Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Welcoming My Hubby Home with MEATBALLS!

My hubby has been traveling all week so I thought I'd have something comforting waiting for him at home. I knew his flight wasn't landing until 10pm so I thought meatballs would make the perfect reheated late-night dinner. I found Alex's recipe, which included sour cream in the meat mixture to keep the meatballs super moist. I also loved the kick of the chili flakes and licorice flavor from the fennel seeds. VERY yummy and welcoming dinner!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Muffins that Taste Like Apple Pie!

Wanna have pie for breakfast? Well, with these Apple Pie Muffins, you can and don't have to feel guilty about it! They're so yummy and you can totally taste the Pumpkin Pie Spice, which makes me wish it was the holidays already! The pecans also added the perfect crunch to these moist muffins. YUM YUM!


2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 c chopped apples (2 medium)
1/2 c chopped pecans


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 12 cup muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla and brown sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

3. Pour butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in apples and pecans. Use a large scoop to fill each muffin well, filling the cups to the top.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature.

My Go-To Cooking Shortcuts

I LOVE saving money on my groceries and those coupons are the only reason I subscribe to the Sunday paper. That being said, I also work fulltime but still wanna make a home-cooked meal almost every night. That's when I gladly accept any help I can get from the grocery store, even though I know they cost a bit more. Here are my favorite go-to cooking shortcuts that might save you some time in the kitchen as well!

1. Pre-chopped onions - I usually get the baggies from Trader Joe's but pretty much ever grocery store carries these in the produce section. They take the time (and tears!) out of chopping onions, which I use in almost every recipe. In a pinch, dried onion flakes also work but they're nothing like the fresh stuff!

2. Pre-minced garlic - same idea as the onions. I get mine in a big jar from Costco cuz I put them in everything but they also come in smaller jars. Just like the onions, garlic powder works too but the fresh adds so much more punch!

3. Sliced and cleaned mushrooms - sure they don't make me cry like the onions and garlic but the time I save by not having to wipe each of them clean is totally worth it! Plus they make great dippers when you want a good-for-you snack!

4. Rice, pasta and couscous mixes - they're quick-cooking and take the decision out of what spices to add. I always keep at least a few on hand to go with whatever main dish I'm preparing. My favorites are Knorr (especially the Fiesta Sides!), Neareast (the Pearl Couscous is amazing!) and Rice-A-Roni (don't judge!).

5. Canned tomatoes - they last forever, unlike the fresh ones, so I can always have some on hand. I like to use fire-roasted or garlic and oinon ones to add more flavors to my dishes. Did I mention that tomatoes are also REALLY good for you thanks to the lycopene they contain?

6. Rotisserie Chicken - I buy mine from Costco and they don't get any cheaper than $5 each. I shred up the meat as soon as I get home, use half and freeze half for another day. The possibilities are endless when it comes to cooked chicken. I use them in Enchiladas, stuffed pasta shells, stir-fries, name it!

7. Pasta Sauces - yes making them from scratch is great but on a weeknight, they're life savers! Just boil some pasta, add some meat, stir in some sauce and dinner is on the table in no time! My favorites are Classico (Four Cheese Alfredo anyone?), Prego (no meat needed when you use the meat-flavored!) and good old Bertolli (LOVE the Vodka sauce!).

8. Shredded and Sliced Cheese - last but definitely not least! They save me SO much time especially since we like cheese in everything! From pizzas to lasagnas to panini, cheese is just a part of us! All that shredding and slicing can take up a HUGE chunk of time and these days you can find most varieties already done for you. Sure, sometimes I find the need to buy a chunk of gourmet cheese the grate myself but most nights, it all about Kraft!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Everything BUT the Kitchen-Sink Fried Rice!

Ok so maybe not EVERYTHING but I sure got to use up a lot of stuff in the fridge with our fried rice tonight! It's got shrimp, chicken, pineapples, carrots and pretty much all of my "Asian" seasoning like garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, dried red chiles, sesame oil and green onions. VERY tasty and VERY easy! Oh, and of course, fried rice isn't complete until you add some scrambled eggs into the mix!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ole' Chipotle!

I've been saving this recipe for Lamb Shanks Braised in Chipotle-Coffee Sauce for a while now but just couldn't seem to find the San Marco Chilpotle sauce. (Yes, I checked Whole Foods and mine apparently doesn't carry it.) Anyway, so I decided to get creative and used Ole' Chipotle Salsa instead. It's actually one of our favorite salsas and has a really nice smokey flavor. I LOVED the combination of the chipotle and coffee and the maple syrup added a nice hint of sweetness. I cooked the entire dish on the stovetop by just simmering it for 2 hours covered. The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender and the sauce was just so incredibly flavorful! Served over some mashed potatoes and it was the perfect Sunday night dinner!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My (Cheater) Version of a Croque Madame!

