Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Soft Gingerbread cookies

You know what I'm talking about - those storebought gingerbread cookies are hard as a rock. I made this recipe up an hour before meeting my boyfriend's family for Thanksgiving, because I wanted to give everyone a little treat. We didn't even have cookie cutters, that's ok! We drew out a gingerbread pattern from online, made a wax paper template, and cut them out ourselves from the dough!

  • 2 Eggs
  • butter - softened- 1 1/2 sticks
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tbsp
  • Brown sugar - 1 cup
  • white sugar - 1 cup
  • ginger powder - 2 tbsp
  • maple syrup (leftover from a friend in Canada who gave me a souveneir) - 1/4 cup
  • baking soda - 1 1/2 tsp
  • all purpose flour - 2 cups
  • wheat flour - 1/2 cup

Beat butter,brown and white sugar, and syrup until well mixed

Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium until slightly fluffy

Then add the flour and baking soda, and mix well for a few seconds

cool the dough a little in the fridge, roll out, put on a sheet pan, bake at 375 for 10 minutes or less until the edge is a little brown

Then take out and cut into gingerbread shapes, and add quick frosting touches. You'll have a soft homemade gingerbread cookie that everyone will be talking about!

"Don't Throw The Pumpkin Out!" Soup

I know. That pumpkin's been sitting around decorating your place all through November. Maybe you're tired of looking at it, but "Don't Throw The Pumpkin Out!" Use two ingredients and turn it into a perfect pumpkin soup
  • Cut it into four slices, scoop out the seeds, put on a baking sheet and bake in the oven. Bake for an hour
  • Saute some brown mushrooms
  • Add the pumpkin insides to the brown mushrooms, add some water and simmer until the sauce thickens
  • Puree everything. Put back into the pot, warm up and serve.
  • It's perfect as is, but if you have a little truffle oil, add a drizzle, and it's divine!

Simple Salsa

Salsa's a very healthy snack that you can whip up in under two minutes. Again, here I added my leftovers - I had some extra golden raisins and believe it or not, some cocktail onions that were at the back of my fridge. I chopped some fresh tomatos and onions, took out my favorite Sun Chips and sat down and enjoyed a little tv with my healthy salsa snack. Go ahead, take a load off, rest your feet on your table, and crunch away!

Haka Mom Soup

This is a tribute to my Mom. My mom always used to make this very delicious and nutritious soup for me. We would have it on special occassions. Now I make it for my friends on my special occassions. It's fun for parties, because you can put each ingredient in different bowls, and then everyone just adds their favorites to make their own unique soup!

Cooked rice
Chopped long beans
fresh dill
dried shrimp (product of thailand)
pickled radish
chinese brocolli
broth - chinese oolong tea, or dark tea, sauteed spinach, mint or basil

  • Spoon some rice into a bowl, add any of the ingredients above, add a small amount of broth, and enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Don't make "not knowing a good recipe" stop you from baking creatively. You don't need any recipe to cook. All you need to do is create what you feel like. For example, my boyfriend felt like having some cookies. I just looked in the cabinets, saw that we had chocolate chips and went from there. Don't know the perfect amounts of each item? That's ok! Cooking is always an experiment, and that's how some of the best recipes come to be, by just trying to create something! So here I blended together eggs and butter and sugar and brown sugar. Then I added some vanilla, some baking soda and the chocolate chips. To add a little more flavor I tossed in some milk chocolate toffee chips. Within 10 minutes, without thinking, the smell of chocolate chip cookies were in the air. And there's nothing like a warm chocolate chip cookie in the winter!

Deep Fried Fish

You can't get any more inexpensive than this meal. All you have to do is have a little luck and catch it yourself!

We caught these beautiful rainbow trout while visiting gorgeous Lake Tahoe. Instead of filleting it and getting only small fillets out of it, it's easiest to fry the whole fish. Simply clean it, season it, and then dip it in flour.

Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil to your skillet, and fry until golden. Adding a mixture of adobe sauce and bbq sauce gives it a little kick, and makes this basically FREE meal a healthy (those omegas3) and fulfilling one.

"Bake 1 bird and eat 2 dishes" (Ginger Chicken Soup and Roasted Chicken)

In times like these, make sure to get the most out of your chicken. With this recipe, you can use the chicken TWICE. You can make a delicious ginger chicken soup, that will bring back memories of what your mom used to make, what always made you feel better and cured that winter cold. And then you can simply put it in the oven and have a delicous roasted chicken. The soup and roast chicken will stretch out to several meals during the week.

The Soup
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly with hot water
  • Boil water in a pot with 1 tsp salt
  • Put the chicken in the boiled pot
  • Add 3-5 slices of ginger
  • Add 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • Boil until the chicken is done - about 25 minutes
  • Take out the chicken
  • Put in your favorite pasta (I like spiral) and cook until done
  • Add salt, ground pepper and chopped green onion for seasoning

Next, the Chicken

  • Put in the chicken that you cooked in the soup into a foil pan
  • Brush with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar (and any hot sauce - optional)
  • Bake in oven at 400 for approx. 15-20 minutes or until the skin is brown (It only needs to be baked this short time since it's already been cooked in the soup)
Here's to getting your cold cured fast with this!

A Pomegranate Touch

The holidays are soon approaching, and for some, there's the pressure of "what to make", "what will be different". All you have to do is take a simple store mix, and add some leftover makeover, in this case, a splash of color, from a pomegranate.

I made a Devil's food cake mix, and simply added a "snowy" cover of powdered sugar, and then a lot of pomegranate seeds for that eye popping look. You can make them into cute little cupcakes and put it on a holiday platter or a nice big sheet cake for that wow effect. The pomegranate seeds give each bite a little extra moist sweetness.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rice Wraps

Again, the next time you have leftover Chinese takeout, you don't have to just heat it up the next day. Turn it into something new. For $1.49, you can buy a package of rice paper, completely fat free. You simply place it in a little bit of water, to make it soft, then put a little bit of healthy greens, and in this case we had a little fried fish from the chinese takeout.

Roll it up, and if you have a little hoisin sauce to dip it in even better. These are simple and unique for a party as well. Enjoy!

A different "Bed of Rice"

How many times do you see a recipe that says serve on a "Bed of rice". That bed of rice thing can get a bit boring time after time. How about changing it up and using some vegetables instead. Here I simply used some sprouts and some asparagus. It's very simple, very easy:

  • Roast the asaparagus with salt, pepper and olive oil

  • Saute the sprouts in a little olive oil

Done, in less than the time it takes to make rice.

Then when you add a great steak, or a delicious chicken, the sauces with the sprouts and asparagus make a perfect combination!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hazelnut Apple Supreme

I was going to make a basic apple pie. Then, this beautiful green squash in the garden was calling out my name! Instead of a pie crust, you can fill a squash with fruit filling. For a lot of people out there who don't feel like making and rolling out dough, this is a piece of cake...well, a piece of squash, actually! :)

Roasted Hazelnuts
Apple Strudel filling
  • Roast some hazelnuts in a shallow pan at about 375 until golden - about 15 minutes
  • Chop in a mini processor and set aside
  • Cut the top off a squash, and take out the insides (just like for a jack o'lantern)
  • Fill the squash with the apple strudel filling
  • Bake the filled squash at 375 for about 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the roasted hazelnuts on top for the last 5 minutes

This is an easy, eye opening, delicious dessert for a party or get together.

A Gardener's Delight

During my trip to Oregon, I helped cook for our group of 14, most of them published authors of cookbooks or gardening books. I wanted to make something great and unique. As usual, I used my "leftover makeover" ideas for this recipe. The leftovers this time were a natural treasure! One of the gardeners let me use whatever was abundant in their garden. The ground was strewn with 100's of apples and pears, so that was first. (See next post for recipes).

