Chinese dumpling (Jiao Zi) is a very common dumpling dish in Asia. Dumpling is typically made with ground meat, shrimp and some vegetables wrapped in a very thinly rolled piece of dough. In a typical Chinese home, dumplings are a must eat around Chinese New Year, especially New Year’s Eve. If I remember correctly, dumplings symbolize longevity and wealth. A typical dumpling looks like a gold ingot currency used in imperial China from its founding under the Qin Dynasty. Dumplings are also an excellent activity to do with friends over, they are easy to teach and make a good evening activity filled with good food and good friends.
1 pack dumpling wrappers – you can typically get these at your local Asian supermarket.
1 pound ground meat ( I typically use chicken or pork)
2 cups of Napa cabbage finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms (Button or Portobello) finely chopped
1/4 cup ginger finely chopped
4 teaspoons 5 spice powder or equivalent (can be found at your local international section of the grocery store)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Chinese vinegar
2 carrots finely chopped
2 stalks green onions finely chopped
Take a large mixing bowl, mix all of your fillings together, and stir well to homogenize all of the ingredients
Take a bowl or cup with a small bit of water, take a dumpling wrapper and wet the edges by dipping your finger in the water and brushing the edges of the wrapper
Pinch the center of the wrapper, working from the center, pinch one side of the wrapper and fold it over the other edge with the edge facing the center, when done, take the other side of the center pinch and fold together.
Repeat the process until you run out of wrappers or dumpling filling. Alternatively, if you don’t want to fold and pinch you can fold both edges over the center and seal the dumplings.
Once you are done with all of the dumplings, fill a pot with a quarter amount of cold water and bring it to a boil before you place the dumplings in the pot. After the water is boiling, put in the dumplings into the pot of boiling water. Make sure you do not overfilled the pot so that they can cook evenly.
When the dumplings are boiling add in a 2 cups of cold water and bring the water to a boil again. Repeat step 5 and 6 twice to make sure the dumplings are fully cooked.
For the dipping sauce, mix some Chinese vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. You can also add some chili flakes or hot sauce if you want some kick in your dumplings.
The best part of these dumplings is that once your learn the process, you can customize the ingredients and dipping sauces to however you like. Folding these dumplings is the most difficult part of the process and I know its a bit confusing, but once you get a few going they will get easier. I hope you enjoyed making and eating these dumplings as much as we do.
Winter Solstice is one of my favorite festivals. In fact, I love winter solstice more than I love Chinese New Year, which is very odd for an Asian. Winter solstice is also known as Dong Zhi festival, it is usually around December 22nd.
Traditionally, winter solstice is when all the family members will get together to make food, eating and spending time with each other. It had been a while since I last celebrated winter solstice with my family (more than 8 years to be exact). Glutinous rice balls – Tang Yuan symbolized reunion.
This dish symbolized reunion but I make this dish when I am homesick too. It reminds me of the time of my childhood. We were all so young but whenever my mom decided to make this, we would all drag ourselves out of bed no matter how early it is, we would help my mom roll the glutinous rice dough into these small little balls. Mom will then cook them up and served them as breakfast. Those were some great times.
2 cups of water
6-10 slices of ginger slice (about inch thick)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
Glutinous rice balls
2 1/2 cups of Glutinous rice flour
1 cup of water
2 cups of toasted peanut with skin removed
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Add in ginger slices and 2 cups of water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove after 20 minutes and let it cool before serving.
Combine the toasted peanut and brown sugar in a food processor or a blender and pulse them. I just pulsed it a couple times to make sure they are well combined, if you over pulsed them it will become a paste. Set the ground peanut aside for later use.
Place the rice flour in a large bowl, slowly add in warm water while stirring to form the dough. Knead the dough by hand after the dough has formed, you are all done when the dough doesn’t stick your hands. Make sure your dough is not too wet, or else it would not hold its shape. The consistency of the dough should be similar to play dough. You could also make the dough ahead of time, place the dough in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate it overnight.