For once I was up early enough to make us a nice brunch on a Saturday morning. The idea of Croque Madame came up but I wasn't really in the mood to make the traditional sauce from scratch and I definitely didn't feel like driving out to get Gruyère cheese. So, I decided to make the sandwiches my way, with roast beef, Smoke Gouda and spicy mayo in between sourdough bread. I browned one side in a cast iron skillet, topped them with shredded Monterey Jack, then broiled them in the oven for a few minutes. Of course, a Croque Madame is only a lady after you top it with a fried egg. Yummy and so much easier than the traditional way! We are ready to start our weekend!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicken Marengo is Not Only a Fun Name!

Have you heard of Chicken Marengo? According to Wiki, it was an Italian dish that Napoleon ate after the Battle of Marengo. The chef cut up some chicken and fried it in olive oil, then made a sauce from tomatoes, garlic onions and wine. Since those are ingredients I always have on hand, it became a very easy weeknight meal. My version also included mushrooms and mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy but a VERY comforting Friday night dinner!

Nutella AND Chocolate Chips? Call me CRAZY!

When I saw this recipe for Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies, I knew I was in love! I mean, how can they NOT taste amazing? There's no such thing as overload on chocolate in my book, so these double chocolatey ingredients were definitely a winner! They were gone in no time at the office but luckily I saved a few for my mommy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another McCormick-Inspired Asian Meal

Tonight's dinner was inspired by this Red Curried Chicken from McCormick's website. I added some bell peppers to the mix and also dredged the chicken in cornstarch to make the meat more tender. Very delicious and the perfect combination of spicy, sweet and creamy!

Everything's Better with Nutella!

When I came across these Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins, I KNEW I had to make them ASAP! Trust me, they tasted even more amazing than they look! Sweet and a bit sticky and a very yummy way to get your veggie servings!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peachy-Crusted Pork Chops

Tonight's dinner was inspired by these Peachy Pork Chops with a few motifications. First of all, my chops weren't thick enough to stuff so I just baked them with the stuffing on top as a crust. I also made a few other changes so here's my version of Peachy Pork Chops.


1 Tbsp butter
1/2 c onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 bone-in pork chops
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 c canned diced peaches
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking dish that will fit the 2 pork chops.

2. In a skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool slightly. Add the breadcrumbs, poultry seasoning and egg. Mix until combined.

3. In the same skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Seawson pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown 5 minutes on each side and transfer to a baking dish.

4. Top chops evenly with breadcrumb mixture and drained peaches. Bake for 20 minutes, until chops are cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Going Thai with McCormick, Who Knew?

I've been saving this recipe for Thai-Ginger Rubbed Salmon with Green Curry Sauce from McCormick's website for a while now and finally made it today. Since we don't have a grill, I followed the oven method and baked it for about 15 minutes. The curry sauce was amazing! Super flavorful and paired so well with the salmon! I served the fish over my hubby's favorite rice noodles and it was definitely a Thai feast! Not traditional, but who cares?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

When Life Gives You Bloody Mary Mix...

You make Bloody Mary Meatballs! We usually have a bottle of Mr & Mrs T's Mix in the fridge for those mornings when we need a kick, usually after a long night. (They're happening less and less as we're getting older though...thank goodness!) Anyway, I decided to make get creative with the mix and made some very yummy meatballs. I served them over some mashed potatoes spiked with horseradish and it was definitely a meal with some kick! If you like Bloody Mary, you will LOVE these meatballs!


2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce or to taste
1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 lb ground beef


1 c Bloody Mary Mix
1/4 c beef broth
2 garlic cloves, minced


1. Preheat oven to at 400°F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate.

2. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape into 8 meatballs. Place in pie plate. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the Bloody Mary Mix, broth and garlic. Turn meatballs; spoon sauce over top.

4. Reduce heat to 350°F. Bake 20 minutes longer, or until meatballs are cooked through.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Our Love Story Began 7 Years Ago!

