Friday, May 31, 2013

This is a Knife

I love the scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee where he tells a would-be robber "That's not a knife" whips out a giant machete and says "This is a knife." I feel like saying that every time I use my Chinese cleaver. It's my favorite knife. Although it looks heavy it is deceptively light, cuts with a razor sharp edge and can be used for anything from thinly slicing ginger to de-boning a chicken. In this modern world where you can buy kitchen knives for hundreds of dollars a piece this knife cost a whopping $6.99. Seriously the best-knife-ever!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Garlic Stink

Earlier in the month I posted about how you peel garlic. I love cooking with garlic and eating garlic but have you ever noticed how the smell lingers on your hands after you work with it? It seems no matter how much you wash your hands there is still a garlic scent. There are two simple ways to eliminate that smell from your fingers:
  1. Ginger - With Chinese cooking garlic and ginger are natural compliments. Simply cut the garlic first and the ginger second. The juice from the ginger removes the garlic scent and stickiness.
  2. Stainless Steel - Simply rub your hand on something stainless steel...a knife (though that could be dangerous), pot or even your sink. The smell comes right off.
Or if you like kitchen gadgets and gizmos you could buy this nifty bar. It's simply a soap shaped stainless steel bar. We got one for my mother-in-law years ago and it works like a charm!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy

I've been a little stressed out lately. It happens easily to me as I am a Type A personality. I tend to forget to enjoy the simple things in life when this happens. So for this post I am going to list random things that make me happy. It is 3 am so forgive me if things get a bit wacky. Note: The list is in no particular order. Also all the photos in this post are from my Sis' Instagram pictures.
  • Goofy boys
  • Little girls in pig tails
  • Jimmy
  • Care packages (giving and receiving them)
  • Japanese Irises
  • Slinky's
  • Musicals
  • Pineapple
  • Phone calls with my sis
  • The smell right as it starts to rain
  • Haribo Gummy Bears (made in Germany - they taste very different than the ones from Turkey or Spain)
  • People with accents
  • Expressive eyebrows
  • Collections
  • Stylishly accessorized people (I'm trying to learn)
  • Music boxes

  • French fries
  • Knee high socks
  • Fat dogs
  • Watching little kids' "light bulb moments" when they get something for the first time
  • Thick comforters on soft beds
  • S'mores
  • Books
  • Gnomes
  • Vegetables fresh from the garden
  • My dads singing when he's happy
  • Travel
  • Crazy suitcases
  • Hugs from my mom
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Belly laughs
  • Mexican hot chocolate

  • Sleeping babies
  • Rice
  • Sales and coupons
  • Christmas decorations
  • Sporks
  • My parents' cooking
  • Bright colored rain boots
  • Meals with loved ones
  • My in-laws
  • Soft pretzels/pretzel bread
  • Farmer's markets
  • Seat heaters in cars
  • Rocking chairs
  • Coats/Jackets
  • Freshly bathed kids
  • Lady bugs
  • Baking
  • Kit Kat
  • Pretty aprons
  • Kids hugging each other
  • Pasta
  • Freshly laundered sheets
  • Blueberries
  • Rainbows
  • Funny pictures
  • Family pictures
  • Pussy willows
  • Pizza with good crust
  • Baby thighs
  • Tillamook cheddar cheese melted on corn chips
  • Nate's inability to tell jokes (they're so bad it's funny)
  • Silly String
  • Dim Sum
  • Gabby's love of sparkles
  • Warm bread
  • My friends
  • Disneyland
  • Going out to dinner
  • Singing (even though I am usually off key)
  • Cupcakes
  • Sleep...I think I'm finally ready to go back to sleep. Goodnight!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spinah Puffs

I have a thing for Spanikopita or anything resembling it. Pastry, spinach and feta make my tummy happy. My darling of a hubby made these cute little Spinach Puffs for Mother's Day. They turned out beautifully.

Start by squeezing out the spinach until it is as dry as possible. Toss into a bowl and mix with feta, onion, olive oil, and garlic. Season to taste.
Mix in one egg. Check out those pro mixing skills!

Take one sheet of puff pastry (thawed of course!) and cut into 3 equal strips. Save one strip for a later use. With the remaining two strips, cut those into 3 squares for a total of 6 squares. Spritz the muffin tins with non-stick spray and place a square in each muffin cup.

Spoon filling into each cup.
Fold the corners to meet in the center and give them a little pinch to stay together. Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Cool a bit before scarfing down or you will burn your tongue...not that I know from experience or anything.

Spinach Puffs


1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 c. crumbled feta
1/4 c. minced onion
1 T. olive oil
1 t. minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed , rolled out to a 12" square, kept chilled


Using your hands, squeeze spinach until dry, forcing out as much water as possible (too much water will make for soggy filling; you should have about 2/3 cup well-drained spinach). Mix spinach and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg to blend; fold into spinach mixture.

Cut puff pastry into 3 equal strips. Reserve 1 strip for another use. Cut each remaining strip into 3 squares for a total of 6. Place a square in each muffin cup, pressing into bottom and up sides and leaving corners pointing up. Divide filling among cups. Fold pastry over filling, pressing corners together to meet in center.

Beat remaining egg to blend in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let puffs cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around pan edges to loosen; turn out puffs onto rack to cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Asian-Style Chicken and Rice

The weather has been chilly and wet and when the weather is like that I want hearty stick-to-your rib type food. I came across this recipe for Asian-Style Chicken and Rice from a free food magazine sampler and it seemed to fit the bill.

