The Easiest & Most Versatile Wontons

HOPSCOTCH Food

I just loveee Wontons! I had them growing up in my dad’s restaurants; and I’ve had some at Chinese Noodle-Style restaurants; and I’ve had it in Chinatown served with a side of piping hot peanut butter noodles! It wasn’t until I had kids, that I was inspired to make my own because I seldom go out to eat. Who knew it was so easy to make?! My version is a bit different from regular Chinese take-out restaurants that often use soy sauce, not fish sauce. Mine is more like the type served with a side of PB Noodles. I hope you get to try out my version.

Ingredients

Ground turkey ( I use one package from Costco’s pack of 3)

3 tbsp fish sauce

1tsp chicken bouillon powder ( I use Maggi brand)

5 Scallion stalks minced

1-2 packs Hong Kong style wonton wrappers ( from Asian supermarket)

Steps

1- Thoroughly mix all ingredients above except for Wonton wrappers.

2- Wrap wontons. Put in 1 tsp of meat in the center and fold across diagonally to tuck one corner under the meat. I must’ve put about 1.5 tsp because I was in a hurry to finish making them. You should end up with a triangular shape with 3 sides. Dampen one end with water and press the two pointy corners together ( kind of like a C Shape). I’d say pretty much as long as it’s folded somehow and there are no inside contents sticking out, you are good to go. Super Diaries have a great step by step photo on various ways wontons can be folded here.

3- Bring water to a boil and dump in wontons being careful not to overcrowd it. Allow the water to go back into a boil, until they all float on top and boil for another 3-5 minutes after. Don’t overcook it because it can get gooey and fall apart. In a small soup pot, maybe do 12-15 pieces per batch. Scoop out into serving bowl.

*Note: If you let it sit too long in a regular bowl, they can fall apart tans all get clumped together. Chose a way below to finish it off and eat it (or serve in rectangular like bowl so that none of them are touching each other.

**Note: Uncooked wontons can be frozen single layer at a time or layered with parchment or plastic wrap paper in between. Of course mine are overcrowded as usually due to lack of time. Once frozen, it can be put into a ziplock for busy nights and a quick meal.

Ways to eat them:

A-You can eat it plain the way it is.

B- Szechuan style with a drizzle of chili oil, a little soy sauce (start with 1 tsp) , about 1/2 tsp sesame oil, and minced scallions.

C-You can also turn it into a soup and after you fish the wontons out and adding fish sauce and vinegar to taste (start with 1/2 tsp); and a drop of sesame oil; topped with minced scallions.

D- You can never go wrong with deep frying them! I like to deep fry cheese wontons (will be doing another post in that).

E- Upgrade your instant ramen and make it more filling by throwing in a few.

Don’t you just love how versatile and easy this wonton recipe is? What do you like to put in your wontons? Sometimes, I like to add minced shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and water chestnuts to the meat mixture to mimic what I get sometimes at Chinese Noodle Restaurants in Chinatown .

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Purple Yam & Taro Dessert Soup

HOPSCOTCH Food

Sit down Chinese restaurants often serve a cold or warm dessert soup after the meal. My family didn’t really make dessert soups much after dinner. My aunt would make Tapioca Pearl Coconut Dessert Soup often during celebrations or whenever we were having dinner at her house. She’s one of the best chefs of our family! I was going to add tapioca pearls, by ran out, hence, I made this dessert soup out of what we had.

My husband (who was my boyfriend then) used to order Bobo Cha cha a lot from a bakery in Chinatown all summer long. They also used purple yam and taro and added crushed ice, tapioca pearls and condensed milk for a summer drink! This dessert soup takes us down memory lane and a must for taro lovers. Just sweet enough and very quick and easy to make; and pretty much guilt free for the most part. The taro and purple yam marry so well with the Pandan and coconut milk. It’s a perfectly balanced after dinner addition for any day of the week!

Ingredients

3-4 purple yam cut into bite size pieces

Same amount of taro root cut into bite size pieces (I used 1/2 of the one from the Asian supermarket)

2 cans 13.5oz coconut milk

2 cans of water (use empty coconut milk cans for measurement)

1/4 cup rock sugar (if you don’t have rock sugar, use 1/4 cup regular sugar)

3 rinsed and knotted Pandan leaves (freezer section of Asian supermarket)

**Note: Add another can of coconut milk if you think it’s too sweet

Steps

1- Cut all the yam and taro into bite size pieces.

2- Steam for about 10 minutes or until tender.

3-While taro and yam is steaming, prepare stock pot and pour in 2 cans of coconut milk and 2 cans of the water.

4- Knot and toss into the stock pot 3 Pandan leaves (you can omit if you don’t have it) and let it the soup come to a boil and let it simmer for about 7 minutes.

