Monday, March 28, 2011

homemade goodness

Hello my peeps!!  Yes, it's been a while since the last post.  So let's just skip over the reasons why I've been busy and just jump right on in, shall we?

I got this new cookbook - Cook This, Not That - and I got hungry just by looking at the pictures.  I think this is a great book for people wanting to cut down on calories with easy recipes, because all of these recipes look really simple.  The first one I tried is this baked ziti chicken sausage dish (I'm going to post the recipe below from memory because friend L is currently borrowing the book).  The book says that you could eat a pasta dish at the Olive Garden for 1000+ calories or eat this dish for 375 calories (give or take).  It was incredibly quick and easy to make, and plus, I have dinner for the week.

ziti and chicken sausage

And now, for the apple pie.  What, did you all think I was going to give up sweets just because I got the cookbook?  HA!  You don't know me very well, then.

apple pie

Anyway, the apple pie.  MMM, yes.  I have had this craving for apple pie for the last two weeks.  So this weekend, I got me some apples to make me a pie.  This is my third time making an apple pie from scratch.  Well, okay, almost scratch - I bought the pie crust.  Come on now, if I was so busy for the last two weeks to even find time to make an apple, I don't have time to make pie dough from scratch!  I promise I will attempt pie dough one day, though.

This was a Betty Crocker recipe, and it took less baking time because I think it had to do with the many holes created by the basket weaved top.  The apples inside also did not collapse when I took the pie out of the oven, something that happened to both of the last two pies I made.  I also need to figure out a way to keep the crust from burning.  Any suggestions?

The only thing missing from the apple pie was vanilla ice-cream.


Baked Ziti with Chicken Sausage


2 links chicken sausage
1 box whole wheat penna pasta
1 can 28 oz tomato puree
1 cup mozzarella
minced garlic
olive oil
half an onion (omitted here because I don't like onions)
fresh basil leaves (I think at least 1/4 cup, but more or less depending on your taste)


1.  Cook the pasta until almost done and drain.  Cook the sausage and cut into slices.
2.  In a separate pan, brown the onions and garlic with the olive oil.  Add the sausage slices and tomato puree until bubbling.  Add the pasta.
3.  Pour the past/chicken/tomato mix into a lasagna pan (9x13).  Using a wooden spoon, mix in the mozzarella cheese and basil.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.  Then take the foil off and bake for another 10 minutes.
4.  Serve with garlic bread and parmesan cheese, if desired, and chow down guilt free!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit!!

Chúc Mùng Năm Mới!


Happy Lunar New Year!

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.

Click here for info on your zodiac animal.

I found the pictures through Google Images.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

chinatown flower festival

The Chinatown Flower Festival kick starts the lunar new year celebration in San Francisco. The streets of Chinatown are blocked off from traffic so many flower vendors and other vendors can set up tents along the street. Even though the weather was a bit on the gloomy side this year, people were in high spirits. Here are some pictorial highlights from the festival.

Lots of vendors selling flowers:

San Francisco Chinatown Flower Festival

new year blooms

good luck money tree

orchids galore

Lots of vendors selling other knick knacks for the new year:

Lunar New Year decorations

Winnie the Pooh celebrates Lunar New Year too!

new year decorations

There was a lot of plastic statues this year...

hanging out with the man of the street

plastic princesses

golden tiger on the prowl

And something I will never get out of my head:
pig snouts

I am looking forward to the New Year Parade and Street Fair, marking the end of the two week celebration.  Crossing my fingers that it will be sunny during President's Day weekend!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

frying games

Looky what I got as the latest addition to my kitchen gadgets!

the newest addition to the kitchen

I was so excited to try it out, the first thing I made were eggrolls (my recipe here). So here is my leaning tower of eggrolls waiting to take a plunge in the deep fryer.
my leaning tower of uncooked eggrolls

getting ready for fry day (hahaha)

I was actually able to stick in about a dozen eggrolls in one basket for frying.

watching the frying process

all fried up

That was such a good dinner! I'll have to make it again soon.
Quyen's bun cha gio (eggroll vermicelli)

The one thing I learned from this first deep frying experience is to buy a gallon size bottle of oil. Why? Because I grossly underestimated how much oil was needed for the MINIMUM fill line, and I had to run out and buy more oil. I probably would know how much oil is needed if I had read the instructions that came along with the deep fryer but who has time to read the user's manual when there are goodies to be deep fried?!

Also, after the deep frying goodness, I left the oil to cool down overnight. In the morning, when I went to pour the oil back into the bottles for disposal, the oil was still very clear and actually looked good for reusing because all the fried sediments were at the bottom of the pan. I wasn't sure if you could actually reuse the oil, so I googled it. And guess what? You can reuse frying oil - see here. So at least that saves you from buying a gallon of oil every time you want to deep fry something.

And I think every food enthusiast should have a deep fryer in their kitchen. =)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

crab feed

L & G, my west coast parents, have always raved about the crab feeds they go to every year. They know I love to eat crabs but every time the go to a crab feed, I've always been away at school. So now that I'm all done and gradumacated, I told them to sign me up for the next crab feed. And they did not disappoint. The actual crab feed, however, is another matter...

