Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Won’t Stop Me from Cooking!

Cooking without Electricity

I woke up this morning with expectations of not having power due to the much anticipated Hurricane Irene that was making her way up from New York to New England. To my surprise, I woke up to only rain and some wind and luckily we still had power. I turned on Fox News and sat on the couch and watched the local coverage of Hurricane Irene and saw massive power outages and fallen trees.

The Mo suggested to me that I should make breakfast before our power goes out. I thought sarcastically, “Yeah, Ok” , Nat was probably right, the “spoiled brat” is just hungry. I probably should have just fed him cereal and beer as his sister, Tia, suggested.
Since it was getting closer to lunch anyway, I decided to make “Huevos Ranchero” for brunch. I took out all the ingredients and started to prep and sure enough, 10 minutes later, the power went off. As the Mo started to gather out “Black Out” supplies, the power came back on. I was relived and started chopping away some more when the power went off again. This time, it went off for good.

Luckily for us, we are avid campers and have all the necessary supplies to manage meals during power outages. We used the Coleman propane lantern as a source of light.

We also brought up the Coleman Dual Burner Camping Stove to cook. As a safety precaution, we also brought out our fire extinguisher, just in case we needed it on hand.

Hueveo Rancheros is a classic Mexican breakfast dish consisting of eggs, salsa, beans, cheese and anything else you want. There are many different ways and preferences to make Huevos Ranchero
Here is my recipe.

· 2 Hot Sausages, cubed or sliced to preference
(I prefer Johnston but Market Basket Brand is fine)

· ½ cup of Chopped tomatoes
( I prefer grape tomatoes due to its sweetness)
· ½ cup of Chopped Red Onions
· ½ cup of Chopped Bell Peppers, any color
( I prefer yellow or orange due to its sweetness)
· ½ cup of Chopped Fresh Cilantro
· ¼ Cup of Sliced Fresh Scallions
· 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped garlic
· 1Packet of Goya Sazon Seasoning
3 Tablespoons of Goya Frozen Sofrito
· 1 Cup of Sweet canned corn, drained and rinsed
· 1 Cup of canned Black Beans, drained and rinsed
· 1 Tablespoon of chicken broth powder or 1 chicken bouillon cube
· Pinch of black pepper, sea salt, chili powder
· 1 Teaspoon of olive oil
· 1 Cup of Water


In a large saucepan, add the olive oil and brown the sausages until its slightly crispy. Add in all the chopped vegetables, sofrito, sazon, chicken powder and other spices to the mixture and stir occasionally for about 10-12 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and increase temperature to bring to a boil. While boiling, add the corn and beans and let it continue to boil for 1 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture as the beans can get stuck to the bottom of the pan and burn. After 1 minute, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes. Again, be sure to continue to lightly stir the mixture.

Other Ingredients
· Tortilla Wrap ( I prefer whole wheat tortillas)
· Shredded Cheese, Cheddar or “Mexican Blend” is preferred
· Eggs, qty based on servings

On a separate burner, warm a tortilla on a small skillet on medium temperature. Do not add any oil or grease to the skillet. The tortilla should be warm and crispy after 1 minute on each side. Remove the tortilla and set aside on a dish. Return the skillet to the burner.
Increase the temperature to high and add some cooking spray or a little bit of oil using a brush. Crack 2 whole eggs (or I prefer to use 1 whole eggs and 2 egg whites). You should hear the eggs sizzle on the high heat so the bottom of the eggs are crispy. After about 45 seconds, reduce the heat and cover the eggs with a lid.

This step is optional. The lid helps steam the eggs so the yolk isn’t too runny and the egg whites gets cooked. After 2 minutes, remove the lid and transfer the eggs with a large spatcheler onto the tortilla.
Add ½ to 1 cup of sauce onto the egg and tortilla. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (as much or as little as you prefer).

Usually, I like to pop this into the microwave for 20 seconds to melt the cheese, but since the power went off, I had to skip this step.

Garnish with some cilantro and jalapenos and serve with your favorite hot sauces.

Mami Eggroll's style Huevos Ranchero
For this dish, I recommend, Goya’s Salsita Hot Sauces.
Goya Salsita Hot Sauces

I always seem to have about 1 ½ cups of extra sauce left over. This works out perfectly because I can always use the sauce over blackened chicken breasts and serve it with a side of rice and vegetables for dinner.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Its Finally Here! - Wings Over Lowell

Ranking REALLY close to eggrolls, chicken wings are among my favorite guilty pleasures. If I'm not bringing eggrolls to a party, I'm likely to to bring a combination of BBQ, Buffalo and Naked wings to accommodate all tastes.  They are easy to make and everyone loves them... well for the most part,  I've actually met some people that do not eat meat off bones (Ribs, wings, etc).

