Friday, May 28, 2010

Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Son #2 really loves bananas. He could easily eat two or three in a sitting but that seems a bit excessive so I get him to pick another fruit or veggie to eat instead. Since we picked up organic apricots, strawberries and oranges in our CSA basket this week, we didn't go through our bananas fast enough. No problem because I could always make banana bread with overly ripened bananas. I set out all the ingredients yesterday but I wasn't in the mood for banana bread so I put that baking project on hold. 

I wanted something sweeter than banana bread. I was really craving a cupcake. I'm sure this craving was because my sister just baked carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Thanks a lot, E! I guess I shouldn't be mad because my cupcakes turned out really tasty. I combined my banana bread recipe and my vanilla cupcake recipe and came up with this sweet banana cupcake. The strawberry buttercream frosting was the perfect complement to this delicious cupcake. It's a good thing my parents are coming home from Paris today because I need to get these cupcakes out of my house. I'll drop off a couple with my in-laws, too. I need to share these before I lose control and eat them all!

Got a nice rise even without eggs. :)

I wanna eat 'em all. I really do!

Yes, the perfect combo indeed.

Have you had your fruit today? ;)


Banana Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes (24 if you make them a little smaller)

  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 c sugar (use 1/2 c if frosting the cupcakes)
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c Canola oil
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  1. Measure out milk, add vinegar and set aside to let "curdle." If you prefer eggs, skip the milk/vinegar mixture and use 2 eggs.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F. Line cupcake pans with liners.
  3. Peel bananas and add to stand mixer bowl. Using paddle attachment, mix until mashed well.
  4. Add sugar, butter, vanilla and oil. Mix well.
  5. Measure out dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add to banana mixture.
  6. Once cupcake mixture is combined well, slowly pour in milk mixture and continue mixing. Do not over-mix.
  7. Fill liners 2/3 full for 18 cupcakes or 1/2 full for 24. I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop and dropped 2 scoops into each cupcake liner. Gotta make 'em all the same size or it becomes a problem with my two boys. :)
  8. Bake for 20-25 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I baked for 25 mins for the larger, 3/4 filled cupcakes.
  9. Cool in cupcake pans 8-10 mins and then transfer to wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting 

Yield: frosting for 24 cupcakes or 9x13" cake (This makes a lot of frosting!)

  • 3 tbs strawberry puree
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In stand mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add vanilla and strawberry puree and mix until blended. 
  4. Frost cake or cupcakes and ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegan Lasagna

One of the girls from my Bunco group made a super tasty vegan lasagna back in January. It was bursting with veggies and it was delish. I had a pretty good idea of how MG put it together but I asked for her recipe just in case. I figured it couldn't be too different from regular lasagna but I didn't want to screw it up since Vegan Lasagna was the main dish for my Weirdos Reunion with my high school friends.

My version of vegan lasagna came together beautifully. It was good but would've been better had I not over-baked it. I kept it warm in the oven because we were waiting for AD to arrive from her last minute trip to Vegas. The top layer of lasagna noodles were a little too dry and the lasagna itself didn't have enough sauce (I love LOADS of sauce!) but I thought it was still pretty darn good. Everyone ate it up so it couldn't have been that bad. Maybe they were just plain hungry. ;)

I served the leftovers to my boys the next day and they loved it. Son #1 picked out some pieces and asked how it was vegan if I put chicken in it. He was referring to the crumbled tofu he found and was amazed at how it tasted just like chicken. Hehe! This was an easy way for my boys to eat more than their usual servings of veggies. Yahoo!

This was WAY better when I added homemade marinara from GK's mom.
Thanks, G, for leaving the tasty marinara. SOOOO YUMMY! 

OHHHHH...layers of deliciousness!

