DSC_0252

We brought the kids to Disney World last week and ate at a lot of places catered to tourists. We were limited with time and two younger kids, so we had to eat at convenient places like eateries inside the theme parks or tourists-oriented chain restaurants. I was so ready to eat a light, home-cooked meal by the end of our trip. I was sick of fried, greasy, bland-tasting meals. It reminded me of my parents that no matter where they are in the world, they somehow always find their ways to a Chinese restaurant after a few days of trying out local cuisine. I suppose it’s comfort food for them. I still remember eating Chinese food in Paris instead of eating more of those crusty French baguettes. Those Asian parents! I suppose I’m becoming one like them. I was craving a light, home-cooked Asian meal. Ha!

I like to keep a bag of frozen salmon fillets from Costco in my freezer for quick (emergency) meals. They thaw fairly quickly and I love how they are individually-packaged. I can just take out how much I need. Yes, I know. Bad for the environment, but saves me lots of trouble.

Chinese people say ginger and scallions together will eradicate the “fishiness” of fish. This dish makes my house smells so good. I can’t stand lingering sautéed onion smell, but I love the combination of ginger and scallions together with rice wine.

This is a super-easy dish to make. Just put it together and pop in the oven. You’ll have a healthy meal in 15 minutes.

 

Ingredients:

serves 4

 

4 (7 ounce) boneless salmon fillets

4 inch ginger piece, peeled and julienned

4 scallions, julienned

1 teaspoon rice wine

1 teaspoon salt

4 large pieces of parchment paper

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the parchment paper pieces onto a large baking sheet, then place individual salmon fillets onto parchment paper. One fillet on each piece of parchment paper.

3. Salt the individual salmon fillets front and back. Divide the julienned ginger and scallion equally to four portions and place on top of the salmon fillets. Sprinkle rice wine onto the top of each salmon fillets.

DSC_0206

4. Seal the parchment packages tightly. Place in oven and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Carefully open the package or rip through center of parchment package before serving.

Things that made me smile this week:

1. The rain. It washed away a good amount of pollen outside last night. Pollen count has been record high for the past few days around here in Atlanta. It’s scary to go outside because everything was (and is again today) covered in a film of yellow pollen. Ugh.

2. The possibility of replacing the velvety texture of chocolate with fruit juice instead of fat sounds almost too-good-to-be-true. I want some of that. right. now.

3. Thinking about my the looks on my kids’ faces when we visit “the happiest place on earth” soon.

4. Completing my 4 mile run this morning when I completely didn’t feel like even waking up nor moving my body.

5. Reconnecting with an old high school friend this week. I talked on the phone for 1.5 hours! I don’t think I’ve talked that long on the phone in a long time.

Happy Friday!

DSC_0143

You can find this dish everywhere in Taiwan. It’s another Taiwanese comfort-food.

Taiwanese people take their aromatics seriously. It’s a lot of fried shallots, dried shrimps, dried Shiitake mushrooms, garlic…etc. As H says, you can have some serious “strong” breath afterwards. Always keep a pack of gum with you if you ever travel to Taiwan. :p Nevertheless, the fried shallots in this dish gives the dish an amazing flavor. You can buy this in most Asian supermarkets. In case you’re not sure what to look for, this is what it looks like:

DSC_0099

I never really appreciated this dish growing up. In fact, I never really liked it before. This wasn’t until after having E and S when we started hosting quite a bit of large group gatherings at our house. A lot of times, it’s hard to prep for dinners let alone large groups of guests. My mom gave me this idea as she is quite gifted in the kitchen. It’s easy, inexpensive, and you can make ahead of time. In fact, the longer it simmers, the better it tastes. I will often serve this with a pot of freshly steamed rice and a side of veggies. The meat sauce is good as leftover the next day, too. It’s tasty with noodles, as the noodles will absorb some of the broth. My kids like this with macaroni pasta. I know. It’s quite weird, but macaronis are easier for them to eat then long noodles. It also makes it easier for me to clean up afterwards.

