Thursday, September 21, 2017

Basil Pesto

After scanning through so many cookbooks for school lunch ideas, I came across a lot of recipes calling for pesto. For cold lunch, pesto pasta is a great option. Of course, all of the prepackaged pesto have some sort of cow cheese, something that Brek tries to avoid.

I decided that it was time to learn how to make my own pesto. After scanning through many pesto recipes, it was nothing more than basil leaves and oil with added nuts and cheese. And that was it. With my homemade pesto, I just skipped the cheese and use whatever nuts I had at the time. I have to admit that I prefer almonds over other nuts.

The possibility of using basil pesto is endless. I added it to pasta for my kids' cold lunch. It's a great flavor bomb in stir-fried noodles (Italian style), soup, or pasta sauce.

Be sure to add lemon juice so the pesto will stay brightly green. Feel free to sub other nuts or skip the nuts. Sub other oil too. Because all of the ingredients aren't cooked, use organic ingredients if possible. And save the basil stems (in the freezer) to add to pasta sauce to up the flavor.


Basil Pesto
makes about 1 cup

2 large garlic cloves (peeled)
4 cups fresh basil leaves (washed, dried, and stemmed)
1/2 cup (2 oz.) sliver almonds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (4 oz.) sunflower oil
zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. In a food processor, add garlic cloves and pulse about 10 times until the garlic is coarsely chopped.
  2. Add basil leaves, almonds, and salt.
  3. Pulse until the thick green sauce is formed.
  4. Add oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  5. Pulse a few times to combine.
  6. Transfer to an air tight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  
Allergy Info: My basil pesto is free from dairy, egg, corn, legumes (peanuts and soy), wheat, and fish. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

Now that Hurricane Harvey has down graded to Tropical Storm Harvey, I was just thinking earlier that I should just blog about this experience because in a way, it's kinda funny. Oh wait.. I'm doing it.  

Tornado warnings. I slept through the first night when Harvey made land fall in my area. The next morning I saw too many warnings on my phone which I left it in my office. Then my husband said, "My phone kept beeping last night." We had no idea. And more warnings that day and that night. Yes, I had my phone with me the next night.

Eating off whatever that were in the fridge and freezer... just in case of power outage. No foods should go to waste. I have to say, we've saved a lot of money in the last 4 days.
 
Just wanted to eat carbs... chips, pita crackers, ice cream. My kids too. Wonder if it was stress eating.
 
Kids could still play with their friends... online. Thank you for no power outage. Then I heard my teen told his little brother that they needed to get up and do jumping jacks, saying "We can't sit around too long."
 
Heard my teen constantly telling his friends, "The world is coming to an end." Then his little brother said, "I'm scared." And the first time he told his friend this, his little brother decided to take his iPad into the shelter and stayed there. His mommy was checking the radar and tornado warning status. Then his daddy said, "Camden, why are you sitting in bathroom?" Bet you never said that to your kids.
 
As soon as the rain water was half way up the drive way, we did what was called "haul ass!!!" We didn't expect flooding. But we prepared for the floods within 2 hours. Talk about team work!!! (But I found my purse on the floor near the front door the next morning. How that get there?)
 
My mom messaged me via LINE app that there was a flood in Thailand a few weeks ago and now it was our turn. The world was coming to an end and she didn't understand any of it. (Hmm... sounds familiar...)
 
Current situation? It's Monday, August 28th, 4:00pm.
 
The street in front of my house is still flooded... a tiny river. Wonder if I can get good money for my house now that it is a water front property.
 
See the pic... my neighbors took advantage of the new river.
 
Still rainy and very windy and feeling like it's Autumn. So cool outside. I kinda want to put up Fall decorations. Just last week, I was telling my friend who lives on the east coast that I wish I have Fall temperature sooner. But in Texas, Fall temp is around November. See, my wish came true. Camden was super happy when he felt the cool breeze.
 
You know that song "It starts to feel a lot like Christmas." Well, it starts to feel a lot like Autumn. (sigh) I need to have something pumpkinee which mean... more carbs? Hmm... pumpkin scones for dinner?
 
Update: As of Tuesday, August 29th, 2pm, streets are all dried up. Sunny a bit too. Feeling the Autumn wind.
 
We enjoyed pumpkin scones, boiled eggs, and chocolate milk with mini marshmallows for dinner last night, taking in our water front view. My teen also spotted our outdoor pet bunny. I noticed that he ate a slice of bread I left out for him. And our outdoor pet dove enjoyed leftover for breakfast.

