Pretending to be a restaurant

Pretending to be a restaurant
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If you ask me, weeknight dinners are supposed to be homey, maybe even to the point of boring. While cooking up a storm on a weeknight may be counter-intuitive, I think it makes sense to linger near the stove just a little longer on cold evenings like these. And just to throw in a little fun, why not pretend to be a restaurant serving up a dinner to some weary diners?

First up, that obligatory omelet that I would not order but which my girl friend never fails to order . But why? Baffled! I made this with the last few eggs in the fridge and the egg whites I had left over from my cream puff project.

Pretending to be a restaurant

Next, we have a braised dish. It was supposed to be braised pork belly which I love but will not order because it always seems to be swimming in fat and sodium. While the prospect of cooking it myself was exciting, I’m new to braising, sorta.

And also I’ve been looking for a leaner cut of pork belly. Does lean pork belly even exist? I didn’t think so either. Armed with zero experience in the pork purchase department, I was wont to throw up my hands and leave it once again to the God of Ribs! No lean pork belly? No problem. We got ribs!

Pretending to be a restaurant

I braised the ribs with potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Weird combination, I know. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of making it an even larger pot so we could have it over 2 meals.

And of course, not forgetting the veggies. Chinese kale stir-fry is another hugely popular restaurant dish. Mine comes topped with garlic oil and oyster sauce and with enough carrots to make any rabbit happy.

Pretending to be a restaurant

Spicing up the kitchen

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I ran out of cayenne pepper about a month ago. Yes, you read that right. I was cayenne-less for a month and that’s the longest our kitchen has gone without one of our favorite spices. Ever since I discovered the wonders of cayenne and the subtle kick it adds to every dish, I have kept the kitchen stocked with it. But I forgot to check my pantry and found myself shaking an empty bottle one day.

No problem, I thought. I would go to the store and get more.

But when I got to the store, guess what? They were out of cayenne! The little row labeled ‘cayenne pepper’ was empty. I figured that the store ran out of stock since it’s a pretty common and popular spice so I decided to check back the next week. Again, the row was empty so I waited patiently for the next week. By the third week, I asked the store clerk if they were going to restock it. She said she didn’t know.

Finally, after a whole month of waiting and realizing that it might not get restocked for whatever strange reason, I decided to go for cayenne’s neighbor, California chili pepper instead. So far, it has been a good substitute but you can bet I’ll be snagging as many bottles of cayenne pepper as I can when they get restocked!

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too
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And so there was the afternoon when we actually made a trip to the bakery for some pastries and a slice of cake. Not on purpose, of course. We were on our way back from lunch and the bakery was just one tiny fattening U-turn away. Convenient, ain’t it?

And of course, this smallish bakery is just about the most happening place for people eager to have a finger in every pie, so to speak. There’s such a big selection of desserts they’d be crazy not to. Want to have a finger in every pie, that is. So we got our fingers ready too. To point at what we wanted.

Because the desserts aren’t displayed with those little name cards we’re so used to seeing. These pastries and cakes have no names because well, the regulars who frequent the place already know the names like the backs of their hands. Not us though. Frankly desserts aren’t that high up on our to-do list.

So let’s see. We had the Blueberry Danish, Cinnamon Roll, Bear Claw and Nicoise Cake. And the verdict: They were all really delicious.

Yes, you can have your cake, and eat it too

The cake was creamy, way too creamy. But hey, what’s a little cream? Because you can always count on your New Year’s resolution to get you back into shape, right?

Mid-winter froyo

Mid-winter froyo
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Ouch, it’s cold. As in freezin’! It’s too cold to blog (anyone got a better excuse?) and it’s been raining heavily except that heavily in California means you can walk outside in a hoodie and not get wet. And when it rains, it’s actually not as cold except when the wind blows.

Some pretty gusty winds out there, the kind that flips your poor umbrella over the minute you get it open. When the wind blows, you shake the loose strands of hair off your face and toss your head back to catch more of it. Refreshing takes on a whole new meaning.

So we get to the front of Yogurtland and the sign says we’re 7 minutes early. We’re the only ones standing marching on the spot (brrr!) outside waiting for it to open! Well, at least we’re not standing in the blazing sun!

Frozen yogurt, here we come! And this time, I got my own cup, yay! (unlike the last time).

Mid-winter froyo

Had the Alphonso Mango Tart, Cheesecake and Sumatra Coffee Blend. Tossed in 2 little pretzels and called it a topping. Coupled with the intense shivering, this is really an awesome combination.

Stepping back out smacking my lips after this delicious frozen yogurt w-was q-quite th-th-the ch-challenge! The wind wasn’t letting up so the only thing left to do was pull my hoodie in closer, toss my head back and do the hustle. Woo-hooooo!!

