Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Orange Strawberry Smoothie

Here’s an easy refreshing summer drink/smoothie, made with minimal ingredients! Great frozen treats for the hot summer days! =) No need to pay $3-4 per fruit smoothie from Jamba Juice or any of those Smoothie stand, just make your own smoothie!!! =P. This just cost me less than $3 to come up with some frozen goodness. =)




  • 1 (16 Oz) Bag Frozen Strawberries, Slightly Thawed (5-10 minutes)
  • 2-3 Cups Orange Juice, Chilled
  • 2-3 Tbsp Sugar (**Optional)


Add everything (usually skip the sugar) into a blender and just pulse for 2-3 seconds  at a time until everything has been blended and is smooth! I used the “Crush Ice” function on my Cuisinart blender. Adjust thickness of the smoothie by adding or reducing the juice. You may need to occasionally give the smoothie a stir to make sure everything has been blended. Be sure to turn the blender off when you do so! =P

With 2 cups of juice used; you get 5 cups worth of smoothie…enough for 2-3 servings. With 3 cups of juice; you get 6 cups worth of smoothie enough for 3-4 servings. =)

You can always add other frozen fruits such as mangoes or pineapple and blend it with your choice of juice =) Enjoy!Smoothie1

Monday, June 29, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream


Another great way to eat/use strawberries! I made strawberry ice cream after my strawberry picking activity. The strawberry ice cream was not made from the fresh ones I picked from the local farm. Instead, it was made with store bought ones when I found out I have a container of them in my fridge upon returning from berry picking.

IThe ice cream was based on the recipe that came with my Cuisinart ice cream maker.  However, I also added some strawberry jam to it to enhance the taste and color of the ice cream. It was a great success and I loved this ice cream. It was definitely better than my red bean ice cream attempt.

Since I added jam to the cream mixture (and my ice cream maker is just 1.5 qt), it almost over-flowed towards the end of the churning process. I am going to reattempt the recipe and make slight changes to it so that I can churn the ice cream nicely (and avoid overflows) before sharing the recipe here! Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mushroom Onion Tartlets

This recipe came with my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer manual. I’ve made these tartlets on several occasions, the last being Saturday night when we had Seyda and Rob over for some hot plate grilling dinner. These warm appetizers are often quite a hit and are easy to make.




  • 4 Oz Light Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsps Butter or Margarine, Divided
  • 3/4 Cup plus 1 Tsp All Purpose Flour
  • 8 Oz Fresh Mushrooms, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Green Onions, Chopped
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese


Place cream cheese and 2 tbsps butter in a bowl and beat with hand or stand mixer for about one minute. Add flour to mixture and on low speed, continuing mixing until well blended. You quickly use your hands to knead the dough as well. Form into a ball, wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook and stir until tender. Remove from heat and let cool. Then, divide chilled dough into 24 pieces and press each piece into miniature greased muffin cup.

Preheat oven @ 375F. Whisk egg and pour it into mushroom mixture. Add flour, thyme and cheese. Stir well to combine. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined muffin cups. Bake @ 375 F for 15-20 minutes, or till egg mixture is puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.MushroomTart1June’s comments: I baked my tartlets for about 30 minutes as I wanted my crusts a little golden brown. I’ve usually made these tarts without thyme leaves, and will add a pinch or salt to taste. Since I have some dried thyme leaves sitting in my pantry, I added some this time. I must say, I prefer it without the thyme leaves. Feel free to also crack some fresh black pepper into the mushroom mixture. Oh yeah, I stick to regular cream cheese instead of the light ones.

This time, I pre-lined my pan with mini cupcake liners and pressed the crust in. This resulted  with an easier removal without having to over grease the muffin pan/cups.

Another delicious (and easier) way to make these tartlets which I simply love is to use puff pastry instead for the crust. Thaw puff pastry, unfold it, dust some flour and slightly roll to flatten it. Then use a suitable round cookie cutter to cut the pastries and press them into slightly greased muffin cups.  Baked these until pastry is golden brown. The flaky puff pastry complemented the mushroom filling very well.  Here’s a picture of the mushroom tartlets with puff pastry crust which I made last Christmas. =)


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Death By Chocolate!!

