Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#86 Whole Wheat Pancakes

The best mornings start with hugs and kisses, and that feeling of so much love right when you open your eyes. And then followed by a good breakfast meal. Pancakes, oh it never fails to cease the hunger of a loved one who has not eaten for so many hours at night. It is so good to make it from scratch, and choose the best fruits in the basket to add it on top.

  Life will not be as sweet in a world without pancakes,
It's become such a big part of our happy mornings.

Yield: serves 4



1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine flour with vinegar and milk, mix it well, then add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk until all lumps are gone.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. 
  3. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
  4. Serve with maple syrup and top with your favorite fruits.

We've posted a little bit on the history of pancakes in a previous post that featured a recipe for melt-in-your-mouth pancakes without egg whites

good breakfast + lots of love = happy mornings

Happy mornings make you smile as you walk out to the world.
And you come home with that same smile, excited about the next happy mornings.

#85 Kafta Bil Sanieh

As we expand our culinary adventure farther to a different continent, the Middle East, amazing flavors are discovered. WOW! Even the pickiest eater I know on Earth said "Oh wow" many times. And the recipe for Kafta Bil Sanieh is far from complicated. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, mix all the ingredients, bake it,  and enjoy it. Simple cooking that's great tasting. This dish from Lebanon does not disappoint!



2/3  pounds ground beef
5 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
6 red potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can of tomato sauce

Preheat oven at 400 F degrees. In a baking dish or pan, place the slices of potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove from oven.In a large bowl, combine beef, parsley, garlic, onion, all spice, salt, pepper. Mix well, it's better to mix it with your hands. After mixing, pat the meat mixture into a separate and clean baking dish or pan. 
Bake it for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Add the baked potatoes on top of the baked meat, and then add the sliced tomatoes on top of the potatoes. Pour tomato sauce evenly on top. Bake for another 25 minutes.
Serve warm with rice, couscous or pita bread.

It's delicious.

#84 Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

You can easily buy a cheesecake, but you can also make a phenomenal one. So easy. Nothing compares to home made cheesecake from scratch. Smooth, dangerously decadent, just the right amount of sweetness. It's okay to give in to your senses sometimes, it's probably what you will ever need after a long day. Indulge, believe me, it is worth it.

Yield: 8 servings


2 packages  (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8-inch graham cracker crust, recipe follows
1 cup halved strawberries
2 tablespoons red currant or strawberry jelly

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees
  2. In a food processor, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar and egg. Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for 35 minutes, or until set.
  4. Place the pie on a rack to cool to room temperature and then chill for at least 1 hour, or until serving time.
  5. Before serving, halve the strawberries and arrange them around the top edge of the cheesecake pie.
  6. Melt the jelly in a small skillet or saucepan, or microwave, and spoon or brush the melted jelly over the strawberries to glaze them.

For the Pie Crust:


1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

  1. Combine ingredients and then pat the mixture into an 8 inch pie plate.

Recipe adapted from Time Life Books' Fast Fresh and Delicious.

Cream Cheese originated in America and was created by William Lawrence in Chester, N.Y.. It was created accidentally while trying to reproduce the French soft cheese called Neufchâtel. While this recipe is definitely American because the recipe mainly consists of cream cheese, sugar and eggs, cheesecake did not originate in the US. Other variations from different parts of Europe use different types of cheese. It is believed to have originated in Ancient Greece, and was spread by the Romans across Europe. Several hundred years later,  it was brought to America by immigrants.

She never left the kitchen from start to finish :)

I have to let you know that it has approximately 444 calories per serving- heavy, but that sounds better compared to Cheesecake Factory's 570 to 1330 calories per slice cheesecakes! But hey, if it will cost you 444 calories to smile on one given day, by all means have it. I cleaned the entire house and ran around playing tag after we ate it. :) 

I fought hard not to eat another slice, but I lost the battle. Just too good.

