Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Easy Truffles

The holidays are a time to make sweets!!
Who doesn't want homemade sweets made with love?

After sifting through many many truffles recipes, I decided to keep it simple. Didn't really want to buy heavy whipping cream and not use it all. Usually when I buy ingredients, I think of multiple recipes to use them in so that I am not throwing away a quarter of the whipping cream. That's why I finally settled on the recipe with cream cheese instead. One package open, all of it waste!

Easy Truffles
Prep Time: 2 hr
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
3 cups confectioners sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar)
3 cups chocolate chips (or pastilles or bar)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

In a big bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar a third at a time until well blended.

*************************** MELTING CHOCOLATE ********************************
For melting the chocolate, you can either do this in the microwave or use the double boiler method. If you choose to melt the chocolate in the microwave, do it for one minute. Take it out and stir with a spoon. Then microwave it for another minute. Stir with a spoon. Decrease the increments to 30 seconds so that you don't burn the chocolate. When all of the chocolate is melted, you are ready to use it.

If you wish to do the double boiler method but don't have one, you can easily create it by putting some water at the bottom of a pot. Place a bowl on top -- one that fits snugly. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bowl as it boils. This is key.
*************************** END MELTING CHOCOLATE ***************************

Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese-sugar mixture until well incorporated.

I like to divide the truffle mixture into two bowls. That way you can have two different flavorings.
If you do divide it into two halves, add 1 tsp extract of your choice for flavoring. I used rum. You can do vanilla, orange, almond, etc.

Place the mixtures in the fridge for cooling for about an hour.

Shaping the balls:
You can use a spoon and roll the truffle in your hand...OR to make it easier, use a mini ice cream scoop, 1 inch scoop, to have uniform round truffles. After you have the round truffles, you can roll them in whatever toppings you wish. I just rolled mine in cocoa.

Other ideas: The possibilities are endless!!
powdered sugar
chopped nuts

These make great gifts for your family, friends, or coworkers. Maybe you would rather keep them for yourself! heheh. But it's better to share or else you will have more holiday weight to shake off at the beginning of the year.

Happy Holidays!!!

Note: You don't have to stick to dark chocolate. Feel free to melt white chocolate or milk chocolate if you know people who prefer those instead.

My Favorite Mac N' Cheese (Macaroni or Other Pasta)

Happy Holidays!!!

I haven't had a post in a while. The good news is that I have cooked this Mac N' Cheese many times now. So it's now a staple that I can make without even glancing at the recipe. The original recipe is from Cooking Light found here. But I modified it.

My Fave Mac N Cheese Recipe
Prep Time: 10 min      Cook Time: 25 min
4 oz sausage (of your choice, chopped)
1 1/4 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups cheese
4-5 cups of macaroni (or pasta shape of your choice)
1 tsp garlic salt

In a small bowl using a whisk, mix milk and flour until there are no lumps. Set aside.

In a big pot, boil water for your macaroni. I usually leave about 5 inches of space between the water and the top of the pot. If you don't have macaroni on hand, use whatever pasta shape you have. Make this recipe with rotelle, penne, shells, etc. Cook as the package instructs which is usually 8-9 minutes to al dente. Strain the pasta. Set aside.

Using the same big pot (You took out the pasta already. It is in the strainer.), brown chopped sausage on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. This will also create more aroma for your sauce.

Add the milk+flour mixture to the sausage stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken about the next 4-5 minutes. Add the cheeses. I like to use the Mexican Cheese mixture since it has monterey jack, mild cheddar and queso. You can find it in the grocery aisle. Stir until melted. Sprinkle the garlic salt to the sauce. Add cooked macaroni (or pasta). Mix until the sauce it incorporated with the pasta. DONE!!

If you want an element of veggie, you may add chopped spinach like I did.

For a more macaroni-like look, top it with parmesan cheese,

Be creative. At all the gathering where I have brought it my potluck dish, everyone has gobbled it up. When I make it at home for dinner, I see my husband refilling his bowl for seconds...and maybe


Note: The original recipe calls for some cream cheese but using whole milk already makes it thicker. That's why I omitted it. Also, I don't usually have cream cheese readily available.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hearty Shredded Cabbage, Potato, Celery Soup

In Southern California, we are blessed with sunshine year round. This week, we experienced the beginning of fall nights. (We still have beautiful sunshine in the daytime.) Perfect weather for hearty soups! Originally when I bought the cabbage, I had planned on putting it in my carnitas tacos but on the days I made them, I was too hungry, and a bit lazy. There was no cabbage in my carnitas tacos.