From this experience, I would say my family and I tried to keep our sense of humor. But it is still stressful to watch the devastations on the news. So I am sending kick ass energy to all people who are still under a lot of stress.


Update: As of Wednesday, August 30th, 2pm, streets outside my neighborhood are now passable. I was able to take my kids out and volunteered for pet rescue. Brek, Camden, and their friend, Winnie, organized and bagged blankets, cleaned dog crates, unloaded donations out of the cars. Camden and Winnie wished he was able to walk one of the dogs. When I asked, the dogs were being dropped off to take to the center or foster care. Those poor dogs looked so scared. Over all, my kids felt good that they did something great for community.
 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fruit Jam

Do I really need to blog about fruit jam? Seriously though. What's to talk about? Well, for one thing, what comes in a jar is not always just fruits. So here I go again. Talking about citric acid in the added pre-packaged food. What to do? Make my own, of course.

My dad luvs jams, especially blueberries. When he visited us two years ago, he asked me to teach him how to make it. You know, the only ingredients in the jam should just be fruits and sugar. That's it. Just simmer the fruits of choice until they cook down. Then into the blender. Allow the fruit jam to get nice and cold in the fridge (unless you like it warm). And there you have it... fruit jam.

Some recipes may ask for sliced apples as pectin. From my experience, fruits jams don't need anything. Once the sugar is cooked down, it will firm up enough to spread. So skip the apples. Something less to worry about, right?

Fruit Jam
make as much as you like

1 - 2 cups fruits of choice (berries, peaches)
1/4 cups granulated sugar (more or less to taste, you decide)
  1. Wash fruits or berries. Take out stones and roughly chop if needed.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, add the fruits of choice with sugar.
  3. Bring it to a boil then simmer until fruits are cooked down, about 15 minutes or more.
  4. Set aside for the cooked fruits to cool down.
  5. Add the fruits into the blender and blend until no chucks are visible.
  6. Transfer the fruits into mason jar.
  7. Add pretty label if it is for gifting. Remember to add expiration date too... about 2 weeks. Enjoy!!!
Allergy Info: This fruit jam is free from dairy, egg, corn, legumes (peanuts and soy), wheat, nuts (not coconut) and fish. If possible, use organic berries and fruits.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Banana Fritters

I've been thinking about breakfast recipes a lot lately. So sick and tired of pancakes, waffles, and French toasts. Want something different.

Then I came across Bobby Flay's Banana Foster Beignets recipe in his brunch cookbook. Since I had 2 ready to bake bananas, I decided to make banana fritters for breakfast.

When I reread Bobby's recipe, I was wondering why he didn't add an egg. I mean beignets are usually yeast dough. But without eggs, I don't think they will turn out fluffy. Kinda strange.

So I modified his recipe by adding an egg. I ran out of large eggs or I went with extra large. I'll try large egg next time and see if the texture makes a difference. I also added less sugar because I knew my kids would sprinkle a lot of powdered sugar until their fritters look like they are covered in snow.

When I think of beignets, I'd think of deep-fried yeast dough. You know the New Orleans beignets. I renamed this dish to a fritter because it has that doughnut taste to them. Well, whatever its name, my kids enjoyed them with cold glasses of goat milk. I had mine with morning coffee. Good life.

Banana Fritters
serve 3-4
adapted from Brunch at Bobby's Banana Foster Beignets

2 ripe bananas (7 oz.)
1/4 cup (3 oz.) granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons (1 oz.) coarse sugar
2 Tablespoons (1 oz.) coconut cream
1 extra large egg (2.1 oz.)
1 cup (4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
cooking oil for deep frying
powdered sugar for serving
  1. Place a cooling rack over a baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Pour cooking oil (about 2 inches deep) into a heavy bottom pot.
  3. Heat the oil until the candy thermometer registers at 350F.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together bananas, sugars, coconut cream, and egg.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  6. Whisk the flour ingredients into the banana ingredients until there are no lumps.
  7. Using a small scoop, drop about 4-6 scoops into the oil.
  8. Deep fried until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  9. Take the fritters out of the oil and on to a cooling rack to let them drain.
  10. Serve warm with a lot of powdered sugar. Enjoy!!!

Allergy Info: These banana fritters are free from dairy, egg, corn, legumes (peanuts and soy), nuts (not coconut) and fish. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Strawberry Banana Spinach Smootie

It's one of those days when goat milk is about to expire. Why do I always have this "about to expire" dilemma? With frozen strawberries and bananas, I asked my kids, "You guys want strawberry banana smoothie?" SURE!!!

