Archive for April, 2011

April 28, 2011

unlimited spice

You may recall a few days ago when Jeff and I went to a Thai restaurant. We love Thai food, but we love it even MORE when it’s eaten with Thai Pickled Chili Peppers. Or is it Thai Pickled Jalapenos? Most Thai restaurants have it, but they don’t usually have it out on the table already with the chili sauces. You usually have to ask for it.

And we don’t like just eating a little throughout the meal. We like eating a piece (or several pieces) of chili pepper slices with EVERY BITE.

At the recent Thai restaurant we went to, we naturally asked for the pickled chilis. The waitress brought out a small container with about 5 slices of jalapeno. It was clearly NOT ENOUGH. The next time she came to our table we asked her if we could have more. She brought out another container with literally about 3 slices of jalapeno!

We decided to stop asking for more and just try to let those few slices of chili pepper last through the meal. Oh, but how I wished I had a LIMITLESS amount of pickled jalapenos. I didn’t want to feel like I had to “save” them. I wanted an endless supply!

ENTER: Making my own.

These are Mexican Serrano Chili Peppers and I bought them at my local Asian supermarket (Ranch 99). I wasn’t 100% sure which type of chili peppers to use. My first instinct was to use the chili peppers called “Thai Chili Peppers” but they’re super tiny and I think they’re mainly used in cooking dishes, not for pickling.

There were also regular jalapenos, which I’m sure would work perfectly fine but these Mexican Serrano Chili Peppers looked like the size of the pickled chili peppers I see at Thai restaurants. So I went with them, and they’re perfect!



I sliced them thinly…



And made sure not to touch my eyeballs!



After slicing them all up I put them into empty mason jars (I used 2 small-ish ones) and then I got started on the pickling ingredients:



Pour about a cup of White Distilled Vinegar in a bowl/measuring cup.



And to that, add 2 tablespoons white sugar…



and 1 teaspoon salt…



And mix it until it gets all dissolved (it dissolves pretty quickly!).



Then pour the “pickling juice” into the mason jar. This was a recipe for just one mason jar, so I made it twice (or you can just double the recipe). Just make sure the chili peppers get fully immersed in the “juice”!



And behold the beauty you have just created!



I was a PROUD pickled chili pepper mama!



Jeff and I are spicy food FANATICS. Most of our meals (pastas, sandwiches, stir-fries, pizza) are doused in some sort of hot chili sauce. These are 2 of our favorites!

Sriracha and Chili Garlic Sauce. I like the one on the right a little more because it’s a little more “chunky” and has actual chili flakes!



And paired with these pickled chili peppers…it’s a match made in heaven!

You can pretty much eat these pickled chili peppers right away (we ate it just a couple hours later) but it definitely just gets better with age!



I was so excited for tonight’s dinner because I was making something that would go so well with these pickled chili peppers (most things do though, so it wasn’t that hard)

I made a simple stir-fry with Jasmine rice, and of course my favorite chili sauce and my beloved pickled chili peppers. I went back for thirds on the chili sauce and pickled chili peppers.



Sigh…it was so wonderful not to have an “unlimited” supply. =) I’m pretty confident I’m going to be making these ALL my life.




Thai Pickled Chili Peppers

Recipe from All Recipes (just the amounts are altered)

Makes: 2 small jars



Ingredients:

20-25 Serrano Chili Peppers (I’m sure other varieties of chili peppers would work as well)

2 cups white distilled vinegar

4 T sugar

2 tsp kosher salt



Directions:

Thinly slice chili peppers and split equally into 2 small mason or canning jars.

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the mixture evenly into each jar.

Store and use up to a few months.


Are you a fan of spicy foods or tend to avoid them??

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April 27, 2011

rolls for buns

I’m watching American Idol as I type this up. This is pretty much the first time I’m watching it all season though so I don’t know or have any attachments to any of the contestants! Lauren Alaina is singing right now. Don’t know anything about her, but she must be popular if she’s made it this far!

For dinner tonight I wanted to make HOTDOGS! I had exactly 2 leftover Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe’s to use up, but what I didn’t have was hotdog buns. So I went to Target to pick up some…hotdog buns?? Nope! THESE! :

When Jeff and I went down to LA about a month ago, we had hotdogs from a little place in Pasadena that uses these delicious rolls for their hotdog buns. I thought it was a GENIUS idea, especially since I love these rolls so much! Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the place because Jeff and his brother went to go pick up the hotdogs for us to eat at their home.



