3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line two 17 x 12 inch baking sheets with baking parchment. Fit large pastry bag with a plain 1/2 inch round tube.
2. Place egg whites in bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. In another bowl beat egg yolks and remaining sugar. Whip until thick and very pale in color.
3. Sift flour and baking powder together on a sheet of wax paper. Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites.

Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes.

I made 2 batches. The first batch I made was only 24 cookies. They were also a little flat:

So, I added more baking powder for the second batch. I also whipped the egg whites a little longer, and didn't pipe the batter. I spooned the mixture onto silicone sheets.

Make sure they're totally cooled before peeling off the sheets. The cookies are fairly sticky. Although the cookies didn't look like fingers at all, the flavor was very good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rave of the Day: Progressive Grater Set

I wanted to make a carrot cake, but I didn't have a box grater. All I had was a microplane and that would give me mushy carrots. I looked at a few stores for box graters, but I couldn't believe the prices. $15-$20??? I didn't think I would use it much, so I wanted something a little cheaper.

I went to Century 21 to look at the kitchen stuff. Their stuff is usually a little cheaper. I saw the Progressive Grater Set, and it looked pretty interesting. For less than $10, I got 3 different grating sizes and a slicer. It all came in a handy plastic container that doubles as a measuring cup so I was able to see how much more I needed to grate. The downside is that it's white, and the carrots I grated stained it a little bit (but carrots stain everything). It would also have been nice to also have a hand guard, so I can grate close without fear of cutting my fingers. But that doesn't come with a box grater either so I'm fine with that. I ended up using the one that came with my mandoline slicer.

My other raves:

Anchor Hocking Presence Cake Dome Set
I used it to bring my carrot cake over to my sister's place. I love the fact that it converts into a punch bowl when inverted upside down. It is a bit heavy, so it's better off to just use it at home. I probably won't transport it again because of its weight and the fact that it's glass, and I'm a klutz.

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch Round Cake Pan
I used this to bake the carrot cake. It's durable, heavy duty, and it doesn't warp. I coated it with nonstick baking spray and it didn't stick at all! It cleaned up with minimal effort, just as I like.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Carrot Cake

Adapted from: All Recipes
Made by: Cathy

I'm not much of a cake person, but carrot cake is one of my favorites. I made this for my sister's Lunar birthday. I adapted the recipe from based on one of the reviews. One of the users consolidated all the reviews and came up with her own recipe.

I had rave reviews for this cake. Gary liked it and he told me he didn't like carrot cake. The ones he's had before were dry and didn't taste good. My BIL thought it was something store bought (yes!). My family thought it was great, and they usually hate sweets. They did say the frosting was sweet, but again, the DO hate sweets.

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (I forgot to add this)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 round 9" cake pans.
2. Grate 6-7 medium carrots to make 3 cups. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, and pineapple. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans if desired. Pour equal amounts into prepared pans.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To Make Frosting:
1. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

I added 2 cups of confectioner's sugar initially to taste. I then added more sugar by the half cup to my desired sweetness.

In my excitement to eat my first ever carrot cake, I forgot to take a picture of the cut piece. It was so good.

Next time, I'm going to try it with the crushed pineapple to see how it tastes. I'm also going to try cupcakes.