I have been liking the new McDonald’s banana and strawberry smoothie.  It was yummy but I don’t know how much sugar it has.  A customer was asking a staff at McDonald if they put any sugar in it.  The staff said no.  But you can’t really trust them.  Starbucks also have banana and strawberry smoothie.  I haven’t tried theirs but I did look at the ingredients.  They were basically banana and strawberries plus some protein powder.  Of course, they charge you a lot for that.  I thought I could try that at home.  It should be a no brainer, right?  I put a very ripe banana, 5 or 6 strawberries, fat free milk all in a blender.  Touch the button for a few seconds.  Da da… a wonderful shake was done.  It filled me up for like 3 hours or so.  Not bad especially when this shake can be made in 5 minutes. It was great as a quick snack on a busy day.  I made this shake a few times now as a lunch substitute when I was super busy.  I added some protein powder in it, and it would fill me up longer for 4 hours or so.  For a busy day, I would have the shake as a light lunch around 12:30pm or 1pm, and make an early dinner around 5:30pm or 6pm, regular food of course. 

Ingredients (serve 1):

  • Banana, 1
  • Strawberries, 5 or 6
  • Milk, 1 cup (I used fat free, you can use skimmed 1% or 2% if you prefer)
  • Ice cubes, 4
  • Whey protein powder, 1 scoop (Optional if you are making it as a meal substitute.  You can get protein powder from any nutrient supplement stores. Each bottle of protein powder comes along with a scoop)

 

One banana and a few strawberries
Add banana, strawberries, milk + protein powder. Blend everything.
Banana and Strawberry Smoothie. super yummy!

Steps:

  1. Use a big blender.  Peel and break banana into 3 or 4 pieces, and put them in the blender.
  2. Rinse the strawberries, and cut each in halves.  Add them to the blender.
  3. Add milk, protein powder and ice cubes all in the blender.
  4. Use the “ice crush” setting, and blend the whole thing for half a minute or so.  That’s it.  Serve cold.  Enjoy.

It was a great Friday yesterday. Nothing was urgent at work.  I didn’t screw up anything. LOL.  I made new friend, my cat is recovering, … a lot of things to celebrate.  I stopped by Trader Joe’s and I came across some interesting food.  They have frozen artichokes.  Artichokes are one of those weird looking things that don’t look too edible in my opinion.  It looks like a hybrid between a flower and a veggie.  It shapes like a flower, but green in color!  Very bizarre and intimidating.  A few years ago, my sister bought one artichoke and she wanted to experiment cooking it.  Artichokes are not Chinese vegetables.  We both had no clue.  We could have searched the web to find instructions but we didn’t.  Someone told her to steam it.  She peeled off the rough edges, then trimmed off the tips of each leave.  After steaming it, that thing looked worse. The green color turned brownish.  It was totally not appealing at all. But we had to eat our consequence, literally!  We each peeled off a leave.  I put it in my mouth.  The leave had so much unchewable fiber.  I just kind of sucked the juice a little bit, and discarded it.  It didn’t have much taste either.  I had a few leaves.  She had a few leaves. We tried this experiment, and it sucked.  We threw out the rest.  Guess what?  The next day her Brazilian friend told her that we threw out the most edible part called Artichoke Heart!!  WHAT???  I felt so stupid.  LOL… Now that I found out Trader Joe’s have this, I couldn’t help putting a bag in my basket.  I was debating if I should make it taste more like Chinese or not.  Then I remember I had seen some pasta dishes have artichokes in it. Bingo!  Italian!  Here comes my new experiment: Artichokes hearts with pasta sauce.  It was very yummy. It made a great side dish.  😀

 

Frozen artichoke hearts
Frozen artichoke hearts
Add artichoke, garlic and cooking wine
Add artichoke, garlic and cooking wine
Add pasta sauce to the artichokes
Add pasta sauce to the artichokes
Stir fried Artichoke Hearts
Stir fried Artichoke Hearts

 

Ingredients:

  • Artichoke hearts, 1 bag
  • Garlic, 1 clove (you can use more if you prefer)
  • Pasta sauce, 4 Tbsp
  • Chinese cooking wine, 1 Tbsp (I’m sure you can use any white wine)
  • Salt, a dash

 Steps:

  1. Finely chop garlic.  Put it aside.
  2. In a frying pan, spray cooking oil.  Use medium heat.  Put artichokes in the pan.  Let it cook for 2 mins.  Stir occasionally.  No need to defrost the artichokes ahead of time.
  3. Add garlic to the pan and cooking wine.  Stir fry it for couple of minutes until the artichokes look totally defrosted.
  4. Add pasta sauce.  Mix it well.  Let it cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce thickens and sticks to the artichokes.  Taste it. You can add more pasta sauce according to your liking.  Add a pinch of salt if needed. 

