Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Top 10 Posts of 2012

Looks like this year is just about over. Because 2012 is almost over, I find it fitting to do a year in review of my top 10 favorite posts of 2012. Let's get it started.

Number 10: Spinach dip - It's creamy, cheesy, a little spicy and with the spinach it has to be just a little bit healthy, right?

Number 9: Pineapple Upside Down Cake - I've tried many Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipes before and this one by Eva Longoria is by far the best one.

Number 8: Ginger Molasses Cookies - I ended this year with this cookie and this has just the right amount of spice, is crisp and chewy.

Number 7: Turon (Filipino Banana Lumpia/Eggroll) - My filipino post of the year. This is by far my favorite Filipino dessert.

Number 6: Chocolate Mocha Cake - Moist chocolate cake with a creamy coffee flavored frosting. Delish! 

Number 5: Chocolate Raspberry Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Buttercream - Chocolate and Raspberry. How can you go wrong with those flavors?

Number 4: Chicken Katsu - By far one of the easiest chicken dishes to make. It's simply breaded fried chicken breast with sauce. I think that's all I have to say here.

Number 3: Oreo Cupcakes - These cupcakes were the first recipe I posted as a Foodie 100 member. Using a boxed cake mix makes this easy and makes the Oreo Frosting the star.

Number 2: Orange Chicken - I love my "Americanized" Chinese food and Orange Chicken is one of them. Crisp chicken in a sweet and spicy orange sauce.

Number 1: Sour Cream Coffee Cake - This Sour Cream Coffee Cake not only got the most views this year but was one of my favorites due to it's moistness and crunchiness from the crumb topping.

So that was my 2012. What was your favorite post from this year? 

Let's hope 2013 will be just as good and just as delicious. Don't be shy and stop on by next year!

-Aaron John

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ginger Molasses Cookies


Growing up, I wasn't one to eat these "spice" type cookies. It wasn't until I was in my art class way back in elementary school that I had my first gingersnap from our art teacher. Now, I thought the flavor was amazing but that art teacher, who was probably in her 20's and left the year after, gave us some STALE ASS cookies. Oh heck no!

I don't know, maybe it was the fact that that teacher gave us some stale cookies. Maybe it was the fact that my mom didn't like them. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't want to get them from the store in those big packages with 437824 cookies in them and knowing that I will be the only one eating them. Whatever the reason, rarely did I eat them.

Then last year, I tackled Speculoos right after trying "Cookie Butter" at my friend's house which was amazing. But this year, it's a whole other spice cookie. This year, I tackle that stale ass gingersnap from my younger years and make a Ginger Molasses Cookie.

This cookie makes up for that stale gingersnap by 10X. I reduced the amount of cloves by half because I personally find cloves to be overpowering but they still had great clove flavor. These cookies have just the right amount of spice, are crisp on the outside, have a nice crunch from the sugar (if you use raw sugar to roll them in) and they have this soft and chewy center to them if you bake them for a shorter amount of time.

So here's my lesson. If someone passes off a stale ass gingersnap to you, throw it back in their face. Well...maybe just throw it in the trash and make these cookies when you get home instead.

Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe from 17 and Baking

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves (I used 1/2 tsp ground cloves)
Pinch of salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
Sugar for rolling (I used raw sugar)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine together the brown sugar, molasses, canola oil, and egg until smooth. Mix the flour mixture into the brown mixture, stirring until dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up the dough using a 1-ounce scoop. Roll the balls in sugar and place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. I baked mine for 9 minutes. Bake it longer for crisper cookies

Cookies will be very soft but will firm up. Leave on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

-Aaron John

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Crinkles

Eleven weeks, seventeen quizzes, four midterms, three speeches and one final later, I can officially say that Fall Quarter 2012 is officially done and over with. No more early mornings, no more studying and no more stressing, well until Winter Quarter starts up. But until then, it's time to finally start baking again!

Now, I have to say, I bookmarked this recipe for Chocolate Crinkles back in September and this was the first thing I vowed I would make on the first day of break. Well, the first day of break had arrived and here goes! I love how unique each and every cookie comes out. Dare I say, just like snow flakes? Ha!

