December 31, 2009

Eggplant, Sausage, and Ziti Casserole

Speaking of a New Year party, pictures like sexy pomegranate Champaign-tini , the heart-warming gift-exchange with close friends, delicious foods are flying in my head.

I like pasta, the traditional Italian touch with tomato, basil and sausages. I also like Greek food with the subtle earthy flavor from the roasted eggplant. This recipe seems like a perfect choice for the party. Good flavor, easy to make, and certainly can be done in advance.

Ingredients to assemble the Casserole

2 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch thick rounds
8 ounces ziti, cooked according to package directions and drained
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella

Ingredients for the red sauce
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings (I chose the spicy type, as we like spicy food)
1 green pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes, crushed, and their juices
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the creamy sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Prepare Ingredients to assemble the casserole
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and set aside.
2) On a few cookie sheets, roasted eggplant at 375 degree for about 45 min.
3) Cook the ziti

Make the red sauce
Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the onion and sausage, and cook, stirring, until the sausage is browned and the onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, the Italian seasoning, black olives, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, uncovered, until the flavors marry and the sauce slightly thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the basil and adjust seasoning, to taste.

Make the creamy sauce
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and forms a light roux, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and, whisking frequently, cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.

Assemble the Casserole
1) Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole, overlapping as necessary.
2) Top with half of the cooked pasta, then half of the red sauce and the creamy sauce
3) Repeat 1) and 2)
4) Top with the grated mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake for 1 hour at 375 degree or until puffed and golden brown on top.

December 24, 2009

Coconut Fruit Mix



很简单了。就是把所有的原料加在牛奶或椰子奶一起用中火煮。再加些西米和糯米丸子。 最后加些椰浆将汁收浓。

Learned this simple and yet yummy desert from my roommate Bing.

1) 4 cup of milk
2) 1 cup of sugar plum fruit
3) 1 cup of coconut jam
4) 1 cup of jack fruit
5) 1 cup of frozen banana

Boil with medium heat till everything is tender. Then, add a cup of sweet rice balls, 1 cup of rice cakes

Till everything is ready and tender. Add 1/4 cup of coconut cream to thick the mix.

December 18, 2009

Mouth-watering Moo Shu Pork With Mandarin Pancakes

老妈过段时间要回中国了。心里面舍不得。但又觉得不能太自私吧。 总不能让老妈天天在这里给我=做保姆吧。 哈哈。。。

按老妈的话说,她不仅是我的保姆,还是我的勤务员加大厨师。 就是有时候我会开玩笑的说她”有些时候服务不够到位就是了。“ 老妈知道我在同她开玩笑,也不生气。 今天吃什么呢? 心情一般,吃春饼吧。

In northern China, where the climate is cool, wheat-based staples such as pancakes, noodles, and steamed buns replace rice. Moo Shu Pork is typical: It's a stir-fried dish made with pork, green onions, chopsui, and sliced potato, all rolled into small, thin pancakes. Just like making a burrito.

December 14, 2009

Applecot Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Christmas is coming. It's the time to bake some cookies and share them with friends.

So, mom and I turned my kitchen into a cookie shop with cookies laying all over the tables and counter tops. We even did the AB testing between my cookies and the cookies we got from the store. Surprisingly, my cookies tasted better!!!


* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
* 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
* Raspberry and/or apricot jam


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Ultimate Ginger Sugar Cookie

圣诞节要到了。 烤点小甜饼同朋友们分享吧!

* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
* 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
* Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

December 07, 2009

My First Christmas Tree

Took mom over to a Christmas parade on Saturday night. Now, she was in the mood of decorating a Christmas tree and wanted us to get more into the holiday atmosphere. That idea soon set into her little head, and as a result, we ended up in Target for a tree at 10:00pm. Got back home. Took out the decorations and lights. Mom and daughter worked till 1:00am.

Ta, Ta! Our first Christmas tree!

Wish Dad were here with us. If he were here, he would say "you two, hopeless goof-balls!"

老妈同我又折腾上了!周六晚上去看了圣诞节的表演和游行。老妈突发奇想,要装饰圣诞树。要有节日的气氛。 说做就做吧!一不做二不休。我妈和我就兴冲冲的去了商店,折腾上了。一直搞到早上1点。漂亮吧!


Crushing Parties at David Bruce Winery at Santa Cruz Mountain

Friend at Church invited mom and me to attend a bottling ceremony at a winery located in the Santa Cruz mountain. Again, the typical goof-ball behavior of Marsha. Here we went, without checking the name of the winery. After thousands twists and turns in a tiny little road, we arrived at David Bruce. "Alright, here it is, since there are so many cars around."

Here came a guard asking our name. Of course, neither mine or any of my friends' name are on the list. At that moment, I still did not realize that we were at the wrong place. The guard let us in anyway. After 12 tastings and a bunch of delicious snacks, we still could not find our friends. Oh well, they missed the party, and we left. Got in the car, and the thought that we were not at the right place never occurred to me.

Turned on the engine. "Hmm...Why there are still some distance towards the destination displayed on the GPS?" All of the sudden, I realized that we just crushed a private party hosted at the winery. Oh well... Good wines and good food. :)

我家老妈同我 - 一对活宝!为什么这样说呢?我们俩也是糊里糊涂,混到一个酒庄的私人派对上,白吃白喝,好不开心。


November 26, 2009

Chiffon Cake with Walnuts and Resins with Shred Dry Pork On Top

Very excited!!! I mean it's way more exciting to bake an ultra successful Chiffon cake than to push out a smooth release. :) I know if I ever say this in front of my engineers, I am going to get a bunch of rolling eye-balls.