My god, this detox thing that I’m doing is not easy.  It may be easy for others just to skip meat for breakfast and lunch. But the more I reminded myself not to have meat, the more I crave meat.  CRAP.  I think I screwed up because I also cut down the amount of food I had. I should have a regular portion so that I would feel full.  I had a no meat noodle soup for lunch today. After that I still felt so hungry and I ate a bag of chips!!!!  That totally ruin the purpose of having a detox diet.  I just ate a 100g of fat!  I felt guilty and depressed.  I really felt “meat-attack” after 4 days of detox for breakfast and lunch.  I needed some meat.  As a super meat-lover, I couldn’t go too low on the meat level, or I would have this “meat-attack” symptom.  There was a time when I was very broke in college, and I didn’t cook meat for a few days.  I ate a lot of ramen noodles but still felt so hungry.  I couldn’t even sleep.  It was 3am in the morning, and I woke up and went to the kitchen.  I had two pieces of pork chops in the freezer. I defrosted them, cooked them, and ate them at 3am!!  These few days, I had the same feeling.  I really felt I need a good meal of meat to ease my craving.  I made Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon. This was probably like a 2000 calories for one steak.  I knew it’s not a good thing to have when I wanted to lose weight. But I did watch out for my portion. I had a very small piece.  Not bad.  Tomorrow, I’ll go back to the boring detox meals.  I had never made Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon before.  But I had this once in at the Marc Charles Steakhouse.  It was so good.  The steak was completely wrapped with bacon.  Tonight, I tried to wrap 3 pieces of bacon around a small piece of steak, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  But it was all worth it because the steak was very juicy and tender.  Besides, I didn’t have to pay a fortune for the meal. 

 

Wrap a piece of bacon around the side of the steak
Wrap a piece of bacon around the side of the steak
Wrap a piece of bacon around the side of the steak
Wrap two pieces of bacon around the steak like a parcel

 

Put the ends of the bacon facing down
Put the ends of the bacon facing down
Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon with Grilled Shrimp
Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon with Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • Filet Mignon, 2 pieces (small, about 0.4 pound each)
  • Bacon, 6 pieces (I put 3 pieces per steak, you can use less or more)

 Steps:

  1. Wrap a piece of bacon around the side of the steak.
  2. Wrap the second piece of bacon around the steak, make sure it wraps around the ends of the first piece of bacon, ie hide the ends of the first bacon inside.
  3. Then wrap the third piece of bacon around the meat, and hide the ends of the second bacon inside the third piece.  This is kind of tricky because what I learned was the bacon may fall off if I didn’t seal the edges carefully.  I could have use a piece of toothpick to pin it.  But I didn’t have any toothpick.
  4. Start the grill, or you can cook it in a frying pan.  
  5. Put the side with the ends of the bacon facing down first.  In this way, the weight of the steak will press down the edges to stay in place.  The cooking time varies according to how you like your steak cooked.  I cooked it for like 6 minutes on one side. Then flip it over and cook it for another 6 minutes. Take it out of the heat, let it rest for three minutes or so. That was like medium.  You can sprinkle a little bit of pepper while it is being cooked.  I didn’t put any salt since bacon is kind of savory.  Serve hot.  I grilled some shrimp as well to make it surf and turf.
Sunny day
Sunny day

