Monday, April 23, 2012

Chunky Salsa

Nowadays it seems every eatery has salsa on the menu in one form or another. However, I haven't come across one that is close to the salsa recipe I've used. It might be because mine is home made and it's very chunky, just the way I like it. I got the recipe during my brief stay in Arizona when I first moved to the States. After moving to Georgia, I took it to my workplace Thanksgiving potluck feast one year. I know I know, it was not a traditional Thanksgiving dish, but at the time I was new to the whole Thanksgiving theme and I hadn't cooked much western dishes, so I figured it would add a new zest to the feast; plus I didn't have to worry about someone else bringing another salsa dish. The salsa surprised everybody, pleasantly of course, not only because people liked it a lot, but also because it was from me, an Asian chick who brought such a non-Asian dish. As a result, the recipe was emailed to many at request.

Here is the original recipe I made my famous salsa from:

2 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes (or equal quantity of fresh diced/mashed tomatoes)
2 small cans of diced green chilies
1 mid-large onion, diced
6 stalks of green onions, diced
6-8 stalks of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Garlic salt to taste
Ground lemon pepper/pepper to taste
Jalapeno pepper (optional)

Mix all the ingredients well together and it's ready to serve.

I've always used much less onion (not a fan of raw onion), more cilantro (love cilantro) and left out the jalapeno. I was also careful with the garlic salt since it had more salt than garlic taste. It was not super spicy, but has enough to wake up your taste buds to dance a bit.

As good as it was, strangely enough, I haven't made it at home much. The culprit was probably my laziness. For a while, we kept buying it from a local restaurant that had a booth at the farmer's market in town. Years went by, one day dear hubby was having a hard time to think of a dish to take to Thanksgiving potluck feast at work. So I offered my salsa recipe but suggested he should put it together to make it his own. He did it with a few tweaks. The dish was consumed and it was a hit. Everyone was asking him for the recipe. He was quite pleased and proud as he should be. From then on, he became our family salsa man. He has made salsa regularly for two of us to enjoy while we are watching movies or anime at night. Here is the updated recipe (hubby halved it as our own movie snack).

2 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chilies
1 medium-sized onion, diced
6 stalks of green onions, diced
10 stalks of cilantro (leafy parts), chopped
2 medium-small fresh jalapeno peppers, diced
Add the following to taste:
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Lemon juice

Vege-Sal package looks like this. It can be found at health food stores.

Mix the ingredients well together. Voila! Hubby often uses less onion to accommodate my taste. The two recipes each hold their own. Depending on your personal preference, one might taste better than the other, but I like them both. Perhaps, I like the new one just a tad more, because hubby makes it and you don't have as many cans to open. If you want you can try both versions, and/or make your own adjustment to get the best taste to your liking.

This is about half of the recipe amount as our movie-time snack.
Oh, by the way, for the chips to go with the salsa, we usually get Tostitos Natural Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. Yum!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Apple Sauce Pumpkin Pie

My family requested the pumpkin pie as their choice of dessert for some reason. Although it's no where near Thanksgiving or Christmas, it actually sounded good to me too, so I made my version of pumpkin pie. The original recipe was from Paula Deen's show, it was called apple butter pumpkin pie. It might very well have been the only dish featured in her show that is not super fattening and rich. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed her show. I like this recipe because of its simplicity and ease of making it. In the beginning, I made the pie just as the recipe instructed and it always turned out very good. After the kids came along, my husband and I became more conscientious than ever of the ingredients in the food that we ate daily. From reading the label on the jar of the apple butter, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was one of the ingredients. I couldn't find any apple butter that didn't include HFCS. Hence, apple butter was shunned from our house.

I started wondering if I could substitute it with apple sauce. Apple sauce usually is not as sweet as apple butter, but who to say we can't tweak the recipe and make it just as tasty. With that thought in mind, I made one to try it out and was pleasantly surprised. Tweaking was not really necessary. It did taste less smooth than using apple butter, well, as we all know, apple sauce has a natural grainy texture, but when it was baked in the pie, the graininess was barely noticeable. The apple sauce didn't take away the sweetness of the pie. It was still yummy. And since apple sauce and apple butter were both made from apples, the pie still has the same taste. From then on, I've used apple sauce to make the pie. So here is the recipe, you may use apple butter as it was originally intended.

1 cup apple sauce
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (note: packed!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine apple sauce, pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Stir in eggs. Gradually add milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Wrap the crust with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set. I always have to stick a toothpick in the middle to test for sure.

On a side note, I always find it impossible to fit all the filling into a 9-inch pie shell. I either end up put the rest of it into small tart shells (like the ones you make fruit tarts with) to make mini-pies (yum!), or use less amount of the ingredients. In addition, in case you can't digest cow's milk (I think that's what evaporated milk is made from?), you can make your own evaporated milk with whichever kind that suits your fancy. At a 3:1 ratio, after a rapid boil, cook the milk down to the right ratio with constant stirring. Let chill in the fridge before usage.

One more thing, the 9-inch pie shell I use is the Publix store brand. Out of the regular frozen isle, this is the only brand of pie shell that doesn't contain hydrogenated oil in its ingredient listing (hopefully it's telling the truth). I didn't go search high and low to see if there is another kind somewhere else.

A tiny bit of the pie came off when I was taking the foil off the crust.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The origin of my blog name

This post is to explain how I came up with "suchandsuchonfood" just in case anyone out there is wondering. In my family, sometimes my husband and I say "such and such" to generalize a subject in the conversation when we can't think of anything specific, but mainly just to be playful. One day I asked my kids what they would like to have for dinner, my daughter said: "I want such and such, mommy." I guess she picked up from the grownups in the family and applied accordingly. When I had to think of a name for my blog, I recalled the conversation and liked the phrase, so "such and such" it was. And since it is about food, I added the latter part to be unique and more specific.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cranberries-chocolate cookies

Good Friday, bored at home but wanted to do something, naturally my mind went to food. Hmm...what should I make? I thought of looking at the flour packages to see if there is anything I want to try this time. After glancing at the ingredients and the cooking instructions, I found one! It was on the side of King Arthur's unbleached whole white wheat flour package: cranberry-chocolate cookies. It was a little before 10:30 in the morning, perfect time to try something new. I changed the amount on a few ingredients to accommodate my family's taste. The recipe is as follows:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (I used only 1/2 cup and it was plenty sweet)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used about 3/4 cup chips)
1 cup dried cranberries (I used a scant 2/3 cup)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used 1/2 cup walnuts)

Yield: 2 dozen

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, orange juice, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat in the egg until combined. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks, cranberries and nuts. Drop by the tablespoon onto the foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 12 to 14 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool. My leaky old oven took about 16 minutes on the baking, but they were mighty tasty. Hubby even made a comment that the cranberries and walnuts added complexity comparing to the plain chocolate chip cookies, and he rated these as his top choice.

All right, here comes the hard part, posting a picture of it. I'll have to stick a post-it note to remind myself as I have no doubt I'll forget to take pictures of the food I intend to share. Fortunately this time I remembered before the cookies are gone.
Cranberries-chocolate Cookies