Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I remember the first time I ate brussels sprouts.  It was roasted with bacon pieces and all that glistening bacon fat along with it.  It's too bad the bacon negated any of the nutritional value in the brussels sprouts, because it tasted oh so good! That spawned my curiosity in that nubby green vegetable.  I started looking up recipes so I could make them at home and was surprised to find out how easy it is! My favorite way to eat them is simply roasted with olive oil and minimal seasonings.  That way you really taste the brussels sprouts, which if perfectly cooked will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Yum!

Whole Foods has a very basic recipe for brussels sprouts and it is one of my go-to weeknight recipes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 TB Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TB grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pho 32 & Shabu

Piggy KL and I share very similar eating habits and one of our favorites from back in our college days is Shabu Shabu!  Shabu Shabu is a Japanese version of the Chinese hot pot.  But in this post, I'll be talking about the Korean take on Shabu Shabu (at a Korean-run Vietnamese restaurant...confusing I know!).

Both Piggy KL and I grew up on hot pot.  It's pretty much a staple at both our family's dinners (Piggy KL even posted about it in her Non-traditional Christmas Dinners post here).  Piggy KL and I used to make the trek to our favorite Shabu Shabu spot Minni's Shabu in Flushing.  But after a Korean friend of mine introduced me to Pho 32 & Shabu in K-town, we've been able to enjoy Shabu Shabu much closer to home!

Most people go to Pho 32 & Shabu for the pho, but each table there is actually equipped with a hot plate at each seat so diners can enjoy an individual Shabu Shabu pot.  I've had both the pho and the Shabu Shabu and would say that the pho is ehhh but the Shabu Shabu is the REAL hidden gem...which I'm sharing with you all today!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oven Roasted Salmon with Panko Crust

Looking for a quick and easy recipe for salmon? Here it is! This recipe only requires 4 ingredients and is a quick option if you're pressed for time on a weeknight.  It's also on the healthier side, so is perfect for those days when you're looking to eat light.  I seasoned the salmon with Cajun seasoning, but you can easily substitute this with some salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.  It gives the fish a nice hint of heat.

Serve it with some rice and sauteed spinach with garlic for a complete dinner. And voila, you're done!  Check it out...

Oven Roasted Salmon with Panko Crust

Prep time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 15 to 18 minutes

3 to 4 6 oz. Salmon filets
Cajun seasoning
1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Pam Cooking Spray

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Sometimes, this little Piggy needs a cleanse!  All this rich eating lately has increased my appetite and I need a little help resetting...BluePrintCleanse to the rescue!

Apparantly, having the ability to not only finish your meal but also those of your dining companions is not a ladylike feature.  And so, I've been juicing since Monday and today is day 4 for me!  Although I am not a newbie to juicing (this is my 3rd go with BluePrintCleanse and 4th cleanse overall!), I never seem to feel any more prepared than I was for my first cleanse.   

For those of you unfamiliar with juice cleanses and BluePrintCleanse, you basically drink six fresh veggie and fruit juices per day.  No food!  These are not the juices you get at the grocery store or the shakes from jamba juice - these are fresh pressed juices with  nothing but what they get out of the fruit and/or veggies.  No preservatives, no sugars (well, maybe some agave), no artificial flavoring.

With BluePrintCleanse, you select from three cleanse levels (I went with level 2 - Foundation) and BluePrintCleanse does the rest!

The day before you begin your cleanse, BluePrintCleanse will deliver up to three days worth of drinks to you (as drinks are not pasteurized nor preserved, they only have a shelf-life of up to three days!).  Each delivery comes with:

A cooler lunchbox and some ice-packs to bring your drinks around in-

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yao's Dragon Beard Candy

I was already on a high from my lucky find of Osmanthus candy in Chinatown, putting an end to a 5 year long search.  My luck continued that day as I was wandering around aimlessly.  I stumbled upon a little cart on the corner of Chrystie and Grand Street, right by the B/D subway entrance, called Yao's Dragon Beard Candy.  It's not a well-known Chinese dessert.  In fact, the first and last time I had it was in the Vancouver Chinatown over 10 years ago!

