Friday, May 22, 2009

Eggplant Pie

I love eggplants, so I am welcome for any interesting eggplant recipes. Today, I found this Mediterranean Eggplant Pie recipe by google search. However, I did not have a few ingredients handy and did not feel like going to the store. Thus, I adopted this recipe to make my own version of the Eggplant pie dish.

Below is my version of the dish. I will try the original dish in the near future, though. It does sound good to me.


4 Chinese eggplants,
cut into 1/4" thick slices. Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste. (I did not have time to do this step, which contributed the excessive liquid I mentioned later.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 10-ounce package fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed of stems. (I just used a bunch, no weight info.)
1 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced.
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz (no need if you use 2 fresh tomatoes)
4 sweet Italian sausages
1 unbaked pastry crust for 10"" pie (I made my own, mix 1.5 cup flour, 6 Tbsp butter, pinch of salt and 2 small eggs, fridge about 30 minutes.)
Black or Golden caviar for serving with the baked pie (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 3/4 qt. deep baking dish (such as a Ducth oven or a souffle' dish) that is 8 to 9 inches in diameter.

2. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until they are softened, but not browned. Set aside.

4. Place the washed spinach in a pot. Cover and cook over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the spinach.

5. Cook sweet Italian oven medium heat till almost done. Break them into small pieces.

6. Arrange about half the eggplant in the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with layers of half the onions, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and sweet Italian sausage. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients, ending with the remaining eggplant slices and canned diced tomatoes.

7. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to over the top of the casserole. Place it on top, form a decorative raised edge.

8. Bake for 50 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

It turned out almost perfect, just a little bit too much liquid retained in the dutch oven in the end. This was likely caused by the juice in the diced tomatoes and eggplants. When I make it next time, I will use fresh tomatoes instead. Hope the liquid situation will be improved. Anyhow, we ate a lot of it at dinner today. Yum!

Blueberry-oatmeal-apple sauce Muffins

I was craving for muffins, so was Hubby. Homemade muffins are definitely healthier than those you get from the grocery stores. The latter is just too sweet, greasy and texturally refined to my taste. Since I have been following a few food blogs, I got a lot inspirations on how to make healthy muffins without the taste being compromised. This blueberry-oatmeal-apple sauce muffin recipe sounds really awesome to me. I got to try it out. The muffin tasted equally awesome to its name, moist, not heavy, perfect sweetness and a bit chewy. It was just perfect. We ate half of the batch after it was done, so I ended up making a 2nd batch the same night. And I will make it again and again.


1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I used all purpose flour)
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp low fat yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs, combine applesauce, milk, sugar and oil.

5. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

6. Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fried Rice

Many people like the fried rice dish from Chinese restaurants. Since it looks like a simple dish to make at home, many Westerners have tried it at home. I had no doubt that everybody could make this dish with no problem until one day a friend asked me how the fried rice dish was made in China. I never really cooked when I was in China, so I did not know how it was actually made, but I ate too many times in China and in Germany and in the States. From the look, I figured out how it is probably cooked, though. I guess many people also figured this out by eating and looking at it. Upon friend's requests, I had to tell my very unprofessional way on how to make this dish.

It is EASY!

1. Cook rice in a rice cooker or simply in a pot following directions. Set side the rice. Rice from the previous day is even better to make the fried rice dish.

2. In a saute pan, stir fry 2 eggs and set aside. If you use sausages, fry them in whole and set aside, too.

3. Use the same pan, without washing, fry the rice till grains are well separated. Set aside.

4. Add some oil to the pan, stir fry veggies that you like till they are cooked.

5. Cut the sausages into small pieces and stir into the veggies. Cook for a minute or two.

6. Add the rice and mix well, cook for a minute.

7. Add the eggs and stir gently.

8. Done!

Do We Love Fruits?

One day, after cleaning the kitchen, I glanced at the fruit plate on the island. I just realized how much fruit we eat every week. These fruits are just part of the weekly consumption. We still keep fruit baskets for bananas and two refrigerator drawers for apples in the basement.

The city we live in has a slogan: "strive for 5". This is propagated by the giant supermarket, Wegmans, calling for people to eat at least 5 portions of fruits or veggies daily. This slogan is infiltrated into every bit of the store. Apparently, our family do pretty well.

By looking at these tropical colors, I get a mood life every day. Don't you agree with me after looking at these pictures?

Best Investment Ever, so far!

We got this sand table for Audrey's 18 months birthday. She absolutely loves it. The first day, after Hubby took her to the patio and showed her the sand table, she played a solid hour without looking for any of us. A couple weeks passed by, she still loves it, although she prefers to play it with me.

What she normally enjoys so much is shoveling sand to the water side. Yesterday, she even made a sand pile and called my attention to it. She pointed to the sand pile and said "Whaa, whaa" to me. That was really cute.

