Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 30, 2013

Nick was feeling a little under the weather so I made him another soup.  We've been having so much soup noodles lately that it's coming out of our ears!  I used the left over broccoli and shredded up left over chicken to put into the noodle soup with wontons.  We had so much stuff left over from Downton weekend that I didn't have to do much actual cooking.  Even the wontons were already cooked.  I added chicken gravy that Nick made to the broth to give it extra flavor.  I think the only thing that I really had to cook was the noodles.

Tonight's Dinner: December 29, 2013

Day two of Downton day was a much bigger success than day one in terms of viewing.  We got through seven full episodes!  For dinner I had prepared chicken marinated in pureed garlic, onion, vegetable stock and soy sauce.  I used my Vitamix to blend up the marinade.  It was super flavorful and easy.  One of the girls brought over a homemade mac and cheese for us to eat also.  I actually planned the chicken flavors around the mac and cheese.  Oh man, it was good mac and cheese. Nick also helped me stir fry some broccoli to go with out dinner.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the chicken and broccoli, but I did remember to take some of the mac. It was a quick and easy dinner that I was able to throw together and still get all my Downton in.

Look at that delicious ooey-gooeyness!

Tonight's Dinner: December 28, 2013

After lunch, we commenced our Downton Abbey weekend with a couple of girl friends.  (Nick took a nice long nap in the back room.)  We had planned to watch the new season of Downton.  At first we didn't have much success in getting through episodes because we talked to much, but by day two we were down to business.  For dinner I made a quick wonton noodle soup with broccoli and bok choy.

Today's Lunch: December 28, 2013

Nick and I got up early to head out to the City to take his grandma to dim sum.  We went to Koi Palace, which has a very good reputation for dim sum, but holy moly, we waited for 79 minutes and I'm pretty sure we didn't take that long to eat our meal. Whatever the case, we never see Nick's San Francisco grandma so it was worth the wait.  We got a lot of the normal stuff, but a few new things too.  I tried to take pictures of the things that we normally don't order.  I know that these pictures can all start looking the same.

This little dumpling was full of bay scallops and shrimp.  I think these are
steamed like most dumplings, but then they crisped up the bottom of the
dumpling to make it crunchy.  It was pretty tasty. 

We've gotten these before because Nick likes them, but I
don't think that I've ever taken a picture.  It is a little ball
of fried taro root stuffed with some sort of meat.  Taro isn't
my favorite, but these were pretty flavorful and the external
shell was crispy and flaky. 

Tofu skin wrapped dumpling.  

I'm not sure what to call this in English, but it is a thin noodle
wrapped around fried fish.  The standard wraps are pretty thin
and filled with beef or shrimp. 

Boiled goose intestines.  You dip them in the spicy brown
sauce in the back of the picture.  I eat this stuff, but it's not
really my favorite. It has a crunchy and chewy at the same
time and doesn't really hold much flavor on its own.  I just
have a hard time getting past the idea that it's an intestine. 

Crispy noodles with giant clam.

Fried soft tofu.

While we were waiting for our table there was a man who
was making Dragon's Beard candy.  I had never heard of
this before, but they look like little silk worms so I didn't want
to eat them.  The man who makes them starts out with a
semi-hard block of  brown sugar.  He pulled the sugar similarly to how
you would make noodles.  After many, many pulls, the sugar
becomes very fine and stringy. To keep the strands from sticking
together, he pulled the sugar in something that looked like powdered
sugar, which is what gives it the white color.  Inside the roll
are chopped peanuts.

Tonight's Dinner: December 27, 2013

I had gotten some shoes that I really wanted to wear, but haven't had a chance to wear them.  Nick and I decided to go out to an early date night dinner.  We're getting old.  We were literally home by 8pm and I was in bed by 9:30pm on a Friday night.  I was actually feeling pretty lazy and not wanting to go out by the time we got off work, but I didn't know when I would have a chance to wear the shoes if I got lazy every chance that I could wear them. I suggested just going to a wine bar for a glass of wine, but in true form, Nick wanted to have dinner too.  We ended up walking into Vanessa's Bistro 2 with the hopes that we could get a table.  It gets pretty busy there on Friday nights, but since we were really early we didn't have a problem.

