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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[Crispy chicken wings for less calories] Oven-baked chicken wings

I love oven. That is my favorite kitchen appliance which is indispensable in my cooking life.
I like fried food which I don't make often. Oh yes, I love frying fish and pickles :).
Nonetheless, I tend to bake most things that usually are to be fried.
Like most things in life, there are pros and cons about each of baking and frying method.
For example,
if you bake chicken instead of frying,
there are some pros and cons:

Prosi. You will take in significantly less fat as wells as calories.
ii. Your kitchen will not get greasy.
iii. You will not waste oil which is really hard to litter properly.
iv. Consequently,  you are helping the earth (at least) a bit to stay cleaner.

i. Your kitchen will get heated, which is not exactly what you want, especially in a warm summer evening.
ii. It takes longer to bake a chicken than to fry a chicken
iii. Your baked chicken will not likely be as crispy as a fried chicken.

Having weighed the advantages with the disadvantages,
I've been inclined to the idea of baking chicken.
Even though I do fry chickens time to time, not often though,
I really like the crispiness of chicken that doesn't accompany the greasy taste.

Here goes the Oven-baked crispy Chicken Wings recipe:
(adapted from Oven crisp chicken wings )

(4 servings)
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter
10 chicken wings, before drumettes and wingettes joined

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut wings at joints.

3. Rinse wings and dry them well with papertowels.

4. Combine flour, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a plastic bag.

5. Shake to mix ingredients and add wings.

6. Line a large baking sheet with Release foil and melt the butter on it, to make your or your significant other's life a little bit easier (to clean up :))

7. Add wings to pan and turn to coat.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

9. Turn wings over and bake until crispy and done, for about 15 minutes.

Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce :)

It's not the fastest food in the world,
but very easy to make and super tasty.

I've made it many times.
I totally recommend it! :)

I hope you enjoy crispy chicken wings as much as I do.

Oven-baked Crispy Chicken Wings

Monday, May 28, 2012

[Salade Niçoise] French beach style salad - Nice style Full meal salad

French Open kicked off today!
It is an event I get excited for so very much!
Hope my superstar, aka Roger Federer, will win his 17th grand slam title!

In celebration of 2012 French Open, :)
I decided to post about my favorite salad in the whole world, Salade Niçoise, which is more than a mere salad.

Salade Niçoise can be a full meal since it contains subtantial ingredients sufficient for a meal.

It is served as a summer dinner meal at my household. :)

 I've been in Nice only once in my freshman year, with whole bunch of male friends, in two (minivan from Renault)
It was a budget road trip from Paris to Rome, and Nice was originally planned as  a pit-stop.
Most beaches in Nice, if not all, are topless beaches.
Well, I learned later that tanning topless is a feature of public beaches in France.
Consequently, guess what happened.
The guys who were my travel partners didn't want to leave Nice!!
I was the only one who freaked out, but nobody cared, as half-expected.
Thank Goodness, we had booked the hotels in Genova. Otherwise, we must have been stuck in Nice for the entire week.

I don't havej courage to be topless. That's why I've been avoiding Nice since then. :)
Oh, don't get me wrong. I love Côte d'Azur that comprises Nice, Cannes, Grasse, and even Monte Carlo.
But, believe or not, I haven't had chance to visit its beautiful beach, again. Someday... :)

I had my first salade Niçoise a few years later, in Paris.
It was one awesome salad!
But, the one I had was not an authentic salade Niçoise.
An original Salade Niçoise shouldn't include any "cooked vegetables" such as potatoes or
green beans.
I respect and like the authentic version.
But, to make it more substantial,
I prefer adding potatoes, and especially green beans which is one of my favorite vegetables,
in the deviated version of Salade Niçoise.

Here goes the recipe of Susbtantial Salade Niçoise:

Vinaigrette1 shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoons Caper
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup (or 6 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 whole pepper, grated

Salad5-6 oz green beans, cooked and drained
2 potatoes, cooked and sliced
3 eggs, hard-boiled and cut into wedges
Romaine lettuce, as much as you want, washed and drained
2 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
2 tomatoes, sliced or 1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tuna can, drained
25-30 black olives, pitted
1 can of tuna, drained
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets

How to make:

First, make vinaigrette. Either shake all the ingredients together in a lid-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or onions together with the mustard and salt.