 

Keep calm and snack on!

Keep calm and snack on!
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What do you do when lunch is a distant 2 hours away and your tummy’s doing drum solos every other minute? Answer: Keep calm and snack on!! Man, do we need snacks around here? The cold and the rain and just being indoors has made me a monster snacker. Barely am I done eating breakfast when I’m on the prowl for food again. If you’re in the same boat, keep calm and snack on like I’ve been doing.

Smoked salmon on a water cracker. A snack with a posh twist.

Keep calm and snack on!

Weirdly shaped chicken curry puffs. You can tell these are homemade. No one sells puffs shaped like the sails on a yacht. Unless they’re making them for a nautical-themed party?

Keep calm and snack on!

Kettle chips and guacamole. Yup,we made enough guac to feed an army and no one’s complaining!

Keep calm and snack on!

Christmas menu planning 2016

Christmas menu planning 2016
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My Christmas menu is pretty much a blank right now. Blame it on the weather, what else? It’s very sunny but it’s also f-f-reezing, if that even makes any sense. Step outside and you’ll feel Nature’s air-conditioning on the highest setting! It’s really quite delicious – ugh, you know you’ve been writing too many food posts when you use ‘delicious’ on everything including the weather!

Some delicious onion bagels and Hip2bDaughter2’s homemade tomato soup to warm up the insides…

Christmas menu planning 2016

… before we make our shopping and grocery rounds. Strangely, my grocery cart has little in it that has to do with Christmas dinner. We’re just gonna wing it this time because we’ve been invited to a Christmas breakfast? Never heard of it. Not quite sure that it means. Do we roll out of bed and over in our jammies and hurricane hair? I don’t know but we’ll find out.

Meanwhile, we’ve been picking out Christmas cards and shopping for baking ingredients for the cookies we’re planning to give out to friends. Christmas cards, I haven’t bought any in ages since I decided to be environmental and send e-cards instead. But Christmas cards seem to be in vogue here so here’s to a bit of nostalgic shopping.

I’m guessing we’ll be coming home after breakfast to cook our own Christmas dinner. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter when we have our  dinner because we don’t celebrate Christmas, not as a religious event anyways. It’s just seems fun having it on Christmas Eve along with the rest of the world.

For many years now, we’ve had roast turkey on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, instead of roast turkey (which we decided to limit to possibly one a year after reading about the inhumane ways they treat turkeys), I’m planning to grill pork ribs of the pre-marinated kind (from that mile-long rack we bought recently) and whip up my homemade cranberry sauce, coleslaw and mashed potatoes to go with those ribs. So there, I’ve got my Christmas menu figured out just like that!

What meal do you have lined up for Christmas?

Shout-out to the God of Ribs!

Shout-out to the God of Ribs!
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A while back, I bought some amazing ready-to-eat pork ribs and loved them so much I went back for more. But! They were out. Bummer! Looks like I’ll have to make my own from scratch then. Not a problem, just got to get my hands dirty is all! If you want to eat something good and delicious, you got to get in there and do it yourself sometimes.

What I didn’t know was that apparently, the God of Ribs was smiling down on me. Before I even got around to buying those raw ribs, I noticed the ready-to-eat ribs were back on the shelf. Woah! I instantly set out to grab some but on the way there, I noticed trays of pre-marinated, ready-to-cook ribs at like half the price. Hey, why not, right?

Back to the shelf went the ready-to-eat ribs and into my cart went the pre-marinated tray. Gotta love a deal this good. If the God of Ribs sends me a rack of such reasonably priced ribs that only requires me to shove straight into the oven and walk away, I’m laughing all the way home!!

This rack costs around the same price as the ready-to-eat rack I bought a while back. When the pack was unwrapped, surprise, look at the size of this thing. It’s the length of a freakin’ freeway! Enough for like 3 or 4 meals lol. And I’m pattin’ the God of Ribs on the back and goin’: thanks, dude *muacks*!

Shout-out to the God of Ribs!

We had the cut off the top of the rack for dinner one night – the part that’s folded down in the above picture. No bones here, all meat and cartilage, not fall off the bone but still has a bite to it. So moist, so delicious. Just the way I like it *chuckle*.

Shout-out to the God of Ribs!

Happiness is a warm cream puff

Happiness is a warm cream puff
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What do cream puffs and happiness have in common? Everything! They’re one and the same thing. I mean, who can dispute that one bite into a soft luscious cream puff is all it takes to make everyone in the room get up and do the macarena? What?? Never mind, you get the idea, that’s how I feel about cream puffs!

