Taiwanese Beef Noodles 牛肉麵

Beef noodles (5-2)

I hope you all have been safe and well amidst these unprecedented times. Here’s my simplified take on a staple that we all grew up eating in Taiwan. Lately, I’ve come back to this comfort food as we’ve been staying home and learning to treasure even the small things. 

Ingredients:
Beef shank, around 4 lbs.
1 tablespoon oil
5-6 cloves garlic
5-6 slices ginger
3 yellow onions, chopped (around 1-inch)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili bean sauce “dou ban jiang” 豆瓣醬 (to taste)
4 cups water
5 beef steak tomatoes, skinned and quartered
Dried peel from one tangerine/orange

4-5 pieces star anise
2 tablespoons cooking wine
2 tablespoons rock sugar
1 pack (10.5 oz.) pickled mustard greens
4 slices ginger, julienned
1 tablespoon oil
Noodles
Green vegetables, such as baby bok choy
Green onion, chopped, optional
Cilantro, optional

Beef stew and soup:
1.
Cut beef shank into approximately 1-inch chunks. Put in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, then rinse under cold water and drain. Set aside.
2. In a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, saute 1 T. oil, garlic, ginger, and onion for around 3 minutes.
3. Add meat, soy sauce, and chili bean sauce. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until meat is lightly brown.
4. Add water (enough to cover the meat), tomatoes, orange peel, star anise, cooking wine, and rock sugar. Add more soy sauce to taste, if necessary.
5. Cover and cook. For Instant Pot, use the “Meat/Stew” setting but turn off after 20 minutes. For a pressure cooker on the stove, once it’s boiling/hissing, set timer for 20 minutes.

Mustard greens:
1. Remove pickled mustard greens from package and rinse well. Chop finely.
2. In a pan, saute 4 slices of julienned ginger in 1 T. oil. Add mustard greens then stir fry for around 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Optional: Add dried chili pepper for an extra kick.

To assemble:
1. Boil a pot of water and cook noodles of your choice. When the noodles are almost done, add green vegetables of choice and blanch. Drain all and divide into individual bowls.
2. Add beef stew with soup to each bowl.
3. Top with a tablespoon of pickled mustard greens, and green onions and cilantro if desired.
4. Enjoy!

Healthy & Moist Zucchini Bread

GTSTE (2)

Craving something sweet but healthy? I read your mind! I’ve been loving this recipe this summer, both as an easy breakfast-to-go or with my afternoon tea.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Grease two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon) together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to the liquid, and mix well.
4. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
5. Bake for 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.
6. Remove bread from pan, and cool completely.

Taiwanese 3-Cup Chicken 三杯雞

This is a classic dish and the “3 cups” refer to 3 equal portions of soy sauce, wine, and sesame oil. However, I generally cut a bit of oil because the chicken skin already adds some of that delicious extra fat 🙂 This serves 12-15 people. Try it out next time and let me know what you think!

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Ingredients:
12 chicken thighs, with skin and bone
1 head garlic, minced
5-6 slices ginger
dried chili pepper, as desired
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cooking wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 packed cup basil

Directions:
1. Cut each chicken thigh into 6-8 cubes. Pat dry then set aside.
2. Saute garlic, ginger, and chili pepper in sesame oil. Add the chicken and brown.
3. Add soy sauce and cook for another 5-7 minutes, then add cooking wine and sugar.
4. When sauce has reduced, stir in basil and cook for another minute.
5. Serve with rice. Enjoy!

Wheat Berry, Roasted Corn, and Spinach Salad

I just rediscovered this recipe from many years ago and it is still as well-received and loved as it was then. Try it out for your next summer potluck or an easy, refreshing dinner at home!

Salad:
3 ½ cups water
1 cup uncooked wheat berries
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag frozen corn (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup chopped red onion

Dressing:
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat water, wheat berries, and ½ teaspoon salt to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, or until tender.
2. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool. Drain completely.
3. Heat oven to 450°F. In an ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan, spread corn evenly. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Bake 15 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, stir together wheat berries, corn, spinach, tomatoes, and onion.
5. In a measuring cup or bowl, mix dressing ingredients with a whisk until well blended. Stir into salad. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving to blend flavors.

Overnight Caramel French Toast

I would not necessarily recommend it for large gatherings, but this recipe has come to my rescue many times when I’ve hosted overnight guests! All you have to do is prepare everything the night before, then pop the tray in the oven the next morning.

