Verdict: Win!

So. Satisfied. This was exactly what I needed tonight/this week! This mochi cake combines the best of the East and West: sweet crunchy outside with a soft, chewy inside. The recipe was so simple that the hardest part about everything was just waiting. 90 minutes in the oven? Wait 30 minutes to cool? Hedonistic me could not wait during the cooling time and so I cut into the cake much too soon. Sarah literally had to pull me away to prevent me from damaging my cake further. The cake is still delicious (even though I was worried that it was burnt - it wasn't), but it could be a lot prettier. Next time I will definitely let my cake rest (I just might need some will power).

Verdict: Win

Woah, creamy. DY's not much a cream/cheese fan, and I'm only an occasional fan. I tried to roll back on all of the cream by reducing the amount to 1.5 cups (I guessed, so I'm not sure if I really did reduce it...). I added the whole 6-oz can of tomato paste, which made the sauce way thicker. I definitely held back on the parmesan as I only added about a 1/2 cup. I tossed in chopped green peppers and chicken to make it a more filling one-dish meal, and it was great. The only thing was that the mushrooms were lost in the thick, almost grainy-creamy sauce. Next time (not for a while though, there's only so much cream I can handle in a year) I'll add even less heavy cream, less tomato paste, and substitute with some tomato sauce.

The recipe below is the original. I'd like to play with this more before I make changes.

Photo taken by Rachael :)

Verdict: Win

I couldn't resist Marsh's buy 1 get 1 free promotion on the bags of apples, so I ended up with way too many apples. Luckily, DY loves apple crisp so I knew what to do with them. I used a 3 lb. bag of apples and multiplied the topping recipe by 1.5 [because that's the best part :)]. Unfortunately, I added way too much sugar which made it too sweet and slightly grainy. Next time I'm halving the sugar, as well as reducing the butter. I'll also bake the dish less because I like my apple crunchier.

Verdict: Win

I didn't have beef on me, so I sliced up some pork tenderloin. This satisfied my craving for some chow fun, but next time I will add more salt to the noodles and less black beans to the meat. I substituted yu choy for the gai lan too. I love mung beans, so next time I'll be sure to add more than I added tonight.

Verdict: Win

This was like having breakfast for dinner. I unfortunately over cooked the egg yolk a little. My proudest addition was that I used the leftover bacon fat to toast the bread (a french boule). The bacon-toasted bread, slightly spicy/salty kale, and runny egg yolk were quite delicious all together. The recipe calls to be liberal with the salt, but I accidentally over salted the kale, especially since I served bacon with the dish too. Still, it was a great breakfast/dinner! If anything, I over ate (the second egg I ate is not pictured...).

Verdict: Win

I was skeptical about fish and parmesan, but this was really quite good. The recipe called for mayo, which DY and I don't particularly like, but you could hardly taste it so that's a plus. I cooked the fillets on a rack for 10 minutes on one side, then flipped them and cooked for another 8 minutes to make sure the bottoms weren't soggy. The result was very nice, flaky, not fishy-smelling at all tilapia fillets with a subtle parmesan taste.

To top it off, I mixed mayo with Sriracha (heavy on the Sriracha) to make a dipping sauce. I hate mayo, but I love Sriracha. The combo was awesome :)

Verdict: Super Win!

The chicken was amazing. Best non-Asian dish I have ever made. I really think that the sweet Hungarian paprika that I got from Penzey's this weekend made a difference. The potatoes were okay (the chicken just out-shined everything), but I did like the bright lemon taste. I didn't have the special broiler that the food blog had, so instead I winged it. Next time: cook the potatoes with foil on high (broil setting for oven) for 5-10 minutes, then put the rack of chicken on (top-side down) and cook for 18-20 minutes on low. Flip the chicken over and cook for 18-20 minutes on low, then cook on high for 2 minutes to crisp up the chicken. Double win because chicken leg quarters are so cheap :)

Verdict: Win x 2!

So easy, and so delicious. Only change: next time, less cream cheese frosting for the cake balls, more liquor for the truffles. These, along with the pink macarons, are going to be some Valentine's day treats for my friends tomorrow :)

Verdict: Win

Macarons...I love them, but they are ridiculously difficult. I've perfected my egg white whipping technique, even when I chanced it with the red gel food coloring, but this time I seriously messed up with piping. I just can't seem to make uniform macarons, and of course I piped them all too close to each other so their overlapped. I also underbaked them a bit, so the insides were a little wet. I popped them back in the oven to bake a little more, which in return ruined their feet a little bit. Sigh. Will retry these Sunday, and with the raspberry mascarpone cheese filling. Today I was short on time and couldn't find mascarpone at the store, so I just used leftover Amaretto ganache.

Below is her original recipe that I will soon try again.

Verdict: Win

I had a ton of egg yolks left over for some reason, so I googled ways to use them up. One of the first solutions that popped up was to make lemon curd. I've never had lemon curd, but I could already imagine the lemony goodness I could spread over toast and I was sold. I made this last night and left in the fridge over night. I bought some french bread because I didn't have time to actually make some, topped it with the lemon curd, and as Emily put it, it's like an instant lemon bar. :)

Verdict: Win

One of D. Lu's faves. I didn't have a whole chicken, so I used chicken winglets. It was tasty, but I think next time I'll let it simmer on low (rather than medium) for longer to allow the meat to soak up the flavor, but still remain tender. I added 4 Thai chili bird peppers and I loved the hint of spiciness it added.

Gailan from Steamy Kitchen

Verdict: meh

I threw this together at the last minute, so I didn't follow the directions very well. The stems were bitter and I used too much oyster sauce, but it seemed like I was on the right path. It'll probably turn out better next time, but I think I'll just go ask my mom instead.

