Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All Things Lost

Yesterday my worst blogging nightmare actually happened.

I lost ALL of my pictures.


I was editing pictures on ViewNX2 (Nikon picture viewing and editing program) and all the sudden the program shuts down. When I reopened the program, the entire picture folder went missing. I searched every folder on my computer drive and even in the trash.


What should I do?!?!

On the bright side, I no longer have 20 pictures some dish that I made and never made it on the blog. 

Forget that thought, I want my pictures back! I posted a thread on Microsoft forum, and no helpful tips yet. I guess I should have used that external hard drive.

What's not lost is my appetite.

Last week I had some interesting dining experience. I went to an elementary in rural West Virginia to help out with the school's health fair. Some interns and I made smoothies for kids to try while we explained MyPlate to them. During lunch, I decided to be adventurous and try the school lunch. Well, lunch turned out to be large romaine lettuce, off green peas, boxed mashed potato, overcooked pasta with meat chunks, and half of an orange. Not the best lunch I ever had, but I was impressed that there was no fried food. At least half of the tray was vegetables and fruit.

The next day, Jake and I finally got to try Bourbon n' Toulouse over at Chevy Chase. I love love love the food. I had shrimp etouffee and Jake had white chicken chili. There was all sorts of hot sauce to try out, including local Kentuckian Sadistic Mistress Sauces. Yum yum. The only thing is thatI wish I had more rice (haha can you tell I'm Chinese). The Creole and Cajun spices reminded me of my trip to New Orleas and how I miss the food. This place definitely requires a second visit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Creamy Chicken Salad

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This week I started Nutrition Education Program rotation, which means I teach MyPlate to school children. This program is run by Marshall University dietetics department and the focus is to teach nutrition to young kids. This week I taught the grain lesson to second graders. My nutrition education experience has always been with adults. It turns out I absolutely love teaching children! I felt so comfortable standing in front a group of children. Every student in the classroom is eager to see what I have for them. As I showed them plastic whole wheat bread and pasta and read them a book on breads, they loved it.

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When I asked how much exercise we need a day, some said 20 hours, 30 days, or even 60 days. If only we could take off days from work and exercise for 60 days.

School started mid-August, and so far I have yet to buy lunch meat (!!). Instead I had to get creative with what to make on weekends for lunch rest of the week. The only reason I never made chicken salad before was because of the smell of poached chicken. One of those weird food dislike I have, and I am not sure why. Probably because it just smells like meat. Canned chicken is out of the question, but I decided to give it a try.

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I replaced halfof the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt and added extra veggies.

Hmm...yumm definitely worth the "boiled chicken" smell.

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Creamy Chicken Salad

2 pounds chicken breast, trimmed, no thicker than 1-inch
1/2 cup sweet bell peppers, chopped finely
1/2 cup celery, diced finely
1/3 cup craisin
1 shallot, chopped finely
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Submerge chicken breast in 6 cups of water in a dutch oven. Turn on stove to medium high. Let water reach to boil, turn off heat, and cover pot. Wait for 15 to 20 minutes. Check the temperature of the thickest part of breast, chicken is done at 165 degrees. Bring water back to boil if temperature has not reached 165 degrees. Once chicken is cooked, remove from water and place on paper towel. Let chicken cool for 30 minutes.
2. Combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a large mixing bowl. Add in vegetables.
3. Chopped chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss chicken in mixing bowl with mayonnaise mix.
4. Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas

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The last couple weekends in Lexington, I attended Danville BBQ Festival and Greek Festival in Lexington. It was almost like being in food heaven (if only I get free food!), but my stomach did not agree with me. I was not a BBQ person until I moved to Lexington, and I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have ate at Billy's Bar-B-Q more times than any other restaurants. I was impressed with the quality of BBQ meat at the festival, I love my pulled pork sandwich from Lucky Dog BBQ. Although the BBQ sauce was a bit too sweet for me. Yes, that's those dangerously-super-deep-fried potato chips you see there. I can't resist any crunchy and salty food.

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My BBQ food chow was followed by Greek Festival this past Saturday at the Red Mile Clubhouse. Funny how no matter what culture or country of origin, people always gather around food. Naturally, I was drawn to good food. I had the lamb platter with rice and spanakopita. Jake had the gyro, which was delicious. However, the baklava was the best of all. I also tried kataifi, a heavenly honey and nut dessert, for the first time.

