Friday, February 26, 2010

warning - may be habit forming

if you love HOT, spicy buffalo wings dipped in bleu cheese sauce...you are gonna love this dip.
and there are no bones to get in the way.
holla.
i made it SUPER spicy this last time.
it "burned" so good i couldn't stop eating it!
well actually....once i wiped the tears from my eyes and the sweat from my brow i was able to continue on.

there are a lot of different versions of this yummy dip.
its perfect for snacking on as you watch your favorite sports team.
or watching the olympics
or the oscars
or lost
or just because.

i think i have finally found my favorite balance of hot sauce and bleu cheese.
here is my recipe for the dip also known as "crack dip".

Buffalo Chicken Bleu Cheese Dip
{print recipe}

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened and cubed
1/2 cup bleu cheese dressing (i used a good quality lite blue cheese dressing)
1/3 cup hot sauce like Frank's or (if you like it really spicy add a 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
2 cans (12.5 oz. each) chunk chicken breast in water, drained OR 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Heat oven to 350°F.
In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, place cream cheese cubes into pan and stir until smooth.
Add in the salad dressing, hot sauce and cheese and stir until combined. Stir in chicken.
Pour mixture in to a casserole dish.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through and bubbling.
Remove from oven and give dip a stir.
Garnish with celery sticks. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or vegetables.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

potatoes...korean style

i confessed my love for korean food in my post about meat jun last week.
if you have never the pleasure of eating a steaming bowl of mandoo soup or a plate of bbq chicken and kalbi.....i am so sorry for you.
get thee to a korean restaurant STAT!!

when you go to a local korean take out restaurant in hawaii, one of the tasks you are given is to choose four side dishes to go with your meal.
this is in addition to 2 scoops rice AND the main dish you have selected.
there are usually about 6-8 sides to choose from like kim chee, watercress and tofu.
they are all equally as delicious which makes the decision process all the more complicated.

korean style shoyu potatoes are always a winner and my favorite.
this popular side dish is usually served cold. it has been known to run out before the end of the day at most restaurants.
i think it has a lot to do with the fact that most people will get two servings!

i literally danced around the house when i found this recipe to make my own shoyu potatoes.
good thing jere jae is learning to love korean food as much as i do!
hope you enjoy it too...

Korean Shoyu Potatoes
yields :: 4-6 servings
{print recipe}

2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup asian style shoyu
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl combine 2 cups water and kosher salt to make a brine.
Peel and cut potatoes into bite size cubes and place into the brine for 10 minutes, drain.
In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
Place the potatoes in the skillet in an even layer.
Pour shoyu mixture over the potatoes.
Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Potatoes should be cooked through, but not fall apart tender.
Remove potatoes from the skillet with a slotted spoon.
Drizzle remaining sauce in the pan over the potatoes.
Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

peanut butter filled mochi

apparently i am longing for my childhood this week.
meat jun and now a peanut butter mochi post!

mochi is something that i think requires an acquired taste.
i grew up on it and its filipino counterpart bibinka.
i luuuurve it.
many american's have become familiar with mochi ice cream.
i have seen it at costco and trader joe's.
how would i describe mochi??
they are little cakes that are soft, chewy pillow's of sticky rice flour.
its not overly sweet and deeeeelicious.

this recipe has a pocket of creamy peanut butter in the center.
it was my 1st time making peanut butter mochi.
i usually just make plain mochi flavored with
extracts or juice like almond, passion fruit or peach.

i will definitely be making this treat more often.

Peanut Butter Mochi
yields :: 3 dozen
{print recipe}

1 1/2 cups mochiko rice flour (available in the asian/ethnic food aisle at most grocery stores)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Cooking spray
1-2 teaspoons almond extract
6 tablespoons creamy peanut putter
Microwave Bundt Pan
katakuriko / potato starch

Mix mochiko, water, sugar and extract in a bowl with a whisk until smooth.
Spray the inside of a microwave bundt pan with cooking spray.
If you don't have a microwave bundt pan use a large microwave safe plastic bowl.
Pour mochiko mixture into prepared pan and microwave on high for 5-6 minutes.
You do not want to over cook the mochi. You will have a tough textured product in the end once its cooled.
Even if a portion of the center is still watery, do not continue to cook.
Cool in pan for 40 to 45 minutes.
While still warm, cut mochi in half with a plastic knife.
If there are wet sections, scrape them off with a spatula or knife and discard.
Cut each half into 1/4-inch thick slices.
Pat or stretch each mochi slice into a flat round disk shape.
Spoon a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter in the center, fold in half and pinch edges to seal.
Roll mochi in potato starch.
Keep in airtight container for 3-4 days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

just call me gina...

one of the things i miss the most about hawaii is the food.
i think almost any local kid removed from the island paradise we once called home would say the same.
fresh fruits all year round, avocado's the size of your head, generous friends and neighbors that expect you at their bbq's, a plethora of ethnic foods, restaurants are open 24 hours and the don't start with d(enny's).

one of the 1st thing we do after my mom picks me up at honolulu international airport is stop at gina's korean bbq.
meat jun, bulgogi, bbq chicken, kalbi.

oh man! what to get, what to get!!??
who am i kidding....i usually always get meat jun.

about 8 years ago my mom sent me a local cookbook.
she bought it from her co-worker for his son's schools fundraiser.
the 1st thing i did when i got it was to flip to the back index and look to see if there was a meat jun recipe and praise the Lord, there was one!

meat jun is a local korean dish served in hawaii.
its thinly sliced, marinated meat in an egg batter.
its hard to come by here on the mainland.
You may get a funny look if you try and order it at a korean restaurant when you don't see it in the menu. but hey...its worth a shot.

now you can make it yourself!
here is my recipe.
to all my hawaii friends....enjoy.

