Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shrimp or Pork Dumplings

Ok, my friend Megan has asked for this recipe a few I made up a batch just so could take photos and blog it...this one's for you, Megan!

I have made lots of dumplings in my day, but this is the best recipe I have come across, the texture is awesome. In Japan, these are called Gyoza...and they are yummy! But the real star of this recipe is the dipping sauce.

1 lb of shrimp, deveined, shells removed or pork
2 tbsp. cold water
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger (about an inch piece, peeled)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
48 wonton skins, round or square will work.

In the bowl of a food processor add all ingredients and pulse until finely diced. Not too much, you want a nice mince, not a paste. That is the you are ready to make dumplings.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat, and fill a small bowl with a little water. Set up your work station like this:

Pictured above are pork dumplings in round wrappers. Take about a teaspoon of the filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the wonton skin, fold it over and pleat...the pleats aren't important but they give the dumplings great texture.

When you are done, you are ready to cook!

In a large non-stick pan, heat a tbsp. of vegetable oil over med-low heat. Arrange the dumplings neatly in the pan, it is ok if they touch a little. Cook them until the bottoms are browned a bit, about 8-10 minutes.

Then turn up the heat to medium and add a cup of water to the pan. Place a lid over the pan, leave it open slightly for steam to escape. Cook until all the water is gone.

Take this time to make the dipping sauce:

4 tbsp dark sesame oil
4 tsp minced ginger
1 whole sliced scallion, greens and tops
6 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over low heat, add the ginger and scallions, cook just until fragrant...add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Quickly remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Back to the dumplings....after all the water has evaporated, add another tsp of oil towards the center of the pan, and crisp up the bottom of the dumplings, about 3 minutes more.

Use a rubber spatula to loosen the sides of the dumplings and take your serving plate, place it on the top of the pan, then quickly invert the pan and the plate to turn out the dumplings, browned side up. Pour the dipping sauce into a small bowl and serve!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A recipe for Vivi

Ok, so my friend Viviana is trying to cook more and wanted to try something from my I have found a good recipe for Beef & Broccoli stir fry from Martha Stewart's everyday food mag...Give this one a try, Vivi! Let me know how you do and take a pic.

Buttermilk Pancakes

My brother Louis has been making waffles and blogging about it for the last few days, so he put me in the mood for waffles...and being that this is the last day of my birthday I am going out with a is the Gourmet Cookbook recipe for Buttermilk Waffles. You will need a waffle if you have one living in the back of your cabinets, pull it out and dust it off...these are that good!

This recipe makes about 6 waffles, so I cut the recipe in half for Paul and I today. It is actually easy to make for brunch or for a group of people.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp) melted and cooled
3 eggs lightly beaten
Cooking spray for the waffle iron

Set a baking sheet in the oven and set it iat 200 degrees, as you finish the waffles, just pop them in the oven to keep them warm.

Mix the dry ingridients, then add the wet. Batter will be thick.

Spray the waffle iron and add the batter. Don't overfill because they puff up a bit. Transfer to baking sheet to keep warm. Serve immediately.

I served these with sliced strawberries, black berries and toasted walnuts, with maple syrup...yummy!

Mongolian Beef: It's what's for dinner!

So last minute, we decide to have dinner together...our neighbors Heath and Dena I mean. We usually do that at least once a week...Heath said he wanted to make BANG BANG SHIRMP...which is so I took him up on that, and planned the rest of the meal around awesome restaurant inspired food.

I should have taken a pic of the Bang Bang Shrimp...we ate it way too fast. Heath go that inspiration from BoneFish restaurant.

Main course, Mongolian Beef, PF Chang style. This is an excellent recipe and I encorage you all to try it! I found a recipe on line and modified it a bit...adding veggies and making it more of a stir fry. It was really very good...sauce is sweet and savory...oh, I would put a little heat in it too...I added a 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flake, but next time I would do more, and even maybe some chili oil or Sambal.


I prepped all of my food ahead of time...this is called "mise en place", (pronounced [miz on plas], literally "put in place") it is a french term for having everything ready before you begin to cook. This is essential for stir fry.


For dessert, I wanted something that would tie in with my whole asian I made Nutella and Banana filled wontons and served them with vanilla ice cream...yum!

I made sure the edges were sealed with a ravioli cutter...and they looked more fancy that way.



Mongolian Beef: PF Chang's Style:



For Sauce
• 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
• 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp Chili Flake
• 1 tsp Sesame Oil
• 1 cup soy sauce
• 1/2 cup chicken stock
• 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

For Stir Fry
• peanut oil, for stir frying
•  2lb flank steak
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1 large white onion
• 1 red bell pepper
• 3 scallions, cut into thirds, then sliced longways (thin slices) (plus extra for garnish)
• 1/2 cup snow peas
• 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
• 1/2 tsp of Galangal (thai ginger, you can find this at Whole Foods)
• 1/2 tsp of Fresh lemongrass, chopped finely (I used my mini food processor)
• 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
• 2 tablespoons garlic, minced

Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add 1 tsp. ginger and 2 tablespoons of garlic to the pan, then chili flake, sesame oil and quickly add the soy sauce, water, chicken stock and rice wine vinegar. before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Place the meat in a large ziploc bag and add in about 1/2 cup of your sauce mixure. Marinate meat for 1 hour in the fridge.

