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Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

10 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter— melted

2 eggs— room temperature

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

8 tbsp (1/2 block cream cheese)— cut into 12 pieces

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line muffin molds with muffin liners.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, whipping cream and vanilla extract. Whisk to blend well.
  4. Pour cream mixture, melted butter into flour mixture. Use a spatula, gently FOLD IN until the batter just incorporated. Don not over mix. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin molds to half full. Gently press in cream cheese pieces. Cover with remaining batter to the top of muffin molds.
  6. Bake in preheated 375F oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove muffins from molds and cool on a rack.
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Tired of typical sweet Scones? Try this savory good eat. Calabrese is a type of salame named after a region in southern Italy. It is mildly hot due to the addition of red pepper flakes. I also used fresh jalapeno peppers to make my scones spicier. If you can’t find hot Calabrese you can always use pepperoni.

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones (makes 12 Scones)

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter– chilled, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup toasted walnuts– corsely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese (jack, Cheddar)
3/4 cup chopped hot Calabrese 
1 jalapeño– chopped

2/3 cup whipping cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Mix to blend well.
  3. Rub chilled butter into flour mixture with your fingers to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts, Calabrese and jalapeño.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together whipping cream, eggs and vanilla extract to blend well. 
  5. Reserve 2 tbsp of egg mixture for egg wash, pour the remaining to flour mixture all at once. Use a spatula gently FOLD IN until it mostly incorporates (it’s okay if there is still some dry flour visible). Do not over mix the dough. Transfer dough out to a generously floured surface. 
  6. Use your hand to quickly form the dough into a ball. Avoid kneading.  Cut the dough in half to form two separate balls. Flatten each ball to 1 1/2– 2 inch thickness, then divide into 6 wedges on each. 
  7. Place each dough wedge on lined baking tray, 3 inches apart. Brush the top with reserved egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool on a rack completely before storing in a container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Hot Calabrese: Use pepperoni if you can’t find hot Calabrese.
  • Egg Wash: Instead of wasting an egg for egg wash, I like to use whipping cream as it also gives the baked good a sheeny look.
  • Reheat Scones: To taste the best texture of a scone, it is best to reheat cooled scones briefly (325 F for 3-5 minutes) to capture the flaky exterior crumbs while the interior is fluffy and soft.

Pineapple and coconut (and that rum too… shhh!)… Oh yes, say no more, you’re in tropical heaven.

Pina Colada Muffins

Pina Colada Muffins~ fluffy and moist, with a hint of rum flavor. Bake these muffins 1-2 minutes longer if you want crunchier muffin top as pictured.


Pina Colada Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped dried pineapples– in small pieces– see note below
3 tbsp water
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup dried coconut flakes– toasted– see note below
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp golden rum
2 eggs– room temperature
1/2 cup (1stick) unsalted butter– melted and cooled

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line muffin molds with muffin cup papers.
  2. Combine pineapple and water in a small bowl. Cover and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Set aside for the pineapple to soak up all the liquid.
  3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and both types of sugars. Press brown sugar crumbs through the sieve if needed. Mix in toasted coconut flakes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together whipping cream, rum and eggs to combine.
  5. Pour egg mixture and melted butter, all at once, to flour mixture. Use a spatula, gently fold in until just combined.
  6. Add in pineapples, fold in a couple of times. Do not over work the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into lined muffin molds. Bake at preheated 400 F oven for 20-22minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Pineapples: I used dried pineapple rings. If canned pineapples is used, use less sugar as canned pineapples are much sweeter than dried pineapple rings.
  • Coconut flakes: I used unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes. If you use sweetened coconut flakes, cut down the amount of sugar.
  • Baking time: Bake muffins 1-2 minutes longer if you want crunchier muffin top.

Why “Three-Cup”? It refers to one cup of sesame oil, one cup of soy sauce and one cup of rice wine. Of course, this amount is for cooking a lot of chicken. When you are cooking for less chicken, be sure to scale down these three ingredients to 1:1:1. Oh, and basil leaves is a MUST– the basil fragrance really enhances this dish.

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄… Yum! The sauce is so finger licking good that you’ll want to refill your rice bowl.