太激动了。 第一次做戚风蛋糕就如此成功。太有成就感了。 可口,细腻,咸甜适中。。。在我的印象中,戚风蛋糕是个高水平的象征。简直不敢相信我这种业余水平的,也能搞定。

我妈边吃蛋糕,边说:“这蛋糕比大华买的还好吃。要是那天你不想做你的工作了,你就改卖蛋糕吧。我觉得你的手艺还可以找碗饭吃。” 承蒙我家老妈抬举我呀!

Ingredients for the Flour Mix
1) 1/2 cup cake flour mix
2) 1 tsp baking powder
3) 1/2 tsp salt
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the above ingredient. Set aside.

Egg Yoke Mix
1) 4 egg Yolk
2) 2 tbs sugar
3) 3 tbs corn oil
4) 1 tsp vanilla extract
5) 2 tbs skim milk
whisk on medium speed for 2 minutes till all the ingredient is combined.

Then, add all the dry ingredient into the Egg Yoke Mix. Whisk till all are combined

Egg White Mix
1) 4 egg whites
2) 1/2 tsp white vinegar
3) 1/4 cup sugar

whisk on high for the egg whites and white vinegar for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes pale yellow and 'ribbons' when lifted. Then, add sugar. Continue to whisk at high speed for another 2 min.

Tip: The most challenging part of making a chiffon cake is to make sure the cake still maintain a full body after it cools down out from the oven. The fully whisked egg white is the key to avoid a sagging cake body. How do you know the egg white is fully done? Turn over the mixing bowl. If the egg white does not fall or drip from the bowl, that's the sign.

Now, you can add the Egg Whites Mix into the Egg York Mix combined with all the dry ingredients. Fold the Egg Whites Mix in gently.

Tip: Another key here is the action of "fold gentally" not "mix". This will help you get a smooth and light texture of the cake.

Pour everything into a cake pan. Bake for 325F for about 30 min. Need to check before that to avoid an overbaked cake.

November 25, 2009

Red Bean Mochi Cake


我家老妈是个好奇的人,每次教她用厨房里的新工具,她都像小孩玩玩具般高兴。 本来以为她会夸奖我几句,关于我的厨房工具如何先进云云。她反而说,“唉,不知到你在你的这些玩意上有乱花多少钱。”


我觉得这年糕凉了还好吃些。我家老妈是个土人土语的人物。按照她的高论,”这年糕绵揪绵揪的,很好吃。“ 唉,我这么洋气的一个人,怎么会有这么土的一个妈?!

Ingredients for the Flour Mix
1) 1 bag of Sweet rice flour (454g
2) 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/2 sugar; 1/2 splenda)
3) 1/4 cup threaded coconut
4) 1/2 tsp baking powder
5) 1 tsp salt
Tip: Many recipes call for condensed milk. I replaced it with threaded coconut. This way, the rice cake still has the nice coconut flavor but the fat and calorie is much reduced.

Ingredients for the Batter
1) 3 large egg
2) 1/4 cup veggie oil
3) 2 cups milk mix (1/2 cup coconut milk plus 1 1/2 skim milk

1) Mix all the ingredients for the flour together
2) Beat the ingredients for the batter together
3) Spray the baking pan with some cooking oil
4) Add a can of red bean paste into the batter
5) Place a small portion of the batter into each of the mini muffin pan
Tip: I made my own black sesame mix. The red bean mix is available in any Asian market.

1) Preheat the oven at 350F
2) Bake covered for about 60 min (double check just like how you check for cake)
3) Turn to boil. For 2 min till the top is browned
4) It's done when you stick a toothpick into and are able to take it out with nothing on it
Tip: You want to spray some oil on the foil before covering the baking pan with it.

Cool Down the Rice Cake
1) Cool down uncovered for about 15min
2) Cool down it for another 60 min covered; This will keep cake moist.
Tip:The cake tastes great if you microwave it the next day for just 10 seconds.

November 10, 2009

Hiking at San Pedro Park at Pacifica

Went for this hike with a bunch of friends. I was hoping to shoot some fall leaves, but only found out that's not the right place for that purchase. Oh well... It is what it is. Still took a few other shots to make the best out of the situation.

Saw somebody else did some cool shots with leaves on Flickr. Wanted to try it out myself. Well, guess it did not work out. :)

Some random pictures for a random hike on a random day.

These two I actually kind of like.

November 01, 2009

JiuZhaiGou National Park - Tibetan Village

JiuZhaiGou - ZhaGa Water Fall

到了九寨沟,一下飞机,就去了扎嘎瀑布。Parents in front of the famous ZhaGa Waterfall at JiuZhaiGou.

ZhaGa waterfall is the largest travertine waterfall in China. It is 93.2 meters (306 feet) high and 35 meters (38 yards) wide with an elevation of 3,270 meters (10,728 feet). In the upper reaches of the waterfall is a lake and in the lower reaches, is a multi-step waterbed.

我家老妈的两个女儿。干女儿比亲女儿好多了。 Mom has two daughters. She often jokes about the other daughter is much nicer than the real one. :)

JiuZhaiGou - Song Zhou


YunNan Stone Forest (ShiLin)

同家里人去云南石林游玩是上半年的事了。一直到现在才有时间整理。 唉, 忙呀。
So four of us took on a trip to explore the stone forest of YunNan. A very odd mix of travel partners with the Texas cowboy, the GuiZhou peasant (my mom of course), and the likes.

据说八仙里的张国佬以前倒骑着毛驴到这里,就睡在这儿。 导游说了,凡人睡了张国佬得石床,就会交好运的。 那么我也赶紧上去沾光沾光。

Little elephant.

Tried on the dress for the YuanNan BaiZhu, one of the 55 minorities in China. 当回云南白族吧。

A great place to play hide-and-seek. See how silly my parents could get!!! 我家老爸和老妈还在石林里躲猫猫。