Saturday, March 31, 2012

California rolls

Today I had a craving for sushi. I wasn't in the mood for raw fish - I was in the mood for California rolls.

Halfway through making them I realized I didn't have a cucumber in the fridge. No matter - I really just wanted crab and avocado.

And I did have a whole container of sweet pickled ginger in the fridge.

I tend to make sushi rolls a lot. Check out this post for a step by step walkthrough. 

I am happy to report that I did clean out my car. While it was not the pitch and toss task I had hoped for - 50% of it was easily tossed and the rest was a bunch of receipts and paperwork that just needed shredding.

And I did get some closet organizer items so my quest to become clutter free and organized is going well.

I would encourage everyone to try making sushi rolls at home. It is fairly easy (use half a nori sheet for small rolls) and much cheaper than going out to a restaurant. 

Oh, yeah, Connor got a few pieces of avocado and Abby enjoyed the left over crab.

A wonderful Saturday lunch for all:-)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Breakfast noodles

Breakfast noodles.

One of my favorite things to have for breakfast is noodles topped with tons of vegetables. 

This morning the bowl contained: one serving of egg noodles cooked al dente, green beans, mushrooms and baby bok choy.

My usual method: I cook the noodles in water till 3/4 done. Then vegetables go into the pot and simmer for about 3 minutes. I drain the noodles and vegetables and put everything back in the pot with a 1/2 cup of chicken broth. 

Then the seasonings come into play. Today I wanted a nice balance between salty and sweet so I added in 1 tsp of Hoisin sauce, 2 tsp of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil.

A sprinkle of scallions and red pepper went on top.

The oil is key to making the noodles glossy and giving them a nice slide so you don't come up with a huge clump when you go to slurp them down.

Today I am going to tackle cleaning out my car which is a scary prospect.

Hopefully it will all be stuff that is easy to toss. The worst part about the de-cluttering is finding a place for the stuff that I want to keep. 

It is always much easier if I can just pitch it.

Happy Friday all!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tom kha gai soup

Tom kha gai soup
I have been trying to recreate this dish from my favorite Thai restaurant for a while now.

While I finally found the kaffir lime leaf and the galangal, I was still missing the thai red curry paste.

So, while this version is close - it still lacks the red color that the thai red curry paste provides.

But, other than that, the flavor was pretty close. 

The key to the recipe seems to be using a reduced and concentrated chicken broth. Many of the recipes call for quite a bit of chicken broth which I think dilutes the delicate flavors of the rest of the soup.

I have been to 7 different stores and I could not find any thai red curry paste. It looks like I will have to start ordering that online along with my favorite - massaman curry paste.

Tom kha gai soup

Serves 2


1 1/2 cans of lite coconut milk

1/2 cup of reduced chicken broth

1" piece of galangal, sliced thin

1 stalk of lemon grass cut into 2" strips and cut lengthways

3 button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup of green cabbage, chopped

3 kaffir lime leaves, torn and left whole

1 tsp of sugar

3 leaves of basil, torn and left whole

3 Thai chilies

1 cup of chicken, sliced thin and cut into 2" pieces

1 1/2 Tbsp of Thai fish sauce

3/4 Tbsp of lime juice

1 Tbsp of chopped cilantro for garnish


Put 1 can of coconut milk in a pan over low heat. Add in the galangal and lemon grass and keep the liquid just under a simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes.

In another pan put 1 cup of chicken broth on medium heat and allow to reduce until you are left with 1/2 a cup.

Let the reduced chicken broth cool. When it is no longer hot, add it into the coconut milk (this seems to reduce the risk of the soup separating).

Then add in the kaffir lime leaf and basil. This is where I added the additional 1/4 to 1/2 can of coconut milk because the soup needed a bit more liquid. Bring the soup up to a slow simmer and add in the chicken. Stir occasionally. The chicken should be cooked through in about 5 - 6 minutes (cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken - just make sure it is cooked through).

Then add in the mushrooms, cabbage, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.  The flavor balance between the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice is a matter of personal taste. Feel free to adjust the ratio to your liking.

Cook until the mushrooms have softened and the cabbage is wilted but still a bit crisp. Turn off the heat and add in the Thai chilies. Let the soup steep for a few minutes.

Serve as a soup or ladle over jasmine rice and enjoy it as an entree. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

I found it!!

Galangal and kaffir lime leaf.

Yesterday I was donating some things to a local charity (yes, the purging continues) and I decided to swing by a small store called Nak's Oriental Market.

I was casually browsing through the store when I passed by the refrigerator case when I spotted the magical unicorn duo of Thai cooking - galangal and kaffir lime leaf! To say I was excited would be an enormous understatement:-)

I will admit that I had the urge to buy out the whole supply but I couldn't bring myself to be that unkind to anyone else who could be on the same quest for these hard to find ingredients.

