Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chinese New Year Dinner 2015

Sue and I missed out on posting about our Chinese New Year Dinner last year so we wanted to have lots of photos and recipes for this year. 
2015 is the year of the Ram/Sheep/Goat in the Chinese zodiac.
We went with some of our favorites and some new dishes and everything turned out pretty darn tasty.
For the dishes that we are sharing the recipes - there will be a link to the separate post where you will be able to find more photos and the recipe. Just click on the name of the dish and it should take you there.

Let's start with our appetizer. Asian Inspired Cream Cheese Dip. (Click HERE for the recipe).

Our second appetizer was some crunchy spring rolls from sister Orra. We don't have her recipe but this is a link to our Baked Egg Rolls, which are similar. (Click HERE for the recipe)

And then on to dinner....
We had some delicious Chicken Chow Mein using our Double Happiness Chow Mein recipe but different noodles. Click HERE for that recipe. 

And, because we had some gluten free people at the dinner, we also had Veggie & Rice Noodle Stir Fry. (Click HERE for the recipe.) 

Speaking of veggies. We also had a veggie chop suey. Unfortunately it got a teeny bit over cooked whilst being kept warm on the stove. Fortunately it was still very tasty! 

And... it wouldn't be a Chinese New Year Dinner without rice. We went with white rice cooked with Chinese sausages. If you haven't tried Chinese sausage and rice then I definitely recommend it. 
So so so so good.

As for meat dishes... Sue outdid herself this year.
We will definitely share the recipes for these 2 amazing dishes.
The first one is Char Siu-Style Ribs. (Click HERE for that link!)

And, second, Sue whipped up some A-to the-Mazeing Mongolian Beef. (Click HERE for that link!) 

I think the Mongolian Beef was probably my favorite!
Lastly, for dessert we made some adorable little sheep pies to help celebrate the year of the sheep/ram/goat. (Click HERE for full photo tutorial/how to)

We hope you liked our 2015 Chinese New Year Dinner recipes.
Kung Hei Fat Choy everyone!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sheep Pies

So 2015 is the year of the sheep/ram/goat in the Chinese zodiac.
Turns out making adorable little sheep pies worked great for Chinese New Year dessert AND they are also perfect for Easter or a farm theme party. 
They do not require very much effort BUT they can be a little fiddly. Having a helper to make them will definitely make things move along faster. 
You can use your favorite pie crust and filling or give our butter pie crust recipe a try. I decided to go with a butter crust instead of our usual Never Fail Pie Crust with lard because I wanted something almost shortbread-like. Our recipe for pie crust is very flaky so I also wanted something a little sturdier. 
This one worked perfectly for these little cute-y pies...

Sheep Pies

1 1/4 cup flour
pinch salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled
ice water (about 1/4 of a cup or so)

approx 1/4 cup Cherry Pie Filling (Canned)
or favorite filling, prepared

approx 8 Mini Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Prepare crust - In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Grate in the chilled butter and stir to combine.
Gradually stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough starts to come together. (You may need to add a bit more than 1/4 of a cup.) When dough sticks together, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 3 hours. 
After chilling dough, roll out to approx 1/4 inch thickness - a little thinner is okay too.
Cut into circles (I used a 4.5 inch cutter). Reroll scraps and cut out more circles. (I got 8 total.)

Cut the circle vertically a little more than 1/3 of the way in. Then cut the smaller piece into 4 separate pieces - PLEASE SEE PHOTO below for how you want to cut the circles into pieces.

Form the 4 cut pieces into the shapes below - the head, the 4 legs, and the horn.

Place a teaspoon of pie filling onto the top half of the remaining circle piece. 

Gently bring up the bottom half of the semi-circle over the filling and pinch to seal. (P.S. - It helps to dip your finger in a bowl of cold water and moisten around the edge of the crust to form a better seal!) 
Press the head, legs and horn onto the body of the sheep - again, wetting your finger and dabbing on the dough then pressing firmly together will help form a better seal. Make 4 or 5 small cuts around the body of the sheep - being careful not to cut into the filling - to look the sheep look a bit fluffy. 
(FYI - the legs and horn stick fairly easily - the head is a little more tricky. It helps to pinch a flat spot on one side of the head to attach to the body.) SEE PHOTO for more details.
Press a mini chocolate chip into the head for an eye. 

