Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Beef (Beef Chow Fun)

This dish is very well known in Chinese restaurants. It is called Chao Fen in Mandarin or Chow Fun in Cantonese. The name Chow Fun is more familiar to most American people as a takeout dish, dim sum, or a sit-down dinner in the restaurant. In the Vietnamese cuisine, we have a dish called stir-fried rice noodles with beef, chicken, or seafood. Pho Xao is the Vietnamese name for this dish and normally dried fat rice noodles are used to prepare this dish. Thailand calls this dish Pad See Eaw or by its popular street name, Pad Thai. These stir-fried dishes, even though coming from different countries, share the same concept.  However, it always depends on each cook to choose the protein source and vegetables appropriate for their own taste. For this wonderful dish, I prepare my own rice noodles, but the store-bought dried noodles can be substituted.   Replace the meats or seafood with tofu to make it as a vegetarian dish as often as it is healthier.

Beef marinade ingredients:
1/2 lb. beef – chuck or sirloin, sliced
1 tbs each soy sauce, cooking wine, and cornstarch
1 lb. rice noodle sheets, cut into strips and separate (recipe follows below)
Sauce ingredients:
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp each sugar, oyster, and vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into pieces
1/3 lb. bean sprouts
1 cup white onions, cut into wedges
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, sliced
5 tbs corn oil or peanut oil

Garnish with chives, cilantro, and sweet basil

Combine beef in a bowl with the marinade ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for a few hours.

Heat 2 tbs oil in wok over high heat and stir in half of the garlic and shallots. Stirfry until fragrant.

 Add the rice strips and toss until hot. Remove.

In the same wok, add 1 tbs of oil and heat until almost smoking. Add the rest of the garlic and shallots. Stirfry until aromatic. Add beef and cook very quickly (for about less than 1 minute or until the beef is slightly pink). Remove beef.

Heat the remaining oil and add white onions and broccoli.

 Add all the sauce and return beef. Then stir to mix.

Add bean sprouts and noodle strips. Then stir-fry briefly.
Toss the garnish and serve.

To make rice noodle sheets:
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch
2 1/4 cups water
Mix flour and water well. Add 2 tbs corn oil to the flour mixture. In a steamer, place a round cake pan. Spray with some oil. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice flour batter. Place on the steamer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes for each batch.

Remove and continue until the batter is gone. Place the noodle sheets into a container with lid and refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Refried Pinto Beans

It is definitely Mexican cuisine when it comes to refried beans – using either pinto beans or a second good choice, black beans.  Pinto beans are economically preferable to prepare this recipe and for me a better choice. Making refried beans from scratch takes a little more time, but it is rewarding. The first step to making refried beans is to cook the beans. By using a crockpot, the beans can then cook slowly overnight. I soak the beans overnight and make it over the stovetop. The pinto beans are quick to cook and retain their soft and fluffy taste. For people who love any kind of bean, especially vegetarians, making refried beans at home is a good choice. I love refried beans on my side dish, as is, or even served with other meals. However, refried beans are a good protein source , and it does not have to be on Mexican menus. Despite the fact that beans can give gas to some people, I think for most health-conscious people, it is an excellent addition to their diet. For flavoring refried beans, it is a personal choice. The simple way to make refried bean at home includes some fresh oregano, garlic, onions, and, of course, chili powder. I change the spices to this recipe to have a different taste, and it depends on what I use this recipe for. Hope this recipe is a keeper for everyone.

3 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder, any kind that suits your taste
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbs corn oil

In a saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and onion, and cook until fragrant.

Stir in chili powder, cumin, and fresh oregano (for 1 minute).

Add pinto beans and chicken broth. Bring to boil.

 Season with salt and black pepper. Continue simmering and stirring occasionally until beans absorb the broth and spices.

Use a potato masher to mash beans to your liking. Add juice of one lime, if desired.

Accepting the Changes in Life

Grief and sorrow arise because we do not allow changes nor take chances. We hold and want to keep everything always the same. We fall into being very afraid of change – a new place, a new job, a new relationship, etc.... If you love a woman, you want her tomorrow to be just like today.  Forever, she is never different, but if you know how to think more broadly, you will know that everything in life that follows the laws of nature wears out and then is destroyed. For all humans living today, it would be impossible to stop the biological clock dissipating us each day. That is why so much suffering arises. No one can be sure if there is a next time or what to talk about tomorrow!

Let us be aware to know that life is constantly changing. Life is change. Only one thing is forever unchanged, and it is change. Except for change itself, all things have changed. Accept the nature of life, the existence of change as in all the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter – and your mood changes. This continuous flow never stops for a moment. When we accept the change happening quietly around us, we are going to be happy and nobody can disturb your happiness. Always think about this simple test and stop longing for eternity, which has created problems for us. If you want to live in a life that does not change, you are asking what cannot ever….

Let us focus our awareness and become brave enough to accept the changes occurring – the loss of affection, the change in jobs, the number of assets accumulated over the years, the day to say goodbye to your beloved, or a newly discovered disease, etc. So, acceptance is the choice of happiness when you will never be disappointed. That is the moment you see nirvana.