TRUST ME!BlackMagic1My recent Chocolate Cake was just chocolate over chocolate over chocolate! Chocolate cake covered with chocolate ganache, and topped off with chocolate shavings. I finally use my Valrhona cocoa powder and dark chocolate bar! My chocolate cake was based on the so-far-no-fail-and-delicious Black Magic Cake recipe using Valrhona cocoa powder instead of Hershey. BlackMagicI baked a 4 inch mini round cake and a 8 inch square pan cake. The 8 inch cake came off perfectly, not quite for the 4 inch one which had some fugly edges The tops of the cakesweren’t as smooth as I would like it to be =p. I used the same chocolate ganache recipe used the last time to cover all the imperfections on the cakes. I was contemplating between trying out a Chocolate Mascarpone recipe and Ina Garten’s Chocolate Ganache recipe and decided to go just go with something I was more comfy with.


Seyda and Rob tried the cake, and I also gave them the mini 4 inch cake. I think they liked it and thought it was very good. Seyda commented that the cake was very dark (and rich?) in color. =) Hubby said it was better than the last time. As for me, I honestly can’t remember but I do think that the taste of the baking soda was not as strong this time compared to the last. I wonder if it was the Valrhona cocoa powder in the cake itself, that helped subdued the after taste of the baking soda. Or was it the extra Valrhona 64% or 65% Dark Cocoa chocolate shavings on top that played a part?  I used the same chocolate for the ganache like I did previously; Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet.

It was certainly a death by chocolate moment biting into the cake! Sinfully delicious!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zong Zi / Bak Chang

I’ve been craving to eat bak chang (Chinese Rice Dumplings) for quite some time and being in foreign land, it’s hard to get those rice dumplings like what I’m used to. Even though, different Asian cultures also have their version of rice dumplings, the fillings (sweet and savory) and taste are sometimes different. Having tried a few kinds of Asian rice dumplings in the past, I still prefer the savory Malaysian (Penang) Rice Dumplings. I have therefore attempt to make these delicious rice dumplings from scratch; my second time making them.BakChang7Here’s a little history behind this rice dumpling (information extracted from Wikipedia) :

“Zongzi (also known as rice dumpling) is traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (Mandarin: Duanwu; Cantonese: Tuen Ng) which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar (approximately early to mid-June), commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period. Known for his patriotism, Qu Yuan tried unsuccessfully to warn his king and countrymen against the expansionism of their Qin neighbors. When the Qin Dynasty generalBai Qi took Yingdu, the Chu capital, in 278 BC, Qu Yuan's grief was so intense that he drowned himself in the Miluo river after penning the Lament for Ying. According to legend, packets of rice were thrown into the river to prevent fish from eating the poet's body.[1] Another version states that zongzi were given to placate a dragon that lived in the river”

My rice dumplings were based on how my mom and grandma made them (and I called her to reconfirm some stuff as well) plus my extra touch. Haha! I made the savory kind which both hubby and I craved to eat. Seasoned sweet glutinous rice with seasoned pork, seasoned mushroom, chinese sausage, peanuts, fried radish, salted duck egg yolk and roasted chestnut all wrapped up with two bamboo leaves in a what should be a prism shape. My dumpling wrapping and tying skill are honestly non existence.


The last time I made these rice dumplings which was 6 years ago, I ended up with uncooked rice, and multiple shaped dumplings. This time around, rice and all were 100% cooked, although the peanuts could use a longer boil. I’m also proud to boast that my wrapping skills (even though still bad) has improved. =) I ended up with 31 good dumplings and 4 failures in the end; 2 dumplings with strings untied and 2 with rice leakage.


Overall, I’m a happy cook. Not bad for my second attempt. Hubby approved the taste of it, and that’s even more important! =) We both had 2 each for dinner today and we’re definitely not gonna finish the entire supply of bak chang. They are going into the freezer for us to savor them over time. YUMS!!!!!


