Romantic Europe!

Athens Greece is one of the places that I want to visit but haven’t had a chance yet.  Actually Europe is the continent I would really like to explore.  I remembered going on a Europe trip with my parents and sisters back in 2006.  It was a great trip as we got to see all the popular places, London, Paris, Italy, Switzerland and Germany in 10 days.  I would recommend a trip like that for first timers to Europe because you get a sample of what it has to offer and decide which places you want to come back to.

In the movies, Europe always gave me the impression of romance.  I always thought that it was the “Hollywood” effect to make better movies.  When I was there in person, it felt surreal because it felt exactly like the movies.  Everywhere I looked there were something unique, like almost all the streets were interlocked and all the buildings and houses had their own characters and history behind it.  I loved sitting on the bench and just watch people walk by, because everyone cared about fashion.  I came from a fashion design background, so to see how everyone had a flare without being overly done up made my day!  On top of that, people there seemed much more relaxed and of course the foods there were just so different!  I can’t wait to get back there soon, but meanwhile I shall explore the Europe cuisines to tide me over my travel itch!

Cooking Notes:

  • Other than pita, you can serve the shrimps with any crusty bread.  I once served it with Naan bread before and it was really good too.
  • You can pre-make the salad and refrigerate it up to 24 hours.

[gmc_recipe 2864]

Never say Never!

When I first immigrate to Canada at age 9, I wasn’t aware that oranges were in orange.  That was because in Asia all oranges were green.  The only orange part were the flesh.   For the longest time, I coloured my oranges green at school.  My teachers thought it was because of the language barrier so they tried to explain to me that the colour of the oranges were orange.  I didn’t believe them because I never saw one ever in my life.  So I told them “No! Never!”  Not until I went grocery shopping with my parents the next day and saw the actual oranges in the colour orange.  I was shocked and I had to taste it right there and then to make sure it was an orange.  Of course it was, so from then on, I learned that I would never say never again because really you NEVER know!  It is funny how things can be so different around the world!

Huan and Glee love oranges; they are juicy and sweet.  They are so good for you because they are packed with antioxidant and vitamins.  We almost always have oranges stocked in our fridge.  Last week, there were a sale on oranges in the supermarket so we bought more than usual.  So I decided to incorporate oranges into one of our meals and take the opportunity to tell Glee about the green oranges.

I found this pork recipe surprisingly easy and quick to make.  I paired it with brown rice and the roasted butternut squash.  The flavour is just amazing!

Cooking Notes:

  • If you don’t like roasted vegetable, you can always do your favourite pan fried vegetables or even a fresh salad.

[gmc_recipe 2790]

What happened to the Pie?

Huan made a request for a creamy chicken pot pie because he was craving it for some reason.  After researching for a recipe on the internet and cookbooks, I kind of just took the common elements of all and did my own version.  This was my first attempt to make one, so I really didn’t know what to expect.  To my surprise, it was a lot easier than I thought. Especially with the help of ready-to-bake pie crusts! You can literally make this in 10-15 minutes and let it bake in the oven.

When it came out of the oven, Glee was really excited because she thought we were having apple pie for dinner. She took one bite and asked, “What happened?” I thought to myself that she wasn’t going to eat it. What was I going to do for her dinner? I replied and made an attempt to get her to try it anyway. “This is just a different kind of pie! It is chicken pie!”   Her eyes lid up and said, “Chicken?”  She loves chicken, so she ate it all up, even her side salad! Huan loved the pie so much he ate half of it all by himself.

Cooking Notes:

  • Leftover chicken can be used with this recipe.
  • This recipe is so flexible that you can use any frozen vegetables.

[gmc_recipe 2807]

Glee Slurping Noodles!

