Archive for January, 2010

Chex Party Mix

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Wasabi Chex Mix

I LOVE homemade Chex mix. I didn’t eat it growing up, but in high school, my best friend’s mom always made it. She would always get mad because we would inevitably eat the entire batch before it finished cooling. I don’t really like the Chex mix you buy from the store because I find it too salty and I don’t like wheat chex or bagel chips.

When visiting some friends last year, I was gifted with a gallon batch of Chex mix, which I promptly destroyed. His had no wheat chex but included honey roasted peanuts, which I find to be a nice complement to the saltiness of the rest of the mix. Last week, I figured I’d try my hand at Chex mix. I made two half batches based on the recipe on the Chex web site. I tried to make a wasabi batch with some wasabi powder I had, but I guess I didn’t put in enough wasabi powder because you couldn’t really taste the difference.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 1/4cups Corn Chex®
  • 2 1/4cups Rice Chex®
  • 1/2 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup butter pretzels
  • 1/2 bag M&Ms


  1. Heat oven to 250°F.
  2. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels; set aside.
  3. In ungreased 13×9-inch pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings.
  4. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes.
  6. Mix in M&Ms.
  7. Store in airtight container.

Wasabi Chex Mix
I used 1 teaspoon of wasabi powder and wasn’t able to taste any difference. I will try adding more next time. I also have Chinese hot mustard powder that I would like to try adding in next time as well. I destroyed this bag in less than two days.

Categories: appetizers, snacks Tags: , ,


January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

PB/Milk Chocolate Blondies

I also made blondies for the football game. I don’t bake much because I usually prefer the sugary sweetness of fresh fruit. However, the boy really has a sweet tooth and doesn’t feel satisfied unless his meal ends with something sugary.

I found this blondies recipe on Simply Recipes and was pleased to discover I had all the necessary ingredients on hand. Having a stocked pantry is key for this California girl stuck in Chicago winter. I never want to go outside in the cold, so I only cook with what I have in the house. Well, it took me a little bit of time to find the brown sugar but I eventually found a very, very dry brick of dark brown sugar. My mom always kept expired food around (she was a Vietnamese refugee with a small hoarding issue) and I remembered that she used to throw brown sugar bricks in the microwave to loosen them up…perfect solution!

I used a mixture of peanut butter and milk chocolate chips. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of chips but I think I’d add a little more next time. I cut the blondies into small bite-sized pieces and some bites didn’t have any chips (but the yummy brown sugar flavor still came through and was still delicious).

PB/Milk Chocolate Blondies

Yes, I love vintage pyrex. This one came from my mom’s collection…which probably came from a garage sale.

Categories: sweets Tags: , ,

Buffalo Chicken Dip

January 20, 2010 2 comments

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Before I moved to the midwest, I only ate dips once or twice a year (probably NYE and Superbowl Sunday). On Saturdays, I was usually too exhausted from my 10-12 mile runs to do much cooking, let alone watch any football (and I usually only watched college games). Here in Chicago, it is too cold (for me) to run outside and that kind of mileage on a treadmill is mental torture. With the Colts doing well, a lot of my social activities now revolve around drinking and football…and when there are more than two of us, I like to make junky foods to spread the fattitude.

This buffalo chicken dip isn’t very photogenic but tastes AMAZING. I always serve it with baguette slices, carrot sticks, and celery sticks. It gets rave reviews and is always the first item to run out.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP (adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 2 – 10 oz. cans of chunk chicken
  • 2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot (this is KEY)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or substitute some with blue cheese if you used ranch dressing)


  1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through.
  2. Stir in cream cheese and ranch/blue cheese dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.
  3. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly.


This dip is very rich and creamy so it can accommodate more chicken without having to adjust anything else. I had a package of oven roasted chicken breast Joel used to use to make salads sitting in the freezer. I dumped the entire package in with the rest of the canned chicken and it didn’t really change the taste, texture, or balance of the dip. I also used low fat cream cheese and light dressing…the dip is still so rich you won’t taste the difference.