If you love chocolate, Chocolate Crinkles are for you! Not only are these chocolaty, (btw did you know "chocolaty" is actually word? I had no clue either!), but these cookies combine the best of both worlds, or three worlds in this case. These Chocolate Crinkles have the shape of a cookie, have a somewhat caky quality to them and have this brownie effect by being almost fudgy. Just make sure not to over-bake them! For a Holiday cookie giveaway, this is a great addition to any list!

Chocolate Crinkles
Recipe from Simply Recipes

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (though you can do this with a wooden spoon, too) beat together the cocoa powder, white sugar, and vegetable oil until it comes together into a shiny, gritty, black dough of sorts.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder if using. Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined. Do not overbeat. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill the dough for four hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioner's sugar in a wide bowl. Using a tablespoon, get clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch (2.5 cm) sized balls using your hands. Roll the balls in the confectioner's sugar and place on the cookie sheets (you should be able to get 12-16 on each sheet). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool a minute or two on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

-Aaron John

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Southern Italian Ratatouille

Can it really be? Has AJ really posted something new?! I know, I know. It's been almost a century, or so it may seem, since I dusted off my old blog and actually put out a blog post. Well here's one to finally post about. I tell you, being a full time student, working part time and the endless amount of work I have to get done, it's almost becoming impossible to blog on a weekly basis as I have before. Though my blog post will become sparse over this school year, I'll do my best to post as often as I can.

First of all, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I hope it was full of the three F's, friends, family and food. My Thanksgiving was mellow and consisted of me cooking the whole meal! Most things I cooked, I blogged about once before such as Prime Rib and Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia, but this year, I added a new vegetable dish that embodies fall flavors, a Southern Italian Ratatouille by Michael Chiarello.

This dish is something really earthy. It's somewhat tangy from the tomatoes, the veggies still have a nice crispness to it and the flavor of thyme and basil run through the whole dish. Definitely delicious and worked wonderfully with the Thanksgiving meal. Just make sure you thoroughly brown the veggies. In the word of Anne Burrell "Brown food tastes good". Otherwise, you'll just have steamed vegetables, and we can all agree, that's just blehhhh.

Souther Italian Ratatouille
Recipe by Michael Chiarello

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh wild or domestic mushrooms
Gray salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek, white part only
3/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, about 1/2 pounds
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach, sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms and cook, without moving them, until brown on 1 side, about 1 minute. Continue to saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and pour onto cookie sheet to cool. Set used pan aside.

 In a separate, clean skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic. Cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. In the pan where the mushrooms were, add 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow squash. Cook until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes and drain onto same cookie sheet with mushrooms.

 Place peppers in hot pan where squash was cooking, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of thyme. When heated thoroughly, add peppers to waiting mushrooms and yellow squash. Add zucchini to the same pan, add remaining thyme, cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Pull both pans (onions and zucchini) off the heat, and add to cookie sheet with other vegetables.

 In the former zucchini/mushroom pan, cook leeks to soften, about 2 minutes. In the other, bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Season the leeks with salt and pepper, to taste, and add spinach. When spinach is wilted, add cooked leeks to cooling vegetables on cookie sheet. Add basil to the tomatoes, then add tomatoes to cookie sheet. Stir gently, and top with Parmesan and serve.

-Aaron John

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Instagram Quickie: Lemon Marinated Grilled Salmon

Life has been busy. With work, juggling classes and even applying for another major on top of my Biochemistry major and Diversity minor, it has been pretty hectic. Not to mention, it's only been two weeks since the start of the new school year!

On top the start of the new school year, this Seattle weather has been a big tease. Freezing cold temperatures in the morning and Summer temperatures in the afternoon? Who would have thought. It's the only time where Winter drinks like Hot Cocoa meet in the morning and Summer Foods like Grilled Salmon meet in the afternoon. I guess Summer just wants to stick around that much longer.

Lemon Marinated Grilled Salmon
Recipe by Me

1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 to 5 (5-ounce) Salmon fillets
Additional lemon to squeeze over the cooked Salmon

Preheat the grill to medium

Whisk the marinade together by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder until homogenous. Place the salmon fillets in a dish and pour the marinade over the salmon and  flip them over a few times to ensure the marinade is completely coating the fish. Set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the Salmon from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush and oil the grill. Place the salmon onto the grill and let it cook for about 4 minutes for a crust to develop and those famous grill marks can form. Using a spatula, flip the salmon over and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes longer. The salmon will go from a translucent color to more opaque as it cooks. If the grill flares up, move the salmon to a cooler part of the grill. 