Korean Meat Jun
yields: 4-6 servings
{print recipe}

2 lbs. thinly sliced beef, chuck and flank steak works great (i buy thinly sliced beef at the asian grocery store)
1 cup shoyu or low sodium soy sauce or premade korean bbq sauce
1 tablespoon garlic minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or sesame oil
4 eggs
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the shoyu/sauce, garlic and oil in a large Ziploc bag with meat.
Marinate overnight in the fridge or for as little as 2-3 hours.
When ready to cook, preheat a non stick skillet with a very light coating of vegetable oil or cooking spray on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
Scramble the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.
If meat is paper thin, double up the meat.
Dip meat in to flour first then in to egg mixture.
Place immediately on to hot skillet.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown.
Serve immediately or place in oven on warm until ready to serve.

Meat Jun Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup shoyu or low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional)
Sesame seeds, roasted & crushed (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.

Monday, February 15, 2010

eating cookie dough

comon' now....who DOESN'T like to eat cookie dough while making a homemade batch of cookies??
i remember hearing for the 1st time in my 7th grade home ec. class that you could get salmonella poisoning from eating raw cookie dough.
everyone gasped.
drama queens.
what a party pooper bit of info!
i am sure by that time in our lives we had all eaten our own weight of the stuff.
thank goodness we were all alive and well...
and we all went on to continue our raw cookie dough eating habits.

well, i am happy to report that the following recipe is VERY edible.
you can have your dough and eat it too!!
these are a great treat for anyone to indulge in at any age.
enjoy...

Cookie Dough Truffles
yields :: 40-50 1 inch truffles
{print recipe}

8 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips coarsely chopped
1½ lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped or chocolate candy making chips or chocolate almond bark

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up enough to form balls, about 1/2 - 1 hour.
Shape the chilled cookie dough mixture into 1-1½ inch balls.
Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover loosely, transfer the pan to the freezer and chill for 1-2 hours.
When ready to dip the truffles, melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Using a fork, dip each chilled truffle, one at a time, coating in chocolate and shaking gently to remove the excess. (If at any point during dipping, the cookie dough balls become too soft, return to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.) Transfer to a wax-paper lined surface, pushing it off the very bottom of the fork with another fork or knife. If garnishing, sprinkle your garnish on top of the truffle quickly after dipping each truffle before the chocolate sets. Once all the truffles have been dipped, store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
source: annie's eats

we packaged our truffles up and gave them out as valentines treats!!
i found the template for the labels here.
the mini mailboxes were from the dollar section at target.
so stinkin' cute!!

weekly dose!!

aloha friends and family!!
i can not contain my excitement today.
summer has made a special guest appearance in winter!!
its 75, no winds and not a cloud in the sky.
we just got back from a walk to the park so the munch
could get in some time on the slides and swing.
it was beautiful!
so nice and a much needed temperature change for this hawaii girl.

we had a fun time this past week getting ready for valentines day.
its so sweet to have a lil sous chef right along side me in the kitchen.
here she is reading the ingredients list upside down.
she was also my taste tester.
yummy!
here are our truffles wrapped and ready to go.
i love valentine's goodies...they are just so fun and cute.
hopefully you can understand this event planning mama's excitement
when i found this adorable wood truffle play set
at pier 1 for the munchies's valentines day present.
i think i have played with it more than her.
my valentine got me the most beautiful flowers ever!!
i am in deep like with them
and in deep love with HIM. ;-)
poor guy always has a hard time getting me flowers because i DO flowers.
he out did himself this time!!
i surprised him with a stove top espresso maker and espresso cups.
we had a wonderful day celebrating this hallmark holiday.
our lil munch is not so lil anymore.
so sad.
she is getting big and i don't like it one bit.
good thing she is still the cutest baby toddler ever.
on the 18th she will be 18 months old.
here are a bunch of pictures of our kewpie doll!!
the only way she keeps hats or beanies on her head is if we have one on at the same time or we clap really loud for her in approval.
one of her new favorite hobbies is to color.
thank you Jesus for washable crayons.

she loves eating pears...
we also had a great time at disneyland last monday.
it was so nice to leisurely walk
around the park and only go on three rides.
we will be going again next week.

hope you are having a good monday.
we love you and pray you are well.
drop us a line when you get a chance!!

love::
the munch and her in love mama

Saturday, February 13, 2010

be mine

holidays...even made up one's like valentine's are just the best when you have a lil munchkin around.
my lil love bug and i made these cookies yesterday for everyone at daddy's office which just happens to be our church.
one of the munch's favorite things to play with right now is the little bottles of food coloring gel.
she let me borrow them so i could finish decorating these cute and tasty conversation hearts.
some of them read:
we had so much fun bringing them to our friends.
here is the recipe so you can make your own just in time for valentines day!

white layer cake

i have been wanting to make this cake forever!
i had the perfect reason to finally bake it.
it was our dear friends birthday and she just happens to LOVE white cake with white frosting.

this light cake is topped of with a rich but not overly sweet buttercream.
i used seedless raspberry jam in the filling.
the birthday girl was thrilled with her surprise birthday cake.
we were all thrilled to have a slice right along with her!