Categories: appetizers, dip, food Tags: ,

Jap Chae

January 19, 2010 5 comments

Jap Chae

I love Korean food. When I lived in San Francisco, I went out for Korean food at least once a week. Here in Chicago, I have only been out for Korean twice (I have more time than money these days) but regularly shop at H-Mart in Niles for my Asian groceries. At Korean restaurants, one of my favorite things is Jap Chae, stir-fried Korean glass noodles with vegetables and a sweet soy sauce marinade. I’ve made this once before (to test the mandoline I took from my mom’s kitchen):

Jap Chae

I’m trying to clear out our food stock and we had the perfect storm of ingredients at home yesterday for a final batch of jap chae: onions, carrots, spinach, shitake mushrooms, and glass noodles. We had some daeji bulgogi in the freezer (leftovers from Korean taco night) and defrosted that for the jap chae too. The first time I made this, I had marinated bulgogi from the Korean market but you could easily throw in whatever meat you may have on hand: chicken, pork, or no meat at all would still be delicious! Read more…

Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sprouts

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Dinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sprouts

I used to always buy roast chickens from the supermarket for $7.99 thinking it was a steal…and then I went over to my friend Tom’s for dinner and learned how cheap and easy it is to make a roast chicken! Now it is one of our go to meals. If you buy a large enough chicken, there are good leftovers for a few more meals–in salads, as a sandwich, over grits–and then the carcass goes into the freezer to make stock or soup some other time. I got this one from H-Mart in Niles, IL for <$4 and threw it in the freezer a few weeks ago. It ended up taking about 48 hours to fully defrost.

Once it defrosts, I make sure to pat the chicken dry and then brush it with some melted butter. Then, I liberally sprinkle spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, basil…whatever you want) on both sides and squeeze some lemon or lime over the top. I stuff the chicken with the used lemon/lime pieces and throw it in the oven for 90 minutes at 350F. If you look around online, everyone has a different method. I have found this works well for me and always, without fail, results in a juicy chicken with crisp skin.

Dinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sprouts

I served the chicken with potatoes and brussels sprouts. I don’t eat potatoes very often, but we had a few leftover from when we made gnocchi. They were starting to grow eyes so it was either eat them now or toss them. I just diced them up, tossed them with a little olive oil and spices, and threw them in the oven with the chicken for about 45 minutes.

Dinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sprouts

And finally, the brussels sprouts. I didn’t grow up eating brussels sprouts but I did read a lot of books where the kids HATED brussels sprouts. I even asked my mom when I was nine or ten why she never made me eat brussels sprouts. She said she didn’t really like them so she never bought them for us.

It wasn’t until I was 24 and living with my cousin that I tried brussels sprouts for the first time. I came home from the gym and thought someone farted…turns out she was roasting brussels sprouts. Fast forward 5 years and brussels sprouts are now a favorite in my family. If I see sprouts on a menu, you can guarantee I will order it. They show up at every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter…always sliced and sauteed with bacon. So easy and so tasty!

Dinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sproutsDinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sproutsDinner: Roast chicken, potatoes & brussels sprouts

Thai Pizza

January 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Phuket1/2 Tom Yum & 1/2 Green Curry Shrimp pizza at a beach bar in Phuket, Thailand

I spent a little over two weeks in Thailand in December and experienced a unique Thai-inspired pizza in Phuket that had me looking on every subsequent pizza menu for something similar. Almost everywhere I have traveled (according to my Facebook map, I have been to 27 countries), you can find pizza. Each country’s version is always slightly different…in Brazil and Taiwan, corn seems to be a very popular pizza topping. In Croatia, all you can really find is pizza and pasta…but almost every pizza I tried was amazing!