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄 (serves 2)

Ingredients:

12 chicken wing mid joints– cut into half — see note below
2 tsp salt
3 slices ginger– thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic– chopped
3 hot red peppers– chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil– see note below
3 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
Handful of Thai basil leaves– see note below

Method:

  1. Wash mid joints and remove any tiny pieces of broken bones.  Season with salt for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a wok on high heat and pour in sesame oil. When the wok gets smoky, add in chicken pieces. Sauté on high heat until the chicken turns lightly brown and the meat is almost cooked.
  3. Add in ginger, garlic and pepper. Sauté until the aroma comes out.
  4. Stir in rice wine and soy sauce. Turn down the heat a little, and stir until the meat is cooked through and sauce thicken slightly (if your meat is more on the raw side, you can also cover with a lid at this step so the meat cooks faster).
  5. Add in basil leaves. Stir a few times until basil leaves soften. Dish out. Serve hot immediately with steamed rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chicken Mid Joints: I am not good at making big chop with my cleaver knife– the bones always never have a clean cut and the meat pieces are sometimes crumbly… and not to mention the raw meat juice splashing everywhere on my kitchen counter. So, my solution is chopping the wing mid joint when they half frozen, without washing– the process is much easier to manage and way less splashing. Wash the meat and remove any tiny broken bone pieces after chopping. Alternatively you can use boneless chicken thigh pieces, but I prefer bone-in for better flavor.
  • Sesame Oil: Typically the amount of sesame oil is same as rice wine and soy sauce, but I cut down to 2 tbsp (you can even use 1 tbsp) and use chicken fat rendered from high heat sautéing.
  • Thai basil leaves: After adding basil leaves to cooking, cook briefly until the leaves soften then dish out so the fragrance of the leaves stay with the meat.
Chocolate Belgian Waffle

Chocolate Belgian Waffle~~ maple syrup, whipping cream and berries topping really bring out the rich chocolaty flavor of the waffle.

Chocolate Belgian Waffles (makes 7 round waffles)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
2 tbsp sugar

Method:

  1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a big mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, milk, cooking oil and vanilla extract to blend well. Pour yolk mixture to flour mixture all at once. Use a hand whisk to mix until batter is smooth.
  3. Whip egg whites and sugar until the peak forms. Fold in whipped egg whites into the batter in 2 batches. Take care not to over mix the batter, otherwise the waffles will be dense. Cook on waffle iron as directed in the instructions. Extras can be frozen for quick breakfast.

Regina’s Note: 

  • Waffle batter can be prepared the night before and refrigerated. Let batter sit in room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
  • Because unsweetened cocoa powder is used so I increase amount of sugar to 2 tbsp. If you eat the waffle plain you might taste a little bitterness from cocoa powder, but the waffles taste perfect with maple syrup, whipping cream and berries.
  • Choosing a good waffle iron is very important for making good fluffy waffles. I recently upgraded to Waring WMK600 Double Belgian Waffle Maker (at a unbeatable price!) and I LOVE it! It is FAST, and makes FLUFFY waffles!
Chocolate Belgian Waffle

Chocolate Belgian Waffle

Chili Colorado

Chili Colorado

Chili Colorado

 

Mexican dinner at our house used to be marinated beef flap meat and chicken that Richard grill and then cut into pieces as make-your-own burritos fillings, serve along shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, sour cream,shredded cheese and tortilla. But here’s the thing: I don’t even marinate the meats– we always buy it pre-marinated from Mexican grocery. So it’s not really proudly from my kitchen… until I found this Chili Colorado recipe and try it out. It’s a process, but definitely worth the effort. I don’t follow the recipe exactly, so I don’t know if it’s authentic Mexican flavor. But the Chili Colorado is delicious and my family loves it~~ I am happy! 🙂 Ok, my next Mexican food challenge would be Spanish rice (I’ve been buying Spanish rice from Mexican restaurant… shhh!)