Bring a pot of water to boil for boiling the glutinous rice balls.
Roll the dough into little spherical shape ball in between your palm. The size of the glutinous rice doesn’t really matter as long as they are consistent they will cook evenly.
Drop the rice balls into the pot of boiling water to cook them. Make sure you do not over crowded the pot so that all the rice balls can cook evenly.
As soon as the rice balls are floating in the pot of boiling water, transfer them into a bowl of cold water for about 2 minutes. The purpose of this step is to make sure they stop cooking so that they can maintain the springy texture.
Transfer the cooked rice balls into the cool ginger syrup, and it’s ready to serve
I like to serve the glutinous rice balls with syrup, and the ground peanut in another bowl. Sometimes I do like to add in the ground peanuts into the syrup too. This dish is pretty versatile, you can eat it however you want to. I hope you guys enjoy the dish that I love from my childhood as much as I love making this for you guys.
Summer time, watermelon time, am I right? When it comes to summer, watermelon is a must have for this household. While Victor was doing the grocery shopping this week, he came home with a gigantic watermelon. There is only so much the two of us can eat, so what about the leftover watermelon?
With Fourth of July coming up in the next few days, we all know we can’t have a Fourth of July party without a refreshing pitcher of watermelon smoothie. All of a sudden I have an idea, we can totally have some watermelon smoothie on a warm day like today. The best part about this recipe, it takes two ingredients and a blender with just two minutes to make. Of course, this is not a recipe specifically for the Fourth, but also any hot summer day.
I sliced up some watermelon and frozen kiwi that I have in my freezer, put them in my Ninja Professional Blender (BL610) and hit the power button. Do keep in mind that the slush tastes a lot better with chilled watermelon.
5 cups of sliced seedless watermelon
1 cup of ice cubes
mint leaves – optional
Combine sliced watermelon and ice cubes in a blender and blend until smooth.
Top it off with some mint leaves if you like the minty fresh taste.
Viola, the whole process takes less than two minutes. You could also add some vodka if you fancy liquor in your smoothie. Let me know if you like the smoothie for a hot summer day.
Hope you guys enjoy the smoothie as mush as we did.
This is another post following a day in Mylo’s life. I am sure you guys are pretty familiar with our lives right now, we are both working adults and we do have a funny and beautiful puppy named Mylo. He just stayed home while we are at work on a day to day basis. We do try to do things that involve Mylo during the weekends since on the weekdays we have to get to work we walk him but not as much as we would like to.
Today we have both decided to sign Mylo up for the dog park right down the street from where we live. The name of the dog park is Meadow Run Dog Park, it is a privately owned dog park. The membership is a little pricey but we went with for it because we thought it would be good for Mylo. Mylo has always been a house dog, we don’t really have a lot friends that have dogs, so he pretty much just plays with humans. We felt that Mylo was a little short on his socialization skills which is one of the main factor why we decided to get the membership.
Let’s take a peek into Mylo’s afternoon on a Sunday.
Honestly, I haven’t seen Mylo being this happy except heading back to grandma’s house once in a while. It was nice seeing Mylo enjoying his afternoon, as you can guess he passed out as soon as we step into the condo. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about Mylo’s life as much as us jotting all these memories down. We will definitely make these trips to the park a routine on weekends and as much as we can on the weekdays.
This Chinese style stuffed pepper is a Chinese dish that is primarily tofu, sometimes we would use vegetable such as eggplant, bitter melon or bell peppers. We would cut them up and filled them with ground meat and fish paste. This is a very common dish that you can find in Malaysia, it’s also a dish that you could whip up in less than 30 minute.
The secret ingredient for this dish is fish paste. Back in Malaysia, my grandmother would usually get up early in the morning to go to the wet market to get fresh mackerel from the fishmonger. She would bring an entire mackerel home and slowly fillet them so that she could turn them into a paste. This is actually a very labor intensive dish back home. Fortunately for us, if you lived in the states, you could substitute fresh fish paste with fish paste emulsion. They usually come in frozen form, you can find them in any Asian store. I personally like to thaw my fish paste emulsion in the fridge overnight before I use it the next day. This recipe requires the fish paste to bind the ground meat before stuffing it in the vegetables or tofu.
