Pillow talk

I’m back in the cyber realm! I know it’s been several weeks since my last post but hey, everyone needs a litttle R&R sometimes. Allthough I don’t think my vacation was exactly restful or relaxing I had a lot of (borderline too much) fun and it was SO great to see friends and family. One of the stops we made on our trip was to my brother-in-laws wedding.

It’s so refreshing to see two people in love and vowing their lives to each other. Better than a chick flick if you ask me. The main gift we gave them was money because, let’s face it, money is the best gift for a young couple who still thinks that all you need is love to live on. he he. They’ll learn. 🙂

I also made them this cute little throw pillow I hand embroidered using a split stitch. First, I drew the tree outline with a pencil on some material I had and then embroidered it. I sewed the pillow up on my sewing machine and stuffed that bad boy and there you have it.

This project coupled with the beautiful wedding has got me all geared up for valentines day. Which, I don’t know what i’m going to give my hubby. Beings that we spent so much on our vacation, you can bet it’ll be homemade.

If you need a good tutorial on split stitching here’s a good one.

embroidered tree accent pillow

Bulgogi

 

bulgogi

Whenever I introduce someone to Korean food for the first time I always whip out the bulgogi. It is, without a doubt, the most requested and well known dish of non Koreans. It’s also a great introduction to Korean food. Paper thin slices of marinated beef grilled and served inside crisp, leafy lettuce with sticky rice and just a dab of hot pepper paste.Then when my guest are confident that Korean food isn’t about eating dog or cat or other weird family pets, I bring out the more adventurous dishes like kimchi, and bibimbap.

The Paradox about this dish is that it taste great and is easy to make! Not to mention it’s a cheap beef dinner for a large group. I usually by a 3lb top blade boneless roast for around $5. This makes enough for roughly 8 servings.

Ingredients:
3lbs. Boneless top blade roast sliced paper thin against the grain
*A lot of times you can get your local butcher to slice it for you but if not, I freeze the roast about 3 hours and then slice with a sharp knife as thin as possible.
Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 rice cooking wine (you can use water)
1tbsp honey
8-12 cloves garlic
1 md. Korean pear diced
*if you can’t fine the Korean pear you can use a md red apple.
1 md. Yellow onion
To accompany:
Sticky white rice
Korean hot pepper paste
Leafy lettuce (red leaf, hearts of romaine, etc.)
Toasted sesame seeds (to garnish)

processing ing. for bulgogi  pureed vegetables and apple for marinade

Combine pear, onion, garlic, and apple in a food processor or blender and blend for a few seconds until its a pulp.

bulgogi marinade

Add marinade ingredients and blend until well combined.

bulgogi marinating

Add sliced beef and marinade to a gallon storage bag. Give the bag a good massage to evenly distribute the marinade with the meat. I divided it into two bags since its just the two of us. I’ll freeze the other bag for a later meal.

grilling bulgogi

Let marinate at least 2 hours and then cook on high heat on a grill or in a large skillet. If using a skillet make sure not to overcrowd the pan and drain the pan of juices in between batches so the meat will brown properly. Since the meat is very thin, it will cook quickly.

bulgogi in wrap

Serve with leafy lettuce like romaine or red leaf, sticky white rice (I use jasmine rice) and korean red pepper paste. To assemble put a piece of lettuce in your hand and layer with about 2tbsp.rice followed by a piece of the Bulgogi and then with a small dab of the hot pepper paste. Form the lettuce into a little package with your hands and eat in one bite. You’ll make a mess if you try to bite off pieces. Make sure you don’t overfill your lettuce wrap (unless you have a big mouth 🙂 )

Gheembap

GheembapI have been really tickled by the interest in Korean food by the wives on the base where we are stationed. I guess who could blame them? Korean food is AWESOME! (no biasism here) So, by request, here’s the first installment of what will hopefully be about 5 Korean dish posts.