Monday, April 29, 2013

#83 Ratatouille's Ratatouille

Have you seen Pixar's animated movie, Ratatouille? If not, oh you have to see it! It is hilarous! After watching it together for a million times several weekends ago, we were determined to make the dish featured in the movie. Ratatouille or Ratatouille Niçoise, is a spring vegetable dish that originated in Provence, France. This dish, widely popularized  by the animated movie, is very appealing to kids and kids-at-heart like me. In the movie, it looked complicated to make, but after searching, we found several recipes. It is very simple to make and nutritious! What is amazing about this recipe that I am about to share is the elegant fragrance of the cooked Ratatouille. One of the secrets: Herbes de Provence, Aha! It has a lavender, marjoram, savory, fennel, thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon. The beautiful mix of all the ingredients. An absolute delight! Make it for yourself, your friends and family, especially the little ones.. it is guaranteed fun and a great food for every one. We made the Ratatouille by layering and baking it just like in the movie. I'm glad it turned out delicious!



1 eggplant, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onions, sliced thinly
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley

  1. Preheat oven at 400 F degrees. In a baking sheet or dish, drizzle olive oil at the bottom, then sprinkle herbes de provence. Add the tomatoes, garlic, onions, bay leaf.
  2. Saute eggplant in remaining olive oil until almost done. Remove from heat.
  3. Arrange the sauteed eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell pepper. (See photographs). Cover with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the sprinkled chopped fresh basil and flat leaf parsley, bake for another 10 minutes. Salt and Pepper to taste.

I think you can do without the parchment paper. I watched the Ratatouille closely after I added the fresh herbs (step 4), because I like the taste of vegetables that are not thoroughly cooked, especially the zucchini. But you can also extend up to 55 minutes or so, depending on how done you like your vegetables to be. Just don't burn it and it will be so good!

I knew I was going to make this when I first started this insane blogging project we have going on right now. The drawings of places where the dish originated are replaced with so much curiosity in the kitchen and we have been cooking together a lot lately. And she does take good pictures too! Here is my final product, I worked very hard to present it the way Remy, the anthropomorphic rat who has an exceptional cooking ability, did it in the movie. :)

And Miss Little Chef and picky eater, decided it is time to try zucchini, she will try the rest next time.
Look at how she artfully made her plate:

And this one she made for me. She said, THIS is how Remy presented it. :)

In the movie, Chef  Gusteau says: "Anyone can cook!"
 "I made Ratatouille!", she said it with glee, and ate the zucchini with much gusto. 

This is one of the many reasons why I know I won't stop cooking.

#82 Turkey Chili with Garbanzo Beans

We made Chili using a much leaner turkey meat and garbanzo beans. Before I started cooking it, I was worried that I am planning to put too much Cumin, one of my favorite spices, because I really love a chili that tastes very "cuminy" :)  But my instinct told me that it's okay...go ahead, add more! It turned out just right and delicious, just as what I had imagined. Since we started this journey, I have been increasingly comfortable in tweaking recipes that I discover every day. And I am now able to imagine what magic a teaspoon of cumin, a pinch of salt or coriander, or a teaspoon of dill weed can do to a dish in the making. This newly acquired skill resulted from my insane craving to taste unknown flavors and a kitchen habit used to satisfy it -- a strange tasting habit that never left me ever since I first became a mother. Most, if not all mothers taste every bit of food before they feed it to their children, and while most get rid of this habit when their children grow up, mine stuck with me forever. Now, not only do I have to taste prepared food before serving, I also have to taste every spice before I add it to a pot, that has either a simmering sauce or a boiling quart of broth, or even to a pan splattering with hot oil...I already know that Cayenne pepper is spicy and cumin does not taste good by itself...but I do it anyway every. single. time. Weird, I know. After months of consciously and unconsciously doing this, I discovered that when I look at recipes, I could actually develop a taste in my mind while reading the ingredients. But is it the spice tasting or  is it because I am just so obsessed with cooking nowadays. Haha! I hope this is normal? (gulp!) and that maybe this comes naturally to people who put their hearts in learning how to cook. :) When I saw a recipe for Chili last week, I thought, hmm, I can make this with turkey meat to cut the fat, and since I had some garbanzo beans sitting in the pantry  for five months now, I decided to use it this time. The garbanzo beans tastes great in it!  This cuminy  turkey garbanzo chili is appetizing, it's made with simple ingredients yet very satisfying and healthier too. I love it!



