Friday, December 2, 2016

Kale Chips

I haven't really found the time to work on my food blog. Testing recipes now and then for my Something Sweeter bakery and for my cookbook. But you know how things go with having kids. I still have to cook and bake for them.

I've been wanting to post a healthy, easy snack recipes like Kale Chips. I remember one time I told my friend, Melissa, that I would like to bake some kale chips for our snack, and she told me she ate them before. Prepackaged and tasted horrible. When I visited her and made her some, she said they tasted better than prepackaged kinds. Nobody should buy kale chips anyway. They are easy to make. Plus, they taste best right out of the oven. Warm and crunchy.

I've seen a lot of recipes calling for spices, cheese, etc. But seriously, kale chips only need oil and sea salt. Less is more kinda snack. The oven temperature will be up to you. Some recipes called for very high heat 400F degree. Some were in between 300F degrees. My friend Nicole told me to go low and slow to keep the nutrients. So I tested this recipe with 225F degree. Nicole said to go even lower than that but I was too impatient. You decide the oven temperature. The idea is to make kale leaves crispy like chips.

Kale Chips
serve 2-3, depending on how much you make

a few organic kale leaves
cooking oil or spray (olive oil, safflower oil, or coconut oil)
sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to the lowest setting, between 170F to 225F degrees.
  2. For each kale, remove leaves from stem then tear them in bite size pieces. Remover any hard stem on the leaves as well.
  3. Place the kale leaves on the baking pan.
  4. Spray the kale leaves with cooking oil or coat them with cooking oil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until crisps, about 30 minutes.
  6. Take the baked kale chips out of the oven and sprinkle with sea salt.
  7. Let the baked kale leaves cool then transfer them to a bowl. Enjoy!!! We actually love them with our family movie afternoon.
Allergy Info: The baked kale chips are free from... well... pretty much everything.

Friday, September 2, 2016

What's up?

So I've been MIA for a long while. Been working and taking care of my family. That's all. But a lot has been going on here...
 
Brek decided this year that he wanted to go to public school. And off he went to public high school. He's luving every minute of it... well, except lunch. I guess going from homeschooling to taking classes at a private school of less than 80 students to 2000+ public high school would be daunting to me. But it's like an adventure for him. He luvs the prep rally. He finally understood the grossness of school lunches. Now I have to deliver hot lunch a few times a week. Wouldn't it be nice if all schools have microwaves?
 
I decided to homeschool Camden this year. When I have to work to make deadlines, he'd sit next to me, playing games on iPad, singing, and sometimes even asking me to help him with some spellings. And it's been like that lately... work, school, work, school. And sometimes, Camden was so loud that I couldn't concentrate on what I was typing. Yup, I decided to video tape his singing. This one was pretty good. He luvs to beat bopping. But sometimes, I'd wonder if he was singing or just a lot of yelling.
 
video

 
I had a chance to take Camden to the library to homeschool him there for the first time. Took a picture of him with his backpack and his Scooby. He was so happy and excited. Plus, it was fun. Then that night, he kept playing with Daddy's Halloween wig. Daddy took a picture of him turning into a rock star. Check out my first meme.
 
 
I haven't baked much. My Something Sweeter bakery has been quiet. Nobody is ordering. Well, I haven't really advertised. I've been contracted with work remotely from home, so that is my focus right now. I didn't realize how much fun it is to actually have a job-job. Here's hoping my company has more projects for me to work on even after my husband finds work.
 
When I had to go into the office to turn in my files, I made time to bake. My coworkers seemed to enjoy my baked sweets. I mean, the sweets were always sold out. Good for my ego, you know what I mean? It's been a good excuse to make the time to bake cookies, brownies, or muffins. I want to bake them chocolate croissants one of these days. And sticky buns. These are yeast dough so they taste best the day they are baked. That will be tricky to bake and bring them into the office the same day. Hmm... I've been waking up at 6am every morning (some days even earlier... how about 5am). Maybe I can.
 