Gheembap a.k.a kimbap is a popular everyday food of Koreans. Gheem refers to the seaweed and bap means rice. Many refer to it as Korean sushi. Instantly visions of lifetime trained sushi chefs come to mind and fill the home cook with terror. In contrast, what’s so great about this dish is that it’s completely void of all that fuss and fanfare. Many Koreans even eat it by hand and as a picnic food. This is also a great way to use up those leftover veggies in the fridge. You can pretty much put anything in it. And since evefything is cooked, no need to worry about food poisoning or parasites. Now that doesn’t sound so scary does it?

Ingredients:
2cup uncooked sticky rice (I use jasmine rice)
2tbsp. Sesame oil (optional)
1-2 md. Carrots quartered lengthwise
2 eggs slightly beaten with 1tsp. Sugar
1/2 lb frozen spinach thawed (half of one of those frzn spinach boxes)
2 cloves garlic minced
Pickled korean radish
2 tbsp. butter (or olive oil if you must)
Gheem (also called by the Japanese nori Sheets or seaweed sheet)

Cook rice according to directions. Fold in the sesame seed oil. Don’t mix too roughly or you’ll make the rice mushy.

Saute carrots for gheembap

Add 1tbsp butter to nonstick md. skillet. Over md heat sauté the carrots until softened slightly (they should still have a slight crunch in the middle) transfer carrots to a plate.

Egg omelette for gheembap

Melt remainder tbsp of butter in the skillet. Reduce heat to low and add egg mixture. Cover and cook until the eggs are just set. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into long strips about 1/2″ thick. Transfer to the plate with the cooked carrots.

 

Add spinach,minced garlic and a pinch of salt to the skillet and cook until hot. Transfer to the plate with the other cooked veggies.

Korean pickled radish

Slice Korean radish to roughly the same size as the carrots and then add to the veggie plate.

mise en place for gheembap

Set up your work station so that you can easily get to everything

Gheem aka nori for gheembap

Lay a sheet of gheem(nori) shiny side down onto the bamboo sushi roller (you can just roll it on the counter with your hands if you don’t have the bamboo mat but it won’t roll up quite as tight.)

Spreading rice on gheem for gheembap

Add about a 1/2 cup of the cooked rice. Using the side of a flat spoon, (or dampened fingers) spread as evenly and thinly as you can onto the bottom 2/3 of the sheet. Be sure that you don’t press hard or you’ll just break down the rice and make it gummy. Gentle light strokes are the key here.

Adding filling to gheembap

Next add one piece of each filling lengthwise onto the bottom part of the seaweed.

rolling gheembap rolling gheembap Rolling gheembap

Using the bamboo mat and your fingers, roll from the bottom just like you would a sleeping bag. You want to just guide it into a roll with firm/but not too hard pressure.

adding water to seal gheembap

When you get to the top third of the sheet without the rice, dip your fingers in a bowl of water and dampen the seaweed so that the roll will seal.
Continue rolling to the end.

cutting gheembap in half cutting gheembap in quarters finished gheembap

Cut each roll in half and then cut each of those in half and then in half again. You will end up with 8 pieces. *Whenever you notice a buildup of rice on the blade of your knife, wipe clean with a wet rag. Use a sharp knife and cut in a slow sawing motion.

Make only what you can eat in one setting as the rice dries out if you try to store till the next day. Enjoy!

Variations:
Some variations I use include avocado, kimchi,scallion, and cucumber.

Another great filling alternative is to sauté a can of drained tuna in a skillet with 1tbsp sugar, 1tbsp soy sauce, 1tsp.sesame seeds (if you have it),1tbsp.sesame oil (or olive oil) and 1-2 cloves minced garlic.

It’s That Time Again.

Time to subject you, my helpless reader, to more…(drum roll please.)…

BABY PICTURES!

I’ve been so caught up in holiday baking/crafting that i’ve completely forgotten that this is baby’s first christmas. And it only happens once just like the first bath/dirty diaper/smile/hiccup/cry/and on and on. This too must be documented! And who do you think took those pictures? yup. My good friend, the neighbor.

