Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweet and Spicy, Just the Way We Like It!

I've been saving this recipe for Chili Crab Pasta for a while now and finally made it tonight. I substituted Imitation Crab, which we both love, and it turned out to be an amazing meal! I LOVED the combination of sweet and spicy and kicked it up a notch by adding some Sriracha since we like things extra spicy! I served the crabmeat over rice noodles and it was the perfect quick and easy weeknight meal!

Blueberry Muffins by Paula Deen Y'all!

I know I can never go wrong with a Paula Deen recipe, especially when it comes to baking. Since my in-laws are visiting this weekend and love breakfast food, I whipped up a batch of her Blueberry Muffins. They were definitely yummy treats and sure to please! Thanks to Paula once again y'all!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Inspired by Spring!

I was inspired by this recipe for Roast Chicken with Spring Veggies since it's finally feeling like spring in SF! I did make a few changes by omitting the radish (hubby's not a fan) and adding onions and garlic to the mix. I also tossed the veggies with some balsamic vinegar to boost the flavor and it was an amazing meal! VERY spring like and VERY satisfying on a Sunday night!


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Tropical Kind of Shrimp Scampi

We LOVE Shrimp Scampi but now that the weather is warmer, I wanted to add a tropical twist to it. So tonight, I made Shrimp Scampi with Peach Mango Sauce along with Coconut Rice! It's still got the buttery taste but also some brightness from the fruit. As for the coconut rice, it couldn't be easier. Just substitute half of the water for unsweetened coconut milk and cook it just like any normal rice. It comes out so flavorful and creamy, you'll think you're eating coconut risotto! Best Friday night dinner EVER!


Ingredients:


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1 c Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4 oz) diced peaches, drained
1 can (4 oz) diced mangos, drained
1/4 tsp Chipotle powder
1/4 tsp Chili powder
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Rice, for serving


Prep:


1. Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes, until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.


2. Add tomatoes, peaches, mango, Chipotle and Chili powder. Bring to a boil.


3. Add shrimp and garlic. Cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Serve over rice.

More Jell-O Pudding Fun!

After testing out these Chocolate Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies, I decided to experiment with some different flavors. This time, I used Banana Cream and Coconut Flakes for a very tropical flavor. They came out incredibly moist just like the last time and VERY good! Of course, they were gone in no time at the office!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Meets Mac and Cheese - PERFECTION!

There is only 1 meal in this world that's better than Baffalo Chicken and Mac and Cheese and that's when you put the 2 together! When I came across this recipe, I knew I was gonna be in heaven! I didn't have any Blue Cheese Dressing so I made my own out of crumbled blue cheese and Ranch. I use Frank's Wing Sauce, which is our favorite and added a whole cup since we like it SPICY! A PERFECT combination of hot and cool from the 2 sauces. A definitely winner here!

More Mother's Day Cards to My "other mothers"



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Have Joined the ZUMBA Revolution!

My best friend keeps telling me how much she loves her Zumba class at the gym so I finally ordered the Zumba Fitness Total Transformation DVD Set. It's been a while since I've tried a new workout so I was really excited! OMG it was the MOST fun I've EVER had! I tried the Basic Workout first to learn the moves but they were just too slow for me so I went on to the 20 Minute Express Workout. The moves weren't difficult to learn at all and the instructor (Beto) is just awesome! He's fun and energetic and I felt like I was just dancing instead of working out even though I was definitely sweating! Now I can't WAIT to try out the other DVDs!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crabby Manicotti

These Crabby Manicotti are another dinner straight from my pantry and fridge. I always have cans of crab, tuna and salmon on hand as well as every type of pasta imaginable. I also stock up on cream cheese, ricotta or cottage whenever they go on sale since they last a while in the fridge. Tonight, I stuffed Manicotti shells with a mixture of crabmeat and cream cheese and it was simply amazing!


Ingredients:

6 oz cream cheese
1 c whole milk
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (6 oz) can crabmeat
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 c bread crumbs
8 Manicotti shells, cooked as directed

Prep:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking dish.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, mix together cream cheese, milk, dill and lemon pepper. Heat until cream cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and crabmeat.

