Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad

This is my last recipe from our anniversary picnic :( I already miss that day already! Anyway, since we had a themed Asian menu, we needed a side item to go with our Banh Mi's & Tiger Woods'. I ended up making Asian Noodle Salad, that I adapted from a little bit from the most amazing woman ever, The Pioneer Woman. She is just awesome. I didn't change too much, but made the dressing a bit sweeter (because I like things sweet), and changed some of the vegetables around! We really loved this pasta salad, it was perfect for a hot summer day. It makes a whole bunch, so don't make as much as I did if there is only two of you eating it. But, it is one mean salad!! I definitely recommend it for a big family dinner, barbecue, or pot luck! Enjoy :)
Caramel Pork Belly Banh Mi's with Asian Noodle Salad
Asian Noodle Salad
For the Dressing:
Juice of 1 Lime
½C Olive Oil
½C Soy Sauce
2T Rice Wine Vinegar
2-3T Sesame Oil
½C Brown Sugar
¼C Honey
3T Fresh Ginger, Minced
2T Fresh Garlic, Minced
1 Shallot, Minced

For the Asian Noodle Salad:
1 Package of Linguine Noodles, Cooked & Cooled
1 Head of Purple Cabbage, Sliced
1C Shredded Carrot
1 Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 Bag of Bean Sprouts
2 Serrano Peppers, Minced
3T Fresh Thai Basil, Finely Chopped
1 Bunch of Green Onions, Sliced
1 Bag of Shelled Edamame Beans
10oz Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted

1. To Make the Dressing: In a large bowl, add in the olive oil, and then squeeze in the juice of one lime. Add in the soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved. Lastly, whisk in the fresh minced ginger and garlic until combined. Pour the dressing into a dressing jar and keep in the refrigerator until it is ready to be used. The dressing keep for about 3 days.
2. To Make the Asian Noodle Salad: In a large mixing bowl, toss together all of the ingredients until all of the vegetables are mixed throughout the pasta noodles. Next, whisk or shake the dressing one last time and then pour over the salad. Mix the salad with the dressing with tongs until everything is completely covered.
3. Place the dressed noodle salad on a platter and garnish with more cashews.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tiger Woods'

Tiga Tiga Woods Y'all! You must be wondering what on earth I'm talking about, and I'm definitely going to explain. If you live in the south, then you must love sweet tea. And I do, I'm obsessed with it. But, more specifically, Arnold Palmer's. It is my go-to drink, I literally order it everywhere. So when I was menu-planning for our picnic, I knew I wanted to make my favorite drink, but with an Asian twist because of our Banh Mi's & Asian Noodle Salad. So I decided to make Asian Arnold Palmer's (or what we call Tiger Woods' because he was the only famous golfer of Asian descent that we could think of at the time). If you don't want to go with our cheesy name, then you can always call them AAP's. Any who, instead of using sweet southern tea, I substituted green tea. And instead of lemonade, I made homemade limeade sweetened with a ginger-honey simple syrup. These drinks were so perfect for our hot summer day picnic, and it just fit perfectly with our menu! Enjoy my friends :)

Our Romantic Anniversary Picnic

Cheers to Four Years :)

Tiger Woods' or Asian Arnold Palmer's
For the Honey Ginger Syrup:
1C Honey
1C Water
4oz Fresh Ginger Root, Peeled & Finely Grated

For the Homemade Limeade:
1C Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed
Prepared & Cooled Honey Ginger Syrup
3C Cold Water

For the Tiger Woods:
Prepared Homemade Limeade
Chilled Green Tea
Ice Cubes
Limes, For Garnish

1. To Make the Honey Ginger Syrup: Place the honey and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil, and simmer until the honey is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and add in the freshly grated ginger and any juice. Cover and let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the ginger pulp, discarding the solids. Pour in the syrup into a container and let it cool completely in the refrigerator until chilled, for about an hour.
2. To Make the Homemade Limeade: In a large pitcher, add the fresh limejuice, cooled honey-ginger syrup, and cold water. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes until cold.
3. To Make the Tiger Woods’: In a glass filled with ice, pour in the limeade up until halfway. Next, pour in the chilled green tea, halfway up as well. End the drink by adding another splash of limeade or a squeeze of fresh limejuice. Stir to combine and enjoy!

