Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baked Carrot Fries

As requested by JJ Express Magazine for their food issue. So, this recipe was relatively simple to make...and turned out pretty tasty.

-olive oil
-black pepper

The instructions given to me by the editor-in-chief: "Cut 1 lb of long carrots into French Fry shape (in half a few times). Put on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tbsp olive oil. Toss carrots so they are covered in oil. Add a little bit of black pepper. Put in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until soft, turning them once or twice during that time. Let cool, and munch. Yum!"

Of course, I do not have 1 lb of carrots lying around the house, so I just made do with two carrots.That is why it turned out a bit more oily than I would like (and because I had a little accident while pouring the oil. Oops.) And I used a toaster oven instead of a real oven because it's just so much easier. I used 375°F on my toaster oven for about 25 minutes.

Happy eating!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Salad Feast w/ "Honey"-Almond-Mustard Dressing

We rarely turn on the A/C in the summer because my mother insists on cutting the size of our bills. Sometimes, it gets up to 85-90 inside with no real air circulation and I'm sweaty like no tomorrow. Hence, I am getting very turned off by using the stove or ovens now. (No pun intended). So, this entry will highlight those days when we're too bummed out from the heat to do anything.

As you probably already know, Chinese eating is very communal and for us, salad is no different. We just grab the amounts of things we want from the center to our plates and everyone is happy. It's a great thing to do even with guests around. This is another reason why I usually never order salad in a restaurant. When you have salad feasts, no other salad really matches up after that.

That's what a typical salad night prepped by me is like...

Here's a list of what's pictured:
-Alfalfa sprouts
-Bell peppers
-Mixed Salad Greens
-Nutritional Yeast
-Orzo Salad
(Orzo, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Pine Nuts, Sunflower seeds, Lime Juice, Bragg's 24 Spices)
-Red cabbage
-Wheat Germ
-Vegit Seasoning
-Salad Dressing (varies depending on what we're craving)
Not Pictured:
-Avocados (The ones bought rotted, so we couldn't eat them. Shame, I love avocados)

Okay, let's cut to the chase. The dressing.

Ingredients (from most to least:
-Dijon Mustard
-Almond Butter
-Agave Nectar
-Lime Juice
-Nutritional Yeast
-Flax Seed Oil

I don't use any measurements, I just do it it by eyeballing it and mixing to taste. The tahini is bitter, so the don't use too much and try to balance it out with lime juice. The nutritional yeast is for thickening the dressing.

I may go experiment and find out exact measurements if anyone requests.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ants Crawling Up a Tree (螞蟻上樹)

Pronounced: má yǐ shàng shù.One of my favorite dishes...
Obviously, there are no ants or trees in this dish. The "trees" are the long strands of bean thread and the "ants" are the meat (or in this case, the crumbles). Kinda like Ants on a Log, huh?

It sounds more appetizing in Chinese than in English, heh.
Anyways, it's traditionally made with pork, but I prefer my veganized version.

I am a sucker for bean thread. When cooked correctly, it's chewy, elastic, and totally better than regular noodles. You can find them at your local Asian grocery store. They usually come packed in pink netting. Also, the color of the bean thread is CLEAR and should not be confused with rice vermicelli, which is white in color.

What you'll need:
2 bundles of Chinese Vermicelli/Bean Thread (粉絲-fěn sī)
3 stalks of scallion
2/3 cup of veggie protein crumbles
2 tbsp soy-sauce (or soy-sauce alternative)
vegetable oil
Chinese chili sauce (optional)

1. Soak the bean thread in a pot of water until soft.
2. Chop the scallion into small pieces. Separate greens and whites.
3. Mix the soy-sauce mixture in a small bowl: 2 tbsp soy-sauce + 6 tbsp water.
4. Use scissors to cut the bean thread sparingly. This is to make it easier to pick up and eat later.
5. Heat pan and pour enough oil to lightly spread around. Add the veggie protein crumbles. Stir-fry until slightly burnt.
6. Add the scallion whites. Add soy-sauce mixture. Add chili sauce if desired. (I don't use it because I don't like spicy foods) Stir. Add water if necessary to prevent burning.
7. Drain bean threads and add to pan. Stir and add enough water to cover bottom of the pan. Cover pan with lid and let it sit until the bean threads are soft. This takes about 1 minute.
8. Turn off heat. Add scallion greens. Stir and serve with rice.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eggplant Stir-Fry (炒茄子)