3. Stuff 2 tablespoons of filling into each Manicotti shell. Place shells in baking dish. Spoon remaining fiilling mixture over shells and top with Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is golden and cheese is bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I watched Anne Burrell make her Rack of Lamb with Pistachio Tapenade and couldn't wait to try it! When I mentioned the recipe to my hubby, he claimed that he's not a fan of pistachios, so I was on a mission to prove him wrong! I substituted green olives and halved the amount of Tapenade after reading some of the comments. It was the perfect amount and paired just wonderfully with the meaty lamb ribs! I served them over some polenta and my hubby was definitely happy with our Sunday night feast!

First Fun Day in the Sun!

The weather is FINALLY getting nice here in SF and we couldn't WAIT to take advantage of it! We decided to explore our SOMA neighborhood and checked out a few places we've been meaning to. First stop was Lucky Strike, the new bowling alley that opened up where Border's Books used to be. It was HUGE and had a very SoCal feel to it. Bowling isn't really our thing and with the massive number of kids there we left pretty quickly after just 1 drink! Then we headed over to Momo's, where we enjoyed a very yummy lunch al fresca. Oysters, burgers and bubbly with gorgeous weather, what could be better? Oh yea, some pool time afterwards!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

SUPER-Marinated Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

I came across this recipe for Buttermilk Roasted Chicken and couldn't wait to make it! The problem is that you really need to WAIT to make it since it's supposed to be marinated overnight. Patience is not a virtue I possess but when it comes to food, I can make an exception. Marinating the chicken in buttermilk makes it super tender and keeps the meat from drying out in the oven. I also added some cayenne and paprika for a bit of a kick and more flavor. A VERY easy dish if you can wait a whole day to make it and VERY good with mashed potatoes and paresan sprinkled on top!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yummy Pork Chops Thanks to Rachael Ray!

I've been saving this recipe for Pork Chops with Tangy Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce from Rachael Ray for a while now and finally made it tonight. Man was I glad I did! We always have Fire-Roasted Tomatoes on hand so it was an easy dinner to put together. I skipped the peas and just made normal Polenta since Hubby's not a fan of peas (or anything else green for that matter!). The sauce was super flavorful and perfectly tangy from the tomatoes, brown sugar and vinegar. A VERY yummy dinner thanks to Rachael Ray!

Cake Mix Turns Into Cookies?

I came across this recipe for Apple Raisin Drops using Yellow Cake Mix and was really intrigued. I'm not a big cake fan especially not made from a box but turning it into cookies sounded interesting enough for me to give it a shot. OMG I'm so glad I did cuz they turned out incredibly moist and SO SO good! These cookies reminded me of baked apples with the raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. I'm sure they'll be a hit at the office!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What is Chicken Normandy?

Chicken Normandy is a French dish of chicken and apples, usually with the addition of cream and brandy, since Normandy is a big producer of these items. I came across a recipe from a Cook's Country magazine and decided to give it a try. I made a few modifications so here's my version and it was VERY tasty!


Ingredients:

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small apple, chopped
1/4 c onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c brandy (I used Remy Martin)
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Prep:

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down and brown for 5 minutes. Flip over and brown 5 minutes on the other side. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Turn heat down to medium and add apple and onion. Cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add brandy and deglaze. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add cream, thyme, mustard and vinegar. Bring to a simmer.

3. Add chicken back, turning to coat with sauce. Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20 minutes. Remove chicken to serving platter.

4. Turn heat up to high and boil until sauce is thickened. Pour over chicken and serve.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Throwdown-Inspired Mac and Cheese

This yummy Sunday dinner was inspired by Bobby Flay's Lobster Mac and Cheese, which he made for his Throwdown and actually WON! (Hey, it doesn't happen very often, ok?) I made lots of adjustments that I'm sure saved me a ton of cash like using imitation crabmeat instead of lobster and a blend of Cheddar and Gruyere instead of Fontina and Taleggio. I also took shortcuts by using Seafood stock and just topping the pasta with breadcrumbs and parmesan instead of making everything from scratch. I can't say I'll be winning any Throwdowns with this dish but it sure turned out yummy!




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 c seafood stock
1 c half and half
8 oz Cheddar and Gruyere Blend, grated
1/2 c Mozzarella, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
10 oz imitation crabmeat
Pasta, cooked until al dente
1/2 c dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish.


