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Friday, February 24, 2012

Chewy Oatmeal Dried Fruits Cookies

This is a twist on the oatmeal raisin cookies. Chewy oatmeal raisin is one of my favorite cookies and it's even better when you add other dried fruits to the mix.

Oatmeal Raisin, Cherry and Cranberry Cookies
about 3 dozen
  • 1 cup soften unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup flour (if you don't want to use almond meal then use 1 1/4 cup of flour instead)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisin
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract; mix until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combined flour, almond meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix in half of the oats until well incorporated, then add in the remanding oats and dried cherries, cranberries and raisins. Drop by rounded table spoon full onto the cookie sheets. Then bake for about 8-10 minutes (12 if you like it not as soft).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Korean Spicy Rice Cake with Oden

My mom and I love spicy foods so naturally we like Korean food also. We used to eat a lot more Korean food when we lived in Taiwan and also Southern California but sort of stopped once we moved to CT because frankly there aren't that many Korean restaurants in CT. To find really good Korean food you have to go into NYC. We were going to have Oden which is a kind of soup in Japan but wanted something else to go with it. I thought spicy rice cake would be a great pairing for the soup. I am not including a recipe for the Oden since we used the pre-package Oden packs from Daido (Japanese store in White Plains, NY). Also the recipe for the rice cakes is not traditional since I had to improvised.

Spicy Rice Cake 
serves 4
  • 16 oz of tube shaped Korean rice cake(soak in cold water for 10 minutes then drain off the water)
  • 2 cups dashi broth
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, rough chopped
  • 1/2 medium size onion, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 tsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbs Korean hot pepper paste (pending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 stocks of green onion, sliced on a bias
Using a large pot, set to medium high heat. Add everything but the green onion. Stir constantly until the sauce is thick and the rice cakes are soft. Add the green onion then cook for another 2 minutes then serve.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

BB Cream + Face Wash from Japan

It's funny how trends in Asia sometimes take so long to get here. I'm starting to hear about BB creams in the US just within the past few months even though it has been very popular in Asia for a few years. I originally thought BB cream is similar to a tinted moisturizer but oh no, it is so much better! BB cream was originally invented by a dermatologist in Germany but became a huge sensation in Asia. Not to bored you with details, you can find the Wiki explanation here: BB Cream. My parents travel to Asia often and last September they brought back some goodies from their trip to Japan. I am so impressed with the BB cream and face wash my mom bought. She said they were highly recommended by their tour guide. The face wash gently exfoliates but doesn't dry out your skin plus it has this pleasant apple fragrance.

There are many kinds of BB creams out there you can pick one that best matches your needs. You can even get ones that will help with acne. The one I have has the functions of being a moisturizer, primer, concealer, foundation and sun block all roll into one but doesn't feel like I have a ton of products on my skin. In the Winter time I still use my Shiseido The Skincare moisturizer before I put on the BB cream since the cold weather really dries out my skin.  It is great for someone like me who is always in the rush getting ready for work in the morning. Since it's sweat and waterproof, it lasts all day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

In our circle of friends and family, J is known as THE picky eater. He loves beef, potatoes and even better if there are lots of cheddar cheese on top. There are probably only 5 veggies he would eat and maybe like 4 kinds of fruits. Apples are one of them especially if they are Honeycrisp. They are normally a lot more expensive than other breeds of apples (normally $2.99/lb at Stop and Shop) but they are definitely worth the price. Honeycrisps are the best during early fall and in previously year you wouldn't be able to get them pass December but this year I noticed Stop and Shop still have them last week but it didn't taste as good as the Fall ones. It could either be due to the fact that Honeycrisps store well refrigerated for months or because they started to grow them in other countries like New Zealand. Since they were not as sweet as in the Fall, J left two Honeycrisps in the fridge for the past 2 weeks. I thought a coffee cake with apples would be awesome for breakfast tomorrow.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

  • 2 cups of flour (or you can use 1 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup of ground almond meal like I did)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of room temp unsalted butter
  • 1 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced apples 
Streusel Topping:
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cups of sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly greased a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with butter for baking spray.  *Today I used an 9 inch round pan and a cupcake pan (6 muffins).

Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream, mix well. Add all the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients then mix until combined. Then fold in the apples. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. 

Streusel Topping:
Combined all the ingredients and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. 

Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cake mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You can't plan life.

So much has happened since J and I got married in 2010. Both good and bad. Moved twice, changed jobs, welcomed new family members, family tragedies, having unexpected expenses, and etc. I'm a very organized person both professionally and in my personal life. I like it when things go according to plan and hate surprises. So far all the things J and I had gone through forced me to be more flexible. I realized I can only control a small percent of whats going on in your life, rest is not up to me. All that we have gone through also made me cherish even more of the great family and friends we have.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Japanese Chicken Curry Tip

Even though I'm not Japanese, I ate a lot of Japanese food while growing up. Since Taiwan was under Japanese rule for 50 years, Japanese culture have a lot of influence on Taiwan. Forget what you know about curry, Japanese curry is very different from Indian curry. Most people use Japanese curry blocks to make the curry. You can find these curry blocks at most Asian stores, even in some American supermarkets. The most popular brands are S&B and House brands. My mom uses S&B's Golden Curry. Japanese curry is one of those dishes that you can use whatever ingredients you fancy but carrots, onion and potatoes are a must. It's normally serve with rice but equally delicious with udon. 

I'm not posting a full recipe since you can find one in the back of any box of curry blocks. However, I will share my mom's secret for a more flavorful curry. The box instruction will tell you to sauté the veggies with meat until the onion is soften then add the water then curry blocks. My mom's Japanese friend taught her that after sautéing the veggies and meat until the onion is soften, add the curry blocks to the mix then let it cook for about 3-5 minutes (be careful with the heat so you don't burn the curry), finally you can add the water.