Spicy Sweet

5 Nov

My co-worker found a recipe for sweet potato fries, however, I couldn’t remember the link so I dug around and put together my own version. Most online recipes for sweet potato fries adds a little spice. I wanted to add cinnamon on top of that, so that’s what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • fresh black pepper
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • paprika
  • coarse salt/sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the sweet potatoes or peel the skins off. Slice the potatoes till you get them to the thickness you prefer. Put them in a bowl and lightly cover them with olive oil. Add some black pepper and cumin with a dash of paprika and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the sweet potato on the baking sheet in one layer. Put it in the oven on the top rack. Letting them bake for 25 minutes. When ready add  a dash of salt and serve warm.

Side note: I had tried putting the sweet potatoes in at 400 degrees for 23 minutes but the fries came out soggy, so for the second batch (since 2 sweet potatoes did not fit as one layer on the baking sheet) I upped the temp to 425 and baked for 25 minutes. The sweet potatoes were more crisp this second time around.

Mantou enjoyed a few fries but the spice (probably from the fresh ground pepper and paprika) had finally got to him so I will have to figure out a way to make a recipe that isn’t as spicy. Maybe a sweet version with cinnamon and sugar.

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Not A Spook Out of You

2 Nov

One more year not to worry too much about the aftermath of Halloween. Why? Because Mantou does not realize that those sugary treats that he’d been going door-to-door for, will not be consumed by his little mouth. Last year for Halloween, Mantou dressed up as a little tiger. We went to Stanford Shopping Mall in Palo Alto, CA and met up with my cousin and her little monkey. For the most part, Mantou stayed in his stroller and had no idea what was going on around him. All his little treats were consumed by his parents throughout the following week. 

This year Mantou dressed up as a little purple and green dinosaur. It was a hand-me-down costume from his cousin A. It fit a little snug but did it’s part.

He got to dress up for 3 different occassions. I took him to a shindig at Whole Foods Market to get a picture of him with the pumpkins in costume.  He wasn’t amused. We got a couple of treats at the cheese department but instead of grabbing the cheese snack (since he’s allergic to dairy) we got 2 dark chocolate mini bars.

The 2nd time he dressed in his dino costume was at his cousin C’s birthday party, she so happens to be born on Halloween day – what a day to share with little ghosts and gobblins! No trick-or-treating then since we were celebrating the day before Halloween.

His 3rd time dressing up in costume was on Halloween day. After picking Mantou up from day care I put on his costume, which by this time he was excited to wear, and drove him straight to the mall. The place was already bustling with kids. I didn’t think Mantou would know what to do but this guy was a pro! He went up to one of the scariest costumes, stared at the guy (like a stare down), and the guy gave him candy! So the next store we went to he did the same and that person gave him candy. When we got home, Redduck was back from work he took him across the street from our place to a small court. There were only a few houses giving treats. Mantou did what he learned at the mall and put out his little Frankenstein bag and waited for someone to put a treat in it.

At home I poured out his little stash of candy and started to separate what he I mean me and his dad can eat for him. Out with the chocolate (milk chocolate), out with nutty chocolate bars, out with the toostie rolls (dairy), out with the twizzlers (wheat), out with the silly bands (choking hazard). We did save the couple of lollipops, the banana flavored taffy, peppermint, sweet tarts, sweeties, and stickers. So why did we even go trick-or-treating? Mantou is still too young for sugary sweets anyways, but how can I deprive him of the whole childhood experience. We can’t keep Mantou in a social bubble and I want him to go out and do things like other kids. It’s a matter me being a mom and teaching him what he will have to avoid. So what if he’s only 19 months old… he’s soaking up everything like a sponge so I’m sure he’s taking some notes.

Food Allergy Blogs

29 Oct

Just found this website with a listing of Food Allergy Blogs. Exciting for me to see more blogs related to a huge topic like mine. I’m going to be checking out these blogs myself, one never knows what recipes and tips can be found. Whoohoo, very excited to check them out.  I even entered my blog up there – just in case someone else is interested in what I have to say 🙂 Go ahead and vote for me if you visit.

Scallion Pancakes

26 Oct

Wow, I can’t believe Wikipedia has an article for cong you bing. I love these green onion pancakes. While in China, my husband and I had our favorite street vendor that we’d buy about 2 kuai worth. It is a flat pancake like roti that is thin and layered with green onions folded within the layers. In the US, many Chinese restaurants serve cong you bing as a weekender snack along with other specialties like sweet warm soy bean milk with Chinese doughnuts. A couple of restaurants in our neighborhood sell them. Alas, they are made from wheat flour so I haven’t had been able to savor those fine snacks. Well guess what? I found a recipe for making these green onion pancakes online from “Diet, Dessert, and Dogs” and finally got around to trying it this weekend.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (360 ml) Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free flour

2 Tbsp (30 ml) glutenous rice flour

3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan gum

1/2 cup to 10 Tbsp (120-150 ml) warm water

2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper, optional

3 green onions, white and light green parts

Combine the all-purpose gluten-free flour, rice flour and xanthan gum into a bowl and whisk to combine well.  Add the warm water slowly and mix with your hands till it forms a soft dough. Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth; let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare the surface area to roll out dough by covering with a light layer of all-purpose flour. Roll out the dough to a disk of around 12-14 inches, dust with flour as needed to keep from sticking.  Brush lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and green onions.

