Friday, November 30, 2007

Salmon Salad Sandwiches

My kids love tuna salad sandwiches, and I decided to make it with canned salmon this time. It was a great little lunch/snack for the kids. I decorated mine with chili sauce, while the kids had theirs with tomatoe ketcup. Served with sweet potatoe chips and seedless green grapes.

1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
4 tsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp grated lime zest
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6-8 small cans salmon packed in water, drained
1/3 cup each finely chopped celery and red onion

Whisk mayonnaise, capers, lemon zest and juice, and pepper in a bowl until blended. Stir in tuna, celery and onion.

Recipe adapted from Woman's Day magazine.

I also got tagged this morning by my gf Little Corner of Mine, and decided to add this on as I don't know when I'll be able to get to the computer again with the busy weekend ahead. So here goes...

1. A movie that made you laugh. Wild Hogs....those silly men!

2. A book that made you cry. Haven't had time lately, but I remembered the last one was The House of Mirth...."The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."

3. A Best Friend. Hubs.

4. A favorite childhood memories. Listening to my grandma's stories.

5. Your favorite animal. Hubs!

6. Your favorite food. See-Food-And-Eat-Food.

7. An item of clothing you cannot do without. Clean Underwear!

8. Something you collect. Kitchen gadgets

9. Your favorite store to shop in. I shop online at different sites. :)

10.Your favorite flower. Rose

I'm tagging my dear blogger friends:
Beau Lotus

Sweet "Sheet-yi" Apple Tong-sui and Sweet Friends!

My late auntie Su used to make a white fungus (Sheet-yi) soup with dried longans that was sweet and she would serve it cold and as a dessert after lunch. It is also called snow fungus, or white tree jellyfish in Japan. It is a kind of mushroom that grows as a whitish clump on trees and used in it's dried form in savoury and sweet soups, and has several health benefits depending on who I asked. My gf in Singapore said it's great for decreasing freckles (I thought freckles were cute), my gf in Penang said it was good for complexion, and my gf in Kuala Lumpur said it was good for lowering cholesterol. Personally, I enjoy the texture of this jelly-like mushroom in a light, sweet, cold soup once in a while and the benefits are interesting, but secondary to the fun of preparing this soup. So when I saw a white fungus sweet dessert soup from a facebook and scrabble playing blogger-friend sometime ago, it reminded me of my aunt. I saw a box of white fungus at the asian market yesterday, and bought a packet to try out this new recipe. I soaked the almonds or apricot kennels overnight, cubed one apple and left the other one in quarters. Also added a few longans to the soup. While it was cooking, I loved the fragrance of the pandan leaves in the boiling soup. This soup is also supposed to be good for coughs.

Recipe from Amy Beh

2 red apples, peeled, cored and cubed

10g white fungus, soaked for 5–10 minutes and cut into small pieces

1 tbsp each of bitter and sweet almonds (Nam Hum and Buk Hum in cantonese)

3 honey dates (mat choe)

100g rock sugar

1.5 litres water

2 screwpine leaves, shredded and knotted

Bring water to a boil and add apples, white fungus and bitter and sweet almonds. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add honey dates, rock sugar and screwpine leaves and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

On another sweet note, my dear gfs Little Corner of Mine and Singairishgirl and also from fellow blogger Bokjae, had given me an early Christmas Present by giving me this...

"Do you know the relationship between your 2 eyes?
They blink together, move together, cry together, see things together and sleep together.
Even though they never see each other, friendship should be just like that!
Life is like Hell without FRIENDS. Its ‘World Best Friend Week’.
Send this to your best friends to let them know you appreciate them.

Your Love is Ur Heart,
Your heart is Ur Spouse,
Your spouse is Ur Future,
Your future is Ur Destiny,
Your destiny is Ur Ambition,
Your ambition is Ur Aspiration,
Your aspiration is Ur Motivation,
Your motivation is Ur Belief,
Your belief is Ur Peace,
Your peace is Ur Target,
Your target is Heaven,
Heaven is no fun without FRIENDS.