It’s really a testament to her character that I don’t even have to ask her anymore if she’ll take pictures. I guess i’ve asked so often that she can recognize that please-take-pictures-of-my-kid look in my eye. It does annoy/baffle me that she takes these great pictures with my camera! I mean here I have sitting in my closet the technology to take professional quality pictures and yet when I snap that little button you would’ve guessed it came from a disposable camera. shheessh. I’m convinced that my camera and Stephanie have a secret pact with each other. I know it can’t be me! After all i’ve read every photography tutorial on Pinterest! Agh well. Maybe if I spend a couple hundred more dollars on fancy camera equipment then it’ll love me.

Christmas Advent Calander

Christmas Advent Calander

For about a week instead of doing things like laundry and house cleaning I devoted myself to this fun little project-A Christmas Advent Calander. I found it on (you guessed it) the internet. I thought about changing up the color scheme from the one that I saw so that I wouldn’t be so much of a copy cat but then decided who cares if I AM a copy cat? sue me! ahem, just write me a mean letter or something.

The lady I got this idea from put little chocolates in each pouch. Instead I put notes with little activities for us to do together as a family every day. I gotta say, since becoming a parent, I am obsessed with traditions. We can’t even drink hot chocolate without me saying “you know what babe? We should drink hot chocolate every year on this same day!” hehe. I’m a deranged parent.

You can find the pattern for the little pouches on this super cute website here. And below I’ve also included the activities we are doing each day (though not in order) just in case your a tradition-starting-nut too!

Advent Activities
Make a gingerbread house
Drink hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows (recipe for marshmallows here)
Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Make/decorate cookies
Read the Christmas story from one of the gospels
Do something nice for someone in need
Read a Christmas book
Buy a new Christmas ornament
Go see Christmas lights
Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
Do a Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoebox
Hand out baked goods to neighbors
Mail Christmas cards
Complete a paper angel
Make apple cider and eat cherry cordials
Have pancakes/french toast and hot chocolate for dinner
If snowing: make a snowman If not:make paper snowflakes
Buy a gift for each other
Wrap gifts
Take a family portrait
Make candy
Wear silly Christmas socks
Eat dinner by Christmas tree light
Set up a train around the tree

Christmas Advent Calander

Homemade Marshmallows.

Homemade marshmallows ready to eat

A couple months ago we went to a fondue restaurant with some friends for a birthday. It was my first ever fondue experience and I was really excited. I had been wanting to see what all this fondue hype was all about.

Talk about a long dinner. What I want to know is how is a person suppose to ever get full with three small skewers that take FOREVER to cook?! Towards the end we all got so hungry and tired of waiting for our meal to cook one skewer at a time that we threw all the vegetables and meat in the pot and just fished it out with aforementioned skewers. (The staff did not appreciate our ingenuity.)

After all was said and done we spent roughly $70 after tip for the both of us with no alcoholic beverages. Talk about cause for indigestion! I mean if I had a steak dinner that’s one thing but mostly raw vegetables and a handful of cubed meat? I was in shock.

The one redeeming part of the night was their dessert with homemade marshmallows. As I ate every last one of them I knew I would never come back to the restaurant but I also knew that my life could not go on without these marshmallows. So that night I said farewell forever to fondue and welcomed homemade marshmallows into my inner circle of yummies. And now I share my little yummies with you.

