Good Bye 2012!

Monday, December 31, 2012

I took some time off from blogging.  It was very difficult not to pick up the camera and capture all the perfect shots that I envisioned and resist the urge to share my stories with you.  The recent tragedies that have aired on national television for weeks made Vu and I slow down and appreciate each other, our loves ones, and the simple things in life.  We should be doing this everyday, but more often than not, we forget.  Drowned in our daily routines, busy work schedule, looming deadlines, and unfinished projects, we forget to pause, to take it all in, and to appreciate.  Vu and I lingered under our blanket a bit longer, made more time to play with Betsy, detached ourselves from our computer and mobile devices, reconnected with friends and family near and afar, cooked together and ate together as often as possible.  We relished the crisp, winter air on our morning walks and spent many moments by the windows listening to the raindrops pounding against our roof without a sense of hurry.  Friends and family have kept us busy, but we enjoyed every minute of it.  

With 2012 year coming to an end and 2013 right around the corner, I needed time to reflect and rejuvenate.  It was a much needed break from blogging.  Funny thing, I came across this post by Erin of Design for Mankind whose message resonates with my sentiments.  This blog has been a special corner for Vu and me, an avenue for us to share our stories, our adventures, and our recipes with you.  We look forward to sharing many more of those with you and leave you with this delicious pomegranate martini to ring in 2013.  

Have a wonderful new year, filled with new adventures, good food, good friends, and good memories.  Happy 2013! 

Pomegranate Martini

1 oz of vodka 
5 oz of pomegranate juice
1 tsp of sugar
orange peel for garnish

1. With a knife cut the pomegranate in half.  Use your fingers to pry the fruit apart.
2. Working over a bowl filled with water, pry the seeds away from the membrane and peel.
3. Once you are done stripping the seeds from the peel and membrane, strain the seeds from the water.
4. You can use half for your martini and save the other half to munch on.  A large pomegranate can make up to two cups of juice.  If you cannot find fresh pomegranate, you can skip all this work and substitute with POM juice from any grocery stores.
5. Press the seeds through a sieve to extract the juice.  Add the sugar to the juice and mix well.  Pomegranate juice can be a bit tart so add enough sugar to your liking. 
6. To a martini shaker add the vodka, pomegranate juice, and a few cubes of ice. Shake and serve in a chilled martini glass. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Monday, November 5, 2012

We finally experienced fall weather a few weeks ago.  The cool, crisp morning air was refreshing after the relentless heat made its exit.  And we even had a few days of rain.  The cold, rainy weather made me crave for a bowl of hot, steaming soup.  One of my favorite soups is roasted butternut squash, which is abundant during fall.  

Butternut squash is perfect for soup due to its sweeter and nutty taste compared to the larger pumpkins.   

I was excited to try the recipe from “Seasons” by Donna Hay. 

The soup tasted sweet and satisfying.  The taste of butternut squash unadulterated.      

A cup of comfort in my hands.  Perfect for the cold weather.  I couldn't be happier.    

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Donna Hay Seasons)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 (2-lb) butternut squash (should yield 3 cups of cooked butternut squash)
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp honey
Sea salt and cracked pepper
2-3 sprigs of thyme
creme fraiche (optional)
Toasted bread slices to serve (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Cut butternut squash in quarters and drizzle with olive oil.  Add a few sprigs of thyme and sprinkle salt and pepper on the squash quarters.
3. Roast for 50-60 minutes or until squash is tender and cooked.  Use a spoon and scoop the cooked squash into a food processor.
4. Add the chicken stock to the food processor and blend until smooth.  Strain the squash through a sieve to get a smooth squash puree.
5. Place puree and heavy crème in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes until mixture is thickened.  Stir in the honey.
7. Ladle soup into bowl and top with creme fraiche and pepper.
8. Serve with a slice of toast.

Picture of the day

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I got these eggs from the farmers market.  I never knew they come in so many different colors.

My Pesto Sandwich

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gail gave me some basil from her garden so I whipped up a batch of fresh pesto.   

I had a lot of fun experimenting with pesto.  Pasta. Quinoa. Potato salad. Sandwich.   

I’m posting my first experiment here.  My pesto sandwich.  So simple, yet satisfying.   

The intense flavor of pesto melded with the mozzarella cheese on toasted baguette.   

You can use any bread that you like but I love the taste of baguette.  Enjoy!

Pesto Sandwich
one 6-inch baguette
1 ½ to 2 tbsps pesto (recipe below)
 2 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 pieces of mozzarella
a few basil leaves

1. Slice the baguette in half.
2. Spread half of the baguette with pesto.
3. Top with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves.
4. Toast the sandwich in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.

4 cups basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ cup of pine nuts
½ cup of olive oil
¼ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place ¼ cup of olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth.
2. Add the basil leaves, cheese, and remaining olive oil and blend until thick and smooth.
3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Rolled Oats with Apple and Honey

Friday, October 5, 2012

I must confess.  I am lazy when it comes to breakfast, even though it’s the most important meal of the day.  When I do eat breakfast, I have a few favorites that I can eat morning after morning.  One of those favorites is rolled oats with milk and honey.  With a few apples remaining from our apple picking trip, I added it to the rolled oats to make another variation of my favorite breakfast.   

This breakfast is easy to make, healthy, and gives you a boost of energy to jump into a busy work schedule.

Rolled oats with apples and honey

1 cup rolled oats
4 cups milk
½ tsp cinnamon
2 apples, thinly sliced
2 tbsps roasted pistachio
Milk and honey to serve

1. Place the oats and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 12-15 minutes or until thickened.
2. Stir in cinnamon.
3. Spoon into serving bowls, top with extra milk, pistachios, apple slices, and honey.