Roll up the dough tightly to form a long roll. The dough will be a little dry so be careful the roll doesn’t fall apart. Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends closed.  Stand each roll up and push down on the dough to create two pancakes. By doing this you are creating the layers. Flatten out the pancakes using a rolling pin or your hand to make it to desired thickness (flatter is better).

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add about 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Place the pancake into the pan cook for 4-5 minutes or until the bottom is a crisp brown. Gently flip the pancake and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes. Do the same for the other pancake.

Cut each pancake into 4 pieces and serve immediately. Use chili sauce and or wheat-free soy sauce for dipping sauce.

By the way, the picture above is of the first pancake which was on the thicker side. For the second one, I decided to flatten out more and it was super yummy this way. Also, I thought this picture was great since in the background you see Mantou peeking to see what was on the table.

Different Noodle, Same Recipe

25 Oct

I haven’t fallen off the blogging bandwagon, just life kind of gets me preoccupied. So I’ll just share a picture of a great noodle dish I made a few weeks back. When I think about it, the recipe is pretty much the same. The difference it the type of noodles. In this one I used rice noodles (Guilin-type rice noodles).

I’ve used bean thread noodles too – except for these you need a lot of extra broth/water because those noodles take in a lot of liquid. Sometimes I’ll add a few different ingredients. This noodle dish I added mushrooms, but in others I’ve added baby corn, and other types of veggies – sometimes it’s broccoli, maybe baby choy sum, or whatever veggie I bought from the market.  But always in my noodle recipes I include some yellow onion (usually 1/2), a carrot, two stalks of celery, wheat-free tamari, white pepper and salt.

Prepare the noodles according to the package. Rinse the noodles in cold water and let drain. While the noodles are boiling or draining you can cook up the other ingredients. Over med-high heat add some vegetable oil in a wok. Let the wok heat up a little and then add the sliced onions. If you want to add any protein you can do so now. I then add the carrots and celery and saute for about 2-3 minutes. I then add mushrooms (if you’re using other veggies you can add them in too). Let the veggies cook and when tender add the noodles. Add some tamari (around 1 tablespoon), salt and white pepper then mix the veggies with the noodles. If the noodles are soaking up the liquid and the noodles seem dry you may want to add some water or broth but by doing so you may need more seasoning so adjust Tamari, salt, and pepper to your taste.

Here’s a picture of Mantou eating up these noodles.

Fishy face

19 Oct

Tonight I was home alone with Mantou while his dad, Red Duck, was off on a business trip. I wanted to make something easy, usually Mantou gets antsy and requires full attention while I prepare dinner. He rather me play than to make his dinner.  So I went downtown and picked up a couple of Tilapia fillets (about 1 lb) and some spinach at the local market. While on the way home I was deciding between pan-frying them or putting them in the oven. By the time I arrived home, I decided on baking them. This way I let the oven do all the work while I could focus on my little mantou. Thank goodness he decided to let me at least get the fish in the oven.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and then prepped the fillets. I slathered them with olive oil, squeezed some lemon, sprinkled some salt, dusted them with oregano, and ground up some pepper on top. I put them in the oven and baked for 10-15 minutes checking once to see if they were done. They were pretty flaky at 15 minutes. As those cooled I sauteed some spinach with garlic and salt.

Mantou has had fish before but I was very surprised at how much he enjoyed the tilapia. I thought the oregano would be much for him but he didn’t mind. After finishing his first bowl, he asked for more. Whoo hoo! Fish is great for the brain, right… I think I’ll teach him algebra tomorrow. haha, just kidding.

BTW, you may have noticed that Red Duck had posted an entry last week. I had asked him to start blogging too since he’s very much involved in eating allergy-free as well. I hope you don’t mind.

Instant Mix, Instant Success

17 Oct

My family celebrated a couple of birthday’s this weekend. We were invited to Mantou’s cousin’s 2nd birthday. It was our first birthday event with many toddlers. Mantou seemed to enjoy himself and play with all the toys that the birthday boy shared. There was a bbq lunch so we ate some lettuce wrapped burgers and a few hot links. We stayed long enough to sing to the birthday boy but didn’t stick around for the Toy Story themed cake, though it did look amazing. At this point in time, Mantou really doesn’t know the concept of birthdays or birthday cakes so he didn’t know the difference.