Other than fish paste emulsion I like to mix in ground chicken breast. My grandmother prefer pork, but I like the taste of chicken much better. In this particular recipe I use ground chicken breast instead of ground pork.
1 container of fish paste emulsion
1 ground chicken breast ( or ground pork if you prefer)
6 Poblano peppers (We picked this type of pepper because they are milder as compare to Serrano peppers. Of course, another factor is they are bigger than Serrano pepper, you could stuff them easily.
1 stalk of green onion
1 tbsp of ground white pepper
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of sesame oil
Cleaned the peppers and remove all the seeds before making a slit on the peppers for the stuffing. (I like to cut off the top of the peppers for easy stuffing.)
Mix the ground chicken breast and fish paste emulsion in a large bowl. Add in the ground white pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil and green onion into the fish paste mixture and mix well.
Stuff the mixture into the peppers but make sure you do not over stuffed them.
Place the stuffed pepper on the frying pan and sear the outside of the peppers. ( You do not need to cook the stuffing all the way through)
After a good searing, place all the stuffed peppers in a steam-able dish and steam it for 10 minutes. (I generally put 1 tbsp of oyster sauce and 1 tbsp of soy sauce on the peppers before I put it in the steamer.)
Enjoy this quick and easy Chinese style stuffed peppers. You can either eat them as they are or serve them with rice. I hope you guys enjoyed the food as much as we enjoyed making them.
I am not sure how many of you out there run into the same problem I do. I used to buy candles from Bath and Body Works, I would stock up on them when they have sales. I use a coffee warmer to warm up my candles so that I don’t go through them as quickly as lighting them, unfortunately, candles don’t last forever. So the better question is, what do you do when you have an empty glass jar like me? I think so far I have collected at least 6 of these empty containers, I asked myself how do I re-purpose these glass containers instead of throwing them in the trash?
After thinking long and hard, I decided to decorate them with twine. Twine is cheap and all you need is a hot glue gun and a roll of twine. I got mine from Michaels, I am pretty sure you could get all these from Hobby Lobby or whatever your favorite craft store is. I started off with some clean glass jars. I wiped down the outside with some lint free cloth, and I start applying hot glue on the outside of the glass jars. After that I just start wrapping the twine around the glass jar and keep going.
For me, this is a really quick and easy project that I could do on a Sunday morning while I wait for my lovely boyfriend to get out of bed and have breakfast. I hope you enjoy making these easy DIY glass jars. I use them to hold my stationary and some small things that are laying around all over the condo.
People in Kalamazoo are kicking off the summer with having an art fair in downtown Kalamazoo in Bronson Park. They invited artists and vendors from all across the country who showed off all different kinds of beautiful crafts and art. Victor and I decided to head to downtown Kalamazoo and have a look at what the hype was about.
Oddly enough we both enjoyed our time at the art fair very much. There were a lot of beautiful pieces from different vendors. It’s amazing how some people are very talented but you would never be able to tell just by looking at them. All the pieces in the art fair are handmade by different artists. You can find some fabulous photography, sculpture, painting, ceramics, glass, and wood furniture or containers in the art fair. Did I mention that spending a day at the art fair make a great art-filled family weekends.
That is it for now, I could go on and on and show you guys all the photos I have taken during the art fair. With just the few pieces of arts that I have mentioned above, this event is totally worth your time to check out. In the future, even though your local art fair like ours may not seem like a big deal, if you have any interest at all in art or seeing what amazing pieces humans can produce for fun, they are definitely time well spent with family, friends or significant other.
Do any of you guys remember in one of the previous blog post I mentioned about getting some planters for herbs or succulents? Here it is, we made easy do it yourself planters. Of course this DIY planter is probably not as nice as those that you could find in the nurseries, but keep in mind, making these planters probably cost a fraction of what you would pay from the nurseries.
