Trader Joe’s Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce

I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.

I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.

So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊

So…this is my most recent find!

I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.

You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.

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Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. I used the following:

1-2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

1 big potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into half moons

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

Water

Freshly cooked rice and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté garlic and onions until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Next add the potatoes and carrots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

4. Pour the curry sauce over. Fill the bottle halfway with water, cover and shake to get every last bit of the delicious sauce, open the bottle then pour contents into the pan.

5. Stir the mixture and cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken and vegetables are done, around 10-20 minutes.

6. Serve over freshly cooked, hot rice. Top with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic

Water

Store bought natto, or natto spores

Procedure:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

Maja Blanca (Philippine Coconut Pudding)

This is one of my mom’s most favorite desserts. Similar to the Hawaiian Haupia, it is made with coconut milk and cornstarch, but with the addition of corn. It is not baked, just cooked over medium heat until thick, then poured into a generously greased pan or bowl. Perfect for when you need something sweet and coconutty real quick!

In the Philippines, the addition of corn is a must. The browned coconut bits is a delicious complement, taste and texture wise, however, if you won’t have time to make the “latik”, some toasted desiccated coconut is an acceptable substitute. You can, of course, skip this all together too, like I do most of the time.

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For “latik”:

2 cups coconut milk

3 tablespoons sugar

For the “maja”:

3/4 Plus 3 tablespoons cup canned sweet corn kernels

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups thin coconut milk

Coconut oil for greasing pan

Prepare the “latik”: Boil coconut milk until oil separates from the solids. Pour off the oil. Add sugar to the solids and cook further until crisp and browned.

Grease an 8 inch square pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Prepare the “maja”: Grind 3/4 cup of corn in a blender and pass through a sieve.

In a saucepan, combine ground corn with cornstarch, sugar, coconut milk, and the remaining 3 tablespoons corn. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Cool until set. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 2 hours to chill.

Unmold and top with “latik”. Cut into serving sizes and enjoy!

Mackerel Pate

Hello my friends!

Today I’ll be making a delicious fish sandwich spread. As you might know, I make our bread at least once a week and of course, I want the best sandwich fillings to go with it.

My very favorite will always be butter and orange marmalade, but tuna salad, and BLT are close contenders.

We do have the usual Turkey and/or Ham with cheese and mayo quite often too.

My mom was taking about how she eats some canned mackerel more often now as it is very good fo your health, so imagine how excited I was when I found these at Trader Joe’s.

I was going to mix it up like my tuna salad but figured out I can make a more tasty spread using cream cheese. It makes a thicker spread that you can thin out using some mayonnaise. I hope you’ll like it!

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Ingredients:

1/4 red onion, chopped

4-6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of ground black pepper

Pinch of Salt

1 6oz can mackerel, drained

1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped

*you can add 1 – 2 tablespoons mayo to loosen up the pate if you like it more spreadable*

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix together onions and cream cheese.

2. Add garlic powder,

3. Ground black pepper,

4. And salt.

5. Open the can of mackerel and drain well.

6. Place the fillets in the bowl.

7. Mash and mix everything together.

8. Add in chopped eggs.

9. Mix well. Add mayonnaise if using.

10. Spread on a thick slice of toasted bread.

11. Enjoy!

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!

Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.

The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.

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Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese shao xing wine

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

6 oz snow peas

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

Green onions, to serve

Procedure:

1. Prepare all ingredients and set close by.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together chicken, soy sauce shao xing wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and sugar.

3. In a wok, heat up oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.

4. Drain chicken, keeping the marinade, and add the chicken to the wok. Stir fry until cooked through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas, and stir fry for a minute.

6. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another minute.

7. Add in the reserved marinade and boil for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you boil it.

8. Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

9. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #94: Apple Rum Cake

Apple. Rum. Cake.

Apples were on sale this past few weeks so I had bought my fair share. Actually MORE than my fair share that I had to dehydrate some to save them from going bad.

So I thought about making apple torte (https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/11/27/apple-cream-torte/). But then someone mentioned apple cake with rum…so off to testing I went! I was told that spiced rum works best but I only had Bacardi so I used that. It worked!