Organic food of Oregon

I just came back from a trip to Oregon, where a group of gardeners and Chefs shared ideas and of course, great food! Recipes will be coming soon. Stay tuned! Here I am at one of the gardens in Oregon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Plumapple Pie

In the summer, fruit's falling everywhere you look. There's plenty of orchards where the fruit's falling faster than families can keep up with it. You're always going to work, and someone has a bag of fruit with a post-it attached with the sentence, "Please take me". If you haven't taken it in the past, TAKE IT NOW! :) When you have a lot of fruits, make fruit pie. I had a lot of leftover apples and plums. The plums were so bruised and broken and battered, that anyone else would've thrown them out. I, on the other hand, made this scrumptious summer pie. I promise you there will be NOTHING left on the plate after you serve this.

At first I just made the Plum Jam, but it was so good and I had a lot leftover, that I also decided to combine it with the apple filling from the apple strudel that I had made (See apple strudel recipe) and turn it into a pie

Plum Jam
3 cups of Plums
2 cups of granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Lemon juice
Pinch of Salt

  • Cook above ingredients in a pot on low to medium heat until all the ingredients become soft and darken in color, and become sticky, like jam should be
  • Leave it to cool down

Arkansas Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks of butter (unsalted)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup cold whole milk (or cold water)

  • Mix the flour and salt together in mixing bowl
  • Cut the butter into cubes
  • Mix it all together until becomes crumbly
  • Then add the milk (or water) and stir for a few seconds
  • Take it out of the bowl, wrap into saran wrap, and put in the fridge for a half hour
  • Roll out the dough for a short time, so it doesn't get overkneaded
  • Put 1/2 of it at the bottom of a greased 8" pie pan, and put in the fridge again for 10 minutes
  • Take out of the fridge
  • Brush with egg yolk. Prebake it in the over for 5-8 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Put in the apple filling first
  • Then put the plum jam over it
  • Put the remaining dough over the fruit
  • It's up to you how you "design" the top of the pie. I pinch the sides with a fork, and poked some holes so the steam can come out. Then I brushed with egg yolk, and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar
  • Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until brown

Serve with a little ice cream if you like, but trust me, this pie doesn't need it.

Fried Rice and Sliced Pork and baby yellow tomatos

One of the most simplest leftovers to transform is rice. Next time you do chinese takeout, ask for extra steamed rice. You can easily turn it into fried rice with a little egg and some veggies. Here I served it with sliced pork and baby yellow tomatos.

Fried Rice
Leftover rice
pesto sauce (optional)
Chopped onion

This is a piece of cake, or should I say, real easy fried rice:
  • So simply saute some onions until brown
  • Add egg, stir until done
  • Add the leftover rice
  • Stir fry until soft
  • (Add a little pesto sauce if you like and blanched brocolli)
  • Add salt (or fish sauce)
  • Done!
Sliced pork with baby yellow tomatos
(The tip here is to filet the pork chop into two slices, so it's thinner and looks like more on the plate! :))

  • Marinade the pork with paprika, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and soy sauce for at least 2 hours
  • Sear it on medium heat until brown
  • (Tips: DON'T OVER DO IT, just nicely browned on each side, flip it constantly every minute and a half. You don't want it to be chewy.)
  • Take it out to rest
  • Add onions into the same sauce pan and saute until brown
  • Add in baby yellow tomatos and balsamic vinegar, sugar, fish sauce (Fish sauce is a great staple ingredient to have, a great substiute for salt, and you can get a huge bottle for a $1! in an asian market)
  • Reduce until thickens
  • Serve over the sliced pork and enjoy!

Creamy Carrot Soup

Don't you hate when you go to have your salad, and you find that all your carrots are soft! Don't throw them away! Make this warm, comforting, carrot soup.