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Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn (or maple) syrup
12 slices wheat (or white) bread
¼ teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Pour this into a 13×9-in. baking pan. Lay six slices of bread over the sugar mixture.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour part of egg mixture over bread, then layer remaining six slices on top. Pour remaining egg mixture over all, evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover pan and bake for around 45 minutes. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

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Mother’s Day

Sharing at BCCC on Sunday, May 13, 2018

Last month, I received a message on my birthday that both blessed and embarrassed me, which included this sentence: Thank you for modeling unflinching determination and Godly obedience, and the humility required to hold those two in tension. It’s the word “tension” that really caught my eye.

Since the message was written by one of my children, just that word “tension” brought a lot of flashbacks as a mother. While there are memories of good times, there seem to be more of the difficult times of handling newborns with the sleepless nights, and the toddlers, with never-ending cleaning up after them and always yelling to hurry up. famThen, the schooling, music training, and sports, always, running around and arranging rides when they turned school age. Now our youngest one, Zachary, just graduated from college. As I reflect back, I have mostly gratitude, but some fear. There is gratefulness, because God has allowed us to hold on to His grace and mercy so we are standing no matter how we have failed as parents; fear, because I know that all the goodness and blessings He has bestowed upon our family is for His good purpose and pleasure. Although my children have all finished college, I want to continue to be a student of Jesus in obedience to whatever He calls me to follow and do.

I think the tension I’d refer to is about the state of being stretched tight and it causes pressure, struggle, and hardship. I wish I had applied James’ teaching in the Bible and treated it like a friend, not a foe, when I was raising children. And as much as my sharing is about a mother’s struggle, I believe it’s applicable to Christian growth in maturity. In James 1:2-4, it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” With these verses, I’m going to share about how tension has driven me to depend on God and His Word, and how enduring those struggles deepened my faith in God.

1. Tension can drive us to depend on God and His Word.

Like many moms, I desired to protect and love my children more than I possibly could. I wanted to give them the best of everything and ever opportunity. I didn’t want them to fall, literally and figuratively. I tried very hard to prevent them from making mistakes. Then, I failed. My children continued to make the same mistakes and they disobeyed my instructions. I felt like a failure all the time. In my struggles, I turned to God to change me, as a parent, to be more Christ-like. Many a time, I became impatient and easily angered because my children disappointed me. If you are like me, you would give them lectures of how they were not listening and tell them what the Bible says: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” Yet, you often neglect to differentiate deliberate disobedience with a defiant attitude from forgetting or not forming a good habit yet. Did he not hear me or did he choose to ignore me? How about not finishing up homework or practicing piano well? Is she incapable or intentional?

I am sure that, at some point in raising kids, you all face those struggles of not knowing your child’s heart. Did they drive you to the Lord so you learned to depend on God and His Word, to discern and seek the motives not only of your children but also yourself?  Or, do you turn to other moms that include those supermoms’ blogs and seek out information on how to help your kid be better and work harder to meet your expectations? Has wanting your kid to be a Christ-follower been the top priority of your prayers?

2. Tension helps us perfect our faith in God.

Every family with small or school-age children all struggle with time and schedule conflicts. There’s tons of work when kids are little. Then, there are school, after-school, and extra-curricular activities when they are older. Even if your kids do well, you are exhausted—but at least you have some sense of achievement in all of that busyness. You become desperate and complain a lot when your kids don’t live up to your expectations. You start thinking how you can cut activities so your family life can be normal. That seems like a good start to hopefully reduce some struggles in the family. Then you go through the daily activities. Of course, you cannot cut school or school-related activities. You don’t want your kids to miss out. Then, they can’t cut music or sports because those things are good for them and college applications. Besides, even if you cut some of those activities, there is no guarantee that the children will apply themselves diligently with the “essentials” like school, music, and sports. What to cut then? After all, we can’t drag the kids to all church activities like we used to because they don’t understand and find most of the meetings boring. So you say to the Lord, “The Bible says, ‘Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.’ I want to be a good steward, but Lord, we are struggling. We are too busy as a family.” Then you detach yourself and your family from church to reduce some tension at home. As a result, you can’t model how you experience the sacrifice and blessings through those struggles of trying to serve God and raise a family. Your children also miss the opportunity to grow in faith because they do not witness how God delivers you as parents through those struggles.

Please do not take me wrongly that I equate church events to putting God first or advocate for families to drag your children to every meeting. I am merely suggesting that, as parents, we have to examine what is really important to us when we repeatedly tell our children to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Are we enduring those tensions to allow God to perfect our faith? Do we earnestly seek God through those struggles and not cut down attending and serving at church by default when tension arises?