When you are ready to begin, remove the steak from the fridge, and let come to room temp, about 15 minutes. Put the cornstarch into a large bowl, then add beef, being careful not to put too much of the remaining marinade into the bowl. Toss the beef in the cornstarch to coat, shaking off excess and lying onto a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer (this helps with clean up!) Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks. Cornstarch helps take the moisture from the surface of the beef, giving you a nice sear on the meat, and will help thicken the sauce.

Heat up a few tablespoons of peanut oil (that is pretty much my standard for stir fry, has a high smoke point so it doesn't burn too easily). Heat the oil over medium hi heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef in small batches, not to crowd the wok. This is a lot of meat, so you can probably get it all done in about 4 batches. Stir fry until the beef just begins to darken on the edges, about 2 minutes. You don't have to worry about cooking the meat all the way thru, as it will go back into the pan later. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.

Now it is time to stir fry the veggies. Turn the heat up to Hi and add more oil if you need to. Add all the veggies and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add back the beef and 1/2 cup of the sauce and stir fry for about 5 minutes more. You will see the snow peas turn very bright green, which means it is time to take it all out of the wok and onto your serving dish.

Add the rest of the sauce into the wok, and cook till it begins to want the sauce to reduce a bit in volume, so cook for about 2 minutes. In a small bowl, take a tablespoon of cornstarch and add a tablespoon of COLD water and mix it up until all the lumps are can add a bit more water if you need to. This is called a Slurry. Add the slurry to the sauce, and mix well. You will see the sauce thicken almost immediately. Remove the sauce from the heat, and pour over your Mongolian beef. Sprinkle the top with the reserved green onions and serve with steamed Jasmine Rice.



My Mariachi Birthday

So, I turned 35 on Friday...hmmm, not too depressing...decided to have a fun weekend with some of my best friends. So Friday night, Heath & Dena and Viviana joined Paul and I for a mexican dinner at Los Generalles. Great place. I really like it cuz it isn't a chain...i am totally gonna support and represent! Ole! Here are the highlights:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vivi Laugh Test

Inspired by the "try not to laugh" vid I posted earlier...Vivi tried to make us laugh by doing this silly thing...I think it kind of worked:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chocolate Ganache Tart

I just watched the latest episode of Everyday Baking. I have vowed to bake more this year...though I don't need all of the sweets or carbs, I am trying to become a better cook all off I go.

John Barricelli is an amazing baker...he is one of Martha's favorite and if you haven't seen his show, he is awesome. The recipes are very easy, and his demonstrations are so easy to follow. This ganache looked so silky and luscious...I have to try it. Here is a link to the recipe and his demo video, and you can see how simple this is to make.


Serves 10
3 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds
6 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make dough: In a food processor, pulse almonds until finely ground. Add sugar, flour, zest (if desired), and salt; pulse until combined. Add butter, pulsing until coarse crumbs form with no large butter lumps (dough should clump together when squeezed with fingers).
Immediately transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a measuring cup, evenly press dough in bottom and up sides of pan.
Bake in center of oven until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
Make ganache: Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour hot cream, through a sieve, over chocolate. Stir until smooth and creamy in texture. Mix in vanilla.
Pour chocolate mixture into center of cooled tart shell (if chocolate is lumpy, pass through a sieve). Let stand until set, about 2 hours, or chill for 1 hour.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rocky Road Brownies

I made these for my 4th of July Party and they were a big hit. So easy, and a decadent take on the regular brownie. Leave off the toppings and this is a great brownie recipe...much better than the box mixes.

This is also from the June 08 Everyday Foods Magazine.

These chocolatey treats are topped with a chewy layer of marshmallows, nuts, and even more chocolate. The kids will hardly be able to wait until the brownies are cool!

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 45 minutes plus cooling
Makes 16

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as cashews, pecans, or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat; stir in sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, then marshmallows and nuts. Bake until chocolate is shiny and marshmallows are puffed, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

Helpful Hint
To prevent toppings from sinking into the batter, sprinkle them on after brownies are baked. An extra 5 minutes in the oven melts the topping together for easy slicing.

Warm Chicken Wing Dip

My brother Louis gave me this recipe, and I make it for every party because people just love it.

1 8 0z package Cream Cheese
1 cup of cooked shredded chicken
Crystal or Red Devil Hot Sauce (5 tbsp or to taste)
Ranch Dressing (1/4 cup, or to taste)

We like to throw everything in to the crock pot and let it melt together. Eat it with my opinion that is the only way!

You could also mix all of the ingredients into a casserole dish, top with shreadded cheddar cheese and bake on 350 for 20 min until warm and bubbly.