Bake at 425 for for 15 minutes. Then turn down heat to 350 and bake until crust has browned, another 10 or more minutes - keep an eye on them.

When they are done, let them cool completely on the cookie sheet. You will want to move them as little as possible. The legs and head are fairly fragile. I had one decapitation and one leg amputation when I moved them trying to take photos.

They are worth the little bit of extra effort it takes. 
They are just so darned cute.
And tasty....
I's pie. 
Pie is always good. 
We're sharing at these Carole's Chatter! Pop over and say hi!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Asian Inspired Cream Cheese Dip

Sue and I are a little late with our annual Chinese New Year dinner this year as we had to wait for the weekend to celebrate. We went a little over board with food.... again....
I'm not complaining though. 
I thought I would share this super easy and tasty dip recipe because I just know you are going to want to whip this up for your next get-together.
The flavors are really different than the usual dip and go well with rice crackers or veggies. This literally takes 5 minutes to whip up and then the longer it sits the better the flavor gets.

Asian Inspired Cream Cheese Dip

1 (8 oz) pkg Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese, room temp
1/4 cup light mayo
1/4 cup 0 fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
generous pinch salt
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp wasabi flavored horseradish
1 green onion, chopped

1 green onion, diced fine
3 Tbsp wasabi peas, chopped

In a blender (or food processor) process cream cheese until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Add in remaining ingredients (not including toppings) and process until smooth, again, scraping sides as needed.
Scrape into a serving bowl and chill until ready to serve.
Sprinkle the toppings on just before serving.

*Boom* Done.
Just. Like. That.

Perfect for your next Chinese dinner or even game night, ladies night, football season, pretty much any time you're going to have people over. 
Just sayin'

It really doesn't get too much easier than this. 
We're sharing at these fun linky parties - The Chicken Chick, Ms. enPlace, Carole's Chatter

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chicken Spaghetti Squash Soup and Gluten Free Spaghetti Squash Biscuits

I really like spaghetti squash.
Really, really, really.
I love that it's like noodles but its vegetables. 
I've been going a bit crazy lately searching for ways I can sub spaghetti squash for noodles. My favorites so far - Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, Spaghetti Squash Carbonara, Singapore Noodles, "Mac and Cheese", and Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein
I'm running short on ideas for replacing noodles but then I was craving chicken noodle soup and had an "aha" moment. 
Turns out this is also a fabulous way to use spaghetti squash as noodle replacement. 
I was then trying to be all healthy and tried a gluten free biscuit to go with the soup. I added spaghetti squash to it and it turned out pretty good.
Personally.... I like white flour for my biscuits but this wasn't bad. A little "oaty" for my tastes but still pretty good.

Chicken Spaghetti Squash Soup

1 Tbsp oil
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 green onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp dill
salt & pepper
2 X 900 ml low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
1/2 deli roasted chicken, boned and diced into small pieces
1 cup peas
1 cup corn
2 cups spaghetti squash, cooked, shredded, and chopped

Drizzle oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add in the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and seasonings.

Cook and stir for about 5 - 7 minutes, until vegetables start to soften. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. When simmering, in a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the simmering soup and stir to mix in.
Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add in chicken, peas, corn, and spaghetti squash.

Stir to mix in and then bring back to a simmer.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.

According to Myfitness pal a serving of this delicious soup is only 200 calories, 5 fat, 17 carbs, 3 fiber, and 18 protein. (Recipe makes 6 servings. 1 serving is approx 2 heaping cups)
Tasty with regular biscuits or you may want to give these vegetarian, gluten free biscuits a try.

Gluten Free Spaghetti Squash Biscuits

3 1/2 cups oat flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
generous pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 pkgs Sugar Twin Stevia
1/2 cup coconut oil, chilled
1 cup 0 fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups spaghetti squash, cooked & shredded

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, baking powder, and Stevia.
Using a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives, cut in the coconut oil to resemble coarse crumbs. 
In a small bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt and squash.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until coarse dough forms. (If too sticky add a pinch more oat flour, too dry add in a few tablespoons of water.)
Place dough on a lightly floured surface.

