Friday, December 19, 2014

Chicken Picante and Rice

Yesterday, my friend and I had lunch at an Applebee’s restaurant near my house. The food was good, and it gave me the idea to create this meal today. It is simple. Use a store-bought picante sauce, any brand-name picante that fits your taste is okay. The quinoa-cranberry rice that was served with the meal yesterday at Applebee’s impressed me more than the lime chicken. Therefore, I just make picante chicken with my cooked quiona rice instead of the lime chicken. I think the chicken picante will be tastier than the lime chicken by far and goes very well with quiona-cranberry rice. After baking the chicken, feel free to top it with cheddar cheese or any kind that suits you. I personally like to keep my recipe on the healthier side by keeping it a very lean dish without cheese topping. Here it is!!

Two chicken breasts
1 ½ cups picante sauce

1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped white onions
Salt and pepper to taste
Quinoa-cranberry rice ingredients:
1 cup combination of quinoa, red rice, and brown rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp coconut oil(optional)
Other ingredients:
Chopped cilantro and green onions
Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 375°.
Pound the chicken evenly or use the knife to butterfly-cut the chicken breasts.

Place chicken onto a baking pan. Mix picante sauce with garlic, onions, salt, black pepper, and olive oil (taste the sauce before adding salt to the sauce). Pour sauce to cover chicken. Bake in the

preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
While the chicken is happily baking in the sauce, rinse the quiona rice and place into the rice cooker.

Add chicken broth and dried cranberries and then season with some salt and honey.

 Close the lid and turn the cooker on. The rice will be done in 1 hour or less, but it depends on the rice cooker manufacturer that you use.
Place some of the quiona- cranberry rice on a plate with chicken picante. Sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. Use lime wedges for decoration or squeeze their juices over the rice.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vegetarian Congee (-Cháo Chay Thập Cẩm)

Porridge is always an easy dish to make and suitable for every age from babies to the elderly. According to my Asian philosophy, mixed vegetarian congee is the best breakfast for the entire family, simply because of the way and the value of the ingredients included. Usually in the morning when our stomach is empty, a bowl of porridge is easy to digest, and if the porridge is made with quality ingredients, it supplies excellent nutrition to the body throughout the day. Start the day happy. If we nourish the body with good food, it will be the soul’s salvation.

6 cups good vegetarian broth
1/3 cup rice, washed and drained
1/4 cup oil
8 oz. tofu
1/2  cup of corn, carrots , daikon (cut to the size of corn kernels), and soybeans (edamame)
1 small sweet potato or taro diced
3 cups of a combination of fresh, sliced mushrooms: oyster, shitake, and button
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, black pepper, and sugar to taste
Garnish with:
Chopped green onions, cilantro, and crispy shallots
Fried skin tofu (optional) Chinese crispy crullers (dau chao quay)

In a medium pot over medium heat, add 2 tbs of oil and add rice. Stirfry the rice until opaque. Add broth, sweet potato, corn, carrots, daikon and soybeans, and bring to boil. Cover pot and turn the heat off.

In a sauté pan, add the rest of the oil and increase temperature to hot. Divide tofu into half. Cut them into small bite-size pieces and fry half of the tofu until brown. Remove from oil.

After one hour, uncover lid, add fried tofu and fresh tofu. Bring to simmer. season with salt and black pepper

While the congee is simmering, in the same sauté pan used to fry the tofu, rmove some of the oil and add white onions and garlic. Stirfry until fragrant.

 Stir in mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook until mushrooms are wilted. Add to the congee and bring to a boil for a few minutes.

Laddle soup into a serving bowl. Garnish the soup and serve with fresh chopped hot chili and Chinese crispy crullers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flaxseed and Nuts Bars

I give these bars to my friends, and they love them. These flaxseed and nuts bars are so easy and healthy for snacking. I cannot postpone writing this recipe in my blog any longer because all my friends want to learn how to make them. Here it is – the simplest way to create a healthy snack for yourself and a wonderful gift for friends.

1 cup flaxseed meal
1/3 cups of each  nuts: almonds, walnuts, and pecans
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbs margarine or butter

Place nuts in a food processor and blend until fine (you might need to blend them individually).

In a baking pan, place flaxseed meal, sesame seeds, and ground nuts. Bake in a preheated oven set to 350° for 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to let the nuts burn.

Line an 8” x 8” baking pan with foil and grease the foil with 1 tbs of margarine or butter.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add honey, sugar, and coconut oil. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and starts thickening.

Remove the flaxseed and nuts and place them in a mixing bowl. Pour the dissolved sugar mixture onto the baked flaxseed and nuts and mix well.

Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan. Pack mixture down and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove and let cool before cutting them into squares and storing in a glass jar or Ziploc bag.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chicken Stirfry with Eggplant and Bell Pepper

Here is another stirfry dish that should be included in our meal options available. I use the green bell pepper, but any kind of sweet bell pepper or other kind of vegetable will work for this recipe. This recipe is another way to clean up some of the leftover vegetables that remain in our refrigerator.

