Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chicken Panini with roasted Pepper and Cilantro Pesto

Well, I don't have a Panini maker but did it the "grilled cheese" way by using a fry pan instead. This was a delicious sandwich and so fun to make. Just look at all those colors! Roasting a red pepper is easier than I thought. Just cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds and lay them skin side UP on a baking sheet. Broil them until the skin is brown and bubbly. Once they have cooled down, peel the skin off. Now you have roasted peppers that a fabulous in anything! Here's the ingredients and directions for two sandwiches.

2 chicken breasts (pounded thin)
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices of the bread of your choice
1 roasted red pepper
1 handful lettuce
4 tablespoons cilantro pesto (recipe below)
sliced cheese of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cilantro Pesto (makes 1 cup)

1 cup cilantro
2 teaspoons ginger (grated)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted and ground)
olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 splash lemon juice

1. Puree everything in a food processor.

Dust the chicken breasts with paprika, salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in pan and add chicken. Cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through- about 8 minutes on both sides.

Brush olive oil on the outsides of your bread, flip and layer with pesto, roasted pepper, lettuce, chicken and cheese. Grill until golden brown on both sides. A perfect side for this sandwich would be Spicy Steak Fries by a friend at 28 Cooks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Low-Fat Salmon Pasta Dish

Grace and I decided to try something with salmon together and a pasta with cream sauce was on our minds. We went to the market together and headed right up to the sashimi counter and asked for salmon- well, only after calling a friend and figuring out it's name in Chinese we were able to order up a chunk. We bought wide noodles and for color we bought 3 red tomatoes, a yellow pepper and green scallions.

The cook the salmon, we rinsed it, brushed it with lemon juice and sprinkled salt and pepper on it. We laid it in a hot frying pan with a bit of olive oil in it and placed the lid on it for about 5 minutes before flipping it. We only flipped it once. It was delicious for a first time endeavor with salmon!

This is a low-fat recipe because we used milk instead of cream, only a little butter for flavor and 1/2 the white wine. Here's the recipe-

Low-Fat Pasta with Salmon
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt & freshly ground black pepper
flour and/or cornstarch to thicken the sauce*

Bring the white wine to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Add the chicken stock and reduce to low for five minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups milk. With the other 1/2 cup milk, add 1/4 flour and stir. Using a whisk, mix into the wine sauce. Stir until it's the thickness you desire. It will thicken as it sits off the heat as well, Season with salt and pepper.
*Just keep in mind that if you're going to thicken with flour, use COLD milk. If you prefer cornstarch mix in HOT water or chicken broth.

Our finished product!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Japanese Cabbage Pancake- Okonomiyaki

I had my first okonomiyaki in Taipei, actually. As Faith and I sat at the table, a chef came and turned on the table griddle and mixed a bowl of shredded cabbage and corn in a batter. What I ate, was FANTASTIC! I didn't expect it to taste so good! This week, I attempted to make my own. I found a bottle of Japanese okonomiyaki sauce which is close to Worcestershire sauce but thicker. If you love cabbage, you'll love this and it's SO easy! There are many different recipes online and you can add just about anything! In Taipei, we tried one with noodles and beef. So whatever you have on hand, try adding it to the mix and see how you like it.

- makes 4- 4" pancakes
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 egg
1/4 of a cabbage, about 2-3 cups packed (shredded)
1 carrot, about 1/2 cup (grated)
1/2 cup corn
1 green onion (chopped)
okonomiyaki sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)
green onion (chopped)

Mix the flour, water, egg, cabbage, carrot and whatever else you want in a large bowl.
Heat some oil in pan.
Pour a 4th of the mixture into the pan and use a spatula to round the edges.
Cook on medium heat until golden brown on the bottom and then flip, about 5-7 minutes minutes per side.
Decorate with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise and green onion.
* I did a little creation with my mayonnaise by mixing a few tablespoons of mayo, 1/2 tsp. paprika, drop of lemon juice and a dot of ketchup just for a zing. It gave it a pink color which was fun. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Espinacas con Garbanzos

OK, so that's just a fancy way of saying "spinach and chickpeas". I found a sweet website called smitten kitchen and decided to try my hand at this recipe. It sounded so strange to fry pieces of bread and then put it in the blender with vinegar. But I just HAD to try it. I was surprised to find cooked chickpeas in the market. It came in a bag with a bit of fresh cilantro but I just pulled that out to use for another time. The spinach here in Taiwan is also interesting. The stems are intact and VERY long so i buy bags of spinach and end up with very little since I am only interested in the leaves. Here's the recipe. It was DELICIOUS over rice!