5- Add the rock sugar, along with the steamed taro and purple yam into the pot and cook on low for about another 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy! It’s a comfort dish; and taste great whether it’s hot or cold:)

What other sweet dessert soups do you make at home?

Thai Basil Eggplant Stir Fry

HOPSCOTCH Food

I saw fresh Thai Basil at the Asian supermarket this week and have been craving it for a long time. We are all eggplant lovers in our family and we always have red peppers on hand. I browsed through several recipes in Pinterest, always searching for the simplest one and the one from Thai Table is closest to what I usually do at home with my other veggies at home ! I have always used minced garlic, fish sauce and sugar when I stir fry Chinese veggies and love the Unami flavor that is imparted by combining those trio of flavors. I can only imagine how delicious it would be with the addition of fresh Thai basil! Here is my recipe adapted from Thai Table:

Ingredients

7 Japanese eggplants cut into bite size pieces

2 red peppers cut into bite size pieces

4 tablespoons fish sauce

6 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoon sugar

40 pcs leaves picked from the stem of Thai Basil (roughly chopped about half of it and end tither half whole)

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoon oil (DIVIDED)

1tbsp soy sauce or soy paste

Optional: Top with crushed peanuts!

Steps

1- Heat up 4 tbsp oil on pan for 1-2 minutes.

2- Dump in the eggplant and stir fry for about 2 minutes.

3- Pour in 1/4 cup water and put lid on the pan and let it cook until desired tenderness–we let it steam up in there for 10 minutes. Transfer to plate for later.

4- Put remaining 3 tbsp oil and heat up the garlic for 1-2 minutes.

5- Add red peppers and stir fry for about 3 minutes (we like ours slightly crunchy).

6- Add in eggplant that was set aside and add the fish sauce and sugar.

7- Stir in basil and cook for 1 minute and it’s done!

Enjoy with white rice or rice of your choice!

Wikki Stix Fun Day

HOPSCOTCH Reflection

We spent about an hour working and playing with Wikki Stix. We usually just take the mini packs out when we leave the house- it’s convenient to throw some into the diaper bag. This day, the girls spent all day home, so I took out the bulk stash. I purchased the acrylic poster boards and thought it would be fun to use it as a canvas for the Wikki Stix. I taped the corners because they were pointy. Think of all the possibilities and scenes we can create with different types of back drops if we wanted to change it up. We can draw a thunderstorms and insert it to the poster holder for a rainy day, draw the beach on paper and insert it for a sunny day. We can even change it depending on holidays or seasons. It’s a great way to keep the kids busy with little to minimal mess! We kept it as is for that particular day; we left it paperless and transparent. We can carry it around the house and the scene can be wherever we end up going around the house. Stay tuned for when we use the acrylic poster stand with various paper backgrounds!

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What are your favorite ways to use Wikki Stix?

Promises

HOPSCOTCH Reflection

When I was younger I thought promises were meant to be kept, always. Now that I’m grown, I learned that it’s not always realistic and it really depends on how people change, grow and adapt to situations and circumstances.

Now that I have children on my own, I reflect on promises and keeping my word to them; to instill hope, faith and trust in themselves, in me and in the world around them. I love my children and I hope they will always know that.

When I tell my children, next time, we will go to the park after lunch, I try my best to keep that little promise. When I tell them, “We can’t buy that toy because we have so many of that type of toy at home already, but we can buy a different toy if we see something we don’t have already; I try my best to keep my word to them the next time we visit the same store.”

Kids remember things and kids forget; but I try my best never to take advantage of their belief in me and the words I say to them; I want to learn that words mean something; but actions also mean something; and it’s often what you DO that shows if what you say really means something.

Sometimes, my husband and I are just too tired, after telling them we will go to the park after a full day of grocery and errands; and sometimes, We say, “We are sorry; mommy and daddy’s tired; but we can do it tomorrow.” It is because we strive to keep promises and show them words mean something, that our kids believe in us and trust us; they trust us and they in turn understand us; they understand our words mean something; they understand, sometimes, it’s okay to not be able to do what you initially set out to do; so when those times come, our kids learn to be forgiving because they know in the essence of all this, we try our best and it’s okay.

I’m not saying our kids always listen and never have meltdowns when things don’t go according to the plan we originally had for the day; but I’m proud to say they are pretty good at trusting us, most of the times when we need them to. When we are at the doctors office and they need a shot, I’ll tell them it’ll be a lot like a little pinch; and though they don’t like it, but they allow me to hold their arm and know it will be for just a moment; they believe us at important times because they know we value them and their voices; we respect them and things we promise them.