Oh yea…….  besides the not so perfect shape of the bak changs…… mine are also a little tiny…not as humongous as the ones my mom makes or the ones being sold in Malaysia… I blame it on the tiny bamboo leaves….=p…Haha!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bak Kut Teh Udon!


I made a huge pot of Bak Kut Teh on Sunday and invited the same friends who wanted to try Malaysian food over. It turned out to be a mini potluck as each couple contributed a dish each. At the end of dinner, I still have half a pot of Bak Kut Teh left…. This was perfect as I need not make dinner the next day! =) All I did was added some carrots, baby Bok Choy into the soup over some Udon. Equally delicious and fulfilling! =) Hubby even had an extra bowl of the soup!

Sea Swirl @ Mystic, CT


Hubby and I decided to have dinner @ Sea Swirl in Mystic, CT recently. This seafood joint has been on the Food Network; Rachel Ray’s $40 A Day. The restaurant features outdoor sitting only and is slightly further than the main touristy places in Mystic. After watching Rachel Ray raving about the place a few years back, we always wanted to give it a try.

Here’s what we ordered and food was made to order;

1) Fried Clam Strips @ $9.80 – I think the place is famous for its clams. There were 2 kinds of friend clams; Fried Clam Strips (which we ordered) & Fried Belly Clams (maybe they were famous for this?). It was my first time (or maybe second) time having fried clams. It was just ok. The clams are coated in some corn meal (i think) then fried to golden brown. It’s crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. The clams were priced kind of high for a small portion of it. But, hubby and I know they can be rather expensive after our fresh clams buying experience for clam chowder @ $5 per lb.SeaSwirl32) Fish & Chips Dinner @ $12.95 – Fish was super fresh. Light golden crispy batter coating a piece of fresh moist juicy fish. The fried fish however was a little on the oily side. The dinner came with some crispy fries which were alright, lemon and some tartar sauce. SeaSwirl23) Lobster Roll @ $14.95. My first time ordering/eating a lobster roll. The bread/roll was tiny, and it was topped with large chunks of lobster (claw meat) salad. There were some celery in the lobster salad, and maybe a tiny bit of onion. The lobster roll was not bad, although it did not fill me up. For $14.95, I wished they included some lobster tail in it, rather than just the claw meat. Perhaps, lobsters are kinda pricey now since they are not really in season. Overall not too bad, better if it could fill me up!! Haha!SeaSwirl4Check out their menu HERE. We’re not sure if we’ll be back again…… there are many more seafood joints around Mystic, CT that we ought to try!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Glenwood Drive-In @ Hamden, CT

While waiting for hubby to finish work at his vendor’s place, Brady and I drove around Hamden, CT to kill time and grab lunch. After Googling for some places to eat near the hotel, Glenwood Drive-In seem to intrigue me and being just 1 mile away from the hotel; that was where I was going to grab lunch!

The place was bustling with lunch crowd, but the line moved quickly. The eatery looked a little blah from the outside, the inside nothing to shout about well except for its impressive McDonald’s like computerized ordering system. I was in and out of the place within 10 minutes. The staff weren’t that friendly, and they even forgot the cheese for my cheese fries. Since I ate lunch in the car (as I have Brady with me), I had to go in and get my paid yet forgotten cheese. The cook who greeted me didn’t look at all happy! =p

Glenwood3 Glenwood

Though the place was voted for its hot dog, I saw something else on the menu that I really really really want to eat! Soft Shell Crab Sandwich @ Market Price @ $10.95 (or was it $11.95?) and Cheese Fries @ $3.25. Price was pretty steep for the sandwich, but the fried soft shell crab was good! Size of the crab was big and had a light yet crispy batter on the outside. The crab was indeed fresh and moist. YUMS!! The pathetic part was, my soft shell crab sandwich came with 2 slices of white toast and mayo or something. And of yea, 2 slices of lemon. The white toasts were very sad looking, and it felt like it was just there to soak up the oil from the deep fried soft shell crab. There weren’t any condiments; tomatoes, lettuce…. to go with it. They should have just called it Fried Soft Shell Crab, and skip the disappointment.

