Mini Icebox Pies

A few weeks ago, I promised my students that I would make them some food, because they had been so well behaved and consistently participated in class. I kept my promise and made them Mini Icebox Pies. Most of them are familiar with some foods from the United States, but I wanted to introduce them to something new. Personally, I really like Icebox Pies. They are so easy to make, and barely take anytime. After doing some research, I thought it would be nice to make them a smaller version of this pie.

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The making of these sweet treats was quite an endeavor. First of all, I had to make fifty of them. I didn’t really think about that when I first offered to make them food, but I really like my students, so it was worth it. Also, I didn’t consider the fact that I was going to have to whip enough cream to fill fifty cups. Lastly, I had to improvise some ingredients, because some of the ingredients, such as graham crackers, are not available in my town. Overall, it was an experience.

 

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Mini Icebox Pies
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Mini Icebox Pies
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Ingredients
  • 1-2 boxes semi-sweet crackers you can use graham crackers or something similar.
  • 3 cartons heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter melted
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Whip the heavy whipping cream, either by hand or with a mixer, until small peaks are formed. Gradually add in the sugar and the cinnamon. Mix for thirty seconds. Then, place the whip cream in the fridge.
  2. Next, finely grind the graham crackers in a food processor. Take most of the crackers, set some of the crackers to the side as a topping, and place them in a bowl.
  3. Then, add the butter and thoroughly mix both of the ingredients.
  4. To assemble the pie, place a little over a tablespoon of the cracker and butter mixture at the bottom of the cup. Next, press the crackers down until they are flat. Then, add two tablespoons of whip cream. Finally, top the whip cream with a sprinkle of the leftover crackers.
  5. Place the pies in the freezer for two hours and then serve.
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No Bake Sesame Granola

At times, I wonder if I am the only person who loves to curl up with a bowl of yogurt with granola and peanut butter. I like to wake up, throw them in a bowl and read the news while sipping a cup of coffee. For me, it’s a healthy comfort food and makes me feel at home wherever I’m residing.

Since I moved to China, I haven’t been able to find granola in the supermarket. I’ve gotten used to walking through the cereal aisle, and picking up a bag of Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola. Then, I would walk to the dairy aisle and grab the thickest Greek yogurt. Now, I don’t have those luxuries anymore, but that is okay. I need to find a way to make a new way to make my comfort food.

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Last week, I found walnuts and whole oats in the grocery store. I said to myself “This is my opportunity to make the best granola ever!!”. Without doing any research on if it was possible for me to make granola without an oven, I bought a small bag of walnuts and a large container of oats.

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After my impulse buy of walnuts and oats, I searched to see if anyone had made granola without an oven. I came across  no bake vegan recipes. All of them looked delicious, and I am still willing to try them, but I didn’t have any vegan-friendly ingredients. I decided that I should find steps in granola recipes that didn’t require an oven. Two techniques I found were the toasting of the outs, and the melting of peanut butter and honey. I thought toasting the walnuts and the oats would help create a crunchy texture. Melting the peanut butter and honey together just looked delicious.

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Despite some doubts, and dealing with a crappy frying pan,  it turned out well. The oats had a nice crunch and the sesame oil gave it a nuttier flavor. It wasn’t too sweet and would definitely pair well with yogurt.

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No Bake Sesame Granola
Print Recipe
A very nutty granola recipe that doesn't require an oven. It can be served with yogurt or ice cream.
No Bake Sesame Granola
Print Recipe
A very nutty granola recipe that doesn't require an oven. It can be served with yogurt or ice cream.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Chop the walnuts into small pieces. You can also use pre chopped walnuts if you have them.
  2. In a bowl, microwave the honey and peanut butter for one minute. Take the bowl out of the microwave, then thoroughly mix the honey and peanut butter together.
  3. Next, to make the cooking a little easier, place the oats and walnuts in seperate bowls. Place those ingredients, along with the penut butter and honey mixture, beside your stovetop. Take a foot long sheet of aluminum foil, or parchment paper,and place it on a countertop. The granola will be placed on the aluminum foil after it's fully cooked.
  4. Warm your pan on low heat and add the oats and walnuts. Make sure to sure them consistently while they are toasting.
  5. After the oats and walnuts are toasted, add the sesame oil. Move the ingredients around the pan for about one minute.
  6. Then, add the honey peanut butter mixture and the salt. Fully coat the oats and walnuts with these ingredients.
  7. Transfer the granola to the piece of aluminum foil, or parchment paper, and spread it out. Allow the granola to cool for five minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Store the granola in an air-tight container. It will hold for one week.

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Simple Teriyaki Chicken with Red Cabbage and Broccoli

Since I’ve settled into my apartment, I’ve wanted to experiment with some new recipes. There is something about being in a new kitchen that makes me want to grab a notebook and write down ideas for recipes. I’ve wanted to perfect some old recipes as well. I found in one of my notebooks a recipe for teriyaki chicken that I made three months ago. The last time I made it a friend spent the night at my old apartment. So, as soon as I saw it a flood of memories washed over me. That has to be my favorite part about cooking; stumbling upon old recipes.

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Also, I’ve been wanting to experiment with new sauces. Originally when I made the teriyaki sauce, I didn’t use cornstarch or any thickening agent. I liked that sauce but it was more of a marinade. I will definitely use it in the future, but it wasn’t what I wanted for dinner. I wanted that thick, sweet sauce that you get at an Asian restaurant in the mall, of course, with less sugar. I decided that the best thing for me to do was to combine the marinade with a thickening agent. I went with cornstarch and the fat from the chicken to give the vegetables a little extra flavor. Plus, I don’t like to waste food. I always try to reuse ingredients and throw only what I need to away.

