LEMON DILL AND PANKO CRUSTED FISH STICKS

24 Oct

I went to Costco and bought some Tilapia in bulk. I usually just pan fry fish with salt and pepper, but I today I thought I’d try something a little more exciting. It’s also a bit more time consuming, but worth it! The recipe called for buttermilk, but I usually never have that just sitting in my fridge. So I googled and found out that you can make your own emergency buttermilk with just 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

What You Will Need:

2-3 tbs       flour
1 cup         milk
1 tbs          vinegar
1 cup         plain panko crumbs (I’ve only cooked with plain panko, but these days there are a variety of flavored panko)
1 lemon     zest from 1 lemon
1 tbs           fresh dill, chopped finely
garlic powder to taste
sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 lb of fish (such as tilapia, cod, halibut), cut into strips
cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Pour 1 tbs of vinegar in 1 cup milk and let stand for about 5-8 minutes. This will be your emergency buttermilk 🙂

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Combine panko, lemon zest, fresh dill, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and mix until well combined.

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Cut the fish into strips. Place flour on a shallow plate. Coat each piece of fish in the flour then dip it into the buttermilk followed by the panko crumbs. Place the coated fish on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fish. Spray the fish with a bit of olive oil cooking spray (I purchased my olive oil cooking spray at TJMaxx for $8. Scroll down for more information).

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Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakey. Enjoy!

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Misto Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer

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I purchased this at TJMaxx, but it’s also sold on Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Misto-Brushed-Aluminum-Olive-Sprayer/dp/B00004SPZV
The MIsto oil bottle sprayer is designed with the health-conscious cook in mind and is perfect for low fat/high flavor cooking, grilling, sauteing, roasting and basting. Misto is ideal for spraying olive oil on just about anything.
You can refill and reuse again and again!

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MY 5 ESSENTIAL JAPANESE INGREDIENTS

22 Oct

These are the 5 main ingredients that I always have in my kitchen.

1. RICE

Japanese love rice! I grew up eating rice with every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
Some tips on rice:  If a Japanese dish calls for rice, don’t sure Jasmin or Thai rice (unless it states to use that).
Japanese rice is sticky enough to hold together which is essential for dishes like sushi.
You can buy Japanese rice that is made in the USA at many American grocery stores (Ralphs, Walmart, Publix).
A lot of rice is made in California and are pretty identical to their Japanese counterparts since the same seeds are used.

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I used to eat only white rice, but recently I started eating short grain brown rice.  It’s healthier and doesn’t have the texture of other types of brown rice.
Sometimes I even mix the rice (1 cup white & 1 cup brown). I buy it at the Asian market, but it’s also sold on Amazon (Amazon charges slightly more).
http://www.amazon.com/Tamanishiki-Super-Premium-Brown-4-4-Pounds/dp/B004NRLB8G/ref=pd_bxgy_gro_img_y

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2. JAPANESE SOY SAUCE

There are a variety of brands of soy sauce, so it may not be immediately evident that you are buying Japanese soy sauce.
My favorite brand is Kikkoman. It’s what my mother always bought, so I have never really tried any other brands.
But I did start buying the low-sodium version.

3. SAKE

Sake is used in a lot of Japanese recipes. But don’t spend all your money on sake at a the liquior store. It’s cheaper to buy cooking sake from the Asian market. Just like buying cooking wine. I don’t have a particular brand that I always use. I pretty much buy whatever is on sale at the time.
I currently have this one in my fridge, which just happens to be kikkoman.

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4. MIRIN

It looks like sake, but trust me it’s completely different. It consists of around 50% sugar. It is a kind of rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content. It is used to sweeten dishes (but less than actual sugar), reduce the smell of certain fish dishes and it gives vegetable and other foods a shiny appearance.