You can definitely taste the rum in this cake. Which I like, but feel free to lessen the amount if you have to. Or replace it with apple juice to make it kid friendly.

Hope you like this recipe!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1-2 tablespoons Bacardi rum

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 big apple, peeled and chopped

3 ELB cups water for base

Procedure:

1. Spray the big ELB bowl with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a microwave safe dish.

3. In a medium sized bowl, pour melted butter,

4. Brown sugar,

5. Rum,

6. Vanilla,

7. Egg,

8. Mix everything well together.

9. Add four,

10. Baking powder,

11. Salt,

12. Mix until no more trace of dry flour remains and the ingredients are well combined.

13. Gently fold in chopped apples. Make sure to try and coat the apples with the batter.

14. Pour into prepared ELB bowl. Cover with foil and set onto the ELB base,

15. Place 3 ELB cups water in the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off , about 1 hour.

16. Carefully open the ELB and check the cake for doneness. Poke the center with a skewer. It should come out clean.

17. Enjoy warm or cold! A scoop or 2 of ice cream would be great with this too!

18. Enjoy!

Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

We have been trying to use sugar substitutes to reduce my husband’s sugar intake lately.

As you can imagine, I am up to the challenge to create sugar-free sweets as he loves baked goods almost as much as I do.

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite in my home (as with most homes, I would guess!) so this is the first recipe I tried making. We went to the grocery store and I found our that Hershey’s made sugar free chocolate chips! Hurray! And on the back of the package, there is a recipe for sugar-free chocolate chip cookies that I decided to try, with some modifications.

Most of the sugar-free sweets I had before are dry, and compared to my regular cookies this is a little on the dry size. But my husband loves it so I’m sharing it here in case you’re looking for sugar free chocolate chip cookies recipe as it made delicious cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup sucralose granulated sugar substitute

1/3 cup sucralose brown sugar blend, packed

2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or extract

2 large eggs

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup spelt flour(I used sprouted spelt this time)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sugar-free chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s brand)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Beat butter , sugars and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.

3. Add eggs and beat well.

4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

5. Stir in chocolate chips.

6. Stir in walnuts, if using.

7. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto 2 large ungreased cookie sheets.

8. Bake 10 minutes at 375F until edges are lightly browned.

9. Cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

10. Enjoy! This recipe makes 4 dozens so feel free to share!

Electric Lunchbox #93: Meatloaf

Meatloaf in the ELB…it might not look as amazing as oven baked ones, but convenience wise, it can’t be beat.

You just mix everything in a bowl, shape into a patty or 3, fit them in the ELB bowl, steam, and tada! A wonderful meal.

If you want to prep this the night before (like if you need it for next day’s lunch), you can follow the directions up until it’s covered with foil then refrigerate it until needed. Place in the ELB when ready and steam until done. I like to use a thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked through.

You can pair this with rice, veggies, Cornbread from this recipe https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/05/07/electric-lunchbox-beef-stew-and-corn-bread-with-optional-flan/ or even this Bacon Grease Cornbread here https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/10/26/electric-lunchbox-63-bacon-grease-cornbread/

Hope you like this recipe!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1 heaping cup of ground pork

1 egg

1/3 cup Ritz cracker crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)

1/4 cup plain yogurt (or milk)

2 tablespoons chopped onions

1/4 teaspoon salt (I used celery salt)

Ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, combine ground pork,

2. Egg,

3. Ritz cracker crumbs,

4. Yogurt,

5. Chopped onions,

6. Celery salt,

7. Ground black pepper,

8. And Italian seasoning.

9. Mix well to incorporate everything together.

10. Since there are 3 of us in my home, I divided the mixture into 3 roughly equal sized portions. I shaped them into individual logs, and squeezed them into the medium ELB bowl. It would definitely work in the big ELB bowl too. Set this aside for now.

11. In a small bowl, combine ketchup,

12. Worcestershire sauce,

13. And brown sugar.

14. Mix well to combine.

15. Use this sauce to coat the tops of the meatballs.

16. Cover the bowl with a piece of foil. Set the bowl on the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

17. Carefully open the ELB and check the meat for doneness. I use a thermometer to make sure. 😊

18. Serve hot and enjoy!