Chicken noodle soup is another common dish with thousands of variations.  I made mine very simple even when I had to make my own broth.  If I had more time, I actually prefer to make my own broth.  So this is what I do.  I boil the chicken bone-in, with 2 sticks of celery, 1 whole onion, and 1 large carrot.  There is no need to peel the carrot, I just wash the vegetables, cut the celery and carrot in 2-3 parts and trim the cords of the onion.  Once the water comes back to a boil after adding all the ingredients, I turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 40 minutes.

Once it is done, I pull out the chicken and let cool.  Discard the vegetables and start shredding the chicken.  I then follow the below recipe to make the most simple and easy yet tasty chicken noodle soup!

I used spaghetti for the soup because Glee loves to slurp noodles.  I remember when she was 6-months old, we were travelling to Asia. I ordered a bowl of rice noodle soup and started eating it and she signaled  that she wanted some.  At that time she only started solid food not long ago, so I was a little weary about giving her the noodles.  But I thought the rice noodles were soft enough so I gave her some and she just started slurping it.  That caught everyone’s attention because everyone including us were surprised that a baby at her age could do that.  That was when I knew I shouldn’t underestimate the ability of a baby and better watch myself because she would pick up everything we do before we know it!

Cooking Notes:

  • You can use whatever pasta you have on hand.  I like spaghetti because Glee loves noodles and watching her slurp noodles is one of the most joyful event.
  • You can also add other vegetables, like corn and peas in the soup.
  • This can also be frozen and reheated.  When I make chicken noodle soup, I tend to make a big pot, and divide them into individual servings and freeze it for emergencies.

[gmc_recipe 2899]

Healthy Eating for Elderly!

Recently I’ve been cooking for my in-laws because they have been really busy with work and were tired of eating out.  I was extra careful choosing what to cook as they are more health conscious and concerned about cholesterol, blood sugar, fat etc.  Of course they didn’t want to give up flavour either.  So I decided to go with fish as it is one of the healthiest foods out there.  I paired the salmon with pasta instead of rice to address the blood sugar concerns.  I’ve chosen the asparagus as it’s loaded with nutrients.  Asparagus is a very good source of fibre, foliate, Vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

The cream sauce might seem fattening, but keep in mind less is more!  You only need a lot of it if you are trying to cut out things to make it less fattening resulting in compromising flavours.  When it is done without skimping out, you will get more satisfied with less.

Cooking Notes:

  • You can replace the spaghetti with any pasta you have on hand.  Better yet, use whole wheat pasta if you can get some.
  • You can prepare everything in advance, even the pasta.  When you are ready to eat, stick your pasty in the microwave for 1 minute while you sear your salmon and heat up your cream sauce.

[gmc_recipe 2737]


Don’t Under Estimate a Home-Cooked Meal!

Not only is a steak dinner impressive, it is very quick and easy to make!  If you have a date, instead of spending big money at a fancy steak restaurant you could try making this dinner yourself.  Especially for the guys, you will definitely score brownie points with your date!  It is that much more impressive for a guy who knows how to cook!

I remembered the first time my husband (boyfriend back then) surprised me with a home-cooked meal for a date.  It was our fifth or sixth date, instead of him asking me what and where I would like to go for dinner, he told me that he had everything planned.  He told me to come pick him up at his place.  When I got there at 7pm, he said he cooked.  I was really surprised and curious at the same time as he never told me that he could cook.  I sat at his dinner table watching him put this beautiful steak dinner together and secretly thought to myself that he was the one!  So guys!  Don’t under estimate the power of a home-cooked meal!

Cooking Notes:

  • To impress your date, prepare everything in advance and do the actual cooking (which will only take 10-15 minutes) when he/she arrives.
  • When he/she arrives, pop open a bottle of red wine and start cooking while sipping on the glass to show you have everything under control.

[gmc_recipe 2457]

Yummy! Tastes like Chicken!