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5. HON DASHI (FISH STALK POWDER)

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I use hon dashi in almost every Japanese meal I make. Especially soup based recipes. It is used as chicken stock would be in western food, but is far more common. It also doesn’t have a fishy taste at all. I have met vegans who loved miso soup and had no idea there was fish in it. If you ever have miso soup and it doesn’t quite taste right, then it’s probably missing the hon dashi! I’ve seen so many recipes online for miso soup that doesn’t have hon dashi in it. I hate miso without the hon dashi. It just doesn’t taste the same.

There are a few other ingredients that I used to use often, I have been trying to eat healthier so these ingredients have become less prevalent in my dishes. But I should mention them, since a lot of Japanese dished use them.

6. Japanese Mayonnaise

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This stuff is delicious and tastes nothing like Western mayonnaise.
It’s used in a variety of dishes like curry, salads, pasta, sauces, etc. I used to put in on my fried eggs 🙂

7. PANKO

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Japanese bread crumbs are amazing. It’s used in a lot of fried dishes.
I used to make ton-katsu all the time using panko.
But reently I have cut back on fried foods, so this is not long a staple in my pantry.

8. RICE VINEGAR

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Rice vinegar is used in dressing and sauces and sushi rice. Make sure you use Japanese rice vinegar and not Chinese rice vinegar. They taste different, so if it’s a Japanese recipe use Japanese vinegar.

When I cook Japanese food, 99% of the time, I will need at least one of the 5 ingredients listed above. Go to any Japanese household kitchen and this stuff will most likely be in their kitchen. You can even find them in gift baskets in Japan. Kind of like how Americans give cheese and cracker gift baskets. 

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Here is an example of a gift box/basket  that has soy sauce, mirin, and oil. It’ called the Healthy Family Set Gift Box 🙂

MISO SALMON

21 Oct

Whole foods had a sale on salmon! I decided to make Miso Salmon using the same miso paste as I use for my miso soup. If you are unsure of what some of the ingredients are, just scroll down for an explanation of what and where to buy them.

What You Will Need:

2 tbs       white miso paste
2 tbs       mirin
1 tbs       low sodium soy sauce
1 tbs       fresh ginger, peeled & grated
1/4 lbs    center-cut salmon fillet
2             scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Coat foil with cooking spray.
3. Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce and ginger in a small bowl until smooth.
4. Place salmon fillet, skin side down, in the prepared pan.
5. Pour miso mixture on salmon.
6. Broil salmon, 3 to 4 inches from the heat source until opaque in the center, for about 8-10 minutes.

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Mirin is one of the top 10 main ingredients used in Japanese cuisine.
I would recommend buying a big bottle of it, if you plan on cooking a lot of Japanese food.
It is reasonably priced at the asian markets. Generally around $6. If you buy it from an American grocery store, they are usually over-priced.

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Grating fresh ginger is also common in Japanese dishes.
My favorite grater is this cheap plastic grater that I bought from the 100 yen store in Japan.
It works great and it’s cheap! You can buy this at the asian market, but probably a bit more than a 100 yen 🙂

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Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl.

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Pour the miso mixture on top.

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I used a smart oven to broil my salmon.

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This is what it will look like when it is done broiling. Just add the green onions on top and it’s ready to serve!

MISO SOUP

20 Oct

Whenever I have friends over for dinner, they ask me how I make miso soup. I show them how to make it, but I never have any exact measurements since I just eyeball each ingredient.  Today I decided to measure the ingredients as I cook it. There are a variety of different kind of miso pastes. Yellow miso has a mild earthy flavor and is better used for miso soup, but I actually prefer the white miso (in Japanese it’s called Shiro Miso). It is a bit on the sweeter side and can also be used for dressings and light sauces. What you put in the miso is up to you. Some people just simply put seaweed. I like to put konnyaku, abura age, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions.

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Most of my American friends have never tried konnyaku or have never even heard of it. I love this stuff. It’s cheap, pretty much zero calories, and great for anyone who is on a diet. It doesn’t have much flavor, but it’s the texture that I like. I usually buy a block of it for about $1.20 at the asian markets.