I woke up early.  I made an egg sandwich on whole wheat bread.  I played 18 holes of golf, I hit it well today.  I had a tuna fish sandwich on wheat for lunch.  It was a great day.  Recap for the last 7 days, I exercised 5 times at the gym and played 2 rounds of golf.  I felt great.  I was a couch potato the week before.  My childhood friend was crazy enough to join exercise classes at 9pm at night after her long hectic work days.  I was so inspired by her, and here I am working out 5 or 6 days a week, and watching out what I eat.  So far so good.  I am very proud of myself for the first week of my weight lost plan.  LOL.  My legs were so sore this morning since I exercised last night as well. But it was all good. Joy of pain.  I’m making Chili for dinner.  I love Chili.  You know why? Cos it’s meaty 🙂  Actually Chili is really a good meal by itself. It has meat, veggie, and beans.  I never knew how to make chili until my buddy showed me a cheating way of doing it.  He cheated with a can of ready-made chili and then added extra meat and whatever ingredients to it.  It was not bad at all.  So I modified this cheating version to use half beef and half turkey to cut down the fat.  One time, I brought some leftover Chili to work as lunch.  My coworker said it smelled good, and asked me how I made it.  Then he shaked his head and said “don’t do that!”.  He said it was much better just use chili powder.  Oh well, maybe I haven’t paid much attention at the grocery store and I haven’t come across any chili powder.  So for all of those Chili Police out there, don’t yell at me for not making the chili the proper way.  I’m going to keep making what I have been making till I learned the proper way someday.  For now, I still enjoy my cheating chili.  It is yummy.

Cook a pound of ground meat first
Cook a pound of ground meat first
Add diced tomato, a can of ready-made chili, and bean
Add diced tomato, a can of ready-made chili, and bean
Add onion and garlic. Let it simmer.
Add onion and garlic. Let it simmer.
Turkey Chili
Turkey Chili

 

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • Ground meat, 1 pound (I used half beef, half turkey, you can use ground chicken, or whatever you prefer)
  • Canned chili, 1 can (I used a can of 98% fat-free turkey chili with bean)
  • Canned diced tomato, 1 can
  • Bean, 1 can (I used a can of baked beans, you can use black bean, or whatever you prefer)
  • Onion, 1
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Ketchup, 4 Tbsp
  • Salt, a dash
  • Grated cheese, 1 cup (Optional)

Steps:

  1. Cut the onion into dices.  Put it aside.
  2. Finely chop a clove of garlic.  Put it aside.
  3. In a big pot, cook ground meat.  Use high heat.  Stir it until it is fully cooked.  Add a tablespoon of cooking wine, and mix it well.
  4. Add a can of cooked chili to the pot.  Mix it well.
  5. Open a can of diced tomato.  Disgard the water.  Add the tomato to the pot.
  6. Open a can of bean.  Disgard excess water or oil.  Add the bean to the pot.
  7. Add chopped onion and garlic to the pot.  Mix it well.
  8. Add 4 tablespoon of ketchup to the pot.  Mix it well.
  9. Lower the heat to medium low.  Put a lid on (or a piece of aluminum foil on if you don’t have a lid).  Let it simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour.  Stir occassionally. 
  10. Taste it.  Add a pinch of salf or more ketchup if needed.
  11. Serve hot with grated cheese.

TGIF 😀  YAY.  I can relax a little bit.  I decided to make something I like.  I like chicken cutlets and I also like Chicken Marsala.  Hm.. may be I could combine them into Chicken Cutlet Marsala 😀  Chicken cutlets are breaded, so they are not the most healthy thing on earth. I know… But since I use spray oil instead of regular cooking oil, I cut back a lot on the oil.   Besides, I rejoined the gym yesterday after 9 months of porkiness.  I went to the gym yesterday and I went to the gym today. I felt GREAT.  Plus I’m going to play golf tomorrow.  So, I think it was ok for me to have a little bit of Chicken Cutlet Marsala.   BTW, this is not difficult to make, just messy.

Mixchicken well with corn starch first, then add a beaten egg
Mixchicken well with corn starch first, then add a beaten egg
Coat chicken with breadcrumb
Coat chicken with breadcrumb
Pan fried the chicken
Pan fried the chicken
Stir fry onion and mushroom, then add butter and flour to make a roux
Stir fry onion and mushroom, then add butter and flour to make a roux
Chicken Cutlet Marsala
Chicken Cutlet Marsala

 

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • Chicken breast meat, 1 pound.  I used the chicken fingers. They were already pre-cut. 
  • Breadcrumbs, 2 cups
  • Marsala wine, 1/2 cup
  • Egg, 1
  • Cornstarch, 1 Tbsp
  • Onion, 1
  • Mushrooms, 1 pack. I bought the pre-cut ones. It was so convenient.
  • Butter, 2 Tbsp
  • All purpose flour, 2 Tbsp
  • Water, 1 cup

Steps:

Note: I used two frying pans. One for cooking the chicken, the other for making the sauce.   If you only have one frying pan, remove the chicken to a plate when it is cook, and then make the sauce.