Vegan Lasagna

Yield: 12 servings in 9x13" dish

  • 3+ c marinara sauce
  • 9-12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to directions
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • sweet onion, minced
  • broccoli crowns
  • shredded carrots
  • swiss chard
  • firm tofu, water squeezed out and crumbled

  1. Boil pot of water and cook lasagna noodles al dente according to package directions. Cut 2-3 pieces of wax paper and lay out noodles on wax paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In large saute pan, heat oil. Add garlic and onions and saute for 3-5 mins.
  4. Add broccoli, carrots and chard. Saute another 3-5 mins.
  5. In 9x15" dish, cover bottom of dish with marinara sauce.
  6. Place 3 lasagna noodles over sauce.
  7. Add a layer of the veggie mixture and crumbled tofu.
  8. Repeat layers of sauce, noodles and veggies.
  9. Cover and bake for 1 hr or until heated through. ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from MGG.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I really LOVE facebook! Ahhh, good ol' fb. :) I love that I've re-connected with so many friends. I moved around quite a bit so I've found friends from all over the place. I even found my "little" brother, RY. Technically, he's my half brother but he's my brother nonetheless. It's great to check on him via fb and see that he's doing well. :)

It's fun finding old friends and I absolutely love it when old friends find me. My last friend request was from a good friend from 7th grade. I always wondered what happened to KS and now we have the chance to catch up. It's only been FOREVER! It made me feel really good when she said I was the first person she looked for from jr high school days. Sweet!

It's also a trip to get together with friends that I haven't seen in what seems like a gazillion years. I found my very first best friend, the other "AK." I think we were 3 yrs old when we met, we lost touch by the time we were 5 yrs old and then I hooked up with her for lunch last year. It was a trip to see our old pictures from birthday parties at the park. She cracks me up. What a fun friend!

Last year, a friend from 4th grade and I got together for dinner. We had so much to catch up on that we were the last to leave the restaurant. It was wild reminiscing about our days in elementary school and our time at summer camp. Jeez, the things we remember and the things we block out. Haha! Good times, KFM!

Then several months ago, I reconnected with my high school friends. There were eight girls in our freaky  little group.  At some point, we started talking about a mini reunion. I wasn't sure if we could pull it off as the majority live outside of the So Cal area. Well, we planned it and made it happen. Super cool I tell you! Out of towners from Nor Cal, AZ, WA and VA for our Weirdos Reunion 2010. AWESOME!!!

I have a vegan friend in the group so I put together a vegan spread. I like chocolate chips in my cookies but I left them out so HW could enjoy them. I only had milk chocolate chips, but if I had dark chocolate, they totally would've been in there. :) These cookies were chewy, sweet and satisfying. YUMS!

Tower of tasty treats!


Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: approx. 2 dozen 2" cookies

  • 1.5 c brown sugar
  • 1 c Nucoa margarine
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3 c oatmeal
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c raisins (can also add some nuts and/or chocolate/peanut butter/toffee chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place peeled banana in stand mixer bowl. Mix until mashed well.
  3. Add sugar and Nucoa and mix well.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and use Pampered Chef medium scoop to drop spoonfuls onto baking sheet about 1" apart. Flatten the balls of cookie dough to the size/shape of cookie desired.
  6. Bake for 10-12 mins depending on thickness of cookies. ENJOY!!!
Source: Adapted from Simple Meals for Busy Families

Friday, May 21, 2010

Roasted Turnips

When I picked up my CSA basket, the Trade-In basket was full of turnips. Apparently, there are lots of people who don't care for them. I remember eating turnips when I was a little girl so I traded my parsley for more turnips. I wasn't sure if I liked them or what I was going to do with them but I brought them home anyways. I roasted them and made a dijon mustard sauce to toss them in. The turnips were still a bit crunchy, which I liked, but they probably would've been tasty if they were roasted just a little bit longer as the turnips had a bit of a bite. I ate them anyways, and as I took each bite, I wasn't sure what to really think of them. They weren't bad but they weren't spectacular either. I'll have to give them another try at some point.

Roasted Turnips with Dijon Sauce

Yield: 3-4 servings


  • turnips, 2 bunches
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat oven to 325 F. Wash and prep turnips.
  2. In small bowl, mix dijon mustard and vinegar.
  3. Place foil on baking sheet and spray with oil.  Place turnips on foil.
  4. Bake 45 mins - 1 hr.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pasta in Creamy Tomato Sauce

When we go out for Italian, we go to Romano's. Let me clarify that it is not affiliated with Romano's Macaroni Grill. Our Romano's is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a strip mall about 5 mins from our home. I try to order a new dish whenever we eat there and I have yet to be disappointed. So far, EVERYTHING I've tried has been dangerously delicious. My last meal ordered at Romano's was penne pasta in a creamy tomato sauce. It was so good that Son #1 ate my leftovers for breakfast. I had to replicate the sauce so this was my first attempt. Not bad for my first try. The boys ate it up. Yes, the greens and all!!!