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Abura age is also another one of my favorite ingredients to put into miso soup.It is a Japanese product made from soy beans. It is produced by cutting tofu into thin slices and then deep fried.

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I prefer dried shiitake mushrooms over fresh ones, since they have more flavor.

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Hondashi and miso paste are also reasonably priced considering that you will use it more than once.

What You Will Need:

1 1/2 tsp               Hondashi

3 tbs                     Miso Paste

4 cups                  Water

1/2 cup                Konnyaku, cut into desired pieces

1 block                 Abura Age

1/8 cup                Dried or fresh Shiitake Mushrooms

3                          Green Onions, thinly sliced

Notes:
Depending on the type of miso you buy, you might want to add more or less miso. Just add little by little and taste the soup and serve when you’ve reached the desired taste. Also, some miso paste already has hondashi added to the paste. If you buy miso paste that already has hondashi, just omit it from the recipe.

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, add water and dashi.

2. Add the konnyaku, abura age, shiitake mushrooms

3. Cook over medium high heat. After boiling, reduce heat to medium low.

4. Add the miso paste.

5. When the miso has dissolved, it is ready to serve.

6. Add green onions after the soup has transferred to a bowl.

7. Ita daki masu!  (This is what most Japanese say before they eat their meal.)

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Here are some quick links to the ingredients that can be purchased online, if you are not near an Asian market:

http://www.marukaiestore.com/p-1587-ajinomoto-hondashi-compact-bottle-229oz.aspx

http://www.marukaiestore.com/p-753-marukome-ryotei-no-aji-miso-paste-265oz.aspx

http://www.marukaiestore.com/p-2449-shirakiku-konnyaku-kuro-9oz.aspx

FREE PEOPLE SHOPPING BAG TURNED APRON

20 Oct

I  love Free People clothing and I also love their shopping bags. I had a few of them not being used and decided to make an apron out of them.

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What you will need:

2 Free People shopping bags

White Thread & Needle ( you can really use any color thread)

Iron

Sewing Machine (or you can sew this by hand)

A BEGINNERS ATTEMPT TO REPAINT A VANITY TABLE

20 Oct

This is my first attempt trying to paint a piece of furniture. My Friend gave me an old vanity table that was just sitting out in his back yard. I loved it, but hated the color. Well, I liked the color, but it had been sitting out for a LONG time so it looked like junk. 

 

STEP 1 : Research

My first step was to figure out what kind of paint I needed and if I needed to sand it.
I started reading a bunch of DIY blogs and it took me hours of reading to find a blog that I wanted to follow for directions.

STEP 2 : Home Depot Trip

After hours of reading, I figured I should sand the vanity table lightly. Prime it and then paint.
Seemed easy enough, so I purchased these items.

3M Tekk Protection Paint Sanding Respirator ($5.47)

Norton Premium Sanding Sponge 120 Grit ($3.97)

 these items. The sanding sponge I purchased came with a the handle, but you can also buy one without the handle (I wouldn’t recommend that). I asked the helpful guy at Home Depot what grit I should buy and he recommended the 120 grit. 

http://www.homedepot.com/p/3M-Tekk-Protection-Paint-Sanding-Respirator-2-Pack-8210PA2-A/100559558#.Uh9zAGSDTFY

 http://www.homedepot.com/p/Norton-Premium-5X-4-5-in-x-2-68-in-120-Grit-Sanding-Sponges-1-Pack-82072/203499537#.Uh9ztmSDTFY

 Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Flat Gray Primer General Purpose Spray Paint ($3.87)

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch General Purpose Spray Paint ($3.87)


Since I am painting my vanity table black, I selected a gray primer.
If I was going to paint it a lighter color, I would have selected a white primer.