I would like to pass this on to the following friends:

Beau Lotus
Sidney & Sunny
C @ LCOM (the circle of friendship!)
And all of you who dropped by ever so often and also those don't leave any comments (you know who you are!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Watermelon Wobba-Monster Fun

Drying, strong, and chilly wind came knocking today, with weather-changing from relatively warm and sunny yesterday to blistery cold winds and cloudy skies. A gentle reminder and a preview of winter ahead, without the moisture and snow. That, and preschool are hard on little ones. One of my kids had developed some cold sores, and the pediatrician suggested giving her watermelon and Popsicles to help keep her hydrated since she's not eating. I called the preschool to tell them that my kids are not going to be at school and heard that there are a number of kids with cold sores this season.

Anyway, I found a seedless watermelon at the store yesterday and made this fun little snack for the kids. One kid had only watermelon, the other loved green seedless grapes and tangerines, and I had all the raspberries. I couldn't figure out what I was creating when I went cutting into that watermelon, and I guess I needed something to cheer up the gloomy, grey skies today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Going Bananas Pancakes

Used up some bananas for coconut and banana pancakes with a banana sauce on top. The sauce was similar to banana foster, but without the rum as I needed to keep it kid-friendly.

My cousin send me this today, and I thought it was too funny not to share...

Once there was a Chinese wedding dinner. The dinner occupied only half of the restaurant. The other half was occupied by some American tourists.
As the wedding Chinese couples hop from table to table to toast the guests, the cheers of " KAN PEI .. " (happy & joyous drinking in Mandarin) gets
louder and louder.
One American gets more and more irritated as the couple get closer to him. " KAN PEI ...!" " KAN.... PEI"....!!!" The cheers continued.
Finally, that irritated American couldn't take it anymore. He stood up on his chair and shouted. "IF YOU CAN'T PAY, THEN LET ME PAY FOR YOU...!"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Egg Drop Soup to Full Moon

I have so much to do today, so I decided to compress these 2 topics into one post.

Made an egg drop soup today with the last of the turkey breast meat, and it was received with great enthusiasm from the family. Here's the recipe adapted from cooking with kids.

4-1/2 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 cup cooked minced chicken breasts
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 green onion, minced

Take out 3 tablespoons of the chicken broth and mix with the cornstarch and soy sauce; add the salt to this mixture. Heat the remaining broth, bringing to a simmer. Add peas, carrots, corn and turkey meat. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the hot broth and stir until thick and clear.

Break eggs into a small pitcher, stir lightly, and slowly pour into the hot soup. Turn off the heat and stir once. Divide the chopped green onion (omitted) into four soup bowls and ladle in the soup.Last Saturday afternoon, at around 4.30pm, I was on my way back from the capital, and spotted an awesome sight at the horizon. So I got dear Hubs to slow down the car to 40 miles/hr in order to I can capture this moon rising. I took several shots, but fell in love with this particular shot with the country house on the right for a comparison on the size of that moon. Frankly, I don't mean to 'moon' you, but this is simply too beautiful not to share!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Asian Twist on Avocado Topping

I enjoyed avocados so much when I was south of the border, that I wanted to make some for my leftover turkey meat. Found some avocados at the store, and made this Asian version that made a great twist as a topping over sliced turkey breast. This would be so good over fish, scallops or shrimps too.
1 small can of yellow corn
1 tbs dark roasted sesame oil
3 tbs fresh key lime juice (or use unseasoned rice vinegar)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon hot chili paste
1 garlic clove, minced
some basil leaves, choppped
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
Microwave corn for 1-2 mins depending on your mircrowave. Mix vinegar, green onions, sesame seeds, chili paste, garlic, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in medium bowl. Add the room temperature corn, red bell pepper, basil and avocado; toss gently to combine. Season salsa to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Rice Soup with Braised Peanuts

It's the day after thanksgiving, and after chasing the Black Friday shopping craze at 4 am this morning, I'm back to the warmth of my kitchen, and cooking up that turkey carcus.Yes, you read it correctly. It was that big turkey we had yesterday, minus as much meat as possible (do try to save that turkey wishbone if you can). Simply break it apart to managable pieces, and cook it in some water for a couple of hours to make rich turkey broth. Strain it through a sieve into another pot, add 1 to 1 1/2 cup rice to it, some seasonings, and you have yourself some yummy good turkey porridge/congee or 'RICE SOUP' as my kids called it.

