Monday, December 29, 2008

What's Cookin?: Corn Chowder

One of my favorite food memories of my mom was when she would make her corn chowder. My brother and I loved corn chowder night. I think we both still love corn chowder night as adults. I'm glad my brother thought of getting the recipe from her. I never thought of asking because she would always make it upon request. Now that she's gone, I always think of her when I enjoy this recipe. She always knew how to make it taste so good!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's Cookin?: Deep Dish French Toast

This is a real crowd pleaser. I made this once on my last visit to Las Vegas and my sister-in-law loved it. It's a great dish for a made ahead Sunday brunch!!

Deep Dish French Toast
Adapted from: David Leite (Leite's Culinaria)

butter (for greasing pan)

1 (24 oz.) brioche or challah loaf, cut into 1 inch cubes (really tastes better with these breads but in a pinch you can substitute french bread)

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cut into small cubes

3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1/2 c. raisins (I used Trader Joe's Golden Berry Blend with golden raisins, cherries, cranberries & blueberries)

6 large eggs (original recipe calls for 8 eggs...yikes!)

2 c. milk

1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1) Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place half the bread cubes in a single layer, filling in all the gaps. Evenly scatter the cream cheese cubes, nuts & raisins on top. cover completely with the remaining bread cubes.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Gently press down on the cubes with your palms to allow the top layer of bread to absorb the liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hrs or overnight.

3) The morning of, take the dish out from the refrigerator and let sit for 20 min at room temp. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast covered for 20 min; uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 min longer or until the cubes are nicely toasted and there's no liquid pudding on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cool. Melt butter and drizzle over the french toast. Cut into squares and serve by itself or with maple syrup. (I sometimes skip all the melted butter and just do syrup).

Friday, December 26, 2008

What's Cookin?: Chicken Chow Mein

My niece loves noodles. I was in charge of making a noodle dish that she might like. I was at the mercy of whatever Asian noodles the grocery store carried. Luckily we found some chow mein and I was able to throw together a quick side dish to go with all the turkey and ham we had leftover. I elected to used a bottled sauce since I was pressed for time. I won't mention that I made 2 packages of chow mein so now we have tons of leftover noodles to eat. Oi!!

Chicken Chow Mein

1 pkg. chow mein (cook according to package directions)

1 tray chicken thighs or breast tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 onion, sliced

1 tray mushrooms, sliced (or canned straw mushrooms)

1 can baby corn, drained

1 can sliced bamboo shoots, drained

1 carrot, graded or cut into matchsticks

2 bunches baby bok choy, chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced into bite size pieces

1 package snap peas or snow peas (I blanched them slightly first)

Premade stir fry sauce (I tried the House of Tsang brand)

chicken broth

salt & pepper to taste

1) Slice up chicken and marinate in the fridge with some of the stir fry sauce for a few hours.

2) Cook noodles according to package directions. Set aside to drain.

3) Heat wok or pot and add some oil. Stir fry chicken until it is browned and cooked through. Add onions and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the other vegetables and stir fry until vegetables are cooked. Add salt and pepper.

4) Add noodles to the stir fry. If they seem dry, add some chicken broth. Add some sauce and toss well. Add more sauce as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arctic Blast 2008

It first started snowing on Sunday, December 14th.  It came down really hard all day long.  Little did I know that it was the just the beginning of record snowfall in the Portland Metro area in years.  When all was said and done, we had the most snowfall since the 1950's.  I believe we ended December as the 3rd most snowfall with 19+ inches.  For a week the temperatures never made it above 30 degrees.  The snow then turned into ice and driving to and from work became nerve-wracking and dangerous.    

These are some of the views early on in the snow-storm.  My driveway was covered with snow as was my neighbors beetle bug.  The snow on the trees were so pretty!  The lake and the empty field were snowed over (yet surprisingly enough the geese still made an appearance).  I tried to get my cat, Ehiku, interested in the snow.  I put her out on the snow on my deck but she came running back inside.  She doesn't do snow apparently.  Instead she settled for a snowcone.  That she liked a lot!  

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka

I have been very bad and have neglected my blog for a very long time. So I went to Thailand and still have to tell you about my adventures. My trip did not go exactly according to plan as the Bangkok airport was shut down for a week. That put a little monkey wrench into my plans. I never made it to Bangkok or Chiang Mai (thus never got to do my culinary tour). Bummers! I got back to Portland and fully intendedto tell you all about my adventures but we got hit with an Artic Blast that left us with snow and ice for a record number of days. I believe it's 3rd in the record books for snow on the ground in Portland since the 1950's. I will blog about that later too! Nevertheless, there has been very little cooking going on for me.

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas or Mele Kalikimaka as we say in Hawaii. Or Happy Holidays! I'm enjoying the weekend with my brother and his family in Las Vegas. Aunty Holly has been given the task of cooking for a 2 year old. My cooking skills have been a little rusty but she seems to have enjoyed it. Happy Holidays!!