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Italian Wedding Soup


20140206-211849.jpg On

Feb 6

We are having a bit of a cold spell lately. I said a “bit” because compare to the rest of Canada we are actually having spring like weather.    Really, I should not even mention the word “cold”, for a person who used to live in the Prairies, this is balmy weather for winter.

days like this, I crave for something hot and soupy, and most of all fast to make.  Normally I would just make a bowl of instant noodle soup and throw in some veggies and fish balls to complete a meal, but tonight I need to get into something new.  I found this recipe on, and it looks easy, only ten minutes to cook.  The only time consuming step is making the meatballs.  It worked up in a jiffy though, and in less than half an hour of preparation and cooking, I have a bowl of warm piping soup to warm my tummy.

I put in the spinach towards the end, just briefly to wilt it.  I cannot stand overcooked slimy spinach, I guess it is a result of the years of cafeteria food.  Next time, I would put in a squeeze or two of lemon juice.   It was a good thing I had some frozen homemade chicken broth , it sure taste better than the canned stuff.  Need to make some more chicken broth for occasions like this.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped escarole or 2 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
grated parmesan cheese
In medium bowl combine, meat, egg,bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil& onion powder; shape into 3/4″ balls.

In large sauce pan, heat broth to boiling; stir in spinach, orzo, carrot& meatballs.

Return to boil;reduce heat to medium.

Cook at slow boil for 10 minutes or until orzo is tender.

Stir frequently to avoid sticking.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

By the way, I thought this soup is so-called as it is something served in wedding banquets, but apparent it is  “Minestra Maritata”, or translated as  married soup, which means the marriage of flavors between the greens and the meats.


Slow Roasted Tomatoes


I have roasted different types of root vegetables but never tried to roast tomatoes.  I saw a couple of posts about this and  last night I finally gave it a try.  Apparently cherry and grape tomatoes are the best kinds for roasting, but I was too lazy to wash and cut these little guys so I had opted for the Roma tomatoes. 


The preparation is quite simple, you wash and cut the tomatoes in half and slice as many garlic slivers as tomato halves, then insert the garlic inside.  Put the cut tomatoes face up on a lined baking sheet and drizzle Pomegranate molasses into the cut tomatoes.  Then drizzle a little olive oil and a little bit of salt on each of them. Slowly roast the tomatoes in an oven preheated at 300 F for about two hours.  They are done when they are dry and curling at the edge and yet still moist in the middle.   Check after 90 minutes as the cooking time will depend on the type of tomato used.


There are so many different ways to serve the roasted tomatoes.  I chopped mine up and mix it in pasta with cream sauce. If you use cherry or grape tomatoes they will make a good appetizer on sliced crusty french bread, with a dab of goat cheese and fresh basil.  They taste good in salad as well. The possibilities are endless.

I did not have exact measurements for the ingredients, basically it was a couple of teaspoons here and there.  I really love the texture of the tomatoes, it certainly made this ordinary vegetable quite special. 

Have fun with yours !

The next thing I want to try to roast is orange !

Blackeyed peas and Kale bowl


Jan 14, 2013

I am determined to eat healthy ( still) and after all the gluttony done over the holidays, this determination is stronger. But I cannot shake the idea that eating healthy is not quite the same as eating. But it is recipes like this that really made me think differently.

This recipe does not call for any oil, so if you are one of those die heart dieter or someone who has to go on a cleansing diet of sort, this is the one to go. I tweaked it a little by using oil to fry up the onions and garlic, to me that’s the only way to bring the flavor out. For some unkown reason, all the groceries did not have bean sprout last night, so I ended up using cucumber salad as recommended in the blog.

After I was done with the dish and tasted it, my comment was “this dish is so healthy, it makes me want to cry.”

I have to say, this was a very good first step to a healthier way of eating.

Here is the recipe from the “Fat Free Vegan” blog:

Korean-Inspired Black-eyed Peas and Kale Bowl

Similar to bibimbap, this dish is a collection of separately-prepared ingredients served over rice. While it’s delicious with just the black-eyed peas and kale, I suggest adding a third component, such as the bean sprouts salad, shown, or Korean-Style Cucumber Salad.


Black-eyed Peas
  • 1.5 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger root or ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 1/4 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch (12-16 ounces) kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • brown rice, to serve


  1. Pre-Cook the Blackeyed Peas: Combine the black-eyed peas, 5 cups water, 1 tbsp. ginger, 1 tbsp. garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a pressure cooker or large pot. For pressure cooking, seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes; then allow the pressure to come down naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure. For regular cooking, use 6 cups of water. Cover and simmer until peas are tender (60-90 minutes), adding more water if necessary.
  2. Drain the cooked peas, reserving 1 cup of liquid. Heat 2 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized non-stick saucepan. Add the 2 teaspoons chopped ginger root and 2 cloves of garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the drained peas, 1/3 cup of their cooking liquid, 1 tbsp. soy sauce (or tamari), and red pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, as you prepare the kale. Add additional cooking liquid if the peas get too dry.
  3. Kale: Heat a deep, non-stick skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until it begins to brown, adding a little water as necessary to prevent sticking. Add the red bell pepper and garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the kale and 1/4 cup water and quickly cover. Steam until the kale is tender but still bright green, 3-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce (tamari).
  4. Place a serving of rice into each bowl. Arrange the black-eyed peas on one side of the rice and kale on the other. Serve with hot sauce, such as Sriracha or the Gochuchang sauce in the notes below.


