Greetings From Cozumel!

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Gotta love Starbucks & their wifi. Happy, tanned and lazy….will be hard to go back to “real life” in a couple if days. Just spent the last week on board the Oasis of the Seas. What a huge cruise ship! More photos when I’m back ūüôā

Anyways, just wanted to say hi!

Lemon & Herb Chicken


I love lemons and I love chicken so I‚Äôve combined the two together in this chicken dish. Unfortunately, it was too tangy for my husband (who doesn‚Äôt eat any sauce besides gravy and soya sauce) but for me, I added more lemon juice as I was eating to give it more tang! So I’ll leave it with you to adjust to your own tastes. Play around until you get a combination of flavours you like. I’ll be trying this marinade in the summertime on the BBQ with chicken wings.

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs bone-in & skin on
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¬ľ cup lemon juice
¬Ĺ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian herbs or thyme, rosemary (whatever desired)
Kosher salt, coarse sea salt or pink salt to taste
Ground black pepper (or lemon pepper) to taste

Directions: 

  1. In a bowl large enough to fit chicken, whisk together lemon juice, garlic powder, herbs, salt, black pepper (approx. 1 teaspoon) and olive oil
  2. Put in chicken and coat it with marinade
  3. If desired, cover and refrigerate chicken over night (I was in a rush and just left it at room temperature for 30 minutes, turing 2-3 times), then preheat broiler
  4. Place on foil lined pan and place chicken in, and spoon some marinade over but saving some for basting
  5. Broil for 30 minutes or until almost cooked, baste¬†and switch oven to bake until golden & done (or fry in non-stick pan on medium until chicken has some colour or done ‚Äď 160F)
  6. If wanting to use leftover marinade as sauce, either simmer for 5-7 minutes in a small saucepan or add to pan while frying on stove top)
  7. Sprinkle with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice before serving if desired

When it Rain, it Pours

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Raining cats and dogs on my way home from work today. Got completely soaked from the knees down, an umbrella was no help…..bad day to not have rubber boots.

Living in Vancouver, I’m used to the rain, it’s just miserable when I’ve got a cold ūüė¶ I’ve been banned from the kitchen in fear of spreading my germs…hopefully I’ll be back at it on Monday.

Good night to stay in doors. Hope you’re warm and cozy this evening!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!


I wanted to make cupcakes for people at work because I found these really cute cupcake cups. They’re supposed¬†sturdy enough that muffin tins are necessary so you can just set them on a cookie sheet and bake them all at once.

The only thing was, I tried to squeeze too many on to one cookie sheet and when they expanded in the oven, some of them got squished and¬†turned out triangular…..oh well.

I didn’t have¬†a recipe¬†for chocolate cupcakes¬†so¬†followed this one from Williams Sonoma’s website and topped it off with a basic frosting. It’s actually¬†my first time baking cupcakes, turns out frosting them nicely was harder than anticipated. Hmmm….maybe I’ll just¬† stick to muffins…..

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/chocolate-cupcakes.html

 
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Vietnamese Crab Cake Noodle Soup (B√ļn Ri√™u)

After having¬†that delicious bowl of B√ļn¬†Ri√™u for in Oakland, it’s been on my mind. After talking to my husband about locating a good restaurant for it, I decided to make my own. He said I’d find most ingredients I’d need at this Vietnamese grocery store in an area of town recently designated as Little Saigon.

Prior to heading there, I Googled some recipes to get an idea on what ingredients would be required. I wandered the aisles a bit and got confused. I asked one of the guys stocking the shelves for some help and he started to put things into my basket. When he was done, I was armed with various jars and bags. He said all I needed now was the meats and eggs. So in the evening, I went to get the meats.

So using the¬†instructions from the guy at the store and¬†a couple of recipes online, I started to put everything together. Instead of making my soup base from scratch out of pork bones, I used a box of chicken broth, I’m not sure if it makes a huge difference but it saves a lot of work. A food processor with also save you some time but hand-chopping works too.

