Sunday, November 28, 2010


Seeing as I have little desire to study right now, and I'm waiting for the caffeine from my latte to kick in.. it seemed like the perfect time to write about thanksgiving weekend eats!

I started out making the cranberry sauce on Tuesday night. It is probably the easiest thing to make - I just put a couple of peels and the juice of 2 Florida navel oranges and brown sugar in a large pan with an entire bag of cranberries, cooked it down until it thickened to where I wanted it to be. I like to see the cranberries left whole so my cooking time was only about 15 minutes, stirring gently and not too often (plus I used a really large pan so there was greater surface area, so it reduced cooking time).

This is about how thick the end product was before cooling it down and putting it in the fridge.

SO DELICIOUS, it took a lot of energy to resist finishing this before Thursday.

On the day of Thanksgiving.. I made...

First I stuck the turkey in the brine, consisted of 2 gallons water, 10 oz soy sauce, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tbsp fresh sage, 2 tbsp fresh thyme, 1 1/2 tsp crystallized ginger, 2 tbsp black peppercorns, half a head of garlic. I made the brine the night before, because I dissolved the salt and sugar in some hot water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. So on Thursday morning, I stuck the turkey in the brine for about 5 hours.

These are the things that I stuck inside the cavity of the bird, and for what couldn't fit, I just put it on the side on the bottom of the pan to help flavor the pan juices that dripped from the turkey and also so those juices wouldn't burn.

Baked Brie is a yearly tradition of mine. It is not Thanksgiving until I've had a bite of this deliciousness. This year I put the cranberry sauce I made in it - SO GOOD. We ate it with some sliced apple and pear for lunch - best way to perk up your appetite for the oncoming feast!

Cornbread muffins! I used Pat and Gina Neely's recipe from the food network. Simple, easy and really delicious. I didn't put any sugar in them, so I put some extra honey than the recipe calls for; I was making these for a group of Chinese people who do not like food that is too sweet, so the honey added a perfect amount of sweetness. I also doubled the recipe. I ended up with about 30 muffins. Cornbread is my mom's favorite, and there were none leftover by the end of the night.

This is my beautiful turkey, a perfect 160 degrees inside, crispy skin and nice and browned on the outside.

This is how the turkey was plated after carving :) Everybody loved it, the soy sauce brine was a success! Someone told me that it tasted like duck to them, which was supposed to be a compliment, haha. Sadly there were no leftovers!!! Makes me want to go out and buy another turkey...

Today, I made...
This is the study snack I made for myself this morning. Needless to say most of it is already eaten and I haven't gotten any studying done. This is one of my favorite go-to desserts - it is the French Apple Tart by Ina Garten. I LOVE LOVE LOVE apples when they are cooked.

I hope everybody had a great, food-filled Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

I love Florida

This was my breakfast this morning. It was the perfect beach day when I woke up this morning, so I headed to the beach before it got crowded.

Also, I made some butternut squash soup with the VitaMix today. I roasted the squash first, along with a red onion. After that, I just put everything in the VitaMix with some sea salt and chicken broth -- a couple minutes later I had some steaming hot soup! The soup was so unbelievably creamy and I didn't even add any cream or butter to it. I made a huge salad to eat with it, and I am so full right now, haha. It was a pretty satisfying dinner.

The salad had green leaf lettuce, half an avocado, half a granny smith apple, carrots and dried cranberries. It was dressed with some lime juice, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I like colorful salads.

Here is a video of the VitaMix at work. It is really loud, so that is my warning to you before you press play.

Bought the turkey.. so I will be starting the defrosting process tomorrow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I really can't focus enough to get some productive studying done, so this post is going to be pretty random. :D I recently got a mani/pedi (every girl enjoys getting pampered every now and then) and I'm really loving these fall/winter nail colors. Even though the temperature has only cooled to around the 70s here, I can't ignore the fact that it is fall and the quickly approaching holidays. I got my nails square shaped, which is a first for me. It's subtle, but as my nails have been growing out, the shape is much more obvious. I think I will try to maintain this shape because I am really liking how it looks. The only down side is that I'm finding it a little more difficult to scratch things. I got a couple of mosquito bites the other night and it is so difficult to itch them!

I forgot the name of this polish.. it was an Essie polish. I know it is not Chinchilly. Basically it is a gray with some purple/mauve undertones, I know it's hard to tell in the photo. Anybody have any ideas?

