Hottest Camping Weekend Ever!

This was by far the hottest weekend I’ve ever gone camping. When we arrived at Henry Coe State Park on Friday, the temperature reached 103° F. We knew we were in for some heat. That’s an understatement!

Bees and wasps galore when the heat is in. They swarmed our food, but thankfully no one got stung. That’s good right? Since the state of California is in a drought right now, everything is dry. Sadly for us, that meant no charcoal or wood fires. No campfire makes me a sad girl. Nonetheless it was still a fun trip!

On Friday night, we got in, scoped out our sites, pitched our tents, and started to make dinner before dark. I prepped some chicken teriyaki at home so we simply cooked it, cooked some spam, heated the rice up, and supplemented with seaweed. Asian meal at it’s finest, chicken for protein and deconstructed spam musubis for dinner. I also made some brownies at home to bring as dessert. Delish!

Niki

Boys

Aaron

Spam

We played some games that night and then went to sleep. MG and I didn’t use our tarp over our tents that night so that we could see through the mess and feel the night breeze. Comparatively speaking to my other camping experiences, this was a hot night. Mid 60°F to low 70°F is pretty hot for sleeping. Once dawn hit, it was too hot to sleep in; everyone was up by 7am.

We prepped breakfast, sat around and talked, made our sandwiches, and started a 5 mile hike. We even brought our swimsuits because midway through the hike, there’s a lake. We were excited to be able to cool off… but once we got to the lake, we realized why it was named “frog lake.” Thousands of frogs jumping everywhere, a layer of slime, and stagnant water. Great! Who’s getting in first? Nobody. We didn’t want to risk our lives in this water…

Gang

Hiking

Gandalf
^^^ Look at Gandalf here trying to fashion his walking stick

Frog Lake
Oh okay… Let me just jump right in here… NOT

Frogs
All those rock lookin things… frogs.

We hiked back down and asked the ranger where we could swim. Apparently in the county of Santa Clara, you cannot swim in bodies of water. Our ranger told us 1) we could swim in frog lake (who-the-eff does that!?!) or 2) we could “fall” into Anderson Lake nearby to cool off. We drove back down the mountain and dipped into the super muddy Lake to cool off. At that point, having some sort of water to degrease and get the caked on sunscreen off was worth it!

Perhaps we stopped by a McDonald’s afterwards for ice cream… maybe. Can you blame me?

We fix up some burgers, ramen, smores and smoreos for the night. Oh yes, you read that right. I said smoreos; roasted marshmallows sandwiched into oreos. You’re welcome for opening your eyes.

Smores

We played games, the girls did facials, and then we all headed to bed for an early morning to get to church on time.

Note to the reader: Quiet time is at 10pm at campsites. Don’t cook and talk loudly at midnight! Or else you’ll hear from me…

Great camping trip! I’ve had better ones but the fellowship during this trip was definitely memorable!

Have a great week y’all!
Jay

  

Hearty Spezzatino

You can’t go wrong with a hearty bowl of soup. A warm and full belly after a perfect bowl of soup is one of my happy places!

I always keep raw chicken breast in my freezer. It’s such a universal meat that you can eat with just about anything, sandwiches, pasta, soup, grilled, stuffed, stir-fry; choices are endless!

This is one of those recipes that calls for chicken. It’s also one of those recipes that’s perfect for when you need to clean out the fridge. Lots of veggies leftover that are going back, just throw them into the soup.

By the way, this recipe gets better. It’s a one pot dinner, made in prepared and cooked in under 30 minutes. Best. Decision. Ever.

Pot

When I’m making this recipe for dinner, it gives me motivation to get through the day, something to look forward to when I get home. No judgement. You know you do the same thing. When there’s a tasty meal at home, you’re ready to finish work and get on home! Food is my motivation!

I dedicate this dear recipe to my friend, Judy Lu. She made this yummy dish for dinner, and I emailed her the day after for the recipe. Honestly, so delicious!

Serve

Hearty Spezzatino

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces of bacon
  • 2 pieces of skinless chicken breast, cubed into bit size pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke
  • 2 cans of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/2 packed cup of fresh, chopped basil leaves (or 2 tablespoons of dried basil)
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1.5 cup of elbow macaroni
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning

Directions:

1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Set bacon aside to cool and then break into small pieces. This will be used to garnish.
2. Add some olive oil to the bacon grease, and then add the veggies (onions, garlic, carrots and celery) and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. This is where you can add your extra, leftover veggies while you’re at it. Cook until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the chicken stock, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and tomato paste. Stir until combined.
4. Add the cubed chicken pieces and make sure it’s submerged into the stock. Let it boil, and then reduce to medium heat.
5. Add the frozen artichokes and the elbow macaroni. Simmer for 20 minutes until pasta is the way you like it. Be sure to check that the chicken stock does not completely evaporate. Add more stock if needed.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the spezzatino into bowls and garnish with pieces of bacon.

