Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Fall is the time for raking leaves and cleaning the yard for winter. Even though I love the nice, comfortable weather, I feel a little sad seeing the trees loosing their leaves to the ground. We have to take down the vegetable garden pretty soon. Here we go, getting ready for winter.

On the contrary, the mums and sedums are blooming gorgeously. They proudly show off their dazzling color against the falling temperature and raging wind. Nothing can stop them from finishing the season gracefully. It is amazing how nature balances its course.

Talking about nature, have you listened to the song "Greenfield" lately? Beautiful, isn't it? It gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. Can you imagine being in an open field waiting for the lover who may never return?

I had a surprise visit from my friend while I was baking brownies. She brought me roast duck, yummy. The day just got better, my brownies turned out really good. They were rich, moist and chewy. My house smelled like a bakery. We had a good time.

My friend is a career woman with two jobs and a family, which includes a young son. At the end of the day she still has to prepare dinner for the family. I took it upon myself to share some simple recipes with her. She can have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less hopefully. We are making semi-homemade the American Chinese way. I will start with dessert first, brownies. Which by the way, is very American.

I followed the instructions on the box and added some chopped pecans to make it more interesting. Nothing beats using something already prepared for you. To me it is perfectly OK to use frozen food, canned food, cake mix or any ready to cook products such as sausages and bacons. Use whatever makes dinner fast and easy. Pick and choose first, then stick to the brands and products that have less sugar, less fat and less sodium. You can eat healthy if you choose wisely and carefully. Home cooked meals are always healthier.

Brownies with Pecans 

You need:
1  box (20 oz) Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
1  large egg
1/3  cup water
1/3  cup vegetable oil
Optional:  1/2  cup roasted, salted pecans

1  baking pan  9" x 9"


Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.

Spray baking pan with cooking spray. Blend egg, water and oil in a medium bowl, whisk 10-15 times. Add brownie mix slowly and stir with a spatula until moistened (about 40 strokes).

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly, put pecans on top. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cutting. Fresh-baked brownies look undercooked. They will set when cool. Makes 16, 2-inch brownies. Store in a covered container and finish in 3 days.


Cooking fish has always been a challenge for me. I have had a lot of burned or loose, fell apart fish. The next recipe is one I have used all the time. It has never failed me so far. I like to use the seasoned soy sauce for this recipe mainly because it is ideal for steamed fish. But any soy sauce is fine.

Savory Tilapia
Recipe by Leslie, 2010
Makes 3-4 servings

You need: 

1  package (16 oz) frozen tilapia fillets
1  medium onion, chopped
3  cloves garlic, chopped
1  cup chopped veggie (celery and bell pepper)
2  tablespoons olive oil
2  tablespoons sherry cooking wine
Salt and black pepper
2  tablespoons soy sauce or seasoned soy sauce for seafood ( 蒸魚豉油 )
1  tablespoon black bean garlic sauce  ( Lee Kum Kee  蒜蓉豆豉醬 )

1  baking pan  9" x 13", lined with tin foil  (less cleaning afterward).


Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

Combine oil, wine, soy sauce and black bean garlic sauce in a bowl, mix well.

Rinse, pat dried fish and put in the pan, season with a little salt and black pepper. Arrange onion, garlic and veggie on top and around fish. Stir in sauce mixture on top evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes, no cover. Don't over cook, remove from oven immediately. Serve with steamed rice, broccoli or beans.


I am not a big fan of canned soup because they contain too much salt. However, I always have a few cans of Campbell's condensed soup in my pantry for fast cooking. Today we are making a quick and easy bitter melon soup. If you don't like bitter melon, you can use 1 cup zucchini or 2 cups spinach instead, don't add ginger.

Chicken Soup with Bitter Melon
Recipe by Leslie, 2010
Makes 3-4 servings

You need:

1  can (10 oz) Campbell's Chicken with White and Wild Rice Soup
2  cans water
1  cup diced bitter melon  
1  tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1  small soup pot


Mix soup and water in small pot, cook on medium heat until boiling. Add bitter melon and ginger, cook until boiling again and 2 minutes longer. Don't cover the pot, soup may spill over. Serve with biscuit or toast.

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