Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple dinner for 4

Sweet sour pork, egg fu yong and lettuce
This is something simple that I made for dinner, sweet & sour pork, egg fu yong (omelette) and some vegetables.

Getting the ingredients ready
For the sweet and sour pork, I sliced the pork into smaller pieces, and then marinade it with soy sauce, 5 spice powder, sesame oil, salt and pepper, and egg white. Mix it in a bowl of flour right before you deep fry them. After it turn to golden brown, remove from the fryer and put it on paper towel to get the grease out. Prepare the cucumbers, carrots, pineapple, pepper, tomatoes for the sweet and sour sauce.

For the sauce, put some oil in a pan on medium heat, add garlic, fry until golden brow, add carrot, then pepper, followed by the other vegetables and fruits. Put 3-4 tablespoon of ketchup, and some hot chili sauce. Add some water, and then some tapioca starch when it's almost cooked. Mix in the pork.

For the egg fu yong, just slice some onions, fry it with shrimps, some people put mushrooms too with the beaten egg, add some salt and pepper.. as simple as that, but it's my favourite, and Noah's too, he loves eggs.

The vegetables is the simplest of all. Boil water in a pot, put the vegetables in, and take it out after couple minutes, do not over cook it. It doesn't take too long to cook. In the mean time, fry some shallots or green onion with some olive oil. Strain the veges, add the oil with shallots plus some oyster sauce or soy sauce. Easy breezy. You can use iceberg lettuce, or romaine, or the chinese veges, eg bok choy, kai lan.. almost anything

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creamy Crab Soup

Creamy Crab Soup
 Nancy brought me some crabs, unexpectedly. She told me to cook it today as it's going to die soon. She has a friend that owns a restaurant and she's been getting fresh live crabs from her. I told her I like crab and was going to buy some frozen ones, so there, I've got some live crabs from her.

 I wasn't sure how to cook or kill the crab before, actually I am afraid of killing them. So I googled, and found several sites. They all said to put in the boiling water with salt for about 8 minutes, and so I did. I found something very funny about this site that mentioned, for more humane act, gently stroke the head and put it to sleep before putting it into the water, head down first. Well if you are to kill it, you are better just to do it quickly.

 This is how it looked like after being cooked. The shell suppose to turn red. I had trouble getting the shells out, it's sure wasn't easy. I pulled all the legs out and cracked it open inside. Honestly, my fingers still hurts. I should learn the proper method to crack it open.

 This is all I got from the 6 crabs. I was just going to eat it like that with butter, it is actually good that way too. My mom used to stir fry it with garlic, onion and other spices, but she killed it and chopped it before cooking it, I do not want to touch it so I just boiled it.

This soup actually turned out very good, hubby already had 3 small bowls of them. I found the recipe from allrecipe again. It's called South Carolina she crab soup, not sure how it is because I've never been there and never tried it. To me it tasted almost like those creamy clam chowder that I really like.

I did modify the recipe, as usual. I just put what I have at home to make it.

This is my recipe;

2 1/2 tbs butter
2 1/2 tbs all purpose flour
2 cups half and half cream
2 cups broth (chicken or fish )
1 stalk celery, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
some green onion or chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

I melted the butter in the pot, and added the flour, stirring it often until it's smooth.
Then I added the celery, onion and garlic, fry it for a couple minutes.
Add the half and half cream a little at a time, stirring it often. The real recipe asked for 1 cup whole milk but I don't have it, and 4 cups of half and half cream.
I used my leftover pork bone soup I had yesterday instead of the broth they called for. It turn out very well too.
Cook it in the pot, stirring it often, add salt and pepper, sprinkle with the green onion on top after it's cooked.
The original recipe also asked for sherry wine, worchester sauce and hot sauce, but I feel that this is good enough so I didn't add anything else. I am so happy that I can make my own creamy soup, I've always like this type of soup, now I can make it. If I can make it, so can you, and everybody else.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Favourite Restaurants in Niagara Falls

There's no new recipe to post today because I've been feeling lazy again. We have been eating out. So I decided to share my favourite restaurants with you, if any of you decided to come to Niagara Falls one day, you'll know where to go for good food, with a reasonable price.