I'm thinking of baking something oatmeal. Definitely oatmeal cookies. Ate one at Whole Foods and it was really good. Couldn't figure out what was in it... tasted like caramel. But you know how that goes. It's gonna take awhile when testing recipes. I hope my kids won't mind taste testing them. By the way, Autumn is here. What are you guys baking? I've been craving bacons... but that has nothing to do with season changed. Well, I'm in Texas so it still feels like summer... hot and humid. Seriously though. If anything is always good with bacons, then bacons must be great any time of the year. Check out my maple bacon cupcakes. Umm... bacons...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fried Sushi Rice Balls

Life has been keeping me super busy. After my parents went back to Thailand last month, all I've been doing is cleaning. On top of that, my husband still has a hard time landing a job, so we are on extra, extra "saving money" mode.

Before the laid off and downsizing our home, I already taught my kids to save on everything. Buy things when they are on sales. Turn off the lights when they leave the room. Instead of buying water bottles, use washable bottles. Plus, no plastic goes to wasteland. When it comes to leftover, reinvent them.

So for this post, I have you... deep-fried sushi rice balls. My dilemma is the leftover sushi rice. I saw a cooking show once where a chef cooked rice balls in his food truck. That made me wonder... if I could use the leftover sushi rice to make rice balls.

I came up with this recipe by trail and errors. But you know what, I got it right the first time!!! Not bad!!! You can double and triple the recipe to feed the crowds. Feel free to test the size of the rice balls too. I usually make them using a small scooper. Anyway, it really doesn't matter the size. Trust me. Who doesn't like fried food?!?!?

Fried Sushi Rice Balls
serves 3-4, depending on the size

2 large eggs, divided
2 cups (12 oz.) cooked short or medium grain rice
1 3/4 cups (7 oz.) panko breadcrumbs
1/2 Tablespoons onion powder
1/2 Tablespoons garlic powder
honey mustard dipping sauce
  1. Line a baking pan with a nonstick mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg.
  3. Mix in the breadcrumbs and cooked rice.
  4. Using an ice cream scooper (any size you want), form the rice into balls.
  5. Place them on the prepared pan and keep them in the fridge until ready to fry them.
  6. When ready, add oil to a heavy bottom pot with a deep-fried thermometer, about 2 inch deep.
  7. While the oil is heating up, line a baking pan with a wiring rack.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Set aside.
  9. On a large plate, mix together the breadcrumb, onion and garlic powder. Set aside.
  10. Once the oil's temperature reaches 350F degrees, dip the rice ball into the egg then coat it with breadcrumb mixture.
  11. Carefully drop it into hot oil and fry it until golden brown on all sides, about 1 minute.
  12. Continue with the rest of rice balls, making sure to fry them in batches and keeping the temperature at 350F degrees.
  13. Serve warm with honey mustard dipping sauce.
STORING: Because the rice balls are fried food, it's best to eat them the day they are made. Alternatively, keep them in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a microwave. They won't be crunchy but still tasty.

Allergy Info: These rice balls are free from or can made without dairy, corn, legumes (peanuts and soy), nuts, and fish.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Chocolate Bao

Nod if you like to eat anything that's stuffed... stuffed pizza (a.k.a calzone), stuffed croissants (a.k.a chocolate croissants), and fruity hand pie like my apple hand pie. See, all stuffed foods are fun to eat.

I posted steamed bao recipe about two years ago, and let me tell you. I've been having a lot of fun stuffed the bao with savory and sweet you-name-it-I'll-stuff-it items.

After teaching Grandpa how to make the bao dough, he decided to stuff the bao with something sweeter like chocolate and sweet taro root butter (that he magically cooked up one day).

I've steamed and baked the chocolate bao too many times, and my kids always ask for more. To no surprise, Camden asked Grandpa to stream some more chocolate bao. And he did... for lunch. For this Chinese New Year or Valentine's day, how about steaming these chocolate bao for someone special.

Chocolate Bao
makes 15 (2 to 2.5 oz. each)

1 my bao dough recipe
15 teaspoons semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  1. Make the bao dough according to my recipe's instruction.
  2. Cut out fifteen 1-inch square parchment papers.
  3. Place a steamer One the dough is ready, divide them into 15 equal parts.
  4. For each dough ball, roll it out into a small round.
  5. Place a teaspoon of semi-sweet chocolates.
  6. Gather up the edges of the dough and pitch to seal. TIP: When making more than one flavor, add a chocolate chunk on the top of the bun to label the filling.
  7. Place the dough seam side down on a prepared parchment paper and place it in the steamer.
  8. Steam the dough for 12 minutes. NOTE: Start the clock when the steam is visible.  
  9. Serve the bao warm. Keep them in the steamer to keep warm. 
STORING: Keep these chocolate bao in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat by microwaving it for 15 seconds or steam it until warm.