There was a man making candy inside the cart as I approached, and I noticed a write up by the Village Voice posted on their window.  They wrote a good review of it here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Steak 'n Shake

Sometimes you just crave a good burger and fries...and maybe a milkshake to wash it all down!  When I heard that a Steak 'n Shake was opening in Midtown, I KNEW I had to give it a try.  I had never been before, but a college buddy from Chicago often talked about how good it was. My opportunity to try had finally come!

So on the second day after it opened, I made the pilgrimage to NYC's very first Steak 'n Shake.  Look at what greeted us:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year and Dragon Cupcakes!

It's the year of the Dragon!

I'm hoping that this new year will bring good tidings to you all [and a change of luck to those of us who need it!].  It doesn't hurt to follow the usual Chinese traditions to start the new year off on the right foot.  Hey, I need all the help I can get!

Here's my checklist:
  • Get together with family [check]
  • Have a new year's feast [check]
  • Clean the house apartment [check]
  • Clean myself! [check]
  • Wear red [eh... I'm hoping pink counts! Red just didn't match today's suit]
  • Wish friends and family a happy new year! [check and check]
As my family gathered over the weekend to celebrate the new year, we ate lots of traditional food like fish (to wish for a plentiful new year), noodles (longevity), meat balls with strings of seaweed (prosperity), and oysters (good tidings).

Chinese New Year feast cooked by my Dad!
My contribution to the feast was dessert - hoping to put my skills from cake decorating class to good use! I wanted to do cupcakes this time and wound up honoring the new year of the dragon.  I got the idea from Hoosier Homemade's blog and was so impressed/inspired by her dragon cupcakes!  Here is how I put my own spin on it...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Delinquent Piggy


I couldn't resist the call of McDonald's breakfast this morning.  Why is it so irresistable in moments of weakness?  Oh so goooood...


This little piggy has been a delinquent blogger lately!  Sadly, my accountant-by-day alter ego has taken over and I'm smokin' up a storm on my Hello Kitty calculator at work (yes, it does exist and it sits next to the rest of my pink hello kitty goodies in my cube!).

Only good thing about working late?  Free dinner !!  I have some favorite spots that I love to order from during these sad times and just wanted to share with you what I've been scarfing down in front of my computer the past couple days:

Pizza from Previti Pizza:

Chopped salad and spanakopita from Pita Grill: 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Osmanthus Candy

I'm so excited to share this amazing find with you!

When I was vacationing in China 5 years ago, I visited a beautiful city called Guilin.  I traveled there along the Li River and it truly was one of the most pristine places I've ever had the honor of seeing.  I even sailed past water buffaloes in the river!

Beautiful scenery along the Li River
Water Buffalo!  I waved hello but they were busy drinking water...
Guilin is known for its gorgeous scenery and its name translates to "forest of sweet osmanthus".  (Osmanthus is a fragrant flowering plant).  One fond memory of my visit to Guilin was having a very delicate candy called Osmanthus cake.  The airport at Guilin was the last place I had found it.  Ever since then, I have perused the candy aisle at Asian grocery stores hoping to find Osmanthus candy again, with no luck. I felt like I won the lottery when I found it at a newly opened grocery store in Chinatown called New York Mart!

Osmanthus Candy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dragonfly Cakes' Petits Fours

For my birthday last month, I was surprised when a little box arrived in the mail for me.  It wasn't anything I would expect like clothes, a bag, household trinkets... basically anything non-perishable!  It was a box of adorable petits fours from Dragonfly Cakes!  I was a little wary upon opening it, wondering how in the world it stayed fresh (they're based in California).  Even if it was edible, I figured it probably suffered a bit in transit.  It did come packaged with refrigerant to keep it cool in transit.

