I am back! :)

So the past few months have been hectic with school and work which explains my long absence from my loving food blog. I thought I saved my easiest classes for my last semester of college, but I was wrong. With only a few months left, I now look forward to the joy of job hunting. Just to catch up on what’s been going on the past few months, I mentioned being in the North Carolina Dance Festival this past January and it was a spectacular experience! I’ve made new friends and explored a new realm of dance that I didn’t think I could do. The concept of our piece was unique featuring lots of stillness and film projections.

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This was an experience that was very joyful and I am so glad that I’ve had the honor to work with a wonderful choreography and have made silly friends for life.

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Moving on, I had a wonderful girls night with my friends the other night. It was nice to be able to catch up with good friends and the best part was fondue was involved! Downtown Wilmington has a lovely place called the Little Dipper. They offer Ladies’ Nights every Wednesday and reservations are a must. It took us two weeks to get one, but it was so worth it. For $8 a person, we got a cheese fondue and a chocolate one (which are super delicious). Oh! I also tried my first edible orchid which taste really bland, but the chocolate helped 🙂

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On the positive side, I found the Flat Belly Diet. I thought it was very unique and different from others so I thought I would give it a try. Needless to say, I had no self-control so maybe another day haha. It is unique in the fact that it targets bloating and the fat in the belly area. The book offers many different food combinations and minimal work and the best part is…..you can eat and not be hungry and mean! My favorite part of the book is the SASSY WATER which is part of the cleanse for the first four days. (By the way, you get to eat during the cleanse so it’s still healthy unlike other cleanses that require starving yourself.) The sassy water is meant to aid digestion and reduce bloating to get you to begin eating healthier. I liked how the water tasted so I still try to make a pitcher a day to drink. It even looks refreshing!

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To make sassy water, you need 1 medium size lemon, 1 medium size cucumber, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, and 12 mint leaves. In the picture, I used limes instead of lemons because I already had them. I don’t know if it makes a difference or not. Part of the cleanse is to drink 1 pitcher a day which was surprisingly easy since it was so tasty. What you’ll need to do is slice the cucumber and lemon into thin slices to add to the water along with the leaves. I used fresh ginger and grated it directly into the water. Let it steep overnight then enjoy the next day! 🙂

I hope you enjoy the sassy water as much as I did and check out the Flat Belly Diet book! Many of their meals are inexpensive and they offer choices for if you eat out, quick foods, and home cooked meals as well as snacks!

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries for a Stuffed Weekend

I realize I have been slacking on my daily postings! It’s time to get back on my A game with this. I’ve been trying to tone my body so my clothes fit better and to keep the weight I lost from when I traveled to France off for good! That plus school is taking a toll. I had a semi event filled weekend. I drove home to Raleigh to celebrate my mom’s and sister’s birthday (October 30 and November 4) since I can’t drive this weekend due to exams the following week. Last night we had an Asian Student Association meeting (which I am President of by the way) and it was very successful. Now, UNC-Wilmington’s Asian population is pretty dismal so considering we had 21 people show up, even if they weren’t all Asian, is pretty good. For once, everyone came excited to do stuff (granted no one had ideas for anything), but we played Pictionary and decided on a date for a Potluck dinner. To get back on topic of what I’m sharing today, I made my mom cheesecake stuffed strawberries for her birthday instead of a cake since no one ever eats the cake except my 5 year old cousin and she wants the whole thing which is never a good idea. It was surprisingly easy and turned out tasty considering I didn’t follow the cheesecake instructions. To lower cost, I didn’t make the cheesecake from scratch, but I will still include it because if you happen to have all the ingredients in your kitchen then you’d still save money. I used a no bake cheesecake mix and a box of strawberries. The cheesecake mix will easily make two boxes of strawberries, maybe three, but since it was just my mom and sister, I made one box and used the leftover mix to make mini cheesecake cupcake.

First, remove the top of the strawberries and hollow it out so there’s a hole inside. Then, mix the cheesecake mix according to the instructions. I used a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the tip cut off to easily fill the strawberries with the cheesecake mix. You’ll need something to stand the strawberries up with. I got lucky and found my mom’s mini bundt pans so the strawberries fit perfectly in a circle there, but I feel like a cupcake pan will work too. Once I filled them and stood them up, I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on top and refrigerated them for an hour so that the cheesecake mix can solidify more. If you use the cheesecake directions below to make it from scratch then you can serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later. This was quick, easy, and tasty. Next time, I’m going to try freezing them to save as snacks for later instead of munching on junk food.

