Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pineapple Stuffing Recipe

Here's a recipe for Pineapple Stuffing that I tasted at a company potluck lunch. It was absolutely delicious - unexpectedly sweet and very simple to make. It would go well with a baked ham or pork or chicken dish. And it can transform into a dessert if you add some vanilla extract. I'm going to make this dish soon and post a picture!

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
5 slices bread, cubed and dried

Directions
1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add eggs, 1 at a time.
3. Stir in pineapple.
4. Fold in bread cubes.
5. Place in 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
6. Bake 1 hour at 350 F degrees.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yes To Carrots Lip Butters

Back in November, I went to the Beauty Sample sale hosted by Pretty City and sponsored by Shape Magazine. (Click here to read the post). Here is a picture of all the samples that I received that night!

I only started to use some of the samples but the first one that I was really excited to try was the Yes To Carrots lip butters! These are organic products as recognized by the US Dept of Agriculture. This means that products are made with all natural ingredients, no animal testing and paraben, petroleum and phthalate free. But the important test for me was the smoothness of the lip balm on my lips - it really moisturized my lips and I felt good about using a healthy product.

There are different flavors which are really fun - Carrot, Berry, Citrus, Mint and Melon. So forget your ordinary chapstick, and say Yes to Carrots! For purchasing locations in the United States, click here. Or for more information on their full line of products, go to the website: http://www.yes-to-carrots.com/

And look, even Oprah has jumped onto the bandwagon. In their December 2008 magazine, they reviewed this product and said "Rehab lips with shea butter and beeswax in Yes To Carrots C Me Smile Lip Butters."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cajun Gumbo

One of the few dishes that Jander can cook without supervision is gumbo - cajun-style. If you've never been to Louisiana, you probably never tasted it or even heard of it. In fact, when discussed in conversation, most of our friends are curious as to what 'gumbo' really is! Well, it's a thick soup or stew-like mixture of meat and/or seafood and vegetables normally served over rice. We also add tons of cajun spices (we like Tony Chachere's seasoning blends) to give it a slow spicy burn in the mouth and throat. This dish is absolutely yummy and perfect for the winter!

The base for the soup is a thickening powder which gives it a nice brown color. We normally add a can of diced tomatoes, diced potatoes, carrots, green beans, and okra. As for the protein portion, we like chunks of dark chicken meat or sausage, shrimp or crawfish (to make it an truly authentic cajun dish).
After several hours of slow cooking, here is a picture of the gumbo we made today! We skipped the rice but dipped it with Italian bread instead. It tastes even better the next day so we always make a big pot for leftovers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Baked Japanese Cheesecake! Part 2

Here's my second take on baking the Japanese cheesecake that I posted earlier. I mixed in some green tea powder into the milk which was beaten into the softened creamcheese. It didn't look as 'green' as I had envisioned but I hope it tastes good.

I reviewed additional recipes on Japanese cheesecakes on the Internet (here's my favorite), and I realized that my waterbath should use hot boiling water. Instead, I used cold water. The cheesecake also shrunk from the 8 inch cake container - but I learned that that I should have left it in the oven for an hour to cool down. And I'll do a taste test to determine if I should put more green tea powder....it doesn't even look like I put the green tea powder inside! I will have to try these tips next time to help improve my cheesecake.

But voila, here is my second attempt which turned a nice golden brown on top (which I believe is the desired effect).



Feedback on the cheesecake: It was delicous!! Very light and airy especially compared to a Costco cheesecake. The flavoring could be more green, in my opinion so I will add even more green tea powder in my next batch!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Baked Japanese Cheesecake!

What exactly is a Japanese cheesecake? Interesting question. The only answer that I can come up with is that it is lighter than the traditional American cheesecakes devoured at Cheesecake Factory. I sprinked in green tea powder in the mixture in my attempt for a marbelized cheesecake swirl...but sadly, it came out looking like sprinked dots. I'll need to find out how to do this in the future!

Ingredients
7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar (baker's sugar)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch (don't use flour)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake tin with cooking oil spray. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy.Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes. Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently. Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface. Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.