The fries were pretty good. French cut but thicker than how most places would serve theirs. Crispy and hot on the outside and moist in the inside. As for the cheese for the fries, nothing to shout about. But I do love dipping my fries in some good warm cheese!

Glenwood1 Glenwood2

This place is more dine-in friendly. For my takeout food, all they had was a piece of foil for me to cover the food. No bag what so ever.

I saved hubby half my sandwich for him to try, since he’s also a big fan of soft shell crab. He loved it, and also complimented how big and fresh the crab was. He too, mentioned that it was a pathetic looking sandwich! =p

Check out their menu HERE. You can also head to the ice cream parlor next door after lunch. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Penang Restaurant @ Boston, MA

Penang Restaurant @ Boston is part of a chain restaurant specializing in Malaysian cuisine. They have branches in Chicago, Philladelphia, and in NYC. I thought they have a branch somewhere in NJ, maybe not.


Hubby and I think that Penang Restaurant Chain is one of the best Malaysian food restaurant; at least we’ve always enjoyed what we consider our staple Malaysian food there. We’ve been to a couple other Malaysian restaurants in Boston, MA (which have now closed down) and a couple in Chinatown NYC and have quite often been disappointed with some of the menu items we’ve ordered; especially Char Koay Teow.

Some of our Chinese friends wanted to savor some Malaysian food, so we brought them here and ordered a various of Malaysian cuisine for them to try. We ordered some appetizers to start with.

1) Penang Satay Beef (Left) @ $6.90 - (Marinated chicken or beef on skewers, charcoal grilled to perfection served with peanut sauce; Malaysian Specialty) – I did not try this, and I’m not a big beef fan. Our friends seem to enjoy this. Hubby thought it was kinda dry and said that the Chicken Satay (which we did not order) taste better.

2) Home Made Roti Canai  (Right) @ $4.50 - (Indian Pancake; Its Malaysian all time favorite, crispy style pancake & curry chicken dipping sauce) – This was pretty good, just like how the menu described it. A little pricey, but all worth it! This look a little different then how they make it in Malaysia, but it tastes the same if not better. =P


3) Char Koay Teow (Left) @ $7.95 - (Malaysian famous stir fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimp, squid, bean sprouts chives, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste). This is one of hubby and my “staple” must order dish whenever we’re dining @ Penang Restaurant. Pretty close to what we get at home. Penang Restaurant @ Chicago even throw in some Chinese Sausages which make it even more oh-so-yummy and authentic!!

4) Kang Kung Belacan (Right) @ $10.50 - (Sauteed convolus with spicy Malaysian shrimp paste sauce.) – This was delicious and I dare say everyone at the table enjoyed this very much. This was way better than the last time we had them there. We joked that the regular chef must have been on vacation at that time.

Penang1 Penang2 

5) Hainanese Chicken (Left) Half Chicken @ $10.00 - (Steamed chicken with bone & skin on serve with Chefs soy sauce and chili sauce) – Simplicity at it’s best and everyone loved this. This chicken is served cold or at room temperature. I love to eat this with their Steamed Chicken Flavored Rice @ $1.25/small bowl and $5.75/large bowl. If you do not want to order half a chicken, you could order a single serving of the chicken which already comes with the rice (Hainanese Chicken With Rice) @ $6.50.

6) Beef Rendang (Right) @ $14.50 - (Tender pieces of beef simmered with exotic spices (cinnamon, cloves) lemon grass in coconut milk.) – Again, I did not try this… It did not look as authentic as what we have in Malaysia. I recall the rendang in Malaysia being a little drier and darker in color. Hubby said it was ok. The beef indeed looked tender.

Penang4 Penang5

7) Red Snapper Fish In Thailand Sauce (Left) @ Market Price. We forgot to check how much this way, but after taking our total bill and deducting the prices of what we know, this fish costs about $25. The fish was first deep fried till crispy on the outside then drenched with a sweet and tangy sauce. Thumbs up for this dish. We’ve never ordered this before, but our friends wanted to try some fish dish.

