Apple Pancakes with Apple Maple Syrup

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Happy Fall!!! It’s apple and pumpkin season! We have a couple of orchards just down the street where we live and are taking full advantage of all those fresh apples. Here’s a couple of super-easy and delicious recipes to add to your collection. Enjoy!

On a personal note, the pain of losing Cyber is finally easing up. It has been strange adjusting to life without our four-legged pups but maybe in time, we’ll be able to open our hearts and home to more. Hope everyone’s enjoying this gorgeous season (well, minus the cold, windy, rainy, and dreary-looking part). :)

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Apple Pancakes {slightly adapted from the Apple Griddlecakes recipe in the Apple Kitchen Cookbook by Demetria Taylor}
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 extra-large egg, room temperature and well-beaten
1 cup milk, room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup finely chopped, peeled apples
 

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, and butter. Add gradually to the flour mixture, stirring only until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cook pancakes on hot, greased griddle or pan (I use about ½ cup batter per pancake) until golden brown on both sides, adjusting the heat as needed. Serve with the apple maple syrup below. :)

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Apple Maple Syrup {slightly adapted from the Apple Pecan Syrup recipe in the Apple Kitchen Cookbook by Demetria Taylor}
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
2½ cups thinly sliced, peeled apples
 

Combine butter, syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter has melted. Stir in apples and bring to a simmer. Then, lower heat to medium-low and cook until apples are tender but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and serve warm. 

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Posted in Eggs and Breakfast, Sauces and Condiments | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

In Loving Memory of Cyber

Two weeks ago, we said goodbye to our almost 15-year old pup. It was with an extremely heavy heart that we made that decision. He had not been feeling well or happy for a long time. Strangely, a couple of days before the actual day, I dreamt of Max – she was laying next to Cyber on the side of our bed like she hadn’t been gone all of this time. We felt like she was telling us that she would take care of Cyber, that it was okay for us to let him go. She was always very protective of all of us. We believe Cyber is finally where he belongs, together again with Max and Darwin. He would have been ecstatic to see them! As for us, maybe in time, our hearts will be whole again.

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In Memory of Cyber copy

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Sweet and Sour Pork

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We started school officially this Tuesday. Boy, it was hard to get back in the groove of things. Why can’t it be summer all year long? :) Between prep time for lessons, actual school time, extra-curricular activities, working three days a week (including both Saturday and Sunday), and life in general, there isn’t a lot of time to cook or bake, much less blog about it. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best to squeeze a post or two in whenever I can.

Here’s a delicious family recipe I could enjoy all week long. That’s extremely important because I often cook in big batches on the weekends and we reheat and eat those dishes for the rest of the week. Time is simply a luxury we don’t have. Anyway, my version of sweet and sour pork doesn’t require the meat to be batter-fried first. I do marinade the meat beforehand though. I find this adds extra flavor to the dish, and complements the sweet and sour sauce wonderfully. The sauce itself has just the right balance of tanginess and sweetness without being overpowering one way or the other. Best of all, it’s easy to make and beats carry-out any day. Enjoy!

Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
 
Pork stir-fry
3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into small pieces
½ cup light soy sauce (my go-to brand is Pearl River Bridge)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cream sherry
½ to 1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion (I like to use sweet onion here), cut into wedges
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and cut into ¾-inch squares
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
 

For the sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside until needed.

For the stir-fry: Combine pork, soy sauce, sugar, sherry, and white pepper in a ziploc bag. Seal the bag and turn it a few times to get the meat and marinade to mix evenly. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, flipping the bag halfway through. Drain pork and discard marinade. In a large dutch oven, heat ¼ cup oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pork and stir-fry until cooked. Turn off heat and transfer pork to a large bowl. Do not discard leftover liquid that is in the dutch oven. Instead, strain it into the ketchup mixture. Use a wet paper towel to wipe down the inside of the dutch oven (be careful if dutch oven is still hot). Add 2 tablespoons oil to dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering once again. Add onion and stir-fry until lightly browned. Add peppers and pineapple, and continue to stir a few times. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to dutch oven. Stir to mix everything evenly. As soon as sauce starts to bubble, return pork to the dutch oven. Stir until pork is coated with sauce and heated through. Transfer to a serving dish.

Stir-frying the meat first,

Stir-frying the meat first,

then the veggies

then the veggies

Add the sauce

Add the sauce

Add the meat back in

Add the meat back in

Stir and coat the meat with the sauce

Stir and coat the meat with the sauce

Yum!

Yum!

Posted in Meats | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Summer Cake Delight

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This cake was totally inspired by The Kitchn’s Easy Summer Cake with Fruit & Cream recipe. I mean, isn’t that cake absolutely gorgeous? I just love, love, love it! Of course, I had to make the cake, wouldn’t you? However, I decided to use a different cake recipe (from a cookbook I own), just because it’s one that I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I did use The Kitchn’s whipped cream topping but I added gelatin to help stabilize it, just in case we ended up having to keep the cake longer than a day or two. As for the fruit part, I think any fresh fruit will be delicious on this cake. I just happened to have plenty of peaches and blueberries and that is what I used. The result? Such a delicious and beautiful cake! In fact, it was almost too pretty to eat but we managed to devour every bit. :) Happy Baking!