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I found this recipe at just the right time. I needed a chicken recipe that was simple and would challenge me to cook in a different way. It had to last for more than a day and would actually taste good the next day. I hate it when leftovers don’t taste good. It is the worst. I was able to take my old recipe, update it and make enough food to last for three days.

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teriyaki-chickencollage

 

Simple Teriyaki Chicken with Red Cabbage and Broccoli
Print Recipe
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Simple Teriyaki Chicken with Red Cabbage and Broccoli
Print Recipe
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken breasts cut into half inch slices
  • 1/2 head red cabbage shredded
  • 2 heads broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 inch slice ginger minced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups cooked rice optional
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. For the marinade: In a large mixing bowl whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, honey, garlic and ginger. Then, add one tablespoon of the cornstarch. Whisk the ingredients together one more time. The marinade should look cloudy.
  2. Add the chicken to the marinade and let it sit for at least five minutes.
  3. Once the chicken is done marinating, place it in an oven safe dish and let it bake for an hour at 170 degrees Celsius. *
  4. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, place the chicken in a bowl and leave the juices from the chicken in the dish.
  5. Next, strain the juices from the chicken into a bowl. This will be made into a sauce.
  6. In a frying pan, on medium heat pour the juice from the chicken in the pan. Add in the other tablespoon of corn starch and quickly whisk it around. When it’s done, the sauce should bubble up and not look lumpy.
  7. Place the vegetables in the pan with the sauce and toss them around for two minutes. You’ll know when it’s done when the cabbage should be a light purple color and the broccoli should be greener.
  8. Once the vegetables are done, remove them from the heat. When plating the dish add a little extra sauce from the pan on top of the chicken.
Recipe Notes

I cooked the chicken in a convection oven. If you cook it in a regular oven, it may cook in a shorter period of time.

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A Cook and a Baker

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I enjoy cooking but I don’t really bake. I’ve always enjoyed cooking more than baking. When you bake, measurements are important. Of course when you cook they are important, but if you alter the ingredients, they may not have a severe impact on the dish.  Also, I’m not the best baker. During my time in the U.S, I was able to learn how to decorate a cake from my friend’s mom, Patty. She is a proud mom and owner of Patty Bakes Cakes. She has been baking for years and specializes in creating shaped cakes. Although we did not bake a cake from scratch, she gave me a lot of tips on how to decorate a cake.

Tips on how to decorate a cake

  • 1. Before adding food coloring to the white icing, stir it with a toothpick. Then, add the food coloring to the icing.
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  • 2. To keep the icing creamy, add a little bit of milk and stir.
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  • 3. Brushing the cake with a silicone brush helps remove excess flakes.
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  • 4. Always try to evenly spread your icing when coating the cake.
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  • 5. When decorating the cake, don’t squeeze the icing bag too hard and don’t squeeze the middle of the bag. If you do, the icing will rise come out of the top of the bag.
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  • 6. Relax and have fun because it’s just a cake!
  • Finalcake

We made a chocolate cake topped with cinnamon sugar dip. It’s a fun take on chips and dip! I was happy with the results, but I don’t think I’ll be baking a cake anytime soon.

Follow Patty on Facebook @Patty Bakes Cakes.

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How to Create an At Home Workout

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For a while, I’ve been making my own  at home workouts. For me, it’s simple because I used to be a Group Fitness Instructor. However, if you aren’t an instructor, or you only workout at a gym, it can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you create your own at home workout.

  1. Know your limits.
  • It’s important to exercise safely, but I think you should take extra precaution at home. Your home isn’t built for working out, so if you need to try some intense exercises, make sure to clear enough space to perform them. If you have an injury, or have a history of injuries, know the modifications of the exercises you would like to try. I have knee issues and some days I have to cut the jump squats and just do a simple squat. Know your limits and listen to your body.

2. Know the difference between different types of workouts.

  • Your workouts will vary depending on the types of exercises you want to do, the length of time you have and how challenging you want your workout to be. If performed well and in a safe way, your workouts will be effective. Personally, I like to vary my workouts by doing a HIIT or a circuit. Here’s an explanation of both types of workouts.
  • HIIT: (High Intensity Interval Training) Creating a workout that has short, high intensity level exercises with periods of low intensity level exercises. For example, performing knee tucks for thirty seconds followed by one minute of squats.
  • Circuit Training: A series of exercises that focuses on one area of the body or the total body. Each exercise is done for a certain period of time, usually thirty seconds to one minute. Then, you either start the same circuit over again or move on to a new circuit.

3. Start simple!

  •  Creating your own workout doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ve created a video that shows the basic exercises you need to know to get started. Once you’re comfortable with these, you can add jumps to or weights to increase the intensity. If you would like more fitness inspiration, you can check out my Pinterest page.

4. Make sure the workout is challenging but not impossible to get through.

  • There is a difference between challenging yourself and being to hard on yourself. Maybe you can only do pushups for thirty seconds instead of a minute. Over time, you’ll get stronger. One thing I do is add an extra ten to fifteen seconds to a challenging exercise until I am able to perform it up to my desired time.

5. Invest in equipment.

  • I workout at home because it’s cheaper than going to a gym. Plus, where else can I blast my music and dance around. However, working out at home does come with a price but it doesn’t have to be very expensive. If you are considering making an at home gym, I would suggest buying a set of weights, ranging from five to twenty pounds, two resistance bands at two levels of resistance, a mat and an exercise ball. With these items you can do various exercises and over time you can add new equipment.

 

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