My stomach has shrunk significantly since I had my cold/flu.  I wasn't very hungry, but being that we were in a restaurant, I thought it would be strange for me to sit there watching Nick eat while I drank wine.  I got a bowl of seafood Thai curry. It was very well done.  The scallops and shrimp were perfectly cooked and sweet while the curry sauce had a little kick without being too spicy. They put thinly cut potatoes on the top that tasted like baked fries.  They added a pretty interesting texture to the dish.

Nick got a Vietnamese crab sandwich and garlic fries.
Vietnamese coffee and Oreo cheese cake.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!  As always, we had Christmas dinner at my parents house and there was a ton of food.  The whole Fong family joined us, which we are quite thankful for.  I didn't want to spend my first Christmas as a married couple away from Nick.  We had our standard Christmas fare of Cioppino and prime rib.  We also had a Chinese spicy clam dish, gai lan, brussel sprouts, shrimp platter, sauteed mushrooms, green salad, and rice.  So much food!  I wasn't able to eat that much though because my stomach shrank while I was sick.  This is probably a good thing.

This bad boy was packed to the brim (clearly) with mussels, clams, scallops,
fish, and shrimp. There was definitely more seafood than broth, but no one
was complaining. 

Garlic and rosemary crusted prime rib.

Tonight's Dinner: December 24, 2013

I was a little bummed, to say the least, that Nick and I couldn't go to my Dad's side of the family's Christmas Eve dinner.  I have never missed Christmas Eve before.  I had been so sick the last few days that I didn't want to risk getting my Grandma or any young cousins sick.  I didn't even want my Mom over to take care of me in case she caught it too. Luckily, Nick has a strong immune system and is a great caregiver. I'm now on the mend, though I still don't have a voice and am hacking away like a smoker. Any weight that I put back on after the wedding I lost in the last four days.

Nick and I decided to have an early dinner with his parents and then head home to finish some last minute stocking stuffer wrapping. It was a quiet night for the both of us.

I had picked up a ravioli lasagna at Costco to bring over to the Fongs and Nick
made some cheesy garlic bread. 

Listening to Christmas music on the Yule Log channel.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 18, 2013

Tonight marks the night of my holiday downfall.  I had been feeling a little under the weather, but tonight was when it really hit.  Apparently, there has been something nasty going around and I caught it.  It's been bad.  Really bad.  Usually, if I get sick I'm out for a day of sickness and a day of recovery. Not this time.  It's day five and I'm just now beginning to recover.  I'm missing Christmas Eve!  I've never missed a Christmas Eve even when I was living on the East Coast!  I'm pretty bummed about it, but we have new babies and my Grandma to look out for.  Nick and I will have a quite Christmas Eve with just the two of us.

Any weight that I had gained back after the wedding from not sticking with Crossfiting is gone.  I was laid up in bed for a good 96 hours in bed or on the sofa.  Needless to say, there hasn't been much cooking around our house.  No cooking, lots of coughing.  My abs and figure look amazing.  Nick was very patient with me not wanting to eat what he put in front of me.

Since I had prepared this chicken at the beginning of the week, Nick made himself half a chicken and roasted cauliflower for dinner while I ate ramen and went to bed.

I had so much sage and garlic left over from Thanksgiving
that needed to be used.  I made good use of our new food
processor by making an easy paste. 

After a few days of marinating, the chicken was smelling
really good.  There was so much sage and garlic in here
that if you wanted to do this, you could probably just let
it rest for a few hours or so before cooking. 

Nick got very excited about using a cast iron press that a couple of friends
gave me for my bridal shower.  

