Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blooper Reel: Part 1 of Many More to Come

Trick or Treat!

I don't have any treats to transport to you, and I don't want to trick you either, so I thought I would share a few bloopers. It may not be the conventional treat that you usually anticipate on Halloween, but I'm not a very conventional person either :) I shared these bloopers with my baby nephew, and boy did he get quite a kick out of it (you'll see his reaction in the video).

Hope everyone has a very fun and safe Halloween!

♥ Yen

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poor Man's Jack-O'-Lantern

I had extra bell peppers in the fridge and I had no intention of using them anytime soon. They were starting to age so I knew I had to do something with them asap. I recently got two pumpkins, and juxtaposing them against the bell peppers gave me the idea to carve the bell peppers! From there, I thought what a wonderful idea it would be to use them to serve other fruits and veggies!

After washing the bell peppers, I cut off the uneven bottom so they can stand on a flat surface. I also cut the top to make the lid. I then emptied the seeds and stuffed one with carrot sticks, one with celery sticks, and one with grapes. They are super cute, fun, colorful, and decorative. It makes an impressive veggie tray to serve your guests at a Halloween party. Kids will love these because kids love cute stuff. I love cute stuff too, and when I see veggies and fruits presented in a cute serving dish, I will want to eat more fruits and veggies-- I'm totally a big kid :)

To demonstrate its versatility, I emptied the contents of the pumpkins-- I mean bell peppers, and placed a battery operated tea-light candle inside each of them. My boyfriend named them "Poor Man's Jack-O'-Lantern."

Watch a demo of this tutorial and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.

♥ Yen

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to Cut a Pineapple -- Method 2

In my previous post How to Cut a Pineapple -- Method 1, I mentioned that one can "eat more vitamin C" by eating more pineapples. I shared one method that I use when I cut pineapples, and I promised to share a second method that I like to use. Well, here is method # 2!

1. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut off the top and bottom
- Tip: using the tip of your knife, pierce into the rough and thick skin, then cut through the slit.

2. Stand pineapple right-side up and cut into quarters, lengthwise

3. From each of the 4 sections, cut off core, lenghtwise

4. Cut into chunks
- Working with one section at a time (with skin facing down), cut along the middle of the length, careful not to cut through the skin.
- Next, make ~ 1/2 inch cuts (bigger or smaller if you like) along the width-- again careful not to cut through the skin.
-Next, separate meat from skin by cutting into the length horizontally.

5. (Optional) Soak in salted water
- Pineapples are super sweet but also slimy, tart, and tangy. To remove the smile, tart, and tang, soak pineapple chunks in a big bowl filled with water and ~ 1 tsp. salt for ~ 1 minute. It's that easy! You can enjoy super sweet pineapples without the excessive slime, tart, and tang :)

Plate and serve!

* Notes: this method is less time consuming compared to method one, since you don't need to put much effort into removing the spiky parts that's attached to the skin and outer meat of the pineapple. However, to make that possible and effective, you might waste a little more fruit compared to method one, since you do need to cut off more meat with the skin. Of course, there are other methods, too, including a pineapple corer. The pineapple corer is a double-duty tool that also separates the pineapple meat from the skin. Its downside: it doesn't take into consideration the different sizes of pineapples, thus wasting more fruit on bigger sized pineapples. In addition, most of us do not already own a pineapple corer, but most of us do own knives, so we don't need to purchase any new tools to cut a pineapple. I say go with whichever method you find most convenient, easiest, and comfortable. If you are interested in a pineapple corer, $9-$10 should be a sufficient investment.

Disclaimer: the product link on this page is an Amazon affiliate link.

Watch a demo of this tutorial and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.

♥ Yen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Cut a Pineapple -- Method 1

Flu season is forthcoming... uh oh. We are approaching that time of the year when everyone is advising each other to "eat more vitamin C" either because they themselves are sick, getting sick, or the people around them are sick. So, how do you "eat more vitamin C?" Well, there are many ways, and eating pineapples is one such way. Fresh pineapples are so sweet and delicious. Although they are sweet, they are also tart and tangy, but don't worry, I will show you how to treat the excessive tart and tangy so nothing is left but pure sweetness. Here is one method that I use to cut pineapples:

1. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut off the top and the bottom
- Tip: using the tip of your knife, pierce into the rough and thick skin, then cut through the slit.