The crab feed we went to was sponsored by the Harley Davidson chapter of Vacaville, California. Hee-haw...oh wait, wrong, what do bikers say? Anyways, I was the YOUNGEST person there and everyone else could have easily been my parents or even grandparents. It was a fun bunch of people though. L & G were so proud to introduce me as a brand new attorney and I just kept getting redder and redder.

Well, here's the set-up of the table:
Crab Feed
As you can see, there's a nice big bucket for the crab shell disposal. And a lot of people brought their own butter warmer contraptions. I like my crab meat au natural.

The dinner started with some salad, followed by spaghetti. I guess they wanted us to fill up on carbs to ensure that everyone would have enough crab to eat. They didn't fool. I passed up the salad and the spaghetti, waiting for the never ending crab that was promised to me.
house salad

Does this bowl of crab look so good? A bowl all to myself! Well, ok, not really...there was one bowl per table and we had to pass it around, but with the amount I ate, I probably did eat about an entire bowl's worth.
my bowl of crabs

There was just one problem with this crab feed - the crab were cold. I mean, it was cooked and all, but then the crab was on ice until serving. I seem to be the only person at the table - the whole dining hall - to be disappointed that the crab was cold. Seriously, I don't think I ever ate cold crab meat (well, unless I took my sweet ass time picking the crab meat). The art of eating crab right from the shell is just a lot better when the crabs are steaming hot right from the pot. Or at least warm. I'll take warm. But cold? These people obviously don't know how much better a crab feed would have been if the crabs had come out hot.

With that said, I wasn't going to sit and not eat any crab, even if it was cold crab meat. So I sat and ate. I was the last person still cracking and picking at crab meat. I only had to stop because our server said there was no more crab left. And L didn't believe that I could eat that much crab - she thought I was going to be full before they ran out. I wasn't full. I was just satisfied. And that was fine by me.

There was also a raffle at the crab feed. G and I had bought $20 worth of raffle tickets (that's 20 tickets for the prize raffle and 20 tickets for the money raffle). We had three winning tickets for the prize raffle - winning three different bottles of wine from Napa and a bag of candles. We did not win the money raffle. All in all, it was fun, even if I did spend the evening with a room full of old people - who were all young at heart. =)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

chai shai

My last meal during my KC visit was at Chai Shai, a cute little Pakastani place near the law school and the neighborhood where I used to live. This is my first time having Pakastani fare, so I was being a bit adventurous. And my first experience was pretty good. It's a little like Indian food, but not as intense and I didn't end up smelling like Indian food for the rest of the night.

This was their chickpea special of the night.
the chickpea special

I had the chicken boti dinner, which was basically grilled chicken in some delicious spicy sauce.
chicken boti dinner

If you're in the KCMO area, I would recommend this place, especially if you're looking for some non-BBQ food.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

bass pro shop

During my visit to KCMO, D and I went to Bass Pro Shop, the Wal-Mart for outdoorsmen.

Bass Pro Shop

No, we didn't need to buy any hunting gear. Our intention was to go there for lunch, and then I could be the city girl who goes "ohmygosh - there's a stuffed bear!!" which I did for all of 15 minutes before the awe of taxidermy lost its appeal.

See, lots of pictures of stuffed animals!


Life size bear

Even little critters

Taxidermy in action
what out little wolf!

Not all things in this store were stuffed. There was a tank of live fish too.

that's one huge fish!

And that fuzzy thing in the bottom right corner is the 103 lb Bessie.
that blob is Bess, the largest catfish in the tank

After D finished leading me through the aisles of dead animals, we made it to our lunch spot, Fish Company Restaurant, where there were also fishies hanging from the ceiling, but they looked more plastic than stuffed.

Lunch was pretty good, but then fried food is always good.

Fresh bread from the oven with cinnamon sugar on top - OHHHH SOOOO GOOOD
fresh bread

Fish and chips - the fish was sweet and flaky, and did not taste a bit fishy.
fish & chips

Popcorn shrimp
popcorn shrimp

Now I can say that I experienced all things country.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

new year eats

My dear friend and law school classmate got married on New Year's Day (1.1.11). It was a touching ceremony and a beautiful reception, very simple but elegant. I didn't get a picture of the bride and groom, but I got plenty of pictures of the food!

The food was set up as a buffet style but instead of a long line of food, there were different stations with different food. So people easily got their food without having to wait too long in line at any one station.

The first was the appetizer table of cheese, crackers and artichoke dip. Me likes the artichoke dip.

This is a GREAT idea - the veggie tree:

It was a bit difficult to actually take the veggies off of the tree, but the presentation is so creative, so what if you can't eat it?

Salad martini glasses and puff pastry with beef (beef wellington?). The salad martini glasses is another creative way of serving salad!

The dessert bar - a chocolate fondue fountain with strawberries, pineapple bits, banana slices, rice crispy treats, and cream puffs for the dipping!

Isn't the groom's cake so adorable?

There was no wedding cake but lots of yummy vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, which sadly, I don't have a picture of. You can kinda see the chocolate cupcake in this photo. They look like Hostess cupcakes but the swigglies are in fact the letters C and V.

Oh wait, here's a pic of the lovely couple sharing their wedding cupcake!

Congratulations you two lovebirds!