Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sausage and Pepper Frittata

"Brinner" (Breakfast for dinner) is delicious but it's hard to make eggs to order for a group if you want to actually spend time with your guests.  To solve that problem I decided to make a frittata, which is essentially a large, thick omelet started on the stove and finished in the oven.

This recipe calls for a dozen eggs but I used 8 and felt like that was plenty.  Some reviewers used 6 and that was probably fine, too.  I wanted more protein since we were feeding a bunch of boys.

Thanks, Anne Burrell and Food Network!

Sausage and Pepper Frittata



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat a nonstick 10-inch saute pan with olive oil. Add the sausage and brown. Add the peppers and saute until they are soft.
In a bowl, add the Parmigiano to the beaten eggs and season lightly with salt. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, stir the eggs into the pan with the sausage and peppers. Stir the eggs to evenly distribute the sausage and peppers throughout the eggs. Once the eggs set on the bottom and around the sides of the pan, place the pan in the preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through. Remove from the pan. Cut into wedges and serve hot or a room temperature.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


We received a waffle iron/griddle for our wedding three years ago and used it once.  Once!!  It's ridiculous!  Luckily W wanted to have people over for the Pats/Broncos game and I wanted to have breakfast for dinner so we got an opportunity to bust out the waffle maker.  After a little research (and a friend's blog) I found this recipe for "Waffles of Insane Greatness" on the Food Network site.  The waffles were exactly what I hoped for, and I made extra so we could freeze them and have them for breakfast during the week.

Thanks to The Cooking of Joy for pointing me in the right direction!  I made them with buttermilk because that's what other reviewers suggested and I liked the results.  I also appreciated how I didn't have to spray my waffle iron with cooking spray. I love non-fussy recipes!

Waffle of Insane Greatness


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Butter and syrup, for serving


In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.
Preheat a waffle iron. Do not use non-stick spray on the waffle iron; the oil in the batter will allow the waffle to release easily. Follow the directions on your waffle iron to cook the waffles. Serve immediately with butter and syrup.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Back in 2003 my family and I attended a friend's graduation at Berkeley and after the ceremony they served light snacks.  I was really impressed by the presentation of the snacks, but I was mostly impressed by the madeleines.  It was my first time having this light, buttery, cake-like cookie and I vowed for it to not be my last.

When we moved to Connecticut I was exploring a thrift shop and found a madeleine pan.  I bought it and went home to start making cookies.  I came across this recipe from Tasty Meals at Home (I use their beef noodle soup recipe) and have never looked back.  I even brought the pan with me to California to make madeleines for my family and they loved them.  A container of madeleines is one of my favorite gifts to give friends.

Thank you for this beautiful recipe, Tasty Meals at Home!


What You Need:
  • Madeleine pan – there are mini size ones as well as the regular large size ones. We used a mini pan.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • powder sugar for dusting (optional)
What to Do:
First off, combine the eggs and sugar and whip till smooth. It will be easier to use an electric mixer.
Next, add in the salt, honey and vanilla.
Add baking powder into a separate bowl. Sift flour into the bowl as well. Using a rubber spatula, add the mixture into increments and mix until all is incorporated and smooth.
Melt the butter and add into the batter. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
Preheat the oven at 375 F. Generously grease the madeleine pan. You want the cookies to come out in one piece with the shell like design, so yes..grease it up!
Now, is the somewhat tricky part. In order to fill the pan, we found it easiest to use a makeshift pastry bag. We tried to fill it up by just spooning the batter onto the pan, but it was difficult to do. Since we did not have a pastry bag handy, we just used a regular ziploc bag and filled it with batter. We then cut a small corner of the bag off, and wa la–makeshift pastry bag.
It is important to not to overfill the molds! We filled ours to the top initially and ended up with huge hunchback looking madeleines. We later found out that it is best to fill it up a little more than 1/2 way.
Once you have filled the pans, tap the pan onto a working surface to roughly distribute the batter into the molds. Then, slip it into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes…it may take longer depending on the oven that you have. When using our oven, 10 minutes was too long, so keep watch around the 8 minute mark to figure out how long is long enough. These cookies are done once the edges are golden brown.
Now, if you want to make these cookies a little more decadent, sprinkle on some powdered sugar!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

I can't get enough of mac and cheese.  We grew up eating a packaged version (not Kraft, surprisingly) and I loved it with chili and occasionally with tuna.  As much as I like Easy Mac, I've been looking for an easy recipe to make from "scratch" that didn't involve baking it.

