Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gua Bao with Tofu (Taiwanese Folded Bun)

Purchase Gua bao buns at your local Asian market.  They are refrigerated or frozen and look like fat tacos.

Photo from http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com/2010/03/gua-bao-taiwanese-burger-or-pork-belly.html

About 15 minutes before you plan to eat, place the buns in a steamer for approx. 10 minutes unitl fluffy and soft.  (It helps prevent sticking if you spray Pam on the steamer and the buns prior to steaming.  I use my double boiler steamer which is metal, so foods really can stick to it.)

To assemble your Gua Bao, place two slices of fried tofu with some thinly sliced cucumber, sliced lenthwise scallions, cilantro leaves, some finely chopped jalapeno (without the seeds), and a topping of about a TB of Peanut Sriracha Sauce.
I served the sandwich with a side of sliced mango topped with a little lime juice ( Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice is the best.)

Marinated Tofu
8 servings (98kcal each) 

10 oz of firm tofu cut in rectangles
8 servings (98kcal each)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 TB water
1 TB molasses
2 TB agave 
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder
dash of sesame oil and 1 tsp peanut oil

Slice tofu into about 16 rectangles. In a separate bowl, whisk together all ingreadients for the marinade.  Place the tofu int he marinade and cover.  Let sit for about an hour. 
After the tofu has marinated, drain the pieces and fry in a pan with sesame and peanut oil until browned on both sides. 

Peanut - Sriracha Sauce
 Approx. 20 servings ( 23kcal each)

2 TB natural no sugar added peanut butter (smooth)
4TB agave syrup
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (depending upon how hot you want it)
dash of salt
1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and onion powder
1/4 cup of water
Slowly add the water tot he remainder of the ingredients and whisk until smooth.  I store mine in a 12 oz. plastic squeeze bottle (you can find them often in the cake decorating section of a craft store).  Refrigerate until use. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tropical Bubble Smoothie

You can purchase tapioca pearls in various sizes and colors at an Asian market.  They also have some that are filled with different flavors.  The ones below were different colors (although did not look exactly like the picture on the bag), but tasted like nothing, really. I was told by the lady working at the market though, that you can purchase tapioca pearls with flavorings added.  The kids weren't too wild about the flavorless ones, so we'll probably try the flavored next time. 

The bag says to boil until soft and then let sit for 5 minutes.   I boiled them for around 15 minutes and then let them sit covered for 5.  In the meantime, make a simple syrup - 1:1 ratio sugar to water and heat to dissolve.    After the tapioca pearls are soft, drain and rinse in cold water.  Drop them in the sugar water solution (cooled).  
For the smoothie, we used a mango, orange, guava juice from a carton and blended it with some crushed ice and about 1/4 cup milk per glass.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of tapioca pearls with a little of the sugar water, then pour the smoothie mixture over them.  

 To complete the bubble smoothie, add a bubble tea straw (we purchased a large package at the Asian market.)  These straws are large enough for you to drink the tapioca pearls through.

* Other ideas for tapioca bubble drinks - 
- black tea or coffee with creamer and ice blended (traditional version)
- juice with carbonated flavored waters (pineapple juice with lemon or lime?)
- champagne with flavored simple syrup (champagne with some marachino cherry juice)  I would think the carbonation would make the tapioca pearls bounce up and down in the drink which would be fun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Appetizers on St. Patrick's Day

   There is nothing that says "Irish" more than seafood.  Steamed mussels are not only delicious, they are easy to prepare.
   Rinse off your mussels first in cold water.  Discard any that are open.  Melt a half stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute a clove of minced garlic in it.  Add a cup or so of dry white wine and some chopped scallions.  Pour in your mussels and steam until open.
  Serve immediately with some lighter Irish beer, like Harp and sliced sourdough bread with a hunk of good Irish white cheddar.  For extra color and freshness, serve the mussels on a bed of watercress leaves.  

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Celebrate the Groundhog!!

  For this Groundhog Day, how about celebrating that famous Phil (as in, Punxsutawney), by delving into some traditional Pennsylvania Dutch treats.  Since the Penn. Dutch love their doughnuts, why not make it a breakfast party!  Here are some delicious ideas to get you started.  Dutch Baby Pancakes, traditional Dutch Potato Doughnuts, Scrapple, and Warm Apple Cider Punch. Oh, and don't forget the coffee! Black, no sugar please.

Potato Doughnuts Recipe courtesy of Tasteofhome.com


  • 2 cups hot mashed potatoes (with added milk and butter)
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • Oil for deep-fat frying

  • 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sugar, buttermilk and eggs. Stir in the butter, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and enough of the flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; pat out to 3/4-in. thickness. Cut with a 2-1/2-in. floured doughnut cutter.
  • In an electric skillet, heat 1 in. of oil to 375°. Fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place on paper towels.
  • For frosting, combine the confectioners' sugar, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the water, butter and vanilla. Dip tops of warm doughnuts in frosting. Yield: 4 dozen.

Delicious Potato Doughnuts published in Taste of Home February/March 1994, p27

Scrapple Recipe  (courtesy of Allrecipes.com)


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork sausage
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain and rinse in colander under cold water, breaking sausage into pea sized pieces.
  2. Return to skillet along with the condensed milk, and heat over medium until just bubbling. Immediately stir in the cornmeal and pepper and reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking, 5 minutes total; mush will be stiff.
  3. Pack into 8x4 loaf pan, cover and chill overnight. To serve, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and saute until golden in nonstick skillet.

