Kimchi Fried Rice

For the adventurous or the wanna-be adventurous mouth, I present kimchi fried rice. Spice up your everyday dinners with this popular Korean dish.

Let’s face it, Korean food can be intimidating- both to eat and to cook. Even though I lived in Korea, I will never be able to cook as well as the native grandmothers do. Some of the best food Korean food I have eaten was in the homes of the local people.

Now now… Don’t be discouraged. You can still cook Korean food in your own kitchen. Get your feet wet with this kimchi fried rice recipe. It’s straightforward, vegan, and only as spicy as you make it.

Just to note before you get started. Koreans are notorious for not measuring. There is no science or precision to this. I give good guidelines, but overall trust your taste buds.

Kimchi Fried Rice (Stephanie Thiel)

Serves: 2-4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 small white potato, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
    • Use a little more if you like it spicy!
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • Olive oil (or other oil to cook with)
  • Optional: seaweed
    • I love to eat kimchi fried rice with a side of seaweed

METHOD: (pictorial version; an in-depth text-version following)

  1. Sauté the onion and carrot. (Medium heat, 5 min.)IMG_0425
  2. Add the potato and continue to sauté (5 min.)IMG_0426
  3. Add the chopped kimchi and continue to cook for about 5 min.IMG_0446
  4. Turn the heat on high.
  5. Add the cooked rice, gochujang paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well.IMG_0448
  6. You may need to add some olive/cooking oil to allow the rice to fry.IMG_0450
  7. Enjoy! I like eating it with seaweed!

METHOD: (Text-version & details)

  • In a large frying pan, sauté (in olive oil) the diced onion and carrot on  medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Next, add the diced potato to the pan. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, or until potato has softened and onions are caramelized.
  • Chop the kimchi. Then add it to the pan. Fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Now it’s time to add the cooked rice to the pan. Crank the heat to high.
  • After you have added the rice, add the gochujang paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir well so they are evenly distributed.
  • At this point, you may need to drizzle some olive oil to better fry the rice.
  • Fry for about 5 minutes, or until done.
  • Enjoy!

Kimchi

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Kimchi (김치) – fermented cabbage that is spicy and sour; a traditional Korean side dish;  traditionally stored in underground jars for months; smart food preservation dish

Some things are iconic to South Korea- Drama shows. Samsung. Psy & Gangnam style- Kimchi is no exception!

You can always find a jar of kimchi stored in my fridge. Sometimes I eat it raw as a side dish, but usually I use it when I cook Korean food. The great thing about Kimchi is that it can be stored for a very long time.

A word of caution about kimchi- it stains! Take extra precautions when working with this delicious culinary wonder.

You can buy kimchi at any Korean mart. They come in little jars, all the way to big bucket size.

 

 

Flowers 101: How to make a basic lei

What’s more iconic to Hawaii than the flower lei? I’m kicking off my new Flowers 101 how-to series by showing you how to make your own lei!

Step #1: Prep

You will need the following materials to get started:

  • 2 bunches of flowers
    • The flowers you select need to have a sturdy stem/head.
      • Plumerias and orchids are the most common flowers used for traditional Hawaiian leis. Carnations, daisies, and roses are also really popular varieties.
    • I used 44 mini carnation flower heads for this lei. Buying two bunches was more than enough to accommodate this quantity.
      • You can easily find affordable flower bunches at Costco or Sam’s Club wholesalers.
  • Dental floss
    • This is what you will string your lei with. You can use thread or fishing line instead, but I prefer dental floss because it is sturdy, easy to use, and convenient.
  • Scissors
    • Use scissors that are meant to cut flowers (Don’t ruin your paper scissors!)
  • Large sewing needle

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Step #2: Method Instructions