1 chicken breast, sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp cooking wine, dry sherry
1/4 tsp salt
Vegetable ingredients:
1/2 large eggplant, cut into bite-size pieces
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup white onion
2 green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger
Sauce ingredients:
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbs cooking wine
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Thickening ingredient:
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbs water

In a mixing bowl, combine and mix well the sliced chicken breast, cornstarch, cooking wine, salt, and pepper. Allow chicken to marinate for one hour.
Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Heat wok with 2 tbs peanut oil until oil is hot. Add marinated chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Remove from wok.
Clean wok and add 1 tbs oil. Heat oil until almost smoking. Stir in white onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir constantly until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add eggplant and cook until the eggplant is soft(add 1/4 cup of the broth to cook eggplant). Add chicken back to wok. Add the rest of sauce and bring to boil. Add bell pepper. Stir to mix. Add thickening and green onion. Cook for another minute or until sauce has thickened. Serve.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Spicy Baked Salmon

I come up with this recipe for a rainy day in the Northwest. A little kick of Korean spicy paste will warm up the tastebuds. It is a simple but healthy delicious meal.

Two 6 oz. salmon fillets
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs Korean spicy paste
1/2 tsp miso paste
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp honey
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs peanut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
Other ingredients:
Steamed vegetables, your choice
Chopped green onion and cilantro

Brush baking dish with oil and place salmon on each baking dish
Mix the sauce ingredients well. Divide sauce and pour over the fish. Marinate fish for a few hours.
Bake fish in preheated oven set to 375° for 20 minutes.

Serve with steamed vegetables and rice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Vegetarian Ragou

During holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, we tend to eat more than usual because of all the parties at work and family get-togethers. Therefore, keeping a balanced diet during the holidays is very important. The recipe I am introducing today is perfect for a quick and easy dish, but with all the fibers and protein needed. This dish is served almost daily for Buddhist monks. As is the Buddhist tradition, we have so many dishes made without meat, but this dish is very tasty and quick to prepare. The root vegetables are most of the vegetables that remain after a big Thanksgiving or Christmas dish. Providing sufficient vegetables for the body is the one thing that we should always pay attention to regardless of how busy our lives are. A simple meal is something that I always want to be featured regularly in this blog

8 oz. firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 large eggplant, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 Kabocha squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thick slices
1 piece daikon (about 1 cup)
1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onions, sliced
1/4 cup peanut oil
Sauce ingredients:
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp honey
2 tsp powdered yeast (optional)

In a large stew pot, add about 1/4 cup of oil and heat until hot. Add tofu and fry until brown.

Remove the fried tofu and add sweet potato. Fry the potato until brown.

Pour some of the oil and keep about 3 tablespoons of oil. Add garlic and white onion, turn the heat down, and cook for a two minutes or until fragrant.

Add sweet potato, tofu, Kabocha squash, daikon, and carrot.

 Add the sauce ingredients and bring to boil.
 Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add eggplant and mushrooms. Mix well.

Bring back to boil. Cook until eggplant and mushrooms are soft (about anther 15 minutes).
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with rice.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Roasted Tomatillos Salsa

A tomatillo looks like a small green tomato with its acidity and lasts even after cooking. I like tomatillo salsa more than the other salsas because of this natural acidity and also because the simplicity of making it. I have many Mexican friends and co-workers, and they have their own recipes to create this wonderful salsa. It is so much better to make salsa at home than the store-bought kind even with a brand name. The salsa can be prepared with very little time and effort. All that is needed is a good food processor. For my taste, I love the taste of tomatillo salsa after it is baked, because with this salsa I can turn it into a few more dishes, such as baked fish with salsa on top or simple grilled chicken served with this salsa on the side. The creations are endless. This salsa is easily put together for a busy women and is an excellent snack. Serving a good meal is to bring joy and happiness for each member of the family after a tiring day.

1 lb. tomatillos
1 lb. plum tomatoes
3 or fewer jalapenos
15 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 white onion
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Sauce ingredients:
All the juice from baking the above tomatoes
1/3 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
Other ingredients:
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
Juice of one lemon


Preheat the oven to 350°.
Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash. Wash the plum tomatoes as well.
On a baking tray, place tomatillos, plum tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, and white onion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and turn to broil for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, place the garlic, onion, and jalapeno in a food processor and pulse a few times.

 Then put the rest of the tomatillos and plum tomatoes into the food processor and process until chopped (I like chunky salsa, although some like it chopped very fine).

Pour into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. 

Re-season salsa with more salt and pepper, if needed and also a little sugar can be added if it tastes sour to you.

Place salsa into a jar with lid and refrigerate for a few hours.