El Savadorean Black Bean Pupusas

HOPSCOTCH Reflection

I was first introduced to Pupusas by my El Salvadoran friend from college whom I have known for over 10 years now; she’s become one of my closest and dearest friends. We went thought college together and weddings; now, we both have our kids too.

I had it for the first time at a Salvadoran restaurant with her and was intrigued at this light, filling and fresh meal. I’ve had tamales many times before and arepas at Street Fairs, empanadas, tacos, but I’ve never heard of Pupusas. The exterior is made from Masa Harina it cornflour (also us d for tamales). It is stuffed with a variety of fillings; beans and cheese, chicken, chicharones , Loroco and cheese , my friend’s husband favorite, Lorocoo with cheese. Loroco is a type of flower (taste a little like a milder form of green pepper to me) with cheese; it’s so fragrant and delicate– I feel it lightens up the cheese a little –it’s one I always order whenever I’m having Pupusas. I’ve since had it many times and it has easily became my favorite now too.

Pupusas always have a special place in my heart and makes me feel happy– I’ve even had it fresh made from my friends mom, delivered to my house on an occasion. I love it; and I love her. I’m so grateful of having family and friends; they all mean the world to me. They inspire me and fill my heart in so many ways they don’t even know. But more about that another day!

I adapted my recipe based on the version I read from Hola Jalepeno and kind of came up with my own version because I didn’t have Masa Harina. I recommend everyone to use just Masa Harina because the combination I used didn’t really taste as good as how it’s originally made. Attempt this recipe when you have time– maybe on a day off and don’t have to rush because there’s lots of components to this dish that makes this, dish, the dish that it is. All the parts are necessary and equally as important to create this little masterpiece.

The sauce recipe I followed from International Cuisine; it was easy, simple, but wholesome. The black bean filling recipe I followed Hola Jalepeno as well; this is the one of the plainest recipes I’ve ever made with black beans, but it’s perfect for the filling. Typically the recipe calls for the cheese to be inside with the black bean, but I put mine outside on top of the almost finished Pupusa to melt because Olivia’s allergic to dairy. It turned out great! The filling was too much this time; I think I’ll cut the recipe in half next time-but in our family, we loveee our beans so we will just have it the next day mixed with white rice or with tomatoes, avocados and/or cheese melted on top! I think my friend mentioned that mozzarella cheese is a good cheese to use for the filling, but we have the Mexican blend from Costco and it complimented it well too.

The Curtido (similar to cole slaw ), I adapted from A Cozy Kitchen; this is so yummy! It reminds me of Sauerkraut, but not as tart and has a nice bite that complements the crispy pupusa, humble beans and well rounded tomato sauce. It’s very balanced and it is easy to accidentally eat a bowl full of it! It’s healthy too and not salty at all. I omitted the jalepeno because the girls don’t like it spicy. It really brightens the dish.

PUPUSAS ( I listed the recipe to the steps of the order in accordance to which one I made first, second, third and forth)

Curtido (coleslaw topping)

Ingredients

A bag Asian coleslaw salad (from Costco –or you can chop your own green cabbage, radish and carrot blend–about 4 cups– I save the salad sauce and sesame packet to use for another occasion )

1/2 onion diced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1tsp salt

2 tsp oregano

1tsp sugar

Black pepper to taste

I made the coleslaw first because I wanted to quickly pickle the cabbage while the everything else was getting prepared. This was the easiest part of the 4 components since it was pre-washed and ready to pickle !

Steps

1-Bring vinegars, salt and sugar to a boil and pour it over the oregeno, cabbage and onion and mix well.

2-Add black pepper to taste. That’s it!

Let it sit and wait. I read several recipes and some say two hours and some say 4 hours and others say over night or 2 weeks. My style is always what’s convenient to me at that moment. I pretty much let it sit for an hour room temperature because that’s how long it took to make everything else.

Tomato Sauce (topping)

Ingredients

1 can peeled whole tomatoes

1/2 onion diced

3-5 cloves minced garlic

Salt andpepper to taste

2tsp oregano

Steps

1Pour 2 tbsp olive oil and stir fry the onion and garlic on low until almost translucent.

2-Add oregano and tomatoes and boil for 10 minutes, breaking part the tomatoes as you go and giving it a little stir from time to time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Start with a pinch or a few cracks in your grinder.

3- Use an Immersion blender to purée. That’s it!

Black bean filling

Ingredients

1 cup black beans soaked overnight (I soaked mine for 4 hours today and it was fine)

1tsp salt

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp Chili powder

1/2 onion diced

3 cloves minced garlic

Salt to taste

Steps

1-Cook black beans according to instructions. I just cooked mine in 3 inches of water above the beans for about 40 minutes until tender.

2-Pour 2 tbsp olive oil and stir fry the onion and garlic on low until almost translucent.