Now that you have all the materials needed, it’s time to start making the lei! Here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Prep the flowers
    1. Cut off the stems of each flower. Leave about 1/4-1/2 inch (to ensure the flower head stays together!)IMG_0265
  2. Measure the dental floss/string
    1. Starting and ending from the back of your neck, measure how long you desire the lei to be. Once you have established how long you would like the length to be, double it. After you have doubled that length, add an additional 4-5 inches to ensure extra string at the end to tie it off.
    2. For example: if I wanted my lei to measure 40 inches around, I would need 85 inches of floss total. 40″ initial (doubled) + an extra 5″ = 85 inches
    3. Don’t stress! There is no exact science for this. Just make sure to have enough string/floss to work with. When in doubt, use more than anticipated. You can always cut off the excess.
  3. String the needle
    1. Take the floss and string it through the eye of your needle. Place the needle in the middle of the string. There will be equal lengths of floss on both sides of the needle.
  4. Tie the knot
    1. About 4-5 inches up one end of the string, tie a knot.
      1. You may need to tie several knots at the same spot so the knot is large enough to block flowers from sliding off.
      2. This is where the first flower of your lei will be strung to.
        1. Ensure there are a few inches of extra string here so you can tie off your lei when finished.
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  5. Start stringing the flowers
    1. Take your needle and begin to string your first flower.
    2. Usually, the lei is strung through the flower head“face first”. Insert the needle into the face of the flower. Pull the needle through the stem end. Continue pulling both strings through until the flower is in place.
      1. The first flower will stop when it reaches the end knot.
    3. Continue to string flowers until the desired # of flowers is reached.
      1. As you string each flower, make sure to pull the entire string through. (You will always have one string hanging loose on one end of your needle)IMG_0300
  6. Finishing off the lei
    1. Once you are done stringing all flowers, tie the two ends of the floss/string together in a double knot (at least).
    2. There most likely will be excess string. You can cut off these loose ends after you have tied off the lei.
  7. Sport (or share) your new lei
    1. Congratulations! You made your very own lei. Sport this beauty around, or share it with someone special. Leis are a great way to show congratulations, support, and of course aloha!

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Basic Zoodles

Mamma Mia! Pasta noodles made out of zucchini?! …  I certainly have jumped on the zoodles bandwagon- have you?

The term ‘zoodles’ refers to the hot health craze of zucchini noodles. This healthy pasta alternative is made using a food spiralizer tool. You simply insert the zucchini onto the machine, turn the crank, and voila! Zucchini noodles are created right before you eyes.

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I finally invested in a food spiralizer, and it is definitely one of my favorite kitchen tools yet! They are not that expensive and are really quite versatile. Besides zucchini noodles, you can also create various ribbons and shapes using several other fruits or vegetables. My spiralizer came with 3 different attachments, and I have fun playing around in the kitchen with it.

And zoodles taste amazing. Seriously.

I love making zoodles not only because they are healthy, but they are also quick and easy to make. When I need to whip up dinner in a jiffy, I just pull out some zucchini and vegetables I have on hand and throw together a delicious main or side dish.

This recipe I am posting today is a basic one I use pretty much all the time. It’s like my “zoodle base” if you will. Then I vary the sauce to top the zoodles depending on my mood. Sometimes I use a tomato-based sauce for a spaghetti alternative. When I am craving Japanese food, I will cook these zoodles together with teriyaki sauce. –  Use this zoodle recipe as a base, and employ your creativity adding other vegetables, sauces, etc.  I hope you enjoy- Welcome to the zoodle bandwagon y’all! 🙂

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Basic Zoodles (Stephanie Thiel)

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium green zucchini squash
    • It is important they are not too thick or thin in diameter to allow maximum efficiency with the spiralizer tool
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • Olive oil (for sautéing)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. First, prep all of the vegetables. Chop the onion and carrots into small bite size pieces.
  2. Next, prepare the zoodles. Wash the zucchinis, and cut both ends off. Attach onto the food spiralizer tool. Turn the crank until all of the zucchini is converted into noodle shape strands.
  3. Use a frying pan/skillet on the stove to cook the onion and carrot. Sauté them on medium heat (in olive oil) until tender. This takes about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper.
  4. Then add the zoodles to the same frying pan. Stir occasionally and keep cooking on medium heat until the zucchini noodles have softened and become slightly translucent (About 5-8 minutes cook time).
  5. At this point you can serve them plain, adding some salt and pepper for taste. I like to top mine with either a red pasta sauce or teriyaki sauce- depending on my taste buds’ mood.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Tip: If you are cooking for a larger crowd, the rule of thumb is about one zucchini per person.

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Roasted Asparagus

They say “less is more”- and roasted asparagus is no exception! Although this recipe is super basic, it is an absolutely divine way to eat these green spears.