Allergy Info: This chocolate bao recipe is free from or can be made without dairy, egg, corn, legumes (soy and peanuts), nuts, and fish. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Classic BBQ Spareribs

Since Chinese New Year is coming up soon (Feb 8th), I would like to post a recipe that I tested many years ago, Classic BBQ Spareribs. I don't have a lot of say about this recipe, except that it is better than ordering a take out.

When my mom visited us three years ago, I made these BBQ spareribs for dinner. She luvs the sweet and salty taste, and she kept mentioning the smoky aromatic from the grill was awesome. Since she's currently staying with us, she asked me to make her some more.

The taste of sweet honey combined well with the salty soy sauce. With no food color, the spareribs still have the deep dark red color from the burnt sugar. Hey, who wants to eat red dye. These are betta for ya!!! The recipe calls for a lot of Asian ingredients. If you don't have them, no worries. I'll help you make do with typical Asian ingredients like soy sauce.

Now, let's talk about cooking these spareribs. I personally don't like an outdoor grill. Well, I like to eat anything off the grill but to have me grill anything outdoor is out of the question. I'm afraid of an open flame and propane tank. With my husband's help, my family's are able to enjoy these BBQ ribs. Without my husband's grill expertise, I'll have to rely on a broiler or a slow cooker. That's everything outdoor grill, by the way, not just ribs.

Classic BBQ Spareribs
adapted from The Chinese Takeout Cookbook
serves 6-8

3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 rack of spareribs, about 3 pounds

Alternatively, skip the following ingredients if you cannot find them. Skip Chinese rice wine and no need to add an alternative. Omit the oyster sauce and add dark soy sauce of the same amount. If you don't have dark soy sauce, use regular or low sodium soy sauce instead. Be sure to use a really good ketchup like Whole Foods 365 or Sir Kensington brand. I find these ketchups to be the most flavorful.
  1. In a large bowl (with lid), whisk all of the ingredients together to make a marinade. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the spareribs by cutting them into 2-3 ribs.
  3. Coat the ribs with the marinade.
  4. Cover and place the whole bowl in the fridge overnight.
  5. When ready, grill the ribs using a charcoal or an outdoor gas grill. NOTE: My husband grilled these in both charcoal and gas grill. Both cooking methods make delicious ribs.
  6. Enjoy them while they are hot with jasmin or sticky rice or any sides.
STORING: Place the leftover BBQ spareribs in a container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze them for up to 3 months.

Allergy Info: These classic BBQ spareribs are free from dairy, egg, corn, wheat, and fish. Be sure to use wheat free (or gluten free) and/or corn free ingredients. For honey, be sure it is from wild flower fed bees as some honey is from bees that are fed corn syrup.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Almond Cookies (dairy and egg free)

My kids and I ate at a local Asian restaurant where a waitress brought some almond cookies with a check. I could tell that the cookies were not freshly baked. After tasting them, I was positive that they were prepackaged cookies with loaded of artificial ingredients.

After I mentioned this finding to my kids, Brek challenged me to make a healthier version. Challenge accepted!!!

The ingredients I used are pretty much the same as other dairy and egg free cookie recipes. Keep this in mind too if you wanna play with other flavor for cookies.

Taste testing. My kids said that my almond cookies were pretty close in texture to the prepackaged ones. The crisps were there because they were baked and devoured on the day they were baked. Flavor wise, they agreed that mine tasted better. Score!!!

Almond Cookies (dairy and egg free)
makes 16 cookies

1/4 cup (2 oz.) shortening
1/4 cup (1.8 oz.) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1.8 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup (3.7 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
16 raw sliced almond
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degree. Line a baking pan with a parchment paper or a nonstick matt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the shortening, sugars, apple sauce, and almond butter with a hand mixer until creaming.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the almond butter mixture.
  5. Mix it with the hand mixer until just combine.
  6. Using a small scoop, scoop the cookie dough on to the prepare pan, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  7. Press a raw sliced almond on top of each dough.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for exactly 12 minutes.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on a pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!!!
STORING: These almond cookies are best eating the day they are baked for the crisp. But they can be kept in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.

