Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Local Favorite - Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad
This salad is just so yummy!  I think it has a lot to do with the different textures and sweet/sour flavor of the Asian dressing.  Traditionally, romaine lettuce is used.  However, since I had plenty of a leftover green salad with Iceberg lettuce, I had to use it.   I did not want to waste the salad.  I did remove the tomatoes for this salad makeover but kept the cucumbers and red onions.


1 medium sized romaine lettuce, washed, dried well and torn
2 cups (or more) leftover cooked chicken breast (or half of one large breast breast, boiled)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (washed, dried and torn)
1/2 cup thinly cut green onion
Deep fried wonton strips**

Deep Fried Wonton Strips

1/2 package of prepared wonton skins (found in the refrigerator section) cut into strips

Heat the oil in the deep fryer (or use a small saucepan to deep fry) until very hot, approximately 365 degrees on the candy thermometer.  Fry a few strips at a time. They fry very quickly so turn over once and remove when they are lightly to medium brown.  Drain on paper towel and set aside. Continue until all the strips are fried.

Salad Dressing:

1 covered jar for shaking the dressing
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
Approximately 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
Approximately 1 tablespoon Hawaiian Salt (or less if you prefer)
Pepper to taste

Shake all ingredients in the covered jar until well blended.

Place torn lettuce in a large salad bowl or individual bowls if you prefer.  Top with chicken, cilantro, green onions and deep fried wonton strips.  Shake dressing again and pour over the salad.  Serve immediately.  Serves approximately 4 to 6.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

15 Fascinating Facts About Salt

Alaea Sea Salt

Picture source

Here is a very interesting article on salt. Salt-15 Fascinating Facts About this Everyday Item.

Salt happens to be my favorite condiment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Esther's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip cookies ready for eating
It took me a long time but I finally make chocolate chip cookies that I like...chewy instead of cake-y.  I ran out of semi-sweet chocolate chips but I did have Hershey's Special Dark Pieces and white chocolate chips.
Picture source

1 3/4 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract, good quality
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips OR combination of Hershey's Special Dark Pieces and white chocolate chips (8 ounces of each)
1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheets and spray with cooking spray such as PAM.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt. In another bowl beat the butter, oil, egg, sugars, and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.

Place approximately 1 tablespoon size balls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Make sure to space them so that they will not run into each other when baking. Bake approximately 13 to 15 minutes. The cookies should be browned nicely. Cool on racks.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk or if you are like me, with a nice cold glass of water.

Mabo Tofu Recipe - Spicy Pork and Tofu

One of my son's favorite new dishes that I have been making at home from scratch Mabo Tofu. It is very popular here in Hawaii. I believe most of the Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese and Korean run ramen noodles shops, offer it on their menu) It is spicy pork and tofu which has Chinese origins. I used to buy the sauce ready made.  But I could never afford to buy enough to satisfy my family's appetite for this tasty meal. 

 I ended up finding a really good recipe and now I make this at home anytime my son is in the mood for it, which is pretty often.  Although, the original recipe calls for ground pork, ground chicken or turkey are good substitutes.

Mabo Tofu
Chili Paste

The recipe I used can be found here.

You will need to have a few ingredients you may not necessarily already have in your pantry.

1. Tapioca starch (corn starch can be substituted)
2. Soy sauce (such as Kikkoman)
3. Tofu (firm)
4. Fermented Chinese black beans (Tausi)
5. Chili Paste
6. Green onions
7. White pepper (Szechuan Pepper)

Serve with rice.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Art Appreciation - Les fleurs des champs

by Louis Janmot

Picture source

I don't know about you but I love this beautiful painting!  The colors, the fact that it takes place in a garden setting is very appealing to me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

911: How the Kitchen Madonna Comes to the Rescue Twice

Picture source.

I have a old plastic statue of our lady in my kitchen. She is my Kitchen Madonna.  Since I am usually in the kitchen at noontime, this is where we pray the Angelus or the Regina Coeli. Recently our lady has come to my aid in helping to save two things I was making from sure disaster.

1. Fresh Strawberry Pie

Slice of Fresh Strawberry Pie
I believe I was making something else in the kitchen while I was also cooking up the glaze for the strawberry pie.  So it was no surprise that I failed to cook the glaze long enough. I was too distracted.  I even tasted the glaze and could still taste the corn starch.  That should have alerted me that this sauce was just not done.  But I continued to finish up the pie and hoped for the best.

Four hours later I offered my son a slice of the pie.  Well, it had not set at all.  It was very runny.  I almost panicked.  Maybe I did panic.  I did not want to waste all that lovely homemade crust or the 2 lbs. of fresh strawberries it took to make that pie.

I prayed to our blessed mother to please help me.  She immediately came to my assistance because a thought came to me that I try to retrace my steps with the pie at hand.

First I removed all the strawberries and placed them in a bowl.  Then the filling was scooped into a saucepan which was placed on the stove top to boil.  When it was almost boiled to the point it was supposed to be, I added the bowl of strawberries (which had some glaze clinging to them).  This mixture was boiled for another minute and then removed from the heat.  Meanwhile I dried the bottom of the piecrust as much as I could with a paper towel and placed that back in a hot oven to bake a little longer.

