Monday, September 22, 2014

Melissa's Homemade Granola with Dried Cherries

My wonderful coworker Melissa made this delicious homemade granola for me postpartum to enjoy with some Greek yogurt.  She brought over the granola and yogurt along with some exceptional scones to enjoy the next day for breakfast.  I became obsessed with the granola and begged her to share the recipe.  I've been eating granola and yogurt for breakfast nearly every day for the past three weeks now.  Never gets old.  This recipe is so easy and smells so yummy baking in the oven.  You can definitely experiment with different nuts and dried fruit/raisins too.  I have used dried cherries and dried cranberries so far.  Also, feel free to also up the cinnamon; I love cinnamon so I use a little more than recommended and I also add a pinch of nutmeg.   The first time I did not have coconut so don't worry if you skip it.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup of almonds (sliced or whole depending on your preference)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup of coconut
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup of dried cherries (I used 2, 5oz packages)

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients
  3. Heat oil and honey in a small saucepan
  4. Pour oil/honey over the dry mix and stir
  5.  Spread granola over a large baking pan sprayed with some Pam
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Let cool for at least 1 hr 
  8. Break up and finally add your fruit.  Enjoy and store in an air tight container! 

Fried Rice

Fried rice is just so easy to make and the ingredients are fairly simple.  Just choose your protein or go plain with just veggies.  This recipe is sure to satisfy your hunger and cravings. If you want to a do a veggie fried rice, feel free to add in other veggies like broccoli, snap peas, green beans, etc.  Add some fried tofu if you have the time!  (see my chow mein recipe for instructions on how to fry tofu)  The picture shown is my fried rice with Chinese Sausage (Lap Xuong)

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked white rice (I use Jasmine rice)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Vegetable oil
1/2 bag of frozen carrots and peas thawed
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1 medium white onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
Soy sauce (I probably end up using about 1/4 cup if that)
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 eggs

Step 1 - Prepare the eggs
Some people like to cook the egg right into the rice but I prefer it this way.  You are more than welcome to just scramble the eggs when you are almost done with frying the rice.

  1. Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl
  2. Heat a medium skillet medium high and coat with oil.
  3. Using a ladle, pour enough egg to just coat the pan to form a thin layer.  Swirl the egg around to cover the area of the skillet.  Flip using a wide spatula if necessary.  
  4.  Place cooked egg layer on a plate.
  5.  Repeat ladle process.
  6. Once you have all your thin egg layers piled on top of one another, use a knife to roughly cut strips.  This is easier said than done.  I usually just use the side of the spatula to cut down.  Kind of like cutting into cake layers.  You want to end up with 1 to 2 inch egg ribbons.  Set aside.
Step 2 - Cook your protein.  You may skip this if you just want veggie fried rice.

Chicken:
  1. Cut about a pound of chicken into 1 inch strips.  Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Coat with about 1 tablespoon of corn starch.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet medium high heat and cook your chicken.  Set aside and add to cooked fried rice.  
Shrimp:
  1. Peel and devein about a pound of shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet medium high heat and cook shrimp until opaque.  Set aside and add to cooked fried rice
Chinese sausage:
  1. Cook according to package directions.  If you cannot read the directions b/c it's in Chinese...
    1. Boil sausage for about 5 minutes.
    2. Heat a little oil in skillet over medium high heat and continually roll sausage around for about 5 minutes with some soy sauce.  Cut into small pieces and set aside to add to cooked fried rice. 
Step 3 - Fry the rice

  1. Heat about 1/8 cup of vegetable oil  and sesame oil in a wok on medium high heat.  You'll want enough oil to cover the rice so you might want to add more as you go.  Better safe than sorry to be on the low side.  
  2. Carefully add in your onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes. I like to use a heavy wooden spoon throughout this frying process.
  3. Spoon in your rice and keep tossing; coating rice with the oil.  You may add more if you see that the rice is sticking to the bottom of the wok.  Be careful not to over oil. 
  4. Douse rice with soy sauce until and continue stirring; add enough soy sauce to get the "color" of fried rice.  Keep stirring!  Make sure you continuously bring the bottom to the top so that the rice keeps from sticking to the wok.  Trust me your arm will get tired.  
  5. Add in your peas and carrots.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I probably use about 1 tablespoon of salt but I just eyeball it and keep tasting to get it just right.  
  6. Add in your egg and serve! 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dad's Chicken Chow Mein and Stir Fry

One of my favorite dishes my Dad makes is his chicken chow mein stir fry.  We serve it at every party and it's a hit.  It's one of those dishes that I can't get enough of, filling my belly beyond its capacity.  I've made it a few times before and each time was just not as good as Dad's, but this time, I did it right.  I think it was the result of putting the right ingredients together.  Prep and cook time was about an hour and a half.  Well worth it!

*UPDATE* - A friend of mine, Katherine did this recipe and sent me a picture.  It looked amazing and she reported that it turned out delicious.  She substituted the Chinese broccoli for broccolini, which can be found at any grocery store.  

Ingredients:
1 package of egg noodles (pictured right...you can pick any brand)
1 can of bamboo shoot (pictured right) - slice the bamboo into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion diced
2 bunches of Chinese Brocoli (gai lan) - leaves chopped into 1 inch pieces, and stems sliced thin
3 medium carrots peeled and shaved with a peeler
1 block of fresh tofu - medium firmness (you can buy this at an Asian supermarket)
2-3 chicken breasts sliced into ~ 1 inch pieces
Soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic minced
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Corn starch

Fry the tofu
1. Cut your tofu block into 1/4 inch slices.  Then cut halfwise to make little squares.
2.  Heat a pan on high with enough oil to submerge tofu slices (about 1/2 inch deep)
3.  Fry the tofu and drain excess oil on a paper towel lined plate.
4.  Cut the tofu lengthwise to make 1 inch skinny strips.  Set aside. 