*Check out Sweets For A Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!*

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Caramel Pork Belly Banh Mi Sandwiches

Here is another recipe from our anniversary picnic. This was the main course. Have you ever had a Banh Mi? I hadn't until I went to one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Star Provisions, and I saw this sandwich on the menu. It is a very strange sandwich and it immediately intrigued me. It is typically made with some kind of pork, pickled veggies, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapenos. We loved Star Provision's version, so we just had to recreate it! The sandwich turned out awesome, it's just like an Asian sub. So good. Enjoy :)

Caramel Pork Belly Banh Mi Sandwiches
For the Pickled Veggies:
½lb Carrots, Completely Dried & Cut into Matchsticks
½lb Daikon Radish, Completely Dried & Cut into Matchsticks
3C Warm Water
3T Rice Wine Vinegar
3T Sugar
2T Salt

For the Sriracha Mayo:
3T Mayo
1T Sriracha
1t Lime Juice
¼t Soy Sauce (optional)

For the Asian Dry Rub:
1T Ground Ginger
1T Five Spice Powder
1t White Pepper
2t Salt
2t Garlic Salt
1T Brown Sugar

For the Caramel Pork Belly:
2lb Pork Belly, Cut into 1 inch Slices or Cubes
Prepared Asian Dry Rub
2T White Distilled Vinegar
3T Sugar
2T Warm Water
1 Large Shallot, Minced
1 Large Garlic Clove, Minced
1T Fish Sauce
½-1C Water

For the Banh Mi Sandwiches:
1 Large, French Baguette (Cut the sandwiches in half and then lengthwise)
Pickled Vegetables
Sriracha Mayo
Sliced Caramel Pork Belly
Thin Slices of Cucumber
Serrano Peppers, Thinly Sliced
Thai Basil Leaves (cilantro can be substituted as well)

1. To Make the Pickled Vegetables: In a small bowl, mix the warm water, vinegar, sugar, and salt together until everything is dissolved. In a large bowl, toss together the carrots and radishes. Once the vegetables are tossed together, tightly fill the vegetable mixture into mason jars. Pour the liquid into the vegetable jars until full (up to the top). Close the lid and let it pickle for at least 3 days, but preferably a week (making it more sour).
2. Preparing the Pork Belly: In a small bowl, mix together all of the spices for your dry rub and set it aside while you prepare your pork. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the pork belly all over. The more you score; the more fat will be released, making the pork belly crispier. Turn the pork belly over and make incisions in the meat about ½cm deep and about 2cm apart. Rub the prepared dry rub into the pork flesh and on top of the skin, making sure to rub it into the incisions as well. Place, uncovered, into the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight.
3. To Make the Caramel Sauce: Add the sugar and water to a heavy bottom saucepan. Heat the pan on medium heat, and let the sugar melt. As the sugar begins to melt, the mixture will begin to turn golden brown. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture occasionally. As soon as it turns a medium golden brown, remove from the heat. When it is finish, set it aside until you are ready to glaze the pork belly.
4. Cooking the Pork Belly: In large saucepan, turn on heat to medium. Heat the oil and then add shallots. Slowly cook shallots for about 1 minute and add the garlic. Cook both until they become soft and fragrant. Add pork belly. Cook pork belly for about 10 minutes or until all the edges are seared and browned. Add fish sauce and cook pork belly for about another 5 minutes. Add about ½-1 cup of water. If you need more water to cover the pork, add more until the pork is covered. Turn heat to low and cook for about another 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Then add the caramel sauce. Continue braising the pork on low heat for about another 45 minutes-1 hour, or until pork is tender. Stir occasionally.
5. To Make the Sriracha Mayo: In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. To Assemble the Banh Mi Sandwiches: Spread the Sriracha mayo on all of the sides of the bread and then stack all of the following ingredients on to the sandwich and enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fried Zucchini Sticks with Pink Sauce