I added some soft soy-sauce braised peanuts that was cooking in the slow cooker since last night, and topped it with hand-shredded turkey meat and a scattering of scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil. A heart-felt, soul-warming, belly-comforting, light lunch on a shiver-in-your-bones kind of cold, cold day for the kids and me.

Braised Peanuts adapted from Amy Beh
250g peanuts (use the bigger type), preferably soaked overnight

3g tong kwai (optional)

2g liquorice stick (kam chou), optional

1g mandarin peel (used one piece)

1 star anise

3cm cinnamon stick (used one stick)

1 tsp chopped garlic


2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp Premium oyster sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp thick soy sauce

1/4 tsp black pepper

40-60g cane rock sugar (found in asian markets)

Rinse soaked peanuts and drain well in a colander. Combine tong kwai, liquorice stick, mandarin peel, star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic and water in my electric pressure cooker and bring to a boil using the browning button. Then I added the peanuts and seasoning. Start the pressure cooker on high for 20 to 30 mins. depending on your pressure cooker and preferance for the softness of the peanuts. Or you can put it in the slowcooker instead.

May also serve peanuts as an appetizer before a meal or even as a snack.

As for my dear hubby, he enjoyed his leftover feast his way.And of course, he had his greens too...if you look really hard, you can see that green baby spinach under the pile of shredded cheddar cheese. Or not?

Thankfully Thanksgiving

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Good health, family, friends, a roof over my head, house furnace that works (especially this time of the year), and sitting down for a big meal with our loved ones... those are some of the things that I am so thankful for this time of the year. And so grateful that I get to share it with you too.

These days, thanksgiving is centered on the turkey, stuffing and all that food, and the main idea behind this is being together with family and be surrounded with people who we care about. The family dynamics can be uncomfortable at times, but at the end of the day, it's about spending time with our families and we usually have a great time doing just that. Of course watching the Dallas Cowboys on play some football helps divert all that attention on the turkey too.

Since we had only arrived home the night before thanksgiving to snow on the ground and a mere 14 degrees (minus 9.4 degrees celsius), and we couldn't find a fresh turkey at the local grocery store that night, we settled for a frozen 20 lb. turkey at 7.30 pm the night before. I was determined to have a thanksgiving dinner, so the only way to thaw a frozen turkey in a hurry was to thaw it in a bath of cold water in the laundry room sink and changing the water every 30 mins. Because of the size of the turkey, this was going to take awhile! So, that meant that I had to change the water twice every hour, for about 10 hours. Thankfully, I had a great partner who helped me with that for a couple of hours so that I can catch some sleep in between.

At 4 am, I was up and working on cleaning and prepping for that thanksgiving dinner schedule for 4 pm. Instead of stuffing the turkey like I did every year before, I opt to roast the turkey unstuffed this year except for a sliced up orange in the cavity. This decreased the cooking time in the oven, and it also gave me the best stuffing I've made in years because the stuffing wasn't soggy like they would have been in the turkey. It turned out golden brown, crispy, and I could taste the corn bread, sausage, thyme, apples, raisins and pine nuts in every bite. When the turkey was done, I skimmed off most of the fat, deglazed the pan with some white wine, and made a rich brown gravy with Wonder flour.

I also decided to go healthier this year by offering a baby spinach salad with mandarin oranges instead of a creamed spinach dish, and I switched to baby sweet peas with pearl onions and fresh tarragon instead of the usual green bean casserole. These were just a few efforts to cut down on the calories for the day, and for me to justify another slice of turkey with gravy!