E 'delizioso!
I loved this thick, chunky sauce with all the veggies.

Pasta in Creamy Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1/2 lb chicken (I used leftover Crockpot Chicken)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 c cooked greens
  • 1- 15 oz tomato sauce (if you like a lot of sauce, add another can)
  • 1- 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c half and half
  • shredded parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Boil large pot of water and cook pasta according to directions till al dente. Drain, add a little extra virgin olive oil, toss well, cover pot and set aside.
  2. In large pan, heat leftover chicken over med-high heat. If you don't have leftover chicken, boil or grill the chicken you have.
  3. Turn heat to low and saute garlic and zucchini about 3-5 mins. Add to chicken.
  4. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste to zucchini/chicken mixture and stir well. Add half and half and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add cooked greens to sauce mixture and heat through.
  6. Place pasta on serving plate, top with sauce mixture and parm and ENJOY!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cooked Greens

I've had crazy cravings for veggies and greens the past couple of weeks. I can't seem to consume enough veggies lately. How weird is that? Who the heck craves veggies? Better that than chocolate so I'm not complaining but I just found it odd. Luckily, this week was my CSA basket week and I picked up LOTS of yummy fruits and veggies. 

I wasn't in the mood for a salad so I cooked up some greens and made a warm salad using beet greens and kale. It was simple, delicious and fulfilled my greens craving. At least for tonight. :)

I made this after my boys went to bed so I saved half the greens for them to eat the next day. Friends always ask if my boys really eat all the stuff I make. YES. Yes, they do. Even if it's something they don't particularly care for, they'll still eat 3-5 bites just to get their veggies in. They eat it together with something they do like so it goes down easier. I'm super lucky to have boys that love to eat. :)

Son #1 picked out all the garlic so he could eat those first.
He LOVES garlic!

Cooked Greens

Yield: 2 servings

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • beet greens, chopped
  • kale, chopped
  • broccoli
  • 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Heat oil over med-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add greens, kale and broccoli. Saute for 3-5 mins.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt if desired.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Crockpot Chicken

I was busy preparing Mother's Day dinner and trying to clean the house at the same time. I was fixing lots of little things throughout the house and adding finishing touches here and there to get our home ready for listing. Since I've been busy prepping the house, I haven't been cooking much. Now that our house is listed and needs to remain spotless and model home-like, I'm not wanting to cook and make a mess. Oh well. Gotta provide healthy meals for the fam so it's time to get back in the kitchen!

I was pressed for time when I made Mother's Day dinner, so rather than taking the time to grill the chicken, I threw it in the crockpot. That gave me time to make an appetizer, sides and a dessert while continuing to clean. That day reminded me of a Mommy email that was circulating a few years back. I hope to dig it up out of my email archives because it was a great one about how a mommy never gets things done because she's constantly distracted as she does one thing which leads to another and then another, meanwhile getting nothing done at all. That's how my day went except somehow I was able to get dinner on the table. I was running an hour behind schedule but it all worked out and dinner DID get served so nobody complained. :)

I chose enchiladas as the main because they're so fast and easy to whip up. Easy, delicious and flavorful. This chicken is great for a variety of meal options. Serve the chicken with side dishes and use the leftover chicken in soups, salads, quesadillas, burritos, sandwiches, enchiladas, nachos, whatever! So many meal options. If you have a lot of leftovers, freeze small portions in ziploc baggies to avoid chicken burn-out. It's great to have frozen cooked chicken for quick meals another day. It's all about fast and easy when you're busy. ;)

Tasty. Tender. Terrific.

Crockpot Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 lb (or more) chicken tenders
  • 16 oz chunky salsa
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 blood orange, juiced
  • 1 navel orange, juiced
  1. Place chicken in crockpot.
  2. Add remaining ingredients on top of chicken.
  3. Cover crockpot and cook for 6-8 hrs on low.
  4. When done, shred chicken while it's hot (optional). ENJOY!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mexican Rice

OH MY! This Mexican rice was DELICIOUS! I love, love, LOVE Mexican food and could eat it every day. Seriously. Every day! In my opinion, an excellent Mexican restaurant stands out by the quality of their carnitas, carne asada and rice. This rice was so yummy that it could've easily been served at one of our many tasty Mexican restaurants here in San Clemente. :) I made Spanish Rice in February but it had a different taste and texture than this Mexican Rice. Both are tasty but Son #2 really liked this drier, fluffier rice. The extra steps for making homemade Mexican rice was well worth it. The fam loved this!