With the real beginning of fall made me think of making warm soup for the nights. Usually my recipes come about with the ingredients I have at hand. You can add your own veggies and modify the soup. You will need a big pot. 

Hearty Shredded Cabbage Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes      Cook Time: 1-2 hours

2-3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 can beef broth (You can use chicken or vegetable if you like.)
8 cups water
1 small head of cabbage
3 potatoes, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp dillweed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
bacon (optional)

Place the butter in the pot to melt. Add the onions. Caramelize for about eight minutes.

Add the broth and water. Then all of your chopped veggies go in the pot also with the rest of the ingredients. The soup should cook for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, I decided to add meat. But my pot was very full. The only option at that point was to grilled some bacon. In a pan, I grilled my bacon on medium heat. Cut the bacon in smaller pieces before you add it to the soup. Place it in the pot with the soup and stir. Continue cooking the soup.

Warm and hearty soup.. It will leave you wanting to grab another bowl. No worries; there is plenty in the pot!! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Simple Strawberry Smoothie (No Yogurt/Ice Cream)

This morning, we were eating breakfast. The basket of strawberries were a bit sour. Told hubby that we did not need to keep eating them. What to do with sour strawberries?

That's when I whipped out my mini smoothie maker. It's been a while since I've used it.

It's about the same size as the magic bullet. I love it since it doesn't take up much space and it's super easy to clean.

Simple Strawberry Smoothie
Prep Time: 10 min    
1 cup strawberries (3/4 cup to 1 cup)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup crushed ice (unless you have a heavy duty blender in which case it doesn't matter)
2 Tbsp honey

Remove the stems of the strawberries. Placed the strawberries in. Add the milk. Pulse.

Add crushed ice and pulse it. If the consistency of your smoothie is too watery, add more crushed ice and pulse again.

Lastly, add the honey (or sugar). I like to do one tablespoon at a time. Sweetness is really to taste. You can always put more but you can't take out the sweetness if you go overboard.


1) If you want a thicker smoothie, you can add a half cup of yogurt or ice cream.

2) You can make substitute the strawberries with whatever fruit you have on hand. Make a banana smoothie or mango smoothie or _____.

3) I highly recommend that you buy a mini blender. They are so useful!! You can also mince garlic quickly by pulsing it too. Easy clean up is huge plus!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dill Egg Salad (No Mayo)

I haven't written any recipes all summer!! So today, I will share with you an egg salad recipe. Usually, when I think of egg salad, the two things that come to mind are cholesterol and fat. With all those eggs and all that mayo, it can't be good to have too many of them.

Started to sift through recipes for healthy substitutions... My egg salad was mayo-less.
This is a great recipe for picnics, tea parties, lunch/dinner.

Dill Egg Salad 
Cook Time: 10 minutes      Prep Time: 20 minutes

6 eggs
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1/2 - 3/4 tsp coarse sea salt (this is to your liking)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp dijon mustard

Bring a pot of water to boil for the eggs. Generally, it takes about 9 minutes to get a hard boiled egg. I like to boil it longer just in case. Once that is done, strain the hot water. add cold water to the eggs. You don't want to burn your fingers while trying to peel them. Gently hit the hard boiled eggs against the side of the pot. Peel off the egg shells.

To make it less cholesterol, only use 1-2 egg yolks. Most people will want two to mash with the egg whites, but I am fine with just keeping one egg yolk. Discard the other 4 or 5 egg yolks. They stay intact, so it's easy to do.

Chop the egg whites (Or you can pulse it a couple times in the food processor. I don't like to do that since I have to wash the food processor.). In a bowl, mix the chopped egg whites with the egg yolk(s). Mix well so that the egg yolk is more even distributed.

In a separate bowl, add the greek yogurt, dill, and salt. I tasted the mixture, it still tasted like yogurt. What transformed it into a salty mixture was the mustard. Add mustard and black pepper. Then taste and see if you want more salt, pepper, etc.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the bowl with the chopped eggs. Mix with a spoon. That's it!

I like to put the egg salad on wheat bread. Adding arugula would be a nice touch but I didn't have any on hand. I chopped some green beans to give my egg salad a crunchier texture.

You can get creative by making shaped tea sandwiches, open faced sandwiches, pita pockets, etc.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chinese Lion's Head Meatball

Chinese Lion's Head Meatball is one of my favorite dishes. My grandma would make this for me every time she saw me since she knew that I loved it that much. Funny that I've made Italian meatballs but not the Chinese kind until now. It is just making meatballs with asian seasonings.

Traditionally, these meatballs are supposed to be as big as possible like a lion's head; however, I like to make them smaller since cooking time is shorter for browning them.

Chinese Lion's Head Meatball (Soup)
Prep Time: 20 min     Cook Time: 
1 lb ground pork
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 green onions
2 tsp ginger (minced)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cooking wine
1 egg
sesame oil (or peanut oil)

In a mixing bowl, put the ground meat in. Add salt, white pepper, sugar, cornstarch, cooking wine, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and 1 beaten egg. Mix in a circular motion until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Wet your hands, then form the meatballs into the desired size. Traditionally, the lion's heads are to be as big as you can get it. However, it will take more time to cook if your meatballs are too big. I like to keep it to roughly 1.5 - 2 inches in diameter. 

In a pan, pour a couple teaspoons of sesame oil (usually it's peanut oil, but I don't have it on hand). Place the meatballs in the pan after you heat the oil. Brown the meatballs on all sides which takes about 10 minutes. You do not have to fully cook the meatballs since you will be braising it with the napa cabbage later.

To make the soup:

Put two cans of chicken broth in a big pot. Add as much napa cabbage as you like. I put in a whole small head of napa cabbage. Place the meatballs on top of the napa cabbage. If you would like, you can add other things. I cut some bamboo shoot to throw in along with some ginger to for the soup also. You can put mushrooms, etc. Braise on medium heat for about half an hour.

If you would like glass noodles, soak the clear noodles in a bowl with water for half an hour. Drain the noodles. Add them last when you are about done cooking.

I used lean ground pork. For a more authentic Chinese Lion's Head Meatball, use fattier meat. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Whiskey Marinade

What could be better than whiskey and meat?

Maybe another whiskey drink neat on the side.

I decided to do a Whiskey Marinade (a.k.a. Bourbon and Brown Sugar Marinade). This is my new love!!

It can be used on steak, poultry, seafood, etc. You can even marinate your vegetables with it too!!

Whiskey Marinade from (allrecipes)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 (-) cup soy sauce
1/4 (+) cup whiskey/bourbon
a splash Worcestershire sauce
some pepper to taste (optional)

Mix all the ingredients (I did it in the order above so that I did not have to wash my measuring spoon by going with the dry ingredient first). I used a bit more whiskey and a little less soy sauce. The original recipe called for one teaspoon of salt but I figured soy sauce already has sodium too. 

Usually before I pour marinade, I poke holes all over my meat with a fork (both sides). When I was younger, my parents would have me help with poking holes in the steak before marination. This allows the marinade to seep in even more. You are supposed to marinate the meat overnight but I think 4-6 hours is sufficient. (For seafood, it is only one hour.)

Cook your steak in a big pan/skillet. On high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the steak in the pan. Cook for three minutes per side. The cooking time depends on your steak thickness. Mine was half an inch.

The aroma of steak fills the house. But that is not the best part...


This marinade will now be a staple in my household. I plan to use it on everything in the future. You've got to try it!!

Tip: Save some marinade for later. I had just enough whiskey marinade for my chicken a couple days later.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spaghetti & Meatballs

My husband LOVES LOVES LOVES spaghetti and meatballs.

One of our Valentine's Week dinners (Yes, I made it a week of cooking...hehe) this year was Spaghetti & Meatballs. He was all touched that I made homemade meatballs just for him. (Well, it's for ME too...haha) Thought I would try the recipe called Meatball Nirvana. I followed the recipe to make my delicious meatballs. The change I made was to use 1/3 cup of oatmeal for the breadcrumbs (and maybe more onions).

Homemade Meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup onion (diced)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup milk
some hot sauce (I used Tapatio)

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a medium sized bowl, mix ground beef with the onion and dry seasonings first. Then add Worcheshire sauce, milk, oatmeal, some hot sauce. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, you are ready to create the meatballs.

I lined a pan with aluminum foil to make it easier to clean. 

Form meatballs with your hands. Make them about 1.5 inches in diameter. I'm sure you can use an ice cream scoop for size control but it's not hard to do with your hands.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Meatballs are cooked!! Thought I would show this picture since the finished dish has spaghetti sauce on top.

