Archive for August, 2010

Chinese Stir Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Hi everyone! Looks like it’s time for another recipe. Here’s the Chinese Stir Fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce I promised you in my last post. The pictures are different cause I actually made this dish again to try to perfect the recipe for all of you (wink). I hope you will enjoy this. It is one of my favorite dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant, but as all of you know, home cooked is always better.

Chinese Stir Fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce

Feeds 2-4 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 pounds clams
  • 1/2 white onion (diced)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 stalk green onion (chopped)
  • 2 -3 red chili peppers (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic (chopped)
  • 3 tsp black beans
  • 1 knob ginger (diced)
  • 3 tsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese white cooking wine

Note: Ingredients in the picture above are double the ingredients listed in the ingredients list cause I stir fried 2 separate dishes of clams.

Instructions:

Soak clams in cold water for about 2 to 3 hours.

Optional: Chop up one red chili pepper and throw it into the water along with the clams. This helps to make the clams spit out dirt or sand.

Before cooking, give the clams a rinse and scrub.

Scoop out three teaspoons black beans and soak in water for 15 minutes to half an hour.

Drain out beans and mince.

Mix corn starch and 1/8 cup water in a bowl and set aside for later use.

Heat up cooking oil on high heat in a wok. Once oil is hot, dump in garlic and cook until they’re just starting to brown. Dump in onions and black beans, mix around for about a minute. Dump in clams and add Chinese white cooking wine. Give the clams a couple tosses to mix the ingredients and to make sure the ingredients do not burn at the bottom of the wok. Close lid for about five minutes to allow the clams to open up.

After 5 minutes, open lid, check if clams have started to open. Once clams start to open, add in sesame oil, diced red bell pepper, and red chili peppers. Toss the clams a couple of times, then close the lid again for two minutes.

After two minutes, pour in the corn starch and water mixture,  green onions, and sugar. Give the clams a couple more tosses until all the clams have opened completely and are coated with the sauce. Plate and enjoy. This dish goes great with rice.

Tip: If there are any clams that did not open after the cooking process, discard them and do not eat them. It means those clams were probably dead to begin with.

Here are the other type of clams I cooked up.

I had never tried this type of clams before so I wanted to compare them to the other clams in the very first picture. The verdict? I prefer the first type of clams more as they seemed to have more meat. Notice that I did not add any salty ingredient to this dish as the clam juices released during the cooking process was plenty salty enough. The only thing I would change next time is probably using red onions instead of white to help sweeten up and balance out the dish a bit more. If you like clams, what’s your favorite way to eat them? Hope you enjoy this recipe, friends and family. Until next time :-D.

KISS

No, not the smooch smooch kind of kiss, but the acronym:

Keep

 

It

 

Simple

 

Silly

(Okay, so originally it was supposed to be stupid and not silly, but have you ever seen me being mean and negative? :-D.)

Hi everyone, hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. I normally don’t post on the weekends as most of my time is spent with my munchkins and the hubs, but I had some extra time on my hands this weekend. Anyways, just wanted to share these fruits with you. Have you ever tried these before? Someone brought these fruits over from Taiwan as a gift for my parents. They’re called Custard-Apples, and these guys were BIG!

The ones sold here are normally the size of an apple. They have them in a lot of the Asian stores now, but quite pricey. I’ve never seen such big ones before.

Here’s what they look like inside. You eat the sections of white meat and spit out the little black seeds within each section.

The seeds are just a bit bigger than watermelon seeds, but not as flat. The taste reminds me of an apple pear or Asian pear. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough to keep you coming back for more. The meat itself is quite soft. I can definitely see how it got its name. 

What’s this you ask? The yummiest stacked bread I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, this blew me away! The recipe can be found here on Stella’s The Witchy Kitchen blog. Due to my allergies, I used almond butter instead of peanut butter. The recipe also called for maple syrup, but I didn’t have any so I had to make like MacGyver and make do with what I had and use honey (wink). So simple, yet mind blowingly delicious! Thank you Stella and Mr. David K.

Here’s another simple dish I absolutely enjoy: Chinese Stir Fried Clams with Black Beans Sauce

Recipe to come in my next post. I wanted to give you my final update and  thoughts on Mona Vie as promised before I leave. Please keep in mind that I do not work for Mona Vie, do not sell their products, and have not been paid to talk about Mona Vie on my blog. (Gosh, I need to start setting up a disclaimer page :-)) I do however have friends and family who use this product and swear by it. These are purely my opinions on my experience with this product, so I hope nobody takes offense in what I am about to say.

