Holiday



Christmas is one of my most favourite times of the year. I love the music, the traditions, the snow, the shopping…It really is the happiest time of the year for me. I’ve always had really good memories with my family.

A few weeks leading up to the Christmas time, especially since it corresponds with exam time for students, I tend to bake little treats to keep my energy going, give me something sweet to munch and put me in the Christmas mood. Baking cupcakes is always a quick fix and I happily decorate them in the holiday spirit.

Recipe:

it’s pretty basic and simple. Get yourself a cake box mix or use your favourite recipe. Top it off with homemade or store-bought icing and decorate as you will. It’s a great treat to do even closer to Christmas day as it is a fun activity to get others involved (relatives, children) An alternative for gingerbread men or houses since those might be a little more costly to buy or harder to make.

These were a simple white cake mix (probably french vanilla). I bought the icing and had christmas inspired red green and white sprinkles plus white chocolate chips to garnish.

My twist on the cupcake came with what was inside… (more…)

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UPDATED 01/12/09 @ 3:45PM — I forgot a few more dishes so for those who have already read this post, check the end to see even more food from the party

New Year’s is a huge event for my family because it’s a two fold celebration. In addition to the general excitement for the new year, New Year’s day happens to be my father’s birthday. My family throws an annual New Year’s bash, invite all of our family and friends and party from the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Because it is such a long event and there are more people than the normal get-together, there’s a pretty big spread on our table.

After a year of numerous parties, my family tends to feel like we’ve gone through the majority of the Filipino dishes out there. Therefore, we like to attempt to ring in a new year with different food that isn’t always typically seen at a Filipino party. When deciding upon the menu, we consulted a variety of sources for inspiration and recipes and came up with a menu that features some of our most favourite dishes, some experimental food and some tried and true Filipino food.

Recipes that I reviewed

Recipes from various sources

Click to see more food from the party!

(more…)

I know I am terribly over due for a post and I have several (decent) reasons. First is the fact that I went home for my Christmas vacation and although you make think that I would have more time to update since I have no school to distract me, its actual more time-consuming as there are more responsibilities and duties while at home. During the holiday season there are several parties to attend, a lot of shopping/errands to run and many attempts at cleaning the house. Second is the fact that although as readers, there are no new posts, I do work on the behind the scenes stuff. For example, I’ve really been working on generating more readership that is stable. I’ve been joining other blogging/food networks to promote the blog because my secondary goal for this blog is to gain a decent amount of readership. I think I’ve done very well for only 3 months of publication and I hope that things only get better from here on out. I also spend a lot of time uploading/editing photos. My lighting and camera quality are not always the best so I do take the time to edit photos to make them as appetizing as possible. I’m trying to do the research needed to improve my photography skills so that I can cut down on editing. So I’ve caught up on editing, done a good chunk of promotion and gained more readership so now its time to get back to what it’s all about; food posts!

We’re gonna go way back to feature the main party food for this Christmas season. This is what a Filipino feast is like during the holiday season, in particular my home for New Year’s. Warning: this post is picture heavy!

For the annual Christmas day party, our family friends take turn on rotation deciding who will host it. This year it was held at my uncle’s house in Whitby from lunchtime until dinner. It was a potluck event and everyone was required to bring something. My family had decided to bring shrimp & vegetable tempura. It was also our opportunity to open our gifts with everyone else. Shortly after, I fell asleep from just exhaustion of the past few days. I awoke in time to eat a little bit of dinner, picture taking with the family and then headed home. But back to the food. There were tons and I wanted to feature all of them.

This was a black forest cake made by a family friend who specializes in baking. I’m not a huge fan of black forest cake, primarily because I’m not a fan of cherries. However, I was informed by my all-cake-loving sister that it was delicious. It was a beautiful cake fit for the season.

This was the tempura my family had brought. We used shrimp, eggplant, sweet potato and green peppers. It was a hit at the party and there were hardly any left overs. My favourite is always the sweet potato. It wasn’t as crisp as it could be since it was cooked earlier in the day but it was still very delicious and very easy to make.

Click to see more photos!

