Happy Halloween Everyone!

Minnie MouseMinnie-O-LanternThis is our first year carving a pumpkin as a family. We ended up with a Minnie-O-Lantern.  We pick Minnie Mouse because Glee will be dressed up as her on Halloween. We got her the Minnie ears during our Disney trip in April. We thought this will be a really great way to remember her first trip to Disney World!

Elegant Japanese with a twist!

Quinoa (ki-nwa) has recently popped up everywhere in restaurants and different brunch recipes.  I  wasn’t sure what it was or what it tasted like.  I ordered it at the very first opportunity I had which was at a lunch cafe.  The quinoa cucumber salad was really good and I loved its texture.  I started looking into quinoa and found out that it is high in protein and dietary fibres.  Not only that it tastes great but it is actually really good for you.  I thought to myself I got to use it in my meal plan recipes somehow.

The first recipe I used quinoa was Butternut Squash Stew.  I was convinced that quinoa could be more than just brunch.  Then I found this Teriyaki Salmon recipe.  Instead of serving it with a side of white rice and stir-fry vegetables, it was done with a twist with quinoa added to the stir-fry.  I made it for my family and they all commented on how elegant the dish looked and how good it tasted!  Don’t let the fanciness fool you, it really takes no time to make it especially if you prepare everything in advance!

Cooking Notes:

  • The fish could be marinated in advance and refrigerated up to 24 hours.
  • Quinoa can also be cooked in advance and stored in the fridge.  This way when it is time to eat, just bake the fish and stir-fry the vegetables with quinoa.  It will take no time for an elegant Japanese dinner!

Teriyaki Salmon with Quinoa Stir-Fry

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Japanese
Adapted From Ambitious Kitchen (The Perfect Slice of Life)

Ingredients

  • 1lb Salmon (4 pieces)
  • 3/4 cups Quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 cup Snow peas (sugar snap peas)
  • 1 Red bell pepper (sliced into strips)
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper (sliced into strips)
  • 10 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 " Ginger (finely grated)
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons Dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Honey
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic salt
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Mince the garlic and grate the ginger.
Step 2
In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.
Step 3
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
Step 4
While the quinoa is being cooked, wash and cut the bell peppers and snow peas. Set aside.
Step 5
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick baking pan with olive oil. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect.
Step 6
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Step 7
Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!

Are Eggplants for Kids?

I was never a fan of eggplant because when I tried it as a kid, the taste was really strong for me.  This made me stay away from eggplant for a long time.  The one and only one dish I knew was how my mom used to make it.  She would grill it, remove the skin and scrambled it with scallions and seasoning to turn it into a paste like dish.  All the adults loved it, but almost none of the kids would touch it.

What made me change my mine about eggplant was a Mediterranean dip my girlfriend, Elisa introduced me to.  It was a causal lunch get together when I first moved back from Cambodia.  She told me that a new Mediterranean restaurant just opened up near our area and she loved the food there.  We went and she insisted on ordering the dip platter.  She told me that the eggplant was really good and I had to try it!  I thought to myself I would try it but I doubt that I would like it.  But I went with it anyway.  Besides the platter came with three different dips so I was safe.  I wasn’t sure whether it was because I have grown up or the way they cook the eggplant, but the dip was surprisingly good!  I couldn’t believe I would actually like eggplant.  Thanks Elisa for convincing me to give eggplant a second chance!  Otherwise I would miss out on it big time!

I’ve been looking for different eggplant recipes, but didn’t come across too many to choose from.  I find that eggplant is one of the harder vegetables to cook with.  It is hard to come up with something that will go well with it.  This recipe is really good and easy to eat!  Glee loved it so give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cooking Notes:

  • I highly recommend slicing the eggplant, salt it and leave it in your fridge over night!
  • When rolling the eggplant, start with the wider end.  The wider end will hold the stuffing better and as it gets narrow, the roll will showcase the skin by creating a nice pattern to look at.

