MSC: Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes

November 15, 2009


Our November’s recipe for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club (a.k.a MSC) is Sweet Potato Cupcakes,  selected by Karen from Karen’s Cookies, Cakes, & More. You can find the recipe on her Cupcake book, page 243.

While some people may not really be too excited with this recipe,  I was absolutely on board with the idea of using sweet potato in cupcakes. Sweet potato is soo… delicious, roasted on its own. I think it shouldn’t even be considered vegetable. And I was right… I  loved them! They were absolutely fabulous: fluffy, crumbly, and has that nice hint of that sweet potato flavor that I love. The candied pecan and marshmallow topping was even better, it’s a really nice change from the regular frosting… but still look so elegant, and delicious. I love the crunchy pecan on top of the marshmallow, although I have to admit that I had a little issue with making the caramel syrup for the pecans.  Thanks Karen for a great selection, I’d be making these again in the future!  Don’t forget to check out how everyone else in our group is doing; there are some absolutely creative creations out there!

Poached Eggs Florentine

November 13, 2009


I love eggs for breakfast and always welcome a new way to dress up eggs. I had wanted to try this recipe for a while and finally decided to try it when we have a little bit more time on the weekends. Another big reason for me wanting to try this was: I had never poached eggs before! I was a bit intimidated by the idea of poaching eggs… I don’t know why. I have enjoyed many poached eggs before at restaurants, and I had always put off making my own at home. I now regret that I didn’t try this recipe even sooner, because this dish was absolutely fabulous! If you love eggs, spinach and cheese–this one is a must try! But I must warn you, this is not exactly a “light” recipe, with all of the cheeses used. I also discovered that poaching egg was not as bad as it sounds–really, try this recipe! You will not be disappointed.

Adapted from Appetizers Finger Food Buffets and Parties


1-1/2 lbs spinach
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt, and granulated black pepper

For the topping
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups hot milk
Pinch of ground mace
1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese
4 eggs
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, plus shavings to serve


Cut off any tough stalks, then wash the spinach in cold water and drain well. Place them in large pan with very little water. Cook over a medium heat, for 3-4 minutes, or until wilted and tender, then drain thoroughly and chop finely. Return the spinach to the pan, add the butter, cream and grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper, then heat gently, stirring occasionally. Spoon the spinach mixture into the base of one large or four small gratin dishes.

To make the topping: heat the butter in a small pan, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute to make a paste. Gradualy blend in the hot milk, beating well as it thickens to break up any lump. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mace and three-quarters of the Gruyere.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Poach the eggs one at a time. When complete, slowly place one poached egg on top of spinach. Cover with the cheese sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Grueyere and the grated Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Serve immeadiately with Parmesan shavings.

Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate-Almond Tart

November 11, 2009


Kate from Warm Olives & Cool Cocktails has been playing Santa all summer long by graciously giving away her 100+ cookbooks collection! Lucky me, I won another book from her about a couple of months. The rule is pretty simple, you need to leave comments on her blog, must be a food blogger, and you also must make ONE recipe within 30 days from the book if you win, of course! Eek.. I hate to say that I am very tardy on this one, but still, better late than never. There are so many good recipes in this chocolate book, but unfortunately, I have to really dig for a recipe that has ingredients that I can get locally. And we finally settled on this one. It’s like a chocolate pie, but with yummy short-bread like crust.

I had a hard time with the dough to form a ball initially, so I took the liberty on adding another egg yolk into the mixture. Maybe because I didn’t have the extra-large eggs, I figured, I might have needed a little bit more liquid in the mixture. After I rolled it out, I also had a hard time with the dough to remain in one sheet, so I picked up pieces of it, and smoothed it over with my fingers onto the pan. But after all of that, it turned out well. I also didn’t have any graham crackers at home, so instead I used about 1/4 cups of crushed vanilla wafers, and  I didn’t have any issue with it.

Wow… I was pleasantly surprised at how elegant this dessert turned out! It calls for simple ingredients, relatively quick to put together, and delicious! It also has a great presentation. Since they’re also like a bar, instead of a tart or pie, they are portable since they’re not too messy. I cut up into squares and Red and I had nice little treat to take to work that week!  Thanks Kate!!