The kids are just getting the idea of thanksgiving from their preschool teacher and I think I enjoyed it most when I saw them gobbling up the turkey breast and the mashed potatoes. Then they had 2 slices of pumpkin pie each. Unfortunately I didn't have the good restraint to do the same.

And at the end of the day, it was all worth it.

I just tried this grid version of collage from Picasa today, and to view a larger pic of each dish, simply click on the picture itself.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some holiday

Got back last night, and I'm so glad to be back home where there's broadband instead of the slowband where I was for a week. Maybe they make it that way so that people like me will stay away from our laptops. If it was that easy...

Anyway, I'm excited about cooking Thanksgiving today. My turkey is getting ready, the pumpkin pies are baked and I'm ready to attack/prepare/manage my 20 lb. turkey, gravy and stuffing next. All will be well when that turkey is done and cooked!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO CAN'T BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES TODAY...Here are some pictures from the vacation. The kids loved building sand castles on the sandy beach. Picture of the pool taken from our balcony.
This was the buffet breakfast area. All you can eat for US20, and kids under 6 eat free.
Just happened to catch a surfer crashed onto the waves (yellow surfboard on the left above the waves) while his little kid watched. His partner/wife? didn't want to look, it seemed.
After all the poolside/beachside activities, we headed off to the local supermarket for some freshly baked donuts and pastries.Next day it was back to pool. We brought some toy fishes for the kids that was battery-operated, and swim by themselves when lowered into the pool. The kids loved them.
Here's a young, water aerobic instructor with his groupies. I should be joining them after all those donuts? But I opted to chase little ones around the fountain area by the pool instead.

The little vacation room

Had a great time with the family on this mini vacation. We were lucky to get a room with a view of the happening pool area that was just steps away from the sand and waves, with the added bonus of watching fireworks every other night. They had a pirate ship that sailed daily and there were dancing, booze, food, and fireworks around 9.30 pm. They were anchored not too far from our resort and we were fortunate to catch the fireworks. There was also a Mexican Fiesta night that had fireworks right outside our balcony. The kids(and I) loved the fireworks! The guys had a great time too, and there were too many margaritas to be had. And it doesn't matter if it was frozen or on the rocks either. My favorite part of the room, this is where the kids get the nightly bath and there were lots of giggles and screams happening there.
The two sink area was a great solution for me as well as a marriage saver when one of the spouses has lots of toiletries and stuff...
This king bed came in handy when the kids had a bad dream and want to cuddle up with mommy and daddy.
This was the Murphy bed or hide-away bed that was a great idea, but not the most comfortable thing in the room.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sneaking to the internet cafe

This getaway had been planned last February, and am so glad we made it here. It's our little vacation for our anniversary/early thanksgiving break/flying south for warmth like the birds...

Landed safely yesterday and drove to a fun seaside resort and spa down in Mexico with friends. Now I am taking a mini break at the internet cafe before heading out for dinner. Though we are still coughing away and bumped with meds, we are definitely feeling better here with the warmer temperatures. It was 15 degrees back home compared to 80 degrees down here. It was a soothing night in our 7th floor room overlooking the pool and the ocean and we were lucky to get the same view as the picture above (the ocean starts where the pool ends). Listening to the ocean waves crashing on the beach was also calming and a much needed break for me.

Today, I spent the morning at the local Super Walmart, picking up some essential items for breakfasts and snacks for our 2-bedroom apartment that came with 2 kitchenettes. Also, being the worrying mom that I am, I have been busy re-washing all the cutery and tableware in the dishwasher before using anything. Will try making some french toast and fruit salad tomorrow for breakfast. Can't wait to mess up this kitchen area!

I want to thank you all again for your concern and kind comments. The kids are slowly but surely recovering, and we are only spending 1/2 at the time at the swimming pool. Needed to include this info for grandma who will be reading this. Unfortunately I forgot the cable for my camera, so will only be uploading more pictures when I get back home next week. The above picture was taken from the resort's website.

Cheers everyone, and have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Out for a week.