Whisk in the vinegar. Beat in freshly ground pepper.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes, green beans, and eggs.
Slice, or cut accordingly.

2. Place sliced potatoes in a bowl and mix with 6 tablespoons of vinaigrette.

3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a bowl.

4. Pour potato + vinaigrette misture over lettuce.

5. Toss the green beans, (cherry) tomatoes, and eggs and celery.

6. Add anchovy fillets and black olives, just before serving.

7. Pour vinaigrette over the prepared salad.
This is a perfect salad to be a not-so-light, but still healthy meal.


Salade Niçoise

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[Round lasagna] The easiest cheese lasagna baked in a cast-iron skillet (*updated)

I think I wrote it more than once,
but let me repeat this once more and all. :)
I love lasagna and it is my favorite food in the whole world!

Foretunately, all my three guys love lasagna too, maybe not as much as I do though.
But, they never say no~ to my homemade lasagna.
I make lasagna with all kinds of different ingredients,
meat, sausage, eggplant, zucchini and cheese~

You might  already know by now that I don't cook lasagna noodles before I bake them.
I use dry pasta right away, but with more sauce than normal, which helps pasta to be cooked easily.
Without pasta cooking, lasagna becomes an easy dish to make.

However, here is an even easier version of lasagna.
I'd dare to say that this is the most handy lasagna recipe you would find.
You can make it in a weekday, when you just came back from work.

I always make tomato sauce, using two diced tomato cans at a time, but you are welcome to use a store-bought tomato sauce.
I know I promised I'd post a homemade tomato sauce recipe and didn't do it so far.
I promise once more. I'll do it soon.

Here goes the recipe:
(This is adapted and modified from Three-cheese Skillet lasagna)

(4 servings)
2 cups tomato sauce (homemade or store bought)
 Coarse salt and ground pepper
 1 large egg yolk
 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
 2/3 box lasagna noodles
 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded
 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

How to make:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Break up lasagna noodles to medium size, to suit to a round cast-iron skillet.

Grate mozzarella and parmesan.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together egg yolk, cottage cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

4. Pour 1/2 - 3/4 cup of tomato sauce to skillet and spread sauce evenly.

5. Add a single layer of noodles. Breaking up to fit, if needed.
Never overlap noodles.

6. Top with 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and half the cottage cheese mixture, spreading evenly.

7. Follow with a second layer of noodles, then 1/2 cups tomato sauce, and then remaining cottage cheese mixture.

8. Add a third layer of noodles, then  remaining 1/2-3/4 cups tomato sauce.

9. Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan over top.

10. Bake lasagna until golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.
I broil the lasagna for the last 2 minutes.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Oh, there is a cons about this skillet lasagna:
This is just the right size lasagna for 4 servings.
Nothing left for the following day's leftover lasagna lunch~ :(

But, it's really yummy and easy.


Easy Cheese Lasagna

Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Easy Chocolate Cake] Vegan Chocolate Cake ready to be baked in 5 minutes

It's a long weekend! Yay.
Tomorrow, Monday the 21st, is Victoria day of 2012,  federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday.
This is one of my favorite cakes too :)
But, the easiest cake I bake is this vegan chocolate cake.

You can make it either in a square pan or in muffin tins like I did for Remi's class in April.
Oh, I doubled the recipe to make enough cupcakes for Remi's class on his birthday.
As the top frosting is made with butter, the cupcake is not vegan anymore.
If you want it to be vegan cupcake, you'd better use margarine instead of butter.

It takes less than five minutes to prepare this cake batter.
I'm not even exaggerating.

Here goes the recipe:
(This recipe is adapted from Busy-day Chocolate Cake )

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
 3 tablespoons 100% cocoa powder, unsweetened
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 1 tablespoon white vinegar
 1 cup cold water

How to make
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (=180 degrees Celcius).
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt.

3. Make a well in centre of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, white vinegar, and cold water.

4. Whisk until well combined.

5. Spoon cupcake batter into paper liners until to 2/3 full.

6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
The holes you see on the cupcakes are toothpick holes :)

Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

I topped the cupcakes with the most simple butter cream and sprinkles
 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1/8 teaspoon salt

Option: 2 drops of food colouring

How to make:
1. In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Beat on high speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the frosting recipe or decorate as you desire.

Isn't it really so easy?
Try this. it took me less than an hours to get the reult, a.k.a cupcakes.
I made them very quick,

Easy Chocolate Cake