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  1. Christmas with Family

    Friday, December 28, 2012



     This Christmas we spent with my fiance's family. On Christmas Eve they came over for a dinner that I prepared; I made Southwestern-Style Pulled Brisket, Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole, Biscuits and Crescent Dogs, and for dessert, Apple Pie. I will admit that the biscuits and crescents were store-bought, since I was already making several dishes it would've been too time consuming to make the breads too. Plus, when you have a 22-month-old running around, you have to make the food in stages.



       The Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole was a big hit with my mother-in-law-to-be, she even took the leftovers home with her, not that there was much left at the end of the meal.


    Aria ran around giving kisses before everyone left. When she gives one person a kiss, she has to give everyone a kiss. 


               

    Last year we had a real Christmas tree and while that was fun and I loved the piney smell, I was finding pine needles all over the house for months after we got rid of the tree. So this year we bought a pre-lit six foot tree. We had to put it on top of a table because Aria kept taking all the ornaments off the tree, this way she could only reach a couple.


               

    I found this pretty glass tree topper at the thrift store but I couldn't use it with our tree on top of the table, it was too tall for our ceiling... so I used the gold glitter star from last year.


    On Christmas Day we went over to my fiance's cousin's house for dinner. We had some delicious Mexican food, which included this pork. YUM. Unfortunately, Aria had a fever that day and was fussing/sleeping all day. 




    After eating we went back to my fiance's parents' house to open presents. Aria got a tea set and a Mulan doll from her aunt and grandparents. She loves playing with and drinking out of the tea set, although she has already scattered all the cups, saucers and spoons all over the house. Our presents for her are coming soon via mail. :]

    What did you do for your Christmas?
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  2. Food Glorious Food

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    No reason to go to Olive Garden anymore. The only reason we went there was for my fiance's favorite dish, Zuppa Toscano. And I found a copycat recipe for it, along with the breadsticks. I tried the recipes and sure enough, tasted exactly the same. 




    Zuppa Toscano Recipe and Breadsticks Recipe

    I made coconut flan the other day, and although it was delicious, I will admit that it came from a box... Sometimes you don't have the time to make a homemade dessert, plus it was on sale. I did amp up the coconut flavor by using half coconut milk and half whole milk instead of all regular milk. And I topped it with coconut shreds and sliced almonds. My new favorite flavor combination is coconut and almond. Next time I'll make it from scratch.





    I tried out a recipe for Carrot Cake pancakes from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs. My cousin actually bought me her new cookbook as an early Christmas present, and I'm super excited. I've already tried a recipe from it which I will post pictures of later. This recipe is just from her blog, and although the pancakes are quite small, they are delicious and not too sweet - so they can be a breakfast and not a dessert. :]




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  3. Merry Christmas

    Saturday, December 15, 2012



    My daughter, Aria Grace, being a good model for me. Although I must say it took quite a few photos to get the winning shot. You can't tell from this photo, but she really didn't care for that hat and kept taking it off. I had to distract her with Sesame Street so she'd stay still. :]




    She's not very happy looking in these photos, mostly because she was completely ignoring me while I was taking these. But at least she's staying still and not fussing. 

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  4. This is a breakfast we have quite commonly. It's also a very common Mexican breakfast. It's very easy and has inexpensive ingredients. The first way is how I like to make it and the second way is the more traditional route. Traditionally the eggs and chorizo are all mixed together, but I prefer a more pronounced chorizo flavor so I usually cook the eggs and meat separately.



    Eggs and Chorizo Taco

    - El Supremo pork chorizo [I prefer the "original picante" flavor]
    - three to five eggs
    - corn tortillas
    - crema [or sour cream]
    - salsa verde
    - cilantro and/or your favorite veggie toppings






    Method One
    Cook one whole tube of chorizo meat in a pan until thoroughly cooked. Transfer to plate. Using the same pan cook eggs over-easy [or over-medium as I like them], transfer eggs to the same plate as the chorizo.



    Method Two
    Cook the chorizo in the same amount and way as above, but instead of cooking the eggs separately add them to the pan with the chorizo. Stir to well combine and cook until the eggs are done.



    How To Assemble the Tacos
    Whichever way you cook the chorizo and eggs, you assemble the tacos the same way.
    To heat the tortillas, turn on one of your gas burners on medium-low and place the tortilla over the flame flipping once. About ten seconds per side, or until lightly charred. Keep tortillas warm in a clean dishcloth.


    Spread about one tablespoon of crema in the middle of a tortilla, top with egg and chorizo, top that with a teaspoon of salsa verde, and sprinkle on your veggie toppings.
    [See top photo for finished tacos]

    Enjoy.
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  5. Rainbow Jello

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    My fiance, Jhony, loves Rainbow Jello. He's not much of a sweet tooth - despite all the baked goods I make. Although this dessert is rather time consuming, it's a good thing to make for those who don't like their desserts too sweet.