...a little too excited.  He said that the chicken was nice and crispy and flavorful. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tonight's dinner: December 17, 2013

I have never been successful at making jook (congee).  I never put in enough liquid and then when I try to keep adding water the pot turns out to small.  After asking my mom and consulting the all-powerful internet, I finally got it right. It all boils down to (heh, get it? boils down to...) a 10:1 liquid to rice ratio.   I added two turkey thighs to the boiling pot of rice, water, chicken stock, garlick and green onions.  I also added plenty of white pepper and a little bit of ground ginger. After two hours of letting it boil, we finally had our porridge.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 16, 2013

Emmy and I have started our journey of marathon training.  We started off small with a 3.5 mile run around our area.  I will somehow have to figure out how to work Crossfit into my training schedule.  It all takes so much time and motivation.  Short runs like tonight's actually allow me to get home to make dinner.  I had premarinated some spear ribs in Chinese black bean sauce over night to make a family favorite.  This pork dish takes a while to make as you want to let the meat braise in the liquid for a while. It is worth the wait. 

Braised black bean sauce pork spear ribs with green bell pepper and onion.

Braised Black Bean Spear Ribs 
2 lbs pork spear ribs
4 tbsp black bean sauce garlic sauce2 c vegetable or chicken stock
1 c water
3 bell pepper, cubed
1 onion, cubed
2 tbsp corn starch
White rice 
Marinate spear ribs in black bean sauce for at least an hour.  In pot over medium-high heat, sear off the ribs until browned.  Add stock and water.  Bring to a boil.  Leaving the lid cracked, lower to a simmer and cook for one hour. Add onions and bell pepper.  Cook for another 20 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix corn starch with 1/4c of the cooking liquid until incorporated.  Mix cornstarch mixture into ribs.  Bring to boil until thickened up.  Serve over white rice.  
Note: You could make a rue if you don't like cornstarch, but most Chinese recipes that I've come across use this method for thickening up sauce. 

Tonight's Dinner: December 15, 2013

On Sundays we like to cook if we are home. It just wraps up the weekend and usually gives us some leftovers for lunches.  For some reason I always think, I'm just going to make an easy spaghetti with a jar of sauce.  It never ends up easy.  I always add so much stuff that you can't tell that it was from a jar.  Good and bad at the same time.  Nick is now spoiled so that if I actually don't spruce it up he doesn't like it. Tonight I used an arrabbiata sauce from Sprouts and added mushrooms, garlic, shallots, and chopped heirloom tomatoes.  I also made meatballs with the stems of the mushrooms, garlic, and shallot.

I like to bake my meatballs first and then add them to the

When I was living in NY there was this little Italian place that I would go.
They had an amazing arrabbiata dish with a hard boiled egg. 

Nick made a perfectly soft boiled egg.  

Today's Brunch: December 15, 2013

It is always a busy, busy time for us during the holidays.  I feel like since the honeymoon I haven't seen Nick on the weekends at all. I'm not one for going to the movies, but Nick enjoys them so I proposed that we go check out the new Hobbit with Real D and D-Box seats.  It was like a mild version of Star Tours in the movies!  I was pretty impressed that the seats didn't just rumble but also leaned us from side-to-side and backwards. If I have to see the third part of the Hobbit, I want it to be in those seats.  I'm pretty sure it's the only thing that kept me interested.  ...And the fact that Orlando Bloom as a fluffy elf still makes my heart flutter like I'm a teenage girl.

Before the movie, we headed out to Giant Chef Burger, a place we frequent, for some brunch.  They have a huge menu and everything there is wonderful, but we always get the same thing.  Once I discovered a breakfast burrito with a side of country gravy I have never gone back.

Nick's veggie omelet. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Today's Lunch: December 14. 2013

Today was a glorious lunch day.  After taking Emmy for her physical at the vet and dropping by a friend's house, I finally had time to try out Patty's Original Cheese Zombies.  I had first laid eyes on this restaurant a few months ago when it still had brown paper on the windows.  I was staring so hard at the sign that I almost ran over a small island in the parking lot.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

I'm surprised that there isn't a Wikipedia article on Cheese Zombies, but I will do my best to describe these delicious balls of happiness.  A classic Cheese Zombie is a small bun about the size of a hamburger that is filled with American cheese.  It is baked so that the buttery bread is soft and the cheese becomes a gooey hunk of cheesiness.  It is similar to a grilled cheese sandwich, but completely different at the same time.  I have no idea why it's called a zombie, but I don't care.  Cheese and bread is always good to me.  You can call it whatever you want.