Young Ginger
Vegetable broth
Garnishing - mint
Whole milk
Ground Black pepper

  • Saute onions until soft in a pot
  • Add in mushrooms and ginger
  • Add in vegetable broth, carrots, and potatos.
  • Cook until soft on medium heat
  • Add in a little salt and pepper to taste
  • Take it off the heat.
  • Blend until smooth in a food processor/blender
  • You can either serve it like this, or strain it to make it even smoother
  • Put it back into the pot. Add a little milk. Simmer for a minute.
  • Garnish with mint, (and extra shredded ginger, and sauteed mushrooms)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Golden Raisin Pound Cake

I try not to just stick to a recipe on a box. It's much better to have fun, be creative and make it more interesting.
Here's an easy way to spice up a dry pound cake. Add some golden raisins and vegetable oil, and egg yolk (instead of the whole eggs) to a pound cake mix. It will make it much moister and sweeter.

A New York Steak of Mind

Every once in a while you just want a great steak. Here is a simple recipe, with basic ingredients that you probably have, that come together to make a fantastic steak for that once in a while occassion.

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Ketchup
4 tbsp. White Granulated Sugar
3 tbsp. Teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup Chopped onions
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup Wine/licqeur (Cointreau)

  • Directions:
  • Salt and Pepper the New York steaks on both sides.
  • Add a little ground thyme
  • Put on a rack for 15 minutes at 250 degrees (this will make the steak much juicier, since it will later cook in the pan, faster and more even)
  • Sear with butter in a skillet both sides until evenly brown, approx. 2 minutes each side at medium heat
  • Take out the steak, let it rest
  • Caramelize the onions in the same pan with brown butter
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and reduce the sauce for approx. 10 minutes.
  • Drizzle over the steak and serve

Then get a nice big steak knife and dig in!
(A good combination to this is some fried rice and sauteed squash, as you see above).

Green, green and green

No Green Eggs and Ham here, but close! Sometimes a color combination ties your whole meal together. Here, I wanted to add some green that would match the green on the serving plate and some beautiful green star fruit that were given me. The idea came from my Mom's cooking. We always had fried eggs with beans - it's a very asian thing.
It was very simple to slice up some leftover green beans I had, chop them in small bite size pieces, adding them to my beaten eggs (with a little ground cumin, salt and pepper), and create this fast and easy and healthy, GREEN breakfast.

Barbeque Bass

What was leftover here was actually a lot of lemons that a friend had given me. So lemon juice is needed for fish, so fish it was. Also, the truth of the matter is, that me and my partner had gone for a nice fishing trip. We enjoyed the sun, had a nice snack, but we got NO FISH. So, we got some great chilean sea bass at a nice gourmet store for 22.99 a lb!! (That's why you go fishing, because it's much cheaper!) The secret to this recipe is the barbeque rub. You might think of that for meat, but on a chilean sea bass, a barbeque rub is music to a fisherman's ears!

Barbeque Rub
Barbeque Seasoning (use your favorite)
Ground Black Pepper

4 tbsp. Soy Sauce
Chopped Shallots
2 tbsp. White sugar


  • Rub the bass with all the ingredients
  • Heat up the pan with vegetable oil (medium heat)
  • Sear the fish approx. 2 1/2 minutes each side
  • Take the fish out to rest
  • Add the shallots into the same pan and saute until brown, add soy sauce and sugar
  • Drizzle sauce over the bass.
  • Squeeze the lemons over the fish
  • (I served with blanched sugar peas)

Enjoy the Fish without the Fishing!

An Omelette Salad

Don't be afraid to experiment. I told my boyfriend, Gregg, I was cooking this for that I had some sprouts and some bananas that were getting older, and I wanted to then use them for an omelette. At first his eyebrows raised up a little, but then, since he knows me and my cooking so well, told me that he would never stop any of my ideas, and go right ahead, and go for it. That's what you should all do with yourself, just be creative, if you have an idea, go for it, and see what happens.

