Friday, August 22, 2014

Two foodies and a tot, going on a vacation!

We are going on a much needed vacation for a week! Well..Disney vacation wasn't too long ago but let's face it. 
At least not for parents. This time, relaxing at the beach awaits us. Oh wait..there's a tot involved. I guess the R word is not 100% guaranteed..But we are going on a vacation!!!

Two foodies and a tot will be back after one week of break. See you then!

Earl grey scone


So, the story continues. To showcase the jam nicely, I baked some earl grey scones. Back when I was living in Dubai, my good friend from the UK taught me how to make proper English style scones. She did not enjoy cooking very much at that time but one thing I knew, she made some killer fruit scones. I thought I wrote the recipe down on my little secret notebook but I guess I did not. Last week, I dug all my old notes but could not find the recipe and she was busy traveling for work. Then I found a random unopened earl grey teabag in my notebook. Wow, I haven't opened that notebook for so many years. I didn't even know it was there! Okay, I am digging for a scone recipe and earl grey tea just turns up. Am I meant to switch the way?? Anyway, that is how I decided to go with the earl grey scone of all scones. Haha long story. 


Fragrant and citrusy earl grey tea is my absolute favorite. Even though I put plenty of earl grey tea leaves in the scone, it's still very subtle. If I add bergamot oil, I am sure it will give more power to the earl grey note but I like the subtle hint of earl grey in this scone. 


I wish I could find clotted cream around here. There are quite a few gourmet shops around here but I still haven't found clotted cream. It would have been just perfect. If anyone knows where I can find them, please let me know! Scones without clotted cream is just not the same. A few days ago, my friend gave me the scone recipe again and now I can make them again! One of these days when I get some clotted cream in my hands, I will be dancing in the kitchen and making my friend's fruit scone. 

Earl grey scone

Ingredients :

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick(8Tbsp) butter, frozen
2 Tea bags earl grey tea
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
* 1 Tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top(optional)

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. 
2. Grate the frozen butter with large holes on a box grater and add to dry ingredients. Rub the mixture with hand until it resembles coarse meal. 

3. In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt and the egg. Using a fork, mix it in with dry ingredients. Mix until clumpy.

4. Using hands, press the mixture against the bowl and form a dough. Place the dough on a floured surface, form a 3/4" thick disk and cut into shapes you like. (slices or cut with cookie cutter)

5. Put them on a baking pan and sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar on top of scones if desired. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve. 

*Adapted from

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peach vanilla jam


Two weekends ago, we went peach picking to a nearby farm. They have a few different varieties but that day what was ripe was white peaches. My favorite kind! We got two bags full of peaches. We love peaches so we ate a lot of them but after my family left, for three of us to finish that many peaches was nearly impossible. So..Canning came to my mind. 

I have made jams before but I had no canning experience. Previously when I made jams, I have never used pectin. Seemed like a lot of jam recipes calls for pectin either powder form or liquid. So I actually bought a pack of powdered pectin but I just didn't feel like adding anything to the jam other than fruit and the sweetener, even though they say powdered pectin is a natural product. The way I have been making jam with natural pectin that comes out from whatever fruit I made jams with seemed to work just fine. And rather than sugar, I wanted to go a little fancier and healthier way, so I chose honey as sweetener.

For some reason, canning seemed intimidating to me. But guess what, it was so easy! If you're prepared, it's really a piece of cake even for an impatient person like me. 

Here's a picture of my two little helpers hard at work. They absolutely loved picking peaches. At first my tot was more interested in counting the hay ride tickets but soon, he got the hang of it and he actually filled up his basket so quickly.

I wish I thought of making the jam before my family left. Especially because my niece hand picked the peaches too! Maybe I should send a jar to them. I baked some earl grey scones for my fellow earl grey lover friend last weekend and served some peach vanilla jam to go with them. Mmm. Making my mouth water. Earl grey scone will be posted next.

Peach vanilla jam

Printable recipe 

* Makes two 8oz jars

Ingredients :

2 1/2 lbs peaches - white or yellow
1 1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 vanilla bean

Directions :

1. Prep the peaches. Wash the peaches and put them in a large mixing bowl or a pot and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for a few minutes and wash with cold water. You will be able to peel the skin right off without a knife.  

2. Dice the peaches and put them in a large pot and mix in honey and lemon juice. You can blend or mash the mixture to your liking if you don't want it too chunky. Let it sit for 15 minutes. 

3. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from the pod. Add both seeds and pod in the peach mixture.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour(or until you get the consistency you like), stirring and mashing regularly. 

5. Place in jars and refrigerate or process for canning.

* To check the consistency - Place a plate in the freezer, take it out when needed and place a small spoonful of jam on the cold plate. Check if you like the consistency. 

* Recipe adapted from Food in jars.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Baked orange chicken


 We all know my family love Chinese food. But when I order take out Chinese, I think twice especially because of my tot. This homemade orange chicken however, doesn't require a single drop of oil! My tot is not a huge fan of chicken or any kind of big chunk of meat for that matter. He would still eat it but I always have to cut the meat into tiny little pieces so he can enjoy it better. But these bite-sized orange chicken was a huge hit even though this small pieces are about 5 times bigger than his usual bite-sized meat. Without a single drop of oil, it's so crispy. He kept asking for more "crispy". =)

Oh come to think of it, this was some fancy orange chicken. We don't usually keep orange juice in the house so I used the citrus juicer once again for the juice. Extra fresh orange chicken. =P
If you don't want the heat, just skip the crushed chili. I scooped out half of sauce before adding chili to make it not spicy for my tot and it was still very tasty. 


Baked orange chicken

*serves 2-3

Ingredients :
1 lbs chicken tenderloin, cubed
2 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp corn starch + 1 Tbsp water

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.(You can use foil but I find parchment paper works better.)Dip the chicken in the egg and coat them with breadcrumbs. Place them on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a sauce pan, add all sauce ingredients except corn starch+water mixture. Bring it to boil. Stir corn starch + water mixture before adding in and add it to the sauce and keep stirring until it starts boiling again. Simmer until thickens, 2-3 minutes more. 

3. Toss chicken in the sauce or drizzle the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle chopped spring onion. 

*Recipe adapted from Kirbie's cravings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aoyama - Wyckoff, NJ

This has been waiting for a long time to be posted. We like this restaurant a lot but because we've been here so many times, it just slipped out our minds. Plus, as Steve's schedule has been insane, restaurant reviews didn't have a chance to see the light. So..again, I am jumping in. 

This is a Japanese/French Thai place. What makes me wonder every time is though, they give you papadum as you are seated. It's already Japanese/French Thai and Indian appetizer is served? Well..don't get me wrong, I love papadum, I am not complaining. I just think it's a bit all over the place. Shrimp crackers would seem more of an appropriate choice but oh well, it tastes good.
Wonton sushi taco. OMG, I absolutely love these. Super crispy wonton wrapper with perfectly seasoned sashimi tartar. You can choose types of fish you like and the sauce. One time I went there by myself and devoured two orders of these little guys and people around me just stared while pretending they weren't. Did not care a bit and I enjoyed every bite of it. This is my go to appetizer at this place. 
Chicken wings. We do not like. A little on the dry side and tasteless. We couldn't remember whether we liked it or not and decided to try and the answer is we did not like it the first time, and the second time either. Steve's go to appetizer at a Thai place is vegetable spring rolls but this place only has shrimp spring rolls and when the owner came by, we very nicely suggested if vegetable spring rolls are added to the menu, we would come more often. And he was very stubborn trying to push his opinion on us. So Steve mentioned another French Thai restaurant right across the street, saying we sometimes choose to go there only because of the vegetable spring rolls(very important. =P), which is a shame as we love the food here. Then the owner sort of bad mouthed about the restaurant we mentioned. Not a very good way of dealing with a situation like this. 

Beef pad see ew. It's good. To my taste, second best in town. 

Sukiyaki. WAY. TOO. SWEET. It's like eating noodles with syrup. I have ordered various items on the menu, they're generally very good. Any Japanese noodle items they have on menu though, not good enough to my taste. Ramen- tasteless. Sukiyaki- eat only if you want to get a cavity. Nabeyaki Udon- bleh. Yakiudon- alright. Sushi quality is very good though. If you're going Japanese at this restaurant, just avoid noodles. Thai is generally pretty good. 

Overall, we like this restaurant a lot. It's a pretty big restaurant with lots of tables and a pretty decent size sushi bar. Atmosphere is great. Staffs are professional. One complaint other than their Japanese noodles is, vegetable spring roll is such a staple appetizer at a Thai restaurant, I wish they put it on their menu so I can come here more often. Steve sometimes insists on going somewhere else because he really likes vegetable spring rolls. Haha. 

