Sunday, June 27, 2010

Momgateway Light Recipes Contest and $60 Gift Card Giveaway

The campus of Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio is one of the largest in the U.S.  It reminds me so much of University of Wisconsin, Madison and Hokkaido University.  The streets are lined with trees and lush vegetation.   Quaint old buildings blend beautifully with some of the newer ones like the renovated Student Union.  The lights and furnishings at the Union are so contemporary and elegant.   I've been here since Sunday for a two-week workshop on functional genomics.  We've been walking a lot each day from the residence hall to the labs and the Student Union.  In just three days all the walking and a diet of salads, wraps, salmon, chicken, vegetable spring rolls and dumplings make me feel so much lighter already.  When CSN contacted me about doing either a product review or a giveaway, I thought of sharing the opportunity to my dear readers by doing a Momgateway Light Recipes Contest from June 25-July 25.  The prize will be a $60 Gift Card from CSN that the winner can use to purchase anything from the more than 200 CSN online stores.

1. If you have a blog,
     a. Please submit a favorite or original recipe that is light and perfect for spring or summer.
     b. Post this in your blog with a link to momgateway.blogspot.com and
     c. email me the link.
2. If you don't have a blog,
     email your recipe and a photo of the dish to momgateway@gmail.com and I will post them for you on
     my blog when I do a round-up of the recipes.
A winner will be chosen and announced on July 27, 2010. Good luck and have fun cooking light!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Easy Stuffed Strawberries

This is an unusual spring.  I don't remember ever finding such luscious, perfectly ripe strawberries at bargain prices! Each time I shop (which is more often than my hubby would want), I have a hard time resisting the temptation to bring these babies home. We don't make a whole lot of cakes or pastries.  Instead, our desserts are often fruits eaten fresh or in smoothies and granita.  If the berries are a bit tart, stuffing them with sweetened ricotta cheese make an elegant dessert without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  They can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  It's a quick way for us to get our sugar fix! You could also dip these in melted caramel or dark chocolate and roll them in chopped nuts but then the calories add up.  Take your pick, this is the best time to enjoy strawberries at their peak.


You'll need,
a carton of strawberries
a small tub of ricotta cheese
1-2 tsp honey (you can add more or less if you want it sweeter)

Mix ricotta cheese with honey and set this aside while you prepare the strawberries.

Using a paring knife, cut out a wedge on the stem side of the strawberries to hull or remove the calyx (the leaf-like structures on the stem side). Do not discard the hull or "cap".  Hallow out the center of the strawberries with a grapefruit spoon.  Stuff this with the honey-ricotta cheese mixture and replace the hull.  Serve immediately or place in the fridge for at most an hour before serving.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vietnamese Beef Soup (Pho Bo)

When we went to Dallas bring my son for a basketball tournament in April, we stopped by a Vietnamese place for lunch.  They had one of the best Vietnamese beef noodle soups we've had in a long time.  There is just something about the combination of cinnamon, 5 star anise, nutmeg, Asian basil and ginger that is so... comforting.  Hubby always orders this soup at EVERY Vietnamese restaurant so I tried making it at home.  This recipe is loosely adapted from a Food Network recipe.  I added nutmeg, scallions and Asian basil and instead of searing the beef, I placed paper-thin, raw beef in soup bowls and allowed it cook gently by adding the super hot broth. The beef is very tender and flavorful this way.  I use a Rival deli slicer at home to make paper-thin cuts of sirloin but if you just freeze the beef for about 20-30 minutes, you can use a regular Santoku knife to get thin slices.  For the broth, it is important to use the best beef stock you can find.

In celebration of the exquisite flavors and spices in Vietnamese cuisine, this is my contribution to Delicious Vietnam created by A Food Lovers Journey and Ravenous Couple.

