Sunday, September 23, 2012

Instant Pizzaz!


I was never a fan of frozen pizza until my husband showed me his latest creation. He calls it his instant pizzaz! Basically, he takes the most basic frozen pizza (cheese), and then tops it off with fresh ingredients so that it doesn't taste like frozen pizza anymore. I find it ingenious. Finally some good comes out of his laziness! =P

This recipe is very versatile and the possibilities are endless. All you need to start with is a plain cheese pizza and toppings of your choice. For the cheese pizza, we like the Kirkland ones from Costco. For toppings, it can be whatever your heart desires. You can do so many things--pineapple with ham, tomato with basil, barbecue chicken, deviled eggs with mayo, or any other crazy ideas. To demonstrate this recipe, I used sausages, mushrooms, and garlic cloves. Those were readily available ingredients I had in my fridge.

There are several things to keep in mind when making this pizza. First, make sure to add 7-8 minutes more than the recommended bake time because of the extra toppings. Another thing to keep in mind is that raw meat should be slightly grilled or cooked before adding to the pizza. Lastly, make sure the dry ingredients like mushrooms and garlic are drizzled with olive oil so that they wouldn't dry during baking.

How To Make An Instant Pizzaz!

Ingredients at a glance - frozen cheese pizza, garlic, sausage, bella mushrooms, and olive oil.


The first step is to prepare the toppings. Slice the sausage and mushrooms. Peel the garlic. Drizzle the mushrooms and garlic with olive oil.


Put the prepared toppings on the frozen pizza. 


Place the pizza in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Bake time and temperature varies with the kind of pizzas used. It's generally about 7-8 minutes more than the instructed cook time. 


After 20 minutes, a quick and easy homemade pizza is done! I can't wait to experiment with different ingredients next time. Sorry pizza joints, looks like I won't be visiting you guys for awhile! 



Ingredients

1 frozen cheese pizza
1 whole garlic
1 sausage 
4 bella mushrooms
2 tsp of olive oil

Directions

1. The first step is to prepare the toppings. Slice the sausage and mushrooms. Peel the garlic. Drizzle the mushrooms and garlic with olive oil. 

2. Put the prepared toppings on the frozen pizza. 

3. Place the pizza in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Bake time and temperature varies with the kind of pizzas used. It's generally about 7-8 minutes more than the instructed cook time. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Soy Sauce Chicken Thighs with Chinese Rose Wine



I haven't updated this blog for a long time since taking on a new job and focusing on my second pregnancy. It has been really busy juggling work and taking care of my 1-year old, so keeping up with this blog hasn't been easy. However, it is my passion to share my recipes and write about food, so I will try my best to keep it alive!

Being pregnant, there's not too many choices of meats to choose from so chicken is usually my default. Since then, I have spent much effort in seeking creative ways to cook this plain meat. Recently, I went through some Chinese chicken recipes and came across one called Soy Sauce Chicken with Rose Wine. Chinese rose wine is a clear sorghum liquor distilled with rock sugar and rose petals with about 46% alcohol. It is primarily used in cooking and pairs well with dark or white meat.

Directions to Make Soy Sauce with Chinese Rose Wine

Main ingredients at a glance: chicken thighs, brown sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, green onion, ginger, star anise, liquorice, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, and Chinese rose wine.



Season the chicken with salt and rose wine. Julienne the bottom end of the green onion. Mix the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and brown sugar. Dilute the mixture with water.



Heat the skillet with oil and dry spices (ginger, star anise, liquorice, cinnamon stick, and fennel seeds) with medium high heat until fragrant. Place the chicken thighs with skin down. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Flip the chicken thighs and cook with closed lid for another 5 minutes.





Pour in the soy sauce mixture. Simmer in medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.. 


The soy sauce chicken thighs are done! There will be a good amount of soy sauce left in the skillet. If you don't want to waste it, use it to pair with white rice or save it for flavoring other dishes. For enhanced flavor and aesthetic, brush a layer of sesame oil on the skin and add julienned green onions before serving.


Ingredients:

2 lbs of chicken thigh
1 stalk of green onion
3 slices of ginger
1 star anise
1 liquorice
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
1 1/2 cup of water (water to total soy sauce ratio is 3:1)
2 1/2 tbsp pf brown sugar
1 tbs of vegetable oil
1 tsp of salt for seasoning

Optional: sesame oil for finishing layer before serving

Directions:

1. Season the chicken with salt and rose wine. Julienne the bottom end of the green onion. Mix the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and brown sugar. Dilute the mixture with water.

2. Heat the skillet with oil and dry spices (ginger, star anise, liquorice, cinnamon stick, and fennel seeds) with medium high heat until fragrant. Place the chicken thighs with skin down. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Flip the chicken thighs and cook with closed lid for another 5 minutes.