We went to Sushi Jade for lunch today. It has become our favourite sushi place. The price is reasonable. $13.99 for lunch, and $19.99 for dinner, all you can eat, seniors get discount for lunch, and kids under 4 eats free. Their food is quite fresh, you order, they make it right there and then. It's located right across from the Factory Outlet store, and just couple minute from our house. Too bad I always forget to bring my camera when we go out for lunch or dinner, well it's hard to bring everything when you have 2 little ones to take with you. Noah really loves the tempura and the ice cream there. I can't believe that he actually ate a sushi today. Kiana loves their deep fried tofu, it's so soft and smooth. I love practically anything there.

My other favourite sushi place is Taki Restaurant. It's a bit more $$ but the food is really fresh and the decor is really nice, you get your own booth, it makes you feel like you are in a real Japanese restaurant with real Japanese server who doesn't speak much English.

As for Thai Food, we have been a regular at Mai Thai. I recommended it to my neighbour, who is not a regular there too, and we gave them very good review on tripadvisor. The price is good, with big portions, and it's more authentic. It's the best you can get around here. I was told that it was a mother and daughter team who owns the place, they sure did a very good job. Personally, my favourite is the green curry, pad thai and Noah loves the fried spring roll.

Another reasonable priced place with good food is Pho Vietnam 999. It's the same as the Pho Dau Bo in St Catherines. They are located not too far from our house too, it used to be a Donut Diner Restaurant, they converted it so the decor doesn't match with the place, but who cares, with good price and food like that.

My favourite Italian Restaurant is Carpaccio. My neighbour recommended it to me and we really like it there, my in laws loves to go there, used to, because now they prefer to go to Mai Thai. Their specials, stuff lobster ravioli was one that you will never forget, unfortunately they do not serve that anymore.

We went to the Skylon Tower Restaurant. I just love how you can see the view of the city from up there, the revolving tower. If you go earlier you can get their early bird specials, it was a reasonably not too expensive place to go, well it is expensive but it is worth it.

Just one more recommendation before I sign off tonight, The Lake House Restaurant is another one of my top choice. It's located by the lake, a little bit further from my house, but it's worth the drive. They have the patio in the summer, we went in the winter for my in laws anniversary, if you go earlier you can get the early bird menu, it's really worth it. My favourite is the escargot.. it's the best I've ever eaten in my life. I wish to go back there again, sometimes soon, well it's not as affordable and need a longer drive, but I like the food and the atmosphere there.. so I'll be back again, some day.

Next time, maybe I'll write about things to do in Niagara Falls, the free stuff anyway. When I first came here, we came to Niagara Falls for honeymoon, we've never thought that we'll move here some day, and now we ended up here some how. I did not like this place as much before, I thought everything was too touristy, but now we are exploring different places of interested, things that we can do for free, because the touristy area is not as great, we grew to love this place now. I am happy that we moved here. This is a great place to become our home.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vietnamese Style Grilled Lemongrass Pork

Dinner for tonight, lemongrass pork. Yesterday I went to a local groceries to get some fresh veges and met an older Chinese lady, who turned out to be a mother of a friend. She was going to take a bus home, so I offered to send her home. She bought a lot of pork, because it was on sale for 99 cents a pound! I decided to get some and try it out too. The type of meat looks like the one we usually get at our favourite Vietnamese Restaurant, so I looked for the recipes. After modifying it, here's the recipe;

1 lbs of sliced pork chop, centre cut loin or butt chop
1 tbs of fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs brown sugar
2-3 cm ginger
2 garlic cloves
1-2 stalk lemongrass
salt and pepper to taste

Put the lemongrass, garlic and peeled ginger in a blender and blend it until smooth.
Rub in the pork, marinade for a couple hours or overnight with the rest of the ingredient.
Put it in the barbecue to cook it. You can probably use the oven but might not taste as good.