My friend, Krissy, told me many times to add spinach to smoothie since they don't have any taste while they are health. So I added a few leaves into their smoothie. I asked my kids if they could guess the secret ingredients.

My kids couldn't tell. Camden drank half of his smoothie then sauntered into the kitchen to ask me what the secret ingredient was. After I told him it was spinach, he said he felt sick from the smoothie and could not finish it because of the spinach. I pointed out that he already drank half of it.

The point is... some kids (even grown ups) have some sort of psychological issue when it comes to food. I bet Camden would finish his smoothie if he didn't realize spinach leaves were added in. But I honestly tell my kids what they are eating. Why not. They need to know what they eat. If they like or dislike what they eat, then they can decide if they want them again next time.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
serve 2-3

1 cups organic strawberries, frozen
1 medium banana, frozen
5-7 organic baby spinach leaves, stemmed
goat milk
agave to taste
  1. Add strawberries and banana into blender.
  2. Turn the blender on low while adding milk to the preference consistency.
  3. Add agave to taste.
  4. Serve with more frozen sliced strawberries. Enjoy!!!

Allergy Info: This smoothie is free from dairy (not goat), egg, corn, wheat, legumes (peanuts and soy), and fish. Look for frozen fruits without added additives like citric acid. For bananas, peel and cut into big chunks and free them for future smoothie.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Scrambled Eggs

Apparently, I didn't know how to scrambled eggs. Yeah, seriously!!!

Last week, I watched The Kitchen on Foods Network. Chef Zakarian taught a lesson on how to properly scramble some eggs. He showed a bowl of "incorrectly" scrambled eggs and... hmmm... that could have been my scrambled eggs.

His basic tip was low heat and slow. He added a lot of dairy (butter and sour cream). Two ingredients that I don't often have at home because... well, we don't eat cow's products. I didn't even bother to find substitutes for them though. I mean, scrambled eggs should just be scrambled eggs, right?

I tested Chef Zakarian's proper scrambled eggs technique, using a wok instead of a pot. The thing is... all of my nonstick pans are no longer nonstick, so I have been using a wok for pretty much everything. So use whatever you can get your hands on... a pot or a pan. Just make sure it is big enough to accommodate the amount of eggs you want to scramble.

So I thought the proper scrambled eggs' texture was rather creamy... reminded me of a thick pastry cream. Brek didn't like it. He preferred firm texture. But Camden luved it. So you see... there is no such thing as THE proper scramble eggs. However, I do like the low heat and slow cooking method. For some reasons, the eggs didn't turn out gamey. Since Brek prefers firm texture, I cook the eggs a little longer. Easy peasy for my two food critics.

Even though I suggested sea salt, ground black pepper, and fine chopped herbs to taste, I don't add sea salt to my scrambled eggs. Just because we eat so much salt else where, especially snacking on sea salt chips. Mine usually has ground black pepper and herbs to my scrambled eggs. Brek has his scrambled eggs with only ground black peppers, and Camden prefers them naked. Still easy peasy!!!

Scrambled Eggs
make as many as you like
inspired by Chef Zakarian's The Proper Scrambled Eggs

as many eggs as you like
1/2 Tablespoon cooking oil
sea salt, ground black pepper, and/or finely chopped herbs to serve (optional)
  1. Heat a pan, a pot, or a wok in a very low heat.
  2. Drizzle a little bit of oil, about 1/2 tablespoon.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Add the eggs into the pan. If the pan sizzles, turn down the heat.
  5. If using a whisk, continuously whisk the egg mixture until creamy. If using a spatula, continuously bring the partially cooked eggs from the edge to the center then turn once.
  6. Plate the scrambled eggs then add salt, ground black pepper, and/or herbs to taste. Serve them next to your fabulous breakfast options such as a slice of sour dough bread, hash brown, and BACONS!!!
Allergy Info: Scrambled eggs are free from everything except eggs. If you cannot have chicken eggs, see if you can tolerant duck or quail eggs. They both are available at the Asian groceries.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nut Milk

If you're like me, you would want to purchase certain thing prepackaged. Save time to do other activities. Like almond milk.

For the life of me, I thought nut milk was difficult to make. After searching on line and reading variety of cookbooks, the recipes were pretty much the same. Nuts and water. Yeah, no kidding.

The idea is to soak the nuts until they get pretty soft. Then whirring the soft nuts with water in a blender. That's pretty much it. And the best thing about making my own nut milk is what I add in the blender is what I get.