Ingredients

Soup:
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
4 teaspoons spicy crab paste
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4-6 Roma tomatoes, washed & cut into quarters
1 pack of fried tofu cubes

Crab cake:
1/2 pound ground pork (I used lean)
1/2 pound prawns (fresh)
3 tablespoon dried shrimp, minced
1 cup of crab meat, drained 
(crab can be frozen, canned or fresh. I used 2 cans of 120g)
1 can of mince crab in spices
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
few splashes of fish sauce
1-2 eggs

Directions
1. Peel prawns and save tails and heads. Mince the meat or grind in food processor
2. In a large pot, bring water and chicken broth to a simmer and add in prawn tails and heads, simmer low
3. Combine crab meat mixture together, add in 1 egg to start if you find the mixture too dry and not sticking together, add an extra, cover and refrigerate mixture
4. Scoop out heads and tails from broth
5. Using a bit of the broth in a small bowl, combine spicy crab paste and tomato paste until dissolved. Pour into broth
6. Put chopped dried shrimp into broth and bring to a boil
7. Take meat mixture out and slowly slide burger patty sized “cakes” into soup. Try not to stir the soup too much after this point or your cake will crumble
8. Add in tomatoes, tofu and a few splashes of fish sauce
9.  Make noodles according to the packaging (boil appox. 5-10 mins) rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking
10. When the cake floats, it’s almost¬†done, you can break the cake up a bit to check – you can break of the cake a bit in the soup is fine
11. Serve with herbs. (This is what I was told to serve the noodles with but¬†I’m not sure what kind of greens these are…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to look kind of close but you cans see one of my crab cakes starting to float at the top

I prefer the thicker, round rice vermicelli (first photo and the green packaging), but my husband prefers the thinner rice stick vermicelli noodles (red packaging)

Breaded Chicken

I know this chicken looks kind of like Shake ‚Äėn Bake but it‚Äôs not! I tend to make this when I don‚Äôt want to do too much prepping and have bread nearing expiry. You can customize it by adding your favourite herbs and spices to the bread crumbs.

I thought the chicken breasts I bought were quite thick so I sliced them in half and they cooked a lot faster. You can also do chicken thighs or pork chops, it’s up to you, I just find drumsticks too annoying to cook evenly.

¬†There are a lot of breaded chicken recipes online, but then again there‚Äôs a lot of everything online so I‚Äôm going to post how I made this anyways¬† ūüôā¬†

Ingredients
2 pieces of chicken breast
3-4 slices bread, toasted & crushed into crumbs or  approx.1 cup of bread crumbs
Herbs, spices, salt, pepper as desired
Milk

Directions
1. (Optional) slice each chicken breast in half horizontally and then pound slightly with rubber mallet
2. Mix in desired herbs/spices into crumbs (this time I used 1 teaspoon lemon pepper and ¬Ĺ teaspoon salt)
3. Heat non-stick pan on low-medium heat and add in oil
4. Put a bit of milk into a dish and put in a piece of chicken (don’t use too much milk because it can’t be reused
5. Remove from milk and dredge into bread crumbs, press crumbs into meat
6. Place on pan to fry, flip when bottom is golden brown. It’s done when the internal temperature is 165F.

¬†*You‚Äôll want enough oil to keep the breading from burning, for my 12‚ÄĚ pan I used approx. 2 tablespoons. Add more oil if required, stay on low-medium heat.

**You can choose to bake the chicken instead if concerned about oil. The cook time and temperature will depend on your meat size. Typically, chicken is 350F for 20-30 minutes, uncovered.

Enjoy with veggies and your favourite dipping sauce, but the herbs and breading provides a nice flavour as-is.

Chicken Stuff with Sticky Rice


A while back we had an office potluck and our VP’s husband made this delicious sticky rice and chicken. Everyone asked for the recipe but seems like I’m the only one who’s tried it. I went on to YouTube to watch some videos on how to debone¬†a chicken whole¬†so I can stuff it. In theory, it all seemed straightforward, but¬†about¬†30¬†minutes into it¬†I got a little frustrated and decided I would just slice the chicken open and sew it back up after stuffing.

I thought I would be smart and debone & brine the chicken overnight but it made the meat a little to salty for my liking.¬† In case you want to give it a whirl, here’s the recipe.

I love sticky rice, it gives me the same stick-to-the-ribs¬†feeling¬†I get with a good¬†mac n’ cheese .