Start by thinly slicing the green onions. Keep the white parts and dark green parts separated.

Next up mince the garlic and ginger. Try mincing the garlic first and then the ginger. Ginger will help take the garlic stink from your hands.

The fresh shiitake mushrooms are next. I found these beauties at Trader Joe's.

Remove the stems and thinly slice the caps. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and cook chicken skin side down for about 7 minutes. Set aside. (My picture of this was grossly out of focus. Sorry. Still need to get my eyes checked one of these days!)

To the same pot add the scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute

Stir in the rice, broth, salt and pepper. Be careful pouring in the broth as the pot will be very hot and it might snap and bubble a bit! 

Once the broth is boiling add the chicken bake in, skin side up. Try not to immerse the chicken as you want crisp skin.

Bake with the lid on for 25 minutes or so or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the chicken from the pot and stir the green parts of the scallions and some cilantro into the rice. Serve warm.

The whole family loved the rice. It was flavorful, fluffy and quite good. The chicken on the other hand was a bit bland. I think it needs to be marinated first, maybe in a bit of rice wine, soy and ginger. I think I'll try doctoring it a bit next time.

Asian-Style Chicken and Rice


2 T. olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper
4 scallions
2 T. ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz. shiitake mushroom caps
1 1/2 c. Aborio rice
3 2/3 c. chicken broth
1/8 c. cilantro


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with sat and pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms to pot and cook 1 minute, stirring. Stir in rice, broth, 1/2 teaspoon sat, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and place chicken on top, skin side up. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and stir scallion greens and cilantro into rice. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Sprinkles

When you give your child a donut with sprinkles on them be careful what they are wearing...did you know that sprinkles + slobber stains clothing? At least the green sprinkles do!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pretending Sleep

Gab has a new favorite game. She loves to pretend she's asleep. Some days she really does trick me and I think she is asleep. Like the other day on our way home from Costco I was positive she was asleep. She wasn't. She kept her eyes closed for over 5 minutes...incredible patience for an almost two-year old.

But then I hear a little giggle and one or two eyes pop open.

Then it is full on laughter for having "tricked" mom.

"Yay!" she screams. I love this age. Endless fun!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Each Spring I have this odd obsession with ferns. I always try to take a picture of the cute little fiddle head unfurling. I've taken numerous pictures throughout the years but they never seem to capture what I see in my minds eye. This year I somehow did it! Of course, next year I will probably keep snapping more pictures of ferns.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Baking Soda

Do you ever get a nasty brown ring around the drain of your sink? I scrub our sinks regularly but still get a tiny brown ring. I've tried Comet, Barkeepers Friend, Bleach,etc. Nothing got rid of the pesky ring. My mother-in-law recently read that Baking Soda would do the trick. I thought Baking Soda was just for baking, but there is a large list of cure-alls that this product can do!
For the sink or any similar stain, all you do is make a paste with water and cover the area for 30 minutes or so and wipe clean. Sounds too easy, right? Well, here is a nasty sink that hasn't been cleaned in who knows how long at the nursery.

Here is a picture of the drain up close. Pretty nasty, right?
After making the paste, letting it sit for 30 minutes, and wiping ring! There is a smudge on the plug still but I think that will take some serious elbow grease to remove. Baking Soda is my new go to for removing stains. The best part is that there are no harsh chemicals so it is safe around kids/pets. Awesome stuff!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Happy Mother's Day to all you Mamas out there! This handsome little guy is the first person to call me Mama. When I was pregnant I was petrified of having a boy...all the unknowns. Today I look back and think how silly I was. Nate has always been a constant source of laughter and joy.

This is the second person to call me Mama. Gabby is such a funny girl. Seriously funny. She has a zany sense of humor but also a stubborn streak that would give a mule a run for its money! Gabs is such a loving little girl and reminds us all to have a "family hug" every afternoon at lunch.

If you get to see your mom or kids today, be sure to give them a big squeeze.

Happy Mother's Day!
Rice Pot Mama

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hawaiian Ahi Poke

When we went to Hawaii last Autumn we ate a lot of poke, a raw fish salad. We decided to recreate this the other night.

We bought this beautiful Ahi tuna steak from Costco.

Then we did something that seemed almost sacrilegious and cubed it. Place in a bowl.

 Slice and dice all of the other ingredients and add to the fish. Toss together.

With the sesame seeds, place in a small frying pan and toast over medium heat.

Once they are evenly golden they are done. Set aside to cool. Once cool, sprinkle over the fish salad.
The poke was tasty but it lacked a little something...the Aloha spirit. I think things like this just taste better over there due to the fact that you are in paradise! We might make it again if we find nice grade fish that isn't so expensive!
Hawaiian Ahi Poke
2 lbs. sashimi grade Ahi tuna steaks 
1 shallot, sliced
1/2 c. green onion, chopped
3 T. soy sauce
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. chili garlic sauce
1 T. sesame seeds
Pat the Ahi dry, then neatly cut it into small 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a bowl. Add the shallots, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, and sesame seeds. Gently toss. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Peeling Garlic

There are a million and one tools out there for peeling garlic. Don't waste your money. All you need is a knife and a cutting board.

Simply lay the knife on top of the garlic clove and pound your fist right on top of that.

The skin will loosen from the clove.

It will literally peel away.

The best part is the clove remains whole (though a little squished if you pound the knife really hard).