Remove the salmon from the grill and onto a platter. Immediately squeeze more lemon juice over the top.

-Aaron John

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Double Crusted Peach Cobbler

Fall has officially arrived so why do I still see peaches at the grocery store? Either these stores want to mock us with the fact that Summer is over or they want us to hold onto the flavors of Summer for just a bit longer. 

Whatever their reason may be, it gives us just another excuse to believe that Summer may not be over after all. If that round, orange-yellow, tart and sweet fruit is the only reminder of Summer that we can hold onto, I'll take it!

It's been years since I first saw this recipe on the Food Network and I've wanted to make it ever since I saw Bobby Flay's wife make it. All I have to say is...TWO CRUSTS!! Enough to urge you to make it huh?

Double Crusted Peach Cobbler
Recipe by Stephanie March

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping and rolling
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Peach Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch salt
10 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (if peaches are out of season, use thawed frozen peaches)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough just comes together.

Remove dough and knead lightly on a lightly floured surface until it just comes together. Divide the dough in half and form into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Once dough is chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll each disk into a 9-inch square approximately 1/4-inch thick. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and return to the refrigerator to chill until ready to assemble.

Melt butter in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and water and cook until sugar is dissolved. Add nutmeg, salt, peaches, and flour and cook for 5 minutes.

Final Assembly
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place half of the peach mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch square buttered baking dish using a slotted spoon. Top the peaches with 1 layer of dough. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is light golden brown.

Remove from the oven and top the crust with the remaining peaches and cover with the other crust. Brush the top crust with heavy cream, sprinkle with sugar, and return to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbly. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

-Aaron John

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Let's face it, cake has become one of those things that don't require a special occasion anymore. Eat at a restaurant. Cake. Walk up that flight of stairs. Cake. Watch some good ol' tv. Cake. Buy a new outfit. Cake.

What ever happened to the days when the only time we had cake was at a birthday party that your friend threw at a bowling alley when you were 10 years old?

Surely, I'm not the only one that noticed this. Whether a cake, a cupcake or an individually packaged slice of cake in the bakery aisle of your nearest grocery store, what have we become?

I'll tell you what we have become. People that live each day like it's a party and don't care who tells us no! So, move over health gurus. Today, WE EAT CAKE!

Don't forget to vote for me in the Evening Magazine Contest for Best Food Blog!!

Chocolate Raspberry Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes 1-9 inch 2 layer cake

Hershey's Chocolate Cake
Butter, for greasing the pans 
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans 
3/4 cups good cocoa powder 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt 
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream 
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Final Assembly
2 chocolate cake layers
1/2 cup raspberry jam/preserves
Vanilla bean buttercream
Melted semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Place one of the chocolate cake layers on a cake board. Spread the raspberry jam/preserves over the top. Take the second chocolate cake layer and place it on top of the jam layer. Frost with vanilla bean buttercream and decorate with melted semi-sweet chocolate on the sides and pipe the remaining buttercream around the cake to make a border.

-Aaron John

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Need Your Support, I Need Your Vote!

To all my loyal followers and blogger friends, I need your help now, more than ever. You might've noticed the picture above on the left side of my blog. Well, I was nominated in a local contest for Evening Magazine's "The Best of Western Washington". I don't know who nominated me but thank you, whoever you are!

Now, it's your turn. I need all the support I can get from all of you. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your dog for all I care. Just show your support and vote and let's win this together!

Just go to this link:
Click: Vote Now
Sign in: Use your facebook, email, etc.
Cast your vote!

-Aaron John

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The BLT Sandwich

Sandwiches are some of the simplest and easiest way to have a great meal. No recipe? No problem. You practically don't need any recipes. Just take two slices of bread and put whatever you want in between.  Have you seen the commercial where the kids were in the kitchen with their mom, making sandwiches using ketchup, peanut butter, and whatever they found? I guess, to each its own. But, one of the tastiest and simplest of sandwiches is the BLT.

What's not to love with a BLT? A sandwich made out of bacon? Sign me up. Put as much bacon as you want, as much mayo as you like. Hey, I didn't say this is a health food. But, there is lettuce and tomato for you health gurus. It's your sandwich, make it your way.

In other news, today I found out that I was nominated in a local contest for Evening Magazine's "The Best of Western Washington" in the food blog category!!  Because I just found out today I'm still in the process of claiming the nomination but I'm behind in the votes and need your help!

