Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunch-time Delight: Pierogies

Scouring the internet for the perfect pierogi recipe sure isn't easy. After a while on the web I decided upon this recipe from about.com. I thought to myself, "I haven't really been steered wrong with any of the recipes from this site... so I'll give it a go." The pierogies didn't turn out completely aweful, in fact they were really tastey. The problem was that the dough was a bit too... how shall I put it, DOUGHY. Okay, you may be saying to yourself "That's what dough should taste like, right?" Well, I guess so... but I was really yearning to sink my teeth into some pierogies that had a dough that more resembled a pasta. Kind of like an oversized, overstuffed ravioli *drool*.

Making pierogies wasn't a first for me. I had done it in Home Ec. class on a number of occassions (after taking the course for 5 years in a row, I guess they end up repeating the recipes :P). Usually I make the dumplings by hand, but this time I was prepared. I had purchased a dumpling press from the dollar store, and I must say it did the trick. All the pierogies turned out perfect and it saved me a lot of time.

The doughy pierogi skins

The cheesy, potato-ey filling

A plate-full of pierogies ready to be boiled and fried :)

My sister even tried her hand at shaping some pierogies, after a couple of faulty starts her pierogies looked almost as good as mine :P After cooking all the dumplings, both Janessa and Jacqueline were ready to chow-down. Jacqueline likes hers with bacon bits, Janessa prefers hers with sour cream, and I simply could not eat a pierogi without sour cream, bacon bits and fried onions... Yum!

Note: Incidentally, before my search for the perfect pierogi recipe, I had never known that there were so many spelling variations for this potato filled dumpling. Maybe I'll try this recipe next time... it looks like a winner.

Fairmont... a trip to the interior! (Part 2)

To read Part 1: Click here

Day 2: Monday
Like all mornings, my sisters and I spent a good chunk of time lounging around the villa and watching tv (I have become addicted to the Food Network). The parents decided that they'd wake up super early and go out for golfing and by the time they got back it was noon. I prepared some Mac 'n Cheese for us to eat and after that we were ready to check out the recreational facilities. The lounge at Fairmont Villas is pretty nice. There's a large "living room" type area that has many sofas for you to relax in, a pool table, a number of puzzle tables and SHUFFLE BOARD!

Although I have officially claimed the title of "Suckiest Shuffler Ever" it was tons of fun to play.

After that, we booked a squash court for Tuesday 2pm, rented a couple DVDs and headed back to our "holiday home" for more R&R.

Day 3: Tuesday

A pretty simple cat puzzle, awww to cute

I candidly took this photo of my parents playing squash. When it came around to my turn, I was surprisingly good.

After a rigorous game of squash, it was time to cool off in the pool.

Day 4: Wednesday

After playing squash, we fell in love with racket sports. Lucky for us, our parents packed the tennis gear! Woot!

I got pretty into tennis. Although not quite "pro" we had a great time playing.

I swear this is what the box looked like :P But seriously, who could possibly finish all that sky?

Day 5: Thursday

Okay, the lounge held some pretty cool social events (ie. stretch classes, crafts etc.) but these $1 "ice cream sundaes" were just sad.

Spending the day at Invermere's Lakeside Beach

The beach was really beautiful

Stopped for Dinner at the local restaurant... I think I'll post a review later

Day 6: Friday

Literally the day for doing nothing but relaxing at the resort. We spent basically the entire day playing fun board games and spending family time together. Cranium was fun, but I think we all had the best time playing Pictionary. After realizing that we all had artistic challenges, we re-invented the game by using the cards to play charades (which was way more fun). Who knew you could spend 4 hours playing a single board-game (that isn't Monopoly)? Later that day, I went to a stretch class with mom and after that we met up with the rest of the family at the pool. Ah... what a life!

Day 7: Saturday

My sisters decided to stay in the hotel, but I went with my parents out to Invermere for the Farmer's Market.

Not much to see at the Market. Just a bunch of fruits & veggies, home-baked cookies & pies and native crafts. But the bread-man with his portable oven caught my eye.

I decided to buy a "Brezel" from him... yummers

Walking past the Farmers Market, I stumbled upon the "Quality Bakery". With a name like that, it has to be good! I couldn't help but take a look

My parents wanted A&W for lunch, but I had a different plan... for some reason I was craving a panini (and it seemed Gerry's Gelati was the place to get one)

I was so excited to have actually completed a five-storey card tower!

Day 8: Sunday

Oh, boy... I can't believe a week had gone by already. Time to wake up at 2 a.m. and start heading home.

