Monday, July 30, 2012

This Soup is Hot...and Sour

About a month and a half ago, my mom and I went shopping at H-Mart, a Korean grocery store and we picked up a few items for our spin on a homemade Hot n' Sour soup - a bottle of Soy Sauce and dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms.  And for the past month and a half, the Soy Sauce has sat in a shelf in the refrigerator and the mushrooms have sat on a cupboard on top of the refrigerator.  Until today, when the magic happened.  It started with a medium size soup pot, then I added four cups of low-sodium Chicken Stock for the broth base.  After the stock began to boil, I sprinkled in some black pepper, two tablespoons of Soy Sauce, a quarter-cup of white Vinegar and two packets of sugar.  I stirred the ingredients around in the pot, as the broth darkened from the spoonfuls of Soy Sauce.  Then, in a separate container, I poured two cups of boiling water and the packet of dried shiitake mushrooms, as they revived themselves and became their original plump, meaty pieces.  I then took the large white firm-rectangle of tofu and cut into half-inch cubes.  On the left side of the stove, the soup continued to cook to a rolling boil as I added the cubes of tofu.  Then I took about a quarter cup of water and mixed in two and a half spoonfuls of corn starch (used to thicken the soup), then I added the corn starch and as a final step, I whisked an egg.  I continued to whisk the egg as I added it into the soup, where it separated out into thin strands of egg and spread throughout the broth.  After the soup continued to cook on a low-heat for about an hour, I decided it was time for the taste test.  A heaping amount of soup was ladled into a clear bowl, as I took the first spoonful, the flavors bursted in my mouth; the bitterness of the Vinegar, the spice of the pepper and the saltiness of the soy sauce.  The squishiness of the tofu melted in my mouth and the mushrooms were soft and easy to chew.  The soup took about an hour to prepare and hour to cook, it was so easy and so worth it.  Who needs to order in when you can just make it at home? #deliciousmeal

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pho Sure

Last night my family took a little road trip downtown to Chinatown, Philadelphia for a Vietnamese dinner.  After doing some research about the true definition of Pho, while reading reviews about different Pho restaurants on Zagat, Urbanspoon and Yelp, we decided on a small "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant called Pho Xe Lua, on the corner of 9th and Race street.  They specialize in big broth noodle bowls called "Pho".  I have been craving a big noodle broth soup for the past week and finally the night was here.  I decided on a bowl of seafood noodle soup.  The large, steaming hot soup came out in a matter of minutes.  The majority of the bowl was filled with a translucent tan salty broth, with a heaping amount of transparent noodles on the bottom of the bowl, as the rest of the soup floated on top with tiny chops of green scallions as well as all different types of seafood like soft red crab, crunchy orange shrimp and even outrageous creatures like purple octopus and squid!  (I gave those pieces to my dad :)). In front of me on the table, there was a plate full of different "add-ins" for the soup, white bean sprouts, basil leaves, circular cuts of bright green jalapeño peppers and a couple halves of juicy green limes.  I dumped a handful of bean sprouts, a couple basil leaves and three jalapeño peppers into my bowl and mixed them around with my soup.  To finish it off, I squirted the half of lime into my soup for a tangy, tart flavor.  I then picked up my large miso soup spoon with my left hand and creamy-white chopsticks in my right hand and dug in.  The spoon had a hollow bottom making it easy to scoop up the broth.  Each spoonful was better than the next, the spices of the chili pepper left a steaming imprint on the roof of my mouth.  The more I ate, the fuller I became, but the soup was soooo delicious, I just wanted to keep eating it.  I kept eating until I felt as though I was about to burst and pushed my still quarter-full bowl back in front of me.  I woke up yesterday dreaming of Pho, I went to bed satisfied and woke up this morning with one thought in my mind, "I have to get to the left-overs before anyone else!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Breakfast Club