2. Stand the pineapple right-side up and cut off the skin in vertical cuts
- Tip: to prevent wasting too much fruit, don't cut too thick into the skin and flesh.

3. Remove the spikes
- Tip: look for diagonal formations in the spikes and cut them out in diagonal strips.
- After locating a diagonal formation, from the bottom of that diagonal strip, cut in an upward-slanted motion.
- From the top of the same diagonal strip, cut in a downward-slanted motion.
- Repeat throughout.

4. Cut pineapple into quarters, lengthwise

5. Cut out core (lengthwise) from each quartered section

6. Cut pineapple into slices
- Cut into the slits where the diagonal cuts were made earlier.

7. (Optional) Soak pineapple in water + salt for ~ 1 minute
- Pineapples are sweet yet super tart and tangy. As you cut a pineapple, you will feel a lot of slime to it. That slime is extreme tart and tang; I like tart and tang, but not to this extreme. 
- Secret: the tart and tang can be easily treated by soaking the pineapple slices in a big bowl of water and ~ 1 tsp. salt for ~ 1 minute.

* Notes: this method of cutting a pineapple is perfect if you are going for pineapple slices. If you prefer to cut pineapples differently, I will be sharing another method that I use-- blog + video up in a few days. Stay tuned, eat more pineapples, and eat more vitamin C!

Watch a demo of this tutorial and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.


Updated Giveaway Winner Announcement + Meet My Nephew

Just a little short message...

Due to personal reasons, the winner of the giveaway has kindly informed me that she is not able to receive the giveaway prize. For this reason, a new winner has been selected. Watch the video to see who the new winner is! P.S. there's also a cute baby in the video-- it's my cute little nephew :)

♥ Yen

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coleslaw -- Easy and Delicious Coleslaw

When I think coleslaw, three vital ingredients come to mind: cabbage, carrots, and mayo. The rest of the ingredients are all extra and deemed necessary or trivial depending on your personal preference. Here's my recipe for a foolproof coleslaw that goes well with anything that coleslaw goes well with :)

Base:    1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
              2 carrots, julienned
              3 heaping tbsp. mayo
Flavor: 1/2 tsp. celery seed
              1/2 lemon, juiced
              1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
              1 tbsp. sugar
              salt & pepper to taste
Heat:     N/A (easy stuff!)

1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, and celery seed

2. In a small bowl, combine mayo, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper
- Mix well to combine.

3. Add coleslaw dressing from small bowl to large bowl with cabbage, carrots, and celery seeds
- Mix well to combine.
- For best results, chill at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Notes: Since I used mayo with olive oil and cracked pepper, I didn't add any extra pepper that I otherwise would have if I used regular mayo. And as always, I encourage you to change any part(s) of this recipe to adjust to your personal preference. You may like to cut your cabbage into thinner or thicker slices-- both of which are totally acceptable. Whatever you do, just make sure you have fun in your kitchen.

Watch a demo of this recipe and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.

♥ Yen

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Announcements (Giveaway Winner Revealed)

I have two announcements to share. First, the giveaway winner has been selected by Thank you to all for entering the giveaway and supporting my channel, videos, blog, etc,. I am very grateful for all of your support and I appreciate ya-- lots :) Click here to see who the lucky winner is!

I wish I could share the prizes with all of you, but that's a topic we'll have to revisit when I become a millionaire one day. In the meantime, if you want/need to stock up on some kitchen seasonings and spices, they are conveniently found in most grocery stores and health food stores. If you are searching for a storage for your spices, I recommend the super cute and practical KitchenArt Auto Measure Spice Carousel. If you are particular about precise measuring, this is perfect for you. It also makes a lovely gift :)

If you are looking for disposable kitchen gloves because for the record, they make life in the kitchen so much easier, consider stocking a box full.