To make the cheesecake from scratch, you’ll need 8 oz. softened cream cheese,  3-4 tbsp powdered sugar (4 tbsp for a sweeter filling), and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Beat the three ingredients together in a bowl till its creamy and proceed to fill the strawberries to serve immediately. 

Chicken…Rice…Fast Meal!

One thing I always keep stocked in my freezer are the big bags of frozen chicken breasts. They are usually pricey, but when they’re on sale, it is very cheap. Sometimes, it’ll be buy 2 and get 3 free so my friend and I will split the cost and the chicken. Another fabulous item that my mom introduced to me because she doesn’t want me eating ramen noodles all the time (haha!) is Knorr’s Chicken Flavored Rice.

They come in lots of flavors AND they have pasta if you don’t like rice. It costs about $1 a packet. Now, when I’m lazy I just cook it and eat it as is. It’s already seasoned so all I do is add water, but when I want a little more nutrition I’ll add real chicken and broccoli which leads to today’s wonderful post. (This is the same rice packet I use for my chicken casserole recipe too by the way.)

When I make this with chicken and broccoli, I marinate my chicken first. I cut the chicken (usually one chicken breast or two chicken tenderloins) into cubes and marinate with a teaspoon of sesame oil, two tablespoons of oyster sauce, and garlic and onion powder. I let it marinate while I cook the rice as directed on the packet. Then I stir fry the chicken in a pan and mix it into the rice. If I use frozen broccoli then I boil it for about 3-5 minutes then mix it in to the rice as well.

It’s fast to make and I can have a meal and a small leftover for later on. Plus I can make my mom proud since it includes my protein, carbs, and vegetables 🙂

2012 NY Street Ramen Contest Round 3 *pix heavy*

We NEED this at UNC-Wilmington. College students are definitely excelling at improvising Ramen noodles because..you know…..that’s basically all we can afford to eat hahhaa 🙂

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i took a day trip drove down to nyc to check out the 3rd round of nyc street ramen contest last weekend. i took a LOT pix and they are pretty self explanatory.
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they had 8 ramen contestants. IMG_6993

1. ramen lab: italian ramen
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roma tomato, chicken broth, petite basil, crimini mushroom, italian sausage, romano/parmigiano reggiano cheese, durum semolina ramen noodle.

this was my 2nd least fave one. it didnt taste bad at all but it tasted like spaghettis and meatballs, im here for some nice asian ramen, not some ramen version of spaghettis and meatballs.

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2. hakkoan: Chan Chan Yaki Ramen

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this was my 2nd fave out of all 8. brothless ramen with salmon, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, garlic, onion, and miso.

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3. the shoyu ramen: shoyu ramen (soy sauce)
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4. yume wo katare: shoyu ramen
this was the only one i didnt try because i just had a huge bowl…

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Mini Cheesecake Cupcakes!

So both my mother AND my boyfriend have this really strong love towards cheesecake especially strawberry cheesecake haha. I wish I took a picture when I made this, but I was just too excited. I found this recipe about a year ago so I don’t remember my source, but originally the person used raspberry puree. I was trying to save money and already some strawberry puree leftover from a previous baking extravaganza so I used it since it was perfect for the people I made it for anyways. Plus it saved me time to have pre-made puree instead of making it.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, and 3 tbsp. of sugar or brown sugar depending on the recipe you use to make your crust. The ingredients I used above was what I had been instructed to use, but if you have your own crust recipe it can be used with this as well.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the three ingredients together (don’t forget to melt the butter!) until the dry ingredients are moistened. Press about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner. I used a shot glass to compact the crust down and then bake for about 5 minutes so that it can set. Then take it out and let it cool.

For the cheesecake filling, you’ll need 2 lbs. of cream cheese at room temperature, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, pinch of salt, 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, and 4 large eggs. First, beat the cream cheese until “fluffy” which in my opinion it just looks smooth and easy to mix stuff in. Then, blend the sugar in. Add it slowly or it’ll just go everywhere crazy like flour. Mix in the salt and vanilla then add each egg individually. So add one egg, make sure it is mixed in thoroughly, then add the next egg and continue on.

After the crust is cooled, add about 3 tablespoons of the cheesecake filling to each cupcake liner. Then add three drops of the puree on top of the cheesecake and use a toothpick to make it swirl together. It should look like the top of those fancy tiramisu or pastries on Cake Boss that have the chocolate in a swirly design on top. It’ll look really pretty with the red contrasting the white cheesecake.

Bake for about 20-24 minutes and rotate the pans halfway through! Once it has set, remove it and let it cool on a wire rack immediately at room temperature (not in the fridge!). It’s going to look puffy like a cupcake, but once it’s room temperature it’ll flatten down. Once it is at room temperature, transfer them to the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating.