There were twelve of them. (The other three were in a smaller pan, not pictured.) Cook your spaghetti per the directions. Heat up your sauce in another little pot. I liked keeping the meatballs separate from the tomato sauce. When serving, put some spaghetti on the plate, then the meatballs. Lastly, pour some sauce over it.

Meatball Nirvana is definitely a keeper!!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chicken Parmigiana

I'm in an Italian food phase. Tonight I cooked Chicken Parmigiana adapted from the Pioneer Woman (I love her!!). Didn't do everything the recipe called for like hammering the meat to make it thinner. My chicken was almost 1.5 inches thick!! But it was tasty and tender.

Chicken Parmigiana
Prep Time: 10 minutes      Cook Time: 35 minutes
2 chicken breasts
some olive oil
some flour
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
14 oz tomato sauce (I use Ragu Pasta Sauce)
some tomatoes
some olive oil
some parmesan cheese (or other cheese you would like to melt on top of the chicken like pecorino, mozzarella cheese)
3/4 cup wine (I used red but either red or white would work)

Season your chicken breast first. Some salt, pepper, lemon on both sides. Then put some flour on a big plate. Coat the chicken breast by placing it into the flour. Flip the chicken breast and repeat until it is covered evenly in flour. Do the same for the second breast.

In a big pan with a lid (I don't think you need a lid but I was avoiding splatter), heat about a tablespoon of oil (more if you like). Melt butter also. I fried my floured chicken breasts six minutes per side because they were about 1 1/4 inch thick!! (If your chicken breast are about half an inch thick, three minutes will suffice. If they are 3/4 of an inch thick, about four minutes would be enough. It depends on the thickness of your chicken.) Once you have a nice golden brown on both sides, remove from heat.

*Note: Don't forget to boil water for your thin spaghetti noodles (or your choice) at this time.

Using the same big pan with drippings and all, saute the diced onions for about three minutes. Pour in the wine. Stir and cook until about half of the wine has disappeared (Not from you drinking it..). After about four minutes, throw in the tomatoes. I had orange cherry tomatoes on hand that I cut in half. Pour in the tomato sauce. Stir well. Cover with a lid to let it simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir again before allowing it to simmer with the lid on for another 10 minutes.

Place the fried chicken breasts into the sauce.

Spoon the sauce around the chicken breast on top to cover the whole breast. Top it with cheese generously. I didn't have fresh parsley so I added some parsley in a spice jar instead.

Plate noodles. Add some sauce before you lay down the chicken breast. Carefully lay the chicken breast (Mine was HUGE) on top of the pasta. I was surprised at how gigantic my chicken parmigiana became.

It was moist, juicy, and flavorful. My husband said that the sauce tasted like it was homemade. It was definitely the wine factor. heheh. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

Mini Pecan Pie Tartletts (without corn syrup)

Not only are desserts cuter as mini versions. You can cut your portion size more easily (unless you keep eating them one by one). I have another pecan pie recipe in this blog, but this one is without corn syrup. This recipe is for the filling. Use any crust you like.

Mini Pecan Pie Tartletts (without Corn Syrup) - Filling
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp Bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1.5 cups of pecans

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy. Continue whisking while adding melted butter.

Then add the brown sugar, white sugar, flour, and bourbon. Stir in pecans.

In a muffin pan, gently press in your crust. Spoon the filling (but make sure it is not all the way full). Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Let it cool for another 15 minutes.

There are many desserts that I could have tried but my Valentine adores pecan pie!!
*Lucky me!!* I used a heart tartlett shape for two of them. The rest were in the muffin pan tins.

Happy Valentine's Day!! 

*This is posted the day after Vday since my Valentine reads this. heheh*

Healthy Meatloaf with Oatmeal

I have posted Turkey-Quinoa Meatloaf before. Traditionally, there are breadcrumbs in meatloaf; however, many people do not have the ingredient on hand. Sifting through various recipes, I finally decided to use a combination of recipes.

Healthy Meatloaf with Oatmeal 
1 lb ground meat
1 onion (chopped)
1 egg
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup of ketchup
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

ketchup mixture = ketchup + dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl except for about three tablespoons of the ketchup mixture.

Place in an 8x8 pan. Top with the leftover ketchup mixture.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let it sit for five minutes.