Growing up in our area, all of the middle and high schools sold these during brunch and lunch breaks for a dollar.  When my brother was in school and I would come home from college I would ask him to bring me home a zombie.  He never did because he said it would get squashed in his backpack.  I offered to wait outside of the school for him to get me one, but then it might look like a shady drug transaction.  These things are kind of like food-crack.  Needless to say, I never got my zombie.  You can only imagine how happy I was to see that this store was opening.  Not only do they have the wonderous original cheese, they have a multitude of new zombie ideas.  I was so excited about them that I bought five different kinds.  From the menu that someone posted on their Yelp site, it looks like they change their ingredients depending on what they have.  I love it.

I posted this picture on my Instagram page, which spurred a couple of friends
to check out the restaurant on their way to the shooting range.  I am seriously
going to be spreading the word about this place. It brings back great memories
and amped up an old classic.  I got a classic, ham-jalapeno-cheese, pizza, hot link,
 and a sausage and cheese.

The classic. 

Sausage and cheese zombie.

The pizza cheese zombie.

Inside the pizza zombie.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 12, 2013

Tonight we headed over to the Fongs place for a laundry and dinner night.  Nick had a ton of laundry to do so we told his parents that we would make them a nice meal while we were there.  I'm still beefed out and they love seafood so we just a did a salmon with some scallops.  I don't know if I could ever be tired of scallops.  They are up there next to oysters for me.  What's great is that Nick can't really eat them because they make his gout flare up so they are all mine.  I usually will make him fish and myself scallops.  We used garlic in pretty much everything we made.  I even planned ahead and infused some EVOO with garlic for the cooking.

My father-in-law really likes kale.  Can you believe that
this is an entire Costco-sized bag?!  It reduces down to
so little it's amazing. 

Nick's sister was unable to join us so we packed her a to-go box to pick up. 

Kale, quinoa, sauteed mushrooms, garlic salmon and pan seared scallops.

This is a little plate of heaven. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tonight's Dinner: December 11, 2013

Since our honeymoon, I've been on a soup noodle kick.  Ramen, udon, shrimp noodles, bow ties, you name it.  If it's a pasta that can go in soup, we've been having it. Those days that I don't post?  We're probably having soup noodles that don't look like much. I literally bought 36 packets of Sapporo Ichiban brand ramen noodles this weekend because they are so much better than the mushy Nissin stuff.  My college roommate turned me on to Ichiban years ago.  For a while I resisted the idea that anything could be better than the classic Top Ramen, but there is.  There really is.  Back then I didn't know that such things existed. Oh how my eyes are open now. Having fresh ramen and udon makes me never want to eat a freeze dried packet of noodles again, but I don't have a personal noodle chef to make me fresh noodles daily so I will settle with Ichiban.  I am a noodle snob.  Anyway, we now have enough ramen to get us through the winter.

Tonight we were having shrimp and pork wonton noodle soup.  I usually make the wontons myself, but I purchased these from Ranch 99 to test them out.  I got 24 for $5.00, which is a pretty good price, but if I pre-make the wontons myself and freeze them it will be much more cost effective.  It's just finding the time and motivation to dedicate to making the wontons that is the problem. These ones are quite tasty so I might just continue to buy them.

Nick loves this stinky fermented bamboo with his noodles.  I think they smell
like feet.  I wouldn't recommend it, but he really enjoys it and I love him so I
buy it. 

Tonight's Dinner: December 10, 2013

Finally!  We are done with beef.  Nick made an off-the-cuff version of beef stroganoff.  I say off the cuff because Nick rarely ever uses a recipe.  I'm pretty bad at following recipes to the T since I like to add things to them, but at least I use them as a reference.  Nick just does things and if they turn out well we're both happy.  His food comes out really tasty 99.9% of the time, but not always the prettiest.  The dish that comes to mind was his catfood dish.  It tasted fine (the forkful that I tried), but I couldn't get past how gross it looked. Thankfully, tonight's stroganoff turned out really well.

Note: Nick stands behind his catfood dish and says that it tasted really good.