Pork and Spinach Potstickers

This is actually a Guy Fieri-inspired post, as we were watching his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives when I thought of making this. Well, he featured a Chinese diner in California, particularly their dumplings. I remembered that I still have ground pork in the fridge, and it has been a long time since we've had dumplings, so I might as well make some.

As a bonus, I found some spinach in the freezer and I thought I'd make our meal a wee bit healthier by adding it. Also, instead of deep frying, I wanted to steam them in broth so it turned out to be potstickers instead.

This might be a case of "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," since potstickers, dumplings, and gyoza are basically the same things - meat/veggies wrapped in thin pieces of dough. The difference, I surmise, are in the shape and style of wrapping them. But of course, they all taste great! 

What you need: 

1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 cups spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 can (8 oz) chicken broth
4 stalks green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
canola oil for frying
wonton skins
small bowl of water or egg wash (optional)

What to do:
Notice the egg wash on the corners of the wrapper (bottom left)

Boil spinach for about 20 seconds in briskly boiling water. Drain. When cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board and chop until fine. Place in a bowl and add ground pork, green onion, sherry, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger and sugar. Mix well.

Place about half a tablespoonful of filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Wet the edge of two sides of the wrapper with water or egg wash. Bring ends together forming a triangle and press, making sure you release air bubbles. Continue this process until you have used up all your fillings.

Over medium-low, heat a pan with about a teaspoon of Canola oil. Place several potstickers and let one side cook  for about a minute. Then add about 3 tablepoons of chicken broth and cover pan. Cook until liquid reduces to almost nothing. Repeat until you have cooked all your potstickers.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. This dish is so versatile - you can use chopped carrots or water chestnuts if you don't like spinach.
2. Use a measuring spoon when scooping up filling so you always get roughly the same amount in every wonton skin.
3. Non-stick pan works the best - less "potsticking" means more for eating!
4. When placing the potstickers in a pan, make sure not to overcrowd them. 
5. For dipping sauce, we like toyomansi (soy sauce with lime), but you can use sweet and sour sauce, or just regular soy sauce. 
6. For added heat, pour in a bit of chili oil to your dipping sauce.


Panang Fish Curry

Hubby was craving his usual curry, but had something else in mind - fish instead of chicken. Despite my protests (I don't like fish curry), I had to give in. He had been asking for it for a long time, but I kept stalling by making chicken curry instead. So when he came home with a package of haddock and a can of Panang, I knew there was no way out of it.

On the bright side of things, I used my Thai basil to add flavor to the dish. I always love utilizing my garden in my kitchen experiments. Yay for growing your own food!

My bowl is made from coconut husk!

What you need:

10 oz haddock fillets
1/2 cup Thai basil
1 can (403 mL) coconut milk (unshaken)
3 tablespoons Panang curry paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium-sized Russet potato, diced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses

What to do:

Heat a pan over medium-high. Open the unshaken can of coconut milk and spoon out the thick part into the pan. Cook, stirring continuously, until oil separates, about three minutes.

Add the curry paste, continue cooking and stirring for about three more minutes. Add minced garlic and fish, let simmer for a few minutes, then pour in the rest of the coconut milk.  Add the bell pepper and potatoes. Season with fish sauce, brown sugar and molasses. Bring to a boil.

Lower heat to a simmer. Add the Thai basil, let cook for another minute. Remove from heat  and serve.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Any firm-fleshed white fish can be used for this recipe.
2. Molasses makes it a tad sweet... skip if you prefer more savory than sweet.
3. Not a big fan of fish? Try prawns!
4. If you want more heat, add chili peppers. Remember - Panang curry paste has a subtler flavor than other curries.



Only in China can you find Papa Smurf wearing a red Spongebob singlet!

I took this pic in a Hong Kong night market


Salmon with Sweet Bourbon Glaze

Can you believe this little strip of fish is $5.99?!?

This was actually hubby's experiment. We bought a cut of salmon, but instead of buying the marinated kind, we bought fresh upon hubby's insistence. When we got home, I let him work his magic.

