Roasted chicken with sweet potato, potatoes, and onions

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I bake bread a lot. Sometimes, I feel like I could add another food item in the oven to better make use of the heat. It’s a little challenging though, as my breads bake between 450F to 500F, and most baked goods only require 350F.

I thought maybe I can do some roasted meats and since I have some chicken thighs and drumsticks on hand, I gave it a try today.

There was a lot of chicken so I made them into 2 different flavored roast chickens. Half were rubbed with Lemon Pepper seasoning and the other half with Goya Sazonador Todo.

I also added some potatoes, onions, and purple sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I placed them on a large sheet tray on the top level of the oven as my breads bake in the middle. I left them in with the bread wt 450F, for about 1 hour. No turning, no fussing, they were perfectly done all by themselves!

Dinner is ready the same time my bread was baking! Winner!

Melon Pan (Japanese Sweet bread bun)

I made this a week after making the Conchas and that week my mom stayed over. Luckily, there was a one left and she got to try it. She said it tasted just like the ones she had in Japan when she was younger, before we came in her life. I’m sure it brought back memories, and that’s why I believe food is very important in our lives. It not only nourishes us, but it is almost always tied to a memory.

That was one of the best compliments I ever got. Since she only got to try one, I immediately set to make another batch as it was a very easy recipe and mostly, the Thermomix handled the work. I made another 10 buns so my mom could take some home and enjoy it for breakfast…or just whenever she wants to eat it!

Ingredients for the Bread Dough:

  • 50 ml evaporated milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 4 g instant dry yeast
  • 250 g bread flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 g salt
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 35 g unsalted butter

Cookie Dough:

  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon corstarch
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, top sprinkle on top

Thermomix Procedure:

For the bread dough:

1. Place the evaporated milk, water, and yeast in the Thermomix bowl, set to 2 minutes/37*/speed 2.

2. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, egg, and butter. Set to 3 minutes/Knead.

3. Transfer dough into a greased bowl and set aside to proof in a warm place for about an hour, or until almost doubled.

For the cookie dough:

4. Add all cookie dough ingredients into the same mixing bowl, (no need to wash it beforehand). Set to 1 minute/speed 5. Divide into 10 equal balls (weighing would be helpful). Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until needed.

Standard procedure:

For bread dough:

1. In a large bowl, mix evaporated milk, water, and yeast together. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, egg, and butter. Mix until it comes together.

2. Transfer to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Set aside until doubled, about 1 hour.

Let dough rise until doubled.

For cookie dough:

3. Add all cookie dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir until it comes together. Knead for a couple of minutes.

4. Divide into 10 equal balls (weighing would be helpful). Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until needed.

Cookie crust divided into 10 44g balls.

Assembling the buns:

5. Punch down the bread dough and divide into 10 pieces. Form into balls.

Bread dough divided into 10 48-50 gram balls.

6. Place 2 tbsp of sugar in a plate. Roll out the cookie dough, press onto the granulated sugar to coat the top, and place on top of the bread rolls. Cup with your hand to smooth it out. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and cookie dough, leaving enough space between buns to rise.

7. Cover and let proof about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

8. Bake 350F 15 – 20 minutes.

9. Cool completely on wire racks.

Melon Pan (Japanese Sweet Bread)

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cuteness in a bun! This is the Japanese version of a cookie crusted sweet bun. Melon refers to the grid pattern on the cookie that resembles melon skin.

Ingredients

Bread Dough:

  • 50 ml evaporated milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 4 g instant dry yeast
  • 250 g bread flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 g salt
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 35 g unsalted butter

Cookie Dough:

  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon corstarch
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, top sprinkle on top

Directions

    Thermomix Procedure:

    For the bread dough:

  1. Place the evaporated milk, water, and yeast in the Thermomix bowl, set to 2 minutes/37*/speed 2.
  2. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, egg, and butter. Set to 3 minutes/Knead.
  3. Transfer dough into a greased bowl and set aside to proof in a warm place for about an hour, or until almost doubled.
  4. For the cookie dough:

  5. Add all cookie dough ingredients into the same mixing bowl, (no need to wash it beforehand). Set to 1 minute/speed 5. Divide into 10 equal balls (weighing would be helpful). Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until needed.
  6. Standard procedure:

    For dough:

