Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

Mint & Chip

…muffins that is, and who says it doesn’t snow in Irvine? Well, after three batches of a mint & chip derivative of a basic muffin mix, this was the outcome in order to supply 30 college students with a tasty dessert that challenges your tastebuds to “ice cream” that’s outside the box.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

Chicken on my mind!

$0.99/lb for chicken! Now that is a steal when you want to cook for 30 voracious college students.  But when I got to the store, I realized that was for split chicken breast with the bone in. Being ambitious, I thought I could make something out of 15 lbs. of chicken, but once I got the chicken home, I thought, “who was I kidding? The bone-in makes it hard to work with…next time I’m going to pay $1.97/lb. for the boneless/skinless chicken breasts!”. In the end, my housemate and I decided to go with 3 chicken pot pies (from Costco), rice, and broccoli to feed 30 college students – all you have to do is throw the pies in the oven, throw the rice and water in a cooker, and dunk the broccoli into boiling salted water until they turn bright green, strain it, and salt and pepper it. Much easier than cooking chicken. But since I already bought the chicken, I still had to figure out what to do with it.

Needless to say, it was a long day of cooking still in the end! So, I experimented with baking chicken resulting in honey baked chicken and poaching chicken so I could save the chicken for a future chicken enchilada meal. Results were not too shabby I must say. Moist baked chicken and resilient/juicy poached chicken. In the poached chicken experiment process, I also discovered the anatomy of raw chicken breasts and figured out how to carve out chicken breasts and chicken tenderloins off the bone…but after all that, I think I’m done playing with slimy chicken for a good few months. Friends, please remind me never to buy that much chicken at one go ever again. :)


Cake Pops Move Over…

Cake pops seem to be all the craze, but make room, because cookie pops are coming to town. The process of making cake pops just doesn’t sound appealing. Bake the cake, smash it all up, add in the frosting, smash it some more, mold them into balls, put the ball on a stick, dip it into chocolate or other candy hard shell…and there you go, a cake pop. For some reason, making cookie dough balls, putting a stick in the dough ball, then baking it at 350 degrees, and ending up with a cookie pop you can frost sounds much more appetizing to me. Another awesome job by Paper Rosie! (I think it’s time to add this to your product line. If anyone steals this idea and makes it big…you know where you saw it first!) :)

So there you have it, cast your vote! Would you rather eat a cake pop or a cookie pop?

a.k.a. Cookie Pops

It's a Cookie Pop Garden!

The Brownie Trail

Hmm…brownies? Poopoo eh? Read up here for a little chuckle first.

Well, perhaps little man would appreciate this month’s attempt at making brownies look more like a moving truck. Then he wouldn’t be so quick to brownie bash! :)

To help out with a staff send-off, I offered to bake a batch of brownies. So, mustering the hidden elementary school teacher in me that completed a BS and MA in Education, never on the teaching track, I had to channel my unrealized teacher energies into making an unconventional display of brownie bites. So long Russells! God-speed as you move to Billings, MT (perhaps it’d be better not to take my proposed brownie trail).

And I’d say my co-worker’s amazing Frosting’s inspired homemade cupcakes were just the perfect complement. Thanks Paper Rosie! You did an amazing job! :)

Dark. Bitter. Bold.

Ah, the perfect end to a long work day. It sure looks like a Guiness…but in happypeggy’s world, I was inspired to find a way to make this Arabic coffee sludge free. Based on the packaging, it looks like you mix the finely ground coffee in a stainless steel pitcher of sorts, then pour it out into another cup to try and avoid the sludge. All the words are in Arabic on the packaging and having bought this in Israel, let’s just it didn’t come with instructions for a non-coffee connoisseur. In Israel, I watched people brew this coffee by mixing it with hot water, letting the sediments settle, and drink it out of the same cup.

Well, in an attempt to avoid the sludge, I put the coffee grounds (more like powder) in a paper tea leaves filter. Most of the coffee went right through that filter back into the cup! Fail!