I served this with a simple hot sauce based on Korean red pepper paste (gochuchang). Mix 1 1/2 tbsp. gochuchang, 1 1/2 tbsp. hot water, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil in a small bowl. This makes a lightly spicy sauce that most people will not find too hot.

Easy Hint: You can use 2 cans of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained, instead of cooking dried peas. Simply begin with step 2, use water instead of cooking liquid, and increase the amounts of ginger and garlic, as desired.

Gluten-Free and Soy-Free? Make this using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Nutrition (per serving, without rice or sauce): 186 calories, 8 calories from fat, 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 432.9mg sodium, 793.2mg potassium, 34.4g carbohydrates, 6.2g fiber, 4.1g sugar, 12.5g protein.



beef curry with pumpkin


October 30, 2012

I have half of a pumpkin sitting in the fridge for a few days, and tonight seems to be a good night to use it up ( or parts of it anyways).  When I  came across this recipe  I knew right away it will be the perfect one.

This dish is easy to make with very little chopping or cutting. The pumpkin adds a sweetness to the hot spicy red curry, which usually is a little too hot for me.  The only thing I will change is to add the pumpkin  the same time as the beef as the meat is  a bit over cooked and  too chewy.

Beef Curry with Pumpkin Recipe

Adapted from Thai Cooking Made Easy

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 8 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes


1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pack (1.76 ounce/50g) red curry paste (see picture below)
4 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups (350ml) coconut milk
1 pound beef, sliced thinly
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 cups cubed pumpkin or Kabocha pumpkin


In a small bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, red curry paste and 4 tablespoons coconut milk. Stir-fry the red curry paste mixture in a wok over medium heat until fragrant.

Add the beef and give a quick toss. Let it cook for about 1 minute and then add in the 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, paprika powder and kaffir leaves. Stir to mix.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the pumpkin and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Serve with rice.


Grilled Mini Chicken Sticks With Sweet and Spicy Shrimp Glaze


Rarely do I come across recipes which ask for shrimp paste. I recall having shrimp paste at one of my friend’s dinner table as a condiment. I soon realize it is not something you can get off the shelf here easily, after looking of the “paste” at a couple of my regular Asian markets, I finally resorted to using shrimp sauce which is a very common seasoning in Chinese cooking.

I soon discover why the paste ( solid) is used, when I marinated the chicken as per the recipe, the smell of the sauce really turned me off. Mind you, I never quite like the smell of shrimp sauce, and I never used it in my own cooking. After I marinated the chicken, I was unsure whether I would like it at all. The shrimp paste definitely does not smell as strong.

I found this recipe from a magazine, and apparently “chicken sticks” are trending these days in Chinese cooking, basically it is cutting the mid section of chicken wings in half so they look like sticks, they cook faster and will carry the marinate better.

Here is the recipe:


  • 10 Mid section of chicken wings
  • 6 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp of shrimp paste
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Ok sauce
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • dash of salt and pepper


  • Wash and pat dry chicken wings
  • split the wings lengthwise from the middle part with knife
  • In a big bowl, mash shrimp paste ( solid) with fork, mix in 2 tsp of lemon zest, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, garlic and rest of seasoning
  • add in chicken wings and mix well, marinate for at least 30 mins
  • preheat oven to 390
  • line baking pan with foil, and slightly greased
  • place drained chicken wings on tray in one single layer and bake for 12 -15 mins until golden.
  • serve immediatelyNote: Ok sauce is popular in Asia, I have trouble finding it here, so I substituted with steak sauce instead. This is a good appetizer, excellent finger food.


kale and black beans burritos


I never had imagined kale and black beans together and I was not even sure if I like the taste.   I was in the mood to be challenged last night as I had one of those moments when I really did not know what to cook for dinner. The rain and chilliness on a June day really did not inspire me at all.

When I saw this recipe earlier this week, I thought it was a good time to cook kale as I saw plenty of this vegetable around last weekend.  Wouldn’t you know as it always happen, the moment when I want something  I usually cannot find it.  They sold out once again at the store I normally go to, but I cannot imagine substituting it with anything else. Fortunately  I did manage to find it in some obscure corner in another grocery store. But the selection was not as good.