Adapted from Chocolate Cakes, Cookies, Candies and More, published originally under the title Cioccolate & Co. 2005.


1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
8 tbsp cold butter
2 large egg yolks, 1 tsp baking powder

7 oz extra-dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3-4 graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 320 degree F. Place the flour and sugar into a bowl and quickly cut in the cold butter. When the mixture resembles a coarse meal, add the egg yolks, baking powder, and mix to form a compact dough.

Roll out the dough into a thin sheet. Line a 10-1/2 inc round tart tin with the dough, making a slightly thicker layer around the border. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with the milk over a double boiler. Add the sugar and mix well to incorporate. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry crust and sprinkle with the crushed graham crackers and ch0pped almonds.

Bake the tart for 30minutes. Remove from the oven, cool completely and cut into squares.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ham and Potato Soup

November 9, 2009


I am always in the lookout for a simple soup recipe that is delicious, and preferably has both vegetables and meat in it. This way I can just add a salad or some sort of rolls or bread to go with it. This is actually a recipe that I have saved up for a while now. For time-saving tips, you can leave the skin on as long as you scrub them well before cutting. Red actually peeled the potatoes, although I wouldn’t have minded if he had left the skin on. I also did not have any beef  or chicken bouillon. Instead, I used low-sodium canned vegetable broth and it was still wonderful. I also used low-fat milk and couldn’t tell the difference.  This soup is very delicious, creamy, and flavorful–and my fave part of all, you can definitely tweak the ingredients as you wish. I am sure that you can use frozen potatoes or onions to save you time in chopping some of the vegetables. This recipe was a favorite at our house, and we will make again.

Adapted from Allrecipes


3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings

Chicken Fajita Omelet

November 9, 2009


One of my all-time favorite egg dishes is chicken fajita omelet; I almost always order this when we go out for breakfast.  In my pre-Red single-life days, I found myself making breakfast dishes over and over again for dinners–because they are delicious, and never fail me. I have never thought of making this at home, until recently I had a couple of cups of leftover cooked chicken to use up and I wanted to try something different. I decided to try making this at home and was surprised at how easy, and delicious this is. Omelet takes a little bit more time to prepare, than let’s say scrambled eggs, so this recipe may not be super ideal when entertaining a large crowd. What I have done in the past is make a giant omelet (in a 12-inch pan or larger), roll it, and then serve it sliced. Each guest can have 2-3 slices each, and than you add breakfast potatoes or other delicious baked goods. In the future, I may also try adding pickled jalapeno or fresh one for a little bit more of a kick. Try this, it adds a little spice to your breakfast!

Source: Blissfully Delicious original

1/4 cup chopped yellow or white onions
1/4 chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup of cooked chicken breast, diced finely
2 teaspoon taco seasoning (or more, if you prefer stronger flavoring)
4-5 extra-large eggs, beaten well
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
A handful of sliced green onions
Sour cream, salsa, or guacamole (Optional, for serving)

Saute onions and green peppers. Add diced, grilled chicken breast.
Sprinkle with taco seasoning, blend well. Transfer to a small bowl, set aside.
Pour the beaten eggs onto a hot oiled pan. Let it set for a few minutes.
Add the omelet filling (from the bowl), sprinkle with green onion &; cheese, then fold.
Let it sit for another 1-2 minutes until it’s browned.
Remove from heat.
Serve with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.

Yield: 2 servings (can be cooked in one big 8-inch pan, or made into two smaller personal size using 4-5 inch pan)

Garlic Roast Chicken

November 8, 2009

One of my all-time favorite meals is a simple roasted chicken, and I can enjoy this all year long. Even in the summer evenings. Not only that it is so satisfying, I can find so many use for its leftover!  Sometimes, I would just season them with salt and pepper, and whatever herbs I have at home. Sometimes, I will use lemon juices. This time, I stumbled upon Ina’s recipe on Food Network, where she uses garlic, which I have never really done. I thought that I should give this recipe a try. The garlic flavor really came through nicely in this recipe, and I loved how juicy and tender the meat was. It also had just enough flavor from the salt, pepper and all of the other seasonings without being too overpowering for the chicken! The golden crusted chicken and caramelized vegetables would be sure to impress your family and guests, you must give this simple recipe a try!!

