Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

I’ve had this written up for about a week already, but then life began to get in the way. I do apologize sincerely however and I hope that you all enjoy this recipe.

Chicken noodle soup is without a doubt one of my absolute favorite things in the world. Unfortunately however, it is also a type of food that most people, including myself associate with warming up to on an extremely cold evening. It has been unbearably hot for the past week in Chicago. For some odd reason [though secretly, I am thanking Mother Nature], we have been gifted with a cold front that started earlier this week. The temperature has consistently been in the 60s, and I found it absolutely wondering to be able to bike my 2.5 mile commute to work without sweating like a pig afterwards.

As a child [and up to this day still], my mother used to always make for the three of us a breakfast dish that bears a strong resemblance to chicken noodle soup. It is a Hong Kong dish, and even though my parents are both from Guangzhou, China, she made this for us often. To me, it was absolutely delicious and consisted of only five simple ingredients: tomatoes, pasta, chicken broth [my mother often used can], spam, and egg.

She always brought the chicken broth [sometimes using a day’s left over chicken soup] to a boil before adding in the tomatoes to simmer. Even though I found myself avoiding actually eating the tomatoes once everything was cooked, I loved the flavor that it brought in. After the tomato the spam was added in to warm up and at the very end she would crack in an egg and swirl it around once she had taken the broth off the heat. The cooked pasta [in which you can use any shape including spaghetti though I personally prefer rigatoni] would then go into all of that liquid goodness. Occasionally, my mother would add in some shitake mushroom, baby bok choy, and other various leafy green vegetables. Most of the time however, my mother kept it all simple.

I have to admit however, that sometimes, despite my Asian roots, I really just prefer something a bit more American. And so even though I may have tantalized you all with visions of my mother’s noodles in chicken broth, I am only going to present you with my own little version of classic chicken noodle soup. In the near future however, I may just add in the recipe [mainly just more specific measurements] for my mother’s own version.

Her version took extremely little time, and for most people, my own version probably doesn’t exactly require a full hour of intense hovering over the stove. I’m the type of person however who is continuously cautious and slightly afraid that I may have made some minor mistake. So for me, this version of chicken noodle soup required intense hovering.

Chicken Noodle Soup

For the chicken broth portion, you could choose to either use canned or homemade. I prefer Better than Bouillon which comes in a little jar in nearly all supermarkets. Also, the rotisserie chicken need not be bought only for this recipe, I had actually purchased mine for the sole purpose of eating for dinner with my sister but found that between the two of us we could only finish off all of the dark meat. So we simply saved the rest of it in the fridge and dumped the whole thing [juices and all – which are actually important!] into the pot. We even saved the meat that we hadn’t finished off for the soup to make sandwiches for lunch the next day. Oh how resourceful one gets once they find themselves having to purchase their own groceries on a limited budget.


1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

½ medium onion diced

1 cooked rotisserie chicken [does not necessarily have to be the whole thing]

6 cups chicken broth

7 cups water

½ bag of egg noodles [I promise to be more precise once I see my bag of noodles again]

1 tablespoon butter

A drizzle of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a pot big enough to make the soup in. Once it is all melted and hot, pour in all of the vegetables. Add in a drizzle of olive oil and cook until the vegetables seem to be soft around the edges and the onions seem to be caramelized slightly around the edges – about 5-6 minutes. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the noodles once it is boiled but only cook it for about 4-5 minutes as it can do the rest of the cooking in the soup.

Add in all of the water and chicken broth and bring to a boil. [If you are using either bouillon cubes or the Better than Bouillon, wait until the water has all boiled before adding. I once made the mistake of not waiting and I later found remains of unmelted-ness in it… Not the most appetizing thing in the world.]

Add in the rotisserie chicken and bring to a simmer. Remember to scrape in all of the juices and skin, let it remain in the broth for at least 15 minutes.

Take out the chicken and add in the noodles. At this point, let the broth simmer for another 10 minutes and salt and pepper to taste while all of this is happening.

Remove from heat and serve.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Asparagus with butter and lemon

I am somewhat of a tyrant in the kitchen. It’s not that I’m a bossy person. There’s just something about cooking and baking that brings out an urge in me to have everything done in an exact and meticulous way. And since these carefully measured rules only make sense in my head, I tend to get a bit more irritable and possessive in the kitchen.

Helen seems to think that this is the reason why I like baking so much. There’s just something about all of the measuring cups and spoons that just brings all that chaos right back down to earth. Things may get a bit messy as the recipe goes on, but it’s an extremely organized type of chaos. Due to these OCD tendencies of mine, I’ve managed to acquire quite a bit of cooking ware throughout the years. From a Kitchenaid [my baby and most prized possession] to a meat grinder to an ice cream machine and many other various gadgets. I seem to own a lot of tools, but really, it’s so that I can have my perfect measurements for my perfect cookies.