They are so pretty though that I was intrigued and couldn't resist biting into one as soon as I opened the box (and even before I remembered to snap a picture!).

From L to R: Chocolate, Vanilla-Orange, Apricot Petits Fours (12 for $36.95)

Boy was I wrong! They tasted soo good! My pretty little box came with three different flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla-Orange, and Apricot.  I bit into a green one (apricot) - the shell was made of chocolate and the inside was three little layers of cake.  It was moist, and not too sweet.  It was the perfect bite-size piece of cake.  All three flavors were delicious, but my favorite was probably the Vanilla-Orange (with the Apricot a very close second!).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ben's Kosher Deli (Long Island)

I attempted to blog about this on Wednesday, but my post suffered a fatal disaster when the Blogger app on my phone collided with my horrendous AT&T coverage. And poof! My post disappeared, now lost in cyberspace. Sigh. Hopefully not many of you read it during the 4 hours it was up, in which case, sorry for the repetition! Well, here’s attempt #2!

One of my favorite places to go when I was growing up in Long Island was Ben’s Kosher Deli. They have a great assortment of sandwiches, hot entrees, soups and other little noshes. In fact, during my younger years, if I had Friday ‘date nights’ with my Mom, we would often grab dinner at Ben’s and then wander over to Barnes & Noble next door. They still have the best cole slaw I’ve ever had, and I crave it when I go too many months without it!

When I was home during the Christmas holiday, my family visited Ben’s for lunch. We wasted no time pigging out, as they set down a small platter of cole slow and bowl of pickles (sour and dill) in the middle of our table, even before we ordered. You think free refills on soda is good? Ben’s gives free refills on cole slaw and pickles, so eat up! (And if you have any left at the end of your meal, don’t forget to pack it up to take home with you!

Best cole slaw!
Sour and dill pickles

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baking: Andes Creme de Menthe Cookies

I've recently gotten into the habit of walking up and down the baking supply aisle in every grocery store I go into.  Most aisles are pretty basic here in the city so when I took a trip to Target in Brooklyn, I was awed at all the goodies they have there!

One thing that caught my eye - Andes Creme De Menthe Baking Chips!
Andes Creme De Menthe Baking Chips (pic from amazon)

I've always been a fan of the Andes Chocolate Mints when I was little, so why not make cookies using these baking chips!  I went on the Andes parent company website (www.tootsie.com) and pulled down a recipe for their Andes Creme De Menthe Cookies.  Its a basic cookie recipe with a minty twist - perfect for you all to try!

Andes Creme De Menthe Cookies 
Recipe from http://www.tootsie.com/rec_cdmcookies.php 

1/2 cup salted butter - softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz.) Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips
2-2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roasted Duck Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge)

My little adventure to make Roasted Duck Congee actually started 2 days ago, when I had a craving for Peking Duck. 

Peking Duck House, as their name suggests, serves very good Peking Duck in Manhattan.  They have a location in Chinatown, which is almost always packed as it's popular among locals and tourists, and they also have another location in Midtown East.   A few nights ago, I caved into my craving for Peking Duck and ordered one for take out from their Midtown location.  My duck was packaged well and came with their house-made pancakes, scallions, cucumbers and house peking duck sauce, and also a pint of white rice.  Wow, so much food!

We also ordered the House Made Noodles with Beef, not realizing the enormous amount of duck we were actually getting.  It was yummy, and complemented the duck well!

After picking through all the duck, we were left with lots of bones.  Thinking back to the mornings after Thanksgiving and Christmas, I recalled that my Dad would take the leftover bones from our Turkeys (carcass works best if you have it!) and make Congee from it.  The flavors from the bones would carry through into the porridge and would make it soo delicious and unique!  I figured leftover Peking Duck bones would do the trick too, hoping the roasted flavor would give a great taste. Afterall, their preparation of the Peking Duck sounds amazing (according to their website):

"...air is first pumped into the duck to stretch and loosen the skin, and then boiled water is repeatedly spread over the bird, which is then carefully dried. The dried skin is rubbed all over with maltose and the duck is then roasted in a hot oven for a period of time until the meat is tender and the skin crispy."

