Holiday Veggie Appetizer Wreath

Holiday Veggie Appetizer Wreath
recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef

1 pkg. (340g) refrigerated flaky rolls
1 container (250g) chive and onion soft cream cheese
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 C. broccoli, chopped
1/2 C. cucumber
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and choppedPreheat oven to 400°F. Separate rolls horizontally in half to form 20 rolls. In center of a round stone, arrange 6 rolls in a circle and add 1 in center with edges touching, in another circle around ring of rolls.

Using lightly floured pizza roller, flatten and roll rolls together to seal, leaving outside edges scalloped for petal effect. Bake 11-13 minutes or golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen and slide onto cooling rack it cool.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, garlic and dill weed.

Score cucumber lengthwise; remove seeds. Slice cucumber; cut slices into quarters. Chop tomato.

Return crust to crust to cooled stone; spread evenly with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with broccoli, cucumber and tomato. Arrange 3 seeded and scored cucumber slices at top to create bow effect, if desired pull rolls apart. Yields 20 servings.

Chicken & Broccoli Appetizer Wreath

Chicken & Broccoli Appetizer Wreath
recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef

1/2 C. red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 C. broccoli, chopped
1/4 C. water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 T. onion, chopped
6 oz. cooked chicken breast, chopped
2/3 C. cream of chicken soup
1 C. (4 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (8 oz.) pkg. refrigerated crescent rollsPreheat oven to 350ºF.

Chop pepper, broccoli, water chestnuts, onion and chicken. Combine all ingredients except crescent rolls in medium bowl.

Unroll crescent rolls and arrange triangles in a circle on a 15″ baking stone with the bases overlapping in center and points toward the outside. Scoop filling mixture onto widest portion of each triangle. Fold points of triangle over filling and tuck under base at center. (Filling will not be completely covered.) Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Fresh Vegetable Pizza Squares

The following recipe was made for my guests during my Fall Snacks cooking class. You can read and view links to other recipes I made HERE.

Fresh Vegetable Pizza Squares
Recipe adapted from HERE

2 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
– Roll out crescent rolls onto a large non-stick baking sheet. Stretch and flatten to form a single rectangular shape on the baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
– Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Mix cream cheese with 1/2 of the ranch dressing mix.
– Adjust the amount of dressing mix to taste. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust.
– Arrange carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes.
– Sprinkle cheese over top.
– Chill in the refrigerator and cut into bite-size squares to serve.

Things You Can Caramelize

What food comes to mind when you think of caramelizing? Let’s see… there’s onions, shallots, nuts, apples, creme brulee, etc. Have you ever considered tofu?

I know it’s a bit odd, but hear me out! Tofu is one of those foods that might require some extra coaxing for folks to try. But perhaps caramelizing them to give them more depth, flavor and color will help you to consider trying this recipe for Caramelized Tofu.

For lunch today we wanted to use up some bok choy and tofu we purchased last week. Thanks to my friend, Elly, she shared the site of 101 Cookbooks with me for a pancake recipe. On the same site, my eyes found this dish. I made some adaptations to use what I had on hand and overall, its a great way to use tofu. It made the tofu both sweet and salty – a great combination for most foods. To pair with this, I served it with steamed vegetable dumplings and a simple homemade ponzu sauce.


Here is my adaption of Caramelized Tofu with Bok Choy:

7 – 8 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin 1-inch segments
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple sprays of cooking spray
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
3-4 baby bok choy , washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
salt & pepper to taste
few drops of sesame oil

Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a sprays of cooking spray. Saute until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes.

In the same pan, add a touch more sprays of cooking spray, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the chopped bok choy. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until softened.

Return the tofu to the pan with the bok choy and toss together with salt, pepper and sesame oil before serving.

Serves 2 – 3 as a main, 4 as a side

*I’m also submitting this to the Bookmarked Recipes blogging event, hosted by Ruth of Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments. This is a great weekly blogging event so join in the fun or check out the round up every Monday on Ruth’s site!*

Pad Si Ew

The following recipe was featured for my Thai Cooking Class. You can read and view other recipes from the class HERE.

Pad Si Ew
(sweet soy sauce noodles)
Joelen’s recipe
1 onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons oil
1 lb sliced chicken, pork or beef (your choice)
4 tablespoons black soy sauce
4 tablespoons regular or lite soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 package wide rice sticks (pho noodles)
2 cups frozen broccoli

To prep rice sticks, boil water in a dutch oven. Once water has come to a boil, turn off heat and place dried rice sticks into the water. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until it softens. Drain & set aside.

In a large wok, heat oil. When hot, add onions & garlic.
Once onions have softened, add meat (chicken, pork or beef) and saute for 3-5 minutes.
After 3-5 minutes, add soy sauces and sugar.
Stir and reduce until sauce is slightly thick, about 5-7 minutes.
Add broccoli & toss to heat through.
When broccoli is heated through, add drained rice stick and toss gently.
To serve, place noodles on platter and garnish with fresh bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and/or sliced green onions.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese & Rice Casserole:

Tonight is focused on my Traditional fare menu and some desserts. Everything is set for the most part… and I approached it as if it were just one of my cooking class events where everything is prepped and ready to assemble. Here are recipes of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes on my menu.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese & Rice Casserole:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 lb fresh broccoli, parboiled
1 lb fresh cauliflower, parboiled
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
In a sauce pan, melt butter.
Sautee onion and garlic until softened.
Sprinkle flour into pan and stir to form a roux.
Slowly add the half & half until slightly thickened.
Add chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, cheese and rice.
Toss gently to combine.
Place in casserole dish and top with crushed butter crackers.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Creamy & Delicious Shortcuts

