Chinese Tang Yuan Chicken Soup

WIN_20160424_133707Tang Yuan are glutinous rice balls – easy to prepare, versatile in recipes, and a delicious comfort food. In my German-American kitchen, the equivalent would be dumplings. Today we are making a simple chicken soup with Tang Yuan. Children and grown-ups alike have given this soup rave reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it, too!

One friendly tip: There are only a few ingredients in this recipe, so each of them is important! Please don’t skimp on the quality of the chicken stock by substituting cans of chicken broth or cubes of bouillon. Chicken broth is a watery, less flavorful cousin of true chicken stock… you’ll taste the difference in this soup. Bouillon cubes are mostly salt.

WIN_20160424_132041Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 cup glutinous rice flour (sometimes called “sweet rice flour” or “sticky rice flour”)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 quart good quality chicken stock

1 cup diced celery (or substitute carrot)

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt)

WIN_20160424_132455Directions

Step 1) Combine glutinous rice flour, boiling water, and sugar in a medium size, microwave safe bowl. Stir together with a fork.

Step 2) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small edge uncovered to allow steam to vent. Microwave the bowl for 2 minutes. Stir, cover again, and microwave an additional two minutes.

Step 3) Grease the bottom of a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Transfer the microwaved rice flour mixture to the greased bowl. Use your knuckles to press down on the mixture, kneading and compressing the mixture into a dough. Do this for at least five minutes, or until the mixture has formed a smooth dough. If the mixture is too hot for your hands, use the flat bottom of a cup or a mason jar to press down on the dough.

Step 4) Break off tiny pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of marbles. Be careful not to roll your Tang Yuan balls too large, especially if you are feeding children! Small, marble size Tang Yuan are more desirable.

Step 5) In a medium size pot, heat chicken stock to just below boiling. Add Tang Yuan balls, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add celery, ginger, and salt. Cook for an additional two minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Pumpkin Applesauce Cake

WIN_20160421_200343Low fat and vitamin packed, Pumpkin Applesauce Cake makes an awesome dessert item or star of Sunday brunch. This cake is so tasty it hardly needs frosting. But – just to be safe – we’ve topped our Pumpkin Applesauce Cake with an awesome cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You’re welcome. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Enjoy!

WIN_20160421_181139Ingredients (Makes a 9 x 13 inch sheet cake, serves 20)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil Continue reading

Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind

WIN_20160420_175431Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind is an old school recipe which hails back to the Great Depression, when nothing was wasted. Depression era cooks were creative, not because it was chic but because it was necessary. Children love the sweet, tangy taste of these pickles right from the jar. Grown-ups love them as bacon wrapped party snacks, broiled and enjoyed while hot. However you enjoy them, I can guarantee that once you’ve sampled Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind, you’ll never look at a whole watermelon quite the same way again!

WIN_20160418_191438Ingredients (Makes about 4 pint jars)

Rind from one large watermelon

1/2 cup salt

6 cups cold water Continue reading

Chocolate Cheesecake Roll

WIN_20160208_195716

If chocolate chip cheesecake and homemade sweet rolls fell in love and had a baby, the result might be this Chocolate Cheesecake Roll. One taste and you’ll understand… you need this in your life. Equally perfect for breakfast or dessert, Chocolate Cheesecake Roll can be enjoyed while still warm from the oven OR can be frozen to be frosted and enjoyed later. On second thought, when the aromas of fresh bread and chocolate waft through your kitchen, I doubt the finished product will ever see the inside of a freezer. ¬†ūüėČ

WIN_20160208_152324Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves, serves 16)

For the bread:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter Continue reading

Lazy Cheesy Eggplant

WIN_20160328_085536I love cooking with eggplant – it’s very low in calories and versatile – but I don’t always think of eggplant when I’m looking for something fast. Lazy Cheesy Eggplant requires only a few minutes to prepare, and a half hour in the oven…¬†the results are addictively delicious! Each high fiber serving of Lazy Cheesy Eggplant contains approximately 125 calories.