These days, anything that’s easy and make-ahead is a keeper around here.

 

Taiwanese Braised Meat Sauce

Serves 4-6

 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground pork

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 cups water

1 tablespoon rice wine

3 tablespoons fried shallots

 

Directions:

1. Brown the ground pork in a saute pan over medium high heat while breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. (I typically don’t use oil as the ground pork is quite fatty and will release oil as it cooks.)

DSC_0096

2. When the meat is almost cooked-through, add water, soy sauce, rice wine, and fried shallots. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer over low heat for approximately 30 minutes.

DSC_0106

3. Serve over rice, noodles, or steamed/boiled veggies.

DSC_0161

Did I say that I have a sweet tooth? If it was up to me, I’d be eating desserts all day long.

H and I are truly opposites in this regard, along with a list of many other things. He finds most desserts unappetizing, including chocolates. His idea of dessert is fruit. I know, it’s so healthy. Maybe that’s why he never really struggled with being overweight. It truly was a change to marry him. My mom used to keep our house stocked with sweets, especially since both my dad and my brother enjoy them as much as I did. Even now when I visit my parents, they would go out of their way to stock their house with my favorite desserts. All of my friends know how to woo me with chocolates. I am constantly pinning desserts that are like eye-candies on Pinterest that I know I can never keep around my house because I will just eat it all.

Unfortunately, the body can no longer handle it the way it used to work. I really think pregnancies really change your body. I can no longer eat the way I used to. The body really hangs onto those extra calories. It can be quite frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re trying your best to try to rid those extra pounds. I have since started looking for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings.

These cookies are irresistible and healthy, too. There are no added sugar, oil, or butter! They contain lots of good-for-you ingredients like carrots, almonds, and oats. It’s one of those sweets that I don’t feel so bad eating, or give them to my kids for breakfast. The plus side is this contains no eggs, so S can eat them! As for H, he will just continue to indulge in his stash of fruits.

DSC_0177

Healthy Carrot Almond Cookies

(adapted from Whole Foods Market)

Makes approximately 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal or ground almonds

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup grated carrots

1 ripe banana, mashed

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, combine almond meal or ground almonds, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and ground cinnamon.

DSC_0120

3. In another large bowl, combine grated carrots, mashed banana, and applesauce. Slow add the dry ingredients from the other bowl into the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in raisins.

DSC_0125

4. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto lined cookie sheets, at least one inch apart. Gently flattened top with spoon.

5. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or when cookies are slightly brown. Remove and cool on wire rack.

DSC_0162

DSC_0083

H can never say “no” to steamed eggs. He can probably eat this stuff everyday. I can make it with 1, 2, 3, or 4 eggs and he will gobble it all up. E thinks this is like a savory kind of “jello,” which it sort of is. She dislikes meats, so this is one way I get some protein into her. S, well, little S is allergic to eggs, so no steamed eggs for him yet. Poor guy. He recently had a flare up of his eczema, so we are backing off on challenging him with baked goods.

Steamed eggs is sort of a dish you can find in most Chinese homes, but difficult to find in Chinese restaurants. It’s like a comfort food. Think of it as a savory egg custard. When made perfectly, it will have a smooth consistency. Some will add meats, fish cake, mushrooms…etc to it. We like it simple in our house. I make it plain with no “toppings.” I think almost all Asian country has a form of this dish. In Japan, it’s called chawamushi. I’ve had it in Korean restaurants, too.

This dish doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients and it’s cheap to make. Obviously, the higher quality eggs you use, the better this is going to taste. Fresh chicken eggs from local farms are going to taste much better than supermarket eggs. Trust me. Yes, fresh farm eggs are more expensive but it’s still cheaper than buying high quality meat, and eggs are nutritious.

