Chicken and Cauliflower Curry

July 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

I cooked for the second time this summer! My lovely friend invited me over to her spacious kitchen so we could actually make a home cooked meal. Last time we threw together a veggie pasta dish – this time we decided to attempt an Indian curry. We were a bit more adventurous this time and bought a package of raw chicken breasts instead of using precooked chicken, but we compromised by using a pre-made curry simmer sauce and frozen cauliflower. But hey, within an hour of leaving for the grocery store we had dinner ready, so overall it was quite successful.

First we cut up the three chicken breasts into cubes (I didn’t have a part in this because I don’t like dealing with raw meat), and cooked it in the pan with some oil. We also threw in some sliced onions. Then we poured in about three fourths of the jar of simmer sauce, and at the very end dumped in the pack of frozen cauliflower. We let the whole thing cook for a bit over low heat to let the flavor of the sauce soak into the rest of the dish.

One more shortcut – we bought naan from Whole Foods which we threw into the microwave to warm up for a bit. In the end, quite a satisfying meal, and it is always good to get some more veggies in! We randomly ate some raw baby carrots in the side, contributing to the veggie intake. Next time I would use fresh cauliflower – the frozen kind turned out a bit soggy with a spongy texture.

This was my first venture into Indian food, and I’m sure glad for the existence of pre made sauces. A lot of the recipes online for curry call for various spices, and we definitely did not have most of them on hand. I’m sure one day I’ll attempt a genuine, made-from-scratch Indian curry, but for the college-level standard cooking I am very pleased with how this turned out.

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Eggplant and Mushroom Pasta with Chicken

June 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Wow, I actually cooked something for once! Well, I guess half-cooked would be a better term, seeing as it was a very simple recipe (basically throwing things together). My friend and I decided to cook dinner together in her kitchen instead of eating out, and pasta seemed like an easy and delicious choice – a few steps above microwaved ramen in the college cooking context.

First we chopped up about half a container of mushrooms and half of a large eggplant. We threw the eggplant pieces into the pan first with some oil, and let that cook down for about five minutes before tossing in the chopped mushrooms. For fresh vegetables, sometimes all you need is a little salt and oil for the best flavor. After another five or so minutes, we poured in half a jar of jarred marinara sauce, and stirred everything together.

Meanwhile, the bow tie pasta was boiling in another pot. When that was ready, we drained the pasta in a colander. We took a shortcut on the grilled chicken and bought some pre-grilled refrigerated chicken strips from Whole Foods – classy, I know. It was really convenient though. Then we just served ourselves some pasta topped with the vegetable sauce, with chicken on the side.

Definitely nothing stunning (or even that blogworthy), but it covered all the nutritional bases (with an ample amount of vegetables!), was filling, simple and fast. The perfect type of meal for the standard busy intern or college student.

Lemon Sour Cream Muffins

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Do you ever try out a new recipe just to use up ingredients in the fridge? In my family’s fridge there is a huge bottle of lemon juice as well as a tub of sour cream. Therefore, when I found this recipe for lemon sour cream muffins, I knew I had to make them.

The other ingredients were basic, everyday items such as flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter. It was really simple – just mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and mix together.

The resulting muffins are fluffy, cake-like, and not too sugary, for those of us without a big sweet tooth.

I figured, while the oven is on, I might as well make a healthy side to eat with my muffins. I chopped up some broccoli and kabocha squash to roast in a pan alongside the baking muffins.

If you’ve never tried kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, you have not really lived. I am not joking. This winter squash is out of this world delicious – dense, intensely sweet, with an almost chestnut-like taste. You can eat the skin too, as it becomes soft after cooking. It’s such a vibrant, nutritious, yet simple food. I usually steam it or roast it in the oven.

Lesson of the day: go try kabocha squash if you haven’t already! Usually Asian grocery stores stock them.

White Chocolate Chip Muffins

December 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Who doesn’t love a good muffin?

White chocolate may not be real chocolate, but white chocolate chips were the only type to be had the day I went shopping at Target and dropped by the baking aisle. It was either that, or dark bittersweet, and I am one of those people with the opinion that chocolate ought not to be bitter.