So recently, my friend left her drip coffee brewer at our house. I never used one of these before, but hey, another toy to play with, and maybe this time, the paper filter for that deal would work better than the tea filter. Well friends, it did work and there you have it. After slowly pouring water over the coffee grounds that turned into sludge, what came out was some pretty clean coffee. No acidic or burnt aftertaste to this coffee. Just a nice dark, bitter, bold brew. Straight up…no sugar…no milk…clean and smooth. Need I say more? That’s the perfect drink to go with dinner to keep me going for 5 more hours of evening life in the church life.

Selah.

How to Boil Water (a.k.a. Pan Fry Dumplings)

 

Dinner is served!

To an Asian American, frying dumplings is equivalent to boiling water. As the Food Network’s How to Boil Water show attempts to bring in simple cooking for the novice “chef”, they don’t debut the simplest staple for the Asian American kid when you try to search with “dumpling” or “pot sticker” or “potsticker”. Now I’m not saying you have to know how to make the dumpling filling and fold the dumplings all Din Tai Fung style, but at least the art of frying dumplings should be mastered right? Well, this blog is a tribute to my cousin Amyty who’s been requesting the method from me so she can finally achieve success with making pretty much the only thing that stocks her fridge…and is pretty much the most substantial food item in her entire house next to the one can of soup in the pantry…frozen dumplings!

So if you have frozen dumplings in the fridge (be it homemade, weichuan, tung-i, random korean versions, etc.):

  1. Turn on the stove on to about medium heat with a good non-stick pan. (Starting with a badly coated pan will just negatetheentire procedure and leave you with a mess of dumpling skin shreds and meat balls in the end).
  2. Get a non-stick pan and add some oil to to pan enough to give the whole pan a nice coating of oil (pick up the pan and swirl it to spread the oil).
  3. Start putting the dumplings in the pan as quick as you can -dip into pool of oil,

    Step 3. Pan arrangement.

    slide to outer edges of pan and arrange them until the entire pan is plenty-filled with space between all the dumplings (if you do this before the oil gets too hot, you won’t get as much hot oil splatter all over you from the ice that’s probably on your frozen dumplings).

  4. Let the dumplings fry up a little so it’s slightly browned on bottom.
  5. For raw dumplings, add some cold water into the pan at this point so the water level comes up to about 1/2 the dumpling height and cover with the lid (you can turn up the heat a little here). For variation, you can use a 1/2 rice vinegar and 1/2 water mixture here…it helps give it a gooey crisp and flavoring to the dumplings so you don’t need as much dipping sauce laterand cut down on some sodium intake(but this makes things vinegary aromatic in the house for a while).
  6. After about 20 minutes, take off the lid and turn the heat down a little to medium.

    Step 6. Cook on medium.

    There should be some water still left and it should start kind of bubbling and the dumplings should start crisping.

  7. Let the bottom of the dumplings crisp up to a nice golden brown and you can flip the dumplings on it’s 2 other sides to crisp to more golden brown (if you’re a fan of all over crisp…it’s the perfect opportunity to perfect chopstick skills by turning all the dumplings here without breaking the skin or you’ll lose all the juices to the pan).
  8. Once they’re all nicely browned, pick up the pan and gently swirl all the dumplings in it to pick up all the remnant crisp factors stuck on the bottom of the pan (and it makes for cleaning the pan much easier).
  9. Plate your dumplings, make your dipping sauce and chow down!

Ok Ames…there you go. Keep practicing until you perfect your dumpling frying skills (at which point they’re no longer called dumplings but potstickers) for the next time I visit and we can blanch some gai lan and round out the dinner menu with some greens. :)

 

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man…

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
I’m strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach.
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

Sing it! Ok. That was a fun flashback to my childhood. Anyway, having traveled more than my norm lately, it’s been interesting getting “grounded” again. The loads of laundry, ironing, relearning what’s in my closet, trying to remember where I last left things, and scrounging around the pantry and fridge for any remnants of edible substances until I can get myself to the market for groceries…. Well, I finally made it to the neighborhood market tonight and was inspired to buy a massive bunch of spinach. It was green, leafy, and just what I needed to add some healthiness back into the diet. But when I got home…I just had no idea what to do with the fresh spinach! Well, good thing Mama Su always comes to the rescue!