Oh how time flies! I can't believe hubby and I have been together for 7 years! It all began at E&O Trading in San Jose (which unfortunately is now closed) on our very first date on Valentine's Day. It was a magical night and now, 7 years later, we decided to recreate the experience at E&O Trading in SF. Dare I say it was even better this time around? I was definitely a lot less nervous and didn't worry about whether we'd be having a second date! We started off with the Lettuce Wraps and Crispy Rolls and then finished off with the Prawn Salad (amazing!) and Short Ribs Sliders. Everything was delicious and I love restaurants that let you share small plates so you get to taste everything!What an awesome way to start the weekend!

Martha's Yummy Oatmeal Maple Cookies!

I found a recipe for Maple Oatmeal Cookies in my Everyday Food Magazine and couldn't wait to try them! I mean, what a classic combination right? They turned out amazing and I love how they're thin and crunchy! Even my coworkers who don't usually bake asked me for the recipe!

Ingredients: (5 dozen cookies)

3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 maple syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c water


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in maple syrup, egg, vanilla and water, scraping down bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, beat in oat mixture until just combined.

3. Drop dough in rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, about 11 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets until set, about 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Using All My Asian Ingredients for Penang Chicken!

My hubby goes to Malaysia every year for work and always raves about the yummy food they have there. So of course, I had to take it upon myself to try and recreate them at home for him. I did a TON of research on how to make Penang Chicken and finally comprised my own. It was AMAZING! Sweet and spicy with just a touch of creaminess from the coconut milk. I definitely wanna go with him to Malaysia one of these days just so I can sample the food!


2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 c onions, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic, minced
4-6 dried chilies
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
Rice, for serving


1. In a bowl, mix chicken and cornstarch until chicken is completely coated. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until tender, 3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and chilies and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add curry paste and coconut milk. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chicken, tamarind paste, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, stirring often, 6 to 8 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Most Romantic Meals are Always at HOME!

I'm a big believer of flowers and gifts on Valentine's Day but I hate going out to dinner on the day of. Why pay for the ridiculously overpriced 3-course meals and deal with the crowded restaurants? (Of course, if you've just started dating, that's a whole different story!) Instead I love to cook up something special for dinner and enjoy a romantic night in with my hubby. Tonight, we enjoyed a restaurant-quality meal of Lobster Thermidor and Mashed Potatoes. It was a Rachael Ray recipe so very quick and easy but looks and tastes VERY fancy! Now we're nice and full and don't even need to leave a tip! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Feeling Loved and Giving Love!

It's Valentine's Day, the most loving day of the year! I love this holiday, especially since it features my favorite color, pink! My hubby spoils me every year with roses cuz it's a very special day for us. Our second date was on Valentine's Day 7 years ago and we've been celebrating it together ever since! I also feel the need to express my love for my mommy this time of the year so I always send her flowers. What a sweet daughter right? :)

Flowers for me...
Flowers for my mommy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Trip to Tuscany without Leaving Home!

Tonight, we took a trip to Tuscany with these pork chops and they were really yummy! I loved the combination of Balsamic Vinegar with the tomatoes and garlic. (I left out the capers cuz hubby's not a fan.) I served the chops over our favorite Cheesy Polenta and it was definitely an awesome meal! Can't wait to actually go to Italy though!

Happy Valentine's Day Mommy!

Just a quick pic of the Vday card I made for my mommy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heart-Shaped Panini for My Honey!

It's been a while since I made Panini so for a Pre-Vday treat, I decided to make some for brunch. (Yes, we usually celebrate Vday for more than a few days!) These featured roast beef, tomatoes, Smoked Gouda and Creamy Horseradish. VERY yummy and VERY cute, don't you think?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fancy Rack of Lamb for Pre-Vday Dinner!

My hubby loves lamb, especially a nice rack of lamb, so I decided to make it for a Pre-Vday treat! I made a mustard-horseradish crust and baked it in the oven and it was amazing! The meat was cooked to perfection, just slightly pink on the inside and very tender. I served it with Tyler Florence's Ultimate Horseradish Sour Cream Mashed Potato and it was definitely a restaurant-quality meal at home! What are you doing for Vday?


1 (1 lb) rack of lamb, 8 ribs, Frenched
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp prepared creamy horseradish
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 c panko bread crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place lamb, meat side up, in small roasting pan. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

2. In small bowl, stir together mustard, horseradish and rosemary. Spread mixture on lamb. Pat on panko to coat.

3. Roast lamb in oven 25 to 30 minutes for medium-rare (140°F) or until desired doneness.

4. Cut lamb into 2-rib portions and serve with mashed potatoes.

V-Day PB M&M Cookies!

