Friday, April 29, 2011

Strawberry Cake Mix Recipe

I made this easy strawberry cake on the weekend and turned out pretty well. I didn't feel like baking from scratch so I used a box of vanilla cake mix and added fresh sliced strawberries to the batter before baking it. I used storebought strawberry icing and covered the cake in it.

I suppose I can't really call this a cake mix recipe since all I did was add fresh sliced strawberries to it, but it did change the flavor enough to make people think it was made from scratch. I sometimes add fresh lemon zest to lemon cake mix and that really freshens up the cake too.

Do you have any favorite cake mix recipes? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Rolls

These are mini spring rolls or two bite spring rolls as some may like to call them. My nephew calls them egg rolls, but in my opinion, it doesn't really matter what they are called as long as they are fresh and taste great!

The egg roll filling contains ground chicken instead of ground pork (so I guess you can even call them chicken egg rolls) and also a bit of shredded carrot. I usually add chopped shrimp to the filling when I make pork spring rolls (or pork egg rolls), but in chicken spring rolls, shrimp doesn't seem to be a good fit.

Here is a simple chicken egg roll recipe that I usually make. It can also be substituted with pork if you would like to make pork egg rolls.

For the filling:

In a large bowl, combine, 1 pound of ground chicken (substitute with ground pork if you prefer pork spring rolls) with 1 egg, 1.5 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp.salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 2 tsp. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil, 1 shredded carrot.
Mix well.

Scoop a tablespoonful of the mixture onto an egg roll wrapper, spreading it out lengthwise (left to right), but leaving 2 cm of empty space on the left and right sides.

Fold the right and left sides of the wrapper over the filling, then roll the spring roll away from you to form the spring roll.

Have a small bowl of water ready. Dip your fingers in the water and wet the end of the roll to seal it closed.

Deep fry them in some vegetable oil until they are light or medium golden brown and let them cool a bit before eating.

As for the egg roll sauce, I usually dip mine in sweet chilli sauce which can sometimes be found in the international aisle at the supermarket. Plum sauce works well too if you don't like spicy sauces.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicken and Sundried Tomato Fettucine

This is a really easy and quick pasta that I enjoy. I just cook some fettuccine noodles and top it with chicken (pan fried and then sliced) and storebought sundried tomato alfredo sauce with added frozen spinach. I simply add the sauce and spinach together in a saucepan and heat it up. I then pan fry fresh, washed asparagus in a pan and add it to the side. The asparagus is not necessary, but sometimes I just happen to have some in the fridge so I add it on the side.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fresh Homemade Bread

On the weekend we made a couple loaves of fresh bread. Everyone seems to love fresh bread so it doesn't last much longer than a day or two. It probably wouldn't taste as good after the first or second day anyways so I guess it's a good thing it gets eaten up quickly.

The bread is nice soft on the inside and crispy on the outside when it first comes out of the oven.  After a few hours, it is still soft and moist on the inside, but the outside softens a bit as well and is not quite as crispy.

My parents got the bread recipe from a neighbor of theirs after he had given them a loaf of bread that he had made. They liked it so much and loved the fact that they didn't need a bread machine to make it.

Here is the simple, yet delicous bread recipe:

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons yeast

2 cups of warm water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

10 cups flour

We used a KitchenAid Mixerwith the dough hook attachment to mix the bread dough and started off by putting the first 3 ingredients (1 cup warm water, 1 tsp. sugar and 2 tbsp. yeast) in the KitchenAid Mixing Bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Then add the next 3 ingredients (2 cups warm water, 1 tbsp. salt and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Mix well.

Add 1 cup of flour and mix until smooth.

Gradually mix in 9 cups of flour. The dough should still be a bit wet and elastic.

Cover the bowl with a clothand let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into 3 even pieces. Place each piece of dough in separate Bread Pans, cover them with a clothand let them sit for 1 hour longer.

Bake them at 400 F for 20 minutes.

That's it, fresh homemade bread!

My favorite way to have the bread is with butter on it, but sometimes I have it plain with a bowl of nice hot soup.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Potlucks and Food Exchanges

I used to love cooking a variety of different recipes in a single day, including appetizers, entrees, desserts and everything in between. Cooking many different foods takes a lot of time and effort, so lately I have been thinking of having a potluck or some sort of food exchange. In my opinion, it is much easier to cook one single item, but in a large quantity rather than several different items in smaller quantities.

Having a potluck is always a fun way to get together with friends and to learn about different foods that you may not have otherwise heard of or tried. Everyone would bring one dish of their choice, but would get to enjoy a bit of several different dishes.

A food exchange is also a nice way to visit with friends and perhaps get some new recipes. My favorite type of food exchange is when everyone brings enough entrees (that can be frozen) for each person attending the event. For instance, If I choose to make lasagna and there were 8 other people bringing food as well, then I would bring 8 portions of lasagna. Each portion would serve 4 to 6 people and can be frozen for a future meal. This works out well, because there are so many frozen meals that can be made in advance such as sheppard's pie, lasagna, dumplings/potstickers, pasta sauce, soup, chicken, beef or turkey pot pies and so many other dishes as well. You only have to make a large quantity of one item to bring to the food exchange and get to go home with 8 different meals!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

5 Tips for Being Successful When Trying a New Recipe

Whenever I try a new recipe, it doesn't always turn out well. Sometimes it turns out really great and sometimes, no one even wants to eat it! I would like to share a few tips on how to increase the chances of being successful when trying a new recipe, and should really remember to follow them myself.