No McDonald's Breakfast for me! I'm going Canadian with my Tim Hortons!

Although a grueling 10hr drive to the interior of BC, this trip was full of family fun. I can't wait for next summer, wonder what adventures we'll have then. Well, I guess it's almost back to school for me... summer can't last forever :P

Sunday, August 26, 2007

August 26th... National Dog Day

Since I just returned from vacation on the 26th I was in no mood to prepare anything for my pup, even on this most important of days for him :( I know, I know... I'm soo selfish (but I was also really tired from the 10hr drive from Fairmont Hot Springs). So me and my sister, Janessa, decided that we would celebrate National Dog Day on the 27th.

I was only reminded that it was National Dog Day today when I red the newspaper, while enjoying an on-the-road Tim Horton's English Toffee and Cinnamon Raisin Bagel. Since we dropped off Jacques at the kennel, for the whole week that we were gone, reading about National Dog Day made me miss him even more. It kind of sucks that we didn't get to spend National Dog Day with our dog :( But since we're picking him up tomorrow morning, we'll have a grand old celebration of what a special dog he is. Heck, why not show him that we love him everyday... we don't have to narrow it down to just one, do we?

I will post more about our celebration tomorrow. Stay tuned...
I definitely cannot let the next National Puppy Day pass me by (its March 23rd)
*Added on August 28th*

How do I treat my wonderful dog to goodies? Well, I was searching the internet for a good doggie treat recipe and happened upon this one. Banana-nut biscotti's seemed like the perfect gourmet treat for my pooch. I've always been itching to try my hand at making biscotti, and I think it's hilarious that the first time I prepared a batch... it was for my dog :P They turned out perfectly, and Jacques really liked it. I even snuck in a taste-test myself, well all the ingredients seem people friendly so why not? And to tell you the truth, it tasted divine. Maybe next time I'll whip up a batch for myself...

After making the biscotti, I was on a roll and tried my hand at making my dog some ginger-snap like biscuits (isn't Jacques a lucky puppy?). I tasted a bit of this one too, but in my opinion, it needed more sugar. But since sugar and dogs are not the best of combinations, I think that this recipe is perfect for Jacques. I guess Jacques thought so too, as he gobbled down a couple of the cookies just minutes after they came out of the oven. You can find the ginger-snap recipe at chubbyhubby.net.

Happy Baking, hope your pups love the love you share with them :)

Fairmont... a trip to the interior! (Part 1)

DAY 1: Sunday

Woot! Only a week after coming home from our Cultus Lake camping adventure, my family headed out on the road again. But this time it was a 10hr long trip to the small (Alberta-esc) town of Fairmont. We started our trip on the Sunday morning at 3 a.m.!!! Don't even ask me how I managed to wake up that early... actually, I barely got any sleep the night before. So 3 a.m. came and we all scuttled into our big red van and were hitting the road. It was good that we started out so early, there was very minimal traffic on HWY 1 and the road was quiet enough that me and my sisters could take a nice long nap.

By the time we woke up from our nap, we were already 4 hrs into our journey. And you know what that means?! Breakfast-time. The main reason I woke up was due to my grumbling tummy, and at 4hrs Eastbound on HWY 1 we were nearing in the Kamloops area. It was an easy choice as to where to stop for breakfast... seems like we always have on-the-road breakfasts at Mickey D's.

The ultimate on-the-road breakfast... the Egg McMuffin

After filling our tummies and our gas tank, it was time to hit the road once more. I decided that since the first 4 hrs went by so smoothly whilst I slept, why not sleep the rest of the way?! It was a brilliant scheme, that was also followed by my two younger sisters. And by the time we woke up it was lunch-time in Golden. Man, this is the life...

Literally, sleeping between meals... lunch at A&W.

From Golden, Fairmont was only about 2.5 hrs away so I decided to stay awake. What did I do to pass the time? Played a little sudoku, listened to my iriver and chatted with the sisters... and in no time at all we were in Invermere. This little town was the closest one (30mins) to Fairmont, so we decided to stock up on some grocery supplies before checking into the resort.

I couldn't believe this was the only "supermarket" around for miles!

After purchasing the necessities (Kraft Dinner, canned soup, waffles, ice cream, meat and eggs) we were more than ready to check into our Fairmont Villa. Just another half-hour to go!!!
When we reached the resort the first thing my sisters did (after helping unload the van, of course :P) was turn on the television. My parents started organizing all of our belongings and I went to explore... what else, but the KITCHEN!