Allergy Info: These almond cookies are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes, and fish.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Grandpa luvs anything muffins. He told me that he prefers muffins to a cupcake. Maybe it has something to do with breakfast. Grandma told me that he gets up at 6am, on the dot, to eat something with his coffee. So she told me to be sure that I bake him breakfast sweets.

At first, I didn't really know what to bake for breakfast. I did the easy muffins like my banana chocolate chip muffins. One day, while we were at Trader Joe's, Grandpa asked me if I could bake him something with blueberries. He luvs blueberries. DONE!!!

Basically, I modified my chocolate chip banana recipe. I had never baked blueberry muffins before because Camden is avoiding blue foods in his diet. With that in mind, I wasn't sure how the muffins would hold its flavor with just blueberry in them. So I went with two versions... 6 muffins with just blueberries... another 6 muffins with banana AND blueberries.

Everybody... Grandpa, Grandma, Brek, and I... totally agreed that banana blueberry muffins had more flavor. It definitely had to do with the flavor from the ripen banana. So there you go. When in doubt, try a few flavors with the add-ins. So glad I did.

Blueberry Banana Muffins
modified from William Sonoma's Banana Bread
make 6 regular size muffins

1 large egg
3 Tbs. (1.5 oz.) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (2.5 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 (2.5 oz.) very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup (3 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon grounded cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grounded nutmeg
1 cup (3 oz.) frozen wild or regular blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degree. Line the 6 regular size muffin pan with foil or paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and egg.
  3. Add the mashed banana and mix again.
  4. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and whisk until just combine.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Using a large scooper, divide the batter equally into the prepared muffin pan.
  8. Bake until the tooth pick inserted into the muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy them while they are warm or at a room temperature.
STORING: Keep these banana blueberry muffins in a container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.

Allergy Info: These banana blueberry muffins are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legume (soy and peanuts), nuts, and fish.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolution 2016


For the past two years, I was able to keep my New Year's resolutions because I set a realistic goal for each year. So what is my 2016 New Year's resolution?

2015 was life changing for my family. My husband was laid off from a job that he had for over 8 years because the oil industry's been doing poorly. We had to downsize and sold our home. It was very hectic. But we persevered and sold our home within 3 days on the market. I've continued to homeschool my kids. Brek is now a teen, 13 to be exact. Camden turned 6, but he seems to behave like he's a teen. On top of all this, we were unprepared for the health insurance crisis. My husband and I thought we would be okay with a year or two worth of saving. But a health insurance for a family of four makes a big dent in our savings.

My parents came to visit us in October. We asked if they can stay longer, so they're scheduled to leave at the end of February. I'm so thankful that they are here because they've brought perspectives to what we've been going through right now, reminding us what to worry about and mainly what not to worry about.

The first week after my husband was out of a job, he suggested that I went back to work full time so that we would receive a health insurance benefit. Seriously, who's gonna hire a mid 40 year old woman who's been out of workforce for over 12 years? And just exactly what job was I suppose to apply for?

That was when I realized that I needed to stop dreaming and to start doing something about my dream. I decided to research the Texas cottage law where a home baker can bake and sell sweet items from her home kitchen. It was pretty simple. I took a food handling license, spoke with a friend of a friend about the home based bakery business, asked my cousin to design a logo for my bakery, started retesting recipes and totaled up the costs, worked on my bakery on line menu.... and the list just went on and on and on.

Finally, my dream came true. I'm officially an proud owner of my own bakery, Something Sweeter. For 2016, my New Year resolution will be... working very hard to have a successful start-up bakery business. I also want to work on my first cookbook this year. I want to accomplish all this while I continue to homeschool my kids and be a stay-at-home mom. Because, let's face it, I like being at home and do the things I've been doing with my kids. If I can help my family's financially without losing that privilege, then that is all I need to do.

Visit my on-line Something Sweeter bakery at http://menusomethingsweeter.blogspot.com/

Cheer to 2016!!!