Here is the cheesecake as it came out of the oven. However after 30 minutes, the cake deflated a little and easily separated around the edges. But once it was presented on a pretty plate, it looked (and more importantly, tasted!) delicious!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Baked Carrot Cupcakes!

I continued my baking marathon this weekend by making carrot cupcakes with whipped creamcheese frosting. Thanks to my friend Saori, it was very quick and fun to make the recipe. And are you interested in how they turned out? Well,....they were super delicious, moist and of course, sugary! I cannot take credit for this recipe, so if you are interested in making these cupcakes, click on this link: Karen's Cookies Cakes & More. She has tons of yummy baked goods pictures and recipes.

Karen's recipe for Carrot Bread/Cupcakes/Loaf:

3 cups grated carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 1.5 cups white sugar (depending on your taste, but for me 1.5 cups was perfect)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or 2 8" cake pans or 1 loaf pan or muffin pan(s). In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in eggs, oil, vanilla, and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Since I made cupcakes, I baked it for 30 minutes for the full-size muffins and 20 minutes for the mini-muffins. Here are some pictures of my baking process:

Grating the carrots turned out trickier than I thought. Who knew that carrots would dye my Cuisinart a nice shade of orange??



I baked the batter in mini and full-sized muffin tins.


And here's my first attempt at frosting cupcakes with a knife...I will have to improve my frosting techniques next time. This was a fantastic whipped creamcheese frosting from Karen's blog. I alternated between walnuts and red sugar as topping.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Baked Oatmeal-Butterscotch Cookies!

Today I wanted to bake cookies for the Christmas holiday and Jander suggested gingersnap cookies. I didn't have a recipe on-hand but instead I offered to make oatmeal-butterscotch cookies which he gladly accepted. (I don't think he had a choice in the cookie type though, hehe). I posted a recipe for these cookies last month so I thought it would be a great time to make it. They were really easy to make and it made my entire kitchen smell wonderful.

And yes, they were delicious! They are best eaten straight out of the oven. Tips: Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies but I baked it for the full 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Reduce the amount of butterscotch if you like it less sweet.

And if anyone has a gingersnap recipe, please share with me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recap of the Year

As the year is almost coming to an end, I thought I would share some of our favorite postings we've written so far. I can't believe it's only been 9 months since starting this blog - I look forward to more blogging in the days and months ahead! Keeping a blog has made me remember all the delicious foods I've eaten, from forgotten tapas at Las Ramblas to over-rated Asian bistro at Moca and memorable birthday celebration at Wolfgang's Steakhouse. But the year is not always about eating, I've also baked some delicious food in my own kitchen! From the Chinese sticky rice to the banana muffins that I made last month, I look forward to cooking them in the future as classic dishes.

And how can I forget about my private tour of Yankees Stadium? The stadium is no longer standing but yet I had a chance to walk around the locker room, the private lounge and sitting in the dugout! What a fantastic night in June. It is definitely a small perk of volunteering but only because I wanted to meet a celebrity - Josh Lucas. Hehhehe. Another favorite memory from this year was my trip to Hawaii. I loved eating all the food especially the spicy ahi. Ahhh and ever since then, I've been a huge spicy tuna lover! And I look forward to going back to the island for more delicious seafood and sashimi! In fact, Jander and I even tried to recreate the memories by going to Roy's Restaurant in NY. Alas, the food was not the same.

Here's a picture of the Christmas tree at South Street Seaport. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Restaurant Review: Pio Pio


If you are looking for an inexpensive family-style restaurant that serves delicious chicken and side dishes, look no further! Pio Pio is a Peruvian restaurant that serves rotisserie chicken marinated in a special Peruvian sauce. We ordered the Peruvian Combo ($24) which comes with a chicken, large french fries and avocado salad in addition to a Chicken Pio ($12). The sides are delicious and highly recommended. We tasted the fried calamari ($10) , seafood salad ($14) and sausage and fries. The portion sizes were generous. I was impressed with the amount of seafood in the salad - endless amounts of shrimp and calamari!