Anyway, after a day of sipping coconuts on the beach, my friends and I stopped at a beach bar that advertised 2 for 1 drinks. We didn’t have any intentions of eating, but when we saw the two Thai-flavored pizzas on the menu AND the brick oven, we asked the waitress if we could try both the Tom Yum and the Green Curry Shrimp pizzas. Amazing flavor combinations! I’ve had CPK’s version of Thai pizza before and have always liked it, but theirs is a peanut-based sauce–it never occurred to me to put curry on pizza. Since we make a lot of pizzas at home, I knew I’d have to try this myself.

We bought a pizza stone last year after tasting the miracle of home-baked pizza at my friend Tom’s. Since then, we’ve baked up all sorts of pizzas at home:

First pizza on the pizza stoneMushroom, chicken & pesto

Heart-shaped pizza #2Eggplant, olive & provolone

Dinner: PizzaOxtail, cauliflower & cilantro w/sweet BBQ sauce

BBQ Chicken PizzaRoast chicken, tomatoes, basil & BBQ sauce

The first time we tried making pizza, we made our own dough and I fried the motor of our $10 hand blender. We still don’t have a KitchenAid mixer or a large enough food processor, so we’ve since shied away from making our own doughs in favor of the 99-cent bags of wheat dough from Trader Joe’s. Yes, I know making your own dough is easy…but buying it is even easier! One small bag usually makes 4-5 pizzas for us.

A few weeks ago, we had leftovers from Sticky Rice, which I learned today is a favorite of the Thai students in my class (there are a lot of them)! We had purposely ordered two curries (red duck and green shrimp) to ensure that we’d have enough leftover to make Thai pizzas the following day. It was super easy…just rolled out the dough, spread the coconut curry on as the base, sprinkled cheese on top, and then threw on the meat & veggies from the respective curries (supplemented with sauteed mushrooms). We will definitely be making this pizza again! I also make my own red curry from time-to-time and this will be a great use of leftovers.

First, the green curry shrimp pizza:

Green Shrimp Curry Pizza

Green Shrimp Curry PizzaThe pizza got a little mangled before going in the oven…

Green Shrimp Curry Pizza

And then the red duck curry pizza:

Red Duck Curry PizzaWe also added some dollops of mascarpone cheese…

Red Duck Curry Pizza

<a href=”; title=”BBQ Chicken Pizza by venguyen, on Flickr”><img src=”; width=”240″ height=”160″ alt=”BBQ Chicken Pizza” /></a>
Categories: Cooking at home, food, pizza Tags: , ,


January 12, 2010 Leave a comment


I’ve been craving snickerdoodles on and off since last Easter. A summer in Manhattan and a busy Fall quarter at school distracted me and I forgot. A few weeks ago, Joel’s uncle hosted a potluck and someone brought the most delicious homemade snickerdoodles. I ate four that night…four more cookies than I’ve eaten in a while. Ask anyone and they will tell you I don’ t have much of a sweet tooth, but once in a while I do get an itch. The craving showed up again while watching those terribly one-sided playoff games on Saturday…and by Sunday, I was trolling the internet for suitable recipes (it is too cold in Chicago to go outside here and buy one).

For some reason, I always thought snickerdoodles required shortening, which I find kind of gross. However, most recipes don’t require shortening…just cream of tartar, which I don’t have on hand…and again, it is too cold to leave the house. I’m from California, and 14 is just unbearable. I’m going to take a hint from bears and just hibernate for the next few months. Turns out, you can do without the cream of tartar…so I had everything I needed on hand for some snickerdoodles. SCORE!

SnickerdoodlesI forgot to add a 1/2 cup of butter initially and didn’t add it until after the flour was already in…not ideal but the cookies still turned out.



SNICKERDOODLES (adapted from All Recipes)

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (which I omitted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine 1 1/4 cups white sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
  3. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Blend well.
  4. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
  5. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Roll dough in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake 8.5 or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.


When I initially took the cookies out at 8.5 minutes, they were still kind of gooey inside…don’t worry! A few minutes later, they’d finished cooking while cooling. We only baked half the batch. The rest were balled and then thrown into the freezer for another time.