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Butter Cake base {adapted from Bonnie Butter Cake recipe in the Gold Medal Century of Success Cookbook}
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
1 extra large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal unbleached)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla on medium high until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the side of the mixing bowl occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, and continue to beat until combined. Pour in prepared baking dish, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the baking dish on a cooling rack.

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Whipped Cream topping
¼ cup water
1 (¼-oz) envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt 
 

Place water in a small prep bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly onto the water, and set aside for a few minutes until all the water is absorbed. Microwave the gelatin mixture on high until melted, about 12 to 15 seconds. Stir and set aside for a moment (if it sets, just microwave the mixture again). Meanwhile, mix and whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt together (I use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until soft peak. Slowly pour in the gelatin mixture and continue to whisk until stiff peak. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

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Fruit topping
1 quart blueberries
2 large peaches, diced
Fresh lemon juice from a ¼ lemon
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
 

Stir together peaches, lemon juice, and sugar (I do this about 30 minutes before I need it). Use as much fruit as you would like for the topping. When using the peaches, avoid scooping the extra liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

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Scavenger Hunt in Downtown Cleveland

On day 2 of our family vacation, we decided to do a scavenger hunt of famous landmarks in downtown Cleveland. For us, one sure way of getting Alex interested in checking out new things or places is to incorporate them into a scavenger hunt game. After much googling, we came across only one website – My Activity Maker that has clues written up already so we wouldn’t have to do that part ourselves. However, based on time availability and the fact that Alex and I still didn’t feel that great, we cut down the scavenger hunt list and rearranged it so that we won’t be zipping back and forth all over the city. Print a map to bring along with you if your kiddo likes maps. Also, having a smartphone with access to Google or any search engine will come in really handy in helping to decipher the clues. :) Here are a few photos of the places we visited. Enjoy!

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Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

We had a two day mini-vacation last week with Alex. We actually had planned it for the week before but Alex was sick then. Even last week, Alex and I were still recovering from our lingering cold but we were determined to have our “vacation” before school starts. On day 1 (Thursday), we decided to explore Stan Hywet in Akron, OH. Although we’ve lived in Northeast Ohio for many, many years, we had never been to Stan Hywet before this. Isn’t that just typical? We tend to explore attractions that are farther away first than the ones in our own backyard. :) Anyway, here are some photos we took that day. The manor house was really impressive and simply fascinating. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside though so we can’t share that experience with you. We have quite a few photos of the vast and beautiful grounds and gardens, but they really don’t do the place justice. So if you ever come out this way, it is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy!

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Flea Market

Went to a local flea market two Saturdays ago. I did not expect to spend as much time as I did there but there were just too many treasures to explore. :) Here are some things that caught my attention but I resisted all of them until the very last item(s) – Time Life Foods of the World cookbooks. The seller had 15 volumes out of the original 27, and each volume had both the hardcover main book and the spiral bound recipe booklet in excellent condition. And lucky me, I paid $15 for that whole box. *Big grin* The hard part now is being patient and having faith that I’ll come across the rest of the series sometime in my life (lol) without having to turn to eBay.

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Braided Cream Cheese and Blueberry Bread

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This is actually King Arthur Flour’s Braided Lemon Bread recipe but since I’m not using lemon curd in the filling, I decided to call it the above (longish) name. :) I guess it doesn’t really matter what it’s called because all you need to know is…it’s d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! In fact, KAF should officially rename it Delicious Braided Bread.

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So, here’s what I did. I used the bread dough recipe without changing anything. I mixed the dough in my bread machine. The problem? The dough was more than what my bread machine could typically handle. So I helped it along by using a rubber scraper to stir and mix the ingredients. Not only that, when the dough finally formed a ball, I used the scraper to help turn the dough while I made sure it had the right consistency. And yes, I did all this while the machine was running. Once the kneading cycle ended, I thought the ball of dough was still not smooth enough. So I stopped the dough cycle and restarted it again so it could go through another kneading cycle. Ultimately, everything worked out but maybe it’ll be easier if I just use my stand mixer next time.