3- Add oregano, salt, chili and black beans and let the aromatics meld and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Then blend it coarsely with immersion blender. I suppose you can mash it with a fork too.

Batter

1 cups cornmeal +1 cup brown rice flour + 4 tbsp flour (Or use the traditional 2 cups of masa harina- which I didn’t have today)

1 cup warm water

1 tsp salt

Steps

1- Pour warm water over masa Harina and salt and combine well. Add more water if it’s too dry or more masa Harina if it’s too wet. It should feel like very soft play dough when it’s done.

2-Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Assembling the Pupusas for pan frying.

1- make a round ball that fits in the palm of your hand.

2-Press your thumb in to make an indent and scoop in the black bean filling.

3- close it on top and press down flat.

4- Fry it until it looks toasted on both sides and top with cheese until it melts.

5-Put on plate and too with curtido and tomato sauce!

6- Sour cream optional!

What are some other dishes that you think are underrated or not underrated from your culture? Do share!

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

HOPSCOTCH Reflection

I made Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Recipe once a few months ago and knew it was a keeper right away. This simple recipe is simplicity at its tastiest. I served it tonight with the leftover cornbread from breakfast this morning and a side of warmed up marinera sauce. I used Rao’s homemade Marina; its my favorite so far; perfectly balanced, clean fresh flavors of tomatoes, basil and savory onion; I only added minced garlic with extra virgin olive oil before heating it up on the pan!

Usually I follow the recipe pretty much exactly, but today I forgot to separate the flour and Panko ad just combined it. It came out well too and it’s one less plate to clean. I never usually add salt to squeeze the bitterness out because I feel it’s too much work; only ever so often, I would come across bitter eggplant; so I was never inspires to even try it out with the salt. However, I could imagine it being much crisper. The eggplant I bake usually come out crispy on the outside, but meatier or denser on the inside.

Recipe is as follows from the Minimalist Baker (I only made a few very minor adjustments):

EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Ingredients

3-4 small eggplants (I bought the pack of 4 from Costco this time)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup unsweetened ricemilk

1 tsp cornstarch

3-5 cloves minced garlic

Steps

1- Prepare your dipping stations by placing:

Station 1- Rice milk and cornstarch in one

Station 2- Flour in another bowl

Station 3- Panko bread crumbs, sea salt, oregano and nutritional yeast in another bowl

2- Once thoroughly dry, dip eggplant slices in flour, then rice milk mixture, then breadcrumbs.

3- Arrange on the baking sheet and pop in oven to bake for a total of 20-30 minutes.

4- Mince 3-5 cloves of garlic with extra virgin olive oil for a minute and add in the Marinara sauce to bring slowly to a boil and turn off.

5- Serve with corn muffin or make pasta to go with it if you prefer.

**Note: I like to cheat and use a baking rack on top of my baking dish to double the eggplant I am baking. That way, the top layer of eggplant on the rack will finish cooking; I’ll take it out to cool with that rack and continue to let the bottom layer in original baking dish cook for another 10 minutes or so. It saves so much time!

Do you have a favorite side dish you like to eat with your eggplant Parmesan?

Vegan Polenta Corn Muffins

HOPSCOTCH Reflection

I found this recipe when I was looking up a Polenta recipe for muffins because that’s what we had at home at the moment. It was a great find! The muffins were slightly crisp on top and just the right amount of corn flavor and touch of sweetness. It taste like the biscuits of cornbread. We love having this for breakfast. The recipe was adapted from https://muffintop.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/polenta-cornbread-a-happy-mistake/amp/ . I made the recipe dairy and egg free because Olivia is allergic.

Today I made it with cornmeal instead of Polenta because that’s what we had this week. The Polenta gave it a nice texture and bite. The cornmeal is smoother. Both great and pretty much fail-proof (since I’ve made this a million times successfully as well). This batch made 36 mini muffins. I had it with coffee in my favorite mug! I feel like everyone should have an inspiration mug. It was part of my inspiration to start a blog this year!

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal (or polenta)

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup if you don’t want it as sweet)

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2/3 cup ricemilk with 1tbsp vinegar or lemon juice (which is pretty much dairy free buttermilk)

2 snack size cups apple sauce (we always have this in bulk at home for snack or days the kids aren’t feeling well)

Oil or butter to grease the pan (I used mini muffin liners today)

Steps

1-Mix all the ingredients well. Mixture should be less thick than a typical pancake batter.

2-Grease mini muffin pans or scoop batter into liners.

3-Preheat oven to 400F and bake for 12-15 minutes. It’s ready when the toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy plain or have it with a side of chili, butter or sour cream !

Do you have a favorite way to make cornbread/ muffins?