This was good. REAL GOOD!

Mexican Rice

Yield: about 6 c cooked rice 

  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 c long grain white rice
  • 1/3 c Canola oil
  • 5-7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cilantro, minced
  • 15.5 oz corn, drained and rinsed
  • lime, cut into wedges, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and move rack to middle position.
  2. Process tomatoes and onions in food processor until thoroughly pureed. Transfer mixture to a 2 cup measuring cup. Add water to make 2 cups if necessary.
  3. Place rice in med. bowl and enough water to cover 1-2" over rice. Wash rice by running fingers in rice and water. When water turns cloudy, empty bowl of water but be careful not to drain rice, too. Fill bowl with water again and continue wash process until water runs clear. Usually takes about 4 bowls of water. Remove excess water when rice has been washed.
  4.  In oven safe saute pan with tight fitting lid, heat oil over med-high heat about 1-2 mins. Add rice and stir frequently until golden and translucent about 6-8 mins.
  5. Reduce heat to med and add garlic and minced jalapenos. Continue to stir 2-3 mins.
  6. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken stock, tomato paste and salt. Increase heat to med-high and bring to boil.
  7. Cover pan and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender about 30-35 mins. Stir well after 15 mins. I forgot to stir at the 15 min mark but the rice still turned out great. :)
  8. When done, stir in corn and cilantro. Serve with lime. ENJOY!
TIP:  This makes a TON of rice which is perfect when serving a big group.  I made the whole batch for a group of 8 and had a lot left over. I froze small portions in ziploc bags to have on hand for quick meals. It's great for adding to soups or in enchiladas as a filler if you don't have enough filling ingredients. If making for a small fam, half the recipe.

Source: Adapted from You're Gonna Bake It After All

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes w/Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

This Mother's Day, my sweet boys spoiled me with tasty food, cards, gifts and more FOOD. Lucky me! The day before Mother's Day, Hubby and the boys took me to Break of Dawn for breakfast. SO YUMMY!!! They also took me to P.F. Chang's for dinner. That was delicious, too, except Son #2 had a mild allergic reaction to something. It was probably cross contamination from shared equipment. Luckily, it didn't get worse than the "itchy mouth and tongue" stage. Poor little guy. :(

I baked a special Mother's Day treat for my Mom and MIL. I wanted to make something chocolatey to serve with super sweet strawberries for dessert. I looked up various cupcake recipes and then I came across Lu's post for Chocolate Cupcake filled with Strawberry Buttercream. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The cupcakes were delicious, cakey and moist. So good! It was the perfect dessert to round out our Mother's Day celebration. :) 

Son #2 is allergic to eggs so I usually do a milk and vinegar substitute when I bake (check out Chocolate Banana Cupcakes) but I found a new recipe that listed sour cream as an ingredient. Something new and different for me so I had to give it a shot. I used a banana in lieu of eggs for this recipe because I wasn't sure if a sour cream/vinegar mixture would work. In hindsight, I should've used tofu puree instead as that would've been flavorless in the cupcake. I was looking for a chocolatey-chocolate cupcake but there was a slight hint of banana that I could taste. I was hoping the chocolate-ness would mask the banana but it didn't. The cupcakes were still delish and I'll definitely make them again...but with tofu next time!

Mmmm....chocolate and strawberries. YUM!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed/pureed (try 1/4 c tofu for a flavorless substitute)- Or use 2 eggs instead.
  • strawberry buttercream frosting, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with liners.
  2. In stand mixer bowl, add cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Mash/puree ripe banana and set aside. If you prefer eggs, skip the mashed banana and use 2 eggs.
  4. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mashed banana.
  5. Put butter mixture into flour mixture and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add sour cream and mix again.
  7. Use a Pampered Chef medium scoop and drop batter into cupcake liners.
  8. Bake 15-20 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cook in pan 5 mins and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Make frosting while cupcakes are cooling. ;)
Source: Adapted from


This frosting was great except I over-mixed it and it turned out a little runny. Do NOT over-mix. The consistency should be creamy like ice cream, but unfortunately, mine was a little syrupy as I added too much puree. I really wanted that strawberry UMPH! and ended up with soft serve-like frosting. I was unable to pipe a decorative frosting as it wouldn't hold its shape but at least it tasted great. If you want the right frosting consistency, be sure to stick to Lu's recipe below. :) 


Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Yield: frosting for 24 cupcakes or 9x13" cake

  • 3 tbs strawberry puree
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In stand mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add vanilla and strawberry puree and mix until just blended. 
  4. Frost cake or cupcakes and ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blue Cheese Crab Cakes

I made crab cakes for the first time in December. They were delicious. Hubby and Son #1 REALLY enjoyed them! Son #2 has shellfish allergies so he ate chicken tenders instead. I always make food that we can all enjoy as a fam as I don't like to exclude my son, however, that night in Dec. I had an unusually strong craving for crab cakes. I went ahead and made them knowing Son would be perfectly happy with his serving of chicken. 

I needed a quick dinner I could whip together after the boys' Taekwondo class. I found a recipe for Blue Cheese Crab Cakes that sounded interesting and they turned out great. Hubby really likes blue cheese so I knew the recipe would go over well with him. Son #1 even ate 'em up. Like me, he's a foodie, too. ;) If you're not sure if you like blue cheese, make the crab cakes without the cheese. Blue cheese has a pungent smell and a sharp taste that takes getting used to so omit unless you know for sure that you and the blue cheese are friends. :)


Want a bite?

Blue Cheese Crab Cakes

Yield: 12- 3" crab cakes

  • 16 oz lump crab meat
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
veggie mix-in:
  • 1/4 c red onions, chopped
  • 1/4 c carrots, julienned
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • Emeril's Essence (or garlic salt and pepper or seasonings of choice)

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In saute pan, spray with oil and heat over med-high heat. Saute veggie mix-ins for 4-5 mins. Set aside when done.
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine crab cakes ingredients and mix well. 
  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape crab mixture into patties, 3" in diameter and 1" thick.
  5. Place crab cakes onto baking sheet about 1" apart.
  6. Bake 20-25 mins. Let sit 2-3 mins before serving.
Source: Adapted from Nooschi


I still had organic avocados so I made an avocado dipping sauce. The sauce was similar to guacamole but a lighter version of it. I would've preferred a serrano chili in there to spice it up but I left it mild so Son #1 could eat it. I love all foods spicy so I just had to make a spicy sauce for myself. Glad I did because both sauces on the crab cakes made for a very nice flavor combination. YUMMMMM!


Avocado Dipping Sauce

  • 2-3 small avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1-2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Place avocados in food processor. Pulse till smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse some more. Sauce should be smooth. If it's too thick, add a little milk.
Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tbs sour cream
  • 2 tbs chili paste, Sambal Oelek (use less if you don't like it too spicy)
  1. Mix sour cream and chili paste till thoroughly combined.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Avocado Cilantro Pasta

I had several ripe organic avocados that would've been perfect for guacamole but I wasn't in the mood for guac. Weird, because I love guac. Instead of making yummy guac, I poked around for a new avocado recipe and found one for dressing. A dressing for salad or used as a sauce for pasta. Versatile sauce. Good stuff.

The original recipe calls for white balsamic vinegar but I only have traditional balsamic vinegar so I used that instead. Unfortunately, it made my lovely, light green dressing turn dark and muddy looking. The dressing was also on the balsamic-y side but I didn't mind the strong taste. My kids eat everything but I guess vinegar's not their fave as they only ate a few bites of the pasta. :) For my second batch of dressing, I used 2 tbs white wine vinegar because my local store didn't have white balsamic vinegar. The dressing was still pretty vinegary. I'll have to try it with just one type of vinegar and see how it tastes. I served the dressing on Mother's Day and the fam liked it. I like honest feedback so they would've told me if it was horrible. I still want to work on the recipe and tweak the taste just a bit. If you have a suggestion, please send it my way. Thanks! :)

Dark but delicious.