Stuffed Eggplants with Fiesta Lime Rice

Serves 4-6
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party, Formal Party
Region Italian
Adapted From Alexandra's Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 Egglant (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4lb Lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup White rice (cooked)
  • 3/4 cups Canned black beans (rinsed & heated)
  • 3/4 cups Frozen corn
  • 1 Large Tomato (diced)
  • 1 bunch Scallions (diced)
  • 4 tablespoons Cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 Small Onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 1 Lemon (zest)
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dry thyme leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Tomato sauce
  • Heavy cream
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cook rice according to the package in your rice cooker add drained black beans and frozen corn once the rice is cooked. Cover and keep warm.
Step 2
Trim the stem end of each eggplant. Using a mandoline, cut the eggplant lenthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices.
Step 3
You should have about 12 slices. Sprinkle the eggplant on both sides with salt, layer them in a colander, and let stand for 1 hour.
Step 4
Press the moisture from the eggplant and blot them dry with paper towels.
Step 5
On a large cast iron skillet, heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat.
Step 6
Place 3 to 4 eggplant slices in the hot oil and cook until the slices take on some colour, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 7
Using tongs, transfer the slices paper-towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining slices.
Step 8
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and heat a medium saucepan on medium-high heat.
Step 9
Meanwhile, chop the onion and dice the garlic.
Step 10
Brown the onion and garlic and add the ground beef. Cook the meat for 5 minutes, add thyme and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until everything is cooked through. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Step 11
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and ground beef.
Step 12
Cover the cast iron skillet or any baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place a spoonful of filling at the wider end of each of the eggplant slices.Roll the slice around the filling and place it seam-side down in the skillet on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon a tablespoon of cream over each roll to moisten.
Step 13
Bake until the edges of sauce around the sides of the dish are dark and the rolls are nicely caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.
Step 14
Meanwhile dice tomato, scallion and cilantro. Cut lime for juice and garnish.
Step 15
In a large bowl, combine rice mix, tomato, scallion, cilantro, lime juice and salt if needed and toss.
Step 16
Once the eggplant is done, use a spatula to scoop them out onto plates and serve with a side of warm fiesta lime rice.

Tricks to Chinese Cooking

Huan and Glee love ribs, so I would always try to do at least 1-2 rib recipes per month.  After scouting all the food blogs and recipe sites, I find Asian style ribs are more child-friendly.  So I started to adapt from different recipes and modify for simplicity and less cooking time.

Chinese cuisines have a wide range in cooking.  That’s why you get such a wide range in prices when you order from restaurants.  Chinese cooking is generally pretty intensive as there are so many ingredients in each dish.  Although I am Chinese, I was pretty intimidated by Chinese cooking.  I was always worried about not getting it right.  No one would or could tell me what’s the secret to get the flavours into the meat so nicely.

After cooking for awhile and with more and more Asian recipes readily available on the internet, I discovered a few tricks about Chinese cooking.

  1. Although it might seem like a lot of ingredients, they are always the same such as, green onion, ginger, coriander, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil.  It is usually a combination of a few of the above ingredients for most dishes.
  2. As a new cook, I usually just poach my vegetables, pre-cook my meats and things in just boiling water.  When I do that, all the flavours are left in the pot with the water leaving the meat bland tasting.  The trick really is to add whatever the seasoning you are cooking with into the boiling water, so that your meat can soak up all the wonderful flavours.  This way not only that your meat is tasty you will end up with a nice broth which you can serve as soup on the side.
  3. Most of the cooking time is actually in the preparation.  Most if not all of the preparation could be done in advance so that it will take no time to cook when it comes to dinner time.
Cooking Notes:
  • All the pre-work could be done in advance.  You can even pre-cook the ribs and rice the night before and store them in the fridge.
  • If you prefer more flavours in your ribs, I recommend adding a pinch of salt while frying them with the ginger and green onion in step 5.

Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs with Edamame Rice

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Allergy Egg, Soy
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Chinese
Adapted From Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb Meaty spare ribs (cut into individual ribs)
  • 1 1/2 cup Brown rice (cooked)
  • 1/4 cup Edamame (shelled ready-to-eat)
  • 1 Medium Carrot (shredded)
  • 7 bunches Green Onion (6 cut into 2-inch sections; 1 diced.)
  • 2 " Ginger (sliced into 1/2 inch coins and smashed)
  • 1 Small Onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 1 Small Lime
  • 1 Egg (scrambled)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 4 tablespoons White sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cook brown rice according to package.
Step 2
Remove the membrane on the back of the rib. By doing so the flavour will infuse better into the meat. Just use a butter knife to get one corner out so you can get a grip to pull the whole thing off.
Step 3
Cut and smash the ginger, chop the green onion. Place the ribs in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the water, then add half of the ginger, half of the green onions, the Chinese rice wine and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until the meat is cooked and tender. Continue skimming the pot. Strain and set aside and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Step 4
While the ribs are being cooked, shred the carrot, chop onion and green onion. Set aside.
Step 5
Heat a large saute pan over high heat until very hot. Pour in the vegetable oil and add the remaining ginger slices and green onions. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the strained spare ribs and stir fry for 2 minutes in the fragrant oil.
Step 6
Add 1 cup of the cooking liquid, the dark soy sauce and sugar. Simmer over a medium flame, spooning the liquid over the ribs, until the sauce has reduced to a heavy, syrupy consistency.
Step 7
Add the vinegar and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the flavors have fused. Off the heat, stir in the sesame oil.
Step 8
Whisk eggs and egg whites, season with salt and pepper. In a hot wok, add a little oil and cook the eggs. When cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Step 9
Return wok back to the stove top and let it get really hot. Add oil and cook onions, scallion whites, carrots and garlic for about 30-60 seconds, careful not to burn. Add brown rice and stir well a few minutes to heat through. Add cooked egg along with soy sauce, scallion greens and edamame, mixing well for about 3-4 minutes.

Step 10
Divide the rice onto plates and top with a few ribs and serve immediately!

That’s Why it is called Spaghetti Squash!

The first time I heard spaghetti squash, I thought the squash must go particularly well with spaghetti.  Little did I know that when the squash is cooked, the flesh actually turns into spaghetti itself.  It was pretty amazing and magical!  The squash tastes really sweet by itself and the texture is just wonderful!

This is a very light and healthy recipe.  The original was vegetarian, but I like it so much I had to make it into a balanced meal so that Huan would eat it.  It is perfect for people who are on a protein diet.  When I finished cooking this meal, I couldn’t help but think of my wonderful friend, Kari.  She’s like Huan who loves meat and eats very little carbs. So Kari!   This one is for you!  Thank you for helping me proof read everything on this site!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Cooking Notes:

  • This meal can be converted into a vegetarian meal, just cut out the chicken.
  • If your kids love pasta as much as mine, just replace the spaghetti squash with a side cooked pasta.
  • Chicken could be pre-cooked and shredded the night before to save time.

Shredded Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Italian
Adapted From The Skinny Confidential

Ingredients

  • 1 Small Spaghetti squash (3 lbs)
  • 1 Large Chicken breast (cooked and shredded)
  • 1 Large Tomato (diced)
  • 1 Large Zucchini (chopped)
  • 10 Mushrooms (white or brown)
  • 1 Small Yellow onion (diced)
  • 8 tablespoons Marinara sauce
  • 1 Squeezed lemon
  • 2 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon Basil (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Cut 1/2 inch from both ends of the squash and cut in half lengthwise.
Step 2
Microwave the squash on a plate, cut-side down, on high until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Step 3
While the squash is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and cook chicken breast for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4
Prepare the vegetables: dice garlic, onion and tomato, chop mushrooms and zucchini.
Step 5
Drain the chicken and let cool. Shred it and set aside.
Step 6
Set a large saute pan on high heat. Saute garlic, onions for 2 minutes, add tomato, zucchini, mushrooms and marinara sauce and saute for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 7
Use the fork to scrape the spaghetti squash into a bowl. Add the shredded chicken and saute vegetables mix well!
Step 8
To serve, divide the spaghetti onto each plate. Squeeze lemon and sprinkle with basil.

Monday Meatloaf

Meatloaf has a huge range in taste.  That’s because there are so many ways to make a meatloaf.  Many restaurants have it on the menu but I am usually quite reluctant to order it because I don’t know if it will be a hit or a miss!

Meatloaf is one of my favourite recipes that I would make over and over again.  That’s because I can be as creative as I want and try new flavours.  I made several meatloaves before and I think they came out pretty good.  But this Caprese Meatloaf definitely takes it to the next level!  The sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese in the centre made the whole thing taste that much better!

The original recipe was a lot more time consuming.  I simplified everything so that you and your family can enjoy this jackpot meatloaf without slaving in the kitchen.  Let me know how this meatloaf knocks your socks off!

Cooking Notes:

  • If you don’t like sausages you can use ground pork or ground chicken.
  • After you roll up the meatloaf, make sure you use a wider pan for baking to ensure shorter baking time with more exposure!

