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Monday, August 8, 2011

Missouri, I loathe thee..

It’s been a while I know, I apologize to my faithful followers.  I think I can count you all on one hand! Ha!  Life has kept me pretty busy.  What does my busy life consist of? Work, sleep, work, church, sleep, work, church, friends, work, sleep, church, friends. To my friends who also have spouses and kids to throw into that mix, I salute you! Don’t know how you keep up!  Speaking of friends, I’m blessed to be surrounded by wonderful circle of friends.  They love me despite my crazy, ditsy neurotic ways.

 You may be wondering at the title of this installment of my blog. Well, lately it seems the state of Missouri has it out for me in regards to my friends…yes the “Show Me State” is trying to steal them all away! I’m mad at you Missouri! First to go, my old roommate and friend Shauna.  Then, you lure my buddy, and handyman Neil McKnight back with promises of catching snakes and such, see following pic. We have rattlers here in Arizona you know!

Most recently, I’m very sad to be losing another dear friend to the land of the arch, my friend Tabitha Overmire.  She and her husband Matt will be moving in less than a month to St. Louis.  Wow, life moves at the speed of light sometimes! I’m excited for them as they venture forth to the next chapter in their lives.  Here’s a pic of the beautiful couple on their wedding day.

I believe God in His infinite wisdom and love puts people in our paths that encourage and strengthen us, simply by being an unconditional friend thru the ups and downs of life.  Tabitha has been one of those persons for me.  She has remained a faithful friend, amongst other things:  confidante, goodwill shopping buddy, road trip traveling companion, roomie, chauffeur, advice giver, and the list goes on.  Have you caught on to how much I’m going to miss her??  Did I mention she is really super funny, the queen of wit, and does a perfect English accent. Yes that’s my friend Tabitha.  Here we are with another friend of ours, Fefe…a pic from one our road trips to Cali…fun times, great memories!

It only seems appropriate that the recipe book I cook from for this edition of my blog, is from the one she gave me.  She also gave me the wok to go along with it! 

What to make?  I decided to go with one of my Asian comfort foods…Fried Lice..I mean rice. Lol, forgive me for that cheesy line, I just couldn’t help it!  The great thing about fried rice is that you can start with a basic recipe, and throw in whatever veggies or meat you have on hand.  The recipe is as follows:

Fried Rice with Pork

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 onion chopped

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic

4 ounces pork, cut into small cubes

2 eggs, beaten

4 cups of cooked rice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

½ teaspoon of sugar

4 green onions, finely sliced

Time to start the rice cooker.  I recommend using jasmine rice. Why you may ask? Cause I said so!  Ha!  Seriously, I just think it taste better for Asian cooking, and that’s what my Mom cooked with.  You can find it at most grocery stores. Just make sure it says Jasmine on the package.

Growing up, we had one of the big industrial size rice cookers.  Now I have a little itty bitty one.  My Mom would be disappointed! 

I made a few variations to this recipe.  First off, I love veggies, so I added red peppers and mushrooms, as that’s what I had in the fridge.  Red peppers always make dishes pop with its lovely color and tastes yummy to boot!  Veggies washed, ready to be chopped.

Chop the veggies up, in the order of which they are cooked.  Garlic first, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and lastly green onions.  

Since wok cooking is very speedy process, and the ingredients can burn quickly, I like to have the seasonings measured out ahead of  time, ready to throw in.

Quick note, don’t be afraid of the fish sauce! Lol Yes it does smell fishy and pungent, but it is a staple in Asian cooking, and just the right amount, mixed in, really amps up the me!

Alrighty now for the fun part.  Heat your wok on high for a minute or two (if you don’t have a wok, a large Dutch skillet will work as well).  Always get your wok hot first before adding the oil, this helps keep the food from sticking and ensure even heat.   Add the oil, I start out with tablespoon or so and coat the bottom and sides. Let it heat up for minute.   Add the garlic and onions stirring quickly, cook for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat down a bit, if the garlic and onions brown too quickly. 

Add your meat, I used chicken breast instead of pork, again it’s what was in the fridge.  Stir fry until chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.   At this point the recipe called for adding the beaten eggs.  I prefer to have the eggs scrambled and cooked ahead of time, as scrambling in the wok, makes it stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add another tablespoon of oil and all veggies, except for the green onions, continuing to stir quickly, for another 2 to three minutes.

