Monday, February 23, 2015

Espresso Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Every year, I appreciate the daylight saving time because I seem to get the extra hour of life. Everything is slowing down for me. I enjoy that for a few days until my body adjusts to the time changes.

When the day gets longer and the daylight saving time comes to an end, I feel so rush and tired. That's when I say out loud, "Do we really need the daylight saving time?" Let's face it. It's harder to get up an hour early than to sleep in for another hour. This is the time for caffeine fix.

Daylight saving time will end soon. Thinking of my blog, I decided that I have to come up with a recipe that includes caffeine in it. I wanted to test a breakfast recipe. Coffee wasn't enough. I needed something that I could eat that tasted like coffee. Something that will kick and jump start my morning for at least a week.

Banana chocolate chip muffins are the easier breakfast to bake. They are also great for grab-and-go breakfast. I decided to use my go-to banana chocolate chip muffins recipe and spiked the batter with instant espresso. I also added cocoa powder for deep dark coffee coloring. I baked them for breakfast one morning to test them out.

The espresso aromatic is just enough to keep anybody awake. Forget about losing sleep. I'd luv to wake up to the espresso banana chocolate chip muffins and a cup of coffee every morning. My kids can have them with hot cocoa. So bring on the end of daylight saving. My kids and I are ready to caffeine up for a week.

Espresso Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 6 regular size muffins

3/4 cup (3 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/4 cup (2.5 oz.) granulated sugar
3 Tbs. (1.5 oz.) safflower oil
1 large egg
1 (3 oz.) medium very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup (1.5 oz.) chocolate chips or chucks
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degree. Line the 6 regular size muffin pan with foil or paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, espresso, and cocoa powder.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and egg.
  4. Add the mashed banana and mix again.
  5. Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combine.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Using a large scooper, divide the batter equally into the prepared muffin pan. TIP: Add a chocolate chuck or sprinkle some chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking. Just to make the muffins look delectable.
  8. Bake until the tooth pick inserted into the muffin comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy them while they are warm with a cup of coffee.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Teriyaki Dinner (with homemade teriyaki sauce)

After searching for a clean teriyaki sauce for a year, I've realized that there just wasn't one.

From my cookbook library, I found a teriyaki sauce in Japanese Cooking. The teriyaki sauce recipe includes soy sauce, brown sugar, chicken stock, and mirin. When I tested this recipe, I didn't have chicken stock or mirin on hand. But I went ahead and tested it with only two ingredients: soy sauce and light brown sugar.

How did teriyaki sauce turn out? Well, so good that I promised myself to blog about it. Hey, that's what I'm doing now. The teriyaki sauce has a perfect balance of sweet and salty. The liquid is thick and caramel like texture.

My kids luv to eat at the local Japanese grill. Since we don't eat out much, I want to see if I can make their teriyaki meals: chicken and shrimp teriyaki serve with steamed veggies and rice. So I went at it, using my homemade teriyaki sauce. The teriyaki dinner was additive. In fact, it's been my go-to, last minute dinner plan.

Because GMO has been found in soy beans, be sure to use organic soy sauce. The amount serving of teriyaki sauce and teriyaki dinner is really up to you. I usually buy bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs. I save the bones and skins to make udon noodle soup or chicken broth. It's also helpful to grill more than enough chickens or shrimps because I can always save them for the next day lunch.

To make the perfect fried rice, make sure the steamed rice is cooled and dried in the fridge overnight. I usually freeze cooked Jasmin rice for future fried rice. Add over easy or scrambled eggs and I have another easy meal.
Teriyaki Sauce
1 part of organic soy sauce
1 part of light brown sugar
(i.e. 1 cup of organic soy sauce to 1 cup of light brown sugar) 
  1. Place both ingredients in a small sauce pan.
  2. Bring it to a boil, until the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes.
STORING: Place the teriyaki sauce in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 months. Microwave the sauce for about 10 seconds to soften it.
Teriyaki Dinner
safflower or any cooking oil
chicken thighs, skinned and boned
shrimps, peeled and deveined
streamed rice, cooled and dried overnight 
  1. Heat the grilled pan on a medium heat.
  2. Brush or spray the chickens and shrimps with oil.
  3. Grill the chicken and shrimps, until they are longer pink.
  4. Slice the chickens or shrimps if desired.
  5. Place the teriyaki sauce in the frying pan.
  6. Heat the sauce over a medium-low heat until it is bubbling.
  7. Turn off the heat and place the chickens and shrimps over the sauce.
  8. Coat well and serve with steamed rice.
  9. To make fried rice, place oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat.
  10. Place the rice in the pan. TIP: Add any diced vegetable, such as carrots, at this time.
  11. Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce over the rice.
  12. Stir to coat the rice with the sauce.
  13. Let the rice heat up thoroughly. TIP: Be sure to scrape off the rice at the bottom of the frying pan. That is my favorite part of fried rice.
  14. Serve with grilled chickens or shrimps. Enjoy!!! TIP: My kids luv to eat fried rice with soft egg, a great brunch alternative.
STORING: If you happen to have a leftover, keep the teriyaki dinner in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Allergy Info: This teriyaki sauce is free from or can make without dairy, eggs, corn, nuts, and fish. Use gluten free soy sauce if you are sensitive to gluten. For teriyaki dinner, use proteins that best fit your allergy free diet.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chocolate Pudding (dairy and egg free)

I confess. I'm a chocoholic. Isn't it that obvious since I luv to post chocolate related recipes? Anything chocolate, especially the dark ones, I'll try at least a bite. But seriously, who doesn't like chocolate?

Before I started living in my kitchen, I didn't even know how to make a chocolate pudding. I only knew the pudding in the prepackaged kinds that I didn't even bother to read the ingredients. Actually, I didn't even know how to read labels. Once again, I had to make a chocolate pudding because... you guess it... my kids' food sensitivity to dairy and legumes.