Another football weekend is headed our way, our last week before college football starts, yay! This is pretty much preseason for tailgatin'. I can't wait to share all my favorite appetizers & snacks. Anyway, this is recipe is a great dipping classic. And it's fried. You can't get better than fried food. These zucchini sticks are perfectly crunchy on the outside, but still soft in the center. I also love dipping them into pink sauce instead of marinara (which is what it is typically served with). Go dirty birds!! Enjoy :)

Fried Zucchini Sticks with Pink Sauce
For the Pink Sauce:
2C Prepared Leftover Marinara Sauce
½C Light Cream
½t Red Pepper Flakes 

For the Fried Zucchini Sticks:
1 Large Zucchini, Cut into Sticks & Patted Dry
2C AP Flour
2 Eggs
¼C Milk
3C Panko Breadcrumbs
1C Parmesan, Grated
Salt, For Sprinkling
Olive Oil, For Frying

1. To Make the Pink Sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the leftover marinara over medium heat. Whisk in the cream until smooth. Add in the red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer while you make the zucchini sticks.
2. To Make the Fried Zucchini Sticks: Slice the zucchini to about sticks and pat them dry. Next, you have to set up a battering station. I use 3 pie tins. For the first station, I mix the flour. For the second station, I whisk together the eggs and milk. For the third station, pour the contents of one box of Panko breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan. Now, place the slices of zucchini into the flour mixture, then into the egg wash, and finally the panko (making sure they are completely covered). Put the breaded slices on a tin foil-lined baking sheet with a cooling rack on top, and then put the pan into the refrigerator and let the sticks rest for about 15-30 minutes. In a medium sauté pan, heat about 2 inches of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil has heated, fry the zucchini sticks for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden-brown & crispy. Place them onto a baking sheet & sprinkle with salt. Keep them warm in the oven while you fry the rest of your zucchini.
3. To Serve the Fried Zucchini Sticks: Serve the zucchini sticks hot with the warm Pink Sauce and enjoy immediately.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Hot Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting

Okay, so after my montage of anniversary pictures, I gotta get focused back on the food :) As part of our celebration, I treated my Mountain Man to a yummy picnic at the park during the day. Our menu included Asian Arnold Palmer's (which we called Tiger Wood's), Pork Belly Banh Mi's, Asian Noodle Salad, & Red Hot Velvet Whoopie Pies. I should honestly be posting these recipes in order of how we ate them, but that's just not the way I roll. Dessert always comes first in this household. And it was just the yummiest ever. I was shocked at how much I loved these whoopie pies. I added cinnamon to the red velvet batter to reinforce the flavor. But the real shocker of cinnamon came from the cinnamon-cream cheese filling that was then rolled in crushed red hot candies. This dessert was perfect for our romantic picnic, but carried a fiery lustful punch! I really loved these... who would ever think cinnamon would work so great with red velvet? I didn't! I will be posting the rest of our recipes from our picnic later on this weekend! Enjoy :)

My Mountain Man Enjoyin' His Whoopie Pie

Everybody Loves Whoopies!

The Best Part: Crushed Red Hot Candies

Red Hot Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting & Crushed Red Hot Candies
For the Red Hot Velvet Whoopie Pies:
2C AP Flour
2T Cocoa Powder
½t Baking Powder
¼t Salt
1t Cinnamon
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1C Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Large Egg
1t Vanilla
½C Buttermilk, Room Temperature
1t White Distilled Vinegar
1oz Red Food Coloring

For the Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Filling:
1 8oz Block of Cream Cheese, Softened
5T Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
2t Vanilla
2 ½C Confectioners’ Sugar, Sifted   
2t Cinnamon
Red Hot Candies, Slightly Crushed (for rolling) & Whole (for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and then set aside. 
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light & fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, white distilled vinegar, and red food coloring until blended. Reduce the speed to low, and beat in a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, beating each addition until just incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been used, and then mix in the final third of the dry ingredients (do not over-beat). 
3. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the batter onto the prepared pans. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes, until they can be safely transferred to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before filling. 
4. To Make the Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the cream cheese & butter on medium-high speed until well combined & smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the sifted confectioners’ sugar & cinnamon until totally incorporated and smooth. Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plan round tip, and fill the big with the frosting.
5. Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Flip over one cookie of each pair, so that the flat side is facing up. Pipe the frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together, so that the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling to reach the edges. Roll the edges of the frosting in crushed red hot candies for a nice crunch & presentation. 
6. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to eat!

source: red velvet whoopie pies.