(more…)

Now thanksgiving isn’t the most celebrated in my family. Being asian, my family doesn’t really relate to the “pilgrims coming to the new world, sharing food with the natives” stories and since they prefer a stir-fry over a huge turkey with all the fixings, the cooking for this event has normally fallen upon me. I’ve cooked thanksgiving dinner (or at the very least, helping out) for as long as I can remember and my parents will attest to it. It’s the one holiday where my family willing strays away from asian food and lets me get creative with the menu.

Unfortunately since the start of university I have either not been in the mood or didn’t bother to go home altogether for Thanksgiving weekend. My first year in university, I couldn’t be bothered to cook so my family went out for sushi (sushi for thanksgiving? yup and it was darn tasty) and last year I was too busy with school work to come home. But this year I wanted to bring the tradition back (plus its a way to convince my parents to buy really good ingredients and experiment)

This year the menu consisted of:

  • Phyllo wrapped baked brie with mushrooms
  • Oven baked sweet potato fries
  • Spinach balsamic bow tie pasta with feta cheese
  • Roasted garlic dip
  • Pot Roast with root vegetables
  • Traditional stuffing
  • (semi) homemade apple pie a la mode

The entire menu is a first for me, having never cooked any of it before. First up was the prep for the pot roast since that would take the longest… Recipe can be found here.

garlic and onions for sauteing

garlic and onions for sauteing

seasoning the meat with salt and pepper

seasoning the meat with salt and pepper

Now my family has done the turkey thing in the past but we end up with far too many leftovers than we know what to do with. Besides, we’re not really fans of turkey despite its healthy qualities. This does prose the dilemma of what to eat as a main course for thanksgiving. Some options we’ve explore in the past were Cornish hens, roasted chicken, lamb, oven baked fish such as salmon or tilapia. This year we were in the mood for some sort of stew with meat that was falling apart and would essentially melt in your mouth. It ended in  toss up between pot roast and beef goulash; the pot roast  won due to simplicity and familiarity.

beef

browned and seared

browned and seared

While the beef seared, I made a roasted garlic dip. It’s essentially 1 cup of plain yogurt, 1 cup of mayo ( my family uses 1/2 fat mayo) and 3 Tbsp of roasted garlic mix that I bought in a food shop at Niagara-on-the-Lake during a visit there this summer. Its created by Gourmet du Village and is a tasty robust dip. You leave it to sit for at least an hour to develop its flavours and is good with pretzels, pitas or for this dinner, baked sweet potato fries.

roasted garlic dip ingredients

roasted garlic dip ingredients

Back to the pot roast…

stew ingredients: red wine, tomato paste, mustard, bay leaves.

stew ingredients: red wine, tomato paste, mustard, bay leaves.

beef stewing in stock

beef stewing in stock

 After the stew came to a boil it was time to put it into the oven to slowly cook for 3 hours. In the meantime I prepped some other food. I prepared the cold pasta salad (recipe found here). I opted to use bow tie pasta instead of orzo just for a textural difference. It’s a pretty easy recipe to follow and then you can leave it in the fridge to marinate while you prepare other food.

some of the main ingredients for the pasta salad: bow tie pasta, spinach, red onion.

some of the main ingredients for the pasta salad: bow tie pasta, spinach, red onion.

final pasta salad

spinach bow tie pasta with feta

 I then watched my sister create a semi homemade apple pie. Semi because we used a pre-made mix for the crust because she wasn’t in the mood to make it from scratch. It’s probably a safer bet to stick to the mix anyways since we don’t exactly have a stand up mixer.

box pie crust mix

box pie crust mix

splitting the dough in half

splitting the dough in half

rolling the dough

rolling the dough

peeling, coring, cutting the apples

peeling, coring, cutting the apples

I failed to get photos of the rest of the prep which included the mixing of all the apples and spices and placing it in the pie pan. I was so busy scrambling to food prep for other thing such as the baked brie. I unfortunately didn’t take photos of that either until it was completed. Here’s the recipe.

final product of the baked brie

phyllo wrapped baked brie with mushrooms

While this was in the oven, I added the rest of the ingredients to the pot roast (root vegetables) when it got to its last cooking stage. I also roasted some sweet potato fries lightly brushed with olive oil and thyme and plated it with the roasted garlic dip.

final product sweet potato fries and roasted garlic dip

sweet potato fries and roasted garlic dip

I also made a quick boxed stuffing since stuffing is one of my favourite traditional food of thanksgiving.

stuffing mix

stuffing mix and chicken broth.