3. Pour in the soy sauce mixture. Simmer in medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes..

4. For enhanced flavor and aesthetic, brush a layer of sesame oil on the skin and add julienned green onions before serving.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Chicken And Italian Squash


I have come across many recipes on bacon wrapped something, and most of them are either with asparagus or chicken. I wanted to marry the two, so I thought about bacon wrapped chicken and asparagus. Since I didn't have any asparagus in the fridge, I decided to substitute it with Italian squash. The squash worked out surprisingly well since it balances the dryness of the meats. 

How to Make Bacon Wrapped Chicken and Italian Squash

Main ingredients at a glance: bacon strips, maple syrup, dijon mustard, chicken breast, lemon (for fresh lemon juice), and Italian squashes.


Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch long strips. Season the chicken strips with cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. 


Cut Italian squashes into strips with similar length to chicken breast strips. 


Place a strip of chicken breast and 3 strips of Italian squash on one end of a bacon strip. Gently roll the bacon wrapping around the chicken and squash bundle. Repeat and wrap the rest of the chicken and squash.




In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, maple syrup and dijon mustard. Brush a generous amount of sauce on the bacon wraps. 


Place the bacon wraps in a 425F preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the bacon wraps from the oven and discard the excessive oil in the tray. Turn the bacon wraps over and apply more sauce. Put them back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes. 


The bacon wrapped chicken and Italian squash appetizers are finished! It's a great finger food and everyone is going to enjoy it.




Ingredients:

10 strips of bacon
1 chicken breast
2 Italian squashes 
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs dijon mustard
Lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
A pinch of cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper for seasoning

Directions:

1. Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch long strips. Season the chicken strips with cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. 

2. Cut Italian squashes into strips with similar length to chicken breast strips. 

3. Place a strip of chicken breast and 3 strips of Italian squash on one end of a bacon strip. Gently roll the bacon wrapping around the chicken and squash bundle. Repeat and wrap the rest of the chicken and squash.

4. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, maple syrup and dijon mustard. Brush a generous amount of sauce on the bacon wraps. 

5. Place the bacon wraps in a 425F preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the bacon wraps from the oven and discard the excessive oil in the tray. Turn the bacon wraps over and apply more sauce. Put them back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Healthy Orange Chicken


Everyone knows about the orange chicken from Panda Express, but perhaps not everyone knows that it contains no real orange. The dish is rather unhealthy with deep fried heavy batter and lots of food coloring. However, it is something I crave once in a while when I am at the mall looking for food. To satisfy my craving for orange chicken and not feel overly guilty, I created a low fat version with real orange in the ingredients. I substituted chicken thigh with breast meat for a lower calorie dish.

How to Make Orange Chicken

Main ingredients at a glance: chicken breast, orange, onion, green onion, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, orange juice, and hot chili sauce. 


Cut the chicken breast into cubes. In a mixing bowl, marinate the chicken with orange juice, rice vinegar, rice wine, hot chili sauce, brown sugar, and minced garlic. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and press down so the marinade will soak the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 



While waiting for the chicken to marinate, prepare the vegetables. Chop the onion into square pieces. Chop green onions and separate the white and green parts. Zest the orange. 


In an hour, remove the chicken from the marinade with a strainer and reserve the liquid. Add water and corn starch to the liquid, and stir well. This will be the sauce for the orange chicken. 


In a sauté pan, add vegetable oil and turn to high heat. Add in the chicken and sauté for 1 minute. Toss the chicken and sauté for another minute or until caramelized. Transfer the chicken to a dish. 


Continue to use high heat. Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until soft. Add the chicken back to the pan, with the white parts of the green onion and orange zest. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the liquid to the pan and let it simmer to 30 seconds. Add the remaining green onion to the pan and let the sauce continue to reduce and thicken. 



When the sauce is reduced to desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste. The orange chicken is done. Serve over white rice. 





Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breast
1 tsp vegetable oil 
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp rice wine
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs hot chili sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs orange zest
1 stalk green onions
1/4 cup water
1 tsp corn starch
salt and pepper to taste
white rice 

Directions:

1. Cut the chicken breast into cubes. In a mixing bowl, marinate the chicken with orange juice, rice vinegar, rice wine, hot chili sauce, brown sugar, and minced garlic. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and press down so the marinade will soak the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

2. While waiting for the chicken to marinate, prepare the vegetables. Chop the onion into square pieces. Chop green onions and separate the white and green parts. Zest the orange.  

3. In a sauté pan, add vegetable oil and turn to high heat. Add in the chicken and sauté for 1 minute. Toss the chicken and sauté for another minute or until caramelized. Transfer the chicken to a dish. 

4. Continue to use high heat. Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until soft. Add the chicken back to the pan, with the white parts of the green onion and orange zest. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the liquid to the pan and let it simmer to 30 seconds. Add the remaining green onion to the pan and let the sauce continue to reduce and thicken. 

5. When the sauce is reduced to desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste. The orange chicken is done. Serve over white rice.