*Check out Sweets For A Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!*

Our Four Year Anniversary in Pictures

Our anniversary was amazing, beyond words. So I'm going to let all the pictures do the sweet talkin' :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate Covered-Mixed Nut Brittle

I have to keep this short & sweet because today is the boyfriend & I's four year anniversary :) I can't believe we have been together this long! Madness. Anyway, so we have been busy all day with lovin' on each other & all. So, here's a quick post for Chocolate Covered-Mixed Nut Brittle. It is inspired from that amazing cake, Banana Brittle Caramel Cake with Nutella Buttercream, that I made a while ago. I couldn't get over how good that brittle was, so I had to make it again. But this time double it, and add more nuts, salt, & chocolate. This makes a whole bunch (I really mean it), so you can easily half it and still have enough to last you a while. I just figured I'd make enough while I could! I'll post recipes & pictures from our anniversary celebration later on this weekend! Enjoy :)
Chocolate Covered-Mixed Nut Brittle
For the Brittle:
4C Sugar
1C Water
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
2/3C Light Corn Syrup
1t Baking Soda
Pinch of Cinnamon
¼C Cashews, Pecans, Peanuts, Almonds, & Walnuts (each)
2C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted
Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling

1. To Make the Mixed-Nut Brittle Crumble: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup and bring it to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is a light brown color and registers to 300 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and a pinch of cinnamon. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, and then immediately scrape the brittle onto two large rimmed, non-stick baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon, spread the brittle into a thin, even layer on each pan. Sprinkle the brittle with some fleur de sel let it cool completely, about 30 minutes.
2. Covering the Brittle: Spread the melted semi-sweet chocolate on top of the brittle in a smooth even layer. Sprinkle some more fleur de sel on top of the chocolate and let the chocolate slightly cool by placing in the refrigerator to chill. Break the brittle into large shards. 
3. Keep cold in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Zucchini Parmesan Stacks

I'm not much of a gardener, but my mom, Peej, is. She always has a million flowers in bloom and a huge garden full of vegetables. So, last week she brought me three HUGE zucchinis that she had grown. So, I tossed & turned trying to decide on what to make with these big babies. I ended up making Zucchini Parmesan Stacks and a few other things that I will post later on this week. I have always loved anything parmesan (especially eggplant), so I knew this would be good. I fried the zucchini in panko, so that it was extra-crispy, and then stacked them with homemade marinara sauce, fresh basil leaves, and gooey mozzarella. The dinner turned out great... I might actually prefer this over eggplant now! Enjoy :)

Zucchini Parmesan Stacks
For the Marinara:
2 15oz Cans of Whole, Peeled Tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
4T Fresh Parsley, Chopped
2T Fresh Garlic, Minced
1t Dried Oregano
1t Salt
¼t Black Pepper
6T Olive Oil
½C Sweet Onion, Finely Chopped
½C White Wine
6 Basil Leaves, Roughly Chopped
For the Zucchini:
1 Large Zucchini, Cut into ½inch Thick Slices
2C AP Flour
2 Eggs
¼C Milk
3C Panko Breadcrumbs
1C Parmesan, Grated
Salt, For Sprinkling
Olive Oil, For Frying

