Blissfully Delicious

wilted spinach
I have known my hubby for a little over eight years, and have been married for over six years. Yet, we just came to a realization recently that neither one of us is a huge fan of salads. You know, a little bowl of shredded lettuces with two slices of tomatoes and a drizzle of dressing next to my dinner plate. If I were to eat a salad, I would want it to be pretty fancy. You know: a big bowl of gorgeous butter lettuces, or spring mix, with lots of fancy trimmings (a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans, crumbles of fancy cheese, maybe dried fruit?), and definitely with a grilled chicken or salmon. Preparing them at home is another story – I feel like I can never get all of the ingredients used up in timely manner. So I tend to just not include salads. What I started doing then is finding way to prepare quick vegetable dish that we all can enjoy at home.
wilted spinach 2
This spinach dish is so simple, quick to prepare, and healthy. It takes probably five minutes or so to cook the spinach leaves down, or ten if you include the prep, but it really can’t get any simpler than this. This is the kind of dish that I’d happily gobble up on its own with a side of rice, had I been living alone without my husband and kids. As expected, my daughter refused to touch it. But the three of us gobbled this up in no time. We used a full recipe, and there was plenty for at least 4-6 servings. I didn’t really care for it once it was reheated, so next time I’d probably just make enough for one meal. If you haven’t tried this – I definitely recommend you trying it. This will give you an added option for your dinner menu.

beef filling
As much as we love Mexican food at our house, whether it’s tacos, enchilada (vegetable or beef), or nachos, I just don’t cook them enough at home. I think a part of me is still a little gun-shy about making a good authentic Mexican food at home;  or should I say, not have a confidence to make them on my own. I feel like I just don’t know enough about the ingredients; or the spice mixture – and I end up just choosing something else for the menu.  The ones that I have made, like these enchiladas (vegetable or beef), have been pretty fantastic though, so I’m always trying to find something new that I can incorporate into the menu. In college, I used to just buy a couple packets of pre-made taco seasoning (yep, everyone has to start somewhere!), and call it good.
beef filling 3
This taco filling, however, changed my outlook on that. I decided to just give it a go; all using ingredients readily available in my pantry. I started making them at home as filling to homemade tacos! We even got fancy and fried our own homemade taco shells (which yes, needs to be blogged yet) using store-bought corn tortillas.
beef filling 2
This goes to our dinner rotation quite frequently, and we serve it to guests as well who love the authentic flavors of the filling. I mean, tacos are all about filling right? But my favorite way to serve it is even simpler: on top of yellow tortilla chips, shredded lettuces, cut tomatoes, shredded cheese and avocados. It saves so much time from standing over a stove and frying the shell one by one. I normally use a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe, and it fills about halfway through the bowl. The filling also freezes wonderfully, so you can definitely make extra to stash in the freezer for a time saver. Enjoy!

rasp chiffon pie 2

Let me tell you, I haven’t been giving raspberries any love at all this summer. I have been talking and praising strawberries and blueberries left and right – but no raspberries. I have been day-dreaming about peaches; but with constant news on peach recalls this summer, I’ve been pretty gun-shy about buying peaches. I just don’t want to take a chance of buying peaches that I have to end up throwing away or taking back to the store. This pie though is such a perfect pie to highlight the gorgeous summer raspberries. It is creamy and light, full of that beautiful raspberry flavors with that delicious pie dough that instantly gives everyone a sense of comfort in every bite. And, every single slice is dreamy, I really couldn’t find a more perfect summer dessert.

rasp chiffon pie

The beautiful layers are extras, since it makes you look like you fuss all night to prepare it, and it looks like the type of desserts served at summer birthday parties, showers, or other celebrations. This pie and its layers remind of a dessert that I used to enjoy when I was growing up: it has a fruit layer, chiffon layer, and finally a willowy whipped cream. As a kid, it was so fun just taking my fork through each layer of the dessert to find different textures, flavors, and colors. So if you have any more summer gathering left, give this pie a try. Or save it until next spring, and treat your family to this beautiful pie.

orange chickenHappy Tuesday everyone! I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Can you believe that we’re already on the second day of September now? I had an extra long weekend since I took last Friday off so we could go to Minneapolis for the weekend. And it was so nice to be able to get out of town and just get a change of scenario. I think the next “holiday” where we can get time off from work would be Thanksgiving, so I’m really glad that I took advantage of our holiday weekend by going out of town. Every time that we’re trying to decide on where to go for long weekends, we’re always so torn between doing things that we both enjoy and doing things for the kids like the zoo, the children’s museum, etc. Minneapolis has been an ideal destination that offers activities that are really fun for the kids and us. While I’m personally drawn more to urban activities, like checking out restaurants, cool exhibits, some shopping, and maybe a show or two; it’s really hard to do those with the kids, so we’ve been exploring places that everyone can enjoy. orange chicken 2We came back on Sunday and had all day yesterday trying to unwind. In the chaos of unpacking and laundry, I made this really yummy chicken dish. I know as a food blogger, I try not to use the word delicious in every single post, but this one was really delicious! I almost think that it’s better than its original version from Panda Express’ Orange Chicken. See while I have always loved Panda Express, I kind of forgot about them for a while since since there wasn’t really any locations nearby where I used to live. We had a Panda Express kiosk on my college campus, so I used to get them whenever I had extra money. But after that, nope. No Panda Express for me. Fast forward three years ago, when I found out that there was a Panda Express about 20 minutes from where I live, I knew that I would have to make the trek to get my share of their orange chicken dish. It’s hard to not love crispy fried chicken slathered in sweet orange sauce, with a tad of spice on a bowl of steamed rice. The only thing that I would have changed next time was the method of breading the chicken pieces. I feel like some of them were falling apart as they were cooled on the plate. So maybe I will do the flour first, then the egg to bind the flour onto the chicken. But flavor-wise, this dish really hit it on the nail, and I’m adding this to my menu rotation.

fresh strawberry pie While this summer has been pretty unusual and unexpected in term of weather (lots of rain and tornado warnings), I’m still holding on to summer as much as I can, including enjoying as much strawberries as possible. Strawberries is one of those fruits that just taste so much better in the summer when they’re in the season. I admit that I would sneak in a pint of blueberries or so here and there in the winter months, but not strawberries.  I just don’t think that they taste the same in the winter. I’d start eating them in May, and would continue to buy them until late September when I’ll be ready for apples and pumpkins.
strawberry pie 2Instead of a birthday cake, I requested this pie last year for my birthday. My hubby prepared this for me for the first time last year, and I made it again earlier this summer as soon as strawberries were available.  Since my birthday is this weekend, I may even request this again instead of a cake. This dessert is simply a slice of summer: strawberries are mixed in with a little bit of sugar, lemon juice, and a little pectin and cornstarch to make it a nice glaze that binds the juicy berries. I don’t even need any whipped cream on the top, although you can really make it extra special with tons of whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream. Have a great holiday weekend everyone, I’ll see you next week!