Sunday, August 29, 2010

Soy Sauce Chicken

Asian food seems to be the theme here lately on the good ole blog. Maybe that's because many of my favorite recipes are the comfort foods from my mom's kitchen.  Soy sauce chicken was a house favorite growing up.  This dish even met our 15 month old critic's approval!  Aaron actually ate a few pieces of meat and hard boiled egg, both of which are a rare occurrence.

Soy Sauce Chicken is another recipe my mom learned from her Chinese cooking teacher, Mrs. Ting.  It consists of a whole cut up fryer chicken that is simmered in a sweet seasoned soy sauce mixture and served with hard boiled eggs and green onions.  If you've never cooked with the licorice-like flavored Chinese star anise, you'll love the way it lightly accentuates this dish. Here's what it looks like...

Soy Sauce Chicken
1 fryer chicken, cut into pieces
2/3 cup soy sauce
4 slices of ginger
5 pieces of anise seed
2 T. white cooking wine
1/2-2/3 cup sugar (I use 1/2)
2 cups water

Save for serving:
2-3 green onions
3 or 4 hard boiled eggs

Combine soy sauce, ginger, star anise, wine, sugar and water in an electric skillet or large cooking pan.  Heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Place the chicken in the pan with the sauce, cover. Cook 10 minutes.  

Remove cover, reduce heat to a low simmer.   Occasionally turn and baste the chicken.   Cook 20 minutes per pound of chicken.  Place the hard boiled eggs in the pan with the chicken to absorb some of the sauce.

Mrs. Ting had a trick for cutting the hard boiled eggs into a zig-zag pattern.  Tie a string or thread onto the middle of a toothpick. Insert the toothpick into the center of the egg until the string is in the middle of the egg.  Pull the string to cut the egg into a zig-zag pattern.

Place the chicken on a serving dish and garnish with 1"-2" slivered strips of green onion and hard boiled egg halves.  Drizzle a little of the thickened (by boiling down) sauce all over.   Serve with remaining sauce in a small pitcher.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweet & Sour Broccoli Slaw

Need more veggies! That's what the little voice in my head keeps telling me.  Between making and eating most of the peanut butter balls and the recent ice cream purchase, I need more vegetables in my diet!   I didn't want to miss my chance on the ice cream since it was a Limited Edition and on sale for under $3!  Mmmm so good.....Dreyer's (Edy's for those of you on the East coast) Slow Churned S'mores ice cream.

Okay, so maybe this recipe isn't the healthiest vegetable choice, but I had the ingredients and it is very good.  Plus, it has to be better than stuffing my face with previously mentioned goodies. (I tried to cut the calories a bit by substituting Splenda for the sugar.)

Sweet & Sour Broccoli Slaw
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 pack of chicken flavoring from Ramen
1 bag of broccoli slaw
1 package of Ramen noodles, crushed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I use walnuts)

Mix dressing, pour over broccoli slaw and noodles. Add sunflower seeds before serving.

I acquired this recipe from my sister Patty's friend while I was visiting St. Louis back in 2002.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

I was craving something a little sweet and indulgent tonight, but didn't want to spend a lot of time cooking since my dear husband needed to get in the kitchen to make us dinner.  I love that guy! (He made us sliders and a salad if you were wondering.  It was delicious!)  Anyhoo, an old recipe that I remember making with my mom when I was a wee little one came to mind: Peanut Butter Balls.  

Minimal prep and no baking required! It only takes about 10 minutes to make.

Peanut Butter Balls
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 3 1/2 crackers)
Chocolate sprinkles or powdered sugar

Crumb the graham crackers in a food processor. Add the nonfat dry milk, peanut butter, and honey.  Process until it is well mixed.

 Roll the dough into 1" balls and then roll in chocolate sprinkles (or powdered sugar). 
Keep refrigerated. Makes about 20 peanut butter balls.

I look forward to making these when Aaron is a little older. I think we'll have fun making these together :)

Update:  If you want something a bit healthier or for the little ones check out this recipe for Almond Butter Balls. I haven't made it yet, but plan to soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cold Noodles Sze-Chuan Style

Okay folks, you've been asking for it, and here it is!  Cold Sze-Chuan Style Noodles.  It is, and always will be, one of my all time favorite recipes.  Growing up, I often requested my mom to make this.  She learned how to make it from her Chinese cooking teacher Mrs. Ting while living in Okinawa.  My mom took cooking lessons for 3 years from Ti'en Liu (aka Deanna Luke - her Chinese name anglicized), and then for about a year from her younger friend Mrs. Ting.  Both trained under top chefs in Hong Kong.

A couple months ago, it was my turn to host Bunco and I decided I couldn't go wrong with this winner.   Just about everyone wanted the recipe, so by popular demand here it is...