I put a fried egg, some cucumbers and carrots, because they serve it that way at the restaurant.
They also dip the meat in a dipping sauce, that you can mix with lime juice, fish sauce and chopped garlic, with a little bit of sugar.

This recipe actually turned out pretty good. It's almost as good as the one at the restaurant, we will not need to order this dish anymore, now that we can do it ourselves.

I made wintermelon soup with pork bones, as a side dish because they serve with soup too at the restaurant. The only difference is, this is home made, fresher and healthier.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pineapple rolls

I might have posted this pineapple rolls before, but we just made it today so I'll just repost it again, if I did post it before. I was babysitting today again, my friend asked me to watch her daughter 3 times a week, not sure how will I be able to cope, but so far so good. I thought it will be great to get the kids to do something, to kill the time, and both of them like baking anyway, so it worked well. What's even better was, her mom finished work earlier today and came to help clean afterwards.

As you can see, it's a bit out of shape, but it very delicious. It's made with love. The kids really enjoy making the cookies. I used pineapple jam that I made, no sugar added. To make the pineapple jam, just cut up pineapple pieces, put in the blender and then cook it in a pot, stirring it often until it thickens. I put some cinnamon to cook it together.

I usually make the jam ahead of time and freeze it, use it whenever I feel like baking. For the pineapple rolls dough, here's the recipe;

150g butter
100g margarine
50g or 1/2 cup icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups flour

1. Mix the butter, margarine and sugar in a mixer, beat until light an fluffy.
2. add all the other ingredients except flour
3. Add in flour a little at a time, do not stir too much anymore after adding the flour.
4. Roll it out and you can use cookie cutter or cut a line, and roll the jam in the middle. Add flour if it's too sticky. I don't use the exact amount of flour, just add more if it's too sticky because once you put too much flour it's too hard, and you can't save it anymore.

Preheat oven at 350F or 180 C. Bake it for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, put on wire rack, let cool. Your have to get it out from the baking sheets immediately, otherwise when it's cool it will be hard and get crack easily.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BBQ Chicken Wings

Just a quick post for my BBQ recipe. We had this for dinner last night and I decided to take a quick picture before it's all gone, and keep the recipe here and share it with everyone. This is a very easy recipe, you just need to marinade it overnight, and put it on the barbecue the next day.

1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp chopped garlic or garlic powder
1 tsp finely chopped ginger or I use ginger powder when I feel lazy
1kg of chicken wings ( drumstick or even breast in cubes like satay)

Simply mix everything together and refrigerate it overnight. Hubby used the charcoal grill instead of the gas because I like the taste better, but you can use the normal gas barbecue or even in the oven 350 F for about 30-40 minutes. They are good to eat just like that or dip it in peanut sauce.

To make the peanut sauce, ground some peanuts or buy some chopped peanuts, add some peanut butter mix it in with curry paste, it's as simple as that!

Panda Bread, 2nd attempt

 My Panda Bread turn out alright this time. My friend told me I should watch the video of lingling instead if yoyomax on youtube. It was in Cantonese, so if you don't understand it, here's what it's about. I find it easier and it has the better measurement, 40g for the black, 120g for the white and 350g for green dough. I did not follow the exact, just use my own judgement.
 Firstly, you roll it out, make sure the dough is just a little bigger than the bread pan that your are going to use. Cut out a small piece on the side, as you can see the picture below, the one side is cut off, and put in the middle, in between the black dough. The black will be the ears of the panda.

 I had trouble rolling the black dough, it was quite dry and it keep shrinking back. I had to add a little water, and it didn't work. So I rolled it out and cut it into 4 stripes and then roll them up. It's not that round but that was the best I can do. Will try to make it better next time.

 Roll out the white dough, and cut one stripe out as in the picture above. It's for the middle part in between the eyes.

 Put the white dough on top of the 'ears'. Put the black eyes on top of the black ears, make sure the alignment is right above.