Please go over and vote!! :) Here's the link!

The BLT Sandwich
"Recipe" by Me
(For 1 sandwich)

5 slices of Bacon, cooked and drained
2 leaves from a head of Iceberg Lettuce
2 slices of Vine Ripen Tomatoes
2 slices of of Bread (White, sourdough, etc)
1 to 2 tbsp Mayo

Prepare all the ingredients. Wash the lettuce and tomatoes. Dry and tear the lettuce so that it fits the bread, the larger the pieces, the better. Slice the tomatoes about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and set aside. Finally, I found when using white bread, if you slice the cooked bacon in half, it fits perfectly on the bread. 

To assemble the sandwich, toast the bread until golden brown. Spread mayo on both slices of bread. Layer 4 of the halved slices of bacon horizontally across one slice of the mayo covered bread. Next, layer another 4 bacon halves vertically over the layer of bacon. Finish it off with 2 more halves of bacon in any direction. Next layer on the lettuce to fit and add the tomatoes on top. Top with the other slice of mayo covered bread. Simple, simple, simple.

-Aaron John

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles

Over this past week, I was on vacation in none other than California once again. I feel that every time I say "vacation" it always tends to have California thrown into the mix at some point.

We flew into Anaheim for another Disneyland/CA Adventure trip and stayed there for 4 days before heading down to San Diego. One of those days, we went to Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles in Hollywood. For a place that calls themselves "House of Chicken 'n Waffles", you better order yourself Chicken 'n Waffles to see what this place is all about.

I ordered myself "The Obama Special" which was three wings and a waffle. The chicken was simply seasoned with a light dusting of flour to create the crust. It was juicy and flavorful. It's amazing how something so simply prepared can be so good. The waffle on the other hand was only crispy around the edges whereas the center was a bit soggy which was a disappointment. Overall, would I come back to this establishment? Heck yes!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Roscoes House of Chicken 'n Waffles
1514 North Gower Street
Los Angeles, CA  90028
Tel: (323) 466-7453

-Aaron John

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I was younger, one of the first "cakes" I made was a coffee cake recipe by Martha Stewart. Well, with a new recipe, a better appreciation for food and many years later, I make a coffee cake that takes me back to the beginning.

Thinking about it now, I used to keep a booklet that contained printed recipes such as the one for the coffee cake. It came to the point where the splatters of vanilla extract, sights of chocolate smears and the dusting of flour just gave it a bit too much character.

Back then, I thought I perfected so many recipes in that little booklet only to find out there were better ones out there. All I have to say is, move over Martha Stewart because Ina Garten is here to stay.

This coffee cake is moist, fluffy, crunchy, nutty and not too sweet which is perfect. It takes me back to the beginning and then some. This is definitely a must make!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Recipe by Ina Garten

For the cake:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

-Aaron John

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jalapeno Cornbread

Cornbread is something I've really come to enjoy, especially Honey Cornbread Muffins. But today, it is all about Jalapeno Cornbread. Cornbread is something that I've found difficult to get just right. With different recipes out there with more cornmeal than flour, less cornmeal than flour and equal parts cornmeal and flour, which do you choose?

With this recipe that I found on All Recipes, it seemed pretty good in terms of ratings but sometimes you can't really trust the ratings unless you make it yourself. As I began, I measured out all my ingredients only to find I only had 3/4 cup of cornmeal left! Instead of halving the recipe, I decided to just increase the flour  to 1 1/4 cups.

This cornbread looked perfect when it came out of the oven; an evenly baked, golden crusted cornbread got my hopes up. It had just enough texture from the cornmeal which I think would have been overkill if I followed the recipe exactly. However, this cornbread was not spicy at all and was BLAND! I would have increased the amount of jalapenos to 4 or left in the seeds because I was not able to taste them. I would have increased the salt just a bit as well. So much for that 4.5 star rating. So what's my choice on the proportions for cornbread? A little less cornmeal than flour or even equal amounts cornmeal and flour. This gives it the right amount of texture without feeling like your eating sand, in my opinion.

Jalapeno Corn Bread
Recipe from Archie Timmons

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Stir in jalapenos. Pour into a greased 9-in. square baking pan.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares or wedges. Serve warm.