Here are some more pictures of her playing at the sand table the first time. I was out for chores, she did not spend even a second looking for me. Hubby was doing yard work the whole time without any distraction from her.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I am Wearing Mama's Eye

Audrey loves to play with everything I wear, such as shoes, scarves, rings, earrings, sun glasses and you name it. When we are driving, she fascinates the most is my sunglasses. Of course, anything else one can think of that she can get access to in the car? She calls the glasses as "Yan3", which means eye in English. However, the Chinese word for glasses is "Yan3 JIng4". Apparently, she is unable to say the whole word in Chinese yet. Every time I wear my sun glasses, she will call "Yan, Yan" and ask to put them on herself. One day, I happened to have my camera in the car and recorded those amusing moments. She even knew to put the glasses up on the hair just like we adults do. It was so hilarious to watch her.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Killer Chocolate Cake

This cake was made from 72% Swiss dark chocolate. It had only one table spoon of flour. Guess how it tasted? ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!! After 2 pieces into my stomach, I still did not want to put down my fork. I offered a tiny bit to my 17 month old daughter, she kept begging for more and more...

Mother's Day-2009

I have been busy and busy. Work has been following me home for many days. I barely had time to cook, was so sleep-deprived. Finally, I have a free evening today to update my blog.

No surprise, this year's Mother's day saw a busy me working on my grant proposal, reading papers and taking care of a sick baby. Man, it was not easy and relaxing. Fortunately, Hubby prepared tasty food through the day, which definitely jacked my endorphin levels up. I felt happy despite the exhaustion.

For breakfast, I had chocolate Dutch baby pancakes, which are my favorite breakfast. Dinner was grilled lamb loin chops. I like the lamb loin chop. However, the highlight in my opinion was the roasted tomato salsa with corn. The sour sweetness of roasted tomato, aromatic herbs and sweet corn just made the perfect balance. I believe that this salsa deserves a separate post.

Roasted tomatoes with the lush red color:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dill Cottage Loaf

Dill has such an unique fragrance. Unfortunately, it is more seen in pickle jars than anywhere else. With $1.99, one can get a big bunch of it from Wegmans. After using a sparse amount for grilling salmon, I just did not know how to use the rest. I hate to throw foods away, though, so hubby found this bread recipe for me. However, it uses dill seed. Nevertheless, the idea of using additional cottage cheese in bread loaf got me into forging my own loaf. It turned out more than perfectly. It tasted really really good! The whole house smelled great, too. It is an absolute keeper!

Ready to pop into the Oven:

Fresh out of the Oven:

Slice it open and enjoy:

Ginger is Spicy!

Now I finally believe that toddlers hear and understand everything you say.

This evening, when I was cooking dinner, of course, Audrey had to watch. My loyal follower, whenever and wherever. She was practically standing on her kid chair to watch me since she is only 17 months old. I suddenly heard she was saying "Spicy, Spicy". I turned to her and found she was pointing to the big chunk of ginger on the counter. I was so surprised at her memory. It was weeks, if not months ago, she was asking for the foods I was preparing for dinner. I handed her a piece of ginger in an attempt of discouraging her to beg raw foods. However, she bit the ginger slice, ensuing with a horrible facial expression . I told her it was spicy. She then repeated "spicy" a few times. So many days past, she did not see ginger again until today and she still remember it.

Enjoying the beautiful Spring day:

A bit under the weather, though:

By now, she knows a few senses, such as spicy, hot, cold, fragrant and stinky. If I tell her the food is hot, she will blow on it and then test it with her extended tongue before eating it. Now our yard is decorated with flowers. She often points to the flowers while saying "flower, flower". The next thing she does it to get close to the flowers and sniff at them. It is such a wonderful experience to watch her developing.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Italian Macaroni and Cheese

I have been experimenting on cooking silken Tofu for a while. However, none of the dishes I tried satisfy me. The Mac and Cheese with Tofu I saw the other day totally inspired me to try a pasta dish with Tofu. Another article I read last night added even more creativity to my dish. With all the twists added to this dish, I would like to call it "Italian Macaroni and Cheese". It is really yummy, not too rich, not too bland, just perfect.

Italian Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients: 4-6 servings

1 lb Penne pasta, 1/2 whole grain and 1/2 regular

1 package (19 oz) silken Tofu

1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/4 cup dried basil (fresh would be better)

Some grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Boil a big pot of water to cook pasta, till al dente.
3. While pasta is cooking, prepare sauce. Simply blend all the 2nd part of the ingredients in a food processor till smooth.
4. After drain the pasta, put them back to the pot. Scoop the blended sauce to the pasta, mix well.
5. Pour the mix into a 9X13" baking dish. Dash with some olive oil and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6. Bake covered for 25-30 mins, then back uncovered for 5 mins.