November 29, 2008

2008 Thanksgiving - Pomegranate Champaign Martini

This drink is cheerful, festival, soothing, delicious and yet easy to make. Perfect to start a holiday dinner.

In a chilled martini glass, pour the following ingredients in sequence. The chilled martini glass can be the make or the break of this drink.
1. 1 shot of citrus-flavored vodka
2. 2 shots of Champaign
3. Fill the rest of the martini glass with sparkling Pomegranate juice

2008 Thanksgiving - Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

What I should do with so much left-over turkey? Chris loves Turkey cranberry sandwich. But, how many sandwiches he can handle before turning into a gigantic turkey himself? I found this recipe again from watching Food Network while using the treadmill in the gym. I tried it yesterday. It was a perfect solution for the leftovers from Thanksgiving, simple and yet delicious.

Here is the basic ingredient
1. 2 pounds ground turkey or chopped leftover turkey
2. 1 onion, cut into 1-inch dice
3. 2 carrots, peeled and grated
4. 4 ribs celery, chopped
5. 2 tsp poultry seasoning
6. 2 tsp ground sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the turkey mix - In a deep skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add meat and break up with a wooden spoon, season with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning and sage. Then Add onions, carrots and celery into the turkey. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes.

While vegetables are almost done, add the left-over turkey gravy, about 2-cup.

Stir peas into meat and turn heat off.

At the meantime, make the mashed sweet potato (about 1 - 1 1/2 pound). I added a dash of salt to the sweet potato, and a 1/2 cup of margarine to mix up with the sweet potato.

Put the meat mix into a casserole pan. Top the meat with the potatoes. (Optional)Cover potatoes with cheese. Place the casserole pan in the oven at 375F for about 5-8 minutes.

November 28, 2008

2008 Thanksgiving - Making the Turkey with the Family Tradition

Chris can care less about cooking. Peanut butter sandwich, cereal, micro-wave ready burrito are all excellent choices for dinner. BUT, there is one thing in the world that Chris cares about dearly – the Thanksgiving Turkey and stuffing. The Soukup family recipe must be followed without any deviation. Don’t even bother to think about adding those foo-foo thingy learnt by watching the Food Network.

So, let’s see how to make the family tradition for stuffing:
1. 3 cups diced celery (This step cannot be done with food processor in order to maintain the texture of cooked celery)
2. 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
3. 1 cup of diced green pepper
4. 1 cup butter
5 14 cups of bread cubes, firmly packed 2-4 day old bread (Please note - the grandma used Pepperidge Farm Sandwich bread)
6. 2 tsp minced parsley
7. 2 tsp. salt
8. 2 tsp sage
9. 1 tsp poultry seasoning
10. 1/2 - 2 cups broth or milk
11. 2 egg lightly beaten

Cook celery, onion and green pepper in butter (I secretly replaced it with extra virgin olive oil)over low heat, stirring until onion is tender but not brown. Blend bread cubes and seasonings in a large bowl. Add celery, onion, green pepper, butter, toss lightly to blend. Pour liquid gradually over bread mixture, tossing lightly. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Microwave the stuffing with High for about 8-10 min. Then, immediately stuff the turkey just before placing it in the oven.

Roast it on 400F for 30-45 min, depending on how brown you want the turkey skin to look like. Then, reduce the temperature to 350F. Roast the turkey till the inner temperature gets to 170F. Take it out. Cover it with foil for about 20 min before cutting it. This way the turkey tastes juicier.

Make the mashed potato and sweet potato as two side dishes.

2008 Thanksgiving - Mini Traditional Pumpkin Pies

The filling actually wowed Chris. And, it's very simple to make.

Here is how to make the dough
* 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* Flour for rolling the dough

With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don't let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

Then, make the mini pie crust and put them in the mini muffin pan. Freeze the pie crust for another 30 min.

Make the filling

* One 15-ounce can unsweetened pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
* 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Then bake at 350F for about 20-25 min. Test it with a tooth pick at about 20 min.

November 27, 2008

2008 Thanksgiving - Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies

It's a rather tasty and seasonal desert for Thanksgiving. I am going to a after-Thanksgiving party today, and it's perfect to share it with my friends. No need to cut a big pie into slices. No need to worry about the extra calories, since it's so small. I personally think it tastes better than the traditionally pumpkin pie.