  1. Beaten an egg. Put it aside.
  2. Put breadcrumb on a piece of aluminum foil. Put it aside.
  3. Cut a small onion into strips.  Put it aside.
  4. If you have one of those spikey meat tenderizer tool, use it to flatten the chicken breast meat a little bit.  If not, just use the back of the knife to gentlely chop the meat a little bit. 
  5. Put all the chicken meat in a bowl.  Add a tablespoon of cornstarch.  Mix it well.
  6. Pour the beaten egg into the chicken meat.  Mix it well.
  7. Coat each piece of chicken meat with breadcrumbs.
  8. Put non-stick spray oil on the pan.  Use high heat.  Put breaded chicken on the pan.  Let the chicken to cooke for 3 mins.  Then flip it over and cook the other side for another 3 mins. Turn off the heat.
  9. Use a separate frying pan. Add onion to the pan.  Cook it for 2  minutes.  Add mushrooms to the pan.  Cook it for 2 minute.
  10. Add butter, and floour to the pan.  Turn the heat down to low.  Mix it well and let it cook for 1 minute. 
  11. Slowly add the marsala wine to the pot, mix it well.  Add water.  Let the sauce to be cooked for couple of minutes.
  12. Pour the sauce over to the chicken on the other frying pan.  Cover the pan.  If you don’t have a lid that is big enough, put a piece of aluminum foil on top (that’s what I did).  Turn the heat to medium low.  Let the chicken cook with the sauce for 3 minutes or so.  Taste it.  Add  a dash of salt if needed.

I’ve been stressed for the last few weeks on my job search and the health of my cat. I’m glad that at least the job search is over.  My cat is doing much better, but still I got a lot to follow up with the blood sucking vets.  Anyway, I really need something to make me feel better. I need comfort food.  Something like mom’’s Chinese Chicken, fried chicken, or meatloaf would do.  I know that would kill my diet.  But today is Saturday, I’m gonna cheat a little bit.  I promise I’ll do more Cardio X after this.  I never had meatloaf until I was in college.  My mom never made meatloaf as we couldn’t afford an oven back then. I told you, I grew up poor.  One day, I was at my classmate’s place, and she was making meatloaf for dinner.  I told her I never had meatloaf in my life.  She laughed.  She must have thought what planet I came from. LOL.  She said it was easy to make.  She put the ground beef in a container.  Put a bunch of ketchup and breadcrumbs and an egg in it.  And put more ketchup on the top and that was it.  Not too shabby.  I could not believe how easy it was.  I started to search for people’s meatloaf recipes, and modified them.  Finally, I come down to my own combination.

Meatloaf Mixture
Meatloaf Mixture
Super Easy Homemade Meatloaf
Super Easy Homemade Meatloaf

Note: You will need spray oil and two baking loaf pans.  One for the meatloaf.  Another one fills with water. I will explain later.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5):

  • Ground meat, 1-1.5 pound. I usually use 85% lean beef, but today I use 93% to cut down the fat.  Ya, trying to be healthier.  You can use half beef half turkey, that would be even healthier.
  • Onion, 1/2
  • Whole wheat English Muffin or regular Whole wheat bread, 1
  • Seasoned Breadcrumb, 1.5 cup
  • Large eggs, 2
  • Parsley (dried of fresh), chopped, 2 Tbsp
  • Italian seasoning, 1 tsp
  • Wostercher sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Cooking wine, 1 Tbsp
  • Parmesan/Romano cheese, 2 Tbsp
  • Ketchup, 3 Tbsp
  • Mustard, 2 Tbsp
  • Garlic, 1 clove

Steps:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, put the ground meat, mustard, wostercher sauce, cooking wine and ketchup.   Mix well.  Put it aside.
  2. Cut onion into small pieces.  Add to the bowl.
  3. Chop garlic. Add to the bowl.
  4. Cut bread into very fine cubes.  Add to the bowl.
  5. Add parsley, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, cheese, and eggs to the bowl.  Mix well.
  6. If it is too dry, add a couple tablespoon of water or milk.  Mix well.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  8. Prepare two loaf pans.  Spray one of them with non-stick cooking oil inside the edges of the pan.  Fill the other loaf pan with water about couple inches high. 
  9. Put the meat into the loaf pan that is sprayed with non-stick cooking oil.   Press the meat down. Then add a tablespoon of ketchup on top of the meat.  Use the back of the spoon to evenly spread it on top.  This will create a nice crisp surface after it is baked.
  10. When the oven is pre-heated, put the meat loaf and the other pan with water into the oven.  The water will create moisture in the oven and prevent the meatloaf from getting too dry.