Cold Noodles Sze-Chuan Style
1 cup cooked shredded chicken (cook the chicken in boiling water with 3 slices of fresh ginger and a splash of cooking Sherry to give it some flavor),  I use 2 chicken breasts.

2 cups bean sprouts, blanched
1 large carrot, cut into julienne strips
1 zucchini, cut into julienne strips (or sub. English cucumber)

1 1/4 lb fresh Chinese noodles (such as Nasoya)
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I use 1 T.)
1 Tbs sesame oil

3 Tbs sesame seed paste (mom usually used peanut butter)
6 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs vinegar (rice or white) Mrs. Ting says 2 Tbs
1 T. red hot pepper oil (I substitute 1/4-1/2 t. crushed red pepper, since I don't have this on hand)
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs scallions, chopped (or green onions)
1/2 Tbs ginger, minced
1/2 Tbs garlic, minced
1/2 tsp brown peppercorn (Szechuan) powder (DO NOT sub other peppers, this one is unique!)**
1 Tbs sesame oil

1 Tbs roasted peanuts, chopped

**I have a big container of brown peppercorns, so if you live near me I would be glad to provide you with this critical ingredient. I was only able to find it online.

Mom never cut any corners with this recipe and made the noodles from scratch.  I don't see how she had the time!  I sure don't so cheat and buy them at the grocery store.  My local grocery store Bel Air/Raley's has fresh Nasoya Chinese noodles in the produce section. 

Noodles: 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, +/- 2 Tbs water. Knead, adding more water necessary to make a stiff dough (particles should just barely cling together). Roll out into a thin sheet. Roll up and cut into noodles. Or just buy noodles.

1. Put the noodles into boiling water and cook until the water boils again.  Then add 1/2 cup of cold water and boil again until the noodles are tender.  Take the noodles out immediately. Put on a platter that has 2 Tbs of vegetable oil on it. Add another 1 Tbs of sesame seed oil to the noodles.  Then use chopsticks (if your up for the challenge!) or tongs to stir the noodles and at the same time use a fan to cool the noodles.   I know this sounds tricky, but the easiest way I found was to put an electric fan on the counter while you lift the noodles with tongs until they are cooled.  This process is to prevent the noodles from sticking together. (the fanning makes them shiny too!)
2. Boil the bean sprouts in boiling water for about 10 seconds. I use the hot water I just used for cooking the noodles.  Remove the sprouts and plunge into cold water. When they are cool, squeeze dry. Put on a serving platter and place the cold noodles over them. Then put the shredded chicken on the noodles.

3. Mix the sesame seed paste (peanut butter) with 1 Tbs of soy sauce in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly.  Then add another tablespoon of soy sauce. Mix well.  Repeat this procedure until all the soy sauce has been used up.   Then add the vinegar, red hot pepper oil, scallion, ginger, garlic, brown peppercorn powder, and sesame oil to prepare the seasoning sauce and pour over the top of the prepared noodles.  Top with carrots and zucchini.   Sprinkle peanuts over.   Mix well just before serving.
3. Put the sesame seed paste (peanut butter), soy sauce, vinegar, red hot pepper oil, ginger, garlic, brown peppercorn powder, and sesame oil in a blender.  When smooth, stir in scallions ans proceed as above.

I know the recipe seems complicated, but after you've made it once you'll find ways to get everything organized so it will be easier the second time around.  I would just say give yourself plenty of time to make it.  Since it is served chilled it's fine to make it in the morning and serve it for dinner.  If you have any questions, just let me know! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does. :)

Additional notes, as reminded by my mother....
1) Soy Sauce: "Mrs. Liu and Mrs. Ting were insistant that I use La Choy (or another Chinese soy sauce) rather than Kikkoman or other Japanese soy sauce.   The Chinese soy sauce has less sharp taste and a little more dimension, I think, although they are pretty interchangable." Okay so I used Kikkoman because that's what I had!  I wasn't about to go buy another soy sauce. Sorry mom :(
2) Noodles: "if you can't find the noodles mentioned, fresh linguine from the deli section works fine.  Dried linguine works fine, too, but lengthens the cooking time."
3) Szechwan brown peppercorns are actually the berries of  a certain variety of the prickly mountain ash shrub, and are not from the pepper family at all.
4) Hot Pepper Oil: "In Okinawa, hot pepper oil wasn't available, so Mrs. Liu would simmer a fresh hot pepper or two (like a Thai pepper, for instance)  in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil until the pepper began to darken.  Throw away the pepper and use the oil."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer salads

Ahh another weekend in the books.  This weekend was full of fun summer bbq's with good friends.   I used these opportunities to share some new salad recipes I recently acquired.