final product stuffing - photo credit to my father

stuffing - photo credit to my father

After 3 and half hours in the oven, the long awaited pot roast was ready and it looked good.
pot roast with root vegetables

pot roast with root vegetables

The full feast looked like this…
thanksgiving feast
full plate
While we ate we left the apple pie to bake and it turned out like this…
(semi) homemade apple pie

(semi) homemade apple pie

Meal review:

Overall the meal was incredibly delicious. The stuffing was a little salty as expected from a boxed mix so I’ll definitely be making that from scratch next year. It was a shame since stuffing is really one of my favourite things. The pot roast was incredibly tender and my family couldn’t get enough. Even before finishing her meal, my sister was already thinking about eating the pot roast the next day. The pasta salad was ok. It needed more cheese and more dressing, an easy adjustment considering its a cold pasta that only gets better with time.  The sweet potato fries were a little more soft than one would like but still very very delicious. I just need to turn up the heat of the oven to get crispier fries. The dip is a no fail thing so you can’t mess it up. The baked brie was my favorite thing of the entire night. It was the only thing that I put specifically on the menu for me to eat but it seems like my family enjoyed it more than me and ate the majority of it with a request from my sister to make it again soon. The apple pie turned out really well which I was happy about because I did have some hesitations about the filling and if it would meld together properly. We ate it while still warm with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt. The meal was a success and one of my most favorite thanksgiving dinners that I can recall. I already have ideas of what to cook for next year. I can’t wait.
So let’s start with my first meal after being truly inspired to start writing this blog. After 2 days of being completely consumed by food blogs I decided to debut my cooking adventures with one of the most widely celebrated food events of the year; Thanksgiving. But before we get to the thanksgiving meal itself, I wanted to showcase the yummy  lunch we had beforehand which included:
  • Sichuan style Dungeness crab
  • steamed blue crab
  • simple tomato & green onion mix
  • toasted baguette for dipping
  • peach yogurt, granola and fresh raspberries parfait
Asian recipe book

Asian recipe book

chopping up dungeness crab

chopping up Dungeness crab

The recipe came from one of my family’s favorite recipe books (of which I do not know the name) It has TONS of picture and lots of yummy recipes that my family use time and time again. If I remember, I’ll get the recipe and name of the book next time I go home. Truthfully though, my family just take the ingredients and improvise with the amounts according to taste.

onions and garlic

onions and garlic

yummy goodness

yummy goodness

some of the main ingredients: ginger, chili garlic sauce, sichuan spicy sauce

some of the main ingredients: ginger, chili garlic sauce, sichuan spicy sauce

 My father added a scrambled egg and corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce, and green onions for aesthetic purposes.

addition of a scrambled egg

addition of a scrambled egg

delicious final product

delicious product

In addition to the Dungeness crab, we bought some blue crab to steam. Its one of my favourite things to eat especially when they’re in season. We had them the night before and they were super delicious and filled with lots of meat.

cleaning the crab before steaming

cleaning the crab before steaming

crab after steaming

crab after steaming

On the side we had toasted baguette to soak up all the Sichuan sauce with the crab instead of rice. We also had a tomato & green onion mix which is a traditional side for crab to add a touch of freshness to the meal and cleanse the palate. Sometimes our family opts for a vinegar and minced red onion mix to add a touch of tanginess to the meal. toasted baguette for dipping the Sichuan sauce.

toasted baguette for dipping the sichaun sauce

toasted baguette for dipping the Sichuan sauce

tomato & green onion mix

tomato & green onion mix

For desert we kept it light and simple with a peach yogurt with granola and ripe raspberries. Now I’m not the biggest fan of raspberries because they tend to be tart/sour but these were so unbelievably sweet and perfect. I wish we had more (although I had munched on them since the moment I came home). Definitely satisfying after all that garlic and chili sauce.

freshly washed

freshly washed

sweet and ripe

sweet and ripe

peach yogurt topped with raspberries

peach yogurt topped with raspberries

Meal review:

The crab was incredibly meaty and cooked perfectly. Because the sauce from the Sichuan was heavy enough, it was a nice change to eat just the bread beside it. The yogurt was refreshing and the raspberries were a perfect match. It was god hearty meal without being too heavy; just enough to tide oneself over until dinner.

After cleaning up, on to the start of thanksgiving meal prep….