It is one of those things in life that I have been learning–that you never know if you like something unless you try it.  And I am glad that I tried this out.  I was quite surprised that the flavor really go well together.  The crunchiness of kale and the soft rich taste of avocado mixed together with the garlicy black beans.   I was quite surprised how full I felt just after one burrito. 

So here is the recipe from Cookie and Kate, I had one minor change : that was I used one cup of black beans, washed and drained, and sauted in 4 cloves of chopped garlic and seasoned lightly with salt.  Make sure you adjust it to your own taste, some black beans are very bland.

Simple Kale and Black Beans Burritos 
Recipe type: Main
Author: Cookie and Kate
Prep time: 7 mins
Cook time: 3 mins
Total time: 10 mins
  • big squeeze fresh lime juice
  • splash of olive oil
  • pinch of cumin powder
  • dash chili powder
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon seeded and finely chopped fresh jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium leaves of kale, washed and dried, stems removed and roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small (8 inch) whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/2 small avocado, pitted and sliced into strips lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to serve on the side (optional, not shown)
  1. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, sea salt, jalapeño, cilantro and kale. Toss to mix well and set the bowl aside to marinate.
  2. Warm the beans and minced garlic with a couple of tablespoons of water. You can do this in your smallest sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat (sauté the garlic in a drizzle of olive oil before adding the beans) or in a bowl in the microwave. Add little splashes of water as necessary. Use a fork to mash up the beans a little and add salt to taste, if necessary.
  3. Warm the tortilla in a skillet or in the microwave for a few seconds. Top the tortilla with the black bean mixture, sliced avocado, marinated kale (you may end up with more kale than will fit in your burrito, reserve the extra and serve it on the side). Top with red onion and feta. Roll up the burrito by first folding the tortilla over from the bottom to partially cover the beans and greens, then fold in the 2 sides; finish rolling and put the burrito seam side down on a plate. Slice in half, if desired, and serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt on the side if you’d like.



I never heard of kale chips until Emily told me about it.  I was quite excited about learning something “new”, only to find out from my in-house-foodie that kale chips have been around for a while (???) It just goes to show how out dated I am.

Apparently kale chips are all over the blogosphere these days, and in order to catch up with the times I decided the other night to give it a try.  A new recipe is all I need to brighten up my already very dreary and weary week. 

Kale is on sale this week at our local grocery, I guess it must be very popular because by the time I got there, they were all out.  The nice man from the produce department went to the back to see if they have some stashed in storage or if they are going to get some more.  The answer unfortunately was negative.  I told him that I really wanted to try making kale chips, and I would only need about two bunches of it, and since I noticed that there were a handful scattered around in the bin, I wonder if he would give them to me at a discount price.  The lesson I learned then is never to be afraid to ask, because he just said, ” I will give them to you free !”  I think that alone made my day!

It turned out the bag full  of loose kale leaves I got  were more than I needed.  There were some wilted ones, but I managed to get 8 full cups of healthy kale leaves.  I can totally see why some people are addicted to these kale chips, they do taste really good even though I had overcooked them.  ( I tried to make them crispy) Even my food critic said so. 

I am keeping this recipe even though I need to find ways to make it crisper, this is a healthier snacks, and a good way to get the kids to eat their vegetables.  My next attempt is to get them a little more crispy than my first try.  Any ways, I had fun making it, even the dog liked the scraps I accidentally dropped on the floor.  ( Mind you, he will eat anything except lettuce and orange peels)

So here is the recipe I used, from the hungry artist:

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons water

8 cups of kale leaves torn into chip size pieces

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar with a whisk.  Add water and whisk until smooth.

3.  Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves.  Spread leaves in one layer on lined baking sheet.

4.  Bake for one hour.  Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

Recipe Exchange


Jemia had sent me an email invitation for this recipe exchange a while ago.  I had to double check with her to make sure it is not a scam, and by the time I went about to  sending the recipe it was a couple weeks later.

Here is basically how the email goes:

Hi everyone,
We are participating in a collective, constructive, and hopefully TASTY experiment.
As such, you have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. We hope you will participate.
We have picked those we think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now.
Don’t agonize over it, it is one you make when you are short of time.
After you’ve sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only my name and your name should show when you send your email. send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this within 5 days let us know so it will be fair to those participating.
You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only 2 names on the list and you only have to do it once.”  

The challenge for me was to come up with twenty people whom I know will be willing to participate in this.  Only less than twelve hours later I have received about three recipes.  I am quite surprised. 

I will be posting up these recipes as I receive them and I will try to make and take pictures of them for updates.  I am pretty excited, and hopefully I will get some more recipes back.

Cajun Crab Boil


As I said in the last posting, for Ariella’s birthday we opted to eat at home, and I have to say it was a better choice. I guess she really likes my cooking !! 