I have to admit, I’ve grown quite comfortable in the humble little kitchen in my home. But alas, college came calling and I found myself parting with all of my most prized possessions. I had promised myself that I would go home on weekends and bake and cook. But college had other plans for me and whenever I did make it home, I was often just flopping down onto my bed and sleeping. I was too exhausted to lug out my trusty Kitchenaid. And so freshman year came and went. And the only time that I found myself baking and cooking was during the holiday season when my sisters were home too.

For most people, this would have been perfectly all right. For me, it was not. Everyone has their own special way of separating themselves from the utter chaos that is life. Some people eat ice cream, others do yoga, some just like to take a deep breath. I bake. Throughout my senior year of high school and all of the college applications that came with it, I baked up a storm. My friends were ecstatic – every week, there were piles of cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cream puffs and much more.

Summer finally came a week ago and I could not be more excited to finally be in a kitchen again. Granted, I was not going to necessarily be in my kitchen all day. After all, I do have job. The kitchen is small and we’re subletting a tiny apartment from somebody else, but it was going to be a kitchen nonetheless.

Going in, I was prepared for the kitchen to be lacking in the amount of utensils that it had in comparison to mine – after all, we were subletting from boys. But I was still shocked. I had no idea how under stocked their kitchen would be. I had planned on making my first post last night when I cooked dinner for my roommates, but I was so incredibly distraught by the utter lack of everything that I forgot entirely about taking pictures.

There was no cutting board, no real knife, no salt, no pepper, no spatula, no measuring cups – nothing. I found myself using tiny little knives attempting to cut garlic. I used a paper box that had previously contained food as a makeshift cutting board.

In other words, my entire world of peaceful and methodical cooking was cut down. But I calmed myself down a bit more today and I took a deep breath [since I obviously couldn’t bake to relax myself] and I started all over again with a brand new recipe today.

So this is how a real college student with little money cooks like – with about 6 inches of space in between a microwave and air with paper boxes as cutting boards, miniature knives as zesters, and a one do everything stirrer. This first recipe is simple but I hope you’ll bear with me. As I grow more accustomed to my kitchen, I promise that there'll be much more. And in case you were wondering why the lemon in the picture has no more of its peel, it’s because I used it the night before for lemon zest. Ah, the pleasures of trying to make the most out of your money.

Sautéed Asparagus with Butter and Lemon

One of my all time favorite vegetables without a doubt is asparagus. My dad used to make it for me all the time when I was at home, though admittedly with more Asian inspired flavors. We used to always eat it with rice. This is my take on the way that my father used to cook asparagus but with decidedly more American flavors. Though you could also undoubtedly also eat this with rice, I like it more with orzo (dressed with some butter and lots of salt and pepper).

The best thing over all about this dish though? The fact that it barely takes any effort to make and I did it all with only one knife and a paper box as a cutting board.


About 2 pounds of asparagus

2 tablespoons of butter – split into 1.5 tbs and .5 tbs

Juice of half a lemon

2 cloves of garlic

Salt to taste

Serves 4 as a side dish


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is boiling, trim the rough ends of the asparagus and then tear the asparagus into pieces about 1.5 inches long give or take. You could also cut your asparagus if you would like, but I just like to tear it [especially since I am now lacking a cutting board and any real knife]. The asparagus also doesn’t have to be any exact size, some people like it longer and some shorter, I just prefer it at that length.

Put all of the asparagus into the boiling water at once and let it cook for about 3 – 4 minutes. While that is happening, mince your garlic or simply slice it into really thin slices.

In a medium sauce pan, put in the 1.5 tablespoons of butter. Once it is melted, put the garlic in and cook it until there is a really fragrant smell and the edges of the garlic are slightly brown. Scoop out the asparagus with a slotted spoon into the saucepan and sauté everything for about 2 -3 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Remove from heat and juice your half lemon into the asparagus. Take the remaining butter and stir it into the asparagus. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Humble Curry

Annie and I both came across this New York Times article last night.

And though we’re both amazed at the two young chefs' clear talent, we couldn’t help but wonder if the NYT has lost touch with the average foodie. Don’t get us wrong, we’re both progressive and love the NYT as an institution. But when it comes to the food section, aren’t they just a tiny bit elitist?

Although there is nearly a seven-year age difference between my sister and I, we are in the same stage of our lives in a lot of ways. We’re both still trying to find ourselves in this world, trying to establish our professional lives and money is still tight. But we love food and we love to eat. Despite this love, we don’t think we would make it to that restaurant in Chilhowie or to the $200/person meals at the Inn at the Little Washington (which the article also mentions). What to do? I guess this partially explains our goals in this blog. We want to show you that anyone can eat well. From struggling college students to stay-at-home moms feeding a family of four to want-to-be lawyers with a six figure debt to her name. Anyone can be a foodie.