Nothing to rave about, but certainly not-to-shabby! I can work with this :)

So what did we do for the rest of the week? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Waking up to Red Bean Pancakes

Okay, so I didn't so much "wake up" to pancakes as "wake up" and make the pancakes myself... but hey the important thing is that I had pancakes for breakfast! I was yearning for something sweet, warm and paste-y for breakfast. At first I planned on heating up a left-over lotus paste bao from the freezer, but then I thought, "It takes too long to steam, and I wanna eat breakfast now!" So what did I do? I nuked the sucker in the microwave... 2 minutes on defrost and then an additional minute on regular. The result... a fluffy bao with a rock-hard (literally burnt from the inside) center. So I turned to a recipe for home-made red bean pancakes.

Hong Dou Sa Biang (Red Bean Pancakes) serves 8
courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Savouring China

- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for frying
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 6 oz. sweetened red bean paste (I used packaged paste, purchased from Daizo)
- 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar (optional)

1. Combine the egg and water. Add the flour, cornstarch and 2 tbsp of oil until a very thin batter is formed. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Place cast-iron or nontsick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1/2 tsp each of vegetable oil and sesame oil, and rub the inner surface of the pan with a ball of paper towel to moisten evenly.

3. Pour 1/5th of the batter into the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly (and thinly) over the bottom, much like preparing a crepe. Cook over medium-high heat until set on the bottom, about 30 seconds.

4. Carefully spread 1/5th red bean paste across the center of the pancake, then fold the sides and ends over it to form a rectangle.

5. Use a flat spatula to spread out the filling evenly. Cook for 20 seconds to brown the underside, then turn and cook, again pressing gently, to brown the other side, about 30 seconds.

6. Repeat process until all the batter and filling is used.

7. Cut the pancakes into slices 3/4 inch wide, arrange on a serving platter, and dust with the sugar. Best served warm or at room temperature.

This recipe is quick and pretty straight forward, plus the results are amazing. The batter may seem thin, but once you start frying up the pancakes you'll realize that it's just right. The pancakes' texture is similar to that of a crepes'; and similar to crepes, don't be discouraged if your first one doesn't turn out perfect. Martha Stewart said that the first crepe always turns out imperfect, and mine was not exception...

My sisters aren't too fond of red bean paste *gasp* I know, how can they not love this stuff? But my parents (who actually did wake up to these pancakes) found them a delightful alternative to plain old toast and store-bought frozen waffles. I gobbled down quite a few of these babies... I better stop cooking :P

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cultus Lake Camping (Part 2)

To read Part 1 click here!

Let's see, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, Sunday... the last day of our Cultus Lake, camping adventure. This was my day to wake up early and prepare breakfast... what to do? How about good old fashioned pancakes, fruits and whipped cream... YUMMERS!

I know, it looks very american-ized but these pancakes were canadian all the way. Well, the maple syrup part of them anyways :P

Janessa trying to keep her food away from Jacques

We decided to take a hike up the Seven Sisters trail, during our last day in the wilderness... and after the arduous trek we arrived back at camp and made the simplest lunch we brought. Instant noodles! Yes I know, didn't I say in Part 1 that we dine well when camping? That I did, but being asian what could be better than good ol' kimchi noodles?

And who says you can't eat roasted marshmallows in the morning? I believe that this camping staple may be devoured at any moment during the outdoor experience. But it is only to be done over a fire, and never a gas-powered stove (that's just not camping, gosh darn it!)

My attempt at the perfect marshmallow, not too shabby.

Looking at a blazing fire just seems to bring out the pyro-maniac in all of us... doesn't it? Maybe it's just me. Well, as you can see we had fun with the fire... when you don't have access to a television, you have to find others methods of entertaining yourself. Someone packed a box of these "Pocky" impersonators. They were called "Funzels" and to be truly honest, they weren't all that fun. A little greasier than pocky and just strange tasting, I'd choose Pocky over a Funzel anyday.

Lunch-time Delight: Easy Peasy Quesadilla (that's cheesy)

My sisters simply love that old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich... I too enjoy a good cheesy lunch every now-and-then. To my surprise, my sisters had never feasted on the mexican version... the oh-so-delicious cheesy chicken quesadilla. It's simple enough to prepare and just as tastey as the traditional grilled cheese. I usually use shredded KFC chicken (since there's never a shortage of it in my house :P) and a healthy handful of grated marbeled cheese.