 For this year, the birthday girl had requested fresh prawns and unfortunately the season is over.  I went to a couple of places and could not find them so we had to settle on Dungeness crab instead.  It so happened that there was a huge sale on, and I was able to get big fresh meaty ones, and most importantly the guy at the counter was willing to kill the beasts for me.  It is definitely no fun trying to catch them while they run away from you on the kitchen counter!

When the girls were young, we loved to eat at the Crab Pot in the Seattle Public Market, it was on our itinerary whenever we went to Seattle.  We would order a big pot of boiled seafood, and ate them with our bare hands.  I loved how they just dumped the whole pot on to our tables and they would give us these horrendous looking  plastic bibs to wear.  Honestly the seafood was not that good since it was mass-produced and I often found they were very over cooked.

For this special date, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and made Cajun crab boil just like what we used to have at Crab Pot.  I found the recipe for the seasoning from cdkitchen, I had tweaked the recipe a little and boiled the seasoning in the pot for almost an hour, I wanted to make sure to get all the flavor out in the water before boiling the seafood.

The key to making a successful crab boil is in the timing.  Every single ingredient is cooked differently, I put in the potatoes first, and then the corn.  The sausages went in about the same time. The crab was the first batch of seafood to go into the pot, followed by the clams and finally the prawns.  I had to keep an eye and make sure they were not too over done.  Just before I served them , I had sprinkled some Cajun spices for presentation.  You can get bottled spices in most grocery stores.  The end result was quite satisfactory, my dinner guests loved it.  They ended up polishing three bottles of wine…woohoo.  Maybe that was the reason why the enjoyed the dinner. 

This is a fun dinner to make, and definitely it is something I will make again for dinner parties whenever I can get fresh seafood.  Yup, it is all in the freshness. 



4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole allspice
2 tablespoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
8 bay leaves
Salt and cayenne pepper (or liquid hot sauce) to taste


Combine all dry ingredients thoroughly. Place in a square of muslin or cheesecloth and tie securely with string, like a large sachet d’ipices. Add salt and cayenne or hot sauce to taste. When water for seafood is boiling, add the bag and boil for several minutes, until the boiling liquid is tinted and seasoned, then add shellfish and cook until done, depending on what you’re using.

Szechuan Style Ribs with Poatatoes and Bean Curd


Pig Pig’s Corner is one of my favorite sites for recipes, I guess it is because of the time differences, I always get her e-newsletter at night around bedtime,which is not really a good thing to read before I go to bed, sometimes I can literally hear my stomach growling from looking at the pictures.

Two nights ago I saw this recipe for Szechuan style spare ribs, and I could not stop thinking about it all day at work, especially when I was eating at my desk the left over from the night before.  So on my way home, I stopped by the supermarket and got the ingredients to make the ribs I have been dreaming of. 

I followed her recipe exactly except before I served my ribs, I put in a dash of dark vinegar just to spruce it up a little.  I remembered all the Szechuan dishes I had, most of them do have a little bit of vinegar in it, some how it brings out the flavor. 

I love how the potatoes turn out, instead of being mushy, the skin helped to retain the shape of the potatoes, I used the nugget ones, and they pretty well absorbed all the flavor of the sauce.  We could not stop eating these little guys. 

Here is the recipe taken from Pig Pig’s Corner, thank you Ann and the Wild Boar, please keep the wonderful recipes coming even though they make me very hungry at night!!

Szechuan-Style Pork Ribs with Potatoes and Bean Curd

By Pig Pig’s Corner

Prep time: 15 mins
Marinade time: 30 mins-overnight
Cook time: 1 hr


  • 550 g spare ribs – chopped into bite size pieces
  • 300 g potatoes – washed and cut into small chunks [I left the skin on.]
  • 1 block fried bean curd (fried tau kwa 炸豆干) – cut into cubes
  • 1-inch ginger – sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic – peeled and crushed
  • 2 stalks spring onion – sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 dried chili – torn into pieces
  • 1 tbs Szechuan peppercorn
  • 1 tbs Chili bean paste (dou ban jiang 辣豆瓣醬)
  • 1 cup water

For marinade:

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Knorr chicken powder
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sugar


  • Combine ribs and all ingredients for marinade in a mixing bowl. Leave to marinate for at least 30 mins.
  • Heat up a bit of oil in a pot, add ginger, garlic, white part of spring onions, star anise, dried chili and Szechuan peppercorn. Stir fry for a few mins until fragrant.
  • Mix in chili bean paste, fry until fragrant.
  • Add marinated pork ribs, stir to coat and stir-fry for a few mins.
  • Mix in potatoes and water.
  • Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer for 30 mins, covered.
  • Remove lid, add fried bean curd and leave to simmer for further 20 mins or until sauce is thickened. It should be relatively dry.
  • Season to taste and garnish with the green part of spring onions.