My all-time favorite breakfast food is cereal, because it's so easy and convenient.  I like all different types of cereal, but my favorite is Special K original because it has a really crisp taste, it stands up in milk, it tastes good with milk or without milk, you could eat it as a snack, and it's a healthy alternative to a heavy-laden breakfast.  I am a big fan of natural cereals, not a huge one of the sugary types.  This morning I combined two Trader Joes cereals: bran flakes and new favorite of mine, puffed wheat cereal.  Both are all-natural.  The bran flakes taste a bit bland, but the puffed wheat have a bit of natural sweetness to them.  Because one measly bowl of plain cereal is not enough, I decided to throw in a handful of plump, juicy blueberries, a couple of bright red cut-up strawberries and a couple slices of ripe yellow banana.  To top it off, I poured a generous amount of skim milk in the bowl as it soaked up the cereal.  I like to scoop up the extra milk with my spoon at the end of my bowl.  I would have to say, this is one of the best bowls of cereal I've ever made.  The ingredients were so fresh and tasty.  The simple sweetness of the strawberries, the soft, mushy flavor of the banana, the slight crunch of the blueberries were a perfect combination with the pair of cereals.  The remaining spoonfuls of milk had a touch of sweetness from the fruit.  It was a delicious breakfast and a great start to my day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Steaming Hot Summer in a Cup

For the past week and a half it has been unbearably hot outside.  It's like we were living in a sauna, but instead of being secluded in a separate room, the hotness was everywhere.  I have been patiently waiting for it to get cooler outside and finally tonight the heat-stroke broke.  The coolness of the air circulated back into the night and I was able to step outside without having to catch my breath from the powerful heat.  Now I'm the type of girl who loves hot pick two of my favorites, sizzling-hot soups and steaming mugs of peach, green, or Cinnamon tea.  However, I haven't really enjoyed eating hot food when the temperature of the food is the same as the temperature outside.  Tonight, with the cooler weather, I decided it was time for a cup of Cinnamon Spice tea, my favorite kind.  I let the tea bags steep in the hot water, with a drop of a natural Agave nectar sweetener and a couple pieces of fresh organic mint leaves from our garden in the backyard.  The flavors intertwined with a freshness from the mint, a spice from the cinnamon and the sweetness of the Agave flavor.  It was a nice change-up from the typical cold drinks I've had the past few nights, the warmness was refreshing, in a different way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Tonight I was in the mood for something exotic.  I picked a fresh ruby red grapefruit from our fruit bowl and tried to think of a creative way to eat it.  I could peel it like an orange, but I'm not a huge fan of peeling grapefruit...(I'm not sure anyone is), or I could cut it in half and scoop out the triangular sections, but that seemed boring.  And then, a light bulb went off in my head: grill the grapefruit!  I sliced the grapefruit in half and flipped them upside down on the grill, so the peel was facing upwards.  After about 2 minutes, I took a spatula and flipped the grapefruit halves right-side up on a plate to reveal the diagonal burnt grill marks slicing the grapefruit.  I let the halves cool for about 30 minutes and then decided it was time to taste my new creation.  I carefully sliced out each individual triangular piece of grapefruit, grabbed my "grapefruit" spoon with the serrated edge and scooped out piece by piece.  The grapefruit had a mix of savory and sweet flavors.  The sweetness of the juice with each bite of grapefruit and the savory flavor of the after-bite from the crunch of the grill marks.  The grilling helped reveal the hidden taste of the grapefruit, making each bite sweeter rather than its normal tartness.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wok n' Roll

Since I've been home for the summer, I've discovered one of my new favorite foods: home-made stir-fry.  I love to cut up all different types of vegetables and wok them together.  Tofu is usually my protein of choice, sometimes shrimp, but tonight I decided on some chicken tenderloins.  In a separate pan, I grilled the chicken in a marinade of fresh chopped garlic with a splash of soy sauce.  On the other side of the stove, was a large black Wok filled with "c" shaped pieces of green celery, bright orange carrots cut into flat circles, crisp red pepper, chopped white onions, a couple green scallions, sliced Chinese mushrooms and a generous handful of shredded tri-colored cabbage.  I layered the vegetables on top of each other and pushed them around with a large black spatula, determined to cook every little piece.  When the vegetables were done stir-frying, I added the chicken and folded the vegetables on top, combining every ingredient into a finished product. 
I'm known in my house-hold for my kick-ass stir-frys, but this one hits the top of the charts.  Every new stir-fry is better than the next and this one was no exception.  The flavors of fresh garlic infused with soy-sauced chicken, the crunch of the red peppers, the meaty-flavor of the mushrooms and the complimentary taste of onions and scallions were mouth-watering.  As they would say in Chinese, Tas Ti Din Na.