Easy Chicken Quesadillas (serves 3)

- 1 cup shredded chicken
- 1 1/2 cup grated marble cheese
- 6, 8-inch tortillas
- 1/3 cup diced onions (optional)

1. Grab a tortilla (any size will do but we prefer the smaller 8-inch ones... easier to handle in the pan and in the hands) and place it on a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

2. Mound the cheese on top of the tortilla, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge (as the cheese will melt and spread).

3. Sprinkle on some shredded chicken, and onions (if desired).

4. Place another tortilla ontop and continue to cook until the cheese begins to melt and the bottom tortilla is brown (but not burnt).

5. Flip over the quesadilla and continue to cook until the other side is brown and crispy.

6. Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream.

My sisters quite enjoyed the quesadillas. It's a truly simple meal, and the kids really love it. Try making it for yourself and you too will fall for it's cheesy goodness!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Singapore!!! Sorry It's Belated :)

I can't believe that it slipped my mind that it was Singapore's Birthday. Only after I started browsing my list of foodie blogs did I become reminded of this most important of days. I was in a rush and had no idea what to whip up for a celebration, so I copped out and made probably the easiest recipe I know that used Singapore's colors (red and white). Red Rubies dessert in sweet coconut milk. You can find the recipe almost anywhere on the internet... I used my own recipe, but being too lazy to type it out I give you this website. Its basically the same thing, except since I kinda ran out of tapioca starch I substituted potato starch and the results were the same.

Okay, so the Red Rubies turned out a bit more pink than red... not sure what kind of dye to use in order to get that vibrant red? Anyways, the dessert was delicious and I decided to really jazz it up by adding shaved ice and grass jelly. It was a real treat, being that it had been a really humid day. My dad, who had spent the entire day outside working on the house (mowing, power washing, weeding etc.) was very appreciative of the cooling dessert. My mom and sister loved it too.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cultus Lake Camping (Part 1)

Jacques seems hungry for scrambled eggs!

Well, I took the BC long-weekend off from work/blogging to relax on a grand camping trip to Cultus Lake with the family. We really enjoyed ourselves... even my puppy :) The last time we took him on a trip with us he decided that breakfast wasn't going to stay in his tummy, but lucky for us, this time he managed to control himself! We left home around 2pm and were raring to get to Entrance Bay and pitch our tent. We were camping with our bible study group, everyone else was at the campsite to greet us. We reached the campground around 4pm, because the traffic on the highway was brutal. It only took us 15 minutes to set up the tents and mattresses, and by then we were all starving for something to eat! Sadly, I didn't really have time to prep any treats for the trip... but that didn't matter, we had tons of goodies and food to last a whole two weeks if necessary. Dinner for that evening was a bbq chicken wings and chow mein, yes even when camping we dine well... Or at least we try...

After dinner we decided to scout out the amenities provided us by the camp. Last time we camped at Cultus Lake we stayed at the Sunnyside Campgrounds, which seemed to be larger and closer to the beach than the one we occupied this year. Entrance Bay was a ways away from the beach, we had to cross the road and then a parking lot before we could see the water. But the water was worth the walk. We had tons of fun playing around on the grassy/sandy beach... volleyball, swimming, tanning and just relaxing from the hectic chaos of everyday life.

The only complaint I have was with the bathroom facilities at the site. First of all, it was a whole ten campsites away from ours... okay, that's not really the campsite's fault but I just wanted to get that out. Also, it only had two stalls and one shower *grumble*. One of the stalls had a toilet that would randomly flush and stay that way... flushing, and on two occassions the facilities ran out of toilet paper!! Luckily, I always carry extra tissue with me but still... what are we paying for? Oh, well... enough complainig and on with the show!

That next morning my dad woke up early (partly because he's an early riser and partly because our dog woke him up for an early morning walk) and so he prepared a hearty breakfast for us late risers. We enjoyed some toast, breakfast sausages, scrambled eggs and vegetable omelettes. And after that energizing breakfast what were we to do? How about a two-hour hike? Jacqueline wasn't to excited to go on a hike...

Mmmm... My lone piece of toast with it's friend PB

Dad's breakfast sausages

Grilling the veggies for...

the veggie omelettes!

Jackie: Isn't this suppose to be a vacation?

Janessa: Yup, but hiking is so much fun!

We went on the Seven Sisters trail and had a blast, sadly my pops couldn't come :( He had to stay behind and watch the dog... don't think the puppy would have survived the grueling up-hill climb. After the sweaty two-hours, we decided to commence relaxation by hanging out by the beach. The water was wonderful, not too warm and not too cold. Both Friday and Saturday were perfect... so what to do on Sunday?