  7. In a large bowl, mix evaporated milk, water, and yeast together. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, egg, and butter. Mix until it comes together.
  8. Transfer to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Set aside until doubled, about 1 hour.
  9. For cookie dough:

  10. Add all cookie dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir until it comes together. Knead for a couple of minutes
  11. Divide into 10 equal balls (weighing would be helpful). Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until needed.
  12. Assembling the buns:

  13. Punch down the bread dough and divide into 10 pieces. Form into balls.
  14. Place 2 tbsp of sugar in a plate. Roll out the cookie dough, press onto the granulated sugar to coat the top, and place on top of the bread rolls. Cup with your hand to smooth it out. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and cookie dough, leaving enough space between buns to rise.
  15. Cover and let proof about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  16. Bake 350F 15 – 20 minutes
  17. Cool completely on wire racks.


One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

It’s almost time for Happy Valentine’s! I am not over how fast the holidays flew by but for Valentine’s, I am trying to get ready before it arrives. So I have the perfect, easy, decadent recipe for you to serve on this special day!

Yum!

I have been wanting to eat brownies for a couple of weeks now but since I had been making other things (Red velvet cupcakes, muffins, sourdough bread, filled breads, etc), I was sure it wouldn’t be devoured in time before it goes bad. Or I will end up eating everything and have to add a few miles walk/run to my already busy day.

I had been using the sourdough bread for sandwiches during the weekend so it’s almost gone and my last cupcake was eaten by my son, so TODAY is just the perfect day to sneak in the brownies.

I like fudgy brownies that has nuts and chocolate chips. I also like the texture to be just right…for MY taste. And I found out long ago that the only way I could have it exactly the way I like it is to make it myself. I came across a recipe that suggested adding a tablespoon of oil to make brownies more fudgy. So aside from the melted butter, you add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil to the batter. I tried it and it works wonders!

Another thing: I do not like doing the dishes so I had always made one bowl brownie recipes to avoid washing a ton of bowls. This recipe checks all those “likes” and “do not likes” and is super quick to prepare too!

If you can, wait for the brownies to cool before cutting so your brownies would look better than this. I couldn’t wait, so i cut, and ate, this HOT!

This is a delicious, fudgy, cocoa brownie that will surely satisfy a chocolate brownie craving without having to melt chocolate squares, or dirtying a a lot of bowls. Win-win!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar)

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Melt butter over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Add oil and sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. It’s okay to have bits of flour, but do not over mix. Add whatever mix ins (I added 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips) you desire. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. You can top the batter with additional mix ins.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the center of the brownies is just set to the touch. If testing with a toothpick, it should come out with chocolatey crumbs for fudge-textured brownies. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into 16 pieces.

OPTIONAL MIX INS:

  • Chopped walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans; chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, chocolate chunks, dried cherries….

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

One bowl brownies that fudgy, chocolatey and just sweet enough, all mixed and baked in 30 minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar)

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Melt butter over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Add oil and sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. It’s okay to have bits of flour, but do not over mix. Add whatever mix ins (I added 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips) you desire. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. You can top the batter with additional mix ins.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the center of the brownies is just set to the touch. If testing with a toothpick, it should come out with chocolatey crumbs for fudge-textured brownies. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into 16 pieces.

OPTIONAL MIX INS:

  • Chopped walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans; chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, chocolate chunks, dried cherries…

Instacart Grocery Shopping

Today, out of sheer laziness, (I mean it’s raining and cold outside here in Orange County!) I discovered Instacart.

I had been wanting to get a bottle (or more!) of Lee Kum Kee Brown Braising Sauce and my plan was that I was going to pass by the 99 Ranch in Irvine after my son’s soccer game today. All is well until we were informed that the game is canceled as the fields were closed due to the rain. Great! Time for plan B, except that I didn’t have one.

I checked Amazon and a single bottle was $17+! Plus I would not get it today. I knew it was about $3 at the store, so I kept searching. Then Instacart popped up on my search.

INSTACART CART

There were several stores that I could shop at using the app that were close to my home. H Mart, Sprouts, Target, Gelson’s, Stater Brother’s, Ralph’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Petco, Pavillion’s, Albertson’s, Aldi, Total Wine, CVS, Bevmo, Smart and Final, and Von’s.

Curious, I added things to my H Mart grocery cart that I would normally pick up at Asian grocery stores…mirin, radish, inari, gochujan….. If the item you want isn’t available, you could add a note for your shopper. I added a couple of items that weren’t available, my brown braising sauce being one of them! I added a note that I really need this. Let’s see if i will get it in my order.