Caprese Meatloaf

Serves 6
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Christmas, Formal Party, Halloween, Thanksgiving
Region American
Adapted From Bite By Michelle

Ingredients

  • 1/2lb Ground beef
  • 1/2lb Italian Sausages (mild)
  • 1 cup Pasta (any type)
  • 1/2 English cucumber (sliced)
  • 1 Small Head lettuce (tore up)
  • 1 Medium Tomato (sliced)
  • 1 Small Onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup Parsley (chopped)
  • 1 bunch Basil leaves
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4lb Fresh mozzarella cheese (thickly sliced)
  • 2oz Sun-dried tomatoes
  • 7oz Tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons White vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Step 2
Chop onion, garlic, and parsley.
Step 3
In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef and sausage with eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, onion, garlic, fennel seeds, 1/2 can of tomato sauce and a good pinch of salt.
Step 4
Place mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Step 5
Spread out mixture to cover parchment.
Step 6
Sprinkle meat with sundried tomatoes, basil leaves and 3/4 of mozzarella.
Step 7
Roll up jelly-roll fashion.
Step 8
Place meatloaf in oven and roast for 40 minutes or until the whole loaf is cooked through.
Step 9
Meanwhile slice cucumber, tomato and tore up head lettuce. Set aside.
Step 10
To make dressing, combine sugar, garlic powder, pinch of salt and pepper, vinegar and EVOO. Set aside.
Step 11
In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add a good pinch of salt. Cook pasta to your liking. Drain and divide evenly onto each plate.
Step 12
When your timer goes off, top the meatloaf with the remaining mozzarella and roast until cheese is melted and golden. Allow meat to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Step 13
Meanwhile toss salad and divide them onto plates.
Step 14
Slice meatloaf and drizzle the meatloaf sauce onto the pasta and serve immediately.

Shopping List 10/29/12 – 11/02/12

Happy Friday everyone!

I hope everyone has had a fabulous week! This week’s menu is full of variety and very flavourful. If you were to cook everything from scratch the day of, most of them will take 40 minutes to 1 hour. If you want to cut down cooking time, please read the cooking tips on each recipe so you can do the proper prep work in advance. I can reassure you that this week’s menu will knock your family’s socks off! Here’s the shopping list for next week and this is what we are having for the week! Enjoy!

Caprese Meatloaf
Shredded Chicken Spaghetti Squash
Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs with Edamame Rice
Stuffed Eggplants with Fiesta Lime Rice
Teriyaki Salmon with Quinoa Stir-Fry

Check your pantry

Please double check your pantry to make sure you have the following items in stock.

Dry thyme
Fennel seeds
Sesame seeds
Garlic powder
Garlic salt
Dark brown sugar
Sugar
Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil
Sesame oil
Olive oil
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
White vinegar
Soy sauce
Teriyaki sauce
Brown rice
White rice
Pasta (whatever you have on hand)
Bread crumbs
2 eggs
Heavy cream
Frozen corn

Produce

1 Small spaghetti squash
1 Eggplant
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
10 White or brown mushrooms
1 Yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 Large zucchini
1 small head lettuce
1 English cucumber
1 Medium Carrot
3 Tomatoes
18 Cloves of garlic
2 Inches of Ginger
4 Yellow onions
10 Green onions
2 Lemon
1 Lime
1 Bunch of Italian parsley
1 Large bunch of Fresh Basil
1 Bunch of cilantro

Breakfast & Cereal

3/4 cup quinoa

Cheese

1/4 lb fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
1 cup Ricotta cheese

Dried Fruit

2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes

International & Ethnic

Dark soy sauce
Chinese black vinegar
Chinese rice wine

Jams & Preserves

1 can of Tomato sauce
1 can of Black beans
Marinara sauce

Meat & Poultry

1 1/2 pounds meaty spare ribs (baby back ribs preferred)
1/2 lb Lean ground beef
1/2 lb Mild Italian sausages
1 lb Chicken Breast

Seafood

1 lb Salmon

Frozen Foods

1/2 cup Ready-to-eat shelled edamame

Cucumber, Cucumber, I love Cucumber!

Cucumber is my favourite vegetable. I love it because no matter what I was craving, it would do the trick. I used to eat it as a fruit whenever we ran out of fruits. My friends thought I was really weird at first, but sooner or later I would convert them into cucumber lovers. I mean there is nothing else that I could think of to replace my love for cucumber. It is the perfect afternoon snack. If I was thirsty, I would just eat a cucumber. The refreshing juice quenched my thirst better than any water or juices. When I wanted a salty snack, I would cut up the cucumber into cubes and add a pinch of salt and eat it like a salad. When I want something sweet, I would wash it and just take a bite from the whole cucumber. The crunchiness was just refreshing and surprisingly sweet by itself.