2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, half and half; and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Add herbs and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.


3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and stir until combined. Fold crabmeat into the pasta. Pour into baking dish.


4. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan over the pasta.


5. Bake 20 minutes, until breadcrumbs are gold brown and pasta is heated through. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Something Homey to Welcome My Hubby Home!

My hubby has been traveling overseas all week so I decided to welcome him back with something homey. I wanted to make Anne Burrell's Excellent Meatballs but unfortunatelly my meatballs completely fell apart in the sauce! My hubby didn't seem to mind though since the meat sauce was VERY flavorful especially with the addition of pancetta. I'll definitely have to attempt this recipe again and try to keep the meatballs intact. Tonight though, we're both full and very satisfied and I'm just glad I don't have to sleep alone again!

Mrs Fields Has Done it AGAIN!

A few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me her Mrs Fields Cookie Book knowing how much I like to bake cookies and I've been loving the recipes ever since. There are SO many good ones including these Mocha Chocolate Chunk Cookies. They're so chocolatey with a wonderful kick to them especially with the addition of Kahlua! The office LOVED them and they were gone in no time!




Ingredients:


2-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant coffee crystals (French Roast)
2 tsp coffee liqueur
1 c white sugar
3/4 packed brown sugar
1 c butter, softened
2 eggs
2 c semisweet chocolate chunks


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.


2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee crystals in liqueur.


3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the sugars with butter until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add eggs. Add the dissolved coffee crystals and beat until smooth.


4. Add flour mixture and blend at a low speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.


5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Remove immediately and cool on wire racks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mix and Match Citrus Bars

I was inspired by this recipe for Cranberry Orange Bars but switched things up a bit. For my first batch, I stayed with the cranberries and orange juice but added chopped walnuts instead of the almonds. For my second batch, I changed everything by using raisins, lemonade and pistachios. They were both very yummy and moist and had just the right amount of tart and sweet with a nutty crunch!

A Beautiful Forgotten Picture!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Fun Easter with the Family!

Easter is a big holiday for my mom so we get together every year and have brunch together. This year, we were joined by my Aunt and Uncle, who just moved here from Shanghai a few months ago. Considering that I've taken my mom to pretty much all of the restaurants near me and she really wasn't up to driving around the city, I decided on Gordon Biersch, which is literally 2 blocks from me. I know what you're probably thinking, burgers and beers right? I did too until I looked at their menu and was VERY impressed! Who knew you could get everything from Potstickers to Fish Tacos? Being seafood lovers, we chose to get the Jumbo Lobster Crabcake and Crab Artichoke Dip for the table. The Crabcake was HUGE and full of lobster and crabmeat with very little fillers. The Dip was a big plate of cheesy goodness and also had big chunks of meat. For our entrees, we shared a bowl Lobster Shrimp Mac and Cheese and a combo of NY Strip Steak and Tempura Shrimp. The Mac and Cheese had so much lobster and shrimp in it, we definitely felt like we got our money's worth! The Steak and Tempura Combo was a huge platter too and came with some very yummy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Veggies. I loved dipping everything in the Sweet Soy Sauce that came with the steak! All in all, we had an amazing seafood feast at a very unlikely place and we left very happy and full! Happy Easter everyone!


A Special Easter Treat for my Mommy!

My mom LOVES Barefoot Contessa's Pecan Shortbread Cookies so I decided to make her some for a special Easter treat. I started with a fluted-cutter but then realized that I have the perfect flower-shape cutter and switched over on my second batch. Either way, these cookies are the most buttery and delicious treats EVER!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lasagna on the Stovetop?

My hubby LOVES Lasagna but I don't love the amount of time it takes to make it. So when I came across this recipe for Lasagna cooked on the stovetop that requires less than 30 minutes, I knew I had to give it a try! I chose to use Ricotta since that's the traditional ingredient and it came out just as good as any hour-long recipe I've ever made! I'm completely converted now and doubt I'll ever be making Lasagna the traditional way again! (Ok, that was a lie but this was definitely a LOT easier and quicker!)