 Roll up the white part. Put a little bit of water and pinch them together

 Pinch the rest of the dough together, use a little bit of water.

 Turn it over carefully and put it in your bread pan. Cover it up and let it rise for an hour, or double in size. I put mine in the oven with the lights on.

 I had the extra dough I used it for buns. This is how it looked like after 45 minutes in my oven, ready to go.

 Ta-da... Finally my very own panda bread. The eyes doesn't look too freat, but well, it's better than the one before isn't it?

 This is my super soft buns with lotus filling inside. See you it became flat? I put too much pressure to open it, it is too soft.

The kids enjoying their panda bread. I was babysitting today, and maybe many more days to come (if I can handle so many kids). The little girl really liked the bread, and she wanted to take some home for her sister and mommy... she said "This bread is too good" in Chinese.

 I guess it's considered a success if they kids like it isn't it? I'll have to look for more fun things to bake with the kids. I think they will enjoy helping, and eating them afterwards. It's a good way to make Noah eat anything~

Monday, October 22, 2012

I am not sure what is so funny...

Just as I was feeling a little low, my kids started to fill the house with laughter. This is just what I needed to move on. Life, what is life? Why is mine so boring? I have to force myself out from bed every morning, after having sleepless nights day after day, yes I still nurse her every 3 hours. I have to get both of them ready by 8 am, try to get to school by 830 am, every morning, and no I do not get to sleep in on the weekends, only at 830 am, the latest. I used to be able to get all my beauty sleep I want.

I feel ugly and stupid. Felt that my life is nothing, I'm just here to feed, clean, and clean again, it's just never ending...and hubby always complain the house being messy, made me feel like I am not doing a good job, I don't think he realize it but I am trying to do the best I can, considering I really hate cleaning! 

I feel like I have no time for myself, no time for anything, everything is for them, but I rather do everything for them than myself. This is so different from when I have no kids. We get to do anything, go anywhere, and now, everything it's about them. I feel trapped.

Just when I was thinking all this, suddenly they started to laugh. I do not know what they were trying to do, perhaps they knew I was feeling a little down, and tried to cheer me up by doing silly things. What is better than the laughter of your children? Suddenly I feel like maybe this is all worth it. Just to hear your children laugh, and being happy. As hubby said, this will not last, after many years you'll look back and miss all this fun. So don't miss the fun, be a part of it, enjoy this process of life!

Happy Birthday Nancy

It's my friend, Nancy's birthday today. I made this cake yesterday, and called her this morning after I sent Noah to school, on my cellphone. I tried many times but she wasn't picking up. When I got home, I had eggs and milk on my front door, Nancy came and brought them to my house. She dropped them off after she sent her daughter to school. How funny, while I was looking for her, she was dropping the groceries at my house.

Anyway I finally got her and she came by and picked up her cake. She doesn't like too much sweet stuff, so I just made a small one for her. As you can see, it's nothing fancy, just a small plain little cake. I am getting tired and lazy. Sometimes I think to myself, is it worth to do all that for my friends? Do they really appreciate it?

And I wonder, something that you'll never get the answer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chinese Dumpling, Gao Zi

Lunch Menu's today was this Chinese dumpling. I had different types of Chinese dumplings before, and I've decided to make my very own style. Usually they put chives, ground pork, and other ingredients in, but I've tried once at my friend's house with fish and noodles, so I combined all the stuff that I liked, and make my own version.

I marinade the ground chicken with 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, soy sauce, some sugar, ground pepper, a stalk of finely chopped green onion, some chives, and mixed it in with a couple shrimps. After mixing them together with some bean noodles, I wrapped them up in the dumpling wrappers, as shown in picture. I saw my mom wrapped the curry puffs like this, so I copied too. This was my first time wrapping them, as you can see the first one was uglier, and then it got better.

You can fry the dumplings in the pan, or steam/ boil them. I mix some cilantro and soy sauce with the steamed ones because it's not as tasty as the deep fried ones, but healthier. The Chinese people usually dip them in vinegar but I prefer spicy, so I dip them in hot sauce. They are good that way too.