When I got home I tried recreating a tuna tartare dish I love at Straits restaurant. Their tuna tower dish has a great subtle flavor and one of the ingredients in the dish is the elusive kaffir lime leaf.

Tuna tartare with kaffir lime leaf.

I minced some sashimi grade tuna and mixed it with some finely minced kaffir lime leaf, sesame oil, finely chopped green onion, pickled ginger and some soy sauce.

And I enjoyed the tartare with some super crispy rice crackers.

The tartare ended up a bit on the salty side and the dish at Straights had more of a sweet tang that I really liked. I think next time I would add more of the kaffir lime leaf and sweet pickled ginger. 

Tomorrow Tom Kha Gai is definitely on the menu!

My pictures are still coming out fuzzy for some reason. I think I will spend some time cleaning my camera lens and see if that helps.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Split pea soup with pesto

Split pea soup with pesto.

I got tired of the carb fest of the last couple of days and decided what I really needed was a bowl of soup.

I only had 1/4 cup of green split peas left so I decided to make soup for one and a nice side salad of raw veggies.

I made good use of my leftover pesto and mixed up some creamy pesto salad dressing.

I have been obsessed with a declutter project I have going in my apartment.

I have purged/shredded all the of paperwork clutter that was shoved in every possible corner. It was a dusty process going through and shredding such a mass of paper but on the bright side I found some documents I thought had been lost and now my apartment is practically dust free!

My last steps are finishing the laundry and then getting closet organizers so my closets have some kind of organization and I will be able to continue to keep them clean.

On a laundry note: As I have been spending hours in my apartment complex's laundry room - carrying huge loads across the complex only to find someone else is doing a marathon laundry binge (either that or they are taking in laundry...) and every single machine is taken.

This laundry frustration let me to longingly stare at the Panda Mini Washing machine on this afternoon. 

I love the idea of being able to easily do small loads in my apartment but I am reluctant to bring in more stuff to clutter my apartment.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crispy gnocchi

Pan seared homemade potato gnocchi with a sprinkle of sage.

What do you do with tons of leftover gnocchi dough? You make breakfast gnocchi.

A nod to Vanessa and her suggestion that I make gnocchi with a runny egg for breakfast. 

I used some of the leftover potato gnocchi dough and rolled out enough for one serving. They went into a pan with some olive oil and butter.

One poached egg went on top.

Did it turn out well?

Yes, oh yes, it did turn out very well:-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Potato gnocchi

Potato gnocchi with basil walnut pesto.
Today I wanted some gnocchi but I didn't want the kind you can get packaged at the grocery store. To me, the ones that come in the package are way too heavy and sit in my stomach like a load of bricks.

I wanted the light and pillowy ones that you can find at fine dining restaurants. 

The first thing I did was to boil two large russet potatoes that I cut in half.
The skins practically fall off on their own.
Then I hunted down a gnocchi recipe here. The steps seemed pretty straightforward and didn't require using a ricer which I don't own.

I mashed the potatoes with a fork.

I made a well with the potatoes and added in 1 whisked egg.
I ended up adding in about 1 cup of flour. I decided to try two versions.

I folded in some chopped spinach and basil into the one on the left.
I ended up running out of dough and the one on the right ended up a bit wetter and harder to work with.

Doing the roll against the fork was harder than it looked - the gnocchi did come out a bit oddly formed.
I prepared a small serving of both kinds. 

The spinach and basil gnocchi with marinara sauce.
Potato gnocchi with pesto.
The potato gnocchi turned out really great! They were light and fluffy and delicious.

The spinach and basil gnocchi? Not so delicious. Maybe it was the drier dough - but they were heavy and tasted slightly of raw flour - yuck.

So I guess it was better to go for a wetter dough and add less flour. 

The recipe made a lot of dough - I will have to figure out a recipe for breakfast gnocchi:-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Green is good

Double stuffed baked potato topped with a sprinkle of red and yellow pepper.
It was one of those days when all the pictures seem to come out fuzzy so I am only including a couple.

I am a little behind on the St. Patrick's Day festivities but today I made the most wonderful double stuffed green potatoes.

No recipe but the whole thing was simple. The potato went into a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Then I steamed some broccoli, spinach and leeks.

A quick turn with the immersion blender and the potato and greens became a wonderful melange of color and flavor.

Then I topped them with some grated Parmesan and they went under the broiler for 5 minutes.

Oh, yeah, and I added a bit of goat milk yogurt. This is quickly becoming my favorite recipe ingredient. It is creamy and tangy and adds so much flavor.