They’re super tasty and definitely worth the wait! Next time I bake them, I will take pictures and add them! Happy eating 🙂

First Day of Maybe Consistent Fall Weather

It was super chilly today which hopefully means this week will be filled with consistent Fall weather instead of ups and downs. Everyone is sick here! Hopefully, I’m not catching what everyone else has. Since the weather was a bummer, I spent some time looking up new recipes to try and I want to share the one I tried today plus something my mom makes at home for me. I included the original recipe below and how I ended up altering it since I wanted to save money and just use what I had in my pantry. Tonight’s delightful dinner consisted of Honey Sesame Chicken with white rice and a potato clear soup.

This is the original Honey Sesame Chicken recipe I got from http://www.seasaltwithfood.com:

Ingredients
4 (About 430 g) Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite sized cubes
2 tsp Corn Flour/Starch
Peanut Oil for stir-frying (about 2 Tbsp)
½ tsp Red Chili Flakes
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Roasted White Sesame Seeds

Marinate

1 Tbsp Shaoxing Cooking Wine
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
3 Tbsp Honey
2 tsp Oyster Sauce
½ tsp Sea Salt
A few dashes of White Pepper

Marinate the chicken cubes with wine, light and dark soy sauce, chili flakes, honey, oyster sauce, sea salt, and pepper for about 2 hours. Then discard some of the marinate liquid and mix in the corn flour/starch.

Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large wok or cast iron pan until hot. Add chicken cubes and stir briefly. When the chicken are sizzling fragrant, add the chili flakes, dark soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds and stir vigorously, switch off the heat, and serve immediately.

I ended up just using 2 chicken breasts and it made enough for me to eat dinner and have a small lunch for tomorrow. To marinate, I used one soy sauce, honey, oyster sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil (so it still had the sesame smell because I didn’t have seeds).

When cooking, I used vegetable oil and browned some onions  and garlic before adding the chicken. The sauce that is added after the chicken is cooked was made of soy sauce, honey, and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Before I poured the sauce into the frying pan, I mixed some scallions in. The larger green onion pieces I used in the clear soup.  I also didn’t have any corn starch, but I had tapioca starch which I experimented with and it still worked. It thickened the sauce a bit.

I’m no Master Chef so of course I burned it a little at first. Now, to make the potato clear soup, it requires very little ingredients. I didn’t have all the stuff needed like my mom makes so I had to improvise and be simple. To make it like my mom, you’ll need carrots, potatoes, and ground chicken. Cut the potatoes and carrots into cubes and for the chicken she usually gets chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts and minces it. Then she’ll mix in the chicken bouillon powder seasoning and black pepper and make little chicken balls. Boil water in a pot with the potatoes first. When the potatoes are almost fully cooked, add the chicken. Once the two are fully cooked, add the carrots. Season with the chicken/mushroom bouillon powder seasoning I discussed in previous posts and a bit of salt. When finished, add the green onions and black pepper on top and ta da!

Easy Baked Pasta

This weekend has been hectic with my one of my friend’s birthday, but one thing we still continued on was our Thursday night dinners with all the girls which was accompanied with food and Jersey Shore of course. A fallback we always go to that feeds all six of us is our baked pasta that is altered all the time so we don’t get tired of it and of course we cannot forget garlic bread! Unfortunately, we were all hungry and I got too excited so I didn’t take a lot of pictures 😦

So to make the baked pasta, you’ll need penne pasta or any similar type that you prefer, a jar of your favorite tomato spaghetti sauce, shredded mild cheddar or a mix of cheeses, and your choice of meat. Sometimes, my friends will add spinach and/or mushroom as well. Ground beef, Italian sausage, or chicken works best. My friend used chicken for Thursday night’s dinner.

Boil the pasta as indicated and cook the meat (boil the chicken, brown the ground beef, or fry the sausage in a frying pan). Mix the cooked pasta, sauce, meat, and spinach/mushroom in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes then add the cheese on top and bake until the cheese melts. My friend had save some chicken and added it to the top of the pasta instead of mixing it in which is another option.

To make the garlic bread, we buy a loaf of french bread from a local bakery. It’s generally cheaper for day old bread there which works since we’re baking it anyways. You’ll also need aluminum foil, butter, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.

I prepared it on top of the aluminum foil because it’s easier to clean up and you don’t need an extra baking tray. We used half a loaf (which is another benefit of buying it at the bakery) because a whole loaf was too much. It can be saved to make garlic bread the next day with leftovers. The garlic bread taste better when it’s made fresh.