1/2 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of water
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoon chicken base
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) (400 ml)
salt to taste

  1. In a pot, saute garlic until brown, then add the onion and the turkey meat, stir, and let cook.
  2. Add the cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, ground black pepper. Stir. Add the tomato sauce.
  3. Add the chicken base to the 2 cups water and mix well, add then pour it in the pot. Let boil.
  4. Add the garbanzo beans and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt to taste.
  5. Serve warm, top with light sour cream and shredded cheese.

Who first made the Chili is unknown. Here is a link where you can find interesting facts about the History of Chili.

This will make a good light Chili for Sunday's Cinco de Mayo. We also have a recipe for Guacamole . :)  Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#81 Delicious egg-less cake: Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Cake

If you like chocolate pudding, ice cream and chocolate brownies,  you will love this. You'll have a taste of all three in one bite. And no eggs required! Since it's not a usual cake, I followed the recipe to the letter. I was excited! Right before baking it, I had a feeling there was something wrong with the mixture..too watery. I checked the cup that I used to measure the hot water and OMG, it was a 1/4 cup. I thought I grabbed the 1/2 cup! What was I thinking! Why didn't I use the 1 cup that was used for the flour and instead grabbed a smaller measuring cup, and then I poured 1 1/2 cups of hot water instead of  the required 1 1/4 cups! Ugh!! For a minute I thought I should just start all over again, but instead of throwing it, I used the mixture anyway as an experiment, I was curious to see what a cake disaster looks like. So I put it in the oven,  after 35 minutes, it was boiling..LOL. After an hour in the oven, it looked like it's finally set, and because I was using a glass baking dish, I could see the pudding under the layer of cake. I'm glad I didn't throw the mixture away. A new butterscotch pudding cake recipe with so much moist is discovered.  What a pleasant surprise! :)



1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of hot water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a baking pan or glass dish. (I used a round glass baking dish). Mix well.
  3. Combine in remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Sprinkle on top of the cake mixture.
  4. Pour hot water on top. DO NOT STIR OR MIX. Bake for 1 hour.
  5. After baking, let stand for 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream.

 butterscotch morsels 

Crunchy chocolate brownie on the topmost layer, a soft cake in the middle and then a rich pudding at the bottom. 
Top with a slow-churned vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

Friday, April 26, 2013

#80 Honey Poppy Mustard Salad Dressing and Greens

It is very important to eat our raw leafy greens daily. I still have to remind myself of that. I like to eat salads when I use my favorite dressing, Honey Poppy Mustard Salad Dressing.  It is very inexpensive and super easy to make, I used greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, which made the dressing a lot healthier. Last week, I was happy to find my two favorite greens, spinach and arugula at buy one and get one free- it's always great to find quality food at a bargain price. :)  This dressing goes well with any vegetables that I add in my salad plate. Versatile, simple, tastes great. Try it!



1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon poppy seeds

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well.

Poppy seeds are highly nutritious and used in many cuisines all over the world. Turkey is the highest producer. It is consumed widely in Europe, India and the Mediterranean. In India and Iran, it is called khaskhas or haşhaş. According to history, it is native to the Middle East, in Ancient Sumeria, a region in Southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq. It was also cultivated by the Minoan civilization in the island of Crete during the Bronze age (around 2700 to 1400 BC). It is said to be used as a remedy to sleeping problems,  promote fertility and wealth and supposed to give magical powers of invisibility. :) These seeds are also potential source for anti-cancer drugs. According to the book: Joy of Cooking, the best ones come from Holland.


Health is wealth. It's important to take care of it. :)

#79 Cambodian Summer Rolls

Fantastic. Enough said.