And my favorite thing to do after eating the filling is to sprinkle a little salt on the empty potato shell and devour the skin. In my opinion the skin is the best part.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A new turn on eggs

Scrambled eggs with spaghetti squash and basil.
Note to self: When you cook spaghetti squash you end up with tons of leftovers. And by a lot I mean that I still have about 5 cups still sitting in the fridge.

I predict the dogs will be enjoying many spaghetti squash snacks over the next couple of days.

I decided to use a bit of it today in my breakfast.

While the eggs, spaghetti squash and basil were delicious on their own, I decided to punch it up a notch.

I ended up drizzling some marinara sauce on top and then adding a dusting of Parmesan.

This was an incredibly delicious breakfast. If you go for eggs and the savory - this is definitely one you will love.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Vegetarian French Onion Soup.

Last time when I went shopping I picked up a huge bag of onions. I always seemed to be running out of them and I figured they would be good for at least a couple of months.

This did not turn out to be so. Last night I was getting something out from the lower cupboard and I noticed that the big bag of onions was looking a bit worse for the wear.

Enter Vegetarian French Onion Soup. I didn't find any recipes online that were exactly what I was looking for (I didn't want to use vegetable stock and I didn't have any Gruyere cheese) so I decided to wing it.

Most of the recipes recommended cooking the onions on low for about 30 minutes. This IMO is a bunch of bollocks. It took over 2 hours for my large pot of chopped onions to break down and become well caramelized.

A bit of this and a bit of that (see recipe below) and it was time for the soup to go in the oven.

A couple slices of baguette went on top.

A generous amount of Parmesan.

And while this did not turn out with the same flavor as the classic French onion soup that is made with beef stock, it did turn out very tasty.

And I did get to try out this really yummy balsamic vinegar reduction:

The soup ended up tasting somewhere between French onion soup and a really good Thanksgiving stuffing. 

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Serves 2


3 yellow onions chopped fine
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of Earth Balance spread
2 pinches of sage
2 pinches of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tbsp of flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar reduction
1/4 tsp of honey
2 cups of water
4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese


Add the olive oil, Earth Balance spread and onions into a dutch oven over medium low heat. When the onions become translucent add in the garlic, sage, thyme and bay leaf.

Cover the pot and let the onions cook on low to med low heat for about 2 hours. Make sure to stir the pot about every 20 minutes or so.

When the onions have become lightly browned (caramelized) stir in the flour and let cook another 5 minutes. Then add in the water, vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium and let the soup simmer until it becomes thickened.

Ladle the soup into two ramekins. Turn your broiler to Hi and top the soup with the slices of baguette and a generous amount of Parmesan. Keep a close watch on the soup after you put it into the oven because it takes a very short amount of time (3 -5 min.) for the bread to become crispy and the Parmesan to brown.


P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Tostada with homemade refried beans.

I had a can of pinto beans in the cupboard that I wanted to use up.

The beans went into a pan with some cumin, pepper and vegetable broth.

I let them simmer for about and hour and then blended them with a hand blender.

Homemade refried beans with Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella.
Then I topped the beans and cheese with spinach, avocado, shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, chopped scallions and salsa.

Does anyone have an idea about how to eat a tostada with some semblance of grace?

After the first bite things got very messy...

I am setting this post to upload this afternoon and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I manage to get in at least a small nap before then.

Wish me luck!

Baguette and eggs

I had another restless night last night. 

What to do when sleep seems to be an unreachable goal? 

Make bread, of course!

My French baguette.
I find making baguettes a bit of an intimidating task. And while my baguette ended up looking more like a loaf of bread rather than a baguette - the bread did have decent texture.

And I do have to say, it would be hard to pick a more delicious way to start the day than a slice of warm bread straight out of the oven.

I poached two eggs and made a simple hollandaise sauce by mixing Vegenaise, yellow mustard, lemon juice and almond milk.

The baguette came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The yolk and sauce soaked into the warm bread and made each bite better tasting than the next. Yum!

Oranges on the side.
If you want to try making a baguette you can find the recipe I modified here. Basically, I halved the recipe and only let the dough rise once (I did fall asleep for about 3 hours - hence only one rise:-).

Now I am going to try and get some sleep. Happy Thursday all!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Basil cashew pesto

Basil cashew pesto over mashed potatoes. 
I had a craving for pesto the other day. I picked up a big bunch of basil at the store and completely forgot to pick up some pine nuts.


I did find a container of cashews in my cupboard. 

And so basil cashew pesto was born.

It turned out creamy and packed a great basil punch and the cashews added just a hint of sweetness that I loved.

The pesto made another appearance at lunch.

Steamed green beans and sauteed mushrooms.

The mushrooms came out perfectly browned.

And then I smothered everything with pesto!

Basil cashew pesto


2 large bunches of basil
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of cashews
2 Tbsp of water
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste


Place all the ingredients into a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until you have a thick paste.