For the dough

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping dough
  • 6 tablespoons butter, ice cold
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice cold water

In a food processor, pulse pecans with the sugar, salt, and flour, until the nuts are ground and the ingredients are combined. Add in butter and pulse until dough resembles coarse meal. Slowly pour in ice water through the feed tube, pulsing, until the dough comes together. Remove from processor bowl onto clean work surface sprinkled with flour.

Form dough into a ball and divide evenly into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and evenly press into each cup, until the bottom is covered. If the dough is sticky, dip your finger in flour first.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until the crusts are very golden. Check periodically to make sure they don't get too brown.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and yolk with the corn syrup, sugar, pumpkin filling and vanilla. Stir in the chopped pecans.

For the filling:

  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin filling
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped plus 24 halves for garnish
  • Special equipment: 2 (12-cup) mini muffin tins

Remove dough from oven and spoon 1 tablespoon of the filling into each cup. Top each with 1 pretty pecan half. Return the pans to the oven and continue baking, for 12 to 15 minutes more, until the pumpkin filling is set. Allow to cool before removing from the pans.

2008 Thanksgiving - A Scientific Approach

I still remember how I were running around like chickens with heads cut-off in Safeway the last year. Totally clueless about what I should do for the Thanksgiving dinner. And, to make things even less predictable, our basic attitude was to WING IT. Measuring spoons? You kidding me? We would totally eye-ball it!!! The end result was as good aswhat two clowns would ever whip up in a kitchen – the turkey was flavorful but a little dry, the pumpkin pie tasted like full of short-cuts….

So, this year, I decided that we needed to make up with the randomness of the last Thanksgiving dinner by making this one perfect. And, the only way to accomplish the perfectness is via a scientific approach.

See how I set up my work station? I had my laptop and my food processor side-by-side. Measuring cups were used religiously throughout the entire cooking process.

So, the cooking process was closely monitored. The quality control was tightly watched. I was feeling relaxed and confident of the result. On the dinner table, there are all the traditional stuff, cranberry source, mashed potato, sweet potato with dry cranberry and pecan, and of course, the delicous turkey.

The ultimate task of a Thanksgiving.

Great dinner!

November 26, 2008

Spicy Curry Rib with Pumpkin, Mango, Barley Seeds

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving. Finally got a chance to take a break from this hectic life. So, I invited two friends over for lunch and to try out a new recipe - Spicy curry rib with pumpkin, mango and barley seeds

Need two stalks of celery, one medium size carrot, a big mango, a onion, a medium size pumpkin. Plus some Japanese curry. I cooked the barley seed separately with water for about 60 min till it's tender, and then rinse it with water. Put the seeds in a bowl for use later.

Cut carrots in cubes. Microwave the pumpkin for 4 min till it's a bit soft so that it's easier to pill. Then, cut that into cubes too.

I cooked the rib with medium low heat for about 90 min till it's pretty tender with a couple of slice of ginger and a couple of dry chili pepper. Then, I added a notch of coconut cream, carrots and celery. I stir-fried the onion a bit till it's slightly brown before adding it to the stew. Wait for another 20 min on medium high. Then, I added the pumpkin, mango and cooked barley seeds. Add salt and pepper for taste. About 10 more min. It's ready.

It's a little bit spicy and very flavorful. Gossiping over this extremely tasty stew made us feel warm and toasty. It's a great start for a wonderful holiday season.

November 23, 2008

Steak, Sautéed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Mashed Potato

This week has been terrible, stock prince going south, work never ending, holiday shopping clueless, Steelers sucking…. I felt tired and over-worked everyday. And, Chris’ life hasn’t been any easier than mine. I watched him painfully suffering through the Steelers’ game, as if he were tortured by this medieval instruments used in prison for two hours. Steelers finally won the game with 11 to 10. Very odd score. But, thank God for blessing us with peace.

Apparently the fruit, the cucumber, the salad, was not doing the job of comforting us. So, we decided that we need some comfort food. What’s better than steak and mash potato with some sharp cheddar cheese on top? In order to balance our diet a bit, I also prepared some spinach sautéed with a little bit garlic, finish with some toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Sea Food Banquet with Mom and Her Students (2)






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