Archive | April, 2009

Quick and Easy Meals with Amazing Taste

A few months ago, Sara of Amazing Taste sent us packets of their seasonings to try. To tell you the truth, we haven’t really entertained the idea of having prepared packet seasonings, and the only thing I can remember that we had was the gravy packets from IKEA for the meatballs (sorry, food snobs, but it is our once a year guilty pleasure). So why not go for something new, eh?

The first thing that we tried was their burger seasoning. For test purposes, although we were very tempted to add our own things into the mixture, we stuck with the recommended recipe for the burgers to see how good they are. We baked them in the oven to demonstrate just how ‘lazy’ we can be!  Haha. I really like the subtle flavor of this one. It’s nothing complex, but it works. It’s tender and juicy, and just enough flavor.

We also tried the Malibu seasoning is a “zesty blend of garlic, onion, black pepper, and paprika” seasoning to meat, poultry and seafood. I just rubbed the chicken with it, poked it with a fork and marinated it for an hour before frying it.

These seasonings weren’t too salty and they do not overpower the flavor of the meats. I find the Malibu one wasn’t as tasty as the burger, but it’s possible that I didn’t put enough. Between the two, I’d pick the burger. We still have the rest of the flavors to try, by the way.

Overall, I think they are nice to have in the pantry. They’re better alternatives to getting fast food on busy days: just get your choice of meat, poultry or seafood out, mix it and cook. For those who want to prepare a home-cooked meal without the fuss of mixing their own seasonings and figuring out flavors, this would be a blessing. It’s also recession-friendly at a price point of $0.99 each.

Thanks, Amazing Taste, for letting us try your seasonings!

Disclosure: We were sent the packets to try, but are not paid for this post.

Posted in dailies, reviews1 Comment

How To Turn Mistakes Into Happy Cupcakes

Ever bought a lot of something without trying it and ended up not liking it? That’s my usual hoarding story. Errr.. That’s where this cupcake story is all about.

Sure I’ve dreamed of making yogurt cakes before, thanks to inspiring food bloggers; but I really didn’t think of making these cupcakes beforehand. I only thought to make it after a grocery shopping mistake: I bought yogurt that I’ve never tried before in its non-fat version and I hated it. [FYI, it was Activia nonfat]. Absolutely hated it. I think it’s an “acquired” taste and I missed my Stonyfield yogurts so. I don’t understand why I couldn’t find it here in Vancouver, or know if it is even available in my neck of the woods.

Anyway, I would’ve been willing to just charge the bill of this shopping mishap to experience had it been just a small quantity. But nope! I got two! BIG! TUBS! As much as I would be so, so happy to just toss it, the Asian (or is it third world?) mentality of making the most of what we have and not wasting has won over my unhappy taste buds. I know, I know…I should approach this the same way we use wine for cooking: cook only with wine you like/enjoy. Luckily, this tribute to my cultural mentality induced a Cinderella transformation of the yogurt into delicious bursts of freshness in your mouth. Can you read that again? Yes, I mean it!

It started off with butter and superfine sugar. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t partake of this at this point. I love butter.

And then the egg yolks. I’ve read about this ‘method’ of separately adding the egg yolks to your batter and then folding the whisked egg whites later. I thought–brilliant! I think that really made the cupcakes light and airy and some kind of dreamy.

Here is the batter after folding in the egg whites.

I also made candied orange peels to garnish these delicate cupcakes. I looked for recipes online and some  involved baking. I kept it simple by cooking it only on the stove. I really love this photo for some reason: it’s orange, it’s vigorously boiling and it looks so nice. [Just bear with me here. :)]

I turned off the heat when the syrup started to thicken.

And I just stirred/agitated the syrup as it crystallized back to sugar.

And voila! It’s orange peel picking time. Messy, but it does the job. Probably not the most efficient way to do this, but ah…I swear it played out a lot better in my mind when I orchestrated the whole production. Oops.