Being married and cooking for two can sometimes be challenging- especially if the wife (ahem… me!) is trying to eat more vegan meals while the husband’s country roots will not permit him to shake meat from his diet. I am sure you guys have a similar problem! Regardless of your marital status, it can be challenging to please every mouth. For this recipe I enjoyed the asparagus plain, but wrapped some cooked bacon around two bundles of asparagus for my husband. This way we were both happy, but still essentially ate the same thing for dinner. This is a “his and her” plate if you will:

IMG_0160Okay, enough of the trying-to-eat-vegan wife rants… Onto the recipe!

Shown below are the before and after roasting pictures, respectively.

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Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
    1. It is important to wait until it is preheated before you put the asparagus in the oven! This will allow the asparagus to roast without becoming mushy.
  2. On a baking sheet, line up the asparagus.
  3. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over the asparagus. Then roll around the asparagus in the pan to ensure they are evenly coated with oil.
  4. Generously sprinkle with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
  5. Place asparagus into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
    1. Don’t cook it longer than this! You may think it doesn’t look done, but if you keep it in any longer it will be too mushy and not so fun to eat. Trust me, I have learned from experience!
  6. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool before serving.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂

The Dehydration Project: Pears

Pears take the spotlight this week in my dehydration project series! Welcome to my first go at drying pears and pear fruit leather.

Homemade pear fruit leather is one of my all-time favorite childhood snacks. Recently, I asked my mom how she made it. I discovered she would use the leftover pears she canned from the previous year to make the leather. Since the canned pears were already processed with sugar and pre-treatment, she would simply blend the pears for the leather. Back then, if I knew this fact I would have not eaten any of the canned pears to hold out for more leather!

Anyway, for this post I used only fresh pears (no canned). I made one batch of pear slices and another batch of fruit leather.

Pre-treatment:

Whether your dry pears whole or make leather, it is important to pre-treat your pears before you dry them. This will prevent them from browning. I used a “fruit-fresh” produce protector (ascorbic acid mixture), but I have heard you can use lemon juice or pure ascorbic acid as well.

First, I peeled, cored, and sliced the pears into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick pieces. I placed them in a tupperware container to coat them with the pre-treatment. I recommend following the directions associated with the product you use. For me, I mixed 2 tsp. preservative with 3 Tbsp. water, and tossed to coat the fruit. I then let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

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I will explain my method for each of my experiments in a nut shell:

Trial A: Dried Pear Slices

  • I used 5 pears (peeled, cored, sliced, and pre-treated)
  • Place them evenly on dehydrator trays
  • Dry them at a temperature of 135 degrees F.
  • Remove individual pieces when dry. Some will dry quicker than others.
  • Total dry time took between 11 and 13 hours.
  • The results were nice moist pear tidbits- love it!

Trial B: Pear Fruit Leather

  • I blended 2 pears until smooth. (Make sure the pears are peeled, cored, and pre-treated)
  • Pour onto a fruit leather tray for your dehydrator. Be sure to spray the tray with non-stick cooking spray. (so you can remove the leather when done!)
  • Dry at a temperature of 135 degrees F.
  • Total dry time only took 5 hours.
  • Outcome = Delicious (but not the same as my mom’s!)

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“Surf Snack” Energy Bites

Whether it’s surfing, hiking, or whatever activity keeps you moving- these “surf snacks” are a simple and nourishing bite on the go.

The name “surf snacks” originated with my husband. When he goes surfing or bodyboarding in the early mornings, I make him these lil’ energy bites. They are light, but energy packed- perfect for a pre-workout kind of snack.

December is the month the waves are really rippin’ on the North Shore here in O’ahu. Last week was the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters competition is coming soon. There is no set date for the events because it depends on the conditions of the waves. I went to North Shore last week but unfortunately no competition events were held that day. I was at least able to snap some pictures of the event:

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My husband and I are purely novice surfers! We couldn’t handle the waves at North Shore- those are for the pros. But we do like to get out and be active. I hope these surf snacks will be a fun addition to your on-the-go snacks.

Keep going for full recipe details!

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“Surf Snack” Energy Bites

Servings: Makes 7-8 bite size balls

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. light agave nectar
  • 1/8 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. In a blender, blend the oats until they form a flour. Then, blend the almonds until they form a flour. Combine these two flours in a small bowl.
  2. Add the almond butter, coconut oil, and agave to the bowl containing the oat and almond flours. Mix with a spoon (or I prefer to mix by hand!) until a dough forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips if desired.
  4. Roll into balls. You can eat immediately or store in the freezer.
  5. Surf’s up! 🙂

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