I took this product for the sole reason of hoping that it would help relieve my back pains. To be fair, I only took this product for a month, but at $40 a week, and feeling no change, I cannot realistically justify the cost of the product without any improvements on my back pains. Like I said in my last review, this is a health product that people could also make money off of. Basically, you get your friends to sell these to their friends, who sell to their friends, and so on. Now I was approached by both a friend and a family member to sell this. As a stay at home Mom, the chance to make any money would sound great. Although, knowing that I would sell these to my friends, made me think twice. I needed to prove to myself that the product worked on me first before I would feel confident in introducing this to not just my friends, but anyone. Sadly to say, I felt that this product did not do the job that I initially hoped it would do. So I made the decision not to sell this product to anybody, because how can I sell someone something that I know didn’t work for me? I hope anybody selling this product has tried it out on themselves first to see if they really do feel improvements before they sell the product to anyone else. Not only that, but I also hope you encourage the people to whom you’re trying to sell this to, to do the same (hope that made sense). I feel if one is trying to sell a health product to others, then the health benefits should be emphasized, not how much money you can make by selling this. So bottom line, KISS.

As for dealing with my back pains, I will continue with the back exercises my physiotherapist recommended to strengthen my core. I have also spoken to one of my pharmacist friends and he will be prescribing some pills to me. Finally, I’d also like to look into a good chiropractor. I just want to thank those of you who continue to comment and leave such kind words of support. Your thoughts have not gone unnoticed. Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. Until next time friends and family :-D.

Out of the Ordinary

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you who commented on my last post. I really appreciate your honest opinions and helpful advice. You guys rock! Oh, and one more thing about my blogroll and being placed under a certain list; well of course I consider all of you my bloggie friends but I just needed a way to separate the foodies from the non-foodies. Just because you’re under Edmoton Bloggers or because I “stalk you” 😉 doesn’t mean you’re not my friend. I knew you were just kidding Denise, but I wanted to make it clear so no one feels left out. The next thing I want to address is this guy:

Here’s a better view.

He’s been living outside my window for a while now. Just to give you an idea of how big he actually is, those little black dots all around him are mosquitoes sand small bugs  trapped in his web. I’m assuming it’s a he because there’s a smaller one that’s always around, which is probably the Mrs. Then again, I’m no spider expert so it could be the other way around. Any spider experts reading this want to comment on that? And should I be afraid of this guy? Don’t forget, I trap spiders and bugs under a glass and put a book overtop (as if I were dealing with Spiderman) and wait for Gary to come home and take care of it. So if this guy ever got into the house, I would FREAK!  He’s no ordinary spider, that’s for sure. I have to admit, every morning when I check and see that he’s in his spot, it gives me a sense of relief.

Here’s another thing out of the ordinary.

Yup, those things on the left are snails. Best friend was craving snails so she bought some from T&T, along with some clams, and brought them over to my house to cook while the kiddies enjoyed a playdate. She also brought these, which I didn’t know what she wanted me to do with them. And yes Jessie, those are thousand year old eggs (well not literally of course).

I felt like I was in a cooking challenge on one of those cooking shows or something. “Here are your ingredients, now make something with them in a certain amount of time”. So I just boiled the snails and clams. Haha, that’s why I’m not on any cooking show.

Warning: If you’re squeamish about snails, you might want to scroll past the next two pictures after this one.

We just used pointy toothpicks to pick them out of their shells after boiling them for about ten minutes. Be sure not to over-boil them as they will shrink.

Dipped in some fish sauce (the type you have with spring rolls) with minced garlic and chili sauce. It’s hard to believe, but they were MMM MMM good. Did I just lose half my readers?

Don’t forget to take off the flap.

We dipped the clams in fish sauce as well.

Kiddies enjoyed making the shells talk :-).

After reading Jessie’s post, I was craving tacos, but when we got to the grocery store I saw the barbecue chicken and changed my mind. I wanted to make chicken wraps instead. Plus, I was a bit lazy to cook. So we bought a whole barbecue chicken and shredded the meat into two separate piles, dark meat for the hubby and white meat for me.

Along with some shredded cheese, lettuce, black olives, and spinach tortillas. Forgot the tomatoes :(. They were still pretty good wraps though.

I love my cheese and olives!