Making these planters takes some time to measure, cut, and assemble, but they make a great activity with others, trust me they weren’t as troublesome as you think. We picked up some treated wood from our local Lowe’s, you could also find them from Home Depot too. Just keep in mind if you use treated wood to build the planters, you can’t plant anything that you would eat. If you would like to plant herbs or any consumable plants, you should use cedar wood, which is pricier than treated wood. Since this was trial run we decided to just go with treated wood and make something much smaller, in case we failed.
We wanted to make our planters with the following dimensions (7′ W x 6.5′ H x 27′ L). I have to give credit to this handy boyfriend, we had Lowe’s cut up the bigger side pieces but he had to cut up the rest of the end pieces with a hand saw. We used 2 pieces of 1×6 wood 90 inches each. The planter is held together with 1.5 inch wood screws.
Putting the planter together is probably the fastest process, just a couple of screws and viola, you have a pretty sturdy planter.
When you are done sanding them, you are pretty much all set to put in potting soil as well as the plants of your choice. I have to confess we did spend money to buy another planter from the nursery when I was picking up the herbs this morning since we couldn’t wait any longer for the basil plants that we wanted to plant.
I guess that’s it for today. We got everything that we wanted to get and we went to the Kalamazoo Art Fair 2017 as well. I will write another post talking about the art fair. I hope you guys have as much fun as we did making these planters and starting our small garden. Have fun planting this summer!
Basil is my all time favorite herb, my can’t live without herb. Basil’s aroma simply exudes summer. I love basil on the Caprese salads, or add it into any Thai or Vietnamese dish. Oh did I mention I also love chopped basil on my pizza? My boyfriend and I have been buying fresh basil leaves from the grocery stores, they can get pricey. We are currently in a process of getting a planter so that I can grow some basil plant in my back deck.
Here is another recipe from the Thai cuisine. Basil chicken fried rice is not your typical Thai dish, it’s a little different from the basic basil chicken. I figured since we are always in a hurry, why not just combined basil chicken and fried rice?
1/2 cup of fresh basil
1 large chicken breast
2 large eggs
2 cups of cooked rice
3 tbsp of fish sauce
a pinch of chili flakes
soy sauce to taste
lemon or lime juice
your choice of cooking oil ( I use extra virgin olive oil)
Wash and dice the chicken breast into small prices, alternatively, you can buy ground chicken breast from the grocery.
Heat up your pan and add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan, or enough to cover about 3/4 of your pan. Once your pan is heated add chicken and stir.
Cook your chicken until they start to brown, add a tablespoon of fish sauce and some chili flakes while stirring.
Once your chicken is cooked through and browned, add your basil, stir until basil becomes sott and starts to wrinkle, add fish sauce and chili flakes to taste.
Add your cooked white rice to the chicken and basil, stir well, crack your eggs and add them to the pan and stir well, evenly distributing egg, rice, chicken, and basil throughout the pan.
Once everything is evenly distrubed in the pan, you can add lemon and lime juice, soy sauce, or your choice of seasonings to taste.
I have been traveling a lot lately because of work, didn’t really have the time to make a home cook meal. The perk of being able to travel while working is you get to try a lot of different types of food in different restaurants. It’s always a hit or miss for me, sometimes you get some really good ones, but there are also times when the food isn’t really that nice. The downside is by the end of the trip you are sick and tired of eating out. All you want to do is to eat some home cook meals, it doesn’t matter if it’s just a slice of peanut butter toast or a four course home cooked meal.
Pad Thai is one of most popular dishes that people order from a Thai restaurant. Pad Thai is a stir fried rice noodle dish that is commonly served as a street food in Thailand. I love the peanut sauce that is bursting in flavor, of course you can probably guess that I am a big fan of peanut butter, just like Mylo (my dog).