I had to put Kiana in the play pen so I can wrap my dumplings, she is usually happy as long as I am right beside her. I just have to stay close to her so I can do my stuff, the play pen is a good place to put all the toys in so my house will not have as much clutter...and I still can do my things while watching her.

I can't believe how much I made out of 1 pound ground chicken. I still have half left, I kept in the freezer for next time. My neighbour was telling me how cheap to get frozen dumplings from the groceries, and how great they were. I guess she has never tried my dumpling. It's actually cheaper and better to make your own.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My very own Chanel Bag, an edible bag

A Chanel Bag Cake, definitely need more practice
Seems like I have a cake to bake every week! My friend's birthday coming up and I asked her best friend what does she like, and she said, a Chanel bag. Her birthday is not until early November but I wanted to try it out first, so I made it with my mini cake. It doesn't look too great, but well, it's my first one, so I have room for improvement. 

It's a good idea to try it out in a smaller cake so you know what went wrong and how to do it better the next time, without wasting too much. I do not like to waste, and I'm a more practical person. I figured that I can use the own made cake board instead of spending $0.50-$1+ everytime when I decorate a cake, it end up in the garbage anyway, so why waste the money right? You can just use normal cardboard from boxes, cut it and wrap it with the aluminium foil that you can get a whole roll for $1!

A cake for my friend who had a new baby boy
Here's another cake I made for Ivy. I saw it on the tv, they put the nuts around the cake, and decided to try it too, and it turned out very good. It tasted great on the last one I made, so from now on I will put it on the side with my carrot cakes, it's the perfect combination. Sometimes, the simplest thing can be the best.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My first cupcake cone experience

 I bought this box of cake mix from Walmart yesterday for $1, I thought I'd try it out. I used to not like anything not from scratch, but this is really easy. I added 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of flour because I thought it was pretty sweet. I do not like it too sweet. The box said it makes 24 cups of 2/3 full but I only got about 18-21.

 I saw it on tv, they put it in an ice cream cone and I thought how cool that is, so I decided to give it a try. It came out pretty good but you have to eat it within a couple hours because the cone get soft.

 Took some for Noah's teacher and one left for Noah's little treat when he gets home from school.

This is what I'm going to bring for Ivy's dinner. We are having hotpot, can't wait to surprise her with my cupcakes :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marshmallow Fondant

My friend Ivy just had a baby and I am inspired to make this fondant for the cupcakes. I always see people making and receiving cute little full moon cupcakes. It's a Chinese tradition to celebrate full moon, when the baby turns one month's old.

Here's the recipe for the marshmallow fondant, it's so fun to play with, just like play doh.. I can spend hours playing with it, I never get to play with play doh when I was younger... now is my chance :)

1/4 cup of softened butter
1 bag of 400g/ 16 oz mini marshmallow
4 tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
2 pounds icing, about 4 cups

Put the marshmallow in the microwave, on high for 30 seconds.
Take it out, whisk it with the water and vanilla.
I put it in my Kitchen Aid and mix them together because it's very sticky. You may do it by hand, and transfer it to a working surface, make a mountain and then make a hole in the middle and work with it on your working table top.
If you use the mixer, just put everything in, and keep a cup of icing sugar to knead with after, on the table top.
Rub your hand with the butter before you knead them. It can be very sticky. Once it's not sticky then you can store it with a cling wrap, and double wrap with the ziplock bag. Make sure it's airtight. Your can get better instructions and videos on allrecipe.com.
Their recipes ask to refrigerate it but I just keep it in a cool place because it's cold enough here. This fondant can last for a few weeks. I just take it out, add a little water whenever I want to decorate the cake. It's so convenient and so fun to play with.

I will bake some cupcakes tomorrow. I bought some boxed cake mix today because it was only $1! I've never baked a cake before in my life, just started 2 months ago, I just want to try everything out. This is a good distraction for me away from the kids, when I bake I feel relaxed. Stay tune my cupcakes tomorrow, I can't wait to bake and decorate them!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Panda Bread. FAILED!