Simply Recipes to the rescue!   I happened to have a small block of cheddar that worked really well once I shredded it and added a little bit of cornstarch.  I wouldn't recommend using already shredded cheese because the caking agents they add makes the cheese stringy.  I added some mixed vegetables (previously frozen) to make it a little healthier, and I didn't add ham because we were eating it with leftover meatloaf.

Thanks, Elise!

Quick Macaroni and Cheese


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup ham, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • Freshly grated black pepper


1 In a medium sized bowl, mix corn starch into the grated cheese, so that the cheese is coated, set aside. This will help the cheese from getting too stringy.
2 Bring 2 quarts of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil in thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the elbow macaroni and follow the cooking time instructions on the package, minus about 2 minutes. (If your macaroni doesn't come with instructions, start checking at 7 minutes). Cook until al dente - cooked through, but still slightly firm. Drain the water from the cooking pan.
3 While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly dribble in the milk, while whisking (to avoid clumping) until the sauce is smooth. Slowly add the grated cheese, while whisking, until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the cooked, drained macaroni and ham. Do not over-mix. Sprinkle in some freshly grated black pepper.
Serve immediately.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Apple Cake

One of my favorite things about W is that he's very thoughtful when it comes to food.  He called me from our college convenience store when they had my favorite ice cream flavor in stock, and he often brings me back cookies or other treats from work to this day.  While we were dating he had a piece of cake at a church event and thought it was delicious- so he brought a slice back for me after a long day of class.  The cake has a crunchy exterior but a nice soft, cakey interior that's lightly spiced.  I tracked down the baker for the recipe and she graciously shared it.  

I recommend Granny Smith apples for the cake.  I usually increase the amount of apples to 2 1/2 cups to make myself feel like it's healthier.  I always make it in a bundt pan cuz I don't have a tube pan.  The batter is really thick (almost cookie-like) so don't be alarmed when you're scooping it into the pan.  I don't make it unless I know we're going to be able to share it- and people don't seem to mind when I bring it.  

Thanks to Judy M. for sharing this recipe!  

Apple Ring Coffee Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional- I love walnuts but nut allergies make me nervous so I usually omit them.)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups peeled, chopped tart apples
Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 10 inch tube pan; set aside.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into large
bowl. Stir in walnuts. Combine granulated sugar, oil, eggs, and
vanilla in medium bowl. Stir in apples. Stir into flour mixture just
until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

3. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes
out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from
pan; cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cake.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Matzo Crack

I saw this recipe for Matzo toffee and felt like it was easy enough to try at least once.  Any kind of candy recipe that is known as "Matzo Crack" has my attention.  Easy and addictive?  Nice.  Husband approval?  Extra nice.  Good enough that husband okays it for a work bake sale?  Winner!

The recipe is originally from Marcy Goldman, then by David Lebovitz, then by Smitten Kitchen.  I used David Lebovitz's recipe cuz it didn't require as much chocolate.  I made two batches which was perfect for one box of Matzo (which typically has 10 pieces of Matzo).  Thanks, David!  

Chocolate Covered Matzoh ToffeeMakes approximately 30 pieces of candy
This recipe is adapted from Marcy Goldman of, whose latest book is A Passion For Baking. It’s super-simple and requires no fancy thermometer, equipment, or ingredients. If you can’t get matzoh, use plain crackers such as saltines instead and omit the additional salt in the recipe.
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.
Note: If making for passover, omit the vanilla extract or find a kosher brand.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I was trying to think of a good snack to eat during a football game and the Eng brothers' Spinach Artichoke Dip came to mind.  This isn't a healthy dish (you'll see when you read it) but at least it has spinach and artichokes!  Warning though: if you happen to reheat it, it's gonna be oily.  I would just make sure that you have enough people to eat it all on the first pass.  Between 4 of us (including two preggos) we got through 3/4 of it.  

I made it in an 8x8 glass pan so we had to increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes for it to heat properly.  Thanks to Scott for writing down the recipe and making notes on variations.  