Maybe we should’ve made a smaller wrap for the little guy. Sorry baby boy. He still enjoyed it though.

K enjoyed both drumsticks from the barbecue chicken and a wrap as well.

And Gary approved of the yumminess too. If you don’t feel like cooking but want a quick dinner at home, this is the perfect meal. Fun for the kids to make as well. Wanna know what else I did out of the ordinary this weekend?

That’s right, I baked. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know baking is not my forte. But when I saw Ameena‘s Godiva Chocolate Bar Cake, I knew I had to try it. The recipe calls for an 8″ x 8″ baking pan but I didn’t have one so I used a larger deep round pan, and that’s why it looks like there’s so much more rising room. And trust me, her’s looked much much better, see for yourself in this post. What can I say, I’m learning, I’m learning. If you want something chocolatey and yummy, this is your cake. Thank you Ameena for the recipe! I’ll be making this again soon.

Weekends always go by way too fast don’t they? That’s all I have for you this week peeps. I’ll leave you with these questions: Have you ever tried eating snails before? If not, would you ever try eating one? And are you a dark meat or a white meat fan? Hope you all had a great weekend. Until next time friends and family :-D. 

Mona Vie? We’ll See

Hey everyone! Thank you for all your well wishes on my back! First thing I’d like to address is my blogroll. I’ve been meaning to update it for a while but just haven’t had the time. Well, this weekend I finally got a chance to update it. I’m still trying to figure out WordPress, so until I figure out how to have different blogrolls, I’m just having my 1 blog listed on my blogroll transferred to a certain page on my blog. On that page will be all my favorite blogs organized into certain groups. If your blog is on a list and you’d rather it be in another list, feel free to shoot me an email. I wasn’t sure if some of you were foodie blogs or not so you’ll have to forgive me if I put you in the wrong group.

The other thing I’d like to address is the interest some people showed in my experience with Mona Vie on my last post. So as promised, I’m going to keep you updated. Keep in mind that I don’t work for Mona Vie and am not selling their products, nor am I trying to sell you anything. So everything I’m about to say is through my own experience only and I was not paid to write about Mona Vie on my blog.

Last week a friend asked me to attend a two and a half hour seminar on Mona Vie with her. I wanted to know more about this product, what was so special about it, and why they’re charging so much for it, so I agreed to go.  (Sorry for the bad iPhone pictures, I forgot my camera.)

In short, here’s what I found out:

It contains 19 health-promoting fruits including the acai berry (which I could’ve found out from their website anyways).

You drink 4 ounces per day (2 ounces in the morning and two ounces in the evening). You can drink this for health reasons, plus make money off of it. For the record, I’m trying this product to see if it will help lessen my back pains. I have no intentions of making money from this product.

Throughout the two and a half hour seminar, I kept being reminded of how this husband and wife team made millions off of Mona Vie….yadda, yadda, yadda. There wasn’t really much information on the product itself, but more emphasis on how to sell the product. I was expecting a questions period at the end, but that never happened either. Hmmm…..? As you can see, I was not impressed with the seminar because I wasn’t there to learn how to make money, but to be better informed about Mona Vie.

I’ve been drinking Mona Vie for 3 weeks now and here are my personal thoughts and opinions:

Pros:

  • I like the taste, but it does take a little getting used to in the beginning.
  • I DO feel a bit more energized and less stressed.
  • I’ve completely cut soda out of my life to try to get the best results.

Cons;

  • Definitely pricey! $40/bottle, which only lasts a week!
  • Still experiencing back pains.
  • I feel as though this product is being introduced to people for the wrong reasons, the sole purpose of making money rather than for health reasons.

Well, there are my honest thoughts. If anyone knows anything about this product or has tried it, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Even if you’ve never tried it, any thoughts? I welcome all your comments on this, good or bad. That’s it for this week. Until next time friends and family.

Giveaway Winner and Vietnamese Wrap Wraps

I’m not going to make you read to the end to see who the winner is. Those of you who want to read this full post will, and those of you who just want to know the winner will just scroll to the end anyways haha. I used Excel randbetween to generate a random number and that number was 5. So the winner of the CSN $40 giveaway is Lisa. Lisa said, “That looks like quite a spread! I’m glad you got the chance to celebrate your dad’s birthday.
I would get a kitchen appliance, such as a hand blender.” Congrats Lisa, I have already emailed you. Please reply back within 72 hours so I can confirm that I have the right email, and give you the rest of the details. That was fun! Thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway, and thank you CSN Stores for this opportunity. On with my post.