Admittedly, I was skeptical and scared while he was working in the kitchen, especially since I know he has a penchant for sweet things. I saw him take out brown sugar, molasses, and mirin from the pantry. All the while I was thinking, "is he gonna make candy or glaze?"

I have to hand it to him, though. Even without a recipe, he made a terrific glaze that went so well with the salmon. You have to eat this while it is hot or the glaze would harden and you'll end up with a piece of brittle!

Paired with boiled spinach!
 What you need: 

1 salmon fillet
3 to 4 tablespoons Bourbon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
splash of mirin
1 teaspoon molasses
1 pod star anise
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt

What to do: 

Combine brown sugar, mirin, Bourbon, molasses, star anise and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk continuously until it comes to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, place butter on a pan over medium heat and fry one side of the salmon. When cooked (about a minute or so, depending on the thickness of the cut), flip over to cook the other side. After another minute, pour the prepared glaze on the fish and let cook for about a few minutes. When the liquid has reduced to almost nothing, remove fish from the pan and serve.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use non-stick pan! 
2. Keep stirring. Trust me on this!
3. After cooking, rinse your pans immediately! Or you will have a hard time trying to remove those hardened sugar!


Don't Count the Chickens...

Yes, I know we're not supposed to count the chickens before they're hatched. But in our case, we are counting the eggs! 

Since the chicks are still too young for us to be able to definitely tell their gender, we had to always guess based on what we read online. And so with this in mind, we THINK that we have 9 females and 1 male. Not a bad ratio, right? Especially since we bought them for egg production. However, it just dawned on us that at their peaks, these female chicks could lay an egg a day! So 9 X 7days = 63. Sixty three eggs a week. That's over 3,000 eggs a year!  What are we gonna do with that many eggs?!?! But that scenario could be just in a perfect setting. Some hens might not lay eggs, or we might have more roosters after all. Who knows?

"Hey sisters, check out the view on the other side!"

Anyway, the chicks are now 3 weeks old, and although they are not as cute anymore (they are starting to look like chickens now!), they are still as funny and entertaining! They are definitely more active, and it is so hilarious when they run around in their (bigger!) place. They also "chest-bump" in mid-air, which makes me nervous. They are very curious and would peck just about anything!

Chest-bumping while other siblings watch in anticipation!

We can't wait to build a coop so they could have a real place of their own!

I better start lining up "egg" recipes... flan, quiche, deviled eggs... yummy! 


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Call it a bad case of me playing "cake doctor." It all started when I saw pineapples being sold for only $2. Never mind that I have never in my entire life peeled a pineapple on my own (why do it when the vendor can do it for you, right?). I just grabbed one and thought of making pineapple upside-down cake. Hey, when prices are this good, you can't afford to miss it!

And since I am not a baker, I had to rely on my friend Duncan Hines. Well, the picture on the box of their Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix looks divine so I just had to make it. Of course, I had to tweak it because I don't have one ingredient on hand. But it still tasted great! 

And in case you're wondering, I used a plastic cap to make the pineapple holes. Remember when I said I peeled it myself? The only tool I used was a knife, so it wasn't cored. I had to look around the house for something to core it, and found the cap.Talk about being resourceful! MacGyver would have been proud of me!

Ta-da! Instant corer!

What you need:

For the topping:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup firmly packed sugar
about 4 to 5 slices of pineapples, cored
Maraschino cherries

For the cake:
1 package Pineapple Supreme cake mix
4 large eggs
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup oil

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare the topping. Melt butter over low heat in a 9" X 13" glass pan (preferably in the oven while you're preheating it). Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar. Spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Arrange pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture and place cherries in the center of each pineapple. Set aside.

Waiting for the batter...

In a big bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, pineapple juice, and oil. Using your electric mixer, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter evenly over the fruits in the pan.

Bake at 350°F in the oven for about an hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Using oven mitts to handle pan, invert onto serving plate immediately after removing the cake from the oven.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Substitute pineapple juice with water.
2. Original recipe called for a 3.4 oz package of vanilla pudding. I didn't have any, hence the pineapple juice.
3. If using pineapple chunks, add them in the batter.