With that thought in mind, I sought to find the perfect first recipe to share with all of you. To be honest, I’ve been struggling with that task for a while. I wanted it be something special, something show stopping! After all, I have wanted to capture all of you future readers into reading our blog for a long long time. But then it suddenly dawned on me that that is not our goal at all. The NYT article reminded me of that. There will definitely be special occasions in our lives where we go out and try tons of new recipes. But that is not tonight - so I decided to start off my first post simply with what we’ll be having for dinner…

Although it’s the middle of the summer here in D.C. and the humidity is usually unbearable, it’s been raining non-stop all day. So there’s a bit of chill in the air - which makes me a little home sick. Only in Chicago would it still be chilly in the middle of June. But here it is – chilly and rainy in D.C. So today, I wanted comfort food, something warm, something spicy…and something quick (since I should be studying non-stop). My mind settled on a bowl of curry.

There are many different kinds of curries – Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai….and that’s just the Asian specialties. My husband is Indian-American and he’s an expert on all curry related dishes. Although he’s too kind to say so, I don’t think anything I make can come close to the curries that his mom serves us when we go visit in Florida.

So I can’t promise the moon and the stars with the following recipe. But it’s the type of curry I grew up eating. I’m not even sure exactly what kind of curry this is. I just know it’s delicious with a complex, almost nutty flavor. With the onions and red pepper flakes, it has just the right amount of heat. The kind that doesn’t leave you running for a glass of water after each bite, but rather, leaves your tummy nice and warm. It’s a bit addicting. I hope it inspires you to curl up in front of your TV with a bowl of steaming white rice.

Jane’s Curry Dish

Jane is our other sister. She’s the middle sister – smacked in between me and Anne. Although she also loves to eat too, she prefers to keep her foods simple and would really prefer to stay out of the kitchen. The thing about Jane is that once she finds a dish she likes, she has no problem eating it repeatedly. The problem with this habit is that it can be difficult to get Jane to like something – it really is a commitment for her. But Jane likes this dish. I think that’s pretty high praise.

I served the curry with white rice and sautéed zucchini. I ran out of chicken tonight and was too lazy to run to the store. So I made this version without any meat. The only change was instead of water, I added in 1 ½ cups of chicken broth while the vegetables were cooking. It’s still very tasty.

Jane’s Curry


  • 1 pound of red potatoes, cut in chunks
  • 1 pound of carrots, cut in chunks
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • a few tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast cut in cubes
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups of water
  • 2 -3 tablespoons of curry powder or mix*
  • salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a skillet or dutch oven until hot. Put in chicken, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Once chicken is brown, remove from the pan. Add another tablespoon into skillet and put in onions and garlic. Add red pepper flakes. Saute until onions and garlic are golden. Add carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir well until all vegetables are slightly brown. Add water and place lid over the vegetables. Let the vegetables cook for about 20 minutes until they’re soft. Check on them occasionally to make sure there is still water left in the skillet. If it looks too dry, add a little more water. After 20 minutes, add the chicken and stir in the curry powder. Allow to cook for five more minutes. Taste and serve with white rice.

Serves 4

*There are many brands of curry powder or mix in the super market, but I prefer the Japanese S&B Brand - - that my mom has always used. You can find the mix in any asian grocery story or the ethnic aisles of most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, the McCormick Curry Powder works well too.

Sautéed Zucchini

This is so simple, you hardly need a recipe. The key is make sure you don’t put the zucchini in until the oil is really hot. Then it develops a golden exterior as you’re sautéing.


  • 1 or 2 large zucchinis, cut into semi-circles or strips, however you like
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in the pan until it’s very hot. Quickly add the zucchini and stir around the pan. Add salt and pepper and leave in pan for one more minute.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

And we're off...

So here it goes. We’re definitely late to this blogging thing. Sometimes, it almost seems that we are as different as night and day. One of us prefers savory cooking. The other prefers the pleasure of sugary confections. Let's not even mention the fact that one's a college student and other one about to take the Bar exam.

But besides all of our different pursuits and the 700 mile distance that seperates us., we share a common passion in food. Eating it, cooking it, traveling to different parts of the world to find it – we love it all. There are hundreds of talented food writers, food bloggers, and cook book writers out there and none of us think that we can surpass their skills and insight - we just hope to learn from them all. None of us are professionals – so what you will get is just that – an amateur’s perspective on what we’re eating, what we’re cooking and where we’re going. We hope all of you will join us and help us but most of all, enjoy the food.

And in case you were wondering about the name, it stems from the very fact that pigs in a blanket is a treat that seems to combine the best of both us - savory and sweet.

Please excuse for a moment as this post may seem to be a bit confusing seeing as it is the two of us together. Don't worry though, after this, we promise that each post will only be written by one of us at a time.

Anne and Helen