After two days at the beach, I came home to lots of newly sprouting salad leaves as well as a bushy basil plant. Mom insisted that we prune it and cook it in a dish. So, here it is, in all it's glory, basil in the Eggplant Stir-fry. Oh, poor basil plant, you thought you had the chance to grow big and strong while we were gone...but, HA! WE'RE GONNA EAT YOU!

What you'll need:

1/2 cup of basil
2 chinese eggplants
soy-sauce (or soy-sauce substitute-- I use Bragg's)
vegetable oil


1. Place eggplants on cutting board horizontally. Chop each into fours. Then, chop into rectangular slices.
2. Prepare the soy-sauce mixture in a small bowl: 2 tbsp soy-sauce + 3 tbsp water.
3. Heat pan on high. Pour a little bit of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggplants. Stir well.
4. Add the soy-sauce mixture. Stir and cover the pan with a lid.
5. Add water if needed to avoid burning. Let it cook until all eggplants are evenly browned.
6. Add basil. Stir-fry for about 20-30 more seconds.
7. Turn heat off and serve with rice.

Happy eating!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mung-Bean Sprout Stir-Fry (炒绿豆芽)

This is a simple dish with ingredients that you can grow at home and minimal prep time. I had just sprouted a bunch of mung beans in a jar and boy, do they taste super-fresh and delicious!

-Vegetable Oil
-Mung-Bean Sprouts
-3 Stalks of Scallions
-salt (if desired)

1. Cut off the roots of the scallions. Chop the white parts and the green parts into one inch segments. Make sure the whites and the greens stay separate.
2. Heat the frying pan. Add a bit of oil. Stir-fry the scallion whites.
3. Toss in the sprouts and stir-fry for about 10 seconds. Close the lid for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Don't over stir-fry or the sprouts will become limp and soggy.) Add a pinch of salt if desired.
4. Turn off heat and stir in the scallion greens. (The greens will become yellow with heat. That's why it's wise to add it last.)
Serve with rice or noodles.

Happy eating!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Potato Salad


1. Chop the the cucumbers into small cubes.
2. Chop the rest of the vegetables into cubes and/or small pieces.
3. Boil potatoes in a pot of water until almost done. Add carrots and wait for it to boil again. Add the asparagus.
4. After boiling, drain the vegetables well and let cool.
3. Stir in a generous amount of vegenaise
4. Add the chopped apples.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ma-Po Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

**Note: My mother does not eat scallions due to religious reasons, so I've omitted them when cooking this dish... and we're not fans of spicy foods, so no hot sauce for us. (In case you're wondering why the picture doesn't look like Ma-Po Tofu in the restaurants...)

What you'll need:
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 package of soft tofu
1 cup veggie protein crumbles
soy sauce (or soy sauce alternative)
vegetable oil
water at hand
chinese chili hot sauce (optional)
scallions (optional)

1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water until soft.
2. Cut the tofu into cubes. (I used soft tofu in this case.)
3. Cut the scallions. Separate the whites and the greens.
4. Set pot on burner and turn on heat to high. Wait until the pot is dry and hot before adding a bit of oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
5. Add
shiitake mushrooms and scallion whites. Stir-fry until mushrooms are lightly burnt. Add protein crumbles.
6. Add 1 spoon of soy-sauce (or 2 spoons of Bragg's). Add a bit of water to prevent the crumbles from drying out and burning. (This is also where you add the hot sauce if desired.) Stir.
7. Add the tofu and stir. Add water if needed to prevent from drying. Turn heat to medium. Close the lid and let it sit for about 30-45 seconds before stirring again.
8. Do a quick taste test. If too salty, add a few pinches of sugar. Stir and pour into bowl.
9. Quickly heat the scallion greens into the pot for about 30 seconds. Garnish the dish.