Spring Salad

Consider this my "happy salad." I just love the different textures, shapes and colors of this dish. My mother-in-law always likes a variety of color in her meals, and I guess it kinda' rubbed off on me. But aside from the color, I absolutely love the taste of this salad. I used the dressing of my strawberry salad, but used Spring veggies. I also added mandarin oranges (from fruit cups!) to give it more tanginess.

As for the ham - it was leftover from the night before. I hate throwing food out (especially meat!) so I always try to create another dish out of leftovers.

The inspiration for this dish is Crispers' Signature Summer salad - which I absolutely love, mainly because of the candied pecans. I didn't have pecans in my pantry, but I used honey roasted almonds. Oh, and since I don't like Gorgonzola, I used feta instead.

This salad is so healthy and delicious. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it!

What you need:

For the Salad (as many or little as you like):
Spring veggie mix (includes baby lettuces, baby greens, endives, radicchio)
strawberries, hulled and quartered
slices of mandarin oranges
cooked ham, cubed
red onion
crumbled feta
honey roasted almonds

 For the dressing:
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 teaspoons strawberry jelly

What to do: 

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk well to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

Place veggie mix in a large bowl. Add prepared dressing and toss well. Serve on plates. Top with the remaining ingredients.  

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Smoked turkey also works well with this salad.
2. Too sweet for you? Skip the strawberry jelly.
3. Use white wine vinegar instead of red.
4. Not a fan of feta? Use gorgonzola or bleu cheese.



One of my kindergarten students gave these to me. She said they were "paper bags" for my Bibles. She gave me two - one for my pocket Bible, and one for my regular Bible. She is so sweet. Her spelling was incredibly cute, but it's the thought that counts. Besides, she's in Kindergarten. And she got the word Bible correct anyway. That's more impressive.

How I would make my Bibles fit in these two "paper bags", I have no clue.  ;-)


Buff Orpingtons

The chicks @ 3 days old
 Meet the newest members of our family - 10 Buff Orpington chicks. We chose this breed because we read that they are docile and calm. Which makes me wonder if these chicks are  really Orpingtons.

These girls are rambunctious! At 7 days old, they are already testing their wings. We placed them in a bigger box and they played in it like it was a ramp! One actually managed to finagle herself out of the box. They are so funny, and can literally entertain you for hours! What's bothering me is that they "play-fight" a lot. Sort of like cock fighting - you know... chest bumping while jumping in mid-air. I worry that they would get hurt.

In a few months, we hope to harvest some fresh eggs (crossing my fingers that we got all pullets). But for now, we are content at just watching them grow. I guess it's official - we are now farmers. :-)

Do you have any tips on how to raise chickens? I would appreciate them!


Sage Tea

This turned out to be quite a refreshing and enjoyable drink - surprisingly. I harvested some leaves from my sage plant and decided to brew it to make herbal tea. I figured I didn't need caffeine so the sage would do (instead of my usual green tea brew).

Wow. It was amazing. I was dreading drinking it (even with the addition of lemon), but had I known that it would taste that fantastic, I wouldn't have let it sit in the fridge for a day. 

And the health benefits are phenomenal - this website lists down some of them as: an agent in fighting liver and kidney troubles, fights colds and sore throat, can be used for pains in the joints - among other things.

I would definitely brew some again soon. And maybe try other herbs in my garden. Thyme tea, perhaps? 

Simple ingredients. And my favorite zester. ;-)

What you need:

1/4 oz (about 23 leaves) fresh Sage
1 tablespoon honey
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 cups water

What to do:

In a pot over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Add the rest of the ingredients and lower heat to a simmer. Allow to steep for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Strain out the leaves and transfer to a container. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Add or reduce the amount of lemon juice according to your preference.
2. Too tangy for you? Add sugar.
3. Don't add honey if the drink is already cold - honey doesn't do well with cold drinks.
4. You can also serve this drink hot.

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