Chili Colorado (serve 6-8 people, adapted from David’s Free Recipes.com)

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs chuck roast or beef short rib chuck– see note below
Meat seasoning:
salt
fresh ground black pepper
granulated garlic/garlic powder

water to almost cover the meat
2 cups of Chili Colorado sauce– see below for recipe

Method:

  1. Trim off any excess fat of the meat, and cut into 1-2 inch chunks.
  2. Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat, add 1/2 tbsp cooking oil. When the frying pan starts to get smoky, add in some beef chunks (do not crowd the pan with too much meat, or it will not brown nicely), and sprinkle a (more less) thin layer of meat seasoning on top of meat. Flip the meat when the bottom is browned, and repeat witha thin layer of seasoning. Transfer cooked meat to a large stock pot. Repeat this meat searing process in several batches.
  3. Turn off heat and add 4 cups to the frying pan, use a spatula/ wooden spoon to scrap off any seasoning stucked to the pan. Add this water to the meat, and fill the pot with extra water to almost cover the meat.
  4. Turn on high heat to bring the pot to a boil, then lower heat to medium low, covered and simmer for 1 hour (you prepare Chili Colorado sauce during simmering if the sauce is not ready).
  5. Stir in Chili Colorado sauce to mix well. Covered, continue to cook on medium low heat for additional 1.5-2 hours. Stir occasionally. The meat will get more tender the longer it cooks, and the sauce will slightly thicken. Turn up the heat a little towards end of cooking time if the sauce is too watery (aka too much liquid), but be sure to stir often to prevent burn at the bottom. Add salt to taste. Serve hot with Spanish rice, beans, salad and warm tortillas.

Regina’s Note:

  • Meat choice: I prefer boneless beef short rib chuck. It’s a more expensive cut of meat, but the marbled fat makes the meat very tender and moist after cooking. Chuck roast is cheaper, but I find the meat is tender but on the dry side.
  • I always think Chili Colorado can be beef or pork version, but I have been wrong all these time~ Chili Colorado is for beef ONLY. The pork version is called Carne Adovado.

Chili Colorado Sauce Recipe (yields 2 batches, about 2 cups each batch– adapted from David’s Free Recipes.com)

Ingredients:
2oz. dry pasillo chilis (dry pablanos)
1 1/2oz. dry guajillo chilis (dry Anaheim chilis)
3 1/2 cup water
1 red bell pepper
2-3 jalapeno or Serrano peppers (adjust spicy level to your liking)
1 big onion
6-8 cloves fresh garlic
3 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Method for Chili Colorado sauce:

  1. Remove the stems of dry pasillo chilis and guajillo chilis. Cut into pieces and add in 3 1/2 cup water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Let chilis soak in water while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Remove stems of red bell pepper and jalapeño/Serrano pepper. Cut into chunks. Cut onion into chunks too.
  3. Add softened chilis, red bell peppers, jalapeño/Serrano peppers, onion, and soaking water to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Heat up a saucepan on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp cooking, blender mixture and seasonings. Stir constantly for 5 minutes (beware that the sauce at this liquid-ty stage will splash, by stirring constantly you can reduce splashing). Reduce heat to medium to medium low, continue stirring and cooking, until the liquid evaporates and sauce thickens to about 4 cups. The sauce is ready for use. Extra sauce can be frozen after cooling completely.

Regina’s Note:

  • Red bell pepper: original recipe uses green bell, but I prefer red bell because it brings out more of the beautiful reddish color of Chili Colorado sauce.

Salted Yolk Cookies~ one of the new cookies (the other one is Seaweed Cookies) I made this year for CNY. Salted yolk refers to the yolk of an salted egg. I love salted yolk. I can’t believe I waited this long to try out this recipe. The cookies are flaky and not too grainy. Even my family that ewes at salted yolk loves the cookies. One tip~ because of the richness of salted yolks, I suggest to keep the cookie size small (preferably one small bite size), and serve with a cup of tea.

Salted Yolk Cookies 咸蛋黄酥餅

Salted Yolk Cookies 咸蛋黄酥餅

 

Salted Yolk Cookies 鹹蛋黄酥餅

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tbsp milk powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter– softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 cooked salted egg yolks– warmed up and mashed
20 leaves curry leaves– very thinly julienned

Egg wash

Method:

  1. Combine flour, tapioca starch, milk powde and baking powder. Sift and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in salted yolks and curry leaves with a spatula.
  3. Add in flour mixture. Use a spatula to mix and press, until all incorporated.
  4. Form dough to a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge to harden so it’s easier to handle.
  5. Slightly dusted a work surface with flour. Roll out harden dough to 5mm thickness, anc cut out with a cookie cutter.
  6. Apply egg wash and bake in preheated 350 F oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a rack, then store in air tight container when completely cooled.