I used to eat a little bit of salad every once in a while, but then I met Geoff, my husband. He introduced me to the joy of eating large salads every day. And he has two salad rules he lives by: 1) A salad is more than just lettuce and dressing, and 2) Dressing does not come from a bottle. It took me a while to adapt to his rules, and I hate being bossed around in the kitchen, but I can honestly say my salads are much better now than they were before. And healthier too! Continue reading →
Oh, congee. How I love congee. Congee (or jook, a Chinese rice porridge) is one of those dishes that I never knew existed until I moved to St. Louis for college and became a regular at a “real” Chinese food restaurant. Then in New York, Geoff and I had our favorite place to order congee in Chinatown (Big Wong King) where I discovered that it’s traditional to dip sweet (ngau lei sou) and savory (youtiao) fried dough (Chinese doughnuts!) into steaming bowls of congee. Heaven. So, so, so good.
Geoff, of course, has a whole different relationship with congee. He grew up eating excellent congee, both homemade and at amazing Toronto Chinese food restaurants (Congee Queen is one of his family’s long-time favorites). And it’s the dish that his mother would make whenever he was feeling under-the-weather — a warm, comforting, gentle-on-the-tummy porridge, Chinese comfort food at it’s best.
Traditionally, Geoff is the congee cooker in our family. He has several shortcut methods: 1) A pressure cooker version that makes a mess, and 2) A frozen rice version that takes some planning ahead. But when Geoff wasn’t feeling well last weekend, it was up to me to make him a batch of congee. Continue reading →
I don’t know a lot of words in Chinese or Cantonese, the language that Geoff’s family speaks. I’m notoriously bad at foreign languages. But I do know the words daan taat (Chinese egg tart), gai mei bao (sweet coconut buns translated as “cocktail buns“) and shumai (a delectable pork and shrimp dumpling). Seeing a trend here?
Well, along with my limited vocabulary of sweets and dumplings, I also know the word gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. This leafy Chinese green with thick stocks has been one of my favorites ever since I first tasted it a few years ago. I can eat a ton of gain lan. I always look for it on Chinese food restaurant menus, and I always try to grab some at the store if I’m planning on making Chinese food at home. Stir-fried with garlic and ginger it makes a simple, healthy side dish. Feel free to try this recipe with bok choy, choy sum or other Asian greens if you’re not able to find gai lan at your grocery store. Continue reading →
I know, I know, this soup really doesn’t look like much. That’s what I think every time I make this, but it’s also why I’m always so surprised when I take my first bite. Mmm, yes, lentils are good. They make amazing soup that’s healthy, filling, budget-friendly and delicious.
I always struggle with lunches. When I worked in an office building I usually bought my lunch (I miss Chelsea Market so much!), and one of my favorite lunch stops was Hale and Hearty Soups. You can always count on a humble cup of soup to make an easy, satisfying lunch. At home I make large batches of soup so I can freeze the leftovers in single serving containers (and ice cube trays for Zoe) — a perfect lunch solution. Continue reading →
I don’t know why this vegetarian chili recipe from the January 2003 issue of Bon Appétit magazine caught my attention, but I do remember making it right away for a Super Bowl party at my aunt and uncle’s house. I was a senior at Wash U, I thought maybe I wanted to be a chef, I was totally addicted to food magazines and espresso drinks, and I had never tasted polenta. Oh, and I made this chili for a group of enthusiastic meat eaters (myself included). I think it went over surprisingly well…or at least I remember being pretty impressed.
Since then I’ve made it over and over again, partly because it’s so darn easy and also healthy, but mostly because I really, really love it. Something about the cumin with the black beans and the spice all make perfect chili magic. You can make it with or without the espresso, make it as spicy or as mild as you like, serve it with all the toppings or by itself, and it’s always delicious.
The very best thing about this chili? I found out this week that Zoe loves it. Yes, score one for “mom meals”! I set a small saucepan on a separate burner while I was mixing this up and made her batch without any chili, espresso (heavens, I can’t even imagine!), and less salt. I pureed it a bit when it was cooked, and she gobbled it all down. Continue reading →
I’ve watched enough food documentaries to be anti fast food. But in the midst of hectic travel days, with my tummy rumbling, airport fast food places always suck me in with the promise of a quick food fix. It’s sad really. So, inspired by a few recent blog posts (which I pinned for future reference), I decided to bake a batch of nutritious, homemade granola bars for traveling. Continue reading →
My Mom doesn’t really enjoy cooking, but she always makes pancakes. Maybe that’s why all the sights and smells of pancakes cooking – an electric griddle sizzling with oil as it pre-heats, scoops of delicate globby batter (don’t overmix!), the pancakes lightly frying as batter touches griddle – they all envelop me in a comforting blanket of childhood, with memories of loving, sweet mornings with family.
But even if I’d like to pretend that pancakes made with love and caring and lots of heart have to be calorie-free, I crave them way too often to turn a blind eye towards nutrition. For my little family, just G and me, I make a small batch of Whole Wheat Pancakes that really hits the spot. The whole grains give the pancakes a hearty, wholesome texture and flavor. And to cut down on sugar I serve them with yogurt and preserves (usually lingonberry preserves, if I have them), along with pure maple syrup. Continue reading →
I’m really a good baker. I mean, I’m great at measuring and following instructions, just like my grandmas always taught me. But somehow, this morning, I decided I was going to throw every healthy ingredient I owned into a batch of muffins (and eat as many as I wanted without feeling guilty). And I’m talking about flaxseed meal, oat bran, oatmeal (is that redundant?), applesauce, a ripe banana, oh yeah, and the buttermilk I’ve been trying to use up all week. I was a little out of control. And I’m usually more of a, “cook it because it’s delicious and hope it happens to be healthy-ish” type of person, but I’m happy to report that, even though these muffins were baked as healthy treats, they just happen to be delicious.