Side note: We’re using frozen eggplant here, because the texture Continue reading

Indonesian Slow-Cooked Pork

WIN_20160324_165428Few cuisines rival the foods of Indonesia for their fragrance and layers of rich, exotic flavors. This dish will taste like you have worked kitchen wizardry all day long, when really, it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Pop this dish in the oven and let it cook slowly. Enjoy over potatoes with a side of fresh fruit. Or, enjoy with roasted vegetables and fresh bread. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

WIN_20160324_130118Ingredients (Serves 6)

3 pounds boneless pork spare ribs

2 tablespoons oil, such as coconut oil

1 small onion, cut into 1 inch chunks

3 pieces of lemongrass, each approximately 4 inches long

2 lime leaves

1 generous tablespoon chili paste, such as Nam Prik Pao

1 can coconut milk

WIN_20160324_160304Directions

Step 1) Working in two batches, brown spare ribs with oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook spare ribs for about 3 minutes per side. Don’t wash the skillet yet!

Step 2) Layer spare ribs in a large casserole dish along with lemongrass. lime leaves, and onion.

Step 3) Add chili paste and coconut milk to the pan in which the pork was browned. Whisk together the chili paste and coconut milk with the pan drippings, and then pour the mixture over the pork in the casserole dish.

Rachael Ray Cucina Stoneware 3-Piece Round Casserole & Lid Set, Agave Blue

Step 4) Cover casserole dish and slow cook in a preheated 325 degree oven for 3 hours until fork tender. Enjoy your Indonesian Slow-Cooked Pork!

Helpful Tip: Feel free to reduce (or increase!) the amount of chili paste in this recipe to suit your personal preferences. Thin slices of fresh green bell pepper (shown at top) help cut the heat from the chili paste, making this dish more enjoyable for diners who are sensitive to hot spices. The green pepper slices are Half-Pint Approved!

Good For You Garlic Dip

WIN_20160201_190240Garlicky, tangy, creamy, delicious – what are you waiting for? Good For You Garlic Dip is fabulous with carrot sticks or tortilla chips. A generous 1/2 cup serving contains over 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber, and a big punch of calcium, iron, and potassium – all for around 100 calories!

WIN_20160201_131225Ingredients (Makes 2 cups) Continue reading

Ten Minute Rotisserie Chicken Stir-Fry

WIN_20160110_184331This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time or energy for cooking, but the thought of one more drive-thru meal is just too depressing to consider. Pick up a precooked rotisserie chicken on your way home from work, and this Ten Minute Rotisserie Chicken Stir-Fry will have you enjoying a wholesome meal in less time than you would have spent sitting in a drive-thru line waiting for a paper bag full of fast food!

Introducing Prime Pantry – Everyday Essentials Delivered to You

Ingredients (Serves 6)

4 cups of rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed

3 carrots, sliced thin

3 ribs of celery, sliced thin

1 inch piece of ginger, minced Continue reading

Perfectly Seasoned Rice

WIN_20160110_181524I’ve done it, you’ve done it… every cook has done it. At least, every American cook has made this mistake at least once.

“What mistake?”

The mistake of putting lots of time and effort into a dish that is meant to be served with rice, and ignoring the rice itself. The result is, too often, an awesome dish served alongside a pile of rice that is under seasoned, overcooked, and underwhelming. I recently made this mistake in spectacular fashion, when I was Continue reading

Divine Rack of Ribs

WIN_20160407_154543Nothing says “I love you” to the carnivore in your life like a well seasoned, slow roasted rack of ribs. My favorite carnivore has been working madcrazy hours lately. Hearty meals help keep him going. These ribs are a dining vacation… until it’s time to get back to work!

WIN_20160407_140526Ingredients (Serves 2 with leftovers)

1 large rack of pork baby back ribs (about 3 pounds)

For the brine:

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup sea salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

4 whole allspice

4 whole black peppercorns

WIN_20160407_140651For the almost-dry rub:

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions

Step 1) Combine all brine ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Step 2) Refrigerate brine until the brine is very cold. This can be done a day ahead of time, if you wish.

Step 3) Cut the rack of ribs into serving size lengths (I cut the rack into 4 pieces). Place the pieces in a gallon size zip-lock storage bag. Carefully pour brine into the bag. You don’t need to use all of the brine, but should add enough brine to the bag so that the ribs are covered.

Step 4) Set the bag in a large bowl (in case of leaks), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.

Note: If you need to store your ribs in the fridge for longer than 12 hours, remove them from the brine after 12 hours and simply store them in a fresh zip-lock bag.