    I only used three flavors here because that's what we had, but feel free to use more to make more layers if you wish.

    Rainbow Jello
    adapted from Adventures of a Food Slut

    - boxes of jello in whatever flavors or colors you want
    - cool whip

    Note: The jello that I had was a mexican brand that comes in large packets that requires 4 cups of water for each one. So I only did three colors since each packet made so much jello.

    Add one packet of Jello to boiling water (however much the instructions say to use). Stir for 2 - 3 minutes to dissolve completely. Pour 2/3 of the jello into the prepared pan, and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, add about 1/2 cup of Cool Whip to the remaining 1/3 of the jello and stir to completely melt the Cool whip. When the first layer has set for 15 minutes, carefully pour the Jello/Cool Whip mixture over it and chill for another 15 minutes.
    Repeat with remaining colors. Once all layers have been poured, allow to chill for at least 2 hours.
    Cut into squares and serve!
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  6. Khmer Chicken Curry

    Monday, December 10, 2012


    Most people who know me know that I grew up in Cambodia. I lived there for seven years with my family, all of middle school and high school. We moved there for my dad's job, he became the Southeast Asia Director for World Relief - an organization he'd already been working for in Chicago. The rest of my family is still over there now, although my sister has graduated from high school and is getting ready to go on a missions trip and my brother is in high school. Makes me feel so old. He was three years old when we moved! 

    Anyway, I spent those seven years eating jasmine rice basically everyday. This curry is a very common dish made in Cambodia and I adapted the recipe from a cookbook my mom gave me from a restaurant over there. The recipe in the book calls for you to make your own chili paste - but I can't get all those ingredients here in Chicago, so I used a pre-made chili paste. The paste I bought was from Thailand and they have much spicier food over there, so I had to add in extra coconut milk to balance out the spiciness  I do love spicy food though, so it wasn't a big deal to me. The flavors were the same and it made me homesick for Cambodia.



    Khmer Chicken Curry
    adapted from the Best of Friends (The Restaurant) cookbook

    - chili paste, 4 oz.
    - two cans unsweetened coconut milk
    - two tablespoons fish sauce
    - one pound chicken breast, cubed
    - two medium potatoes, cubed
    - chicken stock, if needed
    - one tablespoon sugar
    - one tablespoon curry powder
    - one medium onion, sliced
    - one cup green beans, cut in half
    - salt to taste
    - cilantro for garnish



    Bring one can of the coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan and reduce until most of the liquid is gone - more than half reduced down. 
    Add in the chili paste and cook until fragrant. Add in the fish sauce.



    Mix well and add the chicken. Stir well again. Add the potatoes and the other can of coconut milk and if needed, chicken stock to cover the potatoes and chicken.



    Cover and and simmer for about 15 minutes.
    Add in the sugar, curry powder, onion, beans and salt and simmer for 15 more minutes.

    Serve with jasmine rice or crusty french bread, or both!



    You can either serve the curry to the side of the rice, or on top of it, as I did here. 
    Enjoy!
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  7. Christmas Cookies and Smiling Faces

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012


    The many faces of Aria. She's turning into quite the little model. 
    She knows to smile now when I point the camera at her and say, "smile", but of course the best shots are candid. 

    I made Christmas cookies! I use the same recipe my mom uses which is delicious because it has hints of nutmeg and cinnamon in it. I also made royal icing for the first time. I found meringue powder at Target and was so excited to try making royal icing.


    This recipe makes a large amount, I always make this much or more so that I can make a few cookies and then freeze the rest of the dough until I want to use it again.

    Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
    - one cup unsalted butter
    - two cups white sugar
    - four eggs
    - five cups of flour
    - three teaspoons baking powder
    - two teaspoons vanilla extract
    - half teaspoon of cinnamon
    - half teaspoon of nutmeg
    - half teaspoon of salt


    Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
    Cream butter and sugar together thoroughly.
    Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.
    Sift dry ingredients together into a separate bowl and then gradually blend into butter mixture.
    Add vanilla.
    Chill dough at least three hours.
    Roll to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface. 
    Cut out desired shapes and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
    Bake for 20 minutes.
    Cookies should be barely golden on the bottom and look just baked when they come out of the oven.
    Let cool for five minutes on the baking sheet until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Keep unbaked dough cold, unused dough freezes well.


    Royal Icing
    adapted from Joy of Baking

    - four cups powdered sugar
    - three tablespoons meringue powder
    - half a teaspoon extract (I used peppermint)
    - 3/4 cup warm water

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the powdered sugar and meringue powder together until well combined. Add in the water and extract and beat at medium to high speed until very glossy, stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water.

    The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

    Makes about three cups.

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