1/2 pound dried chickpeas, cooked until soft and tender or two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound spinach, washed
A hefty 1-inch slice from a country loaf or about 2 slices from sandwich loaf bread,crusts removed and cut into cubes
1/2 cup tomato sauce ( I ended up using a bit more to make it moist)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I didn't have this on hand, but since we keep red wine in the house for cooking, I created my own by mixing 1 TBSP. wine with 1/2 TBSP rice vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add half the olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender, drain in a colander and set aside.

Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown on both sides, then the remaining tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin and pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.

Transfer to a blender along with the wine vinegar and lemon juice and mash to a paste. Return the mixture to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt and pepper.

If the consistency is a little thick, add more tomato sauce. Add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve over white rice. Sprinkle paprika over top.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eye Makeup Remover?

A friend of mine forgot her eye makeup remover when she was here so I showed her what I do and she thought it was interesting. So I'm going to blog about it.

We all know how expensive makeup remover can be and I just don't have the money right now to keep up with my $15 bottle + moisturizer so I googled substitutes and here what I came up with- Vaseline (petroleum jelly)! It only takes a little on each forefinger and rub it on your closed eyes.

I have designated a few wash clothes JUST for this because mascara does stain. Use a wet, warm washcloth to pat your eyes and wash your face. I just rinse out my cloth and hang dry it for the next night.

It leaves my face feeling moisturized but not greasy. I still apply face lotion as well.

It only cost me a few dollars and it has lasted for about 2 years! If I spent $15 on a bottle that would last me 3 months then I just saved $120!!

Can I buy a new outfit, Wes ? :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fresh Cilantro

I Love fresh cilantro! And it's so cheap here in the markets so I made a huge batch of fresh salsa. Keep in mind that it does need to be eaten within the next few days. The beauty of making it yourself is that any ingredient can be omitted or altered. Have fun adjusting it to your style and taste.
Here's all it takes to serve about 4 people-

4 large tomatoes, finely chopped (keep the juice)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
lemon juice or vinegar to taste ( approx. 4 TBSP)
salt to taste
Mix well and refrigerate until cold.

Serve with corn chips or add to the inside of your quesadilla. The other morning, I mixed it in with my scrambled egg for breakfast! It was AMAZING! Try spicing up your white rice by adding some to the rice before cooking it. Your options are limitless :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate + Marshmallows = Bliss

I had marshmallows sitting sitting in my cupboard for awhile now and I really don't like them unless they're in a s'more. I was just about to throw them away but last week I was in Starbucks where they had HUGE chocolate marshmallow cookies on display which looked so chewy and gooey. Instead of spending an insane amount of money on one, I decided to go home and make my own with the ones staring at me from the cupboard. They came out delicious! Before you get started, cut the marshmallows in half and throw them in the freezer.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
makes about 2 dozen

1- 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
12 marshmallows, cut in 1/2 and frozen
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Set aside. Whip the sugars and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture only until there is no flour visible in the dough. This will be a thick dough- don't overmix. Take a blob of dough (about the size of a golf ball) and create a well" in the middle. Place 1/2 marshmallow in it and press the seams over it- hiding it in the middle (pictures below). Place on baking trays lined with parchment paper, keeping them far apart for baking purposes. They will expand!
Place the trays in the freezer for about 20 minutes to refreeze the marshmallow. This will help eliminate explosions during baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I am currently using a large toaster oven so I really have no way of knowing how hot it is. I just keep my eye on everything, adjusting the heat as I need to. As a side note, I can only bake 6 cookies at a time! Remove cookies from the freezer and bake for about 10-12 minutes; keeping your eye on them. You want to remove them as soon as you see marshmallow oozing out of them. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

Enjoyed best with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Mommy's Lifesaver

Everyday, little Savannah, who's 13 months, sees everything in life as brand new and exciting! She does say the same things over and over again but those words are very important to her. "Button" is "belly button" and really loves finding hers AND ours! But there are some sounds she makes that I just cannot make out and she will repeat it over and over with urgency like I need to know what she's talking about. But most of her sounds are associated with a hand sign now and I just have to sing the praises of Baby Signing Time and the work they are doing for moms to better understand their little ones who can't speak yet. When we go biking, Savannah sits in front of me on her little seat. She started waving her arms back and forth and saying, "Wih wih" and since there is a song about weather, she knew what "wind" was and was enjoying it. Of course, I knew what she was saying so I started singing the "Outside Outside" song with her.

I have a Taiwanese friend here who used volume 1 and 2 DVDs with her little guy. When he was just one year old, he communicated to her that it was time to go get Big Sister from the train station! I started out by borrowing her DVDs and then my mom bought me the first 4 volumes for Savannah. She would sit there at 6 months perfectly content for 40 minutes. Her first sign was "water" and she didn't do it perfectly, but since she continued to make the hand motion every time we saw water, I soon knew that was her sign.

Thank you Baby Signing Time for helping me better communicate with my little girl!