For the Zucchini Parmesan:
Fried Zucchini Slices
Prepared Marinara
Thick Slices of Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil Leaves (plus some chopped for garnish)
Olive Oil, For Garnish
Balsamic Vinegar, For Garnish
1. To Make the Marinara: In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add in the fresh basil. Keep on low heat until ready to stack your zucchini parmesan.
2. To Make the Zucchini: Slice the zucchini to about ½inch thick. Next, you have to set up a battering station. I use 3 pie tins. For the first station, I mix the flour. For the second station, I whisk together the eggs and milk. For the third station, pour the contents of one box of Panko breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan. Now, place the slices of zucchini into the flour mixture, then into the egg wash, and finally the panko (making sure they are completely covered). Put the breaded slices on a tin foil-lined baking sheet with a cooling rack on top, and then put the pan into the refrigerator and let the slices rest for about 15-30 minutes. In a medium sauté pan, heat about 2 inches of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil has heated, fry the zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden-brown & crispy. Place them onto a baking sheet & sprinkle with salt. Keep them warm in the oven while you fry the rest of your zucchini.
3. To Make the Zucchini Parmesan Stacks: Stack the fried zucchini in a baking dish with the marinara sauce, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and it has started to turn golden-brown. Serve on a plate with more fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

source: marinara sauce.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pok Pok Crispy Chicken Wings

I have heard about these wings for a while. They are apparently the best wings ever from a restaurant in Portland. They are juicy, crispy, sticky, sweet, & spicy. I mean pretty much everything you can ask for when makin' some wings. These wings were awesome. One of my favorite wings to date. And we love wings. We make a different type of wing every week for tailgates. We made them extremely spicy, but you can reduce the spice to your liking. Definitely make these the next chance you get... like tonight before the Falcons game :) Enjoy!

Pok Pok Crispy Chicken Wings
For the Marinade:
3lbs Chicken Wings, Split at the Drumettes
1C Hot Water
2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed & Roughly Chopped
Kosher Salt
½C Fish Sauce
½C Soy Sauce
1C Sugar

For the Crispy Wings:
1Q Vegetable Oil, For Frying
Marinated Chicken Wings, Removed from the Liquid & Patted Completely Dry
1C Cornstarch

To Make the Spicy Vietnamese Caramel:
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2T Vegetable Oil
¼C Fish Sauce
¼C Soy Sauce 
¼C Sugar
¼C Honey
¼-½C Chili-Garlic Sauce (depending on how spicy you want it)
Fried, Minced Garlic, For Garnish
Fresh Cilantro, Minced

1. To Marinade the Wings: In a small bowl, steep the crushed garlic and salt with the hot water for roughly 5 minutes. After waiting, whisk in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar until all of it is completely mixed and the sugar has dissolved. Let this mixture cool completely before marinating the wings (I let mine chill in the refrigerator until cold). Once the marinade is cold, place the wings into a plastic bag (or large container) and pour the cold marinade over the chicken, tossing to coat completely. Marinate the wings for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight to enhance the flavor and juiciness (making sure you toss the wings occasionally throughout the process, so that they are evenly covered). Once the wings have marinated for your desired time, remove the chicken wings from the liquid and completely pat them dry of any excess liquid. These must be as dry as possible for them to be extremely crispy.
2. To Make the Crispy Wings: In your deep fryer, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. While your oil heats, coat your wings. Put the cornstarch in a shallow bowl and add the marinated, dried wings turning & flipping them to coat. Shake off the excess cornstarch and fry the wings in batches until golden brown and cooked through, roughly about 8-10 minutes. Drain them on paper towels until ready to coat them with the sauce.
3. To Make the Spicy Vietnamese Caramel: In a wok, heat the 2T to medium heat and add in the minced garlic, cooking them until golden brown without burning them, about 2-3 minutes (keep a close eye because burnt garlic tastes awful). Remove the fried garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain it on a paper towel, while you make the caramel. In the oiled wok, bring the pan to medium heat and add in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. As the sugar begins to melt, the mixture will start to thicken up into a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Once it starts to thicken, whisk in the honey and Sriracha until smooth and thick (don’t let the sauce unattended because it will burn). Add in the fried wings and toss in the sauce until they are coated and sticky.
4. To Serve the Pok Pok Wings: Once the wings are covered in the sauce, transfer them to a bowl or serving plate and garnish with the fried garlic and minced cilantro. Serve immediately and enjoy.