There’s minimal icing. After you make the icing in the recipe you might say, that is not enough for twelve cupcakes! Believe it or not, it does. You just need a hint of sweetness. I’m all about balance these days. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top, really. These are demure cupcakes in every sense of the word: reserved in sweetness and coy in tanginess; but the combination of subtle flavors creates that lovely zest in your mouth. It almost makes me think that if Clinique’s Happy scent were half as in-your-face zesty, and they were cupcakes, these would be The Happy Cupcakes:

If you’re having a sweet tooth but want something fresh and not too heavy and indulgent, this is definitely my recommended poison. I took several doses. ;)

Here’s the recipe if you’re willing to give these yummy bites a try:

Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cakes, experiments, healthier choices, snacks7 Comments

I Have an Adoptee!

Meet Scott of BRB…Eating, he’s my “adoptee” for the 3rd round of the Adopt A Blogger program organized by the fabulous, soon-to-be-mom-of-4th-baby Kristen of Dine and Dish. [Thanks, Kristen!]

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I discovered Adopt A Blogger last year when they announced the matches, and it was too late for me to join to be adopted. A year later, here I am as an experienced blogger and eager to help out Scott, my “blogging baby”. As a blogger since ’01 and a food blogger for over a year, I’ve learned a few things here and there. Working with another blogger would be beneficial for me as well –the 3-month mentoring process will definitely be a learning experience for both of us.

My mentee is quite funny. He sent me an email in which he noted in the first paragraph that he came “fully potty trained”. And indeed he is, if you check out his blog, he is quite the writer and photographer already. When I clicked to see his site from the announcement page, I had to go back the previous page to make sure I didn’t click another “veteran” link. His writing style is definitely something I can connect with, and the photos…man, he could definitely teach me about a thing or two!

Scott loves food and has been cooking since he was eight. His passion for food makes him look at cooking as therapy, and I couldn’t agree more.

Please join me as I welcome Scott! Hop over to BRB…Eating and say Hi! Add him in your RSS and hang on as I whip him into shape (I kid, I kid!) to post more often. He said he needs an extra push to make him accountable to posting, so please come back often and we will be reading together as he posts more. Right Scott? More, more, more!

Ok, stay tuned. Off to bed now. BRB…sleeping. :)

Posted in announcements, events2 Comments

Bailey’s Cafe Mocha Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I always talk about one of my common indulgences during the week: coffee with Bailey’s Irish creme. So I thought, why not put those lovely flavors in a cheesecake? After all, the Daring Bakers Challenge this month calls for playing with a basic cheesecake recipe.

For those of you not familiar with the Daring Bakers, it’s a group whose members undertake monthly baking challenges. :) I was crazy enough to join. Haha. It is so much fun. Last month was my first time and I had an initiation by fire with the spinach lasagna. This month is a sweeter challenge. Yumm…cheesecake!

I’ve made many cheesecakes before because it’s been requested so many times. My “signature” cheesecake was a no-bake one that is light and not anywhere as decadent as your average cheesecake. So it’s nice to go for something different. I took the good things from my old cheesecake and used that for this month’s recipe–lemon juice and zest in the crust and my foil-wrapping  technique that makes cooking and cleaning with the springform pan much easier.

Admittedly, although I knew what flavors to incorporate in my cheesecake, I wasn’t quite sure how until I was making it. And I’ve had a few Uh-Oh (not A-Ha!) moments. I separated the cheesecake batter into 3 parts for the 3 flavors: coffee, dark chocolate and Bailey’s. They tasted right individually, however I ended up with 3 liquids with different viscosities, with the coffee liquid as the least viscous — and I want that the most dominant flavor because I want it to be mainly coffee cheesecake. Hmm. I guess I should have thought of that when separating the batter because the most dominant liquid I had was Bailey’s. Not that I’m complaining, Gimme more, I say.

In the end, I just poured the liquids from the most, to the least, thick. I wasn’t ecstatic about the top:

Before I combined all the liquid mixtures, I saw that the coffee batter was too thin so I added an additional egg. Haha. Bad move…look at that top!!! The dark spots were from the cocoa powder that I thought to add at the very end. Yet another Uh-Oh moment. I should not have added it directly to the mixture.

But then here comes the A-Ha! moment: The Taste and texture! The cheesecake was a nice, smooth indulgent bite that melts into a comforting silk mousse of coffee, chocolate and my favorite Irish creme. Wow.