I like to fry the slices in butter until crispy on the edges.  Then, serve with warm maple syrup.  Delicious!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Little Romance

   In preparation for Valentine's Day, here are a couple of items that will inspire the romance in all of us.
Lace handkerchief from Linen Whites on Etsy

  What better gift than a personalized handkerchief.  Although not necessarily a practical gift, it will be guaranteed to be tucked away in a special place forever.  Another romantic notion would be for a lady to spritz it with her favorite perfume and give as a gift to her special someone.  

Jane Austen word magnet set by Wicked Pen on Etsy
   Another item to add a little romance to your Valentine's Day would be this set of Jane Austen magnets from Wicked Pen.  Make up your own words of love or craft some Regency poetry and place them on the fridge for your loved one to discover when they reach for the creamer for their morning coffee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Bright New Year

A Simple New Year's Party

   Instead of the traditional silver and gold for your New Year's party, why not ring in the new year with hopeful bright oranges and enthusiastic reds.  Combine these bright colors with clean simple lines of modern-inspired decor, and add a little bit of whimsy to make your party a hit.  

Decor:  Orange and reds.  Floral arrangements include marigolds and hot pink chrysanthemums. Hang red paper lanterns from the ceiling (see LunaBazaar.com for supplies) interspersed with bright orange metallic balloons in crescent shapes.  Luminarias also can make a beautiful warm statement at centerpeices nestled in betweeen floral arrangements.  Alongside the buffet table, place homemade orange peel candles.  For table linens, use Indian prints in gold, red and orange.  You can find affordable yardage at your local fabric store.  Merely hem the edges and you have an instant table runner. 

Favors:  I found these great party masks by Maro Designs on Etsy.com.  Not only do they make unique favors, they provide a creative opportunity for photos of your guests!  

Cute party hats can be decorated with pink and orange feathers (see pattern and instructions at cathiefilian.blogspot.com.)  

Another wonderful idea for a take-home reminder of your party is a small calendar for the new year.  I found these clean, simple calendars on Etsy.com by Jumping Jack Designs.  Use the brown box they come in, and wrap your own red and orange ribbons around the outside. 

Activities:  No New Year's party is complete without the iconic count-down to midnight.  Toast the new year with pink champagne with a sugared tangerine slice on the edge of the glass.  Purchase small individual confetti shooters (Flutterfetti.com)  for guests to be let off at midnight.
  Another fun item is a "cootie-catcher".  You can hand these out to your guests and then have them ask the question, "Will I keep my New Year's resolution?" and see what their fortune holds.  (See thetoymaker.com for instructions and a downloadable pattern.)  

Food:  Think simple and healthy.  After the over-indulgences of the holidays, most guests are looking forward to flat tummies once again. Help them with their new year's resolutions by providing salads, healthy finger food, fresh fruits, and light desserts.  Check out Cooking Light magazine for some great ideas to slim down your favorites.

Drinks:  Cognac Sparklers and Mandarin Cocktails from marthastewart.com.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Now, What To Give!

1. Soup mix.  Some people may think this is a cop-out, but for a busy woman with a family, I love the mixes!  Anything to save me time is a great gift!

2. A trip!  (Just so long as it's not a cruise to Alaska.  I've lived there - yes, you can see whales, but it's too damn cold!)

3. Baby sitting services.

4. A foot rub - especially if you are my husband!  (I tell him every year, this is what I want - and a real one - not the 5 minute "I'm busy watching football" one.)  AND I want to watch HGTV during the foot rub, with a glass of wine in one hand.
5. A night out to dinner and cocktails, sans children.  (I do really love my kids, I swear!  Just need a little adult time every now and then!!)

6. A new computer!!  Preferable a very light portable type that doesn't crash every five minutes, take 20  minutes to load a web site, and have one million cords sticking out of it!!  

7. The Family Guy boxed set volume seven.  I know....don't tell anyone.  I'll just buy it for myself.
8. A custom paint job for my mini-van.  I like pink - maybe like the Charlie's Angels van!  Sweeeeeet!

9. Anything handmade from my children.  Love, love, love.

10. Wine - always the perfect gift.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Twenty Gifts Not to Give this Christmas

1. A Christmas mug - come to think of it - any mug.  

2. Footed one-piece jammies for adults.  It's a "no-do".

3. Any type of "all in one" tool that is $9.99 at this low discount price for one hour only.  Don't dial that number!!

4. A Snuggie or slankit, or whatever you want to call it.

5. Erotic apparel.  "Nipple-less" bras are called "nursing bras", and we would buy one if we needed one.   And your husband is not going to wear the satin boxer shorts, however cute you think he would be in them.

6. Anything personalized, to the point that it is kitchy.  Really, do you ever see anything like this in someone's office?  Do you really thing they are going to display it?

7. Re-gifted items. The recipient can tell that you didn't like it the first time, and now they are the proud owner.  If you want to be "eco-friendly" give a back-rub.

8. Christmas ornaments. OK, I'm guilty of this one as well.  I do like some ornament gifts, especially if they have my kids' name on it. 
9. The "cheese product" "meat log" assortment.  They neither taste like meat nor cheese, and you end up guiltily serving them to last minute guests because you can't find anything else in the fridge.


10. And yes, we all know your lovin' should be enough, but come on, go out and spend a little, ya cheapskate!