Follow a novice cook on her way to great Asian foodom!

 

Hi friends! It’s panning out to be a busy week, lots of fun projects, meetings/phone calls are lined up. After a sluggish month, I definitely welcome back the fast paced schedule! Taking a breather and just finished eating the leftover Tonkatsu and cucumber salad from last night’s dinner, you know they are great recipes when the leftover taste good also!

What is your go-to recipe for a fast week night family meal? I love planning ahead and make crock pot dishes, pork or beef stew for noodles are a must. Rarely when there’s good steak on sale, I would pan grill them, with a side dish of vegetable, dinner can be ready in 15-20 minutes! Last night I was in need of a new quick dinner recipe, with the fresh pork chops and crisp mini cucumbers starring at me, Just One Cookbook’s Tonkatsu post came into my mind. Am I glad to have given it a try, wow the pork chops turned out absolutely tender and juicy, the crust was crunchy and delicious, this is something that will certainly be a stable in my house!

Here is the link to Just One Cookbook’s Tonkatsu recipe, enjoy!

To balance out the fried pork chop, I thought a refreshing cucumber salad would be ideal, the family raved about this vegetable side dish, and it hardly took any efforts at all, hopefully you will give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 lb. Japanese cucumber, peeled if you prefer. I peeled them into striped design for visual
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbs mirin
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Using a sharp knife, cut the cucumber into 1/8-inch slices. Transfer to a colander, sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp. salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the juice.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, mirin and sesame oil. In another bowl, combine the cucumber, scallions and sesame seeds. Add the vinaigrette and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the salad chilled.

Recipe adapted from William Sonoma

 

Lemongrass Chicken

Hi friends! I wanted to take a moment to say hi to my old and new visitors… HI!!! Weeknite Meals is approaching it’s 200th posting, still can’t believe it’s only been a little over 2 years. My pet project of keeping up with recipes, and practice cooking techniques has turned into a place of friendship. I am thrilled with visitors from different parts of the world, it’s amazing how much we can learn, not just about food, but culture and kindness and encouragements in the food blogging community, thank you again for visiting!

Due to the ridiculous gas prices and general sluggish economy, I try hard to grocery shop every other week. Last week we made the mistake of deciding to eat out and buy a bird feeder on Wednesday (we are in a losing battle with the vicious squirrels), the meal was around $20 (which is reasonable), but everyone knows going to Super Target for 1 item, you will end up pushing a whole cart of stuff home… So that’s exactly what happened to us… After that trip I’ve decided to get even more diligent about not eating out during the week, if we stay in the neighborhood, after dinner there’s actually time to take a nice stroll and get some exercise in, surely beats spending $100 on crap we didn’t need in the first place right?

OK, it’s time to share this simple and flavorful recipe. Hubby planted some lemon grass in the backyard for me, their stalks are not as thick as the ones from the market, but they are fragrant, and apparently mosquitoes hate the smell, so we are killing 2 birds with 1 stone here! If you don’t have access to lemon grass, just use some more garlic and herbs of yours choice, I am sure the sauce will turn out yummy anyway!

Ingredients:

1.5 Pound Chicken Tender, cut into bite size
1 T Cornstarch
1 T Rice Wine
1 T Cooking Oil
2 t salt

Cooking Sauce:
2 T Chopped Lemongrass
2 T Teriyaki Sauce (or Soysauce)
1 T Fish Sauce
1 T Sugar
1 t Hot Pepper Flakes
1 T Chopped Garlic
2 Hot Chili Peppers (seeded)

1 Onion, sliced
20 Thai Basil Leaves
1/2 Cup Coconut Juice

Directions:

  • Marinate the chicken with salt, rice wine and cornstarch
  • Combine cooking sauce ingredients in a bowl
  • Heat oil in wok, stir fry chicken over medium high heat, until brown.
  • Add cooking sauce, stir for another 1 minute.
  • Stir in onion, basil and coconut juice, cook for about 2 minutes, turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes to cook down the sauce. Serve over white rice. Enjoy!

Adapted from “Quick & Easy Vietnamese Home Cooking for everyone

 

 

Hello friends! How are you doing on this fine Monday? I have been taking it easy the last few weeks, work is normally slow around tax time, so I took advantage of this and did a few small home projects. The front door has been re-stained, I added some decorations to brighten things up a bit also. Cleaned out little girl’s closet and dressers, switched out Winter clothes with Summer wear. Had a little time to do that to my closet last weekend also; I always feel much “lighter” after organizing. Another great thing about switching Winter/Summer clothes is finding some long lost “friends”, figure out new outfits in my mind is like free shopping, with the help of “Pinterst” boards, I’ve realized how versatile just a few key pieces of clothing with accessories can be. BTW do you Pinterest? Here is my board if you are interested!