1. Make sure your workspace (ie. kitchen counter) is clean and tidy - This tip is important even when preparing a recipe that you've made several times, because it can help keep you organized.

2. Read the entire recipe a few times before starting - This is important, because I don't know how many times I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, only to miss a step in the instructions. Reading the entire recipe a few times before starting to cook will help you to be prepared and not miss any crucial instructions.

3. Make sure you have all of the ingredients needed - This helps to ensure that you are not missing any key ingredients that may alter the taste of the recipe.

4. Make sure you have all the cooking tools needed - Without the necessary tools or cooking equipment, you may not be able to complete the recipe. I learned this the hard way a few times and had to turn the desired dish into a totally different one altogether.

5. Relax and have fun! - Things usually turn out better when you are relaxed and having fun, so I had to add in this casual tip.

If you have any good cooking tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Favorite Comfort Food........ A Turkey Dinner

There aren't many meals that are better than a good old turkey dinner. Usually we have turkey for special occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, but nowadays they sell turkey legs or turkey meat in smaller portions at the grocery store. It makes it easy to just pick up whichever I prefer and roast it for a bit in the the oven.

The corn and beans are always easy to prepare especially when purchased frozen or canned. For the gravy, I usually freeze some from the holidays and can use that, but canned gravy or gravy mix are good options as well.

Stuffing can be of the instant variety too, since my thoughts are comfort food shouldn't require too much work. I almost always make the mashed potatoes from scratch though since they are easy to make.

There it is. An easy, comforting meal on just any regular weeknight. What is your favorite comfort food? Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Coconut & Rice Flour Dumplings

These aren't really dumplings, but I'm not quite sure exactly what they are called. They are made with rice flour and coconut milk and filled with ground pork and bean sprouts. They taste really good when they are fresh and are great as an appetizer. Some people like to eat them as a meal, but for me, I would have to add a salad or some sort of vegetable on the side.

I rarely make them (probably only once a year) because it is so time consuming to cook them and I'm not good at making them. Sometimes they end up burnt or don't turn out right! Lol.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

My favorite cake is strawberry shortcake and my family really likes it as well. I don't have a lot of time to bake these days, but I still try to whenever I get the chance. If there is a birthday or special occasion coming up and I know I won't be able to bake a cake, I will almost always go out and buy a strawberry shortcake.

I can make the cake part of the cake and it is quite easy to go out and purchase some strawberries to put on top. However, the cream part of it really is a mystery to me. I sometimes buy a carton of heavy cream and whip it up, but it never seems to be as rich and delicious as the cream on the cakes that I buy. I really wonder if there is a secret ingredient or special way of making it.
Please leave a comment below if you have any tips on this. I would love to know!

Have a sweet day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strawberries with Milk and Sugar

Strawberries are so delicious on their own, but when I want a special treat, I top them off with condensed milk and turbanado sugar. It adds that extra sweetness and creamy flavor that goes so well with strawberries.

It is a really quick and easy dessert to make as well if you don't have too much time to bake and need something to serve after dinner.

You just hull some fresh strawberries and wash them. Then you cut them into slices and put them into individual bowls an top with a spoonful of condensed milk and turbanado sugar which adds a nice sweet crunch.

Instead of turbanado sugar, you can just use a bit of regular white sugar or skip the sugar all together since the condensed milk is already quite sweet. I just like the texture and crunch it adds to each bite.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pretty Papaya

Papaya is one of my favorite fruits because of the smooth texture, juiciness and great flavor. It is usually available all year round here, however, it is not necessarily delicious every time. It is imported here from different countries that have a more tropical climate than we have here so I try to avoid buying it during the winter months as I noticed they don't ripen as well or taste as flavorful as they do in the summer. Spring has just begun so I figure it would be okay to try one now. The papaya probably made it's way here while it was still winter, but I really couldn't wait. This papaya ended up tasting okay. It was a bit bland, but the texture was good and there was some sweetness to it.

Papayas are also really easy to prepare. You just peel them, cut them in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
Then you slice them into long pieces or into smaller cubes and you're all set. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hot and Sour Soup

I went to a birthday party this past weekend and the hosts served different types of international food. This hot and sour soup was one of the appetizers. I have tried hot and sour soup before, but didn't really care for it. Probably because one of the ingredients in hot and sour soup is bamboo and I don't like bamboo. However, this hot and sour soup was actually quite good. It had bamboo in it, but I couldn't taste or smell a the bamboo as much as I had in previous hot and sour soups that I have had before. My guess is that they boiled or cooked the bamboo before adding it to the soup and in other soups I have had, maybe they just added it in and cooked it right into the soup. Either way, this was one of the better hot and sour soups I have tasted and I actually finished by portion of it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pretty Delicious Cupcakes

We went out to dinner for my friend's birthday and brought these delicious cupcakes from a local cupcake shop. There were lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing, and double chocolate! I usually like to bake my own cupcakes, but didn't have time since we went out on a weeknight. It was a nice treat to have a few different flavors, because if I had baked them, we only would have had one flavor...........vanilla with vanilla buttercream!
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