With all the commotion and sick kids and a sick mommy, I'll be delaying my posting for a little while. Will be missing you guys and hope I can log on from my next destination to check on your delicious eats. Keeping fingers crossed for WIFI over there. Isn't it funny that I'll be missing blogging? LOL!

Cheers Everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Boiled Pears with Honey Syrup & Ice Cream

Pears are usually a stable at my household this time of the year, and my kids love it. And since I had a platter filled with Bartlett pears on the kitchen table, I decided to have fun with them. There are numerous recipes on the web for poaching pears in syrup that is usually made with vanilla pods, wine, sugar, spices and everything nice. However I chose to simply wrap mine up in foil, boil them in a pot, drizzle them in a honey-mint syrup and served it with ice cream for a light, fun, and child-friendly dessert.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Minced Beef Noodles

Yesterday was my girlfriend's birthday, and I did a stir-fry noodle dish for her potluck. For many Asians, noodles are considered a symbol of longevity, especially if you've ever seen the lengths of noodles in Asia. I used some fresh yellow noodles found at the Asian market, and made this in her favorite minced beef combo. This was a quick stir-fry with sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili oil, cornstarch and some chicken stock in the sauce.

Now she should live for another 150 years, at least!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stovetop Glutinous Rice

Most of you have probably heard of glutinous rice, the short-grained white rice that is very, very sticky when cooked. Hence it's also known as sticky, sticky rice. Okay, so I added another sticky word, but I just love saying sticky!.

Glutinous Sticky Rice has many applications in my kitchen. I love it in kuihs/kuehs (malay or nonya sweet desserts), as a partner-in-crime with sweet Thai Mangoes in the famous Thai dessert, or another sweet Vietnamese dessert callled che-đau-trang. It is also used in savoury zhongzi or dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. But today I have a craving for the hor-yip-fan which is a savoury mix of Chinese sausages, dried scallops, chicken and chestnuts all wrapped in lotus leaves. But since I didn't have lotus leaves on-hand, and didn't want to go to the trouble of steaming this dish, I found a stove-top version that was quick, painless, and satisfied my craving. This can also be called lor-mai-kai since it didn't have the 'hor-yip' or lotus leaves, I guess.2 cups glutinous/sticky rice
10-12 shiitake mushrooms
2-3 Chinese sausages
5 rehydrated dried scallops, shredded (optional)
1 tbs peanut oil
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
12 whole cooked chestnuts
1/4 cup Sherry
2 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs oyster sauce
2 tsp dark roasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt (omitted)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 1/3 cups homemade unsalted chicken brothRinse rice a few times. Cover rice with cold water by 1 inch in a large bowl and soak overnight (about 6-8 hours). Drain in a sieve and rinse again under cold running water and leave aside. Soak mushrooms in warm water 30 minutes, then drain, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl sieve the liquid. You can use this liquid for soup later. Rinse mushrooms and coarsely chop caps. Slice chinese sausages and set aside.

Use a large (4 quart) non-stick pot and set it over high heat. Add oil, ginger and scallion and stir-fry til fragrant. Add sausage and stir-fry 1-2 minutes, then add mushrooms and stir-fry 1 minute. Add chestnuts and stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in sherry, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, and white pepper and remove from heat. Add drained rice and scallops, and stir to coat. Add broth (broth will not completely cover rice). Bring to a simmer, stir once, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir from bottom to distribute ingredients and let stand, covered, 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Miso Chicken Stew

In a well made movie, we often marvel at how the main actor/actress shines in his/her role. And often it's because of the supporting actor/actress role in that particular movie that makes the main character stand out. And occasionally, the main character's role pales in comparison to the the talents of the supporting character. Likewise in cooking.

In Asia, most countries have their own methods and versions of enhancing a dish. It could be dried shrimp, chilies, or the popular fermented soy beans or soya bean paste. Used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cooking, the soya bean paste is often used as the supporting ingredient in making a dish shine. In Japan, this paste is called Miso.