This time the filling was boiled properly.  I then refilled the piecrust and refrigerated the pie for another four hours.

The pie was deemed delicious by my family.  Actually, it did taste very good.  I give all the credit to Our Lady.

Our Lady and her Challah Bread

2.  In honor of Our Lady during this month of May and in  honor of her Jewish heritage, I decided to attempt making Challah bread.  The recipe called for very warm water.  Well, I think I warmed it too much.  But did not come to this realization until after I poured the warmed water onto the flour mixture.  I prayed to our Lady to please help me not to have killed the yeast.  I told her she would get all the credit for this bread if she but helped me.

Oh, she helped me.  After an hour, I went to check the dough I hoped and prayed had risen.  It was over flowing from the bowl!!  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of that.  I know my braiding technique needs a lot of work but the bread was great!  Thank you again Blessed Mother for your help in making this delicious bread!

I should have learned to ask for her assistance a long time ago.  My mother always asks for our Lady's help whenever she is about to cook or make something in the kitchen.  In Spanish she says "Little Virgin, please give my {insert name of dish here} a little touch of your little finger."  I once suggested to my mom to pray to the Holy Spirit to help her.  She dismissed that immediately.  I think she was saying that our lady, being a woman, would understand things of the kitchen.

BTW, The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden, is one of my favorite books from childhood. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

These are a Few of Our Favorite Desserts

Although I do have a big sweet-tooth, I have never been really good at making desserts.  My sister was the baker in our family.  Everything she created was meticulously done and beautifully presented.  I still remember with fondness her chocolate mousse cake.

Recently though, I have given dessert making another go.  I usually refer to the recipes from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook and Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  That is with the exception of the Lemon Meringue Pie.  I believe the Argo recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie has to be the best tasting one ever!  I'm glad my husband doesn't like desserts with lemon so there is more for my son and me. Just kidding :-)

Lemon Meringue Pie

Another lemon based dessert my son and I love is lemon bars.

Baking the bottom of the lemon bars

Baking the filling

Oops! Someone forgot to take a photo before the lemon bars were half-way gone.

I have the older edition of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook and used that recipe. I did find a similar recipe online which apparently has been updated slightly. I think I will try this version next. Recipe for Lemon Bars Actually, we did not eat all the rich lemon bars that seem to be missing in the picture.  I gave some away as little favor gifts. Each little bar was placed on a muffin/cupcake paper and placed in a little Hawaiian themed cellophane bag, one on top of another. I believe I put four in each. Then the bag was tied with a pretty ribbon.

So two friends were the happy recipients for these little gifts. 

Fudge Brownies baking

Fudge Brownies cooling

The last dessert is fudge brownies. When I ask my husband if he would like cake brownies or fudge brownies, he would choose cake brownies. Recently though, he has chosen fudge brownies. It is now a family favorite. The Better Homes and Garden Cookbook recipe can be found here

Note:  Please disregard the burned bottom in the oven. Today, I finally let the oven clean itself!  4 hours and 20 minutes later, I should have a clean oven.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pink and White Cupcakes in Honor of Our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph

Because yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday and the beatification of now Blessed Pope John Paul II, St. Joseph the Worker feast day was not observed.

So today I made mini cupcakes to honor them.  Pink and white are pretty Spring colors aren't they!  The cupcakes are homemade chocolate cake.

Catholic Cuisine's - Good Shepherd's Garden Party Week One

Now that I am blogging about cooking again, I am happy to be able to join in on Catholic home cooking activities.

Check out this week's entries The Good Shepherd's Garden Party :: Week One

Oops! I forgot to share the Easter one. Please check out the lovely entries here

Meat Sauce for Homemade Pasta

Actually, you can use any pasta you like, homemade or store-bought.

Homemade Pasta and Meat Sauce
This is the meat sauce recipe I make once a week for my family.


Either two cans of tomato sauce or 1 can tomato sauce and 1 can whole or diced tomatoes same size you see in picture. Tomatoes should equal the large can of whole tomatoes like Progresso.

Cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatos and minced onion/garlic/herbs

1 large onion
3 large cloves of garlic
3 large fresh sweet basil leaves (more if you prefer)
Fresh oregano leaves (dried if you prefer).  I use the large leave Mexican oregano so too much can be overpowering.
1/2 lb. to 1 lb. of beef (chuck roast, etc or ground beef).  If you are grinding the beef at home, be sure that the beef has some fat on it.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 lb. beef is more than enough for my family.  Too much is not very healthy.

Dice or mince onions, garlic, herbs by hand or in the food processor.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.  Ground up beef with meat grinder or food processor.   Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Brown the meat thoroughly.  There should not be any liquid in the pot.  Add the olive oil and onion mixture.  Fry a few minutes until the onion is no longer translucent.  Add the tomato sauce/tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to low.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour or more.

Serve with pasta or polenta.  Top off with freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.  Serve with a green salad and garlic toast/bread.

Let's just say that my son's very picky-eater of a friend loves this sauce.