 

I used this recipe for chocolate chip muffins, though I obviously substituted the white chocolate chips for milk chocolate, and used half the amount, as suggested by many of the reviewers. Also, I couldn’t find any brown sugar in the house so I just used all white sugar. The process was very simple and took about an hour, including baking time. Be aware that the recipe calls for butter, melted and then cooled, which adds additional steps that must be accounted for in the time.

This muffin would have been aesthetically more pleasing had I used real chocolate chips, but instead it looks like cornbread. There is a crisp, firm outer layer surrounding a crumbly and soft interior. The sweetness of the white chocolate provides an indulgent feel to this morning staple.

Chinese-Style Butterflied Shrimp and Vegetables

December 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

This delicious dish is a fine example of what I have learned to make from my parents. It’s fairly quick, healthy, and delicious as long as you use the freshest ingredients. The flavor is light and delicate, and the shrimp’s succulent taste infuses the crisp greens, highlighted by a touch of garlic and ginger. As with most Chinese dishes, the exact proportion of the ingredients depend on the individual’s preferences.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of fresh, unpeeled, raw shrimp
  • Some type of Chinese green such as napa cabbage or bok coy
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • 1 stalk of green onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

First, butterfly the shrimp by slicing down the middle with a sharp knife. Remove the intestines.

Place all the shrimp in a bowl and mix with a generous sprinkle of salt.

Dice the green onion, garlic, and ginger.

Heat up a large wok on the highest setting, pour in olive oil to coat the surface. Wait until the oil starts to sizzle and throw in the garlic and ginger.

After about a minute, the flavors of the garlic and ginger have been released. Put the shrimp into the pan and gently stir until they turn from translucent to opaque. Just after the shrimp have turned the faintest pink, throw in the vegetables and green onions.

Stir everything together briskly until the vegetables turn tender. Depending on the type of vegetable, this may take 1-5 minutes. Then immediately remove from heat and plate. It’s very important to not overcook the shrimp or they will be rubbery instead of tender.

Making this dish well really depends on the freshness of the ingredients as well as the timing of every step, which relies upon the cook’s intuition. With practice, you will be able to whip up this beautiful, sophisticated stir fry in 30 minutes. I definitely had to have a lot of coaching from my mom and dad, but now they trust me to execute all the steps on my own.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your loved ones.

Cream Cheese Danish

December 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Like the insomniac that I am, I woke up today at 4am after sleeping at 1am. After reading for a few hours in bed, I decided that this morning was the perfect one to try this Easy Cream Cheese Danish recipe. It was, like the name suggests, surprisingly easy to make. All you need is

  • 2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls dough (I used 8 oz cans because I didn’t realized that the recipe called for 10 oz cans)
  • 2 packages of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream

And for the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used soymilk)
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter

You preheat the oven to 350, grease a 8×13 baking dish, then lay down one layer of the crescent roll dough. Mix up the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and sour cream in a large bowl. Spread the filling on top of the bottom layer of dough, then cover with the top layer. Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes. While this is going on, mix up the sugar, milk, and butter in a small bowl. Drizzle on the icing after the danish has cooled.

Here’s a photo pre-icing:

And after icing:

The icing didn’t turn out as well as planned because I only had granulated sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar. Apparently you can use a blender to grind up granulated sugar but I didn’t really want to spend that much effort. That’s why the icing looks rather grainy.

Also, there was way too much filling. Maybe this was because I used less dough than the recipe requires, but other reviewers of the recipe online made similar comments. Some of them only used half the stated amount of filling and said their danishes turned out fine.

Giant Sugar Cookies

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

I used a Martha Stewart recipe to bake these delicious cookies.

They are really easy to make, don’t require too many ingredients, and took me about an hour. The cookies are huge – maybe three inches across and one inch thick, so the recipe only made ten. Very sugary!

The recipe calls for an electric mixer, but I just did it by hand – the way they did it in the olden days. It’s a good arm workout.

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