 

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rust-Oleum-Painter-s-Touch-2X-12-oz-Flat-Gray-Primer-General-Purpose-Spray-Paint-249088/100670412#.Uh92kmSDTFY

STEP 3 : Removing the Handles

I’m back home and want to paint, but first I removed the handles that were on the drawers. This part was really easy.

 

STEP 4: Sanding

Ok, I really thought I would be able to hand sand this dresser, but after 2 hours I gave up. So I decided to do more research to find a power tool. The best deal I found was at SEARS.
Sanding took me a couple of hours. I had to take breaks and recharge the battery. I sanded lightly and didn’t sand the paint completely off. I pretty much sanded over each section a few times.

 Note: Sanding removes mistakes the last painter made, and softens the edges, so ALWAYS sand your projects.

Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion True Finish Sander ($25.49) 

 

 STEP 4: Tack Cloth

 After the sanding, I used tack cloth to wipe it down. I first used a damp paper towel, but the tack cloth did a much better job. I would definitely recommend using a tack cloth if you want to spend a few extra dollars. 

 HDX Tack Cloths ($2.68)

 http://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-Tack-Cloths-3-Pack-88-WFTC3/100295475#.UmQHJJSDTFY


STEP 5: Priming

 Finally done with the tedious work and onto the priming. I sprayed the gray primer lightly for the first coat. I let it dry for about an hour. I just followed the instructions on the back of the can. After about an hour, I put on another coat of primer. 

Note: A primer bonds to whatever surface you put it on, so the paint will be more durable. The black spray paint I bought says “Paint + Primer”. But after reading several articles and blogs on painting I decided to buy a separate can of paint that was just primer. I didn’t test to see what the difference would have been, so I can’t say for sure that the primer wasn’t necessary. I just didn’t want to take the risk after spending so much time sanding.

STEP 6: Paint

 Now onto the black spray paint. I did the same thing and lightly sprayed on the first layer. I let it dry for about an hour and sprayed on a second coat. After the second coat dried, I brought the table inside and let it dry for another day. I don’t think that it’s necessary to let it dry for that long, but I wanted to be extra safe.

 

STEP 7: Reassemble

After the paint completely dried, I put the handles back on. I also reupholstered the chair. I bought the cushion and fabric from Walmart online. Shipping was only $1.94! I took two of the foam pieces and cut, stacked, and super glued them together. Finally, I cut the fabric and foam and nailed them to the original board that was attached to the chair. 

 I wish I had a staple gun, but didn’t want to spend money on one. I didn’t need 2 yards of fabric, but wanted to buy extra just in case I made mistakes.

Morning Gory Foam Seat Cusions 4-Pack, 16″L x 16″W x 1″H ($6.97)Creative Cuts Duck 44″ wide, 2 yard cut fabric, Soli; Color: Black ($7.97)

 

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Creative-Cuts-Duck-44-wide-2-yard-cut-Solid/16422587

 

Problems I ran into…


1. WEATHER

I don’t have a garage, so I did everything outside. It was a nice sunny day; however, there was an occasional breeze that swept by and put dust and dirt all over my freshly painted vanity chair!! Luckily it only happened to the chair and not the table. I basically had to wait for the paint to dry and lightly sanded it down again and repainted. I pretty much had to re-do everything from step 4. It was annoying.

2. PAINT STREAKS

If I sprayed too much at once and too close to the table, the paint began to streak. Luckily it only happened a couple of times. I waited for the paint to dry and lightly sanded the area again. Then repainted.  

 

3. NOT ENOUGH PAINT

I bought 2 cans of both primer and paint, but in the middle of the project I ran out! I had to run to Home Depot and buy more. You get more for your money if you buy canned paint, but I didn’t want to have to buy paint brushes and a paint tray. I also didn’t want to clean the paint brush afterwards. Looking back I think I would have saved money if I just bought a brush and tray. But spraying is definitely easier than painting with a brush. I guess it just depends how big your project is and what your budget is. 

 

FINISH