6 cups water
36 unpeeled medium shrimp (about 1 pound)
4 ounces uncooked rice noodles
12 (8-inch) round sheets rice paper
1/4 cup hoisin suace
3 cups shredded red leaf lettuce
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint


1/3 low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
1 garlic clove, minced

  1. To prepare rolls, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the shrimp into the pan; cook 3 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Peel shrimp; chill.
  2. Place noodles in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 8 minutes; drain.
  3. Add cold water into a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch. Place 1 rice paper sheet in water. Let  stand for 2 minutes or until soft. Place rice paper sheet on a flat surface.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce in the center of the sheet; top with 3 shrimp. 1/4 cup lettuce, about 2 1/2 tablespoons noodles, 1 teaspoon basil, and 1 teaspoon mint. Fold sides of sheet over filling, roll up jelly-roll fashion, and gently press seam to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a serving platter; cover to keep from drying. Repeat procedure with remaining rice paper, hoisin sauce, shrimp, shredded lettuce, noodles, basil and mint.
  5. To prepare dipping sauce, combine soy sauce and remaining ingredients. In a small bowl; stir with a whisk.  

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.

Truly out of this world. I thank the gifted person who invented bánh tráng or rice paper. It's delicious. Rice paper originated in Vietnam. I learned a little about the difference between Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine. Vietnamese cuisine, one of the healthiest in the world,  is more of Chinese/Asian & French style. While Cambodian (Khmer) is more similar to India/Thailand/China style. Will explore more on this and many recipes in this part of Asia in my future posts.

I  ran out shrimps. I learned how to make an amazing sauce. I have more rice paper left. To be continued...( ^ - ^ )

#78 Guacamole

In the past, I ate Avocados only when dipped in sugar or made as a milkshake.. Until I tried Guacamole for the first time...it is the best! I did not know this wonderful sauce existed until I came to California. If you have never tried it, I'm sharing a simple recipe that will truly make you want to make more. Guacamole originated in Mexico, it is an old dish that was first created by the Aztecs in the 16th century. It can be eaten as a sauce, a dip or salad condiment. Here in the US, it has become an important part of American cuisine. I know why, it's awesome! I got these Avocados which are smaller in size than normal from a local farmer, who parks his truck right across the street from my daughter's school. Usually sold for $1.99 each fruit at the grocery stores.. it was $5 for a bag of 15 great tasting organic Avocados. :)



3 ripe Avocados
cilantro, chopped
jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice avocados in half, remove the meat and mash it in a bowl.
  2. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, chopped cilantro, jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.  

You can also add the following: chopped tomatoes,  a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of cumin, diced onions, 1 clove minced garlic. It will taste great. But I like mine with just the 6 ingredients listed in the recipe.

This avocado-based sauce has pushed avocado sales to 30 million pounds on two days a year: 
Superbowl Sunday and Cinco de Mayo.

Avocado + Lime + Salt + Cilantro + Jalapenos + Pepper = Delicioso! :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#77 Moroccan Spiced Carrots

Mmm, very fragrant. I have never roasted carrots with powdered cinnamon and cumin before. In fact, I bought my first jar of cumin powder only when I started this blog in November of last year. When I first saw this recipe, I was very curious about how it will turn out, luckily I had a bunch of carrots..which I was planning to add to my soups. It looked really good, and Moroccan food is one of my top favorites! So I turned on the oven and started peeling the carrots, seasoned it and then a few minutes later in the hot oven, the house smelled nice...My daughter asked "What's that yummy smell?".  It was the wonderful mix of the roasted lemons, the distinct aroma of spices, the oils and the vegetables. I found this in a cooking light magazine and had to make it. I knew it is a nutritious guilt-free dish  that I can binge on. What I did not expect at all is the smell and the unique taste that's just lovely.

Yield: Serves 4 

Moroccan Spiced Carrots


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces peeled baby carrots
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
  2. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; sprinkle with cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper, tossing to coat carrots. Arrange carrot mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Bake at 450 F degrees for 13 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cilantro.

I love surprises, and this one gave me a big one. I will make many more in the future.