Try saying THAT 3 times fast! I made these PB M&M Cookies for a Valentine's Day treat and they were SO yummy! You can't go wrong with combining Chocolate and Peanut Butter! (Well, chocolate with anything for that matter!) I made them with Valentine's Day M&M's, which in my opinion are the prettiest color combo ever! (Hey, I'm just a bit partial to anything pink!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Meatballs Thai-Style!

We LOVE meatballs every which way and tonight, we had them Thai-Style! I basically just threw in all of my Thai ingredients and made a Coconut Curry sauce to go on top. They came out amazing and SO incredibly flavorful! Served over some Rice Noodles and it was a perfect Thai feast!


1/2 lb ground pork
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp lemongrass, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp vegetable oil


1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 c onion, diced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp lemongrass, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water


1. Combine the pork, ginger, lemongrass, cayenne, salt, pepper and sesame oil in a mixing bowl. Form the mixture into 8 balls.

2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove meatballs and set aside.

3. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, onion, garlic, curry paste, lemongrass, basil and lime juice into the same pan. While stirring, bring just to a simmer; do not boil.

4. Add the meatballs back into the pan and coat with sauce. Heat through and remove meatballs to serving platter. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir until sauce thickens.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fig and Chicken, The Perfect Combo!

I purchased a set of Fruit-Flavored Balsamic Vinegar from Costco a while back (unfortunately no longer available) and came up with this recipe. I've always loved the combination of fig and thyme and thought they would go really well with chicken. OMG, was I right! The fruity vinegar paired so perfectly with the savory soy sauce and earthy tyme. The chicken was also off-the-bone tender and flavorful from the braising. I served it over our favorite Cheesy Polenta and it was definitely a winner on a weeknight!


2 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c Fig Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp butter


1. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove and keep warm.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic and thyme; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth, vinegar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and deglaze.

3. Add chicken back and turn heat down to low. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20 minutes. Remove chicken to serving platter.

4. Turn heat up to high and add butter. Boil until sauce is thickened, 5 minutes. Serve over chicken.

Déjà vu Cookies!

It's almost Valentine's Day so I wanted to bake some heart-shaped cookies for my mom. I decided to make Ina's Pecan Shortbread again and they came out just as yummy as the last time! Buttery and full of pecans, how can they not be good?

My New Baby!

I got my new Beetle over the weekend and am totally in love with it!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hot Crab Dip for Super Bowl Y'all!

We decided to watch Super Bowl at home this year since none of our friends have planned anything and honestly, we weren't too excited about the game. I was excited to make Paula Deen's Hot Crab Dip though and it did NOT disappoint! Creamy and cheesy with some kick, this dip was definitely a winner! I omitted the avocado and tomatoes on top since I also made Guac and served both dips with our favorite, Tostitos Scoops. Super Bowl at home was just perfect!

Friday, February 3, 2012

You Can't Go Wrong with Beer and Ketchup!

Beer and ketchup are 2 of our favorite food items so when I came across these Beer-Braised Meatballs, I knew I had to try them! Instead of tomato sauce, I used some left-over canned chopped tomatoes so my sauce was a bit more chunky. The flavors were amazing and the meal came together in no time! I served my meatballs over some Cheesy Polenta and it was comfort food at its best!

Superbowl Snickerdoodles!

It's almost time for the big game and even though I don't really care which team wins, I still thought I should make some Superbowl Snickerdoodles. What makes them Superbowl, you ask? Well, both teams have BLUE in their colors, get it? I followed this recipe and rolled the cookies in Blue Sanding Sugar. Which team are you cheering for?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Imitation Crab Asian Style!

We LOVE Imitation Crab at our house and I've made them more than a dozen ways. BUT I've never gone the Asian route before so tonight, I made Crab Fried Noodles. It was simple but VERY flavorful! I left out the bean sprouts (hubby's not a fan) and added dried Thai Chiles for an extra kick cuz we like things SPICY at our house. This was definitely a winner and I have another Asian Crab recipe that I can't wait to try!

I'm Impressed With McD!

On a recent drive, my hubby really wanted McD's so we stopped at a Drive-Through. I wasn't really hungry (I eat breakfast, he doesn't) but thought I should get a Side Salad since my veggie intake had been low. Wow, I was impressed at what $1 got me! I mean, the thing was small but it was packed with romaine, spinach, shaved carrots AND grape tomatoes! Not bad McD! (Hubby truly enjoyed his Quarter Pounder with Cheese as well!)
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