Done


Yumm
^^^ I threw in some zucchini too! 

I love that dinner can be this easy. Getting home at 6:30 and dinner on the table by 7:30pm. It doesn’t get easier unless you buy Panda, right?

What do you think? What are some of your favorite on pot recipes?

Enjoy dinner!
Jay

  

April Showers Bring Soup!

Happy April! Did anyone have any good April Fool’s Day jokes played on them? Share!

I woke up and told MG I had a stomach ache and couldn’t go to a lunch date with him. He was worried until I shouted “April Fool’s!” Then he told me there are 31 days in March so unbeknownst to me, it wasn’t 4/1. There goes my joke. And yes, that’s as creative as I can get for these kinds of things!

On another note, what’s going on with these rainstorms in the Bay Area? I’m happy that it’s raining since we didn’t have a winter, but winter in April? That’s cray! It’s gotten chilly outside so soup is a must to warm bellies!

I’ve noticed that my cooking style is simple. I like to use things that you would purchase regularly and things that you would find in your fridge. Once in a while a recipe will call for a specific herb or ingredient where you need to go to the store, but I hate when I don’t even know what the ingredient looks like or tastes like! Here’s a recipe where you’ll recognize all the ingredients, yay!

Also, it’s worth mentioning that I used chicken for this recipe to make the soup heartier. This can be a vegetarian dish by simply eliminating the chicken!

Yum

Red Curry Noodle Soup
4 servings, cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth (if vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 8 ounces of your favorite noodles (rice or wonton noodles are a great choice)
  • Handful of bok choy and napa cabbage (honestly, any of your favorite veggies will work here)
  • Fresh cilantro, green scallions, red pepper flakes to garnish (all optional)
  • Salt for tasting

Directions:

1. If you’re using wonton noodles (which I did), boil water and cook the noodles in the separate pot. Then drain and set aside. I cook this in a separate pot because the flour thickens the liquid.
2. Combine garlic cloves, ginger, curry paste, and coconut oil in a blender and make a paste (I have a Magic Bullet).
3. In a large pot, heat the paste on medium-high heat, frying the paste for 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, chopped onion, and a pinch of salt, and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth to the pot, and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
4. Once the soup has come to a boil, add in the cooked/shredded chicken and the noodles. Simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Serve and garnish with cilantro and sliced green scallions. If you want heat, sprinkle red pepper flakes.

Paste
Making the curry paste

Vegetables
My veggies – onion, bok choy, napa cabbage

Red Curry Paste

Bowl

Done

Want some spice?

Hot

Yum, yum, yum! Nothing beats a hearty, hot bowl of noodle soup on chilly day. I kept the noodles and vegetables in line with the Asian theme, but feel free to use your favorite vegetables.

If you have leftovers, even better! The soup is extremely flavorful the next day. Store the noodles in a separate container so that it doesn’t absorb all the liquids.

Is this something you can make? What are some other red curry recipes you love?

Happy feasting!
Jay
—–
Adapted from this original recipe

  

Hearty Chicken Pot Pie

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a hearty comfort food?

Pie

Mine has always and will always be chicken pot pie. Chicken, veggies, cream, and a crunchy, flaky pastry? Yes please! You know how sometimes you crave certain foods based on weather? For me, hot days mean sushi and fresh seafood. For cold, rainy days, I crave noodles, soup, and pot pie. Do you have those cravings too? Pot pie is one of those recipes that warm the soul and honestly leaves you with a happy belly. Most times I cannot have more than just once slice!

I have a cooking tip for those of you reading.

Cook multiple chicken breasts and keep them in the fridge! 

It’s hard to put dinner on the table throughout the work week because when you get home, you’re tired. You want to veg out on the couch, eat something, and go to bed. I get it. I’ve been there! I get it so much that I make food on the weekends and keep everything in the fridge, so that when the weekday comes along and you need to make dinner, it’s basically microwaveable. Chicken breasts is perfect for this!

I typically cook 3 chicken breasts on the weekend because I can make so many different meals – chicken salad, chicken in pasta, chicken stir fry, chicken tenders, and yes, chicken pot pie. So many different options!