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As for the cream cheese filling, I increased it by 50 percent as recommended by some of the reviewers on KAF’s website. I mean come on, it’s cream cheese filling. You don’t have to tell me twice about upping it. :) I do like anything cream cheese with a lemony tone in it. So I added the zest of a large lemon in the mixture and it worked out deliciously. And instead of lemon curd, I used jam/fruit spread in its place. We love Crofter’s organic fruit spread and I used wild blueberry and apricot spread in this batch. Both spreads taste fantastic but if I have to choose a favorite, it would be blueberry. I thought the blueberry flavor was more intense and sweeter, which contrasted nicely against the tangy cream cheese. In addition, it also complemented the lemon flavor beautifully. I didn’t measure the amount of fruit spread I used but I approximate it to be about ⅔ cup per bread. If you feel intimidated by the braiding, don’t be. KAF has a wonderful tutorial on its blog. You know how sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, that is especially true in this case. :)

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I used turbinado sugar to sprinkle the top of the bread right before baking. Note that the breads are huge – you’ll need half size sheet pans (one for each bread) to accommodate that size comfortably. I baked them at 350ºF for some time (lol, for the life of me, I can’t remember how long). I want to say maybe about 25 minutes but no worries, you’ll know when they are done.  This bread is out of this world and we finished off both in record time! Enjoy!

Here’s the measurement for the cream cheese filling so you don’t have to calculate the increased amount yourself. :)

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

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Posted in Breads, Sandwiches, and Pizza, Eggs and Breakfast | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Asian Stores and West Side Market

The ciabatta we bought from the Great Lakes Baking Company earlier that week

The ciabatta we bought from the Great Lakes Baking Company earlier that week

After his week of camp, Alex promptly fell sick. In fact, he was sick the whole of last week and is actually still recovering at the moment. Since I was cooped up in the house with him, I finally decided it was time to make space for my ever-growing vintage cookbook collection, instead of just letting them pile up…er…everywhere. Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up organizing almost the entire house. Whew! I so wasn’t planning on doing that! On top of that, I came down with a cold earlier this week and am still dealing with it but thankfully, it is nowhere as bad as what Alex went through. He had at least three days of high fever, along with cough, congestion (the works). He was totally miserable! We are all glad he’s feeling much better now. :)

Anyway, back to our last day of mini-vacation – after our glorious dim sum feast, we checked out a couple of the Asian stores downtown. We saw familiar Asian fruits, spice mixes galore (we stocked up on our favorites – Tean’s Gourmet Chicken Curry Paste, Tean’s Gourmet Curry Laksa Paste, and Maesri Tom Yum Paste), and a huge variety of Asian tableware and cookware at reasonable prices. Of course, there were plenty of other Asian grocery items but we didn’t linger to explore as we wanted to stop by West Side Market next.

I was really tempted to get one of these jackfruit but uh...how are we going to finish it?

I was really tempted to get one of these jackfruit but uh…how are we going to finish it?

Fresh longans and lychees

Fresh longans and lychees

Considered getting some bowls and plates

Considered getting some bowls and plates

and even one of these but I don't have any storage place for them at the moment.

and even one of these but I don’t have any storage place for them at the moment.

It was so busy at West Side Market that day, and it was a Friday! Was everybody taking a day off or something? :) There were bountiful produce in every stall. The berries – blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries were especially cheap. We didn’t buy any though since we had plenty at home. We went more for the fruits that weren’t easily obtainable in our local stores. Hence, we bought papayas and baby bananas. :) We also purchased a bottle of garlic olive oil (for dipping mainly) and some pierogis for friends. Seeing that I’ve never eaten pierogis before my whole life, we also bought half a dozen of the garlic potato to try. I’ll let you know what I think once I try them. We bypassed all the pastry stalls in West Side Market since we were planning to stop by Farkas Pastry Shoppe to get their famous napoleons. Of course, it helped that we were still super full from our dim sum. :) The sad part was that Farkas was closed for vacation that day and we had to do without those delicious napoleons. I think our stomachs were a little thankful for that though because we had eaten way too much that week. We’ll get our napoleons some other time. FYI, all the places we went were extremely packed and I normally try to take pictures without including the surrounding people (out of respect for their privacy). So here are the few I managed to take. Enjoy!

Miss papaya so much!

Miss papaya so much!

My favorite kind of banana back in Malaysia

My favorite kind of banana back in Malaysia

There were many choices

There were many choices

but we decided on the garlic flavor.

but we decided on the garlic flavor.

Locatelli Pecorino Romano - easily one of our top three favorite cheeses!

Locatelli Pecorino Romano – easily one of our top three favorite cheeses!

Couldn't wait to dip in

Couldn’t wait to dip in

So delicious!!!

So delicious!!!

Papaya was nice and ripe

Papaya was nice and ripe

Just scrape the seeds off and eat it with a spoon. Yum!

Just scrape the seeds off and eat it with a spoon. Yum!

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Dim Sum at Li Wah

Last Friday was the last day of our mini-vacation without Alex. As much as I love my one-to-one time with Keith, I missed my kiddo as well (even though it was actually a break for me…go figure). After we dropped Alex off at camp, we headed to downtown Cleveland and decided to have dim sum at Li Wah Restaurant, a first in more than 10 years. I’ve known about Li Wah since my college days and it is actually one of the more authentic chinese restaurants around the Cleveland area. Anyway, I’m glad to declare that they still serve super-delicious food! In addition to various dim sum dishes, we also ordered chicken & salt fish fried rice and spicy salt baked squid. Yum!

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