Monthly Archives: October 2013

Spooky Bento

Spooky Bento

Menu: Chicken shumai from TJ with sauce (maple syrup and soy sauce), broccoli, persimmon, scary rice, and apple sauce.

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Spideriffic Chocolate Cupcakes

Since moving to Southern California, one of the few down sides has been encountering brown widow spiders and learning of their recent insurgence.  Having discovered them in our yard, and their more atrocious egg sacs hiding among outdoor toys and furniture, we’ve become relentless in uncovering every possible inch where they may be nesting. If you have never seen their egg sac, they look like spiky white balls which can contain up to 80 eggs per sac. So every few weeks, we comb the suspecting hidden areas, with our brown widow spider combat gear- big shoe and paper towels.

So, to celebrate our victories against the anthropods and wanting to bring a festive treat for my daughter’s class,  I decided to make Halloween spideriffic with these fun chocolate cupcakes! As one friend noted, kids tend to lick the frosting then toss the cake- I did a little research on boxed cakes. It was my first time using a box cake since middle school however I couldn’t help but tweak the recipe a bit.

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Chicken Sausage Pasta

Chicken Sausage Pasta

There’s something about sausage that kids love. And now I love it too because it makes pasta into a full meal. I just tossed some bits of kale into the mix with some Rao’s- an easy 10 minute meal.

Also, the grapes are just beautifully in season now at the farmer’s market. I never knew that this is their season.

Menu: Chicken sausage kale rigatoni, grapes, pretzels, and yogurt.

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Beef with Broccoli Lunch

Beef with Broccoli Lunch

Menu: Beef with broccoli and rice with orange slices. Not pictured are pretzel thins in a bag.

If you haven’t tried my beef with broccoli recipe, you’re missing out.

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Fried Rice

Fried rice is the ultimate clean-your-fridge dish or one-dish-wonder dinner. You can make a nice big plate of it and be completely satisfied because it has protein, vegetables, and carbs- gluten free- and topped with a little hot sauce, I’m happy.  The essentials are: rice, egg, and scallion- the rest you can choose to your fridge’s contents.  Shrimp? Pork? Ham (which I consider  Japanese style fried rice)?,  and for the vegetables, any hearty leafy green will work great. Kale? Chinese Broccoli? Swiss chard? And yes, you can use frozen vegetables- I would only use corn, peas, or edamame.

With fried rice, you just compartmentalize all the ingredients then toss ’em all together. What makes fried rice is using day-old rice (so it’s dry), and a heat pan or wok. I just assemble it with my cast-iron.

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Today is my birthday. It’s become that dreaded day because weeks earlier, you are on the lookout for any new gray hairs or the newly formed wrinkle that will confirm that you are indeed getting old.  But despite the dreaded aging process, I have come to view birthdays differently. A birthday evolution you may call it. Sure, birthdays started changing once you became a responsible adult, you would treat your close friends to a nice dinner vs. them taking you out. But for me, my birthday has become something that gives me the opportunity to reflect on my life. Perhaps I could use a little more yoga and a little less bad tv in my life… but that’s an every day revelation. The biggest thing is thinking about the people in your life that make each day pretty special.

Clearly, cooking is a great pleasure of mine and so I decided that for this birthday, I wanted to share that joy by cooking for friends for my birthday celebration. Most thought I was crazy for suggesting it. But cooking for friends and family really does bring me great joy… when it’s on my terms. Possibly because I am a people-pleaser and it’s something I can do that brings happiness to everyone… wait, people whose company I truly enjoy.  That is until I see the dishes that need to be cleaned. Then I wonder, man, I really like these chumps. Kidding. That and the fact that I always think how a ridiculous restaurant tab that feeds two gluttonous people can also deliciously feed 10 friends. But aside from that, I have come to that age where you realize that good friends don’t easily come and go as they once did. Man, old age does make one more sentimental.  So for me, I don’t need fancy gifts or restaurants, just some decent seats and clean plates to welcome good company and yummy eats.

I wanted to share a recipe that is pretty simple (the crab meat retrieving can be laborious) yet divine. And hope you can share it with some friends at your next dining table. This salad is an excellent way to celebrate (your hard work in getting the meat from) a crab because it is light and lends flavors that complement the crab.

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Avocado crab salad

Jam n’ Cream

Jam n' Cream

I love my PB&J. But these days with so many schools banning peanut butter or any nuts, it’s just not the same with sunflower butter or soy butter. The next best jam combo goes with cream cheese.

Menu: Jam n’ cream cheese sandwich, asian pears, and amazingly sweet cherry tomatoes. Not pictured: rice crackers.

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Shumai

Shumai

Menu: Pork shumai with dipping sauce, pretzels, cucumber coins, and apple. Not pictured: Pear sauce.

Apple Fritters

Like determining an outfit, sometimes you start with the shoes. For a dinner party I was hosting, I started menu planning with the dessert. Unfortunately, the cake was a total flop, which really killed my ego more than anything.  With an hour until our guests were to arrive, Plan B was the best way to go.  Which entailed using some beautiful Fuji apples from the farmer’s market.

It may have been one of the best dishes of the six-course meal. Light, airy, and a touch of sweet crisp- a perfect ending to the meal.  Thomas Keller sure knows how to please the belly.

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Homemade Oreos

Whenever I eat the Nabisco oreo, I would just eat the cookie part and try to scrape off most of the filling. It just has a weird consistency for me, a sweet chalky paste. So when I stumbled upon Flour’s recipe for homemade oreos, I knew sophistication was brought to the oreo, I just slightly modified it so the filling isn’t as sweet.

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