When you get back from Paris (lucky ducky) and do have time to read this, this one’s for you Valerie! As you may recall, after having the “bo la lop”  (ground beef shishkebabs wrapped in la lop/betel leaves) at Pagolac restaurant, we went unsuccessfully searching for la lop leaves at Lucky 97. Well, I saw them at T&T the other day and thought of you. My Mom also told me they have them at Lucky, but guess we missed them. Just last week we had Vietnamese wraps at my brother’s house and I knew I had to post this for you.

Here’s our recipe for beef la lop shishkebabs (without exact measurements as it depends on how much you want to make).

Note: Prior to barbecuing, soak the skewer sticks in water for about an hour.

Ingredients:

  • ground beef (not too lean as you need the fat to keep the leaves from burning/drying)
  • la lop/betel leaves
  • vegetable broth powder
  • garlic (minced)
  • shallots (minced)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bamboo skewers

Directions:

In a big bowl, mix everything together. Form into about 2 inch logs. Wrap each roll with a la lop leaf. Skewer 5-8 logs onto a skewer and place on barbecue.

To be honest, this is just a mediocre recipe. If you want a better one, Tanantha at I Just Love My Apron has a pretty great one up here. Except she used pork rather than beef, and basil leaves rather than la lop leaves. She also has actual measurements.

So for those of you unfamiliar with Vietnamese wraps, here are some items you can include in your wraps. Fatty pork (which I never go near), cooked, deveined shrimp,

pan fried salmon, rice vermicelli, beef la lop shishkebabs, and another ground up beef ball shishkebab that’s wrapped in a layer (more like a web actually) of pig fat. Nope, I don’t go near that one either.

You’ll also need rice paper. These are the two brands my parents had. I like the brand with a rose on the front or three elephants.

You’ll need a big bowl of warm (make sure it’s not too hot) water to quickly wet your rice paper in. If the water is too hot, it’s hard to wet your rice paper as it gets limp very quickly. We also use a lot of veggies with our wraps, such as lettuce, Thai basil, mint, bean sprouts, cucumbers, and shredded carrots. 

This is the sauce my family likes ,but it’s too stinky for me lol. Tanantha, another stinky goodness that you enjoy?

My sister in-law mixed that sauce with fresh chopped up pineapple, lime juice, and chili garlic sauce (which you see in the bottom picture).

I like to use the fish sauce (left jar) which you use with deep fried spring rolls (also stinky but not as much as the sauce up top). I’d have to say, there are a lot of stinky, but good Asian foods…teehee.

Table is all set to eat. My family uses chopsticks when they eat this (other than the wrapping part of course), but not me. I’m a savage, I eat with my hands, and I think it tastes better that way anyways.

So here’s what you want to do after you’ve quickly wet the rice paper in warm water. Start with a piece of lettuce and stack everything on top in case your rice paper breaks/rips, you still have your lettuce holding things together. Fill your wrap with some vermicelli, and meat.

Then top off with some veggies. You can also put another piece of lettuce on top to encase the whole roll. I don’t, as it gets too bulky.

Roll the wrap about half way, just enough so that you can tuck the rice paper underneath to secure it. Fold both ends up and then finish rolling.

Voila!

Dip in your choice of sauce and om nom nom….yummy!

Another thing I want to talk about today is MonaVie. MonaVie is a health drink packed with 19 health-promoting fruits, including the acai berry. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I just want to monitor and track my progress on my blog after taking this drink.

 A while back I injured my back. It wasn’t just a one day thing, I believe it was from constantly carrying L around and partly a sports injury. I used to play tons of sports, everything from badminton, to volleyball, basketball, floor hockey, table tennis, flag football, soccer, tennis, etc. Yup, you name it, I played it. Ever since my back injury though, I haven’t even been able to carry L without pain, let alone exercise. I’ve tried acupuncture and physiotherapy. Neither of them helped and I’ve heard great results from people who have tried MonaVie. So I’m going to give this a try to see how it goes. I’m trying out the MonaVie Active, which is supposed to help joint health. If it works, I’d also like the hubby to try MonaVie Pulse, which helps maintain cholesterol levels. If anyone has heard of this product and have any comments about it (good or bad), I’d love to hear. That’s it for this week folks. Until next time friends and family.