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.
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.
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.
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.
No Bake Sesame Granola
A very nutty granola recipe that doesn't require an oven. It can be served with yogurt or ice cream.
Chop the walnuts into small pieces. You can also use pre chopped walnuts if you have them.
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.
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.
Warm your pan on low heat and add the oats and walnuts. Make sure to sure them consistently while they are toasting.
After the oats and walnuts are toasted, add the sesame oil. Move the ingredients around the pan for about one minute.
Then, add the honey peanut butter mixture and the salt. Fully coat the oats and walnuts with these ingredients.
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.
Store the granola in an air-tight container. It will hold for one week.
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.
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.
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.
Simple Teriyaki Chicken with Red Cabbage and Broccoli
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.
Add the chicken to the marinade and let it sit for at least five minutes.
Once the chicken is done marinating, place it in an oven safe dish and let it bake for an hour at 170 degrees Celsius. *
When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, place the chicken in a bowl and leave the juices from the chicken in the dish.
Next, strain the juices from the chicken into a bowl. This will be made into a sauce.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. To keep the icing creamy, add a little bit of milk and stir.
3. Brushing the cake with a silicone brush helps remove excess flakes.
4. Always try to evenly spread your icing when coating the cake.
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.
6. Relax and have fun because it’s just a cake!
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.
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.
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.
For those of who I’ve talked to on the regular basis, you know that I frequent a breakfast spot right outside of my apartment complex. Although I don’t know the official name of the place, there is a man and a woman who own and run the restaurant. I call her ” Breakfast Lady”. She is really nice and she makes really good food, well it’s more like her husband makes the food and she sells it with a smile. Well, their restaurant serves some of the best baozi, mantou and, most importantly, xiaolongbao.
Xiaolongbao is a small steamed bun usually filled with seasoned pork. They are very delicious and it’s impossible to eat just one. “Breakfast Lady” makes some of the best xiaolongbao in town, and some of my friends who have visited have said that she makes the best xiaolongbao that they have had.
A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to make xiaolongbao with her. The process was kind of difficult. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t speak Chinese very well and that was how she was telling me how to make them. Regardless, I was able to kind of understand how to make them.
This was my first attempt at making xiaolongbao. It didn’t turn out so well. Rolling them is a lot more difficult than it looks.
After three more tries, I finally made one that was almost similar to the ones that she makes.