Last add the star of the show, the rice, with the remaining oil. If you find the rice is sticking to pan, add more oil.  Continue to stir and toss rice.  Add the fish sauce and soy sauce, (I chose to not add the sugar, cause the soy sauce I used had sugar in it) mixing well until the rice is thoroughly heated.  Add the green onions lastly.  I like to add black pepper and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

By now you should be salivating! I was.  Yum! When I make this for my friends, I set out soy sauce and red chili pepper paste for them to add if they wish.  Enjoy!  

P.S.... Missouri I don't hate you so much that I won't be visiting in the near future.. :0)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Glaring Cookbooks

So I have these stacks of cookbooks that glare at me every time I walk into my kitchen. Taunting me, as if to say.."How dare you ignore me!"

By the way, I’ve been blessed to be a new home owner! Once I was moved in and had my own  kitchen, I vowed I would cook more often, especially from one of  my numerous cookbooks.  Me being single, not attached, and no children, you would think that would be an easy feat. Well I’ve been living in my new abode for about 5 months, and yet the cookbooks have gone untouched…Until a few weeks ago.

Here I am randomly picking one out.

1 mix, 100 muffins…muffins are great, so many different ways to create your perfect muffin perfectly suited to you.  This cookbook was given to me by my old roomie and  dear friend Shauna.  She moved back to her home state of  Missouri, I miss her!

Here she is.  Isn’t she beautiful?(Men, She’s single! )

We both share a love for sweets and shoes!  She not only gave me the cookbook, but these totally fabulous shoes as well!

Quick roomie story, one evening I was surfing the web and a pop-up window came up on my screen. “The best donut shops in Phoenix Area”.  Now, it was about 10:30 at night, and after reading the reviews of one particular shop, I thought I should go right now! It’s a 24 hour donut shop which would indicate to me, other people have gone at all hours of the evening. I mean I have to go, I thought to myself!  I was so close to jumping in my car, pj’s and all. Well responsible Suzanne, won out. I slept instead and you can guess what I dreamt about. Lol The next day I told Shauna about it, and her response was “Why didn’t you come wake me up, I so would have went with you!”  Hence, one of my favorite things about Shauna, she is super spontaneous, and always up for a culinary adventure.   Well we did eventually make it there, and I have to profess “Bosa Donuts” are not only the best in Phoenix Metro area, they are best in the world! Really they are! If you are ever in the Mesa/Chandler, Arizona area, please, please go. I beg you.

All right back to the muffins, thinking of Shauna and our donut runs,  I chose to make the “jelly donut muffin”.

Now, there is a lot of open real estate in my fridge, but luckily I had the key ingredient, the jelly,  as well as everything else I needed. 

For times sake, I’m getting sleepy, this blogging can wear you out..heh.. I won’t go into step by step making of the recipe, it’s fairly easy. Here are a few pics of the process and some tips I discovered along the way.  Mind you, when I say tips, I also mean hitches, ha! I find in cooking, as well as in life…things don’t always go smoothly.  You’re gung-ho about making something, and you end up missing an ingredient, or in my case, it’s expired.  Guess who was to lazy to go the grocery store to replace expired item??  I know I’m not the only one out there!  

Baking powder, very necessary for baking! Mine expired in July, 2009, really??  Thank God for Google and the internet.  Hitch turned into tip.  Add a little of the baking powder to water and if it fizzes like Alka Seltzer, you’re good to go.
Everything all mixed, now time to assemble.  You are supposed to spoon some of the batter in first, then add the jelly and more batter on top.    A little tricky, I say.  The jelly kept seeping past the batter.

I found it helped to take the back of a greased spoon press it into the batter, and then put the jelly in.

All ready to bake.

My house had that wonderful baked sweet scent wafting throughout, by the time I removed them from the oven.

Last steps, my favorite, dipping the muffins in melted butter and dusting with sugar.  Right on!

Verdict, all in all, tasty muffin, and one you could add variations depending on your taste, grape jelly, or maybe apple, and brown sugar instead?  I brought them to work for my guinea pigs..uuhh I mean my co-workers to try.. I brought an empty pan home. J