8) ABC (Right) @ $4.00 - (Shaved ice with red bean corn plum seeds jelly red rose syrup and milk) – I fondly call this Ice Kacang (like what we call it at home) and the wait staff will know what that is. This was just ok. I tasted some coconut milk in the mix, and I think we don’t use coconut milk in it at home, just evaporated milk. Nevertheless, it was better than not having it at all. Although this is listed as dessert, I always have it with my meal, just like how I would eat it at home( Penang, Malaysia).


Service was overall ok. Most of the wait staff in there are from Malaysia. We were there at about 6.15pm on Saturday, just in time before dinner crowd arrives. Penang Restaurant is one place we’ll always revisit to fulfill our cravings for some good old Malaysian food!!

Check out their menu HERE. Please note that prices differ from one Penang Restaurant branch to another.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strawberry Picking @ Parlee Farms

The weather was finally decent on Saturday…NO RAIN! Hubby, Seyda and I took advantage of the “no rain day” and went strawberry picking at the farm near my house.

Parlee Farms @ Tyngsboro, MA is open for the strawberry picking season from 8 am-6 pm everyday of the week except Monday. We got there close to 12 noon on Saturday, and the farm was pretty pack. After picking up our tray (free) at the Farmstand, we were then ushered outside to wait for the hay ride to the strawberry patch. The ride was also free, unlike some farm where they charge $1-$2 per person to get to the fruit farm/patch.

 StrawberryFarm StrawberryFarm1

We still had to walk a little to where the strawberry patch was. This was a different location, from where we went strawberry picking last year. We did not need to take the hay ride and the patch wasn’t that far. However, there were MORE strawberries here compared to when we went strawberry picking last year. Hubby and I couldn’t remember if we went later in the season or what. I know we were there later in the day for sure.

StrawberryFarm4 StrawberryFarm5

I think if we were to arrive 2 hours earlier, we would have gotten those big juicy strawberries we saw other people brought back. We didn’t stay too long or picked too much strawberries; only a stray full or about 5 lbs worth between the 3 of us. I could come back anytime to pick more fresh berries! The strawberries were @ $2.25 per lb which we thought wasn’t too bad since it’s fresh and organic (I think).

StrawberryFarm2 StrawberryFarm3

I can’t wait to go strawberry picking again!!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

And That’s Why….

………………….I Heart Southwest Airlines. Besides the free pillow and blankie on board, drink coupons with every free round trip you earn, friendly flight attendant……

Came across this article on Yahoo.com

By The Associated Press Fri Jun 19, 3:02 pm ET

“A rundown of baggage fees at major U.S. airlines:

_American Airlines, AirTran Airways, Continental Airlines: $15 for the first checked piece of luggage, $25 for the second.

_Alaska Air: Passengers traveling on tickets purchased before May 1, or for travel before July 7, can check one bag for free. The second bag is $25. Beginning July 7, Alaska is adding a $15 charge for the first bag.

_Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines: $15 for the first, $25 for the second. For international tickets, the first two checked bags are still free. But for flights to Europe, Delta and Northwest are adding a $50 charge for the second checked bag beginning with tickets bought May 23 for travel beginning July 1.

_JetBlue Airways: First bag is free, $20 for the second.

_Southwest Airlines: First two bags are free.

_United Airlines: $15 for the first, $25 for the second, if paid online. If paid at the airport, United adds an extra $5 for tickets purchased beginning May 14.

_US Airways: $15 for the first, $25 for the second. Beginning with flights on July 9, US Airways will add $5 if the fee is paid at the airport for tickets purchased beginning April 23.

Note: All charges are for domestic flights, except where noted for Delta. The charges generally don't apply to first-class or business-class travelers, high-level frequent fliers and some other categories of passengers, such as active-duty military personnel.”

