Poached Chicken Breast with Cucumber Salad

sesame soy flavor, cucumber, protein rich, chicken breast, healthy, summer salad,

Here's a very refreshing, yet protein-rich side dish for the upcoming warm season. I'm listing the basic soy sauce + sesame oil flavor, but you can be creative by adding mayonnaise, mustard, miso, minced umeboshi, or hot chili sesame oil (ラー油).

Poached Chicken Breast with Cucumber Salad
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, thin-sliced 
  • 1 Chicken breast
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Sake
  • White sesame seed
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
makes 2 servings
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot ( I use Le Creuset pot), place a piece of chicken breast, add sake and just enough water so that chicken won't stick on the bottom. Cover with a lid and cook in a low heat.
  2. Once water start boiling, cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Keep the lid on, and let it steam for about 5-10 minutes.  
  3. In a bowl, add sliced cucumber, sprinkle some salt and mix. After 5-10 minutes, squeeze the cucumber and drain extra water. 
  4. Take out the chicken from the pot, shred it with your hand, and add them to the cucumber. 
  5. Add chopped ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar to the bowl and mix them well.
  6. If time allowed, chill for 15-30 minutes, sprinkle sesame seed at the end.  
Note: .

Tomato Red Sauce with Meat Balls

"Red Sauce" "Sunday Sauce" spaghetti with meatballs italian pasta, a jar of tomato sauce,
This is the very basic way of making home-made red (tomato) sauce for stocking. In order to feed my Italian descent husband, I make a batch of red sauce bi-weekly, usually on Sunday (so called Sunday sauce). We'd eat freshly made sauce with meatball over spaghetti or ravioli. Then I separate the left-over meatballs from sauce. I keep a jar of sauce in a fridge, and another jar in a freezer. A jar stored in a fridge can be used for a quick pasta dish during the week. The left-over meatballs can be used to make meatball sandwich for lunch. I sometime add italian sausage, chicken on bones, or pork ribs to the sauce to give a richer flavor. Ideally, you want to cook the sauce at least 3 hours.

The"Red Sauce" ~ basic tomato sauce 
  • 3 large cans of peeled tomatoes (I used 3-35oz cans)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, shredded or grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a few bay leaves
  • about 1/5 a can of water, to clean the inside of each can and add it to the sauce
  • Red wine (optional)
  • 1lb ground meat (I used pork, beef, veal mix)
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumb
  • milk
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • dried oregano
  • nutmeg
  • dried red pepper 
  • black pepper and salt
  • a dash of worcestershire sauce
  • grated parmesan cheese
to make about 10 servings
  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, sauté chopped garlic and onion in low/med heat. 
  2. When onion looks golden and fragrant, add carrots and bay leaves, cook for few more minutes.
  3. Open cans and add all the contents to the pot, clean the inside of each can with water, and add it to the pot as well. Bring it to boil with high heat, uncovered.
  4. Once boiling, scoop out the foamy scums on the surface, lower the heat.
  5. After 30 min of so, smash the tomatoes with potato masher, continue cooking in low heat.
  6. Make meatballs - In a large bowl, let the bread crumbs soak in cold milk. When the bread crumbs get fluffy, add the rest of ingredients, mix well until it gets sticky. Let it sit.
  7. After 1-2 hours, throw in meatballs, cook another 1 hour or so. Add red wine. (optional)
  8. When the sauce reaches to your preferable thickness, stop the heat and serve over your favorite pasta, topped with chopped fresh parsley or basil, and grated parmesan cheese. 
You can use the red/tomato sauce to make dishes like:

Using Stocked Red (Tomato) Sauce: Chili con Carne

tex-mex, kidney beans, chips, hearty meal, using red sauce, spicy, tortilla chips
Heres's one way to turn your stocked Italian red (tomato) sauce into a hearty & warming, Tex-Mex style chili. Can be served by itself with some tortilla chips or bread. You can also use it for tacos, Chili Nachos, or filling for quesadilla. Great stocking food during cold winter.

Chili con Carne
  • 1lb ground meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chpped
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups red (tomato) sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained 
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup beef broth (or chicken broth, or water)
makes about 6 servings
  1.  In a saucepan or Dutch oven (I use Le Creuset pot), cook garlic and onion till they turn golden and fragrant, add jalapeño and bell pepper, continue over medium heat-high heat. Once they are soft, add ground meat.
  2. Add all of dried ingredients (chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, cumin, cocoa powder, and bay leaves), stir occasionally and brown the meat.
  3. Stir in Tomato (red) sauce, bring to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 30 min, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in beans. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until desired thickness.
Note: Adjust the amount of broth or water, depending on the thickness of your tomato (red) sauce.

Chili Nachos

Chili con carne, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa fresca, Corn tortilla chips, tabasco, cheesy snack, mexican appetizer Super bowl meal, cumin

A quick snack/appetizer using the left-over chili con carne, pico de gallo, and guacamole. It was a super-bowl dinner request from my husband. I like a dash or two of some hot sauce (such as tabasco) to spice up a notch.

Chili Nachos
  • 2 cups prepared chili con carne
  • 1/2 bag of tortilla chips
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese (such as Monterey Jack, Queso Quesadilla, or cheddar
Garnish options:
sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, chopped scallion, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, etc...

makes 2-3 servings
  1. Set oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat the chili in a small saucepan or microwave until hot.
  3. Spread half of the tortilla chips on the bottom of a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate.
  4. Spread half of the chili over the chips.
  5. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
  6. Repeat with remaining chips, chili and cheese.
  7. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Top with the garnish of your choice.
  9. Serve immediately.