With the temperature getting near 90’s, and swimsuit season coming FAST, I have been cooking lighter meals. Less red meat and more vegi! One trick I found is use shabu meat slices. They can be found in your local Asian market’s frozen isles, pretty inexpensive, and when they are incorporated into various dishes, the slices tricks the eyes to think you are eating lots of meat, when in reality you are eating lots of vegi, haha!

For tonight’s super simple and healthy meal, there really isn’t a recipe, just find whatever vegetables/herbs you have on hand, wash them and cut them into thin slivers (I used Green Onions, Carrots, Cucumbers, bean sprouts and Thai Basil). For the protein plate, I pan fried some Vietnamese ham (cut into thin slices), made thin egg crepe then sliced them thinly. Cut shabu pork into thin strings, marinate with some soy sauce, sesame oil and sprinkle with corn starch, pan fry for 3-4 minutes.

Here are a few more ingredients:

Rice Noodles (Cook according to package directions)
Spring Roll Wraps
Hot Water
Dipping Sauce (I had hoison sauce and Vietnames Fish Sauce, you can add Sriracha sauce to both for some heat)

Instructions:

  • Dip the Spring roll wrap into hot water bowl, make sure the whole sheet is dampened, place onto a clean plate right away flatly (We normally use 2 sheets for each roll to ensure no breakage)
  • Select your desired filling, make sure don’t over do it or the wrap may burst.
  • Carefully pick up 1 side of the damp wrap and cover filling tightly, then close the rest of the edges up.
  • Dip using your favorite sauce, enjoy!

 

 

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying warmer Spring like weather now a days. Have you ever heard of the phrase: “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quick as I could!”. Well around this time of the year, I can say that with a big smile on my face. Last weekend we took a weekend trip to the Texas hill country for the sole purpose of wild flower viewing, and boy did we hit the jackpot! Below are a few photos for your viewing pleasure:

I've not seen this much blue bonnets in my whole life!

The funny thing is after we took photos at the blue bonnet field, hubby had to save a few ladies from some car trouble (their SUV got stuck in the sandy area), after several tries and still no luck, the grandma of the group went to flag a few motorists down, we almost got a stern talk to by the property owner. You see wild flower viewing is not without it’s dangers!

A sea of prickly white poppies hubby spotted while we were just driving around.

A mixture of cute wild flowers

Hubby hiking into a field of purple

What's a posting about Texas if I don't throw in a few cows?

Anyhoo, the weather has been unusually warm, and I would rather not stand over the stove if I can help it, so here is a very simple recipe that pretty much involves no labor, though you can not tell by the taste of the wings, the family ate them up and I was delighted, enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 lb chicken wings

Preparation

In a plastic bag, mix all ingredients then add chicken wings; toss gently to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to marinate.

Remove chicken from marinade; place in 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add about 1/2 cup of the marinade; set aside any remaining marinade.

Cover; cook on High heat setting 4 to 5 hours.

Turn on your oven broiler. Remove the cooked wings from the slow cooker, place them flat on a baking sheet, baste with the marinade, broil for 5-6 minutes depending on your oven. I served the wings over a bed of flattened vermicelli, drizzle any remaining sauce over the wings.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

Easy Chestnut Chicken

Hello there! Are you feeling Spring weather in your neck of the woods? I had a wonderful week hanging out with my little girl during her Spring Break, had lots of play dates, picked strawberries, had a proper “Lady’s Lunch” in the big mall with our friends, and on Saturday hubby took us to Brehnam Texas for some wild flower viewing and wine tasting. Here are a couple of photos for your enjoyment:

Due to all the rain, blue bonnets are plentiful this Spring!

Field of gold!

I am especially proud to be a Texan when March/April rolls around, Lady Bird Johnson beautified this great State and we all truly appreciate it!