Cut and serve. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Creamy Soup

Most everyone loves a creamy soup. But usually when it's creamy, that translates to extra calories. I set out to make a creamy soup with the "cream". The reason it's called Creamy Soup is that you can do Creamy Potato Soup, Creamy Mushroom Soup, Creamy Broccoli Soup, or all of the above. I prefer recipes where I can add my own ingredients.

Creamy Soup = 2 cups chicken (or other) broth + 2 cups milk (I prefer Vitamin D milk)

Now that you have the base for the soup, you can jazz it up!!

Creamy Potato Mushroom Soup
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth (or broth of your choice)
1 onion chopped
2 slices of bacon
3 potatoes (diced)
3 shittake mushrooms chopped (or mushrooms of your choice)
1/2 tsp pepper
some broccoli (optional)

Grab a medium sized pot. Cook two slices of bacon (I used lean Turkey Bacon). Remove from heat. Cut the cooked bacon into small pieces and throw it back into the pot. With the bacon drippings, add the chopped onions to sautee to soften. Add chicken broth and milk.

Add all the vegetables you desire. In my case, it was potatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli (since I had leftovers). Add some pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes. You can whip up this soup in less than half an hour.

Creamy soup without the cream...err...fat. The bacon made the soup so much more fragrant.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Farro - An Italian Grain

Most everyone has heard of quinoa. This is a lesser known grain, farro. It is the Italian grain from a wheat species that has twice the fiber and protein than most wheat. Farro also helps improve the immune system, lower cholesterol, and maintain blood sugar levels. I bought precooked farro since Trader Joe's started carrying it a couple weeks ago. (I will look for farro at different supermarkets to see what other kinds I can find.)

To cook farro, just put 2 cups of chicken broth (or water) with 1 cup of farro in a small pot. It takes roughly 15 minutes. I added chopped green onions, diced bell peppers, and chopped green beans. Gave it a stir before starting to cook it.

Farro has a chewy texture that reminded us of oatmeal. Adding the chopped green onions and veggies made it more interesting.

If you want an easier way, you can cook farro like i cook quinoa. Put the ingredients in a rice cooker!!

Then to make it a meal, I had a couple Wild Alaskan Cod pieces. Heat up some oil in the pan, add cod. Sprinkle salt, a squeeze of lemon, and some freshly ground pepper. After three minutes, flip the cod fillets. Add a squeeze of lemon and fresh ground pepper. Cook for three minutes more on this side. Place on top of farro. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Curry Fish Stew

I realized that I haven't cooked fish in a while. When I went grocery shopping, I bought some wild alaskan cod and coconut milk. Had an idea that I was going to make some kind of fish stew. This is how it turned out...

Curry Fish Stew
Prep Time: 15 min      Cook Time 25 minutes
1 lb of fish (I used Wild Alaskan Cod)
1 can light coconut milk
1 onion (diced)
some bell peppers
2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the onion. Cook it in a medium to large pot for three minutes until soften. Add all the other veggies. Bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and carrots are just some options. Sprinkle some salt. Basically, I added whatever I had on hand in my refrigerator.

After about five minutes, add the fish (I use filleted fish).  Sprinkle some salt on top. Spoon some of the veggie mixture on top of the fish. Cook for about another 20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mexican Casserole

For Christmas Eve, I had a request to make my Mexican Casserole. I had to go to the grocery store to pick up tortillas on Christmas Eve. The line was long but as long as you are prepared to wait, it's not so bad.

Mexican Casserole
Prep Time: 20 min     Bake Time: 30 min
tortillas (I used corn tortillas. About 10 small ones.)
1 lb ground meat
1 small onion (diced)
1 cup salsa
1 corn
1 black beans
1/2 cup salsa
a little butter/oil for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Melt a little butter in a pan. Add diced onions to cook. After about three minutes, add the ground meat. When the meat is browned, remove some of the liquid by pouring it out or using a spoon. Add salsa, black beans, and corn. Your mixture is finished.

In an 8x8 pan, cover the bottom with corn tortillas. Spoon about half the mixture on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle a layer of cheese on the mixture. Cover the cheese with another layer of tortillas. Spoon the other half of the mixture on top of the tortillas. Then add another cheese layer and tortilla layer. Put a layer of salsa on top.

From the bottom:

Bake the casserole at 350F for half an hour. Pull it out to top the salsa with a cheese layer. Bake for another five minutes to melt the top layer of cheese.

Cut and serve. Enjoy!! =)