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts
1 8 oz package frozen chopped cooked spinach, defrosted
1 8 oz jar real mayonaise (no Miracle Whip!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 2-cup package shredded jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Drain artichokes. Cut off all remaining leaves, to get ONLY the heart meat of the artichokes. Finely chop artichoke hearts. Drain spinach.
3. Mix artichoke hearts, spinach, mayonaise, parmesan, and 1 1/2 cup jack cheese in bowl. Spread mixture in tin pie pan. Cover top with remaining jack cheese.
4. Cover with foil and bake 15-18 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with unsalted corn tortilla chips.

If you don't want it that cheesy, take out 1/2 cup of jack cheese. Unsalted corn tortilla chips are absolutely the best chips to serve this with. Regular tortilla chips are a far second. Sourdough bread slices are good too. Plain crackers can be used if no suitable substitute can be found. I have tried this with fresh spinach that I steamed. It worked fine, but was more work. I have not tried this with fresh artichokes or low-fat anything. And always try to use real ingredients. That means no processed cheese, or mayonaise substitutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beef in Black Pepper Sauce

I love Chinese food but I think it's one of the hardest cuisines to cook because people generally don't write down ingredients or techniques.  Plus, there are so many different kinds of dishes within the genre, and there can be different variations.

Thankfully OTHER bloggers are skilled at developing recipes for Chinese dishes.  This Beef in Black Pepper Sauce totally rocked the other day- the beef was tender, it was peppery, and it was great with angel hair pasta.  I think it'd be awesome with chow fun noodles or just plain rice, too.  I only had time to marinate it for an hour (I used sirloin) but it was enough time to be tender and flavorful.

Thanks for Raymund of Ang Sarap for the recipe!

Beef in Black Pepper Sauce

600g Beef fillet, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large green capsicum, sliced
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup water
peanut oil
1. Marinate beef in 2 tbsp light soy sauce, Chinese wine, Worcestershire sauce, corn flour, 1/2 tbsp black pepper and baking soda for at least 2 hours.
2. Using a wok in high heat add peanut oil and toss in the beef and brown on all sides, this will take roughly 1 minute in a really hot wok.
3. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Add in the onions, remaining black pepper and green capsicums and stir fry for 2 more minutes
5. Add water and remaining light soy sauce then season with salt if needed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A side note

I think I'm a restless cook.  As much as I like tried and true recipes, it feels like the culinary world is too vast to stick to what I know.  W and I come across this dilemma (okay, really, first world problem) when we eat out in Boston, NYC or LA/OC- do we go to the places we know and love or try new places?  Should we make a dish we've made before or try something different?

After next week I'm not going to have the luxury of deciding what recipe to try.  It'll just be survival mode- what will give me sustenance with minimal preparation?  I won't be able to spend an hour at the grocery store or go to multiple grocery stores in one day.  I won't be able to make three course meals for friends.  No more fussy baking projects that require hours with the oven.  Someday that will change back and I'll have time to cook- and not only will I get to cook and bake, but I'll get to share it with someone new.  Hopefully she'll feel loved by the food we make for her.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beef and Leek Stew

I've tried lots of beef stew recipes and I think this is my favorite one so far.  Usually I rely on lots of reviews for recipes but this one just sounded right.  Plus, it had a popover recipe with it, and I can't say no to popovers.  I didn't have sun-dried tomatoes so I used a fresh tomato and ketchup.  I'd probably use less liquid next time, too.

Thanks to Rose Murray for posting it!

Beef and Leek Stew


  • 1¼ lb (625 g) stew beef
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
  • 4 small leeks, thickly sliced
  • carrots, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 2½ cups (625 mL) beef stock
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) sun-dried tomato strips
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • Chive Popovers (recipe follows)

Chive Popovers (Makes 12 Popovers):

  • eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) snipped fresh chives or green onions
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt


1. Cut beef into 2-inch (5 cm) cubes. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown beef all over, about 10 minutes.
2. Add leeks and carrots; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with flour, and salt and pepper to taste; cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in vinegar, then stock, 1 cup (250 mL) water, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and hot pepper flakes; bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding a bit more water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning. Split open popovers and serve stew on top.
For the Chive Popovers:
1. In large bowl, beat eggs; stir in milk, flour, chives and salt until blended. (Don’t overmix; ignore a few lumps.) Fill 12 well-greased muffin cups three-quarters full with batter.
2. Place in cold oven. Turn oven to 450°F (230°C); bake for 25 minutes. Remove and prick each popover with point of sharp knife to release steam. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. (Popovers can be cooled, placed on cookie sheet, covered with clean towel and set aside at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Reheat in 350°F/180°C oven for 5 to 10 minutes.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Steak Tips

I was commenting to W the other day that I think I'm least proficient in cooking meat.  I usually leave grilling up to him (men like fire, right?) and whenever I cook meat in the oven or on the stove it usually comes out just okay.  The slow-cooker is probably my biggest ally, but I really can't take credit for the work that she does.

Shortcomings aside, I think I'm decent at choosing marinades for meat.  I discovered this marinade four years ago and it's always my go-to whenever we want to make steak tips.  I highly recommend it.  And I also recommend having someone else grill it for you.  Hurrah for division of labor!

Thanks to allrecipes again, especially Domenici, who apparently took one for the team and ate a lot of beef to perfect this recipe.  The only thing I would change is to marinate the beef overnight instead of only an hour.

Steak Tip Marinade


  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Italian-style salad dressing
  • 2 teaspoons garlic pepper seasoning
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 2 pounds beef sirloin tip steaks


  1. In a medium bowl, mix the Worcestershire sauce, Italian-style salad dressing, garlic pepper seasoning, and barbeque sauce. Place the meat in the marinade, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat grill for high heat.
  3. Brush grill lightly with oil to prevent sticking. Place steaks on the grill, and discard marinade. Grill steaks 10 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Linguine with Clam Sauce

I steal recipes sometimes.  This recipe wasn't meant for me but when I saw it on my news feed I knew I'd wanna try it.  It comes from my lovely friend Jessica who gave me permission to post it.  I used raw peeled shrimp instead of clams because I'm lazy, but I'm very confident that the clam version is delicious!

Thanks Jess!  Can't wait to see you in August!

Jessica's Linguine with Clam Sauce (in her words)

1 box linguine (I like de cecco or barilla linguine fini)
1/2 cup ev olive oil
...6 or more garlic cloves
...1/2 t red pepper flakes (spicy!)
2 lbs littleneck clams, scrubbed (or be lazy and buy geisha brand canned)
1 cup dry white wine (Pinot grigio)
1 lemon plus additional slices for garnish
3 T butter
flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan optional.. Some people frown on cheese with seafood... Not me! :)

Boil noodles in salt water (as salty as ocean water) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a deep saute pan with a lid. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, saute but don't let garlic turn color. Add the clams, wine, parsley and lemon juice. Cover and cook until all the clams are opened. Throw away ones that don't open...
Add hot drained linguine to the pan, finish with butter and salt and pepper to your liking. Toss the pasta with the clams and sprinkle parsley, serve with lemon slices on side and drizzle of olive oil... You can also sprinkle with parm and breadcrumbs next day and put under broiler... Yum! (remove clam meat from shell before broiling) :).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chinese Beef, Tomato and Egg dish

Back in Boston we had this Beef, Tomato, and Egg dish at Taiwan Cafe in Chinatown that was the ultimate comfort food.  Eggs and tomatoes was entirely new to me even though W had grown up eating it, but adding beef completed it as a meal.  It's perfect for a winter day...or just a day when you have tomatoes that need to be eaten like we had yesterday. 

I've tried to make this dish at least three times and after some research I finally figured out the secret ingredient: ketchup.  It adds the right texture, it's just sweet enough, and it helps contribute to the tomato-ness of it all.  Feel free to add more if you love ketchup.

Here's the recipe that I used as a template (Thanks, ehow!  Who'd have thought?): Beef Tomato Egg

And here's my version- good luck!