This savory pie recipe is one that I often make for cold days, for dinner guests, and for pot lucks. It’s great for 4-6 guests, if you’re able to stop eating after one slice. The most difficult part is the crust, but that’s only because you need time to refrigerate the dough. That’s not even hands-on! Make this simple recipe, and it will not disappoint!

Crust

Hearty Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Ingredients for crust (makes 2 pie crusts):

  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/2 cup of cold water

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup of frozen carrots
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon of celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 2/3 whole milk

Directions for crust:

1. Let’s make the crust first since it needs to be refrigerated. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then mix the diced butter into the dry mix until it resembles crumbs. Stir in water a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is tacky and can form a ball. Cut dough into two pieces, and wrap each piece in plastic. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.
2. Roll out dough to fit your 9 inch pie dish. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the dish and sides. Roll out the second piece of dough, and this piece will go on top of the pie, after the filling is complete.

Directions for the filling:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 ° F.
2. Add water to a saucepan and boil the carrots, peas, and celery for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. In the same saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Once combined, stir in broth and milk. Simmer until mixture thickens, and add chicken and veggies.
4. Pour the filling into the bottom pie crust, and cover the filling with the other rolled out crust. Cut away excess dough, and make small slits to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes, crust should be golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes then serve.

Ingredients

Filling
This filling is making me hungry!!!

Served
Filling spilling out ^^^

This makes me miss the cold, rainy, winter days in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, this west coast has been in a drought this whole winter season, but I might just have to make this pie even on a sunny, hot day!

Is this something you can make? What’s your favorite savory pie? Better yet, can you share the recipe?

Happy belly,
Jay

—–
Original crust recipe

  

Weekend Feasts

How was your weekend? Did anyone have amazing feasts, especially asking those that celebrated Chinese New Year?

I did!

A week ago, I joined my friend’s biggest loser challenge. I should have joined after Chinese New Year and Super Bowl weekend… fail. We’re competing in teams, and MG is my partner. We have until April to lose weight and achieve our desired weight goal. The initial fee is $50, but halfway through the challenge, if you lose a certain percentage, you get half your money back. I somehow feel like I’ll lose my entire $50… Okay, good thoughts. Good thoughts!

But this weekend I ate like I’ve been starved for a week. I ate so much I needed to change into fat pants when my guests were gone. I ate so much that I’m definitely going to gain at this next weigh in. It was worth it!

On Saturday, I hosted dinner for my in-laws. We had an epic hot pot meal, basically it was a hot pot buffet at home. I prefer hot pot over shabu shabu any day. The difference is one is Chinese style, the other is Japanese. Chinese is a bit saltier, and the Japanese version has a sweeter taste. If you’ve been reading along, you know I have a savory tooth! We had two burners going, one vegetarian with miso based soup, and another with Little Sheep flavoring. I purchased lots of veggies, an abundance of seafood, beef, and lamb.

Hot Pot
Tofu, fish paste, imitation crab meat, shrimp, salmon and various fish balls!

Hot Pot Dinner
Look at all that meat and those veggies!

My favorite sauce to use is the BBQ/satay sauce. It makes hot pot perfect! All this food for 7 people. Did we have leftovers? Yup, and that’s why my in-laws are coming back on Monday to feast again!

For dessert, I made malt ice cream, ginger ice cream, and Japanese cheesecake. It was the perfect dinner for the day after New Years!

Now I have a question for you: hot pot or shabu shabu? What are your favorite things to eat at hot pot?

Then another epic weekend day – Super Bowl Sunday! MG and I decided to host a last minute party for a few of our friends. We have LOTS of sliced cheese because, for some reason, we bought cheese from Costco. To make use of the cheese, we made grown up grilled cheese sandwiches, along with a side of meatballs and roasted chicken drumsticks. For dessert we had homemade chocolate chip & caramel cookies. Probably paid about $30 to have 8 people come watch the game at our place – that’s under $4 a person! Though this was the most uninteresting game on record, we had a good time feasting!

Superbowl Sunday

Chicken
^^^ Looks like they are glowing 

Grilled Cheese
Fancy grilled cheese – recipe to come soon!

Did you host a party? What did you make? If you went to a party, what did you eat? I want to know!

Am I losing that $50 or what? Okay, back to eating healthy! And running! Yay…

What did you do this weekend?
Jay

  

Baked Broccoli Chicken Rice Cups

I love baking!

Not just sweets, but savory foods too. I absolutely love making things in muffin pans. So easy to take on the go and to give away as treats too. It’s my new favorite thing to do!

I recently made some baked broccoli & chicken rice cups (with lots and lots of cheese) that I must share with you! Scrumptious little things!