Ingredients

Brine
1/2 cup of sea salt
8 cups water
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
1-2 pieces star anise

Chicken/Rice
1 raw chicken
4 tablespoons dried shrimp, soaked & coarsely chopped
6-7 shiitake mushrooms, soaked & minced pieces
1 cup sweet rice, soaked 6 hours or overnight
1 package chestnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger powder
2 tablespoons soya sauce
sesame oil


Directions

1. Debone chicken. Place into brine mixture for approx. 4 hours
2. Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towels
3. Rub soya sauce and then ginger powder on to inside and outside of chicken
4. Mix shrimp into rice and¬†steam for approx. 20 mins (or as¬†bag directs) –
I used a rice cooker. Preheat oven 375F
5. Mix mushrooms and chestnuts into rice mixture and finish with splash of sesame oil. Let cool 15 mins.
6.  Stuff rice into chicken. Use butcher string to close up cavity
(or sew up in my case)
7.  Place on roasting rack, baking pan or glass pan Рbreast down for 45- 50 mins
8. Remove from heat, reduce to 325F, turn chicken over and bake for approx 10-15 mins
      **use meat thermometer to ensure thorough cooking**
9. When finished, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting chicken in half and serving in pieces

 

Don’t forget, you can save the bones to make stock! Freeze them until you’re ready to use.
Happy stuffing~

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork with Hard-Boiled Eggs (Thit Kho)

This morning my husband said he wanted to eat this dish his mom used to make, thit¬†kho. It’s a caramelized¬†pork and egg dish served with rice. Wanting to flex my cooking skills¬†I¬†Googled some recipes and we went to the supermarket.

While cooking and tasting I made some adjustments. The only thing¬†was,¬†I was kind of¬†going in blind here as I’ve only had this dish once before.

Lots of the recipes¬†online called for Coco Rico or coconut juice or coconut water. We were only able to find coconut juice but confused about pulp or no pulp I decided to try a can of Coke instead.¬†¬†Here’s the recipe, it’s¬†a bit of a mix from a few we found online and made some adjustments along the way.

Ingredients
2 lbs of pork (I used shoulder but pork belly is commonly used)
1 shallot, minced
4 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning
black pepper, to taste
eggs, as desired
1 can of Coke or coconut juice

 Directions 
1. Blanch pork meat for 2 minutes, rinse with cold water
2. Cut pork into strips or cubes as desired (around the same size is easier to cook)
3. In a bowl, mix shallots, fish sauce, mushroom seasoning, black pepper and add in pork pieces (one receipe said to marinade for an hour, and one didn’t, so I didn’t)
4. Caramelized the sugar in a pot on medium, being careful not to burn it
5. Add pork once the caramel has reached a golden brown
6. Coat the pork evenly with the caramel
7. Evenly brown the outside of the pork and pour in Coke or coconut juice over (enough to cover).  Let pork stew being careful not to burn (low-medium heat)
8. In a separate pot, hard-boil your eggs (actually, I think next time I’d try to soft boil them so they’re not over-done)
9. Add to the pork mixture once eggs are done and peeled
10. At this point I had to add a bit more Coke, fish sauce and pepper since husband said there should be more sauce
11. Remove from heat when sauce has thickened to desired consistency (some recipes showed the sauce thicker and some more watery) serve with rice 
The pork was really¬†tender and¬†flavourful but¬†I’d like more on the eggs next time. I think I might¬†stew the¬†eggs for a while first and add the meat after.
 

The nice thing about this dish was a lot of the ingredients were already in my kitchen. Enjoy!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here’s mushroom seasoning in case you don’t know what it is!

Don’t Waste Those Bones

Growing up in a frugal family meant little went to waste and lots were re-purposed. For instance, clothes that were too worn out to be¬†hand-me-downs, were either cut up into rags or used to mop the floor, and paper towels for drying hands – unheard of. Of course one of my favourite ways to not waste something would revolve around food. It’s using the bones from those pre-cooked¬†rotisserie chickens to make stock & chicken noodle soup!
 
Now, some of you might thing it’s¬†gross but I’m not telling you to use the bones after people have eaten, just the body of the chicken – the parts that are usually carved. I think this works best with just the regular¬†rotisserie chicken¬†as I’m not sure if I’d like BBQ flavoured¬†chicken noodle soup.
 
So I just put in the bones/body into a pot, fill water up to about 1/2 way up the body and simmer on medium for 30-40 minutes. Any excess meat can be¬†picked off with a fork and the bones can then be thrown out. I usually add more water and keep simmering until you reached¬†your¬†desired amount of “chickeness” (if that makes sense). Add in some salt or soya sauce for taste.
 
I then bring the stock to a boil and throw in some macaroni (or whatever your preference is) once that’s going I’ll usually throw in whatever veggies I have left. Anything from leftovers, canned or frozen. You’ll have to add water, noodles, veggies, salt/soya sauce according to your own taste and preferred soup to noodle ratio,¬†remember, you can taste in between because you’re not dealing with raw meat.

Next time I’ll make congee (rice porridge) with my chicken stock. This also works with your leftover holiday turkey bones!

So, think mom will be proud?