Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Che Thai (Asian Fruit Cocktail)

[caption id="attachment_1451" align="alignnone" width="640"]IMG_9905 Che Thai in wine glasses (because everything tastes better in a wine glass)[/caption]


This Asian dessert definitely tops my list of favorites! It's incredibly easy to make and very refreshing on a warm day. This dessert traditionally uses coconut milk as the base and has shaved ice in it as well, but you can skip all that and still have a tasty little treat on your hands. You may also use any assortment of canned fruit that you like! The ones that I used in my tutorial are some of my favorites! Some other popular ones are toddy palm seeds and longan.

I prefer all milk (maybe with a little bit of half and half) because coconut milk tends to separate, the longer you let it sit. In the recipe written below, I offer you two ways to serve Che Thai.


1 can of seedless lychee drained and then halved
1 can of rambutan drained and then halved
1 can of jackfruit drained and then cut into bite size strips (I prefer fresh)
2 small jars of pineapple jelly drained
1 can of Asian green jello cut into strips (or make your own, recipe below)
Half a gallon of milk ( I use lactose free milk)
2 cups of half and half
1/4 cup-1/2 cup of *caster sugar (sweeten to taste)
liquid red food coloring (optional)

*caster sugar is super fine sugar. Run some white granulated sugar in a food processor or blender for one minute to make your own.


8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped (not too fine)
tapioca starch
red food coloring
1 Tbsp of water
ice water bath


1 TBSP of agar agar powder
3 cups of hot water
1/4 cup of sugar
2 pinches of salt
1/2 tsp of *banana extract (optional)
*liquid green food coloring (or any color)

*You may sub the banana extract AND green food coloring for pandan extract. Pandan extract can be found in most Asian markets.

FOR THE COCONUT SAUCE (this option does not use any milk or half and half):

coconut milk (depending on how many servings you want, you're going to need a lot)
sugar and salt to taste

GARNISHES (optional):

shaved ice
coconut flakes
chia seeds


1. Start off by making your jello. Add your agar agar powder and salt into a small saucepan and then pour in your hot water. Whisk until dissolved. Place your saucepan on the stove and turn to medium-medium high heat. Keep whisking and keep an eye on it as the mixture can boil over. Allow mixture to come to a quick rolling boil for 1 full minute, remove from heat and then add in your banana extract and a generous squeezing of green food coloring. Mix well. Pour mixture into a 9 inch pie dish (or something as shallow) and allow to cool slightly before moving jello into the fridge to firm completely. Once firm, cut into bite sized strips or cubes. You will not use all of the jello. Add a little or a lot depending on your preference.

2. If you are making the coconut sauce, make it now. Combine the above ingredients into a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add sugar to taste with a touch of salt. Allow to cool before using.

3. Boil a pot of water.

4. Take your chopped water chestnuts and place them into a non staining mixing bowl. Add in 1 Tbsp of water and then add a generous amount of red food coloring. Mix well. Add in your tapioca starch. Start off with a little bit, mix, and then gradually add enough until most of the red is coated evenly with tapioca starch. You should have very little red peeking through at this point. LIGHTLY sift your water chestnuts.

5. Get your ice water bath ready.

6. With your water at a HARD boil, add in your coated water chestnuts and cook them for about 3 minutes or until they all float to the surface. Remove and place them in your ice water bath UNTIL READY TO USE. Taking them out too soon will cause them to clump together.

7. Add all of your prepared fruit, jello, and faux pomegranate seeds into a nice serving bowl. Add in your milk and/or half and half, caster sugar to taste, and finally a few tiny drops of red food coloring (to make it pink). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Option # 2

1. If serving this in individual cups, layer your fruits, jello, and faux pomegranate seeds, add in your coconut sauce, and then top it with shaved ice, shredded coconuts (optional), and then chia seeds. Mix well with a spoon before indulging. :)

[caption id="attachment_1455" align="alignnone" width="569"]IMG_9829 Layered Che Thai with shaved ice and coconut sauce.[/caption]



* If you are using the coconut sauce as the base (and plan on using shaved ice), you must keep in mind that adding the ice will dilute the sauce so you will need to make the coconut sauce a little sweeter than you'd actually like.
* You may choose to save the syrup from the canned fruits and add them into your che thai as well. The syrup is very sweet though, so I would be very careful as to not overdo it when making this dessert. And if you plan on adding the canned syrup into a large serving bowl, keep in mind that with the syrup, the longer it sits in the milk, the sweeter it gets, especially when you get to the bottom of the bowl.
* The homemade jello in this doesn't pack a lot of flavor, but just enough so that it isn't too bland. You may choose to up the sugar if you wish, but in this dessert, the slightly sweetened milk will tie everything together.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pulled Pork (crock pot recipe)


No words can describe how easy and delicious this pulled pork is! Someone once told me that it's only pulled pork if you are using bbq sauce at the end?? Although I call it slow cooked pork in my video, I'm going to call it pulled pork for the recipe since it sounds more fitting for me. :)

The possibilities are endless with this recipe! You can make sandwiches, burritos, or eat it with rice like a good little Asian (like me, haha).