Baked

It’s really the perfect recipe because I always have leftover rice in the fridge. I seem to always make too much of a starch since it expands. I make too much pasta. I mash too many potatoes. I cook too much rice. I could feed a family of 10! In my case, MG and I have leftovers for a week. Oops! Does that happen to you too? What’s a good trick/tip to measuring the right amount?

Anyway, back to these little cups! It’s a really simple recipe (5-steps), and I promise you’ll eat more than one!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 medium broccoli crown
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup ranch salad dressing
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese (I chose cheddar, but feel free to use your favorite kind)
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Cut the broccoli crown into smaller than bite-size pieces, then cook the broccoli either by steaming or boiling. I like to do a quick boil (3-5 minutes tops). Drain the broccoli and set aside.
3. Mix together all the ingredients, but only half the cheese.
4.  Fill each of the muffin pans with the mixture, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Put the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crisp.

Once the cups are ready, scoop each out and serve! Eat away!

MixMixing it all together

RawReady to go in the oven! 

Close up
Cooked and ready to be eaten

Final
Perfect cups! ^^^

Is this something you can do? What are some other recipes that you’ve come across/made in a muffin pan?

Happy eating,
Jay

  

Chicken Fig Salad

Have you decided to eat healthier, lose some of that holiday weight? Cause I am, and I’m in the same boat with you! After my month long vacation, I’ve gotten a bit pudgier. Ugh.

I’m still in Orlando, but I can’t wait to get home and get back into a regular diet. I always tell myself to control the sweets intake around the holidays, but it’s so hard! It’s a test, and I always fail. Anyone with me?

I wanted to share my favorite salad with you. It’s extremely easy to do. What? A salad? I’m never full off a salad… I know, I’ve thought the same way. But this one has chicken and an egg, and you’ll be satisfied. Give it a try, and it won’t disappoint.

Salad

Ingredients: Cooked chicken breast, salad mix (I like to use a spring mix or spinach salad), fried egg, figs, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

Directions: On your plate, add salad mix, bite size pieces of chicken breast, slivers of fresh figs, a fried egg, feta cheese, and now sprinkle a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar (a little vinegar goes a long way).

Fig

If you’re having trouble finding figs, check out Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s. If figs aren’t available, other great fruit options are strawberries, apple slices, and blue berries. Bleu cheese can also replace feta if you want a stronger cheese.

Salad

Want to be extra healthy? Make a cup of sweet green juice and add that chia!

What do you think of this salad? Do you have a scrumptious (but also filling) salad recipe?

Onto healthy eating (when I get back into the Bay),
Jay

  

Light & Creamy Pasta Recipe

It’s September, which means it’s summertime in the Bay Area!

Cook a light meal, finish dinner early, and enjoy those warm nights while they last. This Light & Creamy Pasta is the perfect dish, and it takes less than 30 minutes to whip up.

The lemon zest makes it taste light. The parsley makes it taste fresh. The heavy cream makes it saucy but not heavy like cheese. Yum!

Light and Creamy Pasta

Recipe Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Spinach (Half a 5 oz. bag)
  • Parsley (Only a handfull, finely chopped)
  • Zest of a lemon (Grate only the yellow, not the white spongey layer)
  • 2 pieces of chicken breasts (cut into 5 pieces for easier cooking)
  • 2.5 cups of Heavy Cream
  • Half a box of pasta (I like Angel Hair)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oil for cooking

Directions:

1. Fill a large pot of water. Add salt (salt it until it’s like the ocean), and turn the stove on to high. While the water is coming to a boil, let’s work on the other ingredients.
2. Salt and pepper the chicken breast meats. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to your pan and let it heat up. Then add the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked thoroughly (make sure the inside is NOT pink and white throughout).
3. Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool down and shred up the pieces. I like to use my fingers to shred the meat (hence the cool down).
4. At this point, the water should have come to a boil. Add the pasta and let it cook while we finish the rest of the meal.
5. Using the same pan that you cooked the chicken with, add the spinach. Once the spinach has condensed, add the lemon zest.
6. Pour the heavy cream onto the spinach and lemon zest, and let it reduce so that the sauce becomes thicker.
7. Add the chicken meat to the creamy mixture and the chopped parsley.
8. Drain the pasta, and toss it into the creamy sauce.
9. Plate the light and creamy pasta onto serving plates, and NOMs!

Shredded Chicken
I like to snack on the shredded chicken. Kitty likes snacking on the meat too!

Light and Creamy

Are you hungry yet?

Try the recipe and let me know how you like it,
Jay