From Osho

Monday, April 20, 2015

Easy Thai Chicken and Red Curry

Many people feel intimidated when it comes to making a curry dish. I have this easy recipe for preparing curry that I have been making for a while. In addition, it is not just easy but also has a wonderful taste. Most of the ingredients are available in many western groceries these days. Try it to believe it is easy!!

1/2 lb. chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 lb. potato, peel, cut into pieces
1 cup green peas
3 kaffir leaves (optional)
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 tbs red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbs sugar or honey
1 tbs fish sauce  or salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped onions
2 tbs coconut oil

Serve with rice or cooked rice noodles or bread

Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and stir in red curry paste, paprika, garlic, onions until fragrant.

Stir in chicken and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes.

 Add chicken broth, sugar, fish sauce, and kaffir leaves and bring to boil. Simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked and tender. Add coconut milk and peas  and bring to boil.

 Adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with basil and cilantro.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Powerful Chocolate Balls

Recently, many articles for healthy living have been appearing on the Internet. The one that caught my eyes and makes sense to me, which is that genetics is the basis for giving us longevity. However, our behavior towards life includes the intake of food and a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference for us. Many people say that they would rather eat something that tastes good instead of a healthier choice with less pleasing taste. Also, kids and even adults seldom like to include fruits and vegetables in their diet. It is a big mistake for parents not to train their kids from infancy to like vegetables. Most of the snacks in the market are loaded with unhealthy preservatives and sugar. I agree that if we can have good tasting, healthy food, then why bother stuffing unhealthy food into your body. It is similar to putting bad oil in to our vehicle and hoping it will run well. God created our body with all the necessary tools to have good health long before medical science and technology tries to help us when we got sick. Even though scientific advancements have given us so many good things, but our lives are now packed with more diseases than ever. If we can approach life with a balanced diet and pray more to God so that our spirits are always fresh and calm, I believe it is a better way to live. Anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy snack in the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea will be rewarded for having prepared my newly created snack.

1 cup flaxseed powder
1 cup oatmeal powder
3 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 cup chopped roasted mixed nuts (Kirkland brand)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the flaxseed powder, oatmeal powder, and sesame seeds on a large baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove.

At the same time, fill a pot with 1 cup of water and bring to a barely simmer. Place coconut oil, honey, and chocolate chips into a bowl. Put the bowl with the chocolate mixture over the simmering pot of water and stir to melt the coconut oil and chocolate.

Pour the tray of the roasted flaxseed/oatmeal/nuts mixture into a bowl with the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Use another tray lined with parchment paper. Form the chocolate-flaxseed mixture into balls about a half size of a golf ball. After finishing, place the tray in a refrigerator until chilled. Place into a glass jar with lid. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

All the Pain in Life Comes from Holding and Attachnents

 All the pain in life comes from holding and attachments.
The Buddhist scriptures also enunciate about the attachments. When you stop trying to seize, take possessions, his or her own feelings, and control the world around you, then you have the absolute freedom to have peace. There is no power that can destroy you. Too simple, right? But not easy to perform.
That is why giving is very important. Letting go is to give happiness and having the opportunity to flourish. Practice love without attachment. Do you ever wonder who "father, mother, wife, husband, and children are and why they are present in our lives and then disappear at a certain point? Try to live every day with the people you love and at the same time exercise the cutting of the invisible emotional ropes that tie us to them. People whom you love are not yours. They are just like us by entering this life with us and then leaving, just like our own journey

There is no magical cure at all. The only solution is all are in your mind. Practice mindfulness to have a peaceful mind, and when it is no longer mine or yours, then the hold and attachment has gone permanently.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fragrant Herbs & Turkey with Radish

Springtime is the herbs season. In my garden, all the Asian herbs, such as basil and mint, are growing beautifully. I love this time of the year because I can make many easy dishes at a fraction of the out-of-season cost. Today, I will share this dish that my mom used to make for us. I revised the recipe to fit with my diet now, which is healthier and less salty then the Vietnamese stew (do kho). I also simplify the cooking technique to make it easy and fast to comprehend with today’s lifestyle. We usually want an easy, fast,, and healthy menu.
1 lb. turkey or chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 lb. white radish, peeled, cut same size as turkey
2 garlic cloves,, minced
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tbs corn oil or peanut oil
Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tsp honey
2 tsp vinegar
1 tbs cooking wine, sake, sherry (your choice)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili paste
Garnish with the following:
1 cup fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup fresh chopped mints
3 green onions, sliced
Hot cooked rice
Heat oil in sauté pan. Stir in garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add turkey, and brown the turkey.

 Add sauce to the turkey, and sauté the turkey with sauce.

 Turn heat down; cover and simmer.

While the turkey is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil and blanch the radish for a couple of minutes. Drained.

When turkey is almost done, add radish and continue to cook until the radish is soft and tender.

Season again with salt, if needed. Stir in green onions.

 Turn the heat off and add all the fresh herbs. I like to serve this dish with wild rice. Enjoy.