Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade Potstickers

Brett and I came across a bottle of Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce at the grocery store recently and were immediately whisked back to our college days. Brett and his roommates always had a giant bottle of the good stuff and a family size bag of frozen potstickers on hand. I can't even count how many times we ate potstickers for dinner. It wasn't until several years after college that we realized how unhealthy frozen potstickers are with exorbitant amounts of sodium and sometimes fat. So we decided if we were going to ever have them again, we would make our own. Several years after that, we've finally gotten around to doing it.

A quick search on the Food Network's website gave us a recipe and we set to work. We have honestly never bought Napa cabbage before. I actually had to ask the produce guy just to be sure I had the right thing! I chopped up an entire mixing bowl full! I also chopped up some green onion that we had on hand (instead of leeks), some garlic, and some ginger, and I grated a handful of baby carrots.

Next I got to cooking. Unfortunately I didn't read the directions closely enough and ended up cooking the filling in three tablespoons of oil instead of two. The third tablespoon was supposed to be saved for cooking the potstickers in once they've been assembled. Oops. So our filling was a touch oily, but it tasted OK.

In addition to the cabbage, green onions, garlic, ginger, and oil I added rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. The carrots go in once everything is all cooked down and off the heat.

Then the fun part starts. We laid out a whole bunch of won ton wrappers, got a little bowl of water and a fork ready, and started spooning the filling onto the center. We wet a finger with water and trace around the edge, fold the wrapper over the filling, and then seal it all up with a fork. With two people working, this job actually goes pretty quickly.

In college, the method we used to cook potstickers was pour a little water in the frying pan, cover them, and when the water had evaporated off, add a little oil and crisp up the outsides. This recipe, perhaps because the potstickers were fresh and not frozen, recommended the opposite. Fry them in oil first, then add the water and cover.

They turned out quite beautifully actually. I was a little impressed with my own handiwork.

They tasted good too. They were little bit oily (entirely my fault) and a little bit vinegar-y, so we may play around with different fillings in the future. If any of you have any recommendations, I'm happy to hear them. And, of course, the sweet chili sauce was just as good as I remembered. There will definitely be more homemade potstickers in our future.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Monkey Birthday Cake

Our youngest nephew celebrated his first birthday while we were all together for Christmas. So of course I volunteered to make his birthday cake. When I thought about it, I had never made a kid's birthday cake before. But it was not that hard to think of a design. At first I thought Star Wars, but then I chickened out. (It would have need excellent execution plus a black cake does not really scream one-year-old.) Then I thought about animals and almost immediately came up with a monkey. Monkeys are funny. They have big ears, a big smile, and not a whole lot of detail.

Here's the sketch I came up with.

Brett and I baked the cakes including two cupcakes for ears. The next day, I mixed up the frosting and got to work.

I used the regular star tip for everything except for the whites of his eyes. It took a lot of patience and I had to rest my hand every once in a while.

I think it turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. And the birthday boy seemed to like it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars

Happy New Year! If you are anything like me, you've had more than your fair share of sweets lately. I've certainly overdone it on candy and cookies. But if you haven't had enough, or if you're not sure what to do with a few leftover candy canes, this is a tasty and easy dessert to try.

I found this recipe from the Cookin' Canuck linked on the Pioneer Woman's website. I love peppermint bark and I love cookies, so this seemed like a perfect recipe to try.

I mixed up the dough (2 sticks butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg yolk, 2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt).

I pressed the dough into a 13x9 pan. Next time I might take more care to press evenly. There ended up being some distinctly thicker pieces. But then again, I might not. It really didn't matter all that much.

I baked it for 25 minutes at 350 degrees and then sprinkled (my favorite) Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips all over. After just a few minutes, spread the chocolate evenly.

Crunch up a few candy canes in a ziplock bag while the cookie is baking and then after the chocolate is spread, sprinkle the pieces all over the top.

Then melt some white chocolate chips and drizzle it all over the top.

Put the pan in the fridge so that all the melty chocolate will harden and then take it out and cut it up into bars.

These are really good. After one bar on that first night, I was done. Later in the week I started eating two in one sitting. Before I knew it, they were gone.