For tonight’s quick and painless meal (no more take-out)…featuring spinach with some potstickers on the side! For a healthy way of making spinach, just boil water, add salt, a little splash of oil and give the spinach a quick boil in batches. Done! Fast..healthy…good enough. The only thing about spinach is I don’t like is that weird grainy feeling it leaves on your teeth. Anyone know what that’s all about?

Dude, Sweet Chocolate

Dude...Sweet...

A cute little chocolate shop in Dallas, Texas…another point of inspiration. My friends say they could see me opening up a shop like this, featuring happypeggy granola. The owner of the shop that day was working on her next new chocolate creation, a dark chocolate covered nougat bar (yet to be named). She said she thinks she has the flavors dead on this time and that its taken her several rounds of trials to get to this flavor. We went back the next day and were able to sample some. The flavors were exquisite, a party in your mouth, almost like you had a floral bouquet exploding in your mouth (if it were possible to eat flowers, that is). You have to use your imagination on this or head to Dude, Sweet Chocolate yourself for a sample!

Well, as for happypeggy granola, the latest idea is to take on an Asian American identity to the product line (many thanks to the amazing Ms. Lam for her creativity). Featuring exotic flavors…orange flower blossom, almond flower blossom, cherry flower blossom…with exquisite clean and simple graphics to complement the brown paper packages tied up with string. :) What flavor would you like to see in the happypeggy granola line? Throw me a suggestion or cast your vote for your favorite flavor/essence/concoction in a comment below.

Yam vs. Sweet Potato

I have no idea what the difference is between a yam and a sweet potato. I just know I love sweet potato fries from Veggie Grill, or any other grill. I used to think the orange yams my mom baked as a kid smelled like the novacain shots the dentist used to give me as a kid…a smell that’s as haunting as the fear of finding another cavity at the next dental visit. I used to pick off the orange yam chunks my grandma used to cook on top of the rice in the rice cooker. As I grew up, my mom introduced this white sweet potato or yam deal that didn’t have that repulsive novacain stench to it. I started to like this strange food. Moving away from the asian home and exploring the American cuisine in college dorm foods in the midwest and being invited over to meals with American families, I found out you can bake those same orange yams I didn’t like as a kid with brown sugar and marshmallows and it didn’t taste half bad. Actually, it tasted like candy…I guess the Americanized way of making yams could eventually send me back to the dentist for a filling…

But anyway, the point is, then there came the discovery of purple yams! Now, this is a treasure of all yams. Super duper sweet to the taste, no sugar or marshmallows needed! But it is not easy to pick a yam since it’s hard to tell the color just by picking it…and you want to find the yams that are super duper dark purple on the inside, not a pale white/lavendar hue as the taste is just not there if it’s not rich in color.

So, here’s my purple yam that I got at the local farmer’s market for $3.00. One big yam for $3.00…that could last about 2 breakfast meals for me. And the lady at the farmer’s market said that if you want the yam that’s rich in color, go for the bigger ones. Too bad they just take forever to cook. She said bake it at 400F for 45 minutes or so or steam it. That only makes sense if you have like 10 yams, but I definitely do not need $30 worth of yams!

Before: ready to be steamed!

After a lot of steaming, I cut it open to see if it might be done…not even close, so I steamed it in pieces. Totally disappointed. It was definitely not that rich purple hue throughout which makes me think that farmer’s market lady fooled me into buying a big yam instead of the other little one I was eyeballing. I should have known she was just being a business lady because I’ve bought super purple little yams before. Sigh. Well, I’m never going back to that farmer’s market stand now. Next time, I’m just going to have to call mama Su! She’s got a lifetime of tips when it comes to food!

Please pass the bread…

My housemate made calzones for dinner but her first attempt left a lump of dough that just didn’t seem to be the right consistency. Rather than chucking the sticky dough, I attempted to turn it into Fruit Bread. Somewhat going by a random recipe I found in my book, I took a stab at playing with the dough blob and after a lot more flour, raisins, dried cranberries, fresh squeezed OJ, an egg, butter, a lot more flour, some milk, sugar, a lot of heat and a lot of time, voila! I made bread for the first time!!! It’s nice and light…and the perfect sweetness…who needs 85C when you can bake your own “FRESH BREAD!”

It worked!! Phew...