1 lb. beef sirloin, cut into thin pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tomatoes (I used tomatoes on the vine)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 eggs, beaten

1. Combine the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and cornstarch, then add beef slices.  Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.  If you're eating this with rice (highly suggested!) then I'd start making rice now, too.
2. Cut the tomatoes and beat the eggs while you're waiting for the meat to be ready.  Keep them separate.
3. Cook the beef until just about done.  Set aside.
4. Saute the tomatoes in a tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat.  The tomatoes should start to lose their shape.  Make sure to stir them so they don't burn.
5. Add water and ketchup to the tomatoes.  Let the mixture come to a simmer.  There should be enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan and maybe get a third of the way up to the height of the tomatoes.
6. Add the beaten eggs and stir gently so the eggs cook with the tomato mixture.  If you like your eggs more firm then I'd leave them alone for a few minutes before stirring.  If you like a soft scramble then you can stir more often.
7. Add the beef back into the tomato and egg mixture.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
8. Scoop over rice and enjoy! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Asian Pasta Salad

Happy June!  It's not officially summer yet, but it definitely feels like it here in CT.

I'm a huge fan of noodles in any form: stir-fried, in soup, with creamy sauces, with name it, I will most likely eat it.  Yesterday we had a potluck at work and I brought this cold noodle salad.  I wasn't sure what my co-workers would think of it since it's not your everyday pasta salad, but they really liked it!

I used linguine instead of bowtie pasta because that's all I had on hand- I just cut the linguine after cooking it.  In retrospect I would have broken the linguine before cooking.  I also included a little bit of minced garlic in the sauce cuz I had some on hand.  I chilled the noodles overnight and tossed in some spinach and field greens right before serving.  Also, I didn't add chicken, green onions or cilantro- as you can tell I was not well prepared for this recipe.  Luckily I had most of the ingredients on hand, but it's so versatile that you could probably make a lot of modifications with good results.

Thanks to Week of Menus!  It almost seems redundant for me to archive her recipes since I'm on her site so much.

Asian Bowtie Pasta
Serves 6-8

1 lb farfalle (bowtie) pasta (I used the mini farfalle)

1/3 cup canola, safflower or other mild tasting oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut julienne
1 cup of scallions, diced
2-3 cups of rotisserie chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (put more chicken if you want it meatier)
3 tablespoons roasted sesame seed
Pepper to taste
3 cups washed baby spinach
1/4 cup cilantro, OPTIONAL
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes, OPTIONAL

Boil and cook pasta according to directions. Make sure to salt the cooking water. Drain pasta and set aside. Return the pasta pot back to the stove. (You don't need to wash it.) Add the canola oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and rice wine vinegar. Heat over low heat until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and toss in the pasta. Add the bell peppers, chicken, scallions, pepper, sesame seeds, cilantro (optional) and red pepper flakes (optional). Toss well to coat all the ingredients. Before serving, toss the pasta with the spinach, to keep the vibrant green as much as possible.

This can be chilled or served warm at room temperature.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leek Risotto

Leeks look like scallions (green onions) but a LOT bigger.  Don't use the dark part- it's too tough to eat.  Cut that off and use the rest.  I usually cut them, separate the parts, and soak them in a bowl of water to get all the dirt out.

Risotto is awesome because it seems really complicated but it's not- it just takes some time.  I cheated and used medium-grain white rice because I didn't have arborio, and I don't think anyone could tell the difference.

I've made this as is and I've also added roasted chicken and asparagus for a more complete meal.  Thanks to the Gourmet Traveller for a simple yet elegant recipe!

Simple Leek Risottoeek Risotto
serves 2

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
a sprig of thyme, leaves only
a generous knob of butter (about 20g)
150g arborio rice
150ml dry white wine
750ml vegetable (or chicken) stock
a large handful of freshly grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks, red onions and thyme, and cook on a medium heat until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. While they are cooking heat stock in a separate pan and leave on a low simmer.

Once the leeks are tender, add the rice and stir to coat in the leek butter mixture. Pour in the wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Make sure the rice has absorbed most of the stock before adding the next ladleful.

After about 15-20 minutes of cooking the rice grains will have puffed up, but still have a bite to them. Remove the risotto from the heat (the rice should still be quite wet at this point), stir in the grated parmesan and season to taste.

Serve with a grating of parmesan on top and eat immediately!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple muffins

One of W's favorite desserts is apple cake, and these muffins actually taste like miniature versions of his beloved cake.  The outside of the muffin gets crunchy somehow, and it's a nice contrast to the warm, soft apple inside.

