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

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 ourĀ  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?

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?

Dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast

Dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast
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It’s no secret that I love bagels. You might recall I had 2 packs of 6 bagels each in my grocery cart. At the time, I was thinking of simply eating them plain with butter. Anything beyond that might be a little too involved. But guess who got fancy one fine day and made herself a dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast?

Yes, the bagels. These are the trendy new onion bagels I snagged. Just look at the insane coating of black and white sesame seeds. Lovin’ it! Plus the fact that I could totally be setting a new fashion trend here with my million-dollar sesame seed-studded smile. Way classy, yo!

Dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast

Right, so here’s the thing. I noticed that the outside is hard (as it should be) and crunchy , a crunch intensified by the sesame seeds while the inside is almost bread-like. Is it just me or are bagels no longer the rocks they used to be? Hmm, I’m not sure if it’s just this particular batch, or if softer bagels are indeed here to stay. If they are, I’d be the first to jump for joy.

Dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast

Most days, I go minimalistic with my bagel with just a ton bit of butter which, by the way, is good with everything. My personal opinion, of course. But I have 33 eggs in the fridge so I thought, why not spend 2 minutes whipping up a low-fat version of dill egg mayo and slapping it on?

And that’s lunch. Care to join me?

Dill egg mayo on onion bagel toast

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!
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Hey, Thanksgiving week is here and I’m happy to report I’m ahead of schedule with my menu planning! How did that happen? Well, I got off my butt and went shopping earlier than usual. Simple as that!!

Aa-and I have a turkey in my shopping cart to show for it, yay! Most years, my turkey has been much bigger and frankly, quite a weight-lifting challenge after it’s stuffed. This year, I have a modest 11-pounder.

Thanksgiving menu planning, check!

And speaking of stuffing, last year, I said I’d make my own stuffing this year since it’s pretty easy and I’ve done it before. But as I was making my rounds at the sampling booths, I tasted the stuffing they were giving out (same one I bought last year) and I was instantly reminded of how much I like the taste. So forget about making my own, let me just grab a box!

The cranberry sauce I sampled also turned out to be the same one I bought two years ago. Last year though, I found cranberries in the frozen section at $1.99 for like a 2-pound bag which I grabbed without so much as batting an eyelid to concoct my own sauce. This year, I’m going to continue the tradition of making my own cranberry sauce which tastes really good and will have more natural goodness if I cook it myself.

To complete the meal, I made mashed potatoes last year and a romaine salad which proved to be too much for one sitting. I mean, Thanksgiving is a huge, huge meal that’s eaten over several meals. So I’m trying to scale it down this year. The mashed potatoes will stay but I’m changing up the salad for homemade coleslaw instead. So that’s going to be interesting.

So are you ready for Turkey Day? *winks*.

Pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine

Pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine
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So we had another of those highly anticipated pasta nights. This time, it was pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine and whoever created this amazing pasta (was it me?), thank you, you’re a genius! Because if shrimp scampi pasta is the new love in town, salmon fettuccine is definitely an unforgettable old flame.

We’ve been eating a lot of salmon lately. We buy a huge salmon fillet and technically it’s big enough for 3 or 4 meals. So it’s like we always have salmon sitting around and it’s really convenient for lazy nights and most importantly, there are no bones to contend with.

We heart salmon so much that it doesn’t even make sense any more to go outside for a couple of mouthfuls of salmon (?) which might or might not keep a cat full for, oh, about 10 minutes tops. C’mon!

At any rate, here comes our big ol’ dinner portion grilled to perfection with the moistness still intact. Oooh man, I wanna eat up this photo like right now! *droolzzz*

Pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine

Sometimes it’s nice to pretend we’re at a fancy restaurant. “I’d like to have the grilled salmon with fettuccine please!” and have it served with my signature fettuccine in a red wine-red sauce with mushrooms and tomatoes. That red wine definitely ups the ante on flavor, I tell ya.

Pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine

Yup, I could literally eat this every day. Not even kiddin’! Confession: sometimes we do this twice a week *breaks out into evil laugh*! After all, pasta is supposed to be good for you, maybe even better than your regular noodles but don’t look at me, I’m a die-hard carb freak either way. I just can’t help myself!

Pasta night with grilled salmon fettuccine

Tomato soup, clear and simple

Tomato soup, clear and simple
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We have a soup on our family menu that’s called, very simply, ‘tomato soup’ . But this isn’t a soup made with tomatoes, tomatoes and tomatoes. That would be boring. It’s, in fact, a hearty combination of some fairly run-of-the-mill ingredients like carrots, onions, celery, chicken, sometimes pork and potatoes too.

So I’m not sure why it’s called ‘tomato soup’. It could be that the taste of the tomato is the most distinct. The soup itself is sweet from all the vegetables in it. But the tomato lifts it to a new level with its unmistakable tang which I find so comforting. So the star of the show here is really the tomato. The rest of you can sit down and be quiet!

Now I love cooking. Everyone knows that. But much as I enjoy dishing up tasty dinners like my poached/fried fish fillet and spicy buckwheat noodles that everyone spends all day looking forward to, I have my lazy days when, um, peeling my behind off this chair isn’t quite so easy. And here is where tomato soup saves the day, or the night as the case may be.

Historically, our tomato soup is served along with other dishes. But the way I see it, this soup is robust enough to stand on its own as a one-pot meal. It has no need to share the limelight with anything else. Yes, my humble tomato soup takes center stage.

Because this was to be a one-pot meal, I made a large pot with said veggies, country-style pork ribs and the one remaining pack of chicken wings in the freezer.

Tomato soup, clear and simple

When it’s getting cooler like it is now, a bowl of hot soup over rice is such a comfort. All it needs is my mandatory freshly-cut jalapeno to kick things up a notch. Everything else is in there – meat, veggies and a whole lot of warmth!

Tomato soup, clear and simple

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