Prepare the noodles
1.  Boil the noodles according to package directions.  My entire bag only took about 5-7 minutes.  You can test it by taking a noodle out and eating it.
2.  Drain noodles.
3.  Heat a large pot with some oil.  Saute the onions and garlic.  Add in the noodles and continuously stir, shaking in some soy sauce periodically.  Get it to the consistency you want with the soy sauce.   Stir around occasionally about every 2 minutes to get a good sear.  When you are satisfied with the noodles, transfer to a bowl and cover with foil.  Note:  the noodles are not intended to be crispy

Prepare the chicken
1. Place chicken in a bowl, and add in a generous amount of salt and pepper for taste.
2. Coat with corn starch. 
3. In a wok, heat a good amount of oil (about 5 tablespoons).  You don't want the chicken to stick to the wok, so don't be scared to use more oil.
4.  Add in the chicken and stir fry, only stirring every 20 seconds or so.  You want the chicken to get a slight browning on the edges.
5.  Remove the chicken and keep oil in wok.  Set aside in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Prepare the Veggies
1. Add your Chinese Brocoli, carrots, tofu, and bamboo into the wok.
2.  Pour about 1 cup of water into the wok.  Cover with a lid for 10 min on med heat. 
3.  Stir the veggies in wok for about a minute.  Push veggies off towards the middle to expose a well of liquid on the side of the wok.  Add in about 2 tablespoons of corn starch to liquid to make a thick gravy.  Stir all the veggies to distribute "gravy".
4.  Keep adding corn starch in this manner to get the desired consistency you want.
5. Finally, add in the chicken and stir to mix everything evenly.  Add in salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.  Don't be scared of the salt but beware of over salting.  Keep tasting til you get the flavor you want.  I added in a tablespoon of oyster sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.  Don't worry if you don't have these.  It will be delish either way.  

Enjoy
1.  Prepare a bowl with the desired amount of noodles.  Top it off with the stir fry mix and enjoy! 



























Friday, June 20, 2014

To Die For Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

My favorite cheesecakes are firm yet fluffy, decadent, and super rich with every bite deserving of an out loud MMmmmmm.  This recipe has a layer of white chocolate mousse on top.  So delicious! Here is the best cheesecake recipe yet. It takes some time so you might want to take that into consideration. Also, you don't have to use the vanilla beans.  It's just an added flavor. It is amazing without the vanilla bean.  Creamy, rich, and decadent. 

Prep time:  30 min total
Bake time: 60-75 minutes




Fridge time:  4 hours
Yields:  ~ 10 hefty servings


For the crust:
1 graham cracker pie crust or homemade (I prefer homemade)

Homemade crust
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (ground in a food processor) - this is equal to a little less than one package of squares in the box
1/2 cup of vanilla wafers (ground in a food processor)
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/3 cup of melted butter

1. Mix together the vanilla wafer crumbs and the graham cracker crumbs.  
2. Add in cinnamon and melted butter.  Mix with your hands to combine evenly.
3.  Press into a greased spring form baking pan.  Wrap foil around the bottom of the pan b/c you are going to put it in a water bath. 

Ingredients for white chocolate mousse topping
1 - 4oz white chocolate baking bar (I use the Ghiradelli brand) worth it!
1/2 package of cream cheese
Vanilla beans from one pod
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 cup of whipping cream (I use heavy cream)


Ingredients for cheesecake
4 packages of cream cheese (8 oz) plus 1/2 package of reduced fat cream cheese at room temp
1 cup of sour cream at room temp
1 and 1/4 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
5 regular sized eggs (if you have large eggs, use 4)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Vanilla beans from one pod (just cut it open lengthwise and scrape the beans out)

Preheat oven to 475 (Please note that you will only bake at this temp for 10 min!)
Place a large baking pan (big enough for the spring form pan to sit in) with water in the oven.  This will act as a water bath so the cheesecake doesn't get too overheated and dry. 

  1. Using an electric stand mixer, beat cream cheese until soft on medium speed.   
  2. Slowly add in eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, flour, vanilla beans, and lemon juice until blended
  3. Pour into tehthe spring form pan. and place in the water bath.  Bake for 10 min and then reduce heat to 350.  Bake for 60-75 min.  I set my timer for 60 min and then watch it from there on out.  It should be golden brown on top and not "jiggly".  It is okay if it looks fluffy or cracked.  It will firm up when you set it out and put into the fridge.  I found 70 minutes worked best in my oven. 
  4. Let sit out and cool.  Then place in fridge for AT LEAST 4 hours.  It got better over time, because it firmed up.  
In the meantime, make the white chocolate mousse topping and whipped cream. 
  1. In your electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk the 1 cup of heavy cream on high speed for 2 min.  Gradually add in your powdered sugar and keep on high until you get a whipped cream consistency.  Add in vanilla beans.  Scrape out and put into a bowl to set aside.
  2. In the same electric mixer (no need to wash), using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy.  Melt chocolate according to package directions.  Add in the melted white chocolate.  
  3. Finally, fold in the whipped cream and refrigerate until cheesecake is done.  
Whipped cream recipe
  1. 1 cup of heavy cream
  2. 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  3. Beat heavy cream and add powdered sugar just like you did for the mousse and refrigerate until use.  

AFTER 4 HOURS....
  1. Layer on top of your cheesecake with the white chocolate mousse.  I would recommend refrigerating for another few hours to let the mousse conform to the cheesecake.  
  2. Release the outer part of your spring form pan and you are ready to indulge!  You can add a side of whipped cream on the side.