 Xteve rating : 3.0 *****

Website : Aoyama- Wyckoff

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sparkling mint limeade


The other day, Steve stepped out to get a haircut. And...over two hours later, he was still not home. Then he came home with a fresh haircut and a full on manual citrus juicer. You know the one with the heavy handle? Uh..what?! Right? Haha. That is so Steve. Even back in the apartment in Manhattan, our little kitchen was filled with all kinds of kitchen gadgets. Apparently there was a little wait at the hair salon as he didn't make an appointment and while he's waiting he just decided to go to a store next door and ended up with a citrus juicer. I laughed and called him silly but I guess it wasn't a bad decision after all. I used this thing every single day this week. So..good job hun!

 With mint from our herb garden, I made mint simple syrup. I love mint simple syrup. It has such refreshing taste to it and gives nice summery hint to anything. I thought this drink would be too sour for kids but my tot and my niece loved it. Well my tot has been drinking my virgin mojito(Just sparkling water with lime and mint)-which became his favorite drink later on- since he was 14 months old or so. I knew he would love this but my picky niece? I was surprised. I watered theirs down though, because we didn't need two sugar high 2-year-olds running around the house as they're not used to drinking sugary drinks. Anyway, looks like I will be using the result of Steve's accidental and rather impulsive shopping pretty often. =)

Sparkling mint limeade

Ingredients :

1 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice(10-13 limes)
5-6 cups sparkling water(depending on how strong you want it)

Mint simple syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 packed cup mint

Directions :

1. In a small sauce pot, add mint simple syrup ingredients and heat until sugar's dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature and discard mint. 
2. Juice the lime and add mint simple syrup. Add sparkling water. Serve it over plenty of ice.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chocolate crumb mocha cake


It was a crumb cake kind of day. And I knew I'd get the best response to chocolatey desserts from Steve. Dilemma. He says all the nice things to whatever I make but the way he says it, I know when it's true and when it's not. Then I remembered I saved this incredible recipe. A child of chocolate cake and a crumb cake. Problem solved.

 Original recipe calls for baileys creamer but we don't keep creamer in this household. And I did not want to buy one just for this recipe because I know I won't use it. So I just changed up a couple of things. It was good. I served it with some ganache. Maybe next time, I'll try this recipe with earl grey. Although Steve will not touch it. Or maybe he'll say, "It's good babe." and take one bite and walk away. =P


Chocolate crumb mocha cake

Ingredients :

Crumb topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup Greek yogurt(plain or vanilla)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 Tbsp coffee liquor
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8" square pan with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Make crumb topping - Using a fork, mix all crumb ingredients and fluff.

3. For the cake - Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer. Mix all wet ingredients together and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. 

4. Pour the batter into the pan, sprinkle prepared crumbs on top and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake in a cooling rack for 30minutes or so. Serve.

*Recipe adapted from Avery cooks.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bacon wrapped figs


Recently, we had some guys working on something in the house and the work continued till when I had to prepare dinner. I initially had a grand plan of trying new recipes but with my tot being curious and looking for a chance to go over to the guys to be nosy and the dog barking endlessly at the guys, my head started to spin. I had to change my plan. 

Bacon! While it's cooking, dog will stay in the kitchen being all hopeful and that will quiet her down and I can keep my eyes on my tot far enough from poor guys. Seriously, this dog doesn't stop barking until the moment strangers leave the house no matter how hard I try to explain to her that them in the house is OK but her endless barking is not. Lol (But really, I am not laughing, argh!)

I usually make this for a snack or appetizer but that day, I just threw them on top of some pasta with pesto. A few drops of balsamic with these bites and pesto together was totally delicious. And barking did stop as I gave her a tiniest piece of bacon to give her hopes to stay near us until the guys were gone. 

Bacon wrapped figs

Ingredients :

1 package fresh figs(8oz, about 8 figs)
6-8 strips bacon(depending on how many figs you have)
cheese to sprinkle(optional)
fresh ground pepper

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. 

2. Cut the figs in half. Cut each bacon strips into three pieces. 

3. Wrap each cut fig with a piece of bacon. Place where two bacon ends meet as the bottom and bake for 12-15 minutes. - This way, you won't need a toothpick to secure.

4. Cool for a few minutes and sprinkle pepper and cheese if desired. Serve.