I picked this color for my toes since it was in the same color family as my fingers. I'm pretty sure that this is Luxedo by Essie. It's hard to tell in the photo but its definitely a very dark purple. I LOVE IT. Although I think darker colors make my nails look even smaller than they actually are. They did a really good job on my toenails, it's not easy painting such small areas!

Now onto what I baked last week. My mom bought way too many vegetables so I took the zucchini that she bought and make Zucchini bread and muffins! These are definitely one of my more favorite breads to make, the other being banana bread. It's kind of the same concept as carrot cake. You can't taste the vegetables in it but adding them really makes it so moist. I really enjoy the spices that go into zucchini bread too, and I love being able to see the green specks in the bread, its so pretty!

These are the wet ingredients mixed together before adding the dry ingredients. I added a lot more zucchini than the recipe called for.

I ended up with 1 loaf and 12 muffins! It's definitely lasted us more than a week, and has made the perfect snack during class or breakfast on the go in the car.

Here is the recipe I used (except I had to add a 1/2 cup more flour since I put a whole cup extra of zucchini; and I added about 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts as well):

WET - 2 cups grated zucchini, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 2/3 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract
DRY - 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1. Mix all wet ingredients together, beating the eggs before you add them to the rest of the mixture.
2. Into the same bowl, sift in the dry ingredients (I usually do this for easier clean up!)
3. Lightly stir everything together and when its just about all incorporated, stir in walnuts or any add-ins you want.
4. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan or lined muffin pan.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Another breakfast I have been enjoying since buying a jar of Nutella -- banana + Nutella sandwiches on toasted challah bread. What an indulgence!

Apple Cider - my drink of choice these days.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving! I have decided to make a turkey from scratch this year, so I'm currently looking for an easy and delicious recipe. I'm leaning towards brining and then roasting it. Don't want to try for something too elaborate for the first time I do this. I will definitely make a post on that after Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Vita-Mix 5200

My mom surprised me with this fancy piece of kitchen equipment the other day. A Vita-Mix!!!! It is basically a really powerful blender that produces heat from the friction from the blades, so that if you leave it on for a couple of minutes, you get steaming hot soup! You don't even have to cut whatever it is you want to blend into small pieces. If you wanted to, you could put a whole apple in and within 30 seconds it would be liquefied. Pretty amazing! My mom was really excited, so she immediately went to the grocery store and bought a ton of vegetables so we can make soups.

Who could imagine such a simple blade could hold so much power? haha.

Ain't it pretty? that long black thing on the side there is the Tamper, where you can stick inside the lid to stir up anything that might get stuck inside the blender.. now that I would ever foresee that happening..

The first soup we tried to make was an asparagus soup. Now, this was the test run and basically it was probably the worst tasting thing I've ever had in a long time. But at least now I know what to do next time...

This was the asparagus soup. Basically, what I did was put 2 cups chicken broth, an entire bundle of asparagus, and some cauliflower to fill the whole blender to the top. Yes, the veggies were raw when I added them into the blender -- I was really interested in seeing how hot the final product would be. Lo and behold, after about 3 minutes of blending this concoction, I got really impatient so we stopped it and poured it into bowls. There was still a very raw taste and it was extremely bitter. I could only bear to have about 5 spoonfuls.

Next time I attempt to make soup, I will either leave the blender on for a longer period of time or, since I am pretty impatient, I will heat up the liquid first and maybe even blanching the vegetables first to speed up the cooking process even faster.

After getting frustrated from making nasty green soup, I tried to make a juice. After doing some research on the Vita-Mix I found that most people use their to make juices. Juices are great for packing in all types of nutrients to consume quickly as well as sometimes masking the not-so-popular flavors that might be really healthy for you. The good thing about the Vita Mix, compared to a juicer, is that it does not discard all the pulp from your fruits and vegetables. That's where a lot of nutrients are! This blender is able to make the pulp fragments small enough that its easy to drink.

Ingredients for Carrot Apple Beet juice.. I added pomegranate juice to overcome the beet flavor, although I am starting to like it more now. I also forgot to add ginger! Doh!

The result.. what a nice RED color! This tasted pretty good - I definitely could still taste the beets and think next time on top of adding some ginger, I'll add either orange juice or lemon juice to brighten it up.

Now.. what am I supposed to do with our old blender?