Miso comes in a variety of concoctions by fermenting soy beans, barley or rice, and this thick paste is used in most Japanese cooking. There are white, red, brown, black, yellow tubs of this paste found in food stores around here. I love the different intensities of miso and it's rich flavor in soups, and as a spread on white fish before putting it under the broiler. So I was elated when I saw this recipe for miso chicken stew.

The recipe was adapted from Gourmet, and I love how the miso shines through this dish even when it's the last ingredient added. And like all stews, this dish is brighter and tastier the following day. This recipe made a big batch of stew, so I put some away in the freezer for a quick meal for later in the week. Made several changes to the original recipe and cooked it in my electric pressure cooker with a non-stick interior. It also browns the meat as well as pressure cooks it, which makes an easy clean-up for me.16 chicken thighs with bone, but skin removed(about 5 pounds)
2/3 c dried wood ear mushrooms
4-5 c homemade chicken stock
3 (6-inch) stalks burdock root (sometimes called gobo)1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbs canola oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 lb fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded, large caps quartered
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
3 tbs finely chopped peeled ginger
3 tbs finely chopped garlic
1 c mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
3/4 to 1 c white miso (also called shiro miso)

Accompaniment: cooked jasmine or brown rice
Garnish: chopped scallions

Soak wood ear mushrooms in 4 cups of cold water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well, discarding any hard pieces. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.

Peel burdock root, and, if more than 1-inch-thick, halve lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer burdock root to a bowl, then add lemon juice and 2 cups water.

Turn on electric pressure cooker to brown, add 1 tbs canola oil and brown chicken thighs in 2-3 patches. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add onions and saute onions until softened and beginning to brown. Add shitakes, ginger, and garlic and saute until garlic is golden, 2-3 minutes.

Add mirin chicken stock, celery, and carrots, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in soy sauce, then add the chicken back into the pot.

Cover pot and pressure cook for 35 mins.

Remove the lid when pressure is off, and stir in 1 cup miso mixed with 1/2 cup warm chicken stock. With the setting on brown, stir gently til miso is well mixed in the sauce. Serve immediately with rice.

Note: I love the addition of burdock root to this dish. It added a unique taste to the dish as well as fiber. This can be cooked on the stove top and braised for 1 hour if not using a pressure cooker. I had chose to add the white miso to this dish as a last ingredient to preserve the wonderful flavors of miso. A dear Japanese friend taught me to never overcook miso so as to preserve it's qualities and nutrients, so I tend to add it last and bring it to just a boil.

Because in this particular dish, Miso was my star ingredient.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cracking the Chestnut Code

When I was a about 6, I remember my family driving up to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, and on the way, we would stop at all the wonderful places for good eats. As a kid, I was only into fried foods and steamed fish back then, but I do remember the snacks. And there were some yummy snacks along the way that made quite an impression on my mind.

One of the many wonderful treats was chestnuts. I remembered the little stall with a gigantic wok that was burned black from use, and they were half filled with black aromatic little black beans that dad later told me were coffee beans, and the chestnuts were tossed around these coffee beans over a hot fire til they were cooked. The vendor or chestnut man as I called him, would vigorously stir the contents on the wok, and there would be a younger person with him taking orders and scooping out the cooked chestnuts into a paper bag. Then I would watch my dad gingerly grab a hot chestnut as he tried to peel off the shell and skin for me. Thank heaven for parents catering to us.

So when I saw the pile of chestnut at the asian market yesterday, I couldn't help but scoop up a couple of handfuls to try. And I after I came home, I was wondering how to prepare it. Should I roast it on an open fire? No, too risky, and I might just burn the house down. Besides I don't really have an open fire, just gas fireplaces.

Should I do the coffee beans trick? Seem like such a waste for great Hawaiian coffee beans.

Should I microwave it? That's a thought! So I cut a cross on top of 3 (my lucky number) chestnuts, placed it on a paper plate, put them in the microwave for 1 minute and dashed to the other side of the room with the kids just in case it explodes!