2.5 pounds of pork butt/shoulder (just over 2 pounds is fine)
1 pkg of onion soup mix
2 1/4 cups of hot water
1/2 Tbsp of soy sauce (you may end up using another 1/2 Tbsp later)
2 Tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

For the open faced sandwiches:

French bread
cheese (optional)

For the bbq sauce (for open faced sandwiches):

1/2 cup of your favorite jarred bbq sauce
1/2 cup of the reserved juice from the pulled pork
black pepper
pinch of salt


1. Take your pork butt and make sure to wash and pat it dry COMPLETELY. Season it with salt and pepper on all sides.
2. With a cast iron on high heat (or any non stick pot) add in some olive oil. Brown your meat on all sides and then place it into your crock pot FAT SIDE UP and turn it to HIGH. Or turn it to low if you plan on cooking it for 8 hours instead.
3. In a small mixing bowl, add in your packet of onion soup mix, hot water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, and black pepper. Mix well and then pour this mixture into your crock pot.
4. Cover and allow it to cook for 4 hours. Remove lid and using a fork, start to tear off some huge chunks of pork making sure that most of it is submerged in the yummy pork juices.
5. Cover again, and allow it to cook for 1 more hour.
6. Serve immediately.


*To get rid of most of the fat, refrigerate the pulled pork in the crock pot, let the fat harden, and remove it using a spoon. The juice from the pulled pork is the most delicious part! Serve it over rice and you've got yourselves a meal, people!

*Placing your pork fat side up is very important! It allows the fat to render down into the rest of the meat and keeps it nice and moist during cooking! Try not to forget this part. You'll thank me later! :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bread Pudding with the Best Vanilla Sauce


In the past, whenever anyone mentioned bread pudding to me I thought, "wow, that sounds disgusting!" I always thought, "why would anyone want to eat soggy bread??"

That was before I actually got to try some...


My husband said it was one of the best things that he ever put in his mouth...enough said.


4 stale croissants, cubed
2 1/4 cups of milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
baking spray or softened butter


1 cup of milk
1 stick of salted butter, cubed
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (may sub for vanilla extract)
1 Tbsp of cornstarch
*add in some rum or bourbon for a little kick :)


slices of banana
turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
whipped cream
vanilla ice cream
cocoa powder
fresh fruit
*you will also need a culinary torch or butane torch


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Spray some Pam or butter flavored cooking spray into a 9x9 baking dish. You may use some softened butter instead. Place your cubed, stale croissants into the baking dish and set aside.
2. Into your blender, add in your eggs, milk, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Pulse until combined. You may whisk this all by hand as well.
3. Pour your wet mix over your cubed croissants. Gently push the croissants down, making sure that all pieces have soaked up some of the milk mixture.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes or until bread pudding becomes puffy. Half way through, cover the pan lightly with some foil to prevent too much browning.
5. While your bread pudding is baking, start on the vanilla sauce. Into a small saucepan, add in your milk and sugar. Turn the heat to medium.
6. Whisk in your vanilla bean paste.
7. Take some of the hot milk and mix it well with your cornstarch to make a slurry. Add the slurry back into the saucepan. If using rum or bourbon, use that in place of the hot milk.
8. Let the mixture come to a quick rolling boil and then quickly reduce heat to a gentle simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Make sure to constantly whisk!
9. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in your butter until smooth. Taste check. Add more liquor if you so please. :)
10. Right before serving, take your banana slices and dip them into your turbinado sugar and caramelize them using your butane torch.


*You do not need to add parchment paper into your baking dish. I only used it in the video because it was easier for me to remove a nice piece of bread pudding for pictures. :)

*You may use any stale bread you'd like. Use enough bread to fill your 9x9 baking dish. My guess is anywhere from 8-10 pieces, if you are using sandwich bread.

*Using stale croissants give an amazing buttery taste to the bread pudding so if you're using something else, I would suggest adding some melted butter into the milk mixture.

*If your croissants are not stale, I would suggest cubing them first and then leaving them out to dry on a baking dish otherwise it gets really messy to cut because it's so dry.

*For best results, your bread needs to be stale before pouring in your milk mixture. If it's too soft, what will happen is you'll end up with portions of cooked egg on the bottom of your baking dish because your egg/milk mixture didn't properly soak into the bread pieces.

*With that being said, feel free to let your bread and milk mixture soak in the fridge for a couple of hours or even overnight if you did not use stale bread.

*You may use half and half instead of milk. I always have milk so that's what I usually end up using.

*The bread pudding itself isn't very sweet so feel free to up the amount of sugar or even add some cinnamon or nutmeg for an extra kick. The vanilla sauce in this recipe adds the extra sweetness that completes this dish!

*If your bread pudding does not get puffy during baking, that means that your bread was not dry enough. I leave my softened, cubed croissants out for at least 3-4 days before using.

*Make your caramelized bananas RIGHT BEFORE SERVING. After several minutes, the bananas will begin to sweat so they must be eaten right away.

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