 Vietnamese Beef Soup (Pho Bo)

3 cups beef stock/ broth
1 onion, halved
4" piece ginger, halved
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise pods
1 whole nutmeg
12 oz, paper thin slices of sirloin
8 oz. rice noodles (or Japanese odon noodles if rice noodles are not available)
4 scallions
2 jalapenos
1/2 cup cilantro
2-4 Tbsp fish sauce
Kosher salt and pepper
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
sprigs of Asian basil (bung que or rau que) but may be substituted with purple basil when these are not available)
1 lime, cut into quarters

Place broth in a large pot over high heat and add onion, ginger, cinnamon, 5 star anise and nutmeg.  Pour in the beef stock and let the broth simmer for 25 minutes.  Add fish sauce and boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile place rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts in 4 soup bowls.  Remove the ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon stick from the broth and discard. Take the onion and slice it thinly and place in the soup bowl.  Pour the piping hot broth into the bowls to cook the beef.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and some lime juice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Irish Cream Mango Smoothie

It's been so hot lately, it feels like it's almost summer.  I remember the smoothies of my youth made with luscious, sweet and slightly tart, ripe, golden-yellow mangoes.  Unripe green mango smoothies are unusual but surprisingly delicious too.

Today, I was so lucky to find some ripe, yellow Alphonse mangoes at Walmart among  the reddish-green Kent variety of mangoes in the produce section.  Kent mangoes are great in fresh mango salsa.  But Alphonse mangoes are the best eaten fresh or for smoothies, salads, dips, desserts, cakes, etc.

Any time is a good time for refreshing fruit smoothies so here is my  Mango Smoothie 5 star Makeover using Irish Cream. 

Irish Cream Mango Smoothie

flesh of two Alphonse mangoes or 1/2 cup canned mango puree (if you can find it)
3-4 Tbsp sugar
8 ice cubes (using more ice cubes make the smoothies thicker)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Irish Cream (you can add more if you wish)

Mix first three ingredients together in your blender and puree till smooth. Pour in the heavy cream mixed with Irish cream. That's it...enjoy!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Winners of Dr. Kracker Giveaway and A Ouick and Easy Spicy Thai Chicken Wings

My heartfelt thanks to all of my dear readers who commented or participated in the Dr. Kracker Giveaway. I enjoy sharing recipes and reading your blogs and just being part of our foodie community. Please drop by again sometime for another giveaway next month.

Congrats to Dr. Kracker Giveaway winners: #22 Kim and #32 LAgirl70094 .  To claim your prizes, contact momgateway@gmail.com with your postal address.

And a  special thank you to my friend, George Eckrich for this fantastic giveaway!


Meanwhile, here is a quick and easy version of Spicy Thai Chicken Wings I tried yesterday.  Traditionally, you should use lots of finely chopped cilantro roots (not stems or leaves) and fresh garlic. If you only have fresh cilantro stems and leaves, you could use it. The flavor is not quite the same but it will work too ...the garlic-cilantro-fish sauce-pepper combination will smell so enticing....  When in a pinch, you can use coriander powder.   Coriander powder is derived from cilantro seeds and it gives a sparkle/brightness to the dish. 

12 chicken wings (flats and drumettes)
2 tsp fresh garlic or garlic powder
2 tsp finely chopped cilantro roots (or stems) or coriander powder
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Siracha (or hot sauce)-depends on how hot you want it
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
rice flour or cornstarch for coating (Warning: Don't use sweet potato starch*)

Combine garlic, cilantro, oil, Siracha, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce.  Pour over chicken wings.  Marinade for an hour or so. Dredge in rice flour or cornstarch and deep fry.
* I read a tip from a blog about using sweet potato starch. So when I first made this, I coated the wings with sweet potato starch  --- terrible, terrible mistake!  Alright, it was crunchy on the outside but the chicken was steamed on the inside --my son called it Frankenstein wings!!!! He says he loves chicken but does not like the texture or taste of soggy boiled/steamed wings when it's supposed to be crispy fried chicken.