This is another one of Glee’s favourite dishes!  When I saw the recipe, I knew kids would be all over it because it is sweet and the chicken is just so easy to eat.  I was looking for a particular meat dish that was kid-friendly because I wanted to get Glee to eat more meat as she wasn’t eating enough protein when she first started eating real food.  This dinner was a success because she ate the whole drumstick.  I told her that she was eating chicken.  From that day on, all the meats are “Chicken” to her!

Cooking Notes:

  • Salad could be prepared and chilled up to 24 hours in advance.
  • If your family prefers flavoured rice, you can use chicken stock to cook your rice and add whatever herbs you like.  You can also use white rice or whatever your family prefers.

[gmc_recipe 2645]

Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

In the past few days, Hurricane Sandy has brought everyone down.  The anticipation of its arrival was scary enough; let alone the aftermath.  At times like this, you want some comfort food, so I have chosen a Fagioli.  A Fagioli is soup with pasta and beans.  I added meat to make it a full meal so that it will bring you warmth, comfort and strength.

I would like to dedicate this meal to all the people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.  The worst is now behind us and let us rebuild/recover with this warmth and comfort Fagioli!

Cooking Notes:

  • You can turn this into a Chicken fagioli by replacing the beef to chicken and use chicken broth instead of beef broth.
  • This recipe is so flexible, you can use any of your family’s favourite beans!

[gmc_recipe 2546]

Fish is one of the Healthiest Foods!

When I was pregnant, my girlfriend Cam was really thoughtful.  She gifted Huan a book called ‘100 Healthiest Foods To Eat During Pregnancy’ for his birthday.  Cam said to Huan: “You love to cook, so please include all these foods in the meals for Mey.”  I was only three months pregnant at the time.  So it was perfect!

I found myself really nauseous and fatigued taking the maternal vitamins.  So Huan and I decided to go all natural for the pregnancy.  We became very particular about what nutrition was included in the vitamins so I could eat the proper foods to make up for it.  This book came in real handy!

The foods suggested in the book were very nutritious and healthy.  Although it didn’t come with recipes, it had extensive explanations on why each food is good for you and your growing fetus.  One of the foods in the book was fish.  As you may already know from my previous post, Huan wasn’t a big fan of fish, but he managed to cook up plenty of fish meals with tomato salsa.  He used the same toppings for baked trout, tilapia and salmon.  I loved it too much not to share!

Before that we never made fish at home, but now we have it every week!  Thank you Cam for being a wonderful friend!  I just want to let you know that I am still using the book today!

Cooking Notes:

  • Salsa could be made in advance and keep in the fridge up to 24 hours.

[gmc_recipe 2502]

Roasting is Perfect for Entertaining!

When you are entertaining, there are so many things you need to do.  Food is a big part of it.  That’s why I always like roasting because of the following reasons:

  1. Prep-work for a roast is very minimal (usually between 15-20 minutes) and it can be done in advance.
  2. You can incorporate sides to the roast to create a full meal saving you time making sides.
  3. When you pop the roast into the oven, the aroma will fill your kitchen as your guests arrive giving the impression that you are slaving in the kitchen putting out great food.
  4. Because roasting is mostly waiting, you can just set the timer and use that time to prepare sides, decorate or do whatever you need to get ready for your party.

I chose to make this roast for Halloween because we were going to my sister Yein’s house for dinner.  We wanted the kids to go “Trick or Treat” together around her neighbourhood.

I prepared the roast in advance, Huan dropped me off at my sister’s before picking up Glee from school.  I popped the roast into the oven and we set the table, made sure the candies, lanterns were out and the kids costumes were ready to go.

Once they came back, the roast came out perfect!  We had a quick dinner and took the kids trick-or-treating!  We all had a blast!

Cooking Notes:

  • This recipe is so flexible, you can use any root vegetables you like.  However, I find that the apples and butternut squash goes really well with it.
  • You can prepare the roast in advance and just put it in the fridge overnight.  Just remember that you need approximately a minimum 1 1/2 hour roasting time.

[gmc_recipe 2601]