Avocado Cilantro Pasta with Shrimp
Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta
  • 8-10 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1 lb shrimp (chicken, veggies or tofu would be great, too)
  • avocado cilantro sauce (see below)
  • cilantro, chopped 
  1. Make avocado cilantro sauce (recipe below)
  2. Marinate shrimp about 30 mins in the sauce. Add enough sauce to coat the shrimp.
  3. Prepare pasta, drain, place back in pot and add sundried tomatoes. Keep covered till ready for shrimp.
  4. Heat large pan over med-high heat. Add shrimp and the sauce and cook approx. 3 mins stirring frequently. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
  5. Two ways to serve:  1.) Toss pasta in avocado sauce, place in serving bowl and top with shrimp before serving. 2.) Place pasta directly in serving bowl (no extra sauce), top with shrimp and serve. I preferred the plain pasta with the avocado cilantro shrimp. :) Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Avocado Cilantro 

Yield: 1 c


  • 3 small avocados
  • 1 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • I've tried 1/8 c balsamic vinegar as well as 2 tbs white wine vinegar.  

  1. Scoop out flesh of avocados and place in food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth consistency is reached. 
  3. Do a taste test. Add more oil, juices or vinegar to taste and to thin out the dressing if needed.
  4. Keep in fridge. Enjoy as salad dressing, pasta sauce or marinade. 
Source: Adapted from Guilty Kitchen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Asian Bow Ties

The weather here has been really nice. Sunny, slightly breezy, warm in the sun yet cool in the shade. Perfect, really. San Clemente's motto is "The world's best climate" and I definitely agree. :)

The boys' Taekwondo studio held their annual picnic on May 1st at Rancho San Clemente Park. It couldn't have been a better day for a picnic and the location was great, too. The park had a huge playground, a volleyball court, a large grassy area for the Demo Team to perform their routine and a paved area for the kids to ride bikes, scooters or skateboards. An awesome location for sure.

The Grand Master provided kalbi (similar to Korean BBQ Beef) and everyone else brought a side dish to share. I love enjoying a nice pasta salad at picnics so I made a bow tie pasta salad with an Asian flare to complement the kalbi. It was delicious!

Bow Ties with veggies and sesame dressing.

Asian Bow Ties

Yield: 10+ servings

  • 17.6 oz Farfalle (Bow Tie pasta)
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • 1 c shredded broccoli, red cabbage and carrot mix
  • 1/2 c snow peas
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Oriental flavor Ramen package*
  • Sesame dressing, to taste (I used about 1/3 c)
  1. Bring large pot of water to full boil.
  2. Add pasta and stir often to keep pasta from sticking.
  3. When pasta is al dente, drain. Run cold water over pasta and add ice cubes to keep pasta from continuing to cook. Remove ice when pasta has cooled off.
  4.  Make sure pasta is fully drained before adding to large bowl.
  5. Add veggies and toss. 
  6. With ramen still in packaging, crumble up the dry ramen noodles. Once the pieces are small enough, add to pasta. *Add dry ramen just before serving so it stays crunchy.
  7. Add dressing and toss to coat. 
Sesame Dressing

Yield: ~ 6 oz

  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 6 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste (or use Top Ramen Flavor seasoning packet)
  1. Add all ingredients in a container with lid. One with a pour spout works great.
  2. Shake well and keep refrigerated. 
  3. This dressing keeps well in the fridge. Perfect on salads, pasta, veggies, on rice or as a marinade. ENJOY!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chocolate Curls

Almost nine years ago, I had my first experience with a Rockwell's cake. The girls who threw my baby shower ordered a tasty Chocolate Curl Cake and the chocolate curls on that cake was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Everything about the cake was heavenly. So delicious! I hope you have a chance to check out Rockwell's in Villa Park, CA. Their cakes do NOT disappoint. Yum, yum, yuuuuuum!

I wanted to top Hubby's Black Forest birthday cake with chocolate curls to make it look fancy. I made white chocolate curls but changed my mind after I made the curls. I had a feeling semi-sweet chocolate curls would taste better and I'm pretty sure I made the right choice. :)  

Spread a smooth, thin layer of melted chocolate on the back of a cookie sheet.
As you can see, my layer wasn't very smooth or thin. 

The chocolate was too cold and I ended up with chocolate shavings so I stopped scraping.
If this happens to you, just let the chocolate tray set out for a minute and try scraping again.

I noticed I was also scraping up part of the aluminum from my Pampered Chef large sheet pan.
Not good, so it was a good thing my chocolate layer was on the thick side.

Keep chocolate shavings in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.

My second attempt has a smoother, thinner layer of chocolate.

These are nothing like Rockwell's' large, picture perfect, curly curls but they tasted great.

The chocolate curls added a nice touch to Hubby's birthday cake.