Hubby Requested Pancakes

Sadly my hubby has to travel for work next week so when he requested pancakes for brunch on Saturday, I gladly said "OK!" I decided to go with Giada's Ricotta Pancakes cuz we've both loved them in the past. Instead of adding blueberries to the batter, I used Krusteaz Blueberry Pancake Mix, which I always keep on hand. They turned out just as good as we remembered! The ricotta made the pancakes so fluffy and added a wonderful creamy texture. Instead of making Giada's Honey Syrup, I used our favorite Aunt Jemima's Butter Rich Syrup, which I also always keep in the fridge. The plates looked a little empty so I thought some sunny-side eggs would be a good addition. Can't go wrong with fried eggs for brunch right? This should keep us full till dinner!

Another Crazy Cooking Challenge!

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I was SO excited that this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge is Blueberry Muffins cuz I can never get enough of them! I chose this recipe from The Crepes of Wrath cuz it was named "The Best" and you know I can't resist the BEST! While I'm not sure if they were THE BEST I've ever had, but they sure came close! Hey, a stick of butter in any batch of muffins makes that that much better right?








Friday, April 6, 2012

Funfetti M&M Cookies for Easter!

I LOVE making Funfetti Cookies cuz they're so easy and always end up really festive. For Easter, I decided to make some with Easter M&M's and they were a total hit at the office! Aren't they just the cutest? Happy Good Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

DDD-Inspired Lemonade Porkchops

Tonight's yummy porkchop dinner was inspired by Lemonade Porkchops from an episode of Diners Drive-ins and Dives. This is actually the first time that I've ever made a recipe from that show and it was definitely a winner! I finished the porkchops on the stovetop instead of in the oven and it was just as moist and tender as can be. The sauce was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy with some earthiness from the herbs. VERY yummy weeknight meal!




Sauce Ingredients:


1/2 c lemonade
1/4 c ketchup
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Pork chops:


2 (6 to 8-oz) bone-in porkchops
All-purpose flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, (enough to coat chops)
1/4 c onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced


Prep:


1. In a bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.


2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add enough cooking oil to coat the bottom. Dredge the porkchops in the seasoned flour and brown for approximately 4 minutes per side in the skillet. Set aside.


3. Add onions and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.


4. Pour in sauce and bring to a boil. Deglaze and add porkchops back in.


5. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until porkchops are cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove to serving platter.


6. Turn heat up to high and boil until sauce is thickened, 5 minutes. Pour over chops and serve.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New-Found Thai Ingredients!

I've been searching for Kaffir Lime Leaves and Bird's Eye Chilies (2 VERY crucial Thai ingredients) for a LONG time and was SO surprised to find them both at Whole Foods! (I swear my mom couldn't even find them at the Asian Market!) I couldn't wait to test them out and added them to a Curry Fish Fried Rice for dinner. It came out amazing and you can totally taste the lime and chilies! Oh and anything topped with a fried egg is a winner at our house! :)




Ingredients:


2 c day old cooked rice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 firm fish fillets, roughly chopped (I used catfish)
1/4 c onions, diced
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 bird’s eye chiles
2 Kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
Sesame oil for drizzling
Green onions, for garnish


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook for 5 minutes, until opaque.


2. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, chile peppers and Kaffir leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.


3. Add the curry paste, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, cook for a minute or until the paste and sugar have dissolved.


4. Turn the heat to high and add the cooked rice. Stir often to prevent burning and until all ingredients are combined. Transfer mixture to serving platter.


5. Melt butter into pan and add eggs. Cook until bottom is set and the center is still runny. Add on top of the rice and garnish with green onions. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

Easy Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

I bought some beautiful lamb shoulder chops at the grocery store and decided to do a very simple braise. The meat was just falling-off-the-bone tender and incredibly flavorful! I served the lamb with some Polenta and it was a VERY comforting Sunday night dinner!




Ingredients:


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Lamb Shoulder Chops
1/4 c all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1/4 c onions, chopped
1/2 c carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/2 c red wine
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained


Prep:


1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.


2. Place flour in a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge lamb shoulder chops in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.


3. Add the lamb chops to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until browned. Remove and set aside.


4. Add onions and carrots to the pan and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and Herbs de Provence and cook for 1 minute.


5. Add wine and deglaze. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add chops back and turn heat down to a simmer. Covered and cook for 1 hour, until meat is very tender.
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