4 eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup mushrooms sliced
1 banana sliced
Sprouts - any kind
Chopped cilantro
Crushed Pepper

  • Beat the eggs and milk together.
  • Mix with the chopped cilantro, pepper and salt and sliced banana
  • Saute the mushrooms until soft. Add in the mixture above.
  • Stir slowly at medium heat
  • Add the sprouts on top
  • Flip over, and serve

So it's a salad, it's fruit, and it's eggs! All in one and delicous, try it!

Coq Au Vin

After eating at a great restaurant in San Francisco, called RNM, and trying their coq au vin, I wanted to do the Chef Chong version. Coq Au Vin is a fancy name for basically a chicken in a rich sauce, with vegetables. In the picture above, I served it with a soft roll and some homemade bread, because you will want to sop up every bit of this sauce, :) It's perfect for those cold winter days, or for a special celebration.

Chopped Bacon - 4 strips
Senior Chicken (no young chicken, this is very important, otherwise the chicken falls apart, it won't be the right texture for coq au vin)
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 cup chopped Mushrooms
1/2 cup Cocktail onions (this is one of those leftover items I had from a party, and here I could use them)
2 Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp. Tomato paste
2 tbsp. All purpose flour
1 box of Chicken broth (add some water)
1/2 cup Red wine
Bay leafs (if you have them)
1 tsp. Thyme
1/2 stick Butter (Paula Deen will be proud of me)
2 cups of chopped potatos
Parsley (for garnish)


  • Saute the bacon on med. heat
  • Take out the bacon, leave the oil in the pan
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper
  • Brown the chicken in the pan, just for a few minutes
  • Put aside
  • Saute the mushrooms and cocktail onions until brown
  • Put in tomato paste and garlic. Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth and flour to thicken.
  • Then add the rest of the chicken broth and the browned chicken, potatos, bacon, red wine, thyme, bay leafs and cook on low to med. heat for 40 minutes
  • Take out the chicken and potatos, and let the sauce reduce further, adding in butter, salt and sugar.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley

If your significant other doesn't fall in love with you after this, find a new one!

Yam Pillows

After Thanksgiving, if you have some leftover yams, make them into something different, with a simple addition of some phyllo dough. Simply soften the yam with ground nutmeg, brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a pot of water on medium heat. Then drain them. Mash the yams. Leave it to cool a little. Add marshmallow. Brush the phyllo sheets with soft butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Spoon the mixture onto the phyllo dough. Roll them up, brush with a little butter, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top. Put in the freezer for 5 minutes to get cool. Heat them in the oven on a baking sheet at 375 for 15 minutes, or until turns brown. These fluffy pillows are so soft, but don't sleep on them, simply eat them!

My Best Chicken Curry

This chicken curry dish is a little more advanced and was made at a dinner party, and was the main entree. For a small dinner party, this will light up your guest's eyes.

Chopped 1/2 cup of onion
Chopped ginger (2 tbsp.)
chopped garlic - 2 cloves
2 tbsp. Curry powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. paprika 1 tbsp.
Thai chili oil 2 tbsp.
Thai curry paste
2 cups Coconut cream
4 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. white Sugar
1 tbsp. Salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Chicken breast
Long beans
Sliced onions


  • Brown the onions
  • Add in ginger and garlic
  • Add in the curry powder and crushed pepper and paprika on low heat until the oil changes to a red color
  • Add in the chili oil and thai curry paste
  • Add in the chicken. Cook until half done.
  • Add in 1 cup of coconut cream. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the oil comes to the surface.
  • Add in long beans and onions. Cook for a minute more.
  • Add in rest of coconut cream and yogurt and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Lastly, season with salt, sugar, soy sauce.


A Pocket Full of Peanuts

Again, if you ever have a jar of peanuts that you have grown tired of, make it into something. Make it into this tasty dessert, a pocketful of peanuts and your kids will be screaming for more.