I know this is a very simple recipe, but believe me, people LOVE IT!!! Make a double batch!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Where The Light Is

So I just picked up John Mayer's new live CD/DVD set called "Where The Light Is" and I know I am bias, but it is excellent. For any JM fan, it is a must have. I can't tell you how many times I am brought to tears by hearing him sing...I know that is corny, but it is so the truth! Also picked up tickets to see this show. It isn't any new material, just JM doing 3 different sides of himself, in 3 different sets. No opening acts...just John. First Acoustic, then with the JM Trio, then with his full band. Me and Viviana are going to Tampa on August 30th for the show and I can't wait!! You should check it out.

4th of July Bash

Well I would call our 4th of July party a jolly old time. We almost got rained out, but we had great food and a good group, so it turned out just fine. Here are a few highlights:

My Flag Cake

The Spread


Viviana and Garland

The Pool

Jello Shots Anyone?

Todd & Andrea

Firecrackers are fun!

Fire Below!

Welcome to the Gun Show

Gun Show Part Deux

The New Bar

Lemon Squares

I made these for my 4th of July Party. I thought they were great. The recipe is simple and takes no time at all. This recipe is from the June 08 edition of Everyday Food Magazine. I made them 3 days ahead. I froze the leftovers. Very, very tart, but oh so good if you love lemon.


Makes 16
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.

Yummy Poppy Seed Cake

I got this recipe from a family friend. It is one of her old standbys and it is so good. Similar to a banana bread.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 Jar Poppy Seeds
8 oz Canola Oil
4 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
13 oz. Milk

Sift all dry ingredients. Add liquids until smooth. Add poppy seeds and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Use a 10" bundt cake pan, no grease. Bake on 350 for 1 hr, 10 min.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ok...try not to laugh

This is a funny video I just stumbled watch it and try not to laugh...let me know how you do:

Try Not To Laugh - Watch more free videos

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Peller Estates Dinner

On a business trip, we had a dinner at the Peller Estates in Ontario Canada.

Peller Estates Dinner

Peller Estates Dinner
I just had to share this photo of the table. The 6 course meal featured a different glass of wine with every course, and the tables were set up so beautifuly with all of the glasses. I loved it! The food was extraoridnary too!

Peller Estates Dinner

We had dinner right in the wine cellar. It was dark and intimate, all candle lit. For someone who didn't like wine, this wasn't the place, but Heaven for me!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

4th of July Menu

Ok, I think I have settled on my 4th of July Menu:

Smoked Ribs
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Bacon Wrapped Lil Smokies with brown sugar Glaze
Corn on the Cob
7 Layer Bean Dip
Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
Rocky Road Brownies
Creamy Lemon Squares

Tonight I made my brownies and Lemon Squares. These recipes are easy, I will post them for you tomorrow.

Now I am going to bed.

Love those Little Smokies!

I usually pull out the slow cooker and have some little smokies simmering in grape jelly and chili sauce (I know, may sound weird, but my friend Dena showed me this one and it is pretty good!) but I want to try something different. Not sure which I will do, but here are a few different recipes I found for Little Smokies:

Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies

1 pkg. Lil' Smokies cocktail sausages
1 lb. bacon
1 c. brown sugar

Cut bacon into 2 1/2 - 3 inch strips. Wrap one strip around each sausage. Secure it with a toothpick. Roll each piece in brown sugar until coated. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, or until bacon is done.


1 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 pkgs. smokies

Mix brown sugar, flour and mustard in saucepan. Add juice and remaining ingredients. Cook until slightly thick. Add the packages of smokies. Keep warm in the crockpot.


1 package of Little Smokies (1 lb.1 can beer (may need less – watch the sauce)
1 jar of BBQ sauce (about 2 cups)
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 TBS. ketchup
1 tsp. mustard

Put the Smokies in a skillet with the beer and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the Smokies and put in the crock pot with the BBQ sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. If the mixture looks too thick, add a little beer – not much. Just a splash or so as indicated.

Let these simmer along a couple of hours.

Little Smokie Pockets

2 packs of canned biscuits
Little Smokies – 1 per biscuit (cut in half)
BBQ sauce
Cheddar Cheese

Cut the Little Smokies in half long-wise. And, then place those in the middle of the rolled out biscuits.

Top the Smokies with the barbecue sauce and cheese. Don’t overdo it. It doesn’t take much to add a bit of flavor.

Roll the biscuits up around the Little Smokies and seal off by mashing the edges tight.

Bake at 375 degrees F for around 15 minutes. Times can vary depending on the oven. When the bread is done (nicely browned), the Lit’l Smokies are ready.

Mai Tai Jello Shots

Looking for recipes for my upcoming 4th of July bash, I found this yummy recipe for Jello Shots...but Mai Tai jello shots...sound pretty good. usually, Jello shots are harsh made with Vodka and green jello, yuck...these sound kinda tasty! I might have to give them a try.

Mai Tai Jello Shots
6 oz. Tropical Jello (large box)
16 oz. Boiling Water
2 oz. Light Rum
4 oz. Dark Rum
2 oz. Pineapple Juice

Mix Jello with boiling water until dissolved. Add the rest of the water and the alcohol. Pour the mixture into either shot glasses or paper cups, chill and serve.