If I just pointed out a bit of your scenario in raising your family, it’s because those were my struggles. Time and time again I have to examine my heart if I put other people or things before God, or seek help and advice from others rather than God.

As I close, I want to share my mother’s testimony. Mom was the first Christian in my family, and she has always been diligent in reading the Bible and spiritual books and praying.  My dad passed away ten years ago. As wise and capable as Mom seems, she is actually not very independent so living alone has been difficult. However, she takes the opportunity to allow God to work in her lessons she knows she has not yet learned well, one of them being handling others’ opinions of her. Recently, there were a couple friends in her community who badmouthed her. She withdrew herself from them initially because she felt she was being judged, yet in her heart, she was upset and bitter to a point that she was a little paranoid when she saw them. Then she earnestly asked God to deliver her from those struggles. She shared with me that as she wrestled with God in tears, suddenly there was joy bubbling up in her heart. She thanked God for the struggles and said, “Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much that you would not let me go without disciplining me and teaching me lessons in my old age.” My mother is turning 80 this October. She is not perfect, but that joy which comes from obedience and faith in knowing God’s love for her has demonstrated to me what it means to be a follower of Christ.

So, allow me to paraphrase James 1:2-4 in this context: Count it all joy, dads, moms, and fellow followers of Christ, when you meet struggles and tensions of various kinds as you raise your families and go through life, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness in modeling for and training up your children. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing to worry for yourself and your children.

May God continue to raise up families among us who are called by His name to commit themselves, as Joshua did: “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Meatballs with Napa Cabbage and Tomatoes

22135458_363145147475081_5455988908682371789_oThis is a simple, tasty, tried-and-true, one-pot dish to serve a large crowd with little preparation time!

Ingredients:
10 lbs. Swedish meatballs
2 heads of napa cabbage
3 lbs. tomatoes
salt
white pepper
1/3 cups corn starch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup of scallion (cut into inch-long pieces)

Directions:
1. Boil two quarts of water in a large pot.
2. Cut cabbage and tomatoes into big chunks.
3. When the water boils, put tomatoes in first, then cabbage and meatballs. Cover and let boil.
4. When it’s boiled, season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Mix 1/3 cup of corn starch with 1/2 cup of water. Add mixture to the pot and stir well.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and turn off the stove.
7. Add scallions at the end and serve.

Baked Salmon with Mayo Sauce

Ingredients:
Salmon fillet or steak (there are fewer bones with fillet)
Mayo sauce (mayo: sugar: soy sauce = 2:2:1)*
salt
cooking wine

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Rinse the fish and pat it dry with a paper towel.
3. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cooking wine on both sides.
4. Spoon mayo sauce to cover one side of salmon. Turn the fish over and pour the rest of the sauce to cover the other side completely.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

* The amount of sauce depends on the amount of salmon you prepare. I use 2 tablespoons of mayo, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to make 2 pounds of salmon.

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Tiramisu


This is a great dessert to prepare ahead of time. Double wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator one day before serving.

Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
¾ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature (2 tablespoons instant coffee)
2 tablespoons rum
3 (3.5 oz) packages ladyfinger cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:
1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar on top of a double boiler. Whisk in milk and cook over boiling water on low for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whip yolks mixture until thick and lemon-colored. Cool completely.
2. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
3. Whisk mascarpone into cooled yolk mixture until smooth.
4. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Drizzle ladyfingers with coffee mixture.
5. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 13×9-inch dish. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers then sprinkle with cocoa at the end. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, until set.

Peanut Sauce Noodles

My friend, Cynthia, gave me this recipe that was developed by her former pastor. It is a lifesaver when you have to cook for a big church meal, but also a great side dish for summer picnics and BBQs. Depending on the amount of noodles you cook, choose the unit of measurement for your sauce portion. You can make it for 1 or 100!

Ingredients:
noodles (linguine or fettuccine is preferred)
scallion, finely chopped
garlic, finely minced
shredded cucumber or iceberg lettuce, optional
SAUCE ~
A. One portion: ⅔ sugar + ⅓ vinegar
B. One portion: ½ sesame oil + ½ creamy peanut butter
C. One portion: soy sauce (can be a little short if less sodium is preferred)

Directions:
1. Cook the noodles according to the instruction on the package.
2. Pour A into a saucepan and cook over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Add B and mix well, then add C at the end. As soon as the ingredients are well mixed, turn off the heat and add garlic. Be generous with the garlic–you need that kick. You can also add your favorite hot sauce.
3. You can eat the noodles warm or cold as preferred. Mix the sauce into the noodles right before you serve, then garnish with scallion, cucumber, or lettuce on top.