And three taste testers agree! :-)

I still need to work on my viscosity issues, but this is a winning cheesecake overall. My cake-top problem could easily be ‘fixed’ with a dusting of cocoa.

The basic cheesecake recipe is here, and I’ll be posting my recipe tonight. Done! Thanks Jenny! And thanks to Abbey, too.

Now I can relax again until the next challenge. But for now, here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cheese, chocolate, coffee buddy, Daring Bakers, dessert, experiments, fun40 Comments

Cranberry Granola

The truth is, there are a lot of recipes and posts I have for you, I just haven’t had the chance to post them. I get these food blogging lulls. There is always something made in the kitchen, the photos have been taken, but the words to get them all tied up together in a meaningful bundle are just not happening. The problem with that is, I sometimes forget where I jotted down the ingredient list, or if I do, I forget to note the procedure and by the time I get around to writing the recipe, it’s gone — POOF! And I do, I really do want to share all the good stuff with you. I really do need to keep a pen and paper in the kitchen so I can write down steps as I go. This aging brain isn’t that reliable anymore.

Just when I started editing the photo below, my heart almost sank. For heaven’s sake I could not remember if I even wrote down the ingredients. When that happens it does feel like I invited people over to my dinner party at an exotic location and I forgot to give proper directions and there’s no way they’re going to get here. Gah! I eventually found the recipe on the last page of my To-Do list steno notebook. I jumped with glee (in my head). This is one granola mix that I really, really love and would like to make again and again. So I do hope you like it.

When Dan and I started hiking in Arizona, I wanted to try making our own granola to bring. I tested a few recipes that contain a lot of oil and I don’t feel too good about that, so I tried to look for alternative ways to ‘soak’ the oatmeal to cook it without using oil. I also wanted it to be clumpy for easier eating on the trail, but I don’t want a bar, just clumps so it’s not too messy to eat while hiking. I also have to put into consideration the nuts and fruits that Dan doesn’t like. He’ll only accept dried cranberries in there. I had to bargain to add the sunflower seeds. Sounds confusing? Welcome to our kitchen! Haha.

This smelled amazing while it was baking in the oven. I wanted to bottle up the aroma. Mmmm! It kept longer than I expected. I’ve read several recipes saying that homemade granola can keep for one week in an airtight container. Others suggested to put the container refrigerated. In my experience, it seems that putting in the fridge is the best — it keeps the crispiness better. Leaving it in room temperature makes it a bit chewy, which other people might prefer. Oh yes, this recipe makes crispy granolas, but not hard. Those small chunks of goodness are a delight to snack on. Yummy!

So here it is. Let us know if you make it. We’d love to hear what you think! Continue Reading

Posted in baking, breakfast, snacks20 Comments

Samantha Ettus Interviews Eric Ripert

I rarely post videos on our site, so when I do pay attention. :) This is one interview that I enjoyed enough to watch twice. Yes, it’s more than 30 minutes but that half hour will just fly by. Enjoy!

“Perhaps it is no wonder that a French boy whose mother provided a white linen gourmet meal every day would grow up to become a world renowned four-star executive chef and co-owner of New York’s Le Bernardin. Eric regularly appears on Top Chef and a new PBS series airing this fall and his expertise as chef and restaurateur are featured in his recently release third book, On The Line. He is a great artist whose passion has led him to spend 20 years creating a single dish and that is why I am Obsessed with Eric Ripert. – Samantha Ettus

Samantha asked him about being a ‘fish guy’ to which he remarked, “I always ended up in the fish station of the restaurant…” That instantly reminded me of the broiled red snapper fillet on his show, Avec Eric. Notice how much butter he uses. LOVE that. Haha. He uses a lot of butter on his caramelized mango with rum recipe as well. Yumm. :)

Posted in video2 Comments

Happy Easter! Plus A PJ Party invite!

Dan and I would like to wish our dear readers, friends, and family a Happy Easter! Hope the Easter Bunny is nice to you. Hop, hop.