Marinated Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Churrasco skirt steak marinated, chimichurri, italian parsley oregano cilantro lime, red meat, argentinean steak

I almost never cook steak at home, but this is the only option. Skirt steak is a part of beef that is relatively thin, easy-to-cook, yet is as flavorful as some of more expensive cuts. Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinean condiment which consists of olive oil, parsley and oregano. It goes perfectly with a juicy skirt steak and is a healthier way to eat steak with.

Marinated Skirt Steak 
  • 1lb of skirt steak
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • a wedge of lemon or lime juice
makes 2-3 servings
  1. Season steak with a pinch of salt & pepper on each side, grate garlic over the meat, pour soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, flip the meat and marinate each side. Refrigerate the steak for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.
  2. Once the steak has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (for about 30 minutes).
  3. When ready to cook the steaks, prepare your grill for grilling.
  4. Grill the steak over medium-high heat till the edge looks shrunk/crispy (4-6 mins), flip over, cook till the meat feels firm and thickened (4-6 mins)  to serve it rare to medium-rare.
  5. Once cooked, lay the steak on a clean cutting board, and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let the meat redistribute its juices.
  6. Serve with chimichurri sauce and a wedge of lime or lemon.
Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley and/or fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (or 4 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
makes about one cup
  1. Pulse the garlic and shallot in the food processor until finely chopped. 
  2. Add the rest of ingredients in processor, puree them. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
You can simply chop all the vegetable finely with a knife, if not using food processor. It'll give you a more earthy flavor.

The left-over chimichurri sauce can be packed in a small ziploc bag and be frozen for a later use. If kept in a fridge, use them up in a few weeks.  Some ideas for alternative use include omelettes, quesadillas, or on other grilled meat dishes.

Pico de Gallo (salsa fresca) and Guacamole

guacamole pico de gallo tortilla chips mexican appetizer snack healthy cilantro lime avocado grape tomato corn tortilla chips party
Healthy snack, great as a party appetizer. I make the two dippings together, since they use similar ingredients.

Pico de Gallo

  • 2 packs of grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • a cup of cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • white vinegar

makes 4-5 servings

  1. Finely chop all vegetables. Keep them in separate containers. Strain chopped tomatoes and remove excess liquid. You can reserve the tomato liquid to make  a healthy cocktail-drink later.
  2. In a bowl, combine all vegetables, season with lime juice, white vinegar, salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust flavor to your taste by adding onion, jalapeño and cilantro, little by little. Same with the seasonings.


  • 2 Avocados
  • pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt
  • a pinch of ground cayenne pepper and cumin

makes 4-6 servings

  1. In a bowl, mash halved avocados, add lime juice, pico de gallo, and garlic, mix together.
  2. Season with salt, cayenne pepper and cumin.
  3. Adjust flavor by adding remained vegetables from pico de gallo recipe.
  4. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve chilled.
Note: The amount of ingredients are just a guide. Just chop a bunch, keep them in a separate container, add each ingredient gradually, taste, then reach to your best flavor.

How to Clean and Polish Hardwood Floors Naturally

steam mop, olive oil on hard wood floor, polish hardwood floor naturally, natural products, mopping floor, earthy sheen on hardwood floor,

As a mother-to-be, I am now more aware of the products I use around house.  Here are the two products that I find safe and effective in cleaning and polishing hardwood floor naturally.

Steam mop:
A steam mop is a mop that uses steam to clean floors and carpets. Unlike a regular mop, which requires cleaning agents such as bleach or detergent, the steam mop uses the heat from the steam to disinfect the floors. A microfiber pad is placed right underneath the steam jet to trap dirt on hardwood floor. Unlike regular mops though, steam mops do not leave a residue on the floor and often clean through the dirt. The intense heat of the steam can kill about 99 percent of the bacteria and household dust mites. Steam mops can disinfect floors, restore shine, kill dust mites, and remove some stains.

This was actually a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last year. I am starting to realize how versatile and useful a steam mop can be. This particular product comes with two other head nozzles, a jet nozzle and fabric nozzle. With a jet nozzle, you can power clean stains, greases and grimes on stove tops, microwaves, and other appliances. With a fabric nozzle, you can steam garments.

Olive Oil:  
A bottle of olive oil comes in handy, not just for drizzling on salads, but also for treating and polishing wood surfaces. Many hardwood flooring experts suggest using natural products such as olive oil as opposed to wax-based cleaners for making your floors shiny. Olive oil leaves your wood floors with a nice, natural sheen and earthy smell.

How I clean and polish hardwood floors: 
  1. Empty the room as much as possible, then sweep the floor with a broom.
  2. Steam mop the floor with a microfiber pad attached, slowly working your way backwards in order to avoid walking over the freshly mopped area.
  3. Let the floor dry completely.
  4. Apply olive oils over the floor, buff them with a disposable cotton-based fabrics, such as worn-out t-shirt, socks, towels etc... Make sure to rub them dry from floor so nobody slides or slips. Once it dries, the color of the floor will darken a bit, and you'll see a shine on the floor!
Treat wood surfaces like your skin. Moisturizing them regularly with natural products such as olive oil will smoothen a rough/ dried surface, and will create a smooth, safe, and splinter-free wood surface.  

Product recommendation:
Steamfast 3 In1 Steam Mop