Cool right?? Turns out it does make make fabulous congee! Read on to see how I made it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Burger House

I like Korean food.  I like burgers.  Therefore, I like Burger House

From the outside, Burger House looks like any other burger joint - no frills, seating available for a quick bite, but definitely nothing fancy.  When you go in and take a look at the menu, however, you see that this place is not your average burger joint.

Ordering counter at Burger House
Burger menu

Burger House is Asian owned!  And in addition to traditional burgers, they serve Asian fusion burgers including Bulgogi and Kalbi burgers!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Old Fashioned Cocktail

These days it's starting to feel bitterly cold, which means I start going into hibernation mode instead of venturing out. 

Unfortunately my usual cocktail places are 25+ blocks away from my apartment.  On this particularly cold day, I just couldn't muster up the energy to venture out.  So instead, we made our own cocktails at home!

In fact, I'm going to take it a step further and add DIY cocktailing to my list of 2012 goals. I don't dare call it a resolution, because that means I'll never do it (a resolution that has been an annual contender since age 10 has been to stop biting my nails... nope). 2011's goals were to learn more about wine, cooking authentic Chinese, and to start a food blog, and well, I did!  :)

We made our own Old Fashioned, which is a classic American cocktail and has minimal ingredients.  You'll notice the ice cubes I use are unusually large - these are made using extra large silicon ice cube trays, which work great for cocktails because they melt slower and don't dilute your drink as quickly.  Check out how I made it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Brunch: Peels

There's a brunch spot that offers a Build-A-Biscuit option!  And its only a couple blocks away from my apartment! Yippee!!

As I approached Peels in the East Village / NoHo area, the small crowd mulling around outside is a key indicator that tasty goodies await my belly inside.  And good news - Peels takes reservations, even for brunch!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Death of a Piggy favorite: BCD Tofu House

Piggy KL just called me (Piggy KK) at work to deliver the worst news ever.  BCD Tofu House in midtown has shuttered! 

(Picture from Midtown Lunch)


Check out Midtown Lunch's post for more deets --> http://midtownlunch.com/2012/01/03/ktown-bcd-tofu-house-closes-over-the-holidays/

Sad.  Where will the piggys get their late nite organic tofu fix now???  =(

Fatty 'Cue (West Village)

Question:  Asian cuisine + American BBQ = ?
Answer:  Fatty 'Cue!

Combining these two cuisines results in truly amazing Asian flavors with great quality meats.  I just visited Fatty 'Cue in the West Village, and they also have a location in Williamsburg which I visited over the summer.  Surprisingly the menus differ at the two locales, which makes it all the more interesting to try both!

The food was delicious and every dish had different flavors.  Nothing one-note here! The food line up consisted of:

Ham, Jam, Butter & Bread (edward's ham, pretzel bread, cincalok, aged butter)
Trippa 'Malaysiana' (Tripe in a red anchovy curry)
Special: Braised Beef Cheeks with Noodles and Chinese Sausage

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lazy (Wo)Man's Bellini

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy 2012! 

Cheers from my couch!

This year, I opted to stay in and enjoy the festivities on my couch.  I got myself a nice bottle of champagne, set up some cheese & crackers and snacks, and relaxed in my jammies!

Just to spice it up a bit, I decided to make bellini's with my champagne.  However, when I looked up some bellini recipes online, they looked kind of of crazy with all these ingredients and directives to puree peaches with food processors.  Let's be honest - I originally envisioned myself sipping the champagne directly out of the bottle with a curly straw (curly straws were as fancy as I was getting) so anything involving food processors was way beyond my commitment level.