If you love Hello Pandas, or if you would like to try some Hello Pandas, they can be found at most Asian supermarkets, or on Amazon.

Disclaimer: the product link on this page is an Amazon affiliate link.

Second, I would like to announce something new that I will be introducing to my channel. I try to keep my cooking videos short, but in the process of achieving that goal I have to skip through a lot of crucial steps, tips, tricks, etc, that I want to share, but cannot share due to time constraints. For this reason, in addition to my regular cooking videos, I will also be filming and uploading mini-videos that share these crucial steps, tips, tricks, etc. The ambiguity might seem a little confusing, but it will all make sense once everything is in place.

Have a fabulous day, and be sure to see if you are the winner if you haven't seen the video yet.

♥ Yen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sweet Pulled Pork -- Cafe Rio Inspired Sweet Barbacoa Pork

If you live in an area where Cafe Rio is present, you may very well be familiar with its award-winning sweet barbacoa pork. I happen to be obsessed with it. A few years ago, after learning that Cafe Rio uses Coca Cola or Dr Pepper to make the sweet pork, I became so fascinated with that idea. Since that discovery, pork + Dr Pepper + crock-pot has become a popular combination in my kitchen. Here's how I do it:

Base:    7 lbs. pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 12-14 pieces
             1 liter Dr Pepper or "imitation Dr Pepper" (85% for cooking, 15% to serve on the rocks)
Flavor: 1 medium-large onion, sliced
             4-5 cloves garlic, minced
             1 jalapeno, sliced
             salt and pepper to taste
             sweet barbeque sauce for serving (recipes follows)
Heat:   slow cooker (Crock-Pot)

1. Preheat the slow cooker on high

- Tip: I like to add an inch of liquid to the pot-- in this case, an inch of soda.

2. Lightly brown all sides of pork
- Lightly season all sides of each piece of pork with salt and pepper.
- Working with 3-4 pieces of pork at a time, lightly brown all sides of the pork (3-4 mins each batch).
- Add oil as necessary, but should only need it for the first batch.
- Gently drop lightly-browned pork pieces into the crock pot.

3. Saute onions and garlic
- In the same pan, with a little oil, saute onions and garlic.

4. Add Dr Pepper or Dr Shasha or Coca Cola
- Tip: when adding a hefty amount of cold or room-temperature-warm liquid to a hot pan/pot, slowly stream liquid down along the sides of the pan. The liquid will already be warm when it reaches the bottom of the pan, thus take a shorter time to fully heat up.
- Heat on high until just boiling.

5. Add jalapenos
- Tip: after adding jalapenos, immediately turn off the heat, and immediately pour mixture into the crock-pot. Otherwise, the heat in the jalapenos will electrify and the overwhelming spicy aroma will linger and you will be breathing in jalapeno pollutants :)

6. Let the crock-pot cook on high for a minimum of 4 hours
- 5 hours is usually ideal for me.

7. Shred pork and serve with sweet barbeque sauce (recipe follows)
-  Use a fork or two to shred all the pork.
- Tip: you may want to weed out any excessively fatty pieces.

This sweet pulled pork can be served in many different ways. Like Cafe Rio, you can have it in a salad, burrito, taco, enchilada, etc,. You can certainly try having it in a sandwich with home made coleslaw. It may not sound as good as it tastes, but I love it because it tastes great! Coleslaw has mayo... sandwich + mayo, great combo. The green cabbage in coleslaw is like lettuce... sandwich + mayo + lettuce, great combo. I will be posting a video & blog on my home made coleslaw soon, so stay tuned for that :)

* Notes: this recipe is very forgiving. Keeping all other variables constant, you can use 6 lbs. or 8 lbs. of pork and the end results will not be compromised. Likewise, you can use 75% or 100% of the one-liter of soda and the end results will not be compromised. As always, I encourage you to change any part(s) of this recipe to adjust to your personal preferences. Just don't deviate too much-- foregoing the sweet barbeque sauce will not result in the same great taste, but that's just my opinion :) Whatever you do, just make sure you have fun in your kitchen.