Over the years, I’ve made my own cream puffs a few times. Obviously not often enough. I’m not sure what got me thinking about cream puffs recently. Could be from looking at clouds lol. But here was one of those cold and quiet Sunday afternoons entirely in need of some excitement of the pastry kind.

Mere nanoseconds before my forehead hit the slumber button on my keyboard, I jumped up and declared: I’m making cream puffs!! Not long afterwards, the house is smelling like a bakery. I’m not even kiddin’! That aroma alone is enough to start up the macarena song. Seriously, it’s been too too long since I last made cream puffs. Where have I been?!

Seriously, look at these beauties. So cute and round, so airy and light, simply gorgeous! I can’t stop smiling.

Happiness is a warm cream puff

The cream puff seems to be the most underrated pastry of modern times. Heck, trendy bakeries are sprouting up everywhere but I don’t see them selling cream puffs (not that I’d necessarily buy any). Where’re the cream puffs?! In fact, I think I’ve only come across one old school bakery that sells them, and even then, they’re stashed in a corner where only a true cream puff enthusiast would seek them out. What a shame!

Happiness is a warm cream puff

Well, this cream puff enthusiast ain’t relying on no one for her supply. She rolls up her 4 sleeves and makes her own!!! Oh man, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing these cream puffs taste. To me, of course. I can’t speak for anyone else. I could eat the whole tray.

Baking ’em at home means I can do whatever I like aka more pastry, less cream. My cream has a unique taste and color, and a lusciousness of its own because of the kind of milk and sugar I used. Want a bite? *wink*

Happiness is a warm cream puff

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment
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If you were excited at the title of this post and you’re considering jumping on the nourishing salmon oil hair treatment bandwagon, read on to find out how you too can recreate this wonderful hair treatment in your own home. Ooh, this is exciting! I promise, your hair will thank you for it lol.

There I am looking in the freezer going eeny-meeny-miny-mo and there’s the salmon fillet jumping up and down going, “Pick me, pick me!” Okay, okay! So fried salmon in sweet and spicy sauce it is! Frying salmon, now that’d be interesting. I mean, how often do people fry salmon, right?

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

No, not deep-fry! Even shallow frying isn’t my first choice but I guess that’s part of the adventure of cooking. To go down the greasy path of oil splatters every now and then. Even if it means donning armor apron and arming myself with tongs, spatula and shield ala pot cover.

With a swoosh and a sizzle, the fillet hits the oil and starts singing the shallow fry song. That’s the very moment I went: Aa-aargh, there goes my freshly washed hair! Dang it, I knew I should’ve put my shower cap on!!

But for the love of food and cooking, I was willing to pretend that I was at the salon having my hair smoked or cooked or whatever it is people fork out a fortune for these days. Yup, it’s the salmon oil hair treatment, y’all – ever heard of it? No? What??! It’s the latest trend! I got mine for free and now my hair’s all shiny and smoky, see!!

Feeling like quite the glamorous chef now with my newly-done hair, I’m on to concocting the sweet and spicy sauce, which came out really nice and thick, by the way, and in abundance too.

Nourishing salmon oil hair treatment

To say that my fried salmon in sweet and spicy sauce was yummy would be an understatement. It was insanely good! I realized with glee that I had enough sauce to make this dish one more time. You mean you got that nourishing salmon oil hair treatment twice?!? You better believe it. If I keep doing this, I might even get myself a spot on a Clairol ad, shiny cascading curls and all *rotfl*.

Grilled salmon and asparagus, or is it asparagi?

Grilled salmon and asparagus, or is it asparagi?
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Here comes another Salmon Week! I know. It seems we just can’t get enough. When it’s cold outside, I’d rather be lounging around doing next to nothing (really?) than clanking pots in the kitchen. That’s when the idea of grilled salmon and asparagus saved the day. Those two go so well together – what can I say?

Grilled salmon and asparagus, or is it asparagi?

One weekend, I happened to snag a bunch of asparagus. Wait a minute, what’s the plural of asparagus? Is it asparagi? Big lol. Anyhoo, I snagged them because they were pathetically skinny and all the ones I’ve been seeing so far are the fatter, thicker variety.

Grilled salmon and asparagus, or is it asparagi?

Well okay, I may like my asparagus pathetically skinny but that’s not how I like my salmon fillet. I’m a pig when it comes to salmon aka I want to eat a lot of it. I’m not happy to be just nibbling little bits off a small cut of fillet like a cat. That’s why I love these big slabs of salmon fillets. (Wait, wait, wait, aren’t there too many animals in this paragraph? argh!!)

This grilled salmon with dill and lemon is quite an interesting twist from how I usually do this but since I have plenty of dill and lemons, why not? Together with the asparagus, this was one delicious dinner that warmed up the house and our tummies.

Grilled salmon and asparagus, or is it asparagi?

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