It showed “Free delivery” for my order. By now my tab was around $60 for 10 items but still lower than if I go myself as I often pick things up that catches my eye even if I had no intention of buying it before I saw it. I hesitated for an hour or so, with my cart full of yummy ingredients, but afterward I clicked Place Order just to try it out. It was 11:47am.

DELIVERY TIMES

You could chose 1, 2, or 5 hour delivery times, specific times, or days.

It showed that my delivery will be within 2 hours…the closest H mart is about 30 minutes away from home, so if I had to go, driving back and forth is going to be already at least 1 hour…finding a parking spot, shopping…checking out…I am starting to see the advantages of this service.

FEES

So then I looked at the fees..(I know! I should have done that first!) it was less than $3 for the service on this particular order plus at least 10% tip for the driver (it starts at 5%, but you could adjust it), it is still worth it. If you become an Instacart Express Member for $9.99 a month or $99 a year, any order above $35 is delivered for free and you can shop different stores per order! You can try it for free for 14 days, before deciding if you want it or not.

ADDING TO EXISTING ORDER

The app informed me that I could add to my order before the shopper begins shopping but I tried to add Kamaboko multiple times, in the app and on safari, in vain. I just kept getting a notice that states they were aware I was having problems.

Just now I got a message that my order is running behind and estimated it to be here by 2:00-2:30pm when it was originally 12:50-1:50pm. I still couldn’t add my kamaboko!

SHOPPING BEGINS

When your shopper starts going thru the store, the app will notify you their name. My shopper today was Jonah B. She asked, on the CHAT feature, if I would approve a replacement for an item I ordered. You could accept or decline. I chose accept for the Tonkatsu sauce.

Later, the radish was above the weight I asked for, so I was asked if it was okay. Sure! It happens.

And in the end the Brown Braising Sauce isn’t available. She messaged me that she asked and they said they do not have any braising sauce available. I asked her if I need to place a separate order at a different place, would that be a different transaction, and she said yes. I told her to just leave it out. I will keep the rest of the order.

Well, guess what? My very kind shopper went to 99 Ranch after asking me if I want it and got me my Lee Kum Kee Brown Braising Sauce – all 6 bottles! What a nice person! She actually made my day! I was so happy that when she said my order would be 30 minutes late because of it, I said “take your time, I am so happy right now, it doesn’t really matter!”

ON THE WAY TO YOU

After the shopping is done, you can follow your shopper in the app, and it shows real time location. My shopper was here a little past 2:30pm and I could not be more pleased with this new found service. Of course, even if the app states that tipping is optional, I gave her a good tip. It’s raining, and cold, and she went above and beyond helping me get those bottles of Braising sauce! I was preparing our lunch at home while she went out to collect my groceries!

PRICING

The items I got were things I regularly buy so I know that the price on Instacart for these are comparable to me going to H Mart and picking it up myself. However, for some stores the price varies, sometimes higher and sometimes lower, than actual store price. I guess if you’ll use it a lot, you probably will be paying about the same as store price, some with inflated prices, and some with discounts.

CONCLUSION

I was going to use Instacart only this once, but I might just make this a back up for days like today! I believe there are some days when it is more than worth it to pay for this kind of service. I do have a few days like that a month (between my son’s school, homework, soccer, futsal, Taekwondo, science club, my full time job, a blog, a dog, the laundry, cooking, cleaning the house…) and knowing I still can get fresh, real ingredients for a minimal fee will reduce the stress of preparing meals at home.

I invite you to check Instacart.com out and hopefully you will find it useful on days when there isn’t enough time to do everything you have to do! I know I definitely did!

If you had used Instacart, let me know what you think in the comments section!

Baked Spaghetti

I had some left over spaghetti noodles in the fridge when I came across a recipe for Baked Spaghetti. Tweaking the recipe to use what I had in the pantry, I came up with this.

It is easy to make, delicious, and freeze well if needed. I think it will be a good idea to make 2 batches and freeze one for later.

Feel free to add, replace, or substitute the ingredients as you wish. Make it your own by using whatever you want in your dish!