2 cups of vegetable of your choice
1 cup of bean sprout
1 chicken breast (cubed)
Rice noodles (depends on how much you want to eat)
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp of chili flakes
3 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of lime juice
2 tbsp of spicy thai peanut butter (alternatively you could just use regular peanut butter, or crushed peanuts with chilli flakes for that kick.)
Blanch the noodles in a medium size pot for about 3 minutes. Make sure you do not overcooked the noodles, the noodles should be just cook through but not overly soft.
Combined fish sauce, lime juice, spicy peanut butter with 2 tbsp of hot water. Set aside of later use.
Heat up the frying pan with small amount of oil, add in chicken breast to brown. After the chicken is all browned, add in an egg and scramble along with the chicken.
Combined the rice noodles, bean sprout and vegetable of your choice to the frying pan and stir fry about 2 minutes along with the chicken and egg from earlier.
Add in the sauces that you prepared earlier and make sure you turn down the heat to medium low, so that you do not burn the rice noodles.
Season with salt and white pepper to your own taste.
I like this dish when it’s first come off the stove. This is the dish that I was craving for when I got home, I guess any Thai food would make me very happy after two weeks of eating out. I am also glad I won’t be travelling for a little while, that way I will at least have some time to write and relax just like before.
I haven’t been good for the past week, work has been pretty busy. Now that everything’s been slowing down, Japanese sounds great. Speaking of Japanese cuisine, Miso soup is one of my all time favorite dishes other than sushi. I personally do not think there is something else in this world that can triumph sushi in my book. Miso is a Japanese seasoning that is produced from fermented soybeans. Miso soup is warm, comforting and savory with perfect little bites of tofu (provided you like tofu) and seaweed in every little scoop. You got that right, I do have a lot of love for tofu as well. Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressed into soft white blocks. It’s a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Generally, tofu is bland, it doesn’t have a lot flavor, but they do pick up whatever flavors you decided to put in them.
We have an Asian store in Kalamazoo where I pick up Miso base and tofu from. The store is not as big as Super H-mart but it’s convenient for us to pick up Asian ingredients when we need to. These two ingredients should be a pretty easy find if you have an Asian store around where you live. Shall we talk about seaweed too? Wakame is an edible seaweed that Japanese restaurant usually serve it with soup or salad. You can usually pick up Wakame from Asian market too. With Wakame you will have to re-hydrate them before you cook them.
4 cups of water
1 tbsp of bonito soup base (substitute with vegetable or chicken stock if you don’t have bonito)
1 cup of firm tofu
2 tbsp of Miso paste
2 tbsp of Wakame (you should get a pretty good amount after you re-hydrate them)
Place water and bonito soup base in a pot and bring it to a boil.
Add in the Miso paste, and simmer it on medium low heat for about 10 mins. Stir well to make sure you do not have any clumping of the Miso paste. They should dissolve completely before simmering.
Add the remaining tofu and seaweed into the pot, let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
I personally like to serve my Miso soup hot, you could add some green onions at serving, I didn’t have any on hands so I served it as is. This is a pretty simple recipe, I have days when I crave something warm and light, this is one of my go to.
In one of the older post, I did a very berry smoothie. Today, we are talking about a smoothie recipe that suits the summer time. I came from a tropical country, we have all sort of tropical fruits back in Malaysia, including mango. I loved mango since I was little, I love the sweet mango as well as the raw sour type. I remember my mother used to buy the raw mango and slice them up, we would sit around the dining table and dip the raw mango into a spicy soy sauce that mom used to make. Of course, who doesn’t like the super sweet ripe mango?
One thing that I really like to get in bulk is frozen mango. Costco usually has them pretty cheap in the summer. Did I mention that, Mylo the destroyer loves frozen mango too? We sometimes use it as treats for the naughty puppy. Long story short, everybody in the family loves mango, so let’s get into the ingredients list and how to make this yummy summer time smoothie.
1 cup of frozen mango
2 cups of orange juice
1 Fuji apple
Place all the ingredients in the blender and hit the power button. Blend all the ingredients on high for two minutes.