At almost every single family gathering, we buy chicken wings by the case to feed the whole army.  If I'm not making the wings myself, I'm always on the lookout for deals or new flavors that I can try.

Needless to say, I was very EXCITED to hear about the new Wings Over Lowell opening during Folk Festival weekend in Downtown Lowell.
Neon "Wings" Decor 
After much anticipation, the Mo and I finally made our way to Downtown Lowell to sample the menu.  After what seemed like many minutes of viewing the menu displayed on the LCD screens and letting other customers go before us, we finally made up our minds and placed our order.

We got the F-16 (15 Wings), Cajun Waffle Fries with Cheese, and a 2 Liter of Diet Coke which came to about $19.00.  There were just too many flavors to try and they allow 1 flavor for every 5 pieces of wings. Since the Mo loves hot spice, he insisted on the "After Burner" and we also tried the Spicy Teryaki and Golden BBQ.
F-16 (15 Pcs, 3 Flavors)
 Although the wings were meaty and the textures were right on, the flavors were not that impressive. The Mo complained that the "After Burners" were not hot enough and seemed like it was just dressed in the same Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce we use at home. Since my tolerance of chili is not where his is, I took his word for it.

The Spicy Teryaki didn't resemble any teryaki sauces that I was used to and the Golden BBQ flavor was a bit too tangy for me. Maybe next time I will try the Honey BBQ instead.

Cajun Blacked Waffle Fries with Cheese
I must admit that they Waffle Fries were amazing! They were fried to perfection and had the right amount of Cajun seasoning! For the optional seasoning, you can choose from Ranch, Cajun, Mesquite, Seven Pepper and Garlic Parmesan. The melted cheese dip ($1.00 extra) was a great compliment to the fries and we didn't even require any ketchup!

They looked pretty busy, after all it was a Friday night.  As we sat and ate our meal, I noticed that the establishment was very popular with takeout orders with the phone constantly ringing and people walking in to pick up their orders.   The delivery service seems to be popular also, I noticed they had at least 2 drivers running in and out and they also had a sign posted for more drivers wanted.

With its late hours and nearby proximity to the Umass Lowell Dorms/Conference center, Middlesex Community College and Lowell High School, I truly believe this franchise will be a success!

Note: Parking in Downtown Lowell can be tricky and its usually a hit or miss.  Obviously this will be not a problem for students or Downtown Lowell employees. Dedicated goers can shell out a few bucks and park at the Leo Roy Parking Garage, literally 2 minutes down the street.

If you haven't already hit up "Wings Over Lowell", what are you waiting for?

Wings Over Lowell, MA  26A Market Street Lowell, MA 01852    Phone: (978) 441-9464

Location Hours: (Hours Subject to change)
Mon/Tue:   04:00 pm – 01:00 am and Wed-Sun:: 11:00 am – 01:00 am
Here are some of my favorite wings in Lowell and surrounding areas

Best Chinese Style Wings: Wah Sang
Best Wings to eat with Papaya Salad: Viet Thai
Favorite Flavor: Spicy Thai Peanut at Pizza Hazel
Best Wing Deal:  25 cents wing specials on Sundays and Mondays at Garcia Brogan's
Best Boneless Wings: Garlic Parmesan at Pizza Hut/Wings Street
Hottest Wings: Crazy "88", Wings of Fire coated in Ghost Pepper Bistro 44, Bedford, Ma
I'm not sure if they still do it, but there was a Waiver Wing Challenge where you had to sign a waiver and eat a certain amount of wings in under 30 minutes. Many tried and many failed. 

Worst Wings Dominos Pizza
Sorry Dominos, you were able to revamp your pizza with the garlic crust, but your wings are still sub par. They are usually soggy and smothered in a thick sauce. That just doesn't do anything for me.

China Buffet
Just Gross

Where is your favorite place to go for wings?

Wings Over Lowell on Urbanspoon

Breakfast Fridays

Every Friday, the office orders breakfast from a nearby diner, Jimmy's Family Restaurant, or as my coworker refers to as, "The Russians, which is funny because ..I don't think they are Russian at all, I think they are Greek.

The diner has been family owned and operated for many years and serves your typical breakfast foods featuring 38 omelettes on their menu and that is not including the "Build your own Omeltte" choice. They also offer a variety of lunch options ranging from sandwiches to seafood entrees.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Game Night" Catered by "Tar-Jay"

Today, I ran out of all purpose flour and needed to make a quick run to refill my stash. I didn't want to deal with the lines and parking at the Chelmsford Market Basket so I went to Target on Plain Street instead.  The original plan was to be in and out of the store in 5 minutes or less with a sack of flour.  Little did I know, I would be walking out of the store with a carriage full of groceries.


As I browsed the "pantry" section in Target, I walked by some freezers with red clearance labels that caught my eye.  I opened the freezer door to find a variety of frozen appetizers and hors d'oeuvres that were on clearance. I assumed they were about to expire, but upon checking the date, they were all good until 2012.  I checked all the other freezers and there were other items like frozen juices, fries and frozen vegetables on clearance.

20 Minutes Later, I was at home, unloading my trunk with 10 bags of Red Bullseye bags with 41 items and a $51.00 receipt.

I pretty much stocked up for my next party or "game night" spending ONLY  $51.00 and now all I have to do is ask people to BYOB which they usually already do.

Here's what I will be serving at the next game night:
If you plan on coming, bring your Tums!

I know you are probably thinking, "I can get the same thing at any wholesale club and probably for a better deal! I know they have the Mexican frozen assortment box and the puff pastry assortment box, I'm well aware of it. I think if I was to buy in bulk all the above, I would have too much food and spend more than $50.00. Also, you saw my previous post, I try to avoid Costco's. Plus, I like the Archer Farm's brand.. I kinda feel a little fancy.

I also got a bunch of frozen concentrated juice mix for making large batches of alcohol for my parties. I find it tastier to mix alcohol with concentrated juice or crystal light and add only a fraction of the water.

Wild Berry Juice Concentrate- I use this for in sangria along with frozen or fresh fruits, cheap cognac and a big bottle of cheap port wine.

Limonade  Concentrate- this makes for a great Margarita base, just add tequila, a little bit of water, and fresh lime.

Orange Concentrate- this makes for a great mixer for Sex on the Beach. The unflavored vodka dilutes the flavor of the juices, so having a concentrated orange flavor helps in addition to the triple sec or Cointreau

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Costco's Chicken & Cilantro Wontons

I try to avoid Costco's as much as I can.. I have a tendency to stock up on things I don't need and never seem to be able to walk out of the warehouse without spending at least $100.00. Its kind of like a trap.. stock up on salad dressing and yogurt, but what household really uses it all up before it expires?

We originally got the membership for items like frozen meats, detergent, beer, etc but now it seems like I can never walk away without wanting to try something new that I've sampled that day or saw on an end cap. I guess you can say, I'm a sucker for those things. Just like I'm a sucker for CVS Extra Care Bucks and Kohls Cash.. but that's another post.

I'm a big fan of frozen appetizers for the days I'm too lazy to cook a real meal or had too much to drink to manage the stove. I make my own "Pu Pu Platter" out of whatever I can find in the freezer.  I tried the Ling Ling All Natural Potstickers and thought it was just OK. I thought the wrapper was on the thick side and got a little gummy after boiling them. They were better lightly steamed and pan fried versus using them in a soup. I really liked that it came with its own sauce that you can thaw and serve with the pot stickers.

On our last visit, a new wonton bag in the freezer section caught my eye. It was called CJ All Natural Mini Wonton, Chicken & Cilantro.  The price was only $5.99 so I thought it was worth a try.

... and I'm glad I did! I've already made 2 different dishes with it without any guilt or remorse.

These little mini wontons make for a great starter to any meal. I lightly pan fried them and served them with my own home made ginger-soy sauce.

 I wanted to add a little kick to them so I drizzled some Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

The second is a basic Wonton soup. I used canned chicken broth, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, diced chicken breast and garnished it with a little bit of scallions and cilantro.

This meal only set me back 6 WW points for a large bowl.

Cheap and Easy Pork Dumpling

 Cambodian "Mee Ka La" Recipe
Cambodian "Mee Ka La" Recipe

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In My Pant... ry

In my pantry, you will find lots of processed, high sodium, carb-loaded, high fructose foods that Jillian Michaels would not APPROVE of. The truth is... IF I did have an all natural and organic diet with low sodium, and low carbs, I would most likely have a normal BMI but the reality is, I don't.

I'm not proud of my pantry, but it is what is is. I strive to cook at least 5 meals a week and its tough to do without having side dishes that can be prepared in 10 mins from boxes or cans or pasta that can be cooked in 15 minutes or less. I do sometimes try to prepare my meals ahead but that doesn't always work.

I also like to keep supplies and non perishable ingredients on hand. I hate going to the supermarket for just one thing.. I like to stock up on my dry goods and i'm also a fan of buying meats on sale and freezing it. I know this may be frowned upon by many people, but at least I will be able to whip something up for dinner for unexpected guests.

Sometimes I even try to lie to the Mo and say, "there's nothing to make for dinner, let's go out!" but he usually knows I'm lying and he checks the pantry and freezer, and find something to suggest that I make.

Kim's Pantry Staples
Pasta- You can always find something to make with pasta

Canned Spaghetti Sauce- I use this as the primary base to my pasta sauce and add my own special ingredients and fresh tomato and other vegetables

Canned Tuna Fish - Easy Lunch option for the days I forget to buy lunch meat to pack the Mo's lunch

Boxed Rice - Love all varieties, (Spanish, rice Pilaf, chicken).. it goes good with any meat dish

Chicken Broth- I can make hundreds of soups out of chicken broth, easy soup dishes, just add chicken or seafood and pasta or vegetables

Product Review- Cuckoo 10 Cups Rice Cooker

A rice cooker is a staple in every Asian household. When we bought our house, we were given a few hand me downs from my mother and sister. It would only last a few months before the rice would turn yellow after several hours in the "keep warm" mode or the rice just wouldn't cook at all. After the the last one gave up, I decided that I wanted to spend an extra few bucks for a quality rice cooker and not a budget one from the local Cambodian markets. After doing several hours of research and getting a recommendation from my friend Nat, we decided to shell out the money for a Cuckoo CRP-G1015F.

Cuckoo Pressure Cooker CRP-G1015F

To my surprise, we were able to buy it online through , earning  Best Buy rewards points in addition to using a 10% coupon.

The rice cooker features a "Turbo" function that really works and really does cook the rice in under 20 minutes. This is awesome for when I need to make multiple batches of rice for making trays of Cambodian fried rice or having lots of people over to feed.

It also has various cooking functions for brown rice, sushi rice, porridge, chicken soup and other functions that I have yet to try.

My favorite part is when it speaks Korean to alert you that the rice is done. This usually takes people by surprises, sometimes even scares people.  I know for a fact that both my father and nephew, Nick has been startled by  the talking machine.

Just a little warning that I would not place the rice cooker underneath any Kitchen cabinets as it does release a large amount of hot steam prior to completion of the cooking cycle. I would imagine that overtime, this would cause some wear and tear towards the cabinets.  We leave ours on our dining room table.

Overall, I love my rice cooker and would recommend it to anyone who is in the market for a rice cooker.
Large Batch of Fried Rice
Rice Made Using the Cuckoo Rice Cooker

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Oyster Party at Matt & Nat's House
Another one of those things.. you either LOVE them, or you are disgusted by them. My belly loves them, my wallet... not so much.  Luckily for us, our friend (name undisclosed for his protection), has connections with a local restaurant and he orders them by the hundreds.  We make an oyster party out of it, the girls cook, and the guys shuck. It's a win-win situation, we get our oyster fix without breaking the bank.

If you don't have a friend that can get you cheap oysters, here are some other great deals found on Yelp...

I vaguely remember Moonstones in Chelmsford having a special.. but I cannot find it on their website.

My Recommendation
Minado- VERY CLEAN BUFFET establishment, variety of sushi, Japanese entrees and appetizers, Shellfish, and green tea ice cream.
If you are going to eat the Oysters, the $31.95 is well worth the price.
Photo Credit: The Passionate Foodie Blog

I like my oysters, "Minado" style, with a little bit of lemon juice and a soy-ginger sauce topped with scallions,
How do you like yours?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breanna's Bday Bouquet(s)

So my receptionist's birthday is coming up in 2 days.. and she is taking the next 1 1/2 days off for her bday festivities... which is cool.. but I had to come up with something quick for her. We usually just do the standard Shaw's cake for everyone at work and the company pays for it.  After work, a small group of us grab drinks at a local overpriced bar or a sports bar with $3.00 Shock Top drafts... but I felt like I had to do something a little special for her since she was new and I tend to "overuse" her services and she wouldn't be around to grab drinks after work anyway.

During lunch today, I ran across the street to Shaws and figured I could pick up some flowers and a mylar balloon and call it a day.  To my surprise there was a bucket of "Manager's Special" summer bouquets for only 2 bucks. I grabbed 2 with the intention of making it a bigger bouquet and calling it a day.  I asked an employee in the flower department for a vase and she priced it at $4.99.  She even offered to make the arrangement for me, I thought "Perfect!".. I walked out of the store this beautiful arrangement and it only set me back $ 10.61 with tax.
$ 4.00 for 2 bunches of flowers
$ 4.99 for the vase
$ 1.00 Miscellaneous charge for baby's breath, ribbons, greens, etc
Free card and card holder
= $ 10.61

I know I could probably went to the dollar store and got a vase and ribbons, but this was well worth the price, most importantly , it made her day! :)