  • 16 oz spaghetti, cooked
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
Sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef or italian sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 eggplant, diced (and/or mushrooms)
  • 32 oz pasta sauce
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown meat over medium heat making sure to break up the meat very well. Add onions, garlic, seasoning and eggplant(mushroom). Cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pasta sauce, Italian seasoning and tomatoes to meat. Simmer 10-15 minutes uncovered. Stir in spaghetti and parsley.
  4. Spread into a 9×13 pan, top with cheeses and bake 25-30 minutes or until hot and cheese is browned and bubbly. Cut into squares to serve.

Sticky ribs

I did mention in a previous post how my son and my husband love ribs. I tend to like boneless, skinless, chicken breast and buy those a lot since it’s very versatile. However, I have since branched out buying meats with bones and skin because they both often mention how much they like it. I’m basically cooking for them so if they like it, everything is great. If they ask for a certain dish, I’m almost sure I’ll make it. Saves me time thinking of what to cook! 😊

This is the third recipe I have for ribs. It is less sweet than the previous two recipes, but still cooks in one pot! Every time I serve this, there is no left overs!

2 pounds pork back ribs, separated into individual ribs

1 small onion, diced

2 pieces of star anise

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup soysauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons brown sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)

1/2 cup pineapple juice

Place the ribs in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix all the other ingredients well until molasses and brown sugar are dissolved. Pour over the ribs, mix it a bit, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

You can cook this one of two ways:

First, pour everything into a dutch oven and cook on stovetop over medium low heat until liquid has almost all evaporated and the ribs are cooked, about 45 minutes.

Second, pour everything into a roasting pan and place in a preheated 400F oven for 30-35 minutes. Turn ribs over and bake for 25-30 minutes more, until ribs are done and browned.

Serve immediately.

Baking Bread Without Preheating The Oven

My beautiful loaf!

Have you ever tried baking bread but starting with a cold dough in a cold oven? Yeah I know, that idea turned everything I knew about baking upside down!

I read about this method from a group of sourdough bakers on Facebook. I asked to clarify as I never heard of anyone doing it this way and the wonderful lady replied in such detail that I believe I understood it enough to try it!

DO=dutch oven. 😊

Most home bread makers will know that bread baking requires creating steam by spraying water into the hot oven, placing ice cubes in the oven, or preheating the dutch oven/baking vessel/pizza stone with covers in the oven. Most of the time, you’ll be placing the dough into something really hot. I had my share of burns this way, even though I try to be very careful. So this Cold Method is intriguing to me. I know that some people use this method to avoid getting burned when placing the dough in a hot dutch oven, others to protect their clay bakers/roasters from the sudden temperature change of adding a cold bread dough to a preheated clay pot, or placing the cool clay pot in a preheated oven.

Lovely isn’t it?

I just got a beautiful Romertopf clay baker recently, so I decided to try cold start baked bread today. I would hate for this beautiful pot to break so if this method will work, I will definitely bake in it this way.

I started timing for 35 minutes, covered, after temperature is reached, then 15-20 minutes uncovered, or until desired dcolor on loaf is achieved.

35 minutes after temperature is reached, uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more.

I used a recipe I found in the same Facebook group and just winged the process. I made it fit my timeframe and I wrote it down here that way I can always go back and see it. It’s a very easy and very forgiving recipe. I hope you’ll try it!

400 grams flour

120 grams starter

250 grams water

9 grams salt

Mix everything in the Thermomix (easiest as it also has a scale) or a food processor with dough blade. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cover and rest overnight to proof, stretching and folding at least once (I was tired and sleepy so i only was able to do it once!)

Shape in the morning. I shaped mine into a batard as it’s easier for to use for sandwiches than a boule. You can definitely shape it any way you want.

Place seam side up in a heavily floured banetton. Cover and prove for about 2 1/2 hours. Remove cover, place a sheet of parchment over the dough and invert onto your hand. Place in the clay baker with the parchment under the dough. Score the dough , cover with the lid, place in oven and set oven temperature to 450F.

Start timing after temperature is reached. I did 35 minutes with cover, removed the cover and baked for 15 minutes more. I think this works for the bread I made. The advice I was given on the Facebook page was to leave it for 55 minutes covered, with an option of leaving it for 5 more minutes, uncovered, to brown a little more.

The resulting bread was a beauty! And the texture was great that I believe I learned a new way to bake breads! I am thankful to groups online that unselfishly shares knowledge and personal experiences to others as I truly have learned a lot this way. Here’s to hoping that you learn something from my blog too! ❤️