garlic roast chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten, as seen on Food Network


1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
1 lemon, halved
1/2 large Spanish onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut diagonally into 2-inch chunks
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 6 pieces
4 tablespoons butter, melted


As soon as you get the chicken home, salt it inside and out, wrap it and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, first preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with the all the garlic and lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place it in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and the vegetables. Scatter the onion slices, carrots and potatoes around the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. Place the vegetables back in the oven and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

When the vegetables are cooked, carve the chicken and place the slices on the platter surrounded by the vegetables. Drizzle some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Mini Turkey Meatballs

November 7, 2009


Nothing can beat a steaming plate of hot cooked spaghetti slathered in delicious marinara sauce… and then topped with delicious meatballs! This recipe is so versatile, you can either enjoy these meatballs with pasta (the traditional way). Or you can serve them as individual appetizers with variety of sauces; although I must add that these meatballs are very flavorful on their own. For healthier option, I used ground white turkey meat mixed with turkey sausages (for flavor). The mixture was also very soft, so I thought that baking them may make it easier and help the meatballs hold their shapes better. I baked these meatballs for about 30-40 mins at 350 degree. It was also a lot more convenient than trying to fry them in a pan several batches at a time. I put them on to two baking sheets (because I doubled the recipe), and rotated the pans halfway through. Finally, I had some leftover spinach, so I threw a few handful of that as well in my marinara sauce. I used my favorite jarred marinara sauce, Rao’s.

Adapted from Giada deLaurintiis, as seen in Food Network


1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground dark turkey meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
26 ounces store-bought marinara sauce


Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, parsley, Parmesan, Pecorino, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Pour off any excess oil. Add the marinara sauce, about 3 cups. Return all the meatballs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Transfer the meatball mixture to a serving bowl.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

November 5, 2009

With my recent adventure on bread and its relatives, such as these Brioche Loaves, Overnight Honey Wheat Rolls, and then these Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, I feel like I am starting to feel more comfortable working with yeast. I wanted to make a simple whole wheat bread that are delicious but still good for you. The initial reservation that I had with this recipe was all of the “oddities” that it calls for, like mashed potato flakes, orange juice, and powdered milk. So… okay, these may be the standard pantry standard for some folks, but they are not in mine.

wheat bread

I had to be a little creative with this recipe. For the potato flakes, I substituted for potato flour. Yea, so who’s weird, right? Who has potato flour sitting around in their pantry? Well, I do. So the substitution goes like this: 1 cup of mashed potato flakes = 1/2 cup of potato flour. And for the powdered milk, I just substituted it with liquid-milk, and reduced the amount of water called for in the recipe.  I was worried at first whether this would impact the final flavor, and I really couldn’t tell anything was “missing”. I had an issue with the dough rising, it took me well over 90 minutes to get it to almost double, and I used my dough hook in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

But the final result though was worth it! I love how tasty this bread was. It doesn’t taste like what you would expect for a commercial wheat bread. It was nice and firm, without being dry and crummy. This will hold up nicely in sandwiches or toasts. I will make this again in the future!

As seen in Branny Boils Over, originally from King Arthur’s Website


2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
3 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

Note: Use 2 tablespoons less water in summer (or in a humid environment), 2 tablespoons more in winter (or in a dry climate)


Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, till it becomes puffy. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.

Combine the yeast/water with the remaining ingredients, and mix and knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you’ve made a cohesive dough. If you’re using a stand mixer, knead at low speed for about 7 minutes. Note that 100% whole wheat dough will never become smooth and supple like dough made with all-purpose flour; it’ll feel more like clay under your hands, and may appear a bit rough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it’s expanded and looks somewhat puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Dough kneaded in a bread machine will rise faster and higher than bread kneaded in a mixer, which in turn will rise faster and higher than one kneaded by hand. So if you’re kneading by hand, you may want to let the dough rise longer than 90 minutes.

Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Gently shape the dough into a smooth log, and settle it into the pan, smooth side up.

Tent the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise till it’s crowned over the rim of the pan by about 3/4″, about 75 minutes. Don’t let it rise too high; it’ll continue to rise as it bakes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lightly tent it with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

Run a stick of butter over the top of the hot loaf, if desired, for a softer crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 18

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

November 3, 2009


After having fun making my own homemade (well… semi homemade) dulce de leche, I was ready to try my hand on making a homemade ice-cream with it. After searching in the internet for a recipe that looks ideal, I decided to try this one. One thing that I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t use raw eggs, so it is safe to serve to young kids or women who are expecting. However, at the same time, I was also a little bit worried about whether the absence of eggs would make the texture potentially grainy.

Fortunately, I was wrong! This ice-cream freezes beautifully and the flavor was out of the world. I love the subtle sweetness of the dulce de leche, and it has a perfect consistency: smooth and silky. I was pleasantly surprised at how successful the flavor was. I omitted the pecans from it, since both Red and I wanted to try this without the nuts. And we loved it! It was so delicious that I didn’t get to take a picture of it until our second batch. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Adapted from Epicurious


2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups; preferably La Salamandra brand)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

Special equipment : an ice cream maker


Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Chicken Fried Rice Noodles

November 2, 2009

lil noodles

I bought a bag of rice sticks noodle about a year or so ago, because I was shopping with a friend of mine, and she picked up several bags of these noodles. I had no idea how to make them, or had I ever tried to cook with them. As I was inspecting my pantry’s inventory, I ran across this bag. I grabbed this and casually told Red that we need to use this up sometimes or we’ll forget that it’s sitting there in the corner of the pantry. As I had expected it, when we were trying to figure out what to eat for lunch this past weekend, he said, “Let’s use up the rice sticks”.  Soon, I began my search for a simple recipe that doesn’t require a lot of unique ingredients, hopefully something that I can find in my pantry and  local grocery stores. I found this recipe that I thought would be a great starting point.

I made a little bit of tweaks in the seasoning sauce (see note below), and substituted the bean sprouts with thinly sliced red bell pepper (I used about 1 cup) because our grocery store ran out of it. I added the sliced red pepper quickly after the garlic was browned. Then I folded in the noodle, and sauce. It took me probably a little bit longer than what the recipe below said to stir fry, probably a total of five minutes before all of the sauce evaporated. I used two wooden spatula to toss the noodle back and forth in the wok to ensure that the noodles were cooked and seasoned thoroughly. For a few minutes, I was actually worried that all of the sauce will not evaporate, and I kept on thinking, this noodle should be dry! Thankfully, it finally dried up after a few extra minutes of high heat. We both enjoyed this very much, but were missing our bean sprouts, so next time, I will make sure that I grab some bean sprouts before making this dish again.

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia


1/2 pack rice sticks (8 oz)
2-3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 big handful of fresh bean sprouts
3 stalks scallions (cut into 2-inch length)
1 boneless & skinless chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon corn starch (to marinate the chicken)
4 tablespoons oil


4 tablespoons soy sauce (Kimlan Light Soy Sauce)
1 tablespoon ABC sweet soy sauce
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 dashes of white pepper powder


Soak the rice sticks in warm water for 30 minutes or until they turn soft. Set aside in a colander to drain the excess water. Rinse the bean sprouts with water and set aside to drain excess water. Lightly coat the chicken meat with the corn starch (to tenderize the chicken).

Mix all the seasonings and water together and set aside. (At this point, I tasted this mixture and added several more dashes of white pepper and about several teaspoons of salt)

Heat up a wok and add in the cooking oil. Add in the chopped garlic and stir-fry until aromatic or turn light brown. Add in the chicken meat and stir fry until the chicken is half done.

Add in the rice sticks and then follow by the seasonings. Stir the rice sticks continuously to blend well with the seasonings. Continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until noodles turn soft or no longer wet, then add in the bean sprouts and chopped scallions.  Stir-fry for another minute or until the bean sprouts are cooked.

Dish out and serve hot.

Yield: 3 generous servings