Side story:  I had class or something so I wasn't able to make it to a church event.  W had a piece of the famed apple cake and liked it so much that he brought back a piece for me just so I could try it.  I like it when we share food!

Thanks to The Girl Who Ate Everything!

Apple Muffins
Source: Marissa Pinon
Cream together:
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Sift: (She didn't sift and either did I and they turned out great )
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)
Brown sugar for topping (around 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. The batter will be very thick. Add the diced apples.

Butter & flour muffin tins or use paper liners. Fill muffin tins almost to the top about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 18-24 muffins.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

Everyone has at least one guilty-pleasure chain restaurant, and mine is Olive Garden.  Our whole family would sometimes go for Ohana (our sanctioned immediate-family-only time whenever we're all in town), and as much as we liked the food we LOVED the soup, salad, and breadsticks that come before the meal.  So bourgeois, I know, but we didn't care.  I'm surprised we ordered entrees.

I realized that it wasn't hard to make our favorite soup, so for a family gathering I tried out this recipe for Zuppa Toscana.  I substituted kale for spinach (just like OG) and didn't use a full cup of cream.  I just started pouring and mixing and stopped when it looked about right. 

Word of warning: don't skimp on the ingredients.  I made it without bacon once and totally regretted it. I've yet to find a good breadstick recipe that can be consumed with the soup, so if I ever find one I'll post it.

Thanks to souporsweets for posting this on Allrecipes!  My extended family thanks you, too. 

Zuppa Toscana


  • 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 6 potato, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed


  1. Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the spinach into the soup just before serving.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


If I had my own iron chefs I would definitely designate my Hawaiian friend K as Iron Chef Japanese.  He would love to cook for us and with us in college, and one of my favorite meals with him was Chicken Katsu.  I asked him for the recipe and he graciously shared it with me. 

W and I love curry katsu (chicken or pork katsu with rice and Japanese curry) but katsu is good on its own.  Thanks, K!

Chicken Katsu
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 c flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 package panko Japanese bread crumbs
4c frying oil (vegetable, canola, peanut, whatever you normally use)
garlic salt & pepper

Heat your oil to 350 degrees or until a piece of panko sizzles vigorously when dropped in.

Sprinkle garlic salt and pepper over the chicken thighs.  Dredge them in flour, then egg, then panko.  Make sure to press the panko into the chicken as much as possible.

Drop the prepared chicken into the oil and fry for 3-4 mins per side until golden brown.  Don't add more than 2-3 pieces into the oil at once or the temperature will drop too rapidly and it won't be crispy.

Drain the finished katsu on a wire rack or paper towel and serve while hot.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cheesy Orzo

Orzo is a huge hit in our house.  It's pasta but it's kinda like rice, so it's best of both worlds.  Plus, you can add whatever you want to it!  I usually add spinach at the very end of cooking so it just wilts.  I love this recipe cuz it's like a sophisticated version of macaroni and cheese.

Thanks to Rachael Ray for the recipe!  I know there are lots of RR haters out there, but this recipe is solid.

Cheesy Orzo


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth or stock
  • 2 cups orzo pasta (enriched rice may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat a 8 inch pot with a tight fitting cover over moderate heat. Add oil, onion and garlic and saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and return broth to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and pasta tender. Remove lid and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. You favorite fresh herbs may also be stirred into the orzo or rice to strengthen the flavor even more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Banana Bread

My dad hated buying bananas because more often than not we'd let them sit around until they were too mushy to eat and then we'd throw them out.  I think he still hates buying bananas to this day. 

Luckily I now know that mushy bananas can be transformed into banana bread!  You have to make sure the bananas are ripe.  We're talking LOTS of brown spots cuz that means the starches have turned to sugars. 

Random story- we went to Hawaii in high school for a school trip and we went to this "secret island" somewhere.  After playing in the sun and surf I remember eating multiple pieces of banana bread at a little snack stand nearby.  Mmmm...

Usually I'd add chocolate chips but I decided to try the recipe as written.  I appreciated the simplicity.  Thanks to Elise from Simply Recipes for posting it!

Banana Bread
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour


  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
Yield: Makes one loaf.