PS: I guess you could always bring like 2 hand carry bags on board and skip checking in your bags. To get some of the best ticket prices from Southwest (and sometimes lowest), download their Ding! program or plan your travel a couple weeks in advance….lets say 4 weeks?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cocoa Powder..Again

I’m back again comparing cocoa powder in addition to my posting in April. This is also going to be yet another color (and price comparison) of cocoa powders. I finally found and purchased some Valrhona Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder after hearing about it from my friend. It wasn’t something I could get from my local grocery store. I so happen to find it at Whole Foods (Organic grocery store) along with other higher end chocolates. And I just had to get them and try them!!

Anyway, here’s my cocoa powder “color test”… In my previous color test, the Ghirardelli Cocoa Powder was found to be noticeably darker than the Hershey one and the house brand cocoa powder. Here, Valrhona Cocoa Powder (left) has reigned supreme over the Ghirardelli Cocoa Powder (right).Chocolate PowderAnd I brought out my other cheaper cocoa powder out for comparison sake…………. Top Left: Valrhona, Top Right: Hershey, Bottom Left: Local Store Brand (Market Basket), Bottom Right: Ghirardelli.Chocolate Powder1 As for price comparison…

1) Valrhona 4 oz @ $4.00 or $1.00 per oz or $15.99 per lb.

2) Ghirardelli 10oz @ $4.99 or $0.49 per oz or $7.98 per lb.

3) Hershey 8 oz @ $2.50 or $0.31 per oz or $5 per lb.

4) Store Brand (Market Basket) 8 oz @ $1.50 or $0.19 per oz or $3 per lb.

I’ve yet to bake with my Valrhona chocolate….. I would probably use the (Hershey) Black Magic Cake recipe again using Valrhona chocolates. Perhaps I could also make some decadent chocolate ice cream with the dark chocolate bar of Valrhona I have! =)

Happy Birthday, Bro! XOXO

Here’s wishing my dearest brother a HAPPY 23rd BIRTHDAY!!! May all your wishes come true and good luck in whatever you choose to do next!!!! XOXO


Dear Brother,

I'm fortunate, and I'm glad
I got you for my brother;
Even if I had the chance,
I wouldn't pick another.

I'm happy you're in my life;
You're my winner, come what may.
May your birthday wishes come true
On your very special day.

By Joanna Fuchs

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tamarind Prawn/Shrimp (Assam Prawn)

TamarindPrawn2Assam (Tamarind) Prawn is one of my favorite Malaysian dish and requires minimal ingredients to cook! I found recipe for the Assam Prawn HERE, followed it and it turned out great! It’s been a long time since I’ve had some Assam Prawns and yesterday’s dinner of jumbo juicy assam prawns left me wanting to cook more!!!!!!

Tamarind pastes are hard to get in Western countries. However, you should be able to get some at any Asian stores selling either South East Asian or Indian food stuff. I got my block of tamarind from a local South East Asian grocery store. I forgot how much I paid for it, maybe less than $2. TamarindPrawn



  • 300gm Prawns, Shell On
  • 4 Tbsp Assam (Tamarind) Paste
  • 4 Tbsp Water
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • Oil for Frying
  • Dash of Dark Soya


Mixed Assam paste with water then add sugar, salt and dark so sauce. Add prawns to it and let it marinate for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the prawns out and sieve the rest of the Assam juice if available but it should be no more than 2-3 tbsps of thick gravy left. Discard the Assam pulp/pits.TamarindPrawn1Heat oil in pan over medium high heat and fry the prawns till they are cooked. Remove the prawns once they are cook and set aside. In the same pan, pour in gravy and cook it until thick. Then toss the prawns into the gravy and coat it well.

June’s comments: All I had were shell on shrimps without the shrimp heads, which I deveined. After marinating the shrimps, I remove them from the marinate for frying and set the marinate aside along with the Assam pulps. I saved 1/2 of the Assam pulps, added about 2-3 more tablespoon of water to the marinate mixture as I like my Assam Prawns to have more gravy. Assam prawns are usually on the drier side. Enjoy!!TamarindPrawn2

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