When I saw this recipe, I thought it looked so good already. When I found out that the sauce was cucumber based, I was all over it! When I tested it, I found the sauce a little too herb heavy so I did some minor adjustments to bring out the cucumber in the sauce without losing the herb flavours.

This fish came with such fancy presentation, it is perfect for entertainment! I am sure your guests will be impressed by the look, smell and taste of this fish!

Cooking Notes:

  • The sauce needs to be chilled so you can do it up to 24 hours in advance.
  • The mashed potatoes can also be prepared in advance and be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. When it comes time to serve, you can either serve it cold with the hot fish, or if you like your potato warm, just heat it up in the microwave before putting on the cucumber sauce and fish.

Seared Fish with Cucumber Sauce over Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Formal Party, Valentines day
Region Spanish
Adapted From Oui, chef

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Large English cucumber (cubed)
  • 6 tablespoons Scallions (coarsely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons Cilantro (coarsely chopped)
  • 5 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 2 tablespoons White balsamic Vinegar (more to taste)
  • 1 clove Garlic (roughly chopped )
  • 4 6-8oz Fish filets (cod, mahi-mahi, halibut or salmon)
  • 4 Large Yukon potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons Salted butter
  • 10 Cherry tomatoes (halved for garnish)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Combine the cucumber, scallions, cilantro, garlic, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar in a food processor. Pulse to create the sauce, make sure not to overdo it, you want some texture and not a perfectly smooth sauce. Remove the sauce to a bowl and adjust seasoning to your taste with more EVOO, balsamic vinegar or salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Step 2
Season your fish with salt, pepper and EVOO. Let marinate in room temperature.
Step 3
Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water in a pot, add 1 tsp of salt. Peel the potatoes and cut each potato into 4 pieces. Cook potatoes for 20 minutes or until they are very tender. Drain and let cool.
Step 4
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Slip the fish into the pan giving, it a quick shake as you place each piece in the pan to keep it from sticking. Cook 4-5 minutes on the first side, then carefully flip them and cook another 3-4 until the filet is just opaque, but still very moist in the center.
Step 5
In a large bowl mash your potatoes with a masher or potato ricer. Stir in butter and season with salt if desired.
Step 6
To serve, spoon the mashed potatoes onto the centre of a plate and surround it with the cucumber sauce. Place the fish on the mash potatoes and garnish it with a few pieces of cherry tomatoes.
Step 7
Serve immediately!

To Slow-Cook or Not To Slow-Cook?!


For the longest time, I was contemplating on whether I should get a slow-cooker. I heard mixed reviews and the price tag just didn’t seem worth the risks. I held back until last year when I went cross border shopping, I saw one for $29.99(compared to $69.99 and up) from Target so I bought it. It came with a few recipes which I tried and failed miserably. Huan complained about the meat being too dry and the vegetables were too mushy and all the flavours were just not the same. I thought I was just not your slow-cooker kind of girl so I was ready to give up!

However, part of me couldn’t deny that it was quite convenient on those busy days where you need to run around and when you come home at dinner time and your dinner is ready in your slow-cooker. I thought over cooked food is still better than fast food. So I decided to keep the slow-cooker for those days. I decided to spend some time trying out more slow-cooker recipes. I was successful in several occasions with pot roasts. I then realized that the trick to good slow-cooker pot roast is to sear the meat on all sides before you set it up in the cooker. By doing so, you are sealing the meat so that the juice is locked while being slow-cooked. So the meat stays moist. Also, if you are like Huan who likes texture in your meat, just cut down the cook time to avoid over cooking the food. 40 minutes(on low) and 20-30 minutes (on high).

I chose this recipe because it is yummy and so flexible. See cooking tips below!

Cooking Tips:

  • If you have more time, you can do the roast as is and that would take slightly over an hour in the oven.
  • My version was to cut the roast in half, slashing the roasting time in half as well. Also the fact that everyone wants the end piece on a roast, this way all pieces are end pieces.
  • If it is one of those slow-cooker days, what you need to do is to just sear the roast on all sides before putting it into your cooker. High: 3-4 hours Low: 5-6 hours.