Chocolate Curls 

Yield: decoration for one 9" cake


  • 1- 1oz Baker's semi-sweet chocolate square (or use 2 oz white morsels)
  • 1/2 tsp Crisco shortening
  • 3-4 mins in freezer
  • 2 min to thaw 
  1. Melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl.
  2. Place Crisco into bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until shortening is melted and hot.
  3. Stir with a fork and combine thoroughly.
  4. Turn baking sheet upside down and clean the surface. 
  5. Pour melted chocolate on top and spread in thin, smooth layer.
  6. Place baking sheet in freezer for 3-4 mins. Press on chocolate with finger. Should leave a slight mark but not an actual fingerprint.
  7. Use Pampered Chef large serving spatula and scrape chocolate. Don't press too hard or you'll get bits of the baking sheet in your curls. 
  8. If the chocolate doesn't curl and you get chocolate shavings, let it soften for a min. and try again.
  9. Curl from one end to the other. Save in airtight container in freezer until ready to use.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Black Forest Cake

I LOVE when it's Hubby's birthday because it's the day he finally catches up to me and we're the "same age." I'm five months older and he never lets me forget it. Well, last month, he caught up to me again. YAY! Hubby's parents hosted his birthday dinner and they made him "THE CHOCOLATE CAKE" for dessert. It's a recipe that's been in the fam for years and it's fabulous. He's gotten that cake for many birthdays, and in the past, it was requested quite often for holidays and for cousins' birthdays, too. It's that good! Son #2 can't eat the cake due to his egg allergy so I baked a special cake that he could enjoy.

Hubby's birthday was last month and I made an egg-free Black Forest cake to serve alongside "THE CHOCOLATE CAKE." It was my first attempt and it turned out pretty good. Hubby loved it and Son #2 enjoyed every single bite. He loves when I bake "special" goodies! 

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

I even made the chocolate curls. :)

Black Forest Cake

Yield: 2-layer 9" round cake


  • 2 c plus 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (omit if you want to use 2 eggs instead)
  • 1/2 c Canola oil
  • cherry pie filling
whipped cream:
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs sugar

bake cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prep cake pans: lightly spray with oil and lightly flour the pans.
  2. Pour milk into measuring cup and add apple cider vinegar. Let sit for a few mins till it "curdles." Set aside. Skip this step if using 2 eggs.
  3. Add dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl and stir well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and mix until well blended.
  5. Pour evenly into prepared pans.
  6. Bake 25-30 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake in pans on wire racks about 15 mins. 
  8. Loosen edges and flip onto cooling racks to cool completely.
make whipped cream:
  1. Add heavy whipping cream in stand mixer bowl.
  2. Use wire whisk attachment and beat on med-high 1-2 mins till frothy/bubbly looking. 
  3. Continue beating and carefully add vanilla and sugar. 
  4. Beat on high till fluffy whipped cream consistency is reached.
assemble cake:
  1. Place one cake layer on cake plate.
  2. Spread whipped cream layer on top.
  3. Spread 1/4 c - 1/3 c cherry pie filling on top and cover with thin layer of whipped cream.
  4. Place second cake layer on top.
  5. Frost entire cake with whipped cream. Reserve some whipped cream for decorating.
  6. Set aside 10 nice cherries and add remaining cherries to middle of cake.
  7. Use piping bag with star tip for decorating or put whipped cream in a ziploc bag and use that as the piping bag. Just snip a corner and squeeze. Easy.
  8. Squeeze stars (or in my case, mini marshmallow sized "puffs") over top of cake. Quickly decorate around the cherries first to contain them in the center of the cake. Work your way out to the edge.
  9. I had extra whipped cream so I piped around the bottom of the cake, too.
  10. Decorate with 10 cherries set aside earlier. Space evenly apart around the top of cake.
  11. Hubby loves chocolate so I made chocolate curls to place on top of the cherry center. I'll post the recipe for chocolate curls soon. :)
  12. ENJOY! It's good stuff!
Souce: Adapted from

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sweet Beets

My boys really love beets. I'm glad because I love beets, too. These turned out so good that we enjoyed them warm and then cold the next day as a pre-dinner snack. My boys love beets because of what it does when they eat it. What's not to like? Red stained fingers, red stained vampire-like lips and mouth, and of course, the bathroom aftermath of redness. Sorry if that was TMI but it's the truth with BOYS. :)

Beets are so delicious but Hubby still thinks they taste like dirt. I prefer them steamed "au natural" but I added a little honey to get the boys to eat more than their usual portion. It worked. :)

Fresh organic beets. Delicious and nutritious!