White Layer Cake with Raspberry and Buttercream
yields :: 12-14 servings

2 1/4 cups cake flour (i used 2 cups cake flour substitute, plus a scant 1/4 cup all purpose flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites (i used meringue powder)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter cut in to pieces, at room temperature
2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make The Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and butter in mixing bowl, working with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
(The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

To Make the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one and slowly add the butter pieces, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the extracts, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room. Serve it at room temperature with anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.
adapted from : from dorie greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

it just doesn't sound good in english

when i was in high school i was introduced to one of my all time favorite desserts.
it was at horatio's restaurant at ward warehouse in honolulu.
we went there for my 15th or 16th birthday.
after our wonderful dinner a few servers came to our table to sing happy birthday to me.
with them they brought one of the most glorious desserts known to man. this restaurant was known for it:
burnt cream.
heaven!

the other day while out shopping at marshall's, i came across a boxed set of ramekins including a kitchen torch for a mere $16! visions of burnt cream flooded my mind.
i grabbed the box and went home to try my hand at recreating my beloved dessert.

i waited to serve it to my hubby and a friend who came over for dinner.
i torched the tops of my desserts with my new kitchen flame thrower.
i served it up to the guys exclaiming,
"dessert! here is your burnt cream!"

they both looked at me and said:
"uh....that doesn't sound very good."

"ha. true, but just try it! in french its called CREME BRULEE."
they liked the sound of that MUCH better.

they each ate it up in about 3 bites.
that's when i realized a girlfriend or two would have appreciated this delicacy exceedingly more.
the guys liked it, but i was looking for more ohhhing and ahhhing as their spoons broke through the caramelized sugar top and...oh well.

so here is the recipe in all its glory!
happy torching and send me some ohhing and ahhing love in the comment section please.
a girlfriend dinner is being scheduled soon.

Creme Brulee
yields 6 servings
{print recipe}

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (i used 2%)
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
additional sugar for the tops
berries and whipped cream for garnish

Place oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine heavy cream and milk in a heavy duty medium sauce pan. On medium high heat whisking constantly bring to just below the boiling point to scald the mixture. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Mix until combined.
In a stand mixer bowl combine the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar. Beat until combined.
Very slowly drizzle the cream mixture in to the egg mixture on medium speed.
Once combined, strain the mixture through a fine sieve in to a bowl.
Skim foam off the top, as much as you can get.

Divide the mixture in to 6 ramekins (about 3-4 oz. each).
Set the ramekins into a baking dish with sides.
Place the baking dish in the oven.
Now pour enough hot water into the baking dish to come half way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes until just set. The middles should shake a little.

Depending on how you like your creme brulee there are two options:
you can allow the ramekins to cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Or you can serve it warm right out of the oven.
I prefer chilled.
The juxtaposition of eating something that has a burnt, cracked top and a chilled, velvety center is what makes this dessert so different. Just my opinion (but trust me).

Before serving, sprinkle the top of each dessert with a thin, even layer of sugar.
Shake the ramekin around to distribute the sugar.
Caramelize the tops with your kitchen torch.
Serve with berries and whipped cream.

this was my presentation to the guys.
three bites and it was gone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

party cupcakes

nothing says "birthday party" like an army of cupcakes all dolled up with swirly frosting on top!
these deep, rich chocolate cuppies were moist and delicious.
they are almost black in color.
i used my go to butter cream recipe for the frosting.
these are perfect with an ice cold glass of milk...

Midnight Chocolate Cupcakes
{print recipe}

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (I use this buttermilk substitute)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and pre heat to 350°F.
Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Combine dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl or large bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla; beat for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the cup of boiling water. Continue to beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, batter will be thin.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs.
Remove pan from oven. Remove cupcakes from the pan. Cool completely before frosting.
adapted from : hershey's

Chocolate Buttercream
6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (you can add a tablespoon more or less depending on how rich or light you want the chocolate flavor)

In a large heatproof bowl or your stand mixer bowl combine the meringue powder, water and sugar. Place the bowl over low simmering water in a saucepan and whisk constantly until sugar is completely dissolved (160F). Remove from heat.
Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks, about 6-7 minutes.
Switch to flat beater and add the salt. Add butter a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and cocoa. Continue beating until butter cream is smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
Use a piping bag and a star tip to pipe frosting on to the cooled cupcakes.

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