Verdict: Win

YUM! I'm not a huge fan or raisins, but every since DY brought back oatmeal raisin cookies from Walmart, I've been itching to make some. Of course, one can't make cookies without help from friends :) B.Krup and Knabel had the brilliant idea of including more than just raisins in our cookies, so they were more like oatmeal monster cookies (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and raisins). I also added a dash of ground cloves since I heard it would make the cookies spicier. The cookies were a little disappointing by how few [only 17 :( ] that the recipe actually made - we actually added 1.25 cups extra of oatmeal to bulk up the dough a bit. These were still really good, but I may try this Flour Bakery recipe from David Lebovitz next.

Verdict: Win

Well, ours didn't turn out quite like the picture (maybe because I overdid it with the butter? Or cooked it at too low of a temperature?), but I have to say that it was still pretty tasty. Looks like my streak of badly cooked non-Asian dishes are coming to an end! Changes: I didn't have whole milk, so I subbed in heavy whipping cream with a dash of water, and I didn't have vermouth for the sauce, so I subbed in rice wine, red wine vinegar, and chicken broth. I had to put in a lot of chicken broth because the lemon and vinegar were overpowering everything. For next time, I'm definitely following the recipe with vermouth, and I'm also going to be careful about adding the parsley at the very end (so it doesn't lose it's vibrant green color). As a side, we ate this with rice, and I liked how the rice we had actually soaked up the sauce and helped balance out the flavors. DY says that he'd eat this again...so it must be a win!

Below is the original recipe, as I'd like to try following in exactly next time.


Verdict: Win

Yum. I didn't get a chance to finish these last night, so I made them today around lunch time. Tang cu pai gu is one of my favorite childhood dishes. My grandmother would make them all the time when she stayed with us. She's since gone back home to China, and my mom doesn't make this as frequently. Now that I live on my own, I wanted to try recreating this favorite.

I didn't quite get the sauce syrupy enough, but the flavors definitely melded into the meat. I loved how the ginger tones actually came through each bite - I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that I let the meat sit in the ginger/scallion broth over night (on accident)? I was also worried that the meat wouldn't be tender enough because I had cooked it so long, but it was still tender and quite good. Note: less vinegar, more sugar.

Verdict: Win

This is Kristen's absolute favorite Chinese buffet dessert, and it's a piece of cake to make.

Verdict: Win

Every time I think of this recipe now, I'm going to think of Becky. She kept raving about this dish - she's good at making me feel like an actual cook :) I pretty much followed the recipe to the t, so there aren't many comments that I'd like to make. If anything, I should not have crowded the beef so much, because it ended up velveting the beef almost too much. But, for my first time making them, I was still pretty happy with the dish.

Verdict: Win

This is also one of my mom's recipes that I grew up on. This is probably my favorite way to eat cucumbers.

Verdict: Win

Sigh, unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the food at our CNY dinner. This particular recipe is important to me because it's my mom's secret (okay, now it's not so secret) special recipe. We have it at all of our big events, and I'm pretty sure that these spring rolls are the reason why our neighbors love us and keep inviting us back to parties.

Verdict: Win!

LOVE. I mainly chose this recipe because 1) the blog is highly reputable among the food blogosphere and 2) they look exactly like the scallion pancakes that my mother buys frozen that I love so much. Scallion pancakes, aka 葱油饼 or "cong you bing" in Chinese, is a typical breakfast food or appetizer. For me, the saltiness and and taste of the chopped scallions are what make this dish special. The scallion pancakes from this recipe taste so authentic to me. Of course, on my first try I didn't get the perfect flaky, peel-apart layers that I love and that are represented in the pictures, but they sure were tasty. I've tried making scallion pancakes before (not this recipe), and it turned into a salty mess of dough. These were soooo good, and so very real.

Verdict: Win

I've had a couple of boxes of Panko breadcrumbs sitting in my room, so I wanted to try to put them to use. I chose this recipe over others because it didn't use butter. The ingredients were perfect for 3 whole chicken breasts (6 halves), but the flour mixture was a little more than I needed. I also added 1 teaspoon of cayenne that added some heat to this tender, crispy chicken. Served with rice (a staple!) and dipped in my choice of ketchup, Dijon mustard, or BBQ sauce, and I got a tasty meal.

Verdict: Win

Today I also made some pizza dough and froze it for later. I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe that I've cited before. Below is my adapted recipe with my favorite sauce recipe.

The sound of the snow-ice precipitation hitting against the windows has not stopped since yesterday, except for the brief intermission from this morning until about 2 PM. While sitting cozily in my bed, the sound is relaxing. Outside is like a war-zone where the wind shoots tiny icy bullets into your face.

Thank goodness DY and I got to go buy groceries during the break from this snow storm. We picked up a ton of things for the CNY party this Friday, and a few things for ourselves.

Speaking of CNY, I was planning on making sesame seed balls filled with red bean paste, but I've decided not to after attempting them tonight. Also, I think that the red bean paste (aka 红豆沙 or "hong dou sha" in Chinese) is an acquired taste.

Verdict: Win

So tasty! The sticky rice does fill you up, as this is a rich, deep-fried dessert. They were not too difficult to make, but at the same time they weren't simple. It didn't help that in the process of traveling from one house to another that I smushed all of my perfect round balls (so instead of balls, these were more like sesame seed disks). Much of our batch had to be thrown away, but the ones that did survive were had a beautiful, light golden color with toasted sesame seeds and a crispy exterior followed by a sticky and smooth interior of "hong dou sa."