Watch a demo of this recipe and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.

Sweet Barbeque Sauce:

- 1 cup juice from crock pot, strained to remove garlic, onion, jalapeno, and pork bits
- 1/3 cup water
- 5 tbsp. brown sugar, not firmly packed
- 5 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. ketchup
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. yellow mustard
- a few pinches of cayenne
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 2-3 tbsp. corn starch

1. Combine all ingredients over low heat in a small-medium saucepan

2. Thicken with corn starch
- Turn heat to medium-low.
- Combine corn starch with a few spoons of water.
- Slowly pour in cornstarch, a little at a time, while simultaneously stirring the sauce.
- Pour & mix until it reaches your desired level of thickness.
- Tip: avoid using too much corn starch as sauce will thicken itself a little more as it cools.


♥ Yen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stir Fried Ong Choy -- aka Rau Muong (Asian Water Spinach)

In the Chinese culture, leafy greens, choy, is highly consumed and greatly appreciated. Perhaps the most widely known kind is "bok choy." Bok choy's presence in both Asian and non-Asian supermarkets gives it the most exposure to a variety of cultures. Bok choy may be the most popular kind, but it is certainly not the only kind. There are countless kinds of choy; some look a lot alike, some look vastly different. Some are stalky; some are stubby. I want to spotlight a more unfamiliar kind of choy outside of the Chinese/Asian culture: ong choy (aka rau muong in the Vietnamese culture). Ong choy is definitely one of my favorite kinds of choy. It is less bitter compared to its counterparts, which makes it an excellent candidate as an addition to various dishes, or as a side/dish on its own. When served on its own, my family and I enjoy stir frying it. It's easy to make, and tastes delicious. Here's the deal:

Base:    1 bunch of Ong Choy (found in most Chinese and Vietnamese supermarkets)

Flavor: 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
             salt and fish sauce to taste
             1-2 tbsp. rice cooking wine (white cooking wine)
             1-3 Thai Chili Peppers, sliced
             oil to stir fry
Heat:    Stir Fry

1. Cut off 1 inch from the ends of the choy stems
- Tip: to save time and energy, trim in a bundle and tackle the entire bunch in just one chop.

2. Seperate leaves from stems
- Absolutely not necessary, but highly recommended. The thick stems require a longer cooking time than the delicate leaves. Since I prefer my veggies tender, this is pretty much a necessary step for me.

- Tip: keep an eye out for browned and/or bitten areas and cut those off.

3. Soak, rinse, and dry
- To thoroughly clean choy, soak in water and change out the water 2-3 times.
- Tip: after soaking and rinsing, place content in a big colander to drip excess water.

4. Lightly brown garlic
- When oil & wok/pan is warm and ready, lightly brown garlic on medium heat.

5. Add stems
- On medium high - high heat, add stems and stir fry 1-1 1/2 minutes.
- Season lightly with salt.
- Add water if necessary (1 tbsp. throughout the stir fry process should be more than sufficient).

6. Add leaves
-  It will look like an ong choy mountain, but it will shrink into the smallest bunny slope as it cooks.
- Stir fry and rotate top and bottom parts for even cooking.

7. Flavor
- After choy reduces, add rice cooking wine.
- Also add salt and fish sauce to taste.
- Stir fry an addition 1-2 minutes, more or less depending on your desired level of tenderness.
- Add Thai Chili Pepper and stir to combine.

Ta da! Ready to serve. Tastes great with rice, and makes the perfect side dish to complement other Asian dishes. Or, you can always have it as the only dish with your meal.

* Notes: as always, I encourage you to change any part(s) of this recipe to reflect your personal preferences. I listed 1 - 3 Thai Chili Peppers so you can chose your level of spiciness. Fish sauce is very strong and pungent. I only add a splash of it for another dimension of flavor. You may omit it, or you may double it, all depending on your personal preferences. Enjoy and make sure you have fun in your kitchen!

Watch a demo of this recipe and join me in my kitchen where everything is served with love.

♥ Yen
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