I think that hotdog place used 3 Hawaiian rolls, but I decided to use 2 because my dogs weren’t quite as long as theirs. So just rip out however many rolls you want, but make sure they stay in tact!



And then get a serrated knife and start slicing down the middle…



But make sure not to slice all the way through…you want it to look like a hotdog bun!



Just like this!

You can toast these (which I did) or just leave them as is.



And voila, here’s my hotdog!

Yeah, I really don’t kid around when I profess my love for cilantro. So darn good!



A few things I will do differently next time:

1. Use Hot Links instead of these Chicken Sausages. Chicken Sausages just don’t seem to be the best for hotdogs (they’re better sliced and pan fried, in my opinion!) and especially this flavor (Apple Chardonnay) was too sweet. Hot Links would be PERFECT in this.

2. BUY MUSTARD. Mustard, mustard, mustard how have I been without you for so long now?

3. Add chopped raw white onion.



Anyways, lately we’ve been on an ice cream kick. We’ve been enjoying a bowl of ice cream almost every night (usually Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road) but I decided to try out a couple flavors that were on sale:

I was SO excited for these flavors, but unfortunately they were a bit of a letdown. Blueberry Crumble didn’t have nearly enough “crumbles” and it would better be named “Blueberry Ice Cream.” The Caramel Apple Pie was a little better, but not as good as the classic Haagen Dazs flavors!

Do any of you remember the Haagen-Dazs flavor “Sticky Toffee Pudding”? It was created in a contest (this was back in 2007) and the winner would get to make it an official (limited time I guess) Haagen-Dazs flavor. BEST ICE CREAM EVER! Unfortunately, they’ve stopped making it but there’s even a Facebook page for it to have Haagen-Dazs bring it back! Pretty funny, but I would be sooo happy if they actually did bring it back!

I’ve never had ACTUAL Sticky Toffee Pudding before though. I’ve never seen it in restaurants either or I would totally order it! Guess I have to go to England for it? Or make it myself! I usually don’t like creating recipes without actually trying a legit version first though.

Have you ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

April 26, 2011

macarons a la trader joe’s

Ever since a Fresh & Easy market opened up right next to my house, I haven’t gone back to Trader Joe’s – not once! I felt bad, but I guess I was just in the Honeymoon stage with Fresh & Easy.

Today, I finally took a trip to Trader Joe’s, and I think I’m “back.” I compared some more prices between Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy, and it seems in GENERAL, Trader Joe’s is usually cheaper than Fresh & Easy. I’ll keep going to Fresh & Easy for items such as Key Limes and cilantro, but will probably be sticking with Trader Joe’s for my regular grocery shopping.

To celebrate my “come back” (yeah, nice excuse!) I purchased a couple goodies on top of my regular old purchases.

Strawberry Ice Cream made with coconut milk and French Macarons!

I REALLY hemmed and hawed over whether I should buy these French Macarons. I never really was a fan of French Macarons, but I think that was because I never had a REALLY GOOD French Macaron. They were usually stale and generally not very well made. I didn’t KNOW that it wasn’t well made though, because I had never had a WELL MADE Macaron.

That all changed on Sunday. My friend bought a box of French Macarons from Miette Bakery and let me have a couple, and my goodness, I was converted. THIS was a well made Macaron, and it just tasted so fresh and perfect.

Macarons have been on my mind since then. So when I saw these Macarons in the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s, I was extremely tempted. In the end, I decided to give them a try.

2 Vanilla Macarons for me, and 1 Chocolate and 1 Vanilla Macaron for Jeff. I didn’t care to try the Chocolate Macaron.

I was really, really impressed with these Macarons. Sure, they’re not exactly Miette or Laduree and I am not a French Macaron connoisseur by any means, but as a product of Trader Joe’s and from the FROZEN aisle, I enjoyed these. A LOT. All the vanilla ones are gone. I guess I’ll have to try a chocolate one tomorrow.

They say to defrost from the freezer for about 30 minutes or so, but I find they’re perfectly good straight out of the freezer. Unless you have a super buff freezer, then you may want to defrost. Defrosted or undefrosted, I loved these and will definitely be getting them again!



Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the other “goodie” – the Strawberry Ice Cream made with Coconut milk. I didn’t taste any coconut very much at all and just wasn’t a fan of the flavor very much. Jeff liked it though, so he can have the rest. =)

(By the way, I bought this OXO ice cream scooper from TJ Maxx (along with Kitchen Aid tongs, which I am now weirdly obsessed with). I think TJ Maxx is my new favorite place to buy Kitchen tools! I do try to look up the reviews of the tools on my Amazon app before buying them though because sometimes the tools sold there have less than stellar reviews (which may be why they’re at TJ Maxx now), but so far I’ve had a really good experience with these products sold for less from TJ Maxx!)

The Macaron helped the ice cream a little though!



In other news, I made my VERY FIRST batch of hummus today! Jeff has found recently that he really likes hummus so I decided to try my hand at making it. I didn’t want to buy tahini though because it tends to be a bit pricey so I decided to try to make it without the tahini.

Simple ingredients, simple recipe!



In place of the tahini, I decided to use sesame oil. If I’m not mistaken, I think tahini is sesame paste, so I thought it wouldn’t be missed too much if I used sesame oil.

And I ALWAYS have sesame oil in my house. Always, always, always. It is hands down my favorite oil.

I have a huge container of sesame oil and just refill this bottle. One day I plan to get a oil dispenser just for sesame oil because I use it so often! And because it does tend to get oily and messy.



Anyway, back to the hummus! Just blend those 5 ingredients (I used a single-serve blender because I don’t have a blender or food processer and it worked great!).

You can add some of the juice from the canned chickpeas if you want it to be a thinner consistency.

And serve with pita chips or your favorite veggie!

Yum. Sesame-y and garlicky – 2 of my favorite flavors! (Those are Garlic Gold Nuggets sprinkled on top.)

I’ll definitely be making my own hummus again and experimenting with different flavors!



Hummus made without Tahini

Makes: 1 medium bowl of hummus



Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup sesame oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1-4 cloves garlic, peeled (depending on how garlicky you want it)



Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processer. If you want a thinner consistency, add in a little juice from the canned chickpeas. Serve with pita chips or veggies.

Nutritional Information for 2 T hummus: 52 calories, 4g fat, 0g saturated fat, 110mg sodium, 3g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 0g sugar, 1g protein

April 25, 2011

thai and books

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! Over here we celebrated Easter at church, and the rest of the weekend was very relaxing. It was nice to not have set plans this weekend especially since past weekends have been jam packed.

For lunch yesterday we had Thai food! It really hit the spot because we both haven’t had Thai food in a loooong while.



We ordered some Thai Iced Teas…



Pad See Ew:



and Green Curry with Chicken:



We did come to a conclusion after this weekend ended though. WE NEED TO STOP EATING OUT! Why is it so easy to eat out? Just this past weekend we ate at this Thai restaurant, Dickey’s BBQ, and a burger place called Jack’s Prime. One meal out can easily total to $30, which can really add up.

So our conclusion? To really, really, really make an effort to eat out only ONCE a week. Let’s see if we can do it!



Last night I stayed up waaaay too late reading this:

This is one of my favorite books, EVER. I read this first when I was in Middle School and after that many MANY times. But then I ended up giving this book away, along with ALL of my favorite childhood books, which is one of the biggest regrets of my life (melodramatic much?). I have this habit of throwing/giving away anything I don’t need. I HATE clutter, and hated it even as a kid.

So of course, as I became a foolish teenager, I thought, “I don’t need these books anymore! I’ve waaay outgrown them now!” and I gave my whole collection away. Foolish, foolish, foolish.



But slowly, slowly I am trying to build up my childhood collection again. I recently repurchased a couple other childhood favorites:

Probably another ALL-TIME favorite.



And another favorite classic. Ahhh, memories. I’m hoping to get the whole collection again.



I love the idea of Kindles and iPads (and totally want one for myself), but for childhood books (and cookbooks), I’m all about the real deal. I mean, I hope my own kids will one day read these same classics and I wouldn’t want them to read it from a Kindle or iPad! So repurchasing these books is totally an investment. =) (I’m trying to make myself feel better after giving away tons and tons of childhood classics. SIGH.)

What were your favorite books growing up? How many times do you usually eat our per week?