OK onto today’s recipe, I have been on a chicken kick lately, and this super simple recipe came out so flavorful, surely it will make another appearance real soon! The only item that needs some advance preparation is the dried chestnut, be sure to soak them in water for at least 4 hours, I only soaked mine for 2 hours this time around and they were not as soft in texture as I’d like, no one else complained though…

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely crushed yellow rock sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons dark mushroom soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2  pounds whole chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 2 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 16 dried chestnuts, soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallion

Preparation

  • Stir together sugar, wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water in a medium bowl, then set aside.
  • Cut chicken thighs into large bite size pieces
  • Heat vegetable oil in a wok then stir-fry ginger and garlic until golden, 1 to 2 minutes, transfer to a plate.
  • Add half of chicken to wok and stir-fry until golden, about 2 minutes, then transfer to plate with ginger and garlic. Stir-fry remaining chicken with chestnuts until golden, about 2 minutes.
  • Return chicken, ginger, and garlic from plate to wok, then add soy mixture. Cover wok and cook chicken over moderate heat until sauce is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove lid and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and just coats chicken, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil. Serve sprinkled with scallion.
Original recipe from Epicurious

Sesame Sweet Rice Balls

Have I mentioned my Mama is an excellent cook? Every other weekend I take little girl to visit my Parents and play with her cousins. As soon as we walk in the house our noses are always filled with yummy smells, now that my Mom has retired, she’s become quite the baker and dessert maker. One of little girl’s favorite game is “Guess what we are having for dessert today?” not gonna lie, I love that game also!

Chinese new year was around a month ago, and my Mama decided to make her own sweet rice balls. This sounded like a daunting task, because I am used to buying them at the local Asian market (frozen aisle), boil some water and dump them in, 7 minutes later we got ourselves some deliciousness! Since my Mom’s real happy with her first batch, I was very eager to learn and document her mad skills, so here it is, enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Package Glutinous Rice Flour (16oz each)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cup sesame powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

  • Boil water
  • Pour 1 bag of rice flour into large bowl
  • Pour boiling water onto rice flour, mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon (make sure don’t burn yourself)
  • In a medium size bowl, mix sesame powder, powdered sugar and oil, stir thoroughly
  • When rice flour dough cools down a bit, kneed with hands until it forms a dough shape, if it’s too sticky, add a little more rice flour
  • Take the dough out of the bowl, cut it into 4 pieces. Kneed them into individual long string like shapes
  • Cut the string shapes into smaller pieces (around 1 inch), flatter with hand into circular shapes
  • Put some sesame filling onto the center of flour circle, start closing with finger to form it into a ball, make sure it’s closed tightly
  • Sprinkle some rice flour onto a board, place the finished sweet rice balls onto that to avoid sticking
  • The finished rice balls can be frozen if you don’t plan on eating them right away.

To cook:

Boil water, put the sweet rice balls into the hot water for a few minutes, usually when the balls begin to surface, they are ready to be eaten.

This post is a bit late, but never the less very exciting! Some of you have been following my status on FaceBook about little girl’s Annual School Carnival, and I mentioned we entered the baking contest (The cookies category). We did win first place when she was in Kindergarten, which came as a HUGE surprise! That was the year I started to take cooking more seriously, though baking was not my strong suit (It still is not), so when the email announcement came, our jaws just about drop to the floor!

This year little girl insisted she needs to participate every step along the way, otherwise we would be cheating. I agreed with her even though the control freak part of me was not too thrilled, especially when cookie crumbs and chocolate dripping were all over the kitchen… The day of the carnival was a bit chaotic, it was rainy and most of the activities had to be kept indoors, so there were adults and children overflowing everywhere. After we turned the cookies in, Bingo seemed to be the most logical and calming thing to do, so we spend quite a bit of time there with our neighbor buddies, it was a lot of fun, and one of our friend actually won the grand price, Hooray!

A couple of hours later we received the news that little girl and her best friend had won First Place in the baking contest (The Cookies and Cupcakes categories), I still can’t believe it, what a honor, and how great is it that they both won at the same year, this called for some prancing around with their awards ribbons of course!

Here is the winning recipe, it’s really simple and the cookie balls are the “Non-Bake” kind, which means you can pretty much enjoy them as soon as the chocolate coating dries. Hope you give it a try!

Ingredients:

1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
60 NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp. MAXWELL HOUSE INTERNATIONAL CAFÉ Café Vienna, divided
2 pkg. (6 squares each) BAKER’S Chocolate, melted

Directions:

MIX cream cheese, cookie crumbs and 1 Tbsp. coffee until well blended.

SHAPE into (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Mix melted chocolate and remaining coffee. Dip balls in chocolate mixture; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.

Recipe from Kraft

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