Here are some tricks to make perfect steamed eggs that result in a smooth and soft consistency. Over the years, I’ve found that the best ratio of liquid to eggs is 0.5 cup to 1 large egg. This ratio and steaming it over medium or medium-low heat (depending on your stove, but over heat that simmers the water in the steamer) result in a perfect consistency: smooth and soft.

Obviously, the type of broth you use will affect the taste of your dish. In the past, I’ve used homemade pork broth, chicken broth from cartons, and even Hondashi mixed with water. It’s a personal preference. These days, I just use chicken broth from cartons to save me some trouble.

DSC_0078

Perfect Steamed Eggs

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

2 cups chicken broth (room temperature or cold, but not hot)

salt to taste

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, gently beat eggs with chopsticks or whisk in a back and forth motion. Try not to introduce air bubbles, if possible.

2. If necessary, add salt to chicken broth to desired taste. Stir to dissolve.

3. Pour measured chicken broth into the beaten eggs mixture. Gently mix together with chopsticks or whisk. Again, try not to introduce air bubbles. Gently pour into a bowl in preparation for steaming.

4. Place a steam rack inside a wide pot. Be sure that the pot is wide enough so that the bowl can be easily placed and removed. Add water to pot so that the water line comes just slightly below the top of the steam rack, but not touching the steam rack. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn the heat down to medium low or medium- enough for small simmering boiling bubbles. Carefully place bowl with egg mixture inside the pot on top of the steam rack. Cover. Steam for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or the custard jiggles.

Things that made me smiled this week:

1. Realizing that I’ll never be a perfect parent and that it’s ok.

2. H brought home my fave bbq from Heirloom on our wedding anniversary. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the rack of pork ribs and the beef brisket.

3. To celebrate our anniversary some more, we are going to this next week. Hope to meet him! I’m super excited.

4. I want to eat some of this red bean pie from McDonald’s in Hong Kong. What a great idea! Now if Starbucks can get these over here in the US, I’ll be really happy. Yum… Green tea frapuccino with red beans.

5. My little S is starting to sing this week. Yes, he now tries to sing all the kiddie songs he’s been hearing for the past 2.5 years of his life like a record player.

Happy Friday!

DSC_0617

H and I don’t really like to dine out on Valentine’s Day. In our past experiences, dining out on that evening have always felt rushed as they try to move diners through in order to accommodate all of the reservations for that evening. Food in a typically awesome restaurant can be mediocre. So we started to just dine in a few years back.

For this past Valentine’s Day, H surprised me with a little treat from Urban Pl8. You see, it was special because we had just dined there a few nights prior with our children. Because dinner was a little rushed as S got more and more restless after he quickly devoured his grilled cheese on pita bread (which was really awesome), we didn’t have much time for dessert. I eyed their dessert menu and marveled at the idea of a paleo chocolate pudding. We then rushed home without ordering any desserts.

So on Valentine’s Day this past year, I was touched that H took time during his lunch hour in traffic to pick the dessert up all the way on the other side of town so that he can surprise me later. I was nearly in tears. Sounds dramatic, but I really was. At that point, I had been really good about trying to curb my sweet tooth. So this was truly a treat!

I have been thinking about making a similar pudding at home since. Since S has his egg allergy, a pudding like this will be great for him to enjoy as a treat, too. Since I love the combination of coffee and chocolate, I decided to make my own version of this pudding. Don’t be turned off by the idea of avocado in a dessert. It has a nice texture and you really can’t taste its flavor after you mix it with honey, cocoa powder, and coffee.

By the way, be careful with the caffeine and children. S was up until 1am after he had just a few spoonfuls (4 to be exact) of this pudding. I didn’t think he would be that affected by just a few spoonfuls. After that incident, I always omit the coffee in his chocolate pudding. Lesson learned.

Chocolate Coffee Avocado Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 avocados

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

4 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

blueberries for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl. Carefully mix with a hand blender or hand mixer until smooth in consistency (You can also use a blender or food processor).

2. Chill for at least one hour.

3. Garnish with a few blueberries before serving.

%d bloggers like this: