Friday, November 27, 2015

White Bean Dip

What an easy make ahead dip for parties and a nice change from the sour cream dips! The recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

I adapted the recipe with beans seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and sage (Wegman's Tuscan Cannellini Beans). Because the beans were flavored I changed the recipe to only combine the beans (not rinsed, slightly drained), lemon juice, and 1/4 cup olive oil. I used a box of wheat crackers instead of making my pita chips as well.

This recipe can be easily adapted! Alternate flavors to use with the beans include roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, extra garlic, basil, thyme, and more!

White Bean Dip and Pita Chips
Serves: 6 servings (or more depending on how polite everyone is!)

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt & Black Pepper
Pita Chips/Crackers

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pan Fried Noodles with Chicken (Gai See Chow Mein)

This is delish! My mom makes this with some sliced roast pork and those crunchy skinny yellow noodles... This is a rough adaptation because I have neither the roast pork or the right noodles. 

Don't let the long list of ingredients or steps deter you! This meal is worth it and can actually be prepared in 30 minutes with no additional prep time!! I have adjusted the steps below with the order that I 

Some changes....
I didn't use a wok - I used my largest pot. 
I used noodles from Wegman's (Assi Pasta, Oriental Style Noodle), but egg noodles or even spaghetti would work. 
I used petite baby bok choy but the Shanghai bok choy, American broccoli or Chinese broccoli (gai lan) would be tasty. Just go with whatever veg looks better at the store that day!
I didn't use the oyster sauce because I didn't have any. 
I didn't use the sugar because I didn't think my dinner needed sugar. 
I added carrots and bean sprouts because...why not!?

Now that I've made this meal a couple times I've tried to be more efficient with NOT using all the dishes, pots, and pans in the kitchen. Here are the tips...
Cut the veggies before the chicken (this reduces a cutting board AND a knife!)
Use the same large pot for everything (cooking the noodles, frying the noodles, cooking the chicken, and making the sauce)
Share the serving plate with someone you love and no extra plate dishes!
Measure all the dry things before the wet things (aka corn starch before sesame oil and soy sauce) 

Pan Fried Noodles with Chicken (Gai See Chow Mein)
Adapted from The Woks of Life
serves 2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 bundles of dried Hong Kong style egg noodles or 10 oz. fresh HK Style noodles (OR any noodles)
1 small bunch of choy sum or baby bok choy (about 2-3 cups), washed and cut into strips
1-2 handfuls of baby carrots cut into match sticks
1 cup chicken stock 
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sugar (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground white pepper
2 cloves garlic powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water 
3 tablespoons oil 
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (any Chinese cooking wine)
1 - 2 handfuls Bean Sprouts
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you wait...
    • Wash and slice your veggies.
    • Slice your chicken into thin strips. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, oil, cornstarch with the sliced chicken. Set aside.
    • In a small pot on the stove, combine the oyster sauce, garlic powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, white pepper, and chicken stock. Leave it alone while it comes to a simmer.
    • In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water into a slurry and set aside.
  • Once water is boiling, add the noodles. (For fresh noodles, boil for 30 seconds to a minute. For dried noodles, boil for 4-6 minutes). Do not overcook them! Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside. 
  • Heat your large pot over high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, making sure to swirl it around to coat the sides. Spread out your noodles in an even layer and fry for about 3 minutes, or until golden and crisp. 
  • Flip the noodles over and fry the other side (you can add a bit more oil if necessary).
    • Theoretically the noodles should not stick, I have yet to have success and end up scraping it off the bottom. It is still crispy and good, just not as pretty! When the noodles are golden on both sides, transfer the noodles to a large round plate. 
  • In the same large pot, add another tablespoon of oil. Sear the chicken breast and carrot sticks.
  • Once browned, add the shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan. Pour in your sauce.
  • Let the liquid come to a boil and add your green vegetables. 
  • Stir and cook for about a minute. 
  • Stir up your slurry mixture again, since the cornstarch probably settled to the bottom of the bowl. 
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add about 2/3 of the cornstarch and stir the mixture to thicken. Add more slurry until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. How thick you like your sauce it is also about personal preference. Allow to bubble up for another 30 seconds or so. 
  • Pour the entire mixture over the noodles and serve immediately. Serve with hot chili oil or Sriracha on the side if you like!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, Pennsylvania

Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, Pennsylvania

What a trip!! We spent one night at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos Mountains and it was an adventure! The kids had a half day from school so we grabbed them up and drove right to the park! When you book your night you can use the park starting at 1 pm your check in day, so we were sure to take advantage of that!

Everything was decorated for Halloween and they had some cute interactive programs (scavenger hunts, read out loud, etc) that were available for all the guests.

To save some money because this place is insanely expensive...we picked a slower time (Sept and Oct are less busy times and Mon-Thurs are cheapest), we brought snacks, breakfast, and lunch (fridge and microwave is in the room), and we decided against doing Magic Quest. Oh, and we purchased wolf stuffed animals on Amazon ahead of time rather than having the kids want one of the Wolf Lodge stuffed animals.

When we were discussing doing Magic Quest I had looked online and you can get the wands on eBay and local swap sites, that can save you some money too! I was really hesitant with Magic Quest because I didn't really want to do it and reviews said that the kids would need a lot of help.

If we went back we would try and go with friends and we would potentially do Magic Quest since the kids would be older. We would also bring walkie talkies so the kids can go off on their own.

The lines in the water park were ok. There were still lines but it was manageable. I'm not a fan of crowds so I felt it was busy but not overwhelming. It is nice that the only people allowed in the park are guests at the resort so that helps keep the lines shorter. Saturday was a lot busier than Friday afternoon. I had a blast on the water slides!!

If you stay for only one night you really don't need the Magic Quest or other packages, we spent all of our time in the water park! If we had stayed for 2 nights I think we would have wanted something else to do so the kids didn't get too exhausted swimming that much!

We did venture out for dinner Friday night at The Barley Creek Brewing Company. The lovely place is only 10 minutes from the resort but the food was great and the beers were amazing!! We highly recommend going here if you can make it! We ordered the Garlic Edamame, split a pizza, ordered a sandwich, and a burger. We were stuffed to the gills!!

Have you been before?? What did you think??

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Pancakes are a weekend breakfast staple in our household. However, I really dislike that they take a long time to make and the chef doesn't get to eat with the rest of us. We also would prefer the kids to eat homemade pancakes with minimal ingredients vs Eggo Waffles - so I was looking for a way to mass produce pancakes in a quick efficient manner. 

We found this recipe because it is specific to almond milk and we normally don't have regular milk at home. The almond milk keeps the pancakes softer and the edges won't crisp up as much. 

I have a whoopie pie pan that I have never used and thought this would be the perfect excuse for it! When I make whoopie pies I use a small cookie scoop to ensure the sizes are the same. I purchased the pan when I was on a breakfast sandwich kick and thought this would be perfect to create sandwich sized egg patties. 

If you don't have one of these pans you can also use muffin tins and put enough batter in them to cover the bottom. I think they would poof up to become mini pancakes.

If the kids were willing to eat square pancakes then I would try making them in a 9x13 pan and cutting them. That would probably be the easiest way...but a girl can dream right?

I tripled the pancake batter below and created 40 silver dollar size pancakes in about 40 minutes (includes getting out the ingredients, making the batter, doing dishes, and cooling time). This did take a while but while the pancakes were baking I was able to do other things around the kitchen (like the dishes!). We stored some in the fridge and others go into the freezer. To warm we microwave them for 20-30 seconds (if not frozen) and about 45 seconds if frozen.

From a visual these are very pale pancakes but the kids liked them better that way, if you want them to be darker/more golden you can add a little butter in each hole before adding the batter. Also use the melted butter in the batter instead of the oil. 

These pancakes are pale, soft and fluffy and cakey! Enjoy!

Slightly lumpy pancake batter

2 tablespoons of batter for each hole

Let cool 3 minutes before removing from the pan

Pile of warm fluffy pancakes!

The perfect size for  mini sausage sandwiches!
Adapted from Silk Almond Milk
makes about 13 mini pancakes

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1-2 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Almond milk, any flavor but Chocolate (or regular milk)
2 tablespoon oil or melted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together Silk, oil and egg.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir just to moisten—a few lumps are fine.
Cook pancakes on a griddle over medium heat. 
Pour 1/4 cup of batter on the pre-heated pan. 
When larger bubbles start to form and the edges are turning slightly cooked, flip the pancake. It takes about 1:30-2:00 per side.  
Serve immediately or let cool and store in airtight container in the fridge.

Whoopie Pie Pan:
Pour 2 tablespoons of batter into each hole. 
Bake at 375F for 9-12 minutes. If too pale you can toss under the broiler for a 30 seconds. 
Serve immediately or let cool and store in airtight container in the fridge.