Searching the cookbooks and on the internet for a chocolate pudding recipe was super easy. There were tons of them. Some made with eggs. Some even added avocado. The ingredients for each recipe weren't that surprising or anything fancy.

After I tested a few recipes and came up with my own, I never once bought a prepackaged pudding again. I know what's in my chocolate pudding too.

Sometimes I make the chocolate pudding with egg yolks, so my kids can have vitamins in their diet. To do this, substitute two large egg yolks to the all-purpose flour. Use the egg whites to make marshmallow fluff and serve it as topping. Using the egg yolks is a good alternative for gluten free chocolate pudding. Personally, both taste the same. So there you go. You aren't missing out on anything if you can't have gluten or eggs.

I make this chocolate pudding just enough for my kids. Feel free to double or triple the amount. Great for lunchbox too.

Chocolate Pudding (dairy and egg free)
makes 1 cup

1 cup (8 oz.) coconut milk
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a small pot.
  2. Whisk until combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a soft boil.
  4. Continue whisking until the mixture is thicken, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Pass the pudding through a sieve. NOTE: This step is optional, but it makes a very smooth chocolate pudding.
  6. Spoon the chocolate pudding into serving bowls.
  7. Let cool then enjoy!!!
NOTE: For the Mocha Chocolate Pudding, add 3 teaspoons instant espresso or instant granulated coffee in step-1. To add proteins to the chocolate pudding, add 1-2 egg yolks and be sure to use the tempering technique as mentioned in the pastry cream blog post.

STORING: Keep the chocolate pudding in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Streamed Rice Hearts (dairy and gluten free)

When I was young, I luv eating a Thai dessert called bua-loy song-krueng. It's a sweet dessert made with cooked glutinous rice flour dough that is served in a sweet coconut sauce. The original dessert has a lot of food coloring to make it beautiful. Since I haven't make anything with artificial food coloring for years, I tested this dessert using beet juice.

From the original recipe, the little rice dough balls are cooked in a boiling water. Since I've worked with rice flour dough before, I knew that steaming rice flour dough could be done. I wanted to make a Valentine's day dessert, so I steamed a few heart shape rice dough. They turned out really good. A perfect dairy free and gluten free Valentine's day dessert.

My steamed rice hearts recipe is super easy and fast to make. Here's the catch. As you work on the dough, you decide how sweet or how red you want your steamed rice hearts to be. If you notice in all of the pictures I posted here, each rice heart or rice ball has different shade of red. If you don't want to use beet juice, that's fine too. The dough would just be white. The beet juice just adds that vibrant red color. Remember, my kids eat with their eyes first.

Brek said the steamed rice hearts tasted like gummy snacks. In another word, he luvs them... and asked me to make some more. I "heart" my kids.

Steamed Rice Heart
inspired by Health & Easy Thai Cooking's Bua-Loy Song-Krueng
makes about 15, depending on the size

1/3 cup (1.5 oz.) rice flour
3-4 Tablespoons palm sugar
2-3 Tablespoons coconut milk
3-5 teaspoons beet juice
Tapioca flour for dusting
  1. Heat the water in a bottom pot that includes a top-tier steamer. NOTE: I use the stainless steel 2-tier steamer. Any steamer would work as well.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, cut a parchment paper with little holes, like a paper snowflake, to fit the top of the double boiler. Set aside.
  3. Place the rice flour and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the coconut juice into the flour mixture.
  5. Mix then knead the dough.
  6. Add beet juice until the color red is in your liking. NOTE: If the dough is too wet, add extra rice flour. If the dough is too dry, add coconut milk. Remember to add either the flour or milk a little bit at a time. Add more beet juice to the dough until you achieve the desired color red.
  7. Dust the nonstick mat with tapioca flour.
  8. Pat the dough until it is bout 1/4 inch thick. NOTE: If the dough is thicker than 1/4 inch, be sure to add extra steaming time.
  9. Dust the top of the dough with tapioca flour.
  10. Using a heart cookie cutter, cut the dough and place the heart shape dough in a top-tier pot lined with parchment paper.
  11. Steam for 12 minutes.
  12. Take the steamed rice hearts out of the double boiler and place them on a wiring rack to prevent them from getting soaky. Serve warm or at a room temperature with sweet coconut sauce.
Sweet Coconut Sauce
makes 1/4 cup

1/4 cup (2 oz.) coconut milk
2-3 Tablespoons palm sugar
  1. Place coconut milk and sugar in the sauce pan.
  2. Heat the milk over a medium-low heat until the sugar melted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Serve warm or at a room temperature with steamed rice hearts.
STORING: The steamed rice hearts are best eating the day that are made but can be kept in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 1 day. The sweet coconut sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm both in a microwave for about 10 seconds before serving.

TIP: If you want to make the original bua-loy song-krueng, make little dough balls and coat them with tapioca starch to prevent the dough from sticking together. Then add them in a boiling water. Once the little rice balls float to the top, they are done. Scoop them out and place them in a cold water to prevent them for sticky together. Place the cooked rice balls in a serving bowl with diced and cooked Japanese potatoes, warm sweet coconut sauce. For a cold dessert, add shaved ice. 

Allergy Info: These steamed rice hearts are free from dairy, egg, corn, legume (soy), wheat, nuts (not coconut or palm), and fish. If you are sensitive to nuts, such as coconut or palm, substitute palm sugar with granulated or light brown sugar. For the dough, substitute coconut milk with nut-free milk or water. I can't think of a replacement for coconut milk in the sweet coconut sauce. If you can have dairy, try substitute a coconut milk with a heavy cream.