Flour and water (or from grocery store)

  • Chop some peanuts
  • Add sugar
  • Add cinnamon
  • Fill the dough with a spoonful of the mixture
  • Close the pocket of dough
  • Arrange on a cookie sheet
  • Bake in oven at 375 for 15 minutes or until browned
  • Eat after cooling off a bit

Comforting Vegetable and Mushroom Soup

Soup is a really easy thing to make. Don't shy away from making something very simple. When you have a lot of leftover mushrooms, make mushroom soup. On the top, are some grilled shallots which give it that perfect Crunch.


Food Processor
(The Sauteed Mushrooms/Carrots)
Balsamic Vinegar

Thai Peanut Chicken

This is a twist on the classic thai chicken with peanut sauce. It came about because I had a jar of peanuts that had been sitting in my cabinet for a long, long time (after I had made some rocky road for the holidays). So what to make? How about a creamy peanutty sauce to spice up some chicken.
Adobo sauce
Orange juice,
adobo sauce from canned peppers
soy sauce
Sesame oil
Chopped Peanuts

A Peach of a Chicken

When you've gone to the farmer's market, and you have a lot of veggies, and let's say, one Peach, it's a perfect time to make "A Peach of A Chicken".
This healthy summer salad hits all the spots, and the warm peach makes it so unique and memorable.
Salad - Roasted
Olive oil Salt and Pepper
White Peach
white Turnips
Butter Lettuce
Apple Cider Vinegar
Fish Sauce
Crushed Pepper
Chopped Onion

Seafood Mini Burger

Make this at a party, and you'll have people talking about it for a long time to come!

Ginger Pork Chops

The other white meat just got tastier! If you want a showstopper for that special dinner, try this pork recipe. It's all about the sauce. Pssst - The secret is the ginger and the onions.

2 pork chops
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp sugar
Marinade the pork chops for 5 hours in the fridge with the fish sauce, ginger and sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic
1 onion, diced
3 green onions chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar

  • Saute the above ingredients in a separate saucepan
  • In a separate saucepan, fry the pork chops, 8 minutes on each side
  • Serve the sauce on top of the pork chop only

Your loved one will be extra loving this evening, ;)

A Summer Fennel Salad

Here's what to do with healthy, but slighty boring cauliflower. Add a fennel, and some spices, and get a refreshing, simple summer salad.

12 Cauliflower florets
1 fennel bulb sprigs of cilantro
3 green onions
1/2 tb dill
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
Sugar, salt and pepper - dashes

  • Blanch the cauliflower in cold water, then crumble
  • Slice the fennel
  • Chop the cilantro and green onion and dill
  • Mix together
  • For the sauce
  • Mix the EVOO, lime juice, salt, pepper, fish sauce and sugar
  • Fold into the mixed vegetables


Apple Strudel

If you have a tree dropping lots of apples, or you bought a lot of apples and they're getting too ripe, it's time to turn these leftovers into apple strudel!

Here's all you need:
10 Apples
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
2 tablespoons Butter
Dough (8 Phyllo sheets or any dough from the freezer section of your store)

  • Dice the apples
  • Saute them in a sauce pan in butter
  • Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt
  • After 10 minutes, it will caramelize
  • Pour the mixture into the phyllo sheets. Add some more cinnamon (with sugar if you have it) to the phyllo doll
  • Roll the sheets up into a roll
  • Put on a baking sheet

Bake for 20 minutes at 370 degrees
Take out of the oven, cool, drizzle with a little caramel if you have it, and you are ready for a warm winter treat!

A Veggie Soup to Cure All

Chicken soup isn't the only soup that is a cure all, give this Veggie Soup with Tofu a try. Always think of soup if you have some veggies in the fridge, that you've run out of ideas of what to do with.

Chopped onions
Vegetable broth
Fish Sauce
Ground Black Pepper
Tofu (2nd to last)
Rice noodles (soften it in hot water for 15 minutes)

  • Saute the onions in vegetable oil
  • Add water, carrots, cabbage
  • Let it boil until all the ingredients are soft and tender
  • Add salt, fish sauce, and ground black pepper
  • Add the tofu, Add softened rice noodles
  • Garnish with some basil leaves

You're on your way to better health!