-Aaron John

Monday, August 6, 2012

Instagram Quickie: Orange Sherbet

After receiving a gift card from my friends on my 21st birthday to Williams Sonoma, I went ahead and bought myself a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. All of my close friends know that one of my guilty pleasures has always been ice cream so why not start making ice cream at home.

I have to say, finding a good recipe for ice cream is hard to do. When it comes to baked goods, I can rule out certain recipes just by the way something looks in the pictures. Ice Cream on the other hand is a totally different monster.

For this recipe on Orange Sherbet, I went ahead and chose one from Alton Brown. Fairly simple to make with minimal steps, just the way I like it. As of the moment, I literally just pulled it out of the Ice Cream Maker 20 minutes ago and it is in the freezer hardening up. Fingers crossed that it will be delicious!

Update: This was a bit too sweet for my taste so I would definitely reduce the sugar. Other than that, it tasted like a frozen orange julius.

Orange Sherbet
Recipe by Alton Brown

7 ounces sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 2 to 3 pounds oranges
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk

In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the milk and process until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F or below, approximately 1 hour.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You may serve now or transfer to a lidded container and place in freezer until firm, approximately 3 hours.

-Aaron John

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Instagram Quickie: Mexican Food Trucks

I saw this "Instagram Quickie" type posting over at Wit & Vinegar and thought it was a genius idea. It's something quick, something simple and something easy to do in order to keep readers up to date on what us bloggers are eating and doing. Thus, this will be my first Instagram Quickie!

Food Trucks have been very popular over the last couple of years. Specifically in Seattle, Mexican Food Trucks seem to be popping up around every corner just like Starbucks. There is now one in a parking lot where I catch the Light Rail to work. These trucks are probably the closest thing to authentic Mexican Cuisine you can get in Seattle. It may not be SoCal Mexican food but it's close enough. This Carne Asada meal was on Rainier Ave and was uber delicious.

Moral of the story? Get out and try food from a food truck. Who knows, you might start being a regular there!

-Aaron John

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

General Tso's Chicken

Well, well, well, after starting my third week of work as a sales associate at Macy's I finally have time again to blog. So, what is this post about? What I ate at least 3 times since working at Macy's which is General Tso's Chicken. This goes way back to my post on Orange Chicken. These chicken dishes are Americanized chinese food that are simply addicting.

Maybe it's the crispy fried chicken. Maybe it's the sticky, salty, spicy and sweet sauce. Maybe it's just because it tastes really good. Whatever your motivation to order this dish, we can all agree that even though it's not real chinese food, it's damn good!

I've tried many General Tso's Chicken recipes and yet, I can't seem to pinpoint the one that I taste at the mall. Even though this recipe is good, it's not the same. It seems to be missing a little something something. But for now, it will definitely keep my wallet nice and fat, just the way I like it.

General Tso's Chicken
Original Recipe from "Mama's Kitchen (Hope)"

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 cups green onion
sliced 8 small dried chilies, seeds removed (bird pepper or thai chilies are good)

Cornstarch slurry
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium preferred
 1 egg, beaten
 1 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry wine or 1/4 cup white wine
14 1/2 ounces chicken broth (a can)

Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. If you make this ahead of time just refrigerate until needed, shaking it again when you are ready to use it. This also keeps your dirty dishes down.

Mix cornstarch slurry in a large bowl- the mixture will be strange but trust me it works. It will be VERY thick almost paste like. Add chicken pieces to coat. Using a fork remove ONE chicken piece at a time and let the excess mixture drip off. YES even though the mixture has a weird consistency it will not stick like paste and the excess will drip off. Add chicken to the hot (350 degree) oil and fry until crispy. Only cook 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time. You do not want to lower the temp of the oil by cooking too many at a time. You can use a simple cooking or candy thermometer to judge the temp of the oil.
Drain on paper towels. Keep warm- I just put them in the oven with the oven off. Repeating until all chicken is fried.

In a separate wok or large skillet add a small amount of oil and heat to 400 degrees. Again, a candy thermometer works great. You can fry all the chicken, drain the oil to the desired amount and use the same pan if you like.

Add green onions and hot peppers and stir fry about 30 seconds.

Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water. The thickness of the sauce should be similar to what you get when ordering this at a restaurant.

Add chicken to sauce in wok, and cook until all is hot and bubbly. The quicker this is done the crispier the chicken stays. 8 Serve over rice.

-Aaron John


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