It’s Friday night and after a busy day of running errands, I wanted something quick and easy for dinner. Fortunately I defrosted a whole chicken earlier which I seasoned and baked in the oven. From that chicken alone, I’m able to make a few dishes for future meals. (A big reason why I *love* already cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket!) Speaking of which, I highly recommend this book – which I found at a dollar store of all places!
Here’s the super quick Chicken Fettucini Alfredo w/Broccoli (w/ lots of shortcuts!):

handful of dried fettuccini
water for boiling pasta
chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1/2 – 2/3 cup prepared alfredo sauce (or homemade if you prefer)

Boil water & cook pasta until tender.
Drain pasta and return to pot.
Add chicken, broccoli, and alfredo sauce.
Warm up all ingredients on medium low heat until fully warmed.

Quiche… give it a try!

What a wonderful Sunday morning. After a fulls night’s rest I was engerized with making a flavorful breakfast featuring ham, broccoli & 4 cheese quiche. I also submitted this dish to Nandita’s “Breakfast Blogging Event” through her blog, Saffron Trail.
So what is quiche? Well, it’s derived from French cuisine that consists of a baked dish made primarily of eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Other ingredients such as cooked chopped meat, vegetables or cheese are often added to the egg mixture before the quiche is baked. It’s great for breakfast, lunch or even dinner!
Here’s my recipe for ham, broccoli & 4 cheese quiche:

1/2 cup chopped ham
1/2 cup chopped, steamed broccoli
1/4 cup gruyere cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup colby cheese
seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
6 eggs, scrambled
pie crust dough (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Press the pie crust into a shallow baking pan or a torte pan.
Sprinkle the ham and brocoli over the crust.
Top with the cheeses.
In a bowl, scramble the eggs and carefully pour the eggs over the ham, broccoli and cheese.
Carefully place the quiche into the oven and allow it to bake about 45 minutes in preheated oven or until middle has set.
This is great with a salad or on its own!

pie crust ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very-cold, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup ice cold water

Combine flour, butter, salt & sugar in food processor or in a bowl with a pastry cutter.
Slowly add the ice cold water until the dough comes together.
Form dough into a ball, wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before using.

Asian Beginnings

Finally! We are in our new home and loving it! The downside? The room I’m so anxiously waiting to do some damage in is the last one to be completed. The kitchen is the only room that has yet a piece missing – my kitchen table/work island. Hopefully it will arrive in the next week or so.

Despite my lack of counter/workspace, I have already starting my cooking routine. My husband and I have been living off of American fast food or asian buffet restaurants…. and quite frankly, we are sick of it! It seems like we have been drawn to asian food recently since we haven’t had any good home cookin for the past two weeks and we’re very close to asian markets in our new neighborhood.

With that, I made some beef & broccoli stir fry over Hong Kong pan fried noodles as our first dinner in our new home. Hong Kong pan fried noodles is a Hong Kong-style dish consisting of flour noodles that have been pan-fried until crispy, and served together with vegetables, chicken, beef and/or seafood.

Here’s my recipe for Beef & Broccoli over Hong Kong Pan Fried Noodles:

1/2 pkg Hong Kong flour noodles

1/4 cup canola oil

1 lb lean beef cut thin for stir fry
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of broccoli, cut in small flowerettes
1 can straw mushrooms, drained
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

Prepare beef by coating it in cornstarch, salt & pepper; Set aside.

In a medium hot pan, heat your oil.
Add flour noodles to pan in one even layer.
Cook noodles until crisp on one side.
Remove from pan and drain over paper towels.

Add beef to the hot pan and brown.

Add garlic and onions; stir until softened.

Add broccoli, oyster sauce, water and soy sauce.
Heat through until broccoli is cooked.

Plate crispy noodles and top with stir fry.

Somen Since its So Cold!

Tonight we are having beef & broccoli with Japanese somen noodles. I also added some bamboo shoots for added color and texture. It hit the spot perfectly on such a cold night in Chicago.

Somen are thin, round, white noodles made from wheat flour and is similar to vermicelli. Strands of somen are generally found dried and often packaged in band tied bundles. It’s often served cold but is also added to soups. But for tonight, I decided it would compliment my beef & broccoli stir fry wonderfully… and it did!

Beef & Broccoli Somen Recipe:
1 lb beef chuck, sliced thin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
oil for browning beef
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup beef broth
1 lb fresh broccoli florets or frozen chopped broccoli
1 cup bamboo shoots
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce
garlic powder & black pepper to taste
small handful of somen noodles
water for boiling noodles
sesame oil (optional)
1. Toss sliced beef in the cornstarch and set aside.
2. In wide shallow pan, heat cooking oil and brown beef.
3. Add minced garlic and sliced onion.
4. When beef is completely browned, deglaze the pan with beef broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir to get all the brown bits from the bottom.
5. Season liquid to taste with garlic powder and black pepper.
6. Add broccoli and bamboo shoots; let simmer for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
7. Cook somen noodles in boiling water for 5-7 minutes; remove and drain.
8. Toss noodles in stir fry and add a few drops of sesame oil for added flavor/aroma.