There are several locations located around Queens and Manhattan with the original store in Jackson Heights Queens. I heard from my friends that it is actually quite small there. But I would recommend the location that I went to in Manhattan - 210 East 34th Street. New York, NY 10016.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Restaurant Review: Joe's Shanghai

Joe's Shanghai Restaurant
13621 37th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 539-3838

The first Joe's Shanghai Restaurant was opened in Flushing, NY back in 1995. Since then, they have expanded to Chinatown and Midtown Manhattan. I haven't been to the Midtown branch yet. Out of the other 2 restaurants, I consider the Flushing branch to be the best. Since it's also the closest, that means I can (and do) go there a lot!

The food consists of the standard fare you can bite into at any authentic Chinese restaurant. It's good and inexpensive, but not great. So what exactly is so great about Joe's Shanghai that has celebrities, tourists, and New Yorkers alike coming back over and over?


Three words for you. Xiao Long Bao. Or for you English types, Little Soup Dumplings. Yeah, they're that good! Each succulent dumpling is packed with a little pork meatball and filled with a yummy meat broth. There is also another variation available that uses crab meat instead of pork, but the pork ones are my favorite. They're cheaper too so that's a double bonus if you ask me!

If it's fresh out of the kitchen, I'd advise nibbling a hole in it to either spoon in some of the soy/vinegar sauce to cool it down and add some bite to it or slurp out the soup - otherwise you're going to give your mouth/throat some serious burns. A cartoonist, Robert Zimmerman, drew a cartoon that was published in a newspaper some time ago detailing this vital dumpling eating technique.

Soup Dumplings : A Survival Course
Robert Zimmerman

Lastly, if and when you go, make sure you go early! And when you sit down, order your dumplings right away! They eventually run out of dumplings when it gets late in the evening and then you're stuck eating good-but-not-great Chinese food.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Neutrogena Event with Lucky Magazine

Last night, I attended the Neutrogena Event sponsored by Lucky Magazine. The "Beauty and Bubbly" event featured make-overs by professional make-up artists, opportunity for a photo shoot, and food! Cupcakes! Champagne! Sparkling water! And the best part, we got to hang out at an awesome penthouse apartment in lower Manhattan. (If it wasn't for the light rain, we would've hung out on the terrace!)

The make-overs were the highlight of the event. We were lined up outside of the bedroom where the 4 make-up artists performed their magic using Neutrogena events. I was more interested in getting new tips and trying a new look for my face. Surprisingly, she gave me smokey eyes which I absolutely loved! She created a large crease to create depth in my eyes (since they are flat) and brushed a highlighting color close to my brows. She also put lots of eyeliner (which required 4 cotton squares of eye make-up to remove!). The only thing I didn't like about my make-up was the super bright red lipstick she used for my lips! It was such a super stain and difficult to remove! Otherwise I was quite pleased with my new look and I already started applying some of the tips to my daily look.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Heroes Superpower: Regeneration of Angst


If you haven't been watching Heroes, I suggest that you stop reading now. While I'm not going to be summarizing any episodes, sooner or later (right after this sentence!) I'm going to refer to something that just happened and I don't want to ruin your Heroes fix.

So I just finished watching Heroes and I'm very upset with newest inconsistencies in the portrayal of regeneration:

1) Earlier in the season, future Peter Petrelli gets shot by future Claire. Since his powers are being suppressed by future Haitian, he is unable to regenerate and dies.

2) Moments ago, Claire died as a result of the gunshot wound inflicted on her by Elle. Since her powers are being suppressed by the eclipse, you might think her death would be permanent. Nope. When the eclipse passes, she comes back to life and regenerates.

3) At the same time, Silar dies after Noah slits his throat with an exacto knife. Does he die? Of course not! Just like Claire, he comes back to life and regenerates after the eclipse passes.

So why is future Peter Petrelli dead while Claire and Silar are still among the living? I don't get it! I was happy when the Claire & Silar drama queen patrol bit the dust, only to be disappointed when they were almost immediately returned to inflict their angsty parental issues on me. Blargh!
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