Sweet Beets

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 6-8 beets, small-medium size (saute the beet greens towards the end if they're fresh)
  • 1/4 c water (more or less depending on amount of beets)
  • 1 tbs honey
  1. Wash beets and peel if desired. When I'm feeling lazy, I give the beets a good scrub and leave the skin on.
  2. Remove beet greens and slice beets. If beet greens are fresh, wash, chop and set aside.
  3. Add beets and water in saute pan over med-low heat. Water should not cover beets completely. Steam for 15-20 mins. Add more water if necessary and give beets a good stir a few times.
  4. Add beet greens during last 8-10 mins of cook time.
  5. Drain water and drizzle honey on beets. Serve warm or cold. ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Char Siu Pork

It's been a crazy two weeks with workers in and out of our house painting the exterior, master bathroom and knocking down the cottage cheese ceiling. Ack! Messy stuff! I didn't cook for a couple days while the guys were working in and around the kitchen because they were creating a ton of dust. Not a sanitary environment for food prep so we were "forced" to eat out. I actually enjoyed a break from the kitchen. :)

Unfortunately, all the dust made Son #2's asthma kick in. I kept the kids out of the house while the work was going on and I even vacuumed several times after the work was done. Obviously, there was still dust in the air because Son wasn't breathing well. Starting him on the nebulizer usually does the trick but we ended up in his allergist's office because he wasn't getting better. :( Since Son wasn't well, I wanted to make something with garlic and ginger. According to my Mom, garlic and ginger are a "natural antibiotic." No, she's not a doctor but her homeopathic ways seem to work. Whenever we're under the weather, I add extra garlic to our meals and it really does help us bounce back.

The workers had an early day because they were pretty much done with the jobs at my home. I used the grill since my kitchen wasn't as clean as I would've like it to be. OH MY! This pork was DEEEEE-lish! This isn't your typical thin-sliced char siu pork with the red food coloring but it tasted great! The leftovers were perfect for breakfast burritos and the boys ate it up in quesadillas. Yum yum.

This was awesome. 

Totally tasty. 
Serve with rice on a bed of chard chips and steamed beets on the side.

Char Siu Pork

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 6-8 pork tenderloins about 1/2" thick
sauce/marinade: (makes about 1 c)
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sake (rice wine)
  • 2 tbs ketchup
  • 2 tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  1. Mix 3/4 of sauce ingredients in gallon-sized ziploc bag. Reserve extra sauce for serving with pork.
  2. Place pork in ziploc, seal bag and give a good shake to coat pork with sauce.
  3. Marinate 4 hrs or overnight for best flavor.
  4. Heat grill over med-high heat for 3-5 mins then turn down to low. Grill pork 4-5 mins per side and baste with remaining marinade. I did a total of 8-10 mins per side after flipping back and forth a couple times.
  5. Let rest 5-8 mins before serving. ENJOY!!!
Source: Adapted from My Recipes

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chard Chips

I was at lunch with my Mom a few weeks ago when I overheard a conversation at the table next to us about kale chips. Kale "chips?" I was intrigued so I listened as the lady talked about how easy it was to make crunchy kale chips. I also overheard someone at Trader Joe's talking about kale chips and then I got an email the other day from the farm about kale chips, too. It's a healthy and delicious snack so I had to give it a go.

I had 2 bunches of swiss chard in my CSA basket so I used that instead of kale. It was a fast and easy way to eat up the chard. Chard "chips" were actually pretty tasty. It was salty and crispy and reminded us of Korean Roasted Laver (seaweed). 

This was good stuff.

Just try it.

Chard Chips

yield: 4+ servings

  • 1-2 bunches swiss chard (can also use kale)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Prep swiss chard. Wash, dry and chop.
  2. Preheat oven to 250F (I think 300F would've been a better temp). Prep baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil and spray with oil.
  3. Place chard in large bowl and toss with oil and salt. Don't overdo the oil or the chard will be soggy.
  4. Lay out chard in single layer on baking sheets. Bake for 30-40 mins or till chard gets crispy. ENJOY!
TIP: Also tasty mixed in with salad or on rice. Great as a side to chicken, beef or fish, too.
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