Serve with rice.

Happy eating!

P.S. I might upload a picture of the hot sauce and scallion version if I choose to cook it that way in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Flavored Tofu with Kelp Bow-Ties

Today, I am posting my first asian style dish and I'm sort of nervous about it. You're all probably thinking: "Kelp?! Seaweed?! Yuck!" But, kelp is highly nutritious and tastes delicious if cooked properly!

Funny story, my mother freaked out when I started taking pictures while prepping the food.
Me: "Taking pictures for the blog..."
Her: "But this dish is so should not let everyone see how lazy we are..."
Me: "But that's the point, Ma. Peopl
e don't want to slave for hours trying to make a complicated dish."

Here's what you'll need:
--Kelp (I use 3 sheets dried)
--1 Package of Flavored
--2 Carrots
--Soy Sauce (or Soy Sauce substitute)
--Brown or Turbinado Sugar

How To Buy and Prep the Kelp:
I get my Kelp in dry form from a l
ocal asian grocery store. You can choose to buy already prepped ones if you want to save time. They are usually in a bucket near the produce section.

If you go for the dry option:
Everything is labeled 'dried seaweed', so make sure you're getting the packages with thick and rigid sheets instead of the flimsy, seasoned roasted seaweeds made for snacking (see picture on the right).

Now, you need to soak the dried seaweed in a pot of water until it softens. The amount of time ranges from 10-30 minutes depending on the brand you buy. I just leave it there and come back later.

After your kelp is done soaking, this is where it gets a bit slimy. Kelp has a gelling property so it'll be sticky, but I like to think of it as moisturizing. Cut the kelp into strips. (Tip: use the tip of the knife and cut parallel to the direction of growth so it doesn't crumble when
cooking) The wider the strips, the easier it'll be to tie.

Now comes the tricky part: making the tie. If you're pressed for time, I suggest you skip this step. It's super slippery and time consuming if you don't have practice. Purpose of bow-ties? Aesthetic reasons and to make it easier to pick up with chopsticks. What I do is, I pin one side down to the cutting board with my fingernail so it doesn't slip all over. It's a bit difficult at first, but you'll gradually get the hang of it. And presto! Your seaweed is ready to be incorporated into the dish.

Making the dish:
1. Prep the kelp.
2. Cut carrots. Cut the flavored tofu into cubes. (Each piece should make 8 cubes).
3. Boil a pot of water. Throw in the kelp for about 30 seconds and dump the water o
ut. This gets rid off some saltiness and the strong taste that most people dislike.
4. Pour water about 1/3 of the way into the pot. Put the carrots and tofu cubes in.
5. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of soy sauce (or your choice of soy sauce substitute...I use Bragg's, so I use 4 spoonfuls. If you use soy s
auce, you use less because it has higher sodium).
6. Bring to boil. Then, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
7. Add a half spoonful of sugar. I use Turbinado Sugar.
8. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Taste the tofu to see if the flavor has sunk in. If not, simmer a bit longer.

Happy eating!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Banana Pecan Bread/"Pound Cake"

This is supposed to be like those nut-loaves sold in the baked goods section at Whole Foods. It turned out better than expected. My whole family, who used to be skeptical that anyone can make baked goods without eggs, milk, sugar, and honey, always demand that I make more.

So, I think this is a good recipe to start off the blog with...

It's a good way to get rid of those overly ripe bananas. :)

3 bananas
1/3 cup oil
5 tsp agave nectar (or your choice of sweetener)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Put peeled bananas in a large bowl. Drizzle oil and sweetener over it. Mash until smooth.
3. Add water and vanilla extract.
4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Mix until smooth. Add desired amount of pecans.
6. Pour in loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
(Stick a skewer (or knife or chopstick) into the cake to see if it's done.
If batter sticks, bake for 5 more minutes until done.)
7. Use a knife to wedge the cake out of the pan and onto a plate. Drizzle top with sweetener.

Happy eating!
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