Step 5) Remove ribs from brine and place on a baking sheet with shallow sides. The bones should be on the bottom, with the meat facing up.

Step 6) Place ribs in a preheated 300 degree oven and roast for 1 hour. While the ribs are roasting, combine the ingredients for the “almost-dry rub” and mix into a paste.

WIN_20160407_140920Step 7) After 1 hour of roasting, remove ribs from the oven. Carefully rub the “almost-dry rub” all over the tops of the ribs. Return the ribs to the oven for an additional 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer measures an internal temperature (not right against a bone) of 180 degrees.

Step 8) Once the meat reaches a temperature of 180 degrees, reduce your oven temperature to 180 degrees (really… that’s not a typo) and return the ribs to the oven at this lower temperature for 20 minutes. The meat will become more tender during this time.

Step 9) Serve with your favorite side dishes, such as Great Grandma’s Baked Beans and Easy Peanut Cabbage Slaw. Enjoy!

 

Free Book Giveaway Contest – Comment to WIN!

the glass kitchen

The Glass Kitchen

written by Linda Francis Lee

Contest ended April 30th

Congratulations to our Winner: bluebird4UDaily

I loved this novel! Carefully written dynamics between female family relationships reminded me of The Owl & Moon Cafe, with added delightful whimsy reminiscent of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and sultry  romance as the frosting on the cake!

Readers will cheer for Portia, swoon over Gabriel, and drool over recipes conjured up for surprise occasions throughout the novel. Read more about The Glass Kitchen on the author’s website.

Need a copy of this book right away? Click here: The Glass Kitchen

English Lemon Curd

WIN_20160303_144850After spending several days making batch after batch of magnificent French macarons, we have lots of leftover egg yolks in the refrigerator! Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we don’t waste ingredients. We considered making pasta with our egg yolks, but our sweet tooth won instead… English Lemon Curd is the winner! Sweet and tangy, silky and scrumptious, the English were sure onto a good thing when they thought to cook egg yolks, lemon, sugar, and butter into a delicious spread. Enjoy English Lemon Curd on scones, or as a filling in individual fruit tarts.

WIN_20160303_134623We’re using sweet, thin skinned little Meyer lemons today, because they are in season and steeply discounted at the market. If the larger, more common lemons are more economical where you live, no worries. Any lemons will work in this recipe. Please don’t use margarine, however… English Lemon Curd requires real butter.

Let’s get started!

WIN_20160303_140743Ingredients (Makes about 2 cups) Continue reading

Springtime Chocolate Truffles

WIN_20160313_171730At Crowded Earth Kitchen, we love chocolate truffles. They’re ridiculously easy to make, beautiful when dipped in chocolate coating, and make lovely hostess gifts. This recipe for Springtime Chocolate Truffles is so easy – what are you waiting for?

Ingredients (Makes about 36 truffles)

4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips Continue reading

Drunken Spare Ribs

WIN_20160103_092431It’s springtime, you’re busy, and the fussiness of holiday meals is behind you for a while. Spring is the perfect time of year to pull out your slow cooker and make a few easy, hearty, delicious dinners. Drunken Spare Ribs are perfect busy day fare. You can throw everything in the slow cooker in less than five minutes on a busy morning, and have a hot, delicious meal waiting for you at the end of the day. Enjoy!

WIN_20160102_203803Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 pounds boneless spare ribs Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Pueblo Corn Cakes

WIN_20160314_190113Recently, my neighborhood public library held a 10 cent book sale. 10 cents per book! I picked out as many children’s books as I could carry, to keep the kiddos busy at home. Among the books I selected was this Pueblo Indian Cookbook: Pueblo Indian Cookbook: Recipes from the Pueblos of the American Southwest.

When one of the kiddos came to me, cookbook in hand, and asked what we could make today, I searched for something simple that we could create with ingredients already in the house. We made a variation of Corn Griddle Cakes, adjusting the liquids slightly to account for the fact that we used frozen corn kernels. The kitchen apprentices here at Crowded Earth Kitchen were quite pleased with the fruits of their labor, and enjoyed these Pueblo Corn Cakes with maple syrup. They think you’ll enjoy them, as well!

WIN_20160314_184940Ingredients (Makes about 16 Pueblo Corn Cakes, about 3″ in diameter) Continue reading