Caramel Apple Deconstructed

I'll start with a yummy caramel apple salad that I got a few weeks ago from my mom. She had it at a bbq and was able to snag the recipe.  I would say it's more of a dessert than a side dish since it's pretty sweet. The best part is that I was able to whip it up super quick! What's even better is that I didn't feel a bit guilty while eating a big bowl full. :)

I have made the caramel apple salad using Lite Cool Whip and Fat Free Cool Whip.  I couldn't really tell a difference, but when I made it with Fat Free Cool Whip I only added 1 1/2 cups since I wanted the caramel taste to come through stronger.   I think next time I might chop up a chocolate bar on top. Yummo! Nothing gets better than caramel & chocolate in my book!  One more thing, I used a combination of granny smith and fuji apples.  I thought the tartness of the granny smith apples complemented the overall sweetness of the 'salad' very well.

Needless to say, everyone approved of this salad, well everyone except my husband, but that's because he's not a big fruit kind of guy.  Put some bbq pulled pork in front of him and he's in heaven. I'll get to the bbq pulled pork that has dubbed me the title 'pit meister' another time just to keep you salivating!

Orzo smorzo, but oh so good!
I never know what to do with orzo.  Why use rice shaped pasta when you could just make rice?!  However, I have to say that rice probably wouldn't taste very good in this summer salad that I got from a friend, Lauren Schenke.  It was fantastic and my good friend and Aaron's Godmother, Erica, gave it "two thumbs up".   The picture below just doesn't to it justice.  One of these years I'll get a fancy SLR camera, but for now I have to maximize the functionality of my little point and shoot.

The heirloom tomatoes I got from the farmers market worked out great in this salad since they were firm enough that they didn't squish all over the place.  I used fresh raw corn, but realized after making the salad that I was probably supposed to cook it first.  Oh well, regardless it tasted great!

By the way, if you're ever looking for good recipes, go to to find all those fantastic recipes published in Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, and others.  It's the first place I go for new recipes. No subscription or registration needed!

Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, & Basil (recipe link)
Cooking Light, JULY 2001

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)


  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 3  garlic cloves, crushed

  • SALAD:
  • 1  cup  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 2  cups  fresh yellow corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 2  cups  chopped tomato
  • 1/2  cup  vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped fresh basil


To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
To prepare salad, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, and place in a large bowl. Spoon half of dressing over pasta; toss to coat. Cool to room temperature. Add the remaining dressing, corn, tomato, onion, and basil to pasta; toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information

312 (16% from fat)
5.4g (sat 0.8g,mono 3g,poly 1.2g)
Cooking Light, JULY 2001

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Am I the only one who has black bananas attacking me when I open the freezer door? Well, considering I already have my maximum allowance of frozen bananas (3 - just enough to make banana bread) I had to figure something else out for the tired ones on my kitchen counter.  These dreaded bananas were destined for something much sweeter than banana bread: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Wow, that's a mouthful to say!

Several years ago, a colleague of mine at Barbara's Bakery, Rebecca, gave me a "calorie-bomb" of a recipe for Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Those are actually her words to describe the recipe.  As I do many recipes, I altered this one to make it less damaging and it turned out great. Even my picky eater 15 month old loved them. This is the kid who won't even eat ice cream or cake! What kid doesn't eat cake or ice cream?!

The cookies didn't spread at all during baking, which meant nice thick cookies. However, rather than a typical gooey cookie texture, the inside was more like a moist muffin. Fine by me!  I'll just call these my muffin-top cookies.....and if I don't eat too many I won't get a muffin-top either!

By the next morning these muffin top cookies made a great snack to go with my coffee. Yum, yum!

Note: If you are expecting super sweet & sinful cookies, these aren't the cookies for you.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Meghalicious modified)

1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (blacker the better)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups quick oats
3/4 cup wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
9 oz (3/4 pkg) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream the shortening and sugar in a mixer. Add the egg, mix well. Add the bananas, applesauce, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon; mix well. Add the oats, flour and baking soda. Mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookies on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until the peaks on the cookies are golden.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recipe Etiquette

Wow, my first ever blog post! I never had the desire to blog until recently after reading some really good here I go....short and sweet.

To share or not to share?
A while back I was talking to someone about how I really wanted a recipe from another friend, but wasn't getting anywhere in obtaining this incredible recipe.  Then we got to talking about how some people just don't share recipes. What the heck?!  Not because they simply forgot, but they deliberately refuse to share it with you!  I wish I could say I understand, but I don't, so poo-poo on you you non-sharing recipe people! Maybe they don't want me showing up to the same potluck with the same dish? Who knows! If someone likes a dish I have prepared, I always give credit where credit is due. I'm not about to 'steal' your recipe. Oh well, I guess I'll just let that one go.

With that said, I will be sharing all my great recipes (truly, my ego it getting to me!) that have been handed down to me from the greatest cook I know (my mother), great friends and many others I have had the fortune of meeting. Cheers to eating yummy food!

And as my husband would say "BING-BANG", I wrote my first blog post!