We left the birthday party early so that Mantou could take his nap. We wanted him refreshed so that he could celebrate Papa’s birthday dinner. During his nap, I went shopping to find a instant cake mix that was gluten-free. I would substitute the butter, milk, or eggs that the mix called for. I had no luck finding a gluten-free mix at Safeway so I had to go to another store. I could have sworn Safeway sold gluten-free mixes but I just did not see any. So I went to Lucky’s and found Ms. Better Crocker’s chocolate cake gluten-free mix. It wasn’t on sale like the other Better Crocker mixes on the shelf so I had to shell out $4.99 a box. I was going to make my own frosting but after reading all the frosting ingredients found one from Pillsbury that did not have wheat or dairy.

I made two boxes worth but thinking about it, should have just stuck with one box. We didn’t need 24+ cupcakes, we were only 11 people! I substituted Earth Balance spread for the butter and applesauce for the eggs. Since I had to substitute for 6 eggs, that called for a lot of applesauce which increased the volume of the batter. Next time I’m going to use EngerG Replacer. I put the cupcakes in the oven and put the timer on for the appropriate time written on the box. Because I was making two batches in the oven, the cupcakes did not bake completely so I added another 7 minutes.

I let the cupcakes cool completely and then “tested” one out. The cupcakes were heavy, the inside of the cupcake was a bit “mushy”, but in general it tasted pretty good. I covered the cupcakes with chocolate frosting, added a little raspberry on top, and sprinkled some colorful sugar confetti on top of them. It looked pretty darn yummy. I would definitely make cake from Betty Crocker again. It was a hit with everyone. Mantou even enjoyed it!

Mom and Pop, throw us a bone

14 Oct

Being new to food allergies, I can only guess what it was like a decade or two ago for folks with allergies to navigate restaurants. I would assume that it was awfully challenging. I also assume that things are better these days. We get surprised every once in a while by a restaurant, like BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, when they post allergens on their menus. I think some of the big chains are seeing the value of this, but we don’t really eat at the chains. So what are we supposed to do? Why is it so hard for Mom and Pop? Certainly some of the high-end Mom and Pop’s change their menu frequently and thus it’s probably difficult for them to post all the ingredients on the menu, but most Mom and Pop’s serve the same thing day in and day out. So what’s so hard about list common allergens on the menu? Or training servers on which dishes have ingredients on the top 8 allergens list? It doesn’t seem like much of a burden to me. There are so many people these days with allergens. Wouldn’t it make sense as a restauranteur to be a bit prepared?

Toquiche

13 Oct

Tofu quiche! Isn’t that a cool concept – no egg, no dairy, and completely vegan. But those who know me will attest that I am no vegan, I am very much a carnivore. My mom didn’t even think my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and my relationship would last because he was a vegetarian. Apparently he liked me enough to change his ways and started consuming meat. I did not request this, maybe I influenced it a little bit since I enjoy sharing meals, but he made this change on his own.

Well for this particular recipe, I did not add any animal product but may think about adding bacon or ham next time.

The recipe is called “Mini Crustless Tofu Quiche” from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. (Her picture of the final product is actually more appetizing. I never have good light). I had to go out to buy some of the ingredients like nutritional yeast but I thought the end product was very good. The quiches were light and airy so be prepared to double or triple the batch.

The blended combination of tofu, soymilk, cornstarch, and tahini created a consistency of eggs while the tumeric gives it that yellow tinge. The nutritional yeast gives the quiche its “cheesey” taste. Adding the bellpeppers, onions, garlic, and rosemary made the whole thing look more like a quiche. I wonder if this can be modified to a Quiche Lorraine? Too bad the nutritional yeast doesn’t come in different “cheesy” flavors.

Asian Cooking

12 Oct

Even though I have the Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen cookbook checked-out from the library, I had yet to make anything from it. It’s not that I didn’t find any good recipes, it’s just that I have been so LAZY. To tell you the truth, I liked the recipes in the book so much that I actually bought it too. I really do want to make the dumplings that the author, Laura B. Russell, has shared in her cookbook, but I never seem to have enough time to get it started.

I did eventually get to make the Teriyaki Sauce based on her recipe using wheat-free tamari, honey, ginger, garlic, and mirin. I baked some skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the oven and then coated them with the sauce. I thought the sauce was a little thin though. I was expecting the mix to thicken but it never did so not sure what I did wrong. I’ll have to try it again since it was pretty easy to do. Plus the amount was just right, however if there was any left over, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

I don’t want to share the recipe since I think everyone should really go check out the cookbook. Laura does a really good job at listing out what specific brands and ingredients that she uses. I know this will help because I know how it is to go through all the aisles in a grocery store (non-Asian and Asian) reading the ingredients over and over again just to make sure that there aren’t specific allergens. One thing I wish that the cookbook has was more pictures of the recipes. Since I do know most of the dishes, I guess going on my own memory could work, but a gentle reminder would definitely make it easier for me to know what I am cooking… of course just looking it up on the internet would probably work too.