When it comes to changing seasons, it’s that time of the year for me. I get sick easily, but I don’t like to take medication. I rather eat healthy to make sure I don’t get sick, this smoothie is my vitamin C booster shot. I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Let me know if you have any smoothie suggestions, leave a comment below. I would love to try it out. =)
Chicken picante was one of the first dishes I learned from Vivian while living with her. I am not very sure what type of cuisine this is classified as, my guess is Mexican.
If you know what type of cuisine if this dish please leave a comment below and let me know. Long story short, I like to make this dish when I have a big tub of salsa in my fridge after I am sick of chips. This is a good way to get rid of the salsa before it goes bad.
2 cups of fresh salsa
1 chicken breast (cubed)
1/2 cup of parsley (you could use fresh or dried, I personally prefer fresh parsley but at the moment I only have the dried parsley)
3 tbsp of peach preserve
4 teaspoon of taco seasoning
Heat oil up in a large frying pan, place all the cubed chicken breast in the frying pan to brown.
When they are browned, add in the dried parsley and taco seasoning. (If you have fresh parsley, I would put them in last.)
Add in the fresh salsa and stir in the peach preserve.
Let the dish simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Let’s talk about crêpes today. What about them? Who doesn’t like a little French pastry for breakfast? I still remember a bunch of friends and I used to head to the mall that was right behind our college to grab these delicious suckers. I don’t know why are they so addictive, or rather how. One thing I do know is, they are super easy to make. Just a couple ingredients and a blender, then we are all set to make breakfast.
Here I have a recipe that is really quick and easy. I like to prepare the batter the night before as you know I am the kind of person that gets really hungry after a good nights sleep. Breakfast is not something that I would skip, it doesn’t matter if I only have 5 minutes, I will still have a slice of toast and my cup of coffee.
In one of the conversation I had with my sister recently she mentioned that she was trying to make a crêpe cake. So this two ways crêpe came across my mind, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I can make these for breakfast and they only take a couple minutes? You could also make these crêpe with a savory twist if you would like. I personally prefer them with jams, nutella or cream cheese.
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
2 1/2 tbsp of sugar in the raw
1 tsp of vanilla extract (you could also substitute with vanilla beans)
3 tablespoon of melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
Combined all the ingredients in a blender, blend for 20 seconds.
Store the crêpe batter in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight (of course I preferred overnight).
Heat up a small non-stick pan, with some butter, just enough to coat the pan.
Pour a ladder full of batter into the center of the pan, and swirl quickly to make sure the batter spread as evenly as possible to cover the pan.
Cook the crêpe for about 30 seconds before flipping it.
Cook the other side for about 20 seconds and lay it flat on a dish to let it cool before spreading the jam/ cream cheese.
I hope you guys enjoy the crêpe recipe as much as I do. Let me know if you guys have something in mind that you would me to make. I am always open to suggestions.
I have heard a tons of great things about juicing. Juicing is an easier way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, but on the other hand, you don’t get a lot of fiber that is in the fruits and vegetables. Juicing machines usually extract the juice and leave behind all the pulp, that being said you left all the fiber behind. In addition to that, juicers can be pretty expensive as compare to a blender.
As I mentioned before, juicers are much more expensive than a bender. I spent about two weeks doing research about juicers and blenders. Knowing me, I ended up with a blender, I got my Ninja Professional Blender (BL610) from Amazon while they were on sale. Now that we have the blender, what kind of smoothie should we make? I saw a bag of frozen antioxidant blend berries that I picked up when we were at Costco two weeks ago.
I decided to try out the blender on Sunday morning. What’s better than starting the day with a vitamin C smoothie and a slice of toast?
1 cup of Sunrise Growers Organic Antioxidant Blend
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of kale
1 Fuji apple
Place all the ingredients in the blender and hit the power button. Blend all the ingredients on high for two minutes.
Viola, another smoothie recipe that can be done in one step. My philosophy is, healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Sometimes a simple recipe like this could be just what you need to stay healthy.