Rosemary Pot Roast

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Serve Hot
Region American
Inspired By Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2lb Beef Chuck Roast (trimmed of excess fat)
  • 8 Medium Carrots (cut into chunks)
  • 2 Medium Onions (cut into 8 wedges)
  • 1/2lb Yellow Potatoes (cut into chunks)
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven at 425 degrees.
Step 2
Peel and cut the carrots, potatoes and chop onions.
Step 3
In a medium bowl, stir together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth. Add carrots, potatoes and onions; season with salt and pepper, and toss.
Step 4
Chop rosemary, mince garlic and mix both with olive oil and Worcestershire sauce to create a rub.
Step 5
Cut the roast into 2 slices instead of one thick chunk to reduce roasting time. Rub roast with the sage and garlic mix, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use 2 shish-kabob sticks to skewer the roast so that they can stay standing.
Step 6
In a roasting pan, make a bed with the vegetables, place the seasoned roast on top and put it into the oven for 15 minutes.
Step 7
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast for another 25-30 minutes or until how well done you desire.
Step 8
Transfer roast to a cutting board; thinly slice against the grain. Place vegetables in a serving dish; pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve, if desired. Serve roast with vegetables and pan juices.

How to get your Kids to eat?!

I received many comments about kids’ meals. A lot of parents I know are having trouble getting their kids to eat. The general consensus is they wish someone could just tell them what to cook so that their kids would eat. Many suggested I do a kids section with kids’ menu.

I chose not to have a kids section because I personally believe that kids can and will eat anything. The trick is how we adults present the food to them. I try to make all of my dinners kid friendly. Believe it or not, Glee eats most of the food on Gleeful Gourmets. So I thought I shall share our experience with everyone!

Both Huan and I are determined on raising Glee as a non-picky eater, so we worked hard on coming up with food rules at the dinner table. Here’s a few things that work for us:

  1. Try it! – One of our philosophies with food is that Glee has to try it before she decides whether she likes it or not. If she ends up not liking it, we won’t force her to eat it. When we first asked her to try new food, her automatic reaction was “No!” You will get many “No’s” before they will open their mouth, but don’t give up or force it. Instead, eat it yourself and usually that will do the trick because kids just want to eat whatever their parents are eating. If not, just explain that it was really good and you want them to try it and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it.
  2. One thing at a time – The other trick is to introduce only one new thing at a time. As long as Glee recognized most of the things on her dinner plate, she would start eating the food she’s familiar with. After she worked up an appetite, she will try the new thing.
  3. Tell them what they are eating! – We take this opportunity to teach Glee her vegetables and meats. We find that after she learned she was able to tell us more and more of what her likes and dislikes which made it easier and easier for the future.

Last week, my nephew Kyle came to sleepover. I’ve chosen this spaghetti recipe to ensure a successful dinner because I know all kids love pasta for whatever reason. The only thing in this recipe that was new for Glee were the shrimp. Of course both started off with the spaghetti and worked through the shrimps. They loved it and both had seconds!

Maybe I am very lucky as Glee is an adventurous eater, but I believe all kids are curious and love to learn. Food is no exception! So give these tips a try and let me know how they work out for your family!

Cooking Tips:

  • You can use any pasta really. So don’t sweat to get spaghetti, just use whatever you have on hand.
  • If you child is not yet an adventurous eater, I would skip the parsley.
  • Also, if you want it as leftover, store the sauce and pasta separately. When it comes time to reheat, heat up the sauce and pasta then toss.

Spinach Shrimp Spaghetti

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Shellfish
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party
Region Italian
Inspired By Betty Crocker
68% less sat fat • 31% fewer calories • 70% more vitamin A than the original recipe. A restaurant-inspired favorite still tastes rich and flavorful.

Ingredients

  • 6oz Spaghetti (uncooked)
  • 3 cups Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cup Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 3 teaspoons Olive oil
  • 1 Medium Onion (diced)
  • 1lb Shrimp (peeled de-veined and tail shells removed)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (diced)
  • 3/4 cups Chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons Parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

Step 1
In a medium pot cook pasta as directed on package.
Step 2
While pasta is cooking, in a saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add shrimp, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Step 3
Stir in broth, tomatoes salt and pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm.
Step 4
When pasta is cooked to your liking, drain; return to pot. Stir in spinach and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cover to keep warm.
Step 5
Remove shrimps from heat; stir in parsley and butter.
Step 6
After butter is melted, add shrimp mixture to pasta in the saucepan; toss to mix. Serve immediately! Enjoy!