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A lot of eating.

Speaking of crunchy food earlier. I came across this roasted chickpeas recipe a couple weeks ago. This has became my new addiction.
The recipe is very simple. However, the prepping takes a while. The recipe requires the chickpea skins to be removed before roasting them. I have yet to figure out a quicker way to do this. I read somewhere you could boil the chickpeas for a few minutes until the skins become loosen.

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These "skinless" chickpeas took me 40 minutes as I was removing skin one chickpea at a time.
Totally worth the lengthy preparation time.

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Roasted Chickpeas

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 garlic clove, minced

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Remove skins from chickpeas. Combine chickpeas and remaining ingredients. Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tofu Mushroom Lettuce Wrap

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Yes, I realize it's about time I should blog something yummy.

Third week of dietetic internship went by fast. Earlier this week I traveled to out-the-middle-of-nowhere to Wheeling, West Virginia (north of West Virginia, almost near Pittsburgh), where I attended an in-service with the nutrition outreach educators of West Virginia University Extension - Family Nutrition Program. The interns and I stayed at a resort on top of a hill with gorgeous mountain views and lots of wild animal sight-seeing. I managed to squeeze in a morning trail run midweek.

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While I was at a beautiful location and felt like I was on vacation, I had to attend endless talks/conferences on nutrition education. On the third day of the in-service, I gave a presentation (or more like 5 presentations in a row for 5 different groups) on food packaging and marketing. It was the by far, most nerve racking experience of the internship. I was not sure how the other nutrition educators would response to my presentation, or what kind of crazy questions I would get. Luckily, by the 5th presentation I was a pro on food packaging and marketing. It felt good when some of the audience were making notes as I was speaking.

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On to my favorite subject, food.
Many people have a secret obsession with P. F. Chang's lettuce wrap. I have only had those lettuce wrap once, and it was delicious but I don't see the obsession. People often ask me where I go to get good Chinese food around town, and I always say there aren't any good ones. I stay away from Chinese take-outs and buffets, as I am kind of embarrassed that those are the only Chinese foods available. I envy those who live in large cities like New York City and San Francisco, where almost-authentic Chinese food is just around the corner.

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About 40% of my cooking is Chinese-borderline-American food. While I don't have rice everyday like my parents do, it's still a staple in my house. I have been following Asian-inspired recipes from cooking magazines that sometimes I forget how to make real Chinese food.

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Everything I learn about cooking was self-taught during college. But I know real Chinese food when I taste one. Hmm...dim sum, anyone?

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Tofu Mushroom Lettuce Wrap
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup water (or more for thinner sauce)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro 

1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
6 oz button mushrooms, chopped finely
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
6 thinly sliced green onions (about 2/3 cup), divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
2 cups hot cooked brown rice
8 Bibb lettuce leaves

  1. To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper), and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Add more water as needed.
  2. To prepare filling, place crumbled tofu in strainer and press down gently to release excess water. Let tofu drain for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1/3 cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add tofu; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and Sriracha; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cucumbers, carrots, and remaining green onions.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup rice into each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/2 cup tofu mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with sauce.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Peanut Butter

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Peanut butter, one of many essential food staples in Americans' kitchen. Oddly, it was not until I was in high school that I first tried peanut butter. Towards the end of my college years that I began to stock peanut butter in my pantry. Don't feel sorry for me that I missed out on years of peanut butter, I had plenty (and not enough!) of home-cooked Chinese food during those sans-peanut butter time.

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For a while I love the peanut butter-churning machine at Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, but due to convenience I have always bought the brand name jar in grocery store. Big, big taste difference there between the commercially packed peanut butter and churn-as-you-go peanut butter. I love looking at these fun peanut butter flavor from Peanut Butter & Co. If I had to try one, it would have to be Mighty Maple. Yum and yum. But rather than $6 a jar, I think I will try making my own peanut butter.

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Homemade Peanut Butter

1 pound shelled, skin-removed, unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or more for spreadable consistency)
1 tablespoon honey or pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Place peanuts on a large jelly roll pan. Roast peanuts for 20 minutes or until fragrant and slightly browned.
2. Let peanuts cool for 30 minutes. Put peanuts in a food processor, process continuously for 4 minutes or until become smooth. Add peanut oil and honey/maple syrup during processing.
3. Enjoy!

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