I thought I should share my failed attempt for my recipes too, so other people can learn from the mistakes I've made. A friend told me about this video on youtube on how to make a panda bread. It looked so cute so I thought I'll try it out since I make my own bread normally. It's gonna be fun for my kids too. They used the green tea powder for the green colour and black charcoal bread flour, which I couldn't find here. So I used chocolate powder and some food coloring instead.

 I used the bun recipe that I normally use because I like the texture, it's so soft. This is how it looks after I separate them into 3 portions, more of the white, some green and black for the eyes and ears. Should have more of green and less black if I am to do it again.

 Put it in the oven with the lights on, and this is how it looks like after it's proof. Didn't take me too long, about 30-40 minutes.
 I divide them into 4 black rolls, 2 for the eyes and 2 for the ears. 3 parts for the white face.

 Put the eyes in between another roll of white so the black will be separated.

 Add in the last piece of white dough to cover it up, stretch it out. You can add some water and pinch them together
 This is suppose to be the ears, and the remaining of the green, you roll it out, stretch it over this dough and put it in a bread pan.

 This is how it looks like before it is rise.

 This is after the bread is doubled in size. For some reason this picture is not as green, but it is actually more green.

As you can see, there is a big hole in the middle. The middle part wasn't cooked yet. It was still too moist, so I rolled it up and put it back in the oven for another 10 mins. Here's the list of my mistakes.

1. Too much dough in the bread pan, the bread got too big, so it took a longer time to cook.
2. Need a longer time to bake, probably at a lower temperature. I baked it at 350F for 18 mins because the skin was brown, but the inside wasn't cook yet. So the next time I am going to try 325F for 20 minutes or more.
3. Too impatient to get it out from the bread pan. I should wait for 10 mins before removing it.
4. As you can see, the black part got too close to the side. I should probably use less black, wrap it around with more white on top, and more green all around.

This is how it looked like, a bit distorted but you can see the shape of it.
The bread was actually very soft and tasty, I ate the top half with the dried meat that I just made, perfect combination. I just need to use the right method to make it into a panda bear face. Wish me luck, perhaps next time I will do it better.

Step by Step, how to make dried meat ( Bakkua )

 Ingredients that you'll need;
1 pound of ground pork/ chicken
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs cooking wine
 Put them in a bowl as in picture, use a chopstick and mix them in one direction until it become gluey. Then put them in the parchment paper or wax paper, as in picture above, put a cling wrap over it, and roll it thin, about 5 mm. Put it in the baking sheet. Preheat oven to 250 F
 Bake it for 30 mins and then switch the temperature to 350 F, bake for another 15-25 mins, depending on the thickness. Check on regularly as it will become burn quickly. This is how it looks like after it is done.

 I usually cut it up into smaller pieces so my little one can grab them easier. It is good to be eaten like that as a snack or put it with a slice of bread, as a sandwich. I personally like it a little bit darker in colour as it is crispier and taste better. Cut out the burnt part of the meat, you don't want to eat that!
Good luck if you're making them. It's very easy to make, satisfaction guarantied. I have a lot of people asking for this recipe. I hope you like it too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pasta for Noah

I saw this recipe from toddler's meal book while looking at what I can make for Noah's meals. This recipe caught my eyes as I have herb and garlic cream cheese that it's called for. I did not have the leek and the smoked salmon but I substitute it with basa fish and green onion and it was great.

Here's the recipe for it.

3 cups of bow pasta ( or any other types)
Broccoli, as much as you like... you can add carrots too.
1 green onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 fish fillet
1 small tub of garlic and herb cream cheese.
6 tablespoon of milk

Boil the water, and cook the pasta. In another pot, steam the broccoli.
In the meantime, heat a pan, put in the butter and oil, stir fry the green onion and followed by fish.
When the fish is cooked, add in the cream cheese and milk.. and mix them together.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
As simple as that...Noah asked for a second serving...