Check out the prepackaged nut milk where a lot of other ingredients are added, like oil. I have no idea why would oil needed in milk. I mean, do you add oil to a bowl of cereal? I certainly don't want it in mine.




Nut Milk
makes as much milk as you like

1 part preferred nuts, such as hazel, cashew, or almonds
3 parts filtered water

For example, 1 cup of cashew to 3 cups of water would make 3 cups of cashew milk.
  1. In a large container, soak the nuts in the water.
    NOTE: Rinsing the nuts before soaking them is optional.
  2. Put the container in a fridge overnight.
    NOTE: There is no need to cover the container.
  3. The next day, add nuts and its water into the blender.
  4. Blend the nuts until creamy white, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Put the strainer over a large container.
  6. Pour the nut milk over the strainer.
  7. Using the back of a spoon, press out the nut milk, scrapping the bottom of the strainer to get the nut cream.
  8. Nut milk is ready to enjoy as is. Add a little sweetener, such as agave or honey, is optional.
STORING: Keep nut milk in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Allergy Info: This nut milk recipe is free from dairy, egg, corn, wheat, legumes (peanuts and soy), and fish. When buying nuts, be sure to read the label carefully as some packaging will have a fine print of "manufactured in a facility that processes... (dairy, wheat, eggs, etc.).

Monday, January 9, 2017

Congee

Happy New Year!!!

It's been super cold the past few days. The coldest was 27F. Brrr... But I'm luving the cold if I can stay home. Plus, it's a nice change to the hot Texas heat.

So last Friday (January 6th), I happened to check the radar since it was pouring out. Then I saw it... snow in Sugar Land? Really? I was excited and Camden was too. We decided to venture out... in the cold... in the rain... in search of... SNOW!!!

It was about 45 minutes drive and once we got there, it was nothing but rain... sleet. Bummer. We stopped by Whole Foods instead and bought some pastries for treats and manchego cheese for future dinner. Still was a good trip. Just wish we saw snow flakes.

Since the temperature was dropping, I decided to put my slower cooker to good use. Thursday was making the chicken broth. Friday was cooking congee. After I posted the congee photo on my Facebook page, a lot of my friends asked what it was. Think of it as porridge. Creamy with no cream or milk added. It's an Asian dish with variation of added garnishes. I ate a bowl with pieces of fish with peanuts once and didn't care for the taste. Congee with ground pork was pretty tasty. The one I made last Friday was just chicken broth with Jasmin rice and cauliflower. Just because I've been wanting cauliflower soup for awhile now.

I was told to blend cooked rice in broth in a blender to make it creamy so no slow cooker is required. But the whole point of using a slow cooker is to spend less time in the kitchen. I prefer the dump-it-and-forget-it recipes. Easy pleasy. For my congee, I set the slow cooker on HIGH at around 9am. As soon as I saw the congee bubbling, around noon, I turned it to LOW until 5:30pm dinner.

And be creative with the garnishes and added proteins. My kids ate their congee with grilled hot dogs and potato chips. The top photo was my breakfast congee... over easy egg, scallion, cilantros, fried onions with a lot of hot sauce. Because I like my savory dishes spiceee.

Congee
serve 4-6

6-8 cups chicken broth
3/4 to 1 cup uncooked Jasmin rice
half cauliflower head, roughly chopped
1 inch peeled fresh ginger or 1-3 teaspoons ground ginger (add more for spicier taste)
1 teaspoon black peppers

Garnishes
fried onion
fried garlic
thinly sliced scallions
roughly chopped cilantros
fish sauce
hot sauce

Protein Options
fried or over easy eggs
shredded cooked chickens
crumbled cooked bacons (crunchy and in bits)
thinly slice beef
  1. Add all of the ingredients into the slower cooker.
  2. Set it on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours.
  3. Stir and serve congee with garnishes and protein options. Add fish sauce and hot sauce to taste.
Congee is extremely hot right out of the slow cooker. Be careful when serving to kids. I spoon my kids' congee in bowls and let them sit out for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Allergy Info: My congee recipe is free from or can be made without dairy, egg (if not garnish with fried egg), corn, wheat, legumes (peanuts and soy), or nuts. If you have fish allergy, use sea salt to taste. If you can have legumes, soy sauce is a good alternative. Read the ingredients listed for pre packaged garnishes such as fried onions or hot sauce, as it may contain soy oil and/or corn derivatives. Or thinly sliced onions or garlic in hot oil until crispy. No hot sauce, no problems. Sprinkle ground hot peppers.