;

Homemade Marshmallows
Ingredients for marshmallows

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. Water
  • 2pkg. Unflavored Gelatin (2-1/4 oz. pkgs.)
  • 1/2 c Corn Syrup
  • 3/4 c. Sugar
  • 3/4 c. Powdered Sugar

For Dusting mix together:

  • 3/4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 c Corn Starch

melting sugars and corn syrup for marshmallows

In a mixer bowl combine water and gelatin packages. In medium saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar and powdered sugar.

sugars and syrup melted for marshmallows
On low heat stir frequently until the sugar dissolves and it turns into a thick syrup, or until it reaches 240*F.

pan coated for marshmallows

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and dust with the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture. Set aside.

continued whipping syrup for marshmallows

Once sugar has dissolved in the saucepan, carefully pour mixture into the mixing bowl and mix with the gelatin mixture. Start on a low setting and as the syrup thickens (about a minute) kick up the speed to high. (I was on 8)

marshmallow ready to be transfered to pan

Mix on the higher speed about 15-20 minutes. The mixture will be lukewarm and should look fluffy and thick like the picture above.

smooth serface of marshmallow

Spread evenly with a spatula into prepared pan

marshmallow settin up for 4 hrs

Dust to coat the top with a little of the powdered sugar/ corn starch mixture and let set on counter for about 3-4 hours (or overnight)
Dusting marshmallows in sugar mixture
Turn out onto a cutting board and slice into squares or you can use a cookie cutter to stamp out shapes. If using a knife try not to drag the knife through the marshmallow in a sawing motion as this causes a gooey mess. Just push the knife straight down and then lift straight up, occasionally cleaning knife off with a clean wet  dish towel. Dust pieces in the remaining powdered sugar/ corn starch mixture to prevent sticking.

Store in an airtight container

Creme Brulee

I hate waste. Last week when I made a banana pudding with a meringue topping and was left with 10 egg yolks I knew I had an excuse to make one of my favorite desserts- Creme Brulee. This is one of those desserts that you always see in high end restaurants and you reason that the $10 price is surely an indication of it’s difficulty to make. Lies! All lies!  This is one of the easiest desserts i’ve made (That’s saying something) and it’s really forgiving. Between you and me, I think restaurants are trying to use up egg yolks too.

This time around I substituted the 2 cups of heavy cream with 3 cups 2% milk. And I reduced the 2 cups half and half for 1 cup of vanilla flavored coffee creamer. It turned out great and was much healthier (notice that I said, healthier not healthy). I’m showing the original recipe that I got from a Food Network magazine along with my substitutions in parenthesis.

Creme Brulee

Ingredients

  • 1 Vanilla Bean (I omitted this one)
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream (3 cups 2% milk)
  • 2 cups Half-and-half (1 cup vanilla flavored coffee creamer. You could use any flavor you wanted. Pumpkin would be great for the holidays. mmmm…)
  • 8 large egg yolks (I had 10yolks so that’s what went in)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • about 8tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325*F. Bring the cream(or 2%milk), half-and-half and vanilla seeds (if using) to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and if using the vanilla bean, simmer 10-15 min. to infuse the cream mixture. If not then skip to next step.

                                             

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is a pale yellow and thick; it should leave a trail when you lift the whisk. Pour the cream mixture in a very slow, steady stream, whisking constantly (Make sure to follow this step exactly or you’ll have scrambled eggs). Skim off any foam or bubbles from the surface.

                                             

Pour the custard evenly into eight ramekins. (I know there’s only 6 shown above. I had to do two batches) Arrange the ramekins into a roasting pan. Set the roasting pan in the middle rack and pull out the oven rack slightly. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This will prevent the outer edges of the custard from cooking too fast. Bake until the custards are just set in the center, about 40-45 min. (it will be jiggly kind of like set jello) Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours.

This is the fun part. The husband usually insists on doing this. Guys and fire, sheesh. 🙂 Sprinkle about 1tsp. granulated sugar over the custard. Tilt the ramekins to evenly distribute the sugar and tap out any excess. Holding a kitchen torch about 3″ away, burn the sugar until it turns a deep amber. Let set for a minute or two to harden.

*If you don’t have a kitchen torch I would recommend getting a small blow torch from a hardware store. They are so much cheaper than the “kitchen” labeled ones and they take the regular camping sized propane. I think mine cost $8 total. Score! They’re also great for browning the top of a meringue or heating the sides of cake pans to release cakes. You could also put the ramekins in the oven under the broiler setting for a minute.