Pat out to 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 for about 20 to 25 minutes, sides and bottom should be light golden brown. 
Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Serve warm or room temp.

The texture is a little more crumbly than my usually biscuits but it was perfect eating with the soup. It may be a little more tricky if you just wanted to make them to serve at tea time. 
What I did like about the biscuits was the coconut flavor that peaked through. These are fabulous topped with butter and jam.

Perfect "noodle" soup with some oaty biscuits for a chilly afternoon lunch/dinner. 
I am still on the look out for other dishes to re-create using spaghetti squash as a sub for noodles. Any suggestions?

Be sure to stop by Carole's Chatter for some fun foody links!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Banana Bread Greek Yogurt

I have been trying to come up with different Greek yogurt recipes that don't involve peanut butter or chocolate.
Don't get me wrong.... I LOVE peanut butter and chocolate, especially when it's combined with Greek yogurt.... but sometimes you just need something a little different.
I eat this as my breakfast and/or dessert but it also makes a fabulous dip served with fruit.
According to Myfitnesspal, the entire recipe is: 250 calories, 35 carbs, 6 fat, 14 protein, 5 fibre. 
It has all the flavors of banana bread. 
So good.

Banana Bread Greek Yogurt

1 small banana, mashed
1/2 cup 0 fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground flax
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp finely chopped pecans, toasted

In a small bowl combine all ingredients.

Stir until very combined.
Serve immediately or chill, covered until ready to serve.

It's that simple.
P.S. - the pecans don't HAVE to be toasted but it certainly adds more flavor the the dish!
I like to serve mine with a few reserved sprinkles of pecans and a slice of banana just to fancy it up.
The monster bowl just adds to the ambiance. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Italian Love Cake

I've seen this recipe posted on a billion different sites so I am not sure who to credit it to.
I'll just say that we didn't come up with it BUT we sure will be making it again. 
It is sooooo easy and was a super big hit at our mom's senior's center Valentine's party. 
The combination of flavors and textures are out of this world - making for a very chocolaty, very smooth, very moist cake.
Want to know something cool about this cake?
The layers change places while it bakes. 
Not even lying. It's very neat.
As for the Italian part of it...... I'm guessing it is because you use Ricotta cheese. Kind of a weird ingredient but whomever decided to use it to create this was a super genius. 

Italian Love Cake

Cake Layer
1 pkg Chocolate Cake Mix 

Ricotta Layer
2 X 500 gr containers Ricotta Cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mousse Frosting
1 pkg Chocolate Pudding (4 serving size)
1 cup milk
1/2 tub (1 lt container) Cool Whip

Prepare cake layer - Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the chocolate cake as per package instructions. Pour into prepared 9 X 13 pan.
Prepare ricotta layer - Using an electric mixer, beat the Ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
Pour the Ricotta layer as evenly as you can over the cake layer. (Do NOT pour it all in the center! Try to pour it evenly over the entire surface.)

Bake at 350 for approx an hour. (Toothpick inserted near center should come out clean.)

Let cool on wire rack until completely cool.
Prepare mousse frosting - In a medium mixing bowl, slowly whisk the milk into the pudding powder. (Add about 1/4 cup of milk at a time so there are no lumps!)
Once smooth, whisk in the Cool Whip until well combined.
Spread on top of cake.

Cover and chill until ready to serve (at least 5 - 6 hours but overnight is fine too).
Best served slightly chilled.

See how the layers switched? Pretty cool, right? Mine looks a little marbled in places because that's where I didn't pour the batter evenly. Don't worry if your doesn't completely switch around, it should still taste fabulous. 
Oh, yeah, a quick note - When you pour the batter in it almost completely fills the pan. I was a little panicked about it overflowing so I placed a cookie sheet beneath the cake just in case. 
It didn't overflow. 
I would recommend placing a cookie sheet underneath if you are worried it might overflow. 
Be sure to visit these fun blogs for tons of great links - Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons, My Turn (for us), Simple Life of a Fire Wife, Memories By The Mile, Barnabas Lane,