The oven should already be hot from the pasta so you don’t need to preheat the oven again. Slice the bread in to 2-3 inch slices, but not all the way down. It’ll be connected at the bottom to tear away later on. Softened butter will be easier to spread than refrigerated butter. Spread butter in between each slices and then on top of the bread to give it a golden color. Sprinkle garlic powder in between and on top followed by the Italian seasoning as well. I use garlic powder because it’s cheaper in the long run then using garlic cloves and it still tastes pretty good. Wrap the bread up in the foil and bake it in the oven for about ten minutes then unwrap it and continue baking for about 5 minutes till its golden brown. When you finish eating the bread, you can throw away the foil and ta da! easy clean up plus all the extra seasoning that fell off the bread gives it a more aromatic smell in the end 🙂

Fair Food

To celebrate the NC State Fair’s last weekend, I decided to post this easy doughnut recipe I’ve tried before. Why doughnuts? There’s this amazing vendor at the fair that’s one of the best secret there. I mean how many people go to the fair saying OMG I can’t to go try some doughnuts, but these people make the best mini doughnuts. They melt in your mouth and taste like perfection. If anyone wants to know where they’re located on the fairgrounds, let me know. It’s 12 mini doughnuts with cinnamon and sugar for $3 or 3 bags for $10! Now, this recipe is baked so of course they’ll be a bit healthier than frying them. I got this from food.com 🙂

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  2. In another bowl, beat egg to blend with milk, 1/4 cup melted butter, and vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture and stir just enough to moisten.
  4. Spoon into well-greased mini muffin tins.
  5. Bake in a 350ºF.oven until golden, about 15 minutes.
  6. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Brush doughnut tops with 3 tablespoons melted butter and roll in sugar/cinnamon.
  8. Serve warm or cool.
  9. If making ahead, cool, then store airtight up to 2 days.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

 

Easy Meal for a Busy Day

So I’m all about cooking on a budget, but I’m also busy. I always saw Bertolli’s commercials, but I never tried the pasta. Well they have already made pasta you can purchase and all you have to do is boil them. This is awesome for busy students or busy moms and dads! I tried the herbed chicken tortellini. They only had family size and it worked out because I split the pack into portion sizes for me into ziploc bags and freezed what I didn’t boil! It was $7 for the pack and it can feed me around six times.

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The chicken inside the pasta is cooked so you just have to boil till the pasta is tender.

They have refrigerated sauces like marinara, but it was kind of pricey. Instead of paying $6 for that sauce I got their jarred sauces on sale 2 for $5. I tried the vodka sauce with the tortellini and bought a tomato and basil one for spaghetti another night. I mixed a small can of corn into the sauce for extra veggies haha.

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This wasn’t my personal recipe obviously, but I DID say I would blog about products and restaurants I like 🙂 I spent a total of $13 for this which will last me 4-5 meals.

Delicious Soup

Yum so food is delicious as usual. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the pot luck dinner last night, but today my momma came and made me dinner for later so I’m gonna share it with you! It’s quick to make and easy to alter. You can eat it with rice or elbow macaroni.

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You’ll need one tomato (two if you like tomatoes), one small can if pineapple rings, green onions, tamarind soup base, two eggs or chicken tenderloins, sugar and chicken/mushroom bouillon seasoning. The chicken/mushroom bouillon seasoning is the mixture in the jar in the picture. My mom made mixing the chicken bouillon powder/small granules seasoning with a vegetarian mushroom seasoning together. If you use chicken, chop the chicken up to look like ground beef and make little balls of them if you want. If you aren’t using chicken like I did this time, then use two eggs.

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Cut the pineapple and tomatoes into cubes. Cut the green onions into one inch pieces. Pour about 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the pot and fry the white part of the green onion in it till it begins to look golden, but not all the way. Have it at medium heat. Then add the tomatoes and pineapples and sauté it for a few minutes. If you don’t like tomatoes, sauté it a little longer so its a bit mushier and releases the juice. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of the chicken/mushroom seasoning. The pineapple will absorb it.

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I used this bowl to measure the water for the soup. One bowl is enough for me to eat twice so adjust the recipe to how much you’re cooking.

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Add the water to the pot and increase to medium-high heat. You’ll see a dark white foam start appearing. Use a ladle to remove it from the soup to keep the water from looking murky. Season with the chicken/mushroom seasoning and the tamarind soup base if you want the soup to be a bit sour. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Then add the two eggs or chicken to the soup. Cook until the eggs or chicken is fully cooked.

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Add the green onions to the soup at the end and eat it with rice or elbow macaroni!