Regular posting would resume soon, I promise. I have been busy being on the road and up in the air (flying) and just settling down again on the ground…welcoming Spring in Vancouver. I need two weeks to get settled even though I’ve lived here for a long time. Traveling like I have gypsy in my blood gets to me. I do love to travel, but I would easily skip the packing and unpacking portion if I could help it! :) Who loves to (un)pack? Come on over!

In other exciting news, I will be joining the lovely and amazing mommies Ria and Suzanne at My Mommy Manual on Tuesday night for a virtual Pajama Party to help raise money for Mom It Forward and The 12 for 12K Challenge’s joint mission for April/May to help empower women in Kenya:

Practical Mommy (Ria) and Zen Mommy (Suzanne) will be on Ustream.tv for their first ever

Pajama Party LIVE on Tuesday, April 14 from 6-9pm CST

to raise money for the cause. Join the party in your PJ’s from home for giggles, live music, and of course, Practical and Inspired Tips… and more.

We’ll be:

  • whipping up some goodies in the kitchen with the help of Joy (@gourmeted),
  • listening to live music from Ann Hirschfeld of String Buzz,
  • connecting with entrepreneurial experts like @GuyKawasaki and @pajamaspr on starting and running your own business and leveraging social media to do it!


ON TUESDAY, APRIL 14 at 6pm CST, Click here to VIEW THE BROADCAST AND CHATROOM. Everything you need is on that page:

• Instructions on HOW TO ENTER THE RAFFLE

• PRIZE LIST

• ChipIn widget for donations (you can donate anytime!)

Please come along in your PJ’s! Donate for a good cause and have a chance to win some fabulous prizes. :) If you would like to donate a prize for the raffle, get in touch with Ria here or Tweet her (@riasharon).

Ok, I’m heading back to my cave as I try to get over this bad cold and sore throat, and get rid of that frog that’s trying to replace my voicebox! See you all on Tuesday! Mark your calendars and save the popcorn!

P.S. Yes, I’m on Twitter: @gourmeted I don’t think I’ve really announced that. :)

Posted in announcements, events0 Comments

Review: Pizzeria Bianco

If you’ve heard of Bon Appétit’s Best American Restaurants episode from the Food Network, you will know that Pizzeria Bianco was named the best place in America to get a pizza. Between authenticity, taste, and quality of ingredients, it beat out countless thousands of  pizza chains and parlors in America. There is a great reason for it as well. Mr. Bianco himself is passionate about pizza as Joy and I are about eating it.

When we learned of this mecca of a pizza joint was in Phoenix, Joy and I planned for a date downtown. But this date did not come without setbacks. Our first challenge was getting there when it was open. We found that the restaurant is only open Tues-Sat. When we were able to get a night to do this, I wanted to verify my directions. In looking for them, I found a review and I thought I would cruise it. The review calls Pizzeria Bianco a low-rated location. His only argument? He had to wait 4 hours for a table. When I told Joy about this, she told me to call. The person who answered the phone confirmed. There was a 4 hour waiting list. This phone call took place at 4:05PM.

We decided that we will brave the wait. It was the perfect night to do it. It was not that cold, not too hot. After finding the location and being told it was a 3 hour wait, we took a couple of couch seats in the bar until the sun went down and ordered from their appetizers. I recommend the meat platter! The ambiance of the bar is cozy and their music library is a great mix of R&B, lounge, and other mixes for a comfortable experience.

Three hours later, slightly starving, our name is called.  We were moved to a table in the corner of the main house and we knew exactly what we wanted. I ordered “Wiseguy” — a sausage and onion pizza,

Joy got the “Margherita” — the basil and tomato pizza. It was the most flavorful pizza we’ve ever had!

But, was it worth it? Was the opportunity cost worth the value of the pizza that we waited for? I think it was, but, I think some little things could have been changed to make the flow of customers better.  The bar where we stayed at was filled with tables and chairs which could have easily been used for patrons to get the pizza. The location does not take reservations, for obvious reasons, but you can make one if your party is 6 or more. I think if we go again, we’ll get a couple of friends together and make sure we can get them to experience this pizza as well because this is a pizza worth the price, but not so much the wait.

Posted in dailies, pizza, restaurants, reviews1 Comment