Well, there was no explosion (thankfully), and the chestnuts looked adorable with their shells curved outward where the slits were cut (above pic). Two were cooked and the other slightly undercooked. May have to tweak the power on my microwave and try this again. Or maybe I'll try the candied, boiled or coffee bean roasted versions after I get hold of some inexpensive coffee beans next.

Have you ever microwaved a chestnut?
What's your favorite way to enjoy chestnuts?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cilantro Beef Fried Rice

Made an easy lunch yesterday as a means to clean out the fridge. I started with a beef stir-fry, then realized that I have some cooked jasmine rice left in the fridge, so I made fried rice. Added cilantro and peas and red bell pepper for a complete meal. Look Ma, told you I'm feeding my kids!
Cilantro Beef Fried Rice
1 lb flank steak fried thinly
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce (optional)
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs brown sugar
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot
2 cups cooked rice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Marinate flank steak in the next 5 ingredients for 30 mins. In a hot non-stick wok, add 1 tbs oil. Stir-fry the flank steak til there's no red. Careful as it'll be sizzling. Remove from wok. Add 1 tbs oil and stir fry shallots, peas and red bell pepper til fragrant. Add rice and stir til mixed. Add beaten egg and stir til mixed. Return beef to wok and stir til mixed. Add cilantro and stir fry for another minute. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Turkey Sausage with Oyster Mushrooms and Snap Peas

Thank you all for your kind words and concern recently. My kids are recovering well from the stridor, but still have that persistent cough, so I'm keeping them home for the rest of this week as a courtesy to the other parents even though they are not contagious. I live in a culture where parents frown upon coughing kids around their own, and I know I'm beginning to feel panicky when I hear another child's cough within the vicinity of mine. Yes, I'm becoming a germophobic too.After bringing the kids to their pediatrician last Saturday, I had a chance meeting with my gf C of LCOM as we bumped into each other at the our favorite chinese restaurant. After lunch, we did an express asian market trip (like 5 mins) together where I quickly grabbed some veggies and dashed off to bring the kids home for their naps. It was on that trip that I spotted some oyster mushrooms with C. She had since messaged me and asked what I was going to do with the oyster mushrooms, so I decided to do this post. Made a quick stir-fry with extra lean turkey sausage, shallots, snap peas and oyster mushrooms. Tigerfish had a vegetarian oyster mushroom post recently, and I can't wait to see what LCOM made with hers. As usual, Hubs ate around the mushrooms, which meant more for the kids and me.For san.y who asked me what oyster mushrooms looked like, here's a picture of it.

Catering to the Masses

It was a fun Halloween yesterday. The kind of PG-rated fun that normally went with little kids. We saw fairies, firefighters, penguins, cheerleaders, bumble bees, lots of cowboys, characters from star wars, minnie mouse, dinosaurs and a farmer. Cute costumes. My kids were still coughing, but their pediatrician assured that they weren't contagious anymore. Went to Hubs workplace for an express treat or trick after the kids' naps, and alot of the cubicles were decorated and the staff in awesome costumes. I didn't have my camera with me when we were at the offices upstairs, and later ran to the car to grab it for one shot our friends in their cool costumes in the offices on the main level.

Then we rushed back home to greet trick or treaters who came knocking from 6.30 pm til 10 pm. That's when we saw some of the strangest costume. Among the kids dressed as the killer from the movie SCREAM, knights and cats were kids in teenagers costumes (they were in street clothes) and a lady in her 30's who rang the doorbell, slided her mask down and extended her plastic bag for candy without saying a word. I thought that was an ingenious way to fix that sweet-tooth of hers. The funny thing was that most of the kids and that lady don't even live in the neighborhood. There were cars dropping off loads of kids who went from door to door to get candy. There were also my favorite sight to see which were kids who rang the doorbell with their parents beside them or at the sidewalk waiting for them. Those kids got double candy from me. It was an interesting night, and I have sugar HIGH. Will be sending the remaining candies to work with Hubs so that I can get it away from me, especially the KitKats and anything chocolate. Hope you all had a fun Halloween?