Bake it for 50 mins.  Set your timer.

February 13, 2010

Cheesecake probably doesn’t belong here.  But today my classmate was talking about cheesecake and he said the one at school was good. I said no.  Then I told him that even though I just learned how to make cheesecake, mine was a lot better than that ;p  So now, I have no choice but to post the recipe.  

My first cheesecake was both a failure and success.  I followed Tyler Florence’s recipe exactly on every step.  He said the cheesecake should be jiggly after 45 mins in a 325 F oven.  I was wondering how jiggly was jiggly because mine was very jiggly!  Of course, since I had no experience in making any cheesecake, I wouldn’t know.  So I took it out of the oven, let it cool, then chill it in the refridgerator.  The next day when I cut a piece of it, it was like pudding, yucky!  So I dropped Tyler Florence a bad review!  Sorry, someone got to be honest!  Meanwhile, I read twenty or so reviews of his receipe, and I found out that people gave him 5 stars on the recipe after they set the oven temperature higher, the cooking time longer, skip some ingredients etc. I was like WTH???!!  Then people shouldn’t gave him a 5 stars on the recipe if they have to change his recipe so much.  Oh well… looking at my not so edible cheesecake, I decided to bake it again in the oven even though it has been chilled!  What do I got to lose, right?  After rebaking it for another hour, the texture was much richer.  Out of my surprise, it was actually delicious!  My coworker teased me that this was a Double-Baked Cheesecake. If you know the Chinese dish called “Double Cooked Pork”, you’ll get what I’m saying.  I Chinkinize the cheesecake!  LOL.

Anyway, I made this cheesecake 3 times now, they were very edible   Of course, I modified Tyler Florence’s recipe.

Cheesecake Mixture
Cheesecake Mixture

 

My Chinese Cheesecake
My Chinese Cheesecake

Ingredients (make a 9-inch cake):

Crust:

  • Graham crackers, 2 cup, finely ground
  • Melted butter, 3 Tbsp

Filling:

  • Cream cheese, 1 pound (= 2 blocks)
  • Large eggs, 3
  • Sugar, 1 cup
  • Sour cream, 1 pint
  • Lemon juice, 3 drops
  • vanilla extract, 2 drops

Steps:

  1. Note that all ingredients should be in room temperature before you make it.  Just leave them on the counter for an hour before you start cooking.
  2. Lightly coat an 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray oil.
  3. Mixed the grounded crackers and melted butter.  Lightly coat the bottom and half an inch of the side of the pan.  Press the crumbs down.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  5. When the oven reaches 350F, put the cake pan in the oven and bake it for 5 mins.  This will cook the crust a little bit and gives a nice crispy texture.  Take the cake pan out when the time is up.  Put it aside, let it cool down.
  6. In a larger mixing bowl, add all the cream cheese to the bowl. Use an electric mixer, use low speed and beat the cream cheese for 5 or 6 minutes until it becomes soft. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters.
  7. Add sugar a little bit at a time.  Continue to beat it slowly for a few more minutes or until it is combined and the mixture becomes creamy.  Periodically scrape down the side of the bowl adn the beaters to make sure it is well incorporated.
  8. Add an egg at a time. Continue to beat slowly until combined.
  9. Add sour cream, a couple drops of lemon juice, and a dash of vanilla extract.  Beat slowly until it is combined.  Scrape down the side of the mixture periodically.
  10. Set the cake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil, and fold up the sides around it.  Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan.  Pour the cake mixture in the cake pan. 
  11. Put the cake in a 350 F oven (it should be preheated before to reach the temperature).  Pour water into the roasting pan until the water is about an inch up the sides of the cake pan.  The foil will keep the water from seeping into the pan.  Bake it for 1 hour.  Turn off the oven.  Crack the oven door open, let it sit in the oven for another 20 minutes.  Take it out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for an hour.

Chill the cake in the refrigerator over night.