Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vietnamese Steam Buns - Banh Bao

I haven't made these since high school. I remember discovering how to make Banh Bao with my mom together. We had bought one and tore it apart to see exactly what was inside. When we discovered a ready mix package at the local Asian store to make the dough, we were sold.

I decided to make it again this week to celebrate New Years. After the first batch was removed from the steamer, I was so excited how it turned out, I scarfed down one immediately. Then, I couldn't, but help myself to another one. The juices from the meat ball, along with the sausages had soaked into dough, sweetening it up and making it absolutely delectable to eat. Have I convinced you to try it yet?

Banh Bao
4 boiled eggs, quartered length wise
1 lb ground pork
1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 cup black fungus, soaked for 10 minutes, rinsed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper 


Start by boiling your eggs, soaking the black fungus, and chopping your Chinese Sausage

Cut out approximately 1 1/2 - 2 inch circles of white paper. I just use my flower hole punch. This will be placed under the steam buns while cooking to absorb the extra moisture.

Follow the instructions on the Banh Bao package to make the dough and let rise.

While the dough is rising, prepare the meat balls. Combine the pork, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, and black fungus. Mix well and form into 16 meat balls.

Once dough has rested, roll out into a cylindrical shape and cut into 16 pieces.

Get all your ingredients ready. It will make the assembly quick and easy.

Roll out the dough into a circle.

Place the meat ball, egg, and a couple of sausages on top.

Fold up the edges of the dough to the center top, pinching the dough to make it stick.

Put a piece of paper underneath and place in steamer.

Leave space in between the steam buns to accommodate it rising.

Steam for 15 minutes, then lift the lid and wipe away the excess water from the lid. Steam for an additional 6 minutes.

Remove from steamer and place on wire cookie sheet for a few minutes to allow the moisture underneath to dry.

Enjoy while hot. Eat one or eat many.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birthday Wishes

I celebrated my birthday this weekend. I was born in the year of the dragon and this year is the year of the dragon. Hopefully that brings me a little luck. I told (actually demanded) everyone not buy me anything because there really isn't anything that I want. As long as all my babies are healthy, I'm pretty much content.

On my birthday, I was awaken with birthday hugs and kisses from all the boys and before the night was over, A. decided he would wish me a Happy Birthday personally. Here he is singing me the birthday song.

I giggle every time I hear him sing it. He allowed me to record him, only if I would stand at the bottom of the stairs (far away from him). I thought I'd share my little three year old since he is just too cute.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

$10 Gas Debit Card just for buying cereal

Here's great deal for all you cereal lovers. You could get up to $10 in gas money. How? It’s easy–just follow these three easy steps below to get started.

Step 1: Clip off 10 UPCs on participating cereals.
Step 2: Print and fill out the downloadable form.
Step 3: Mail in the UPCs and form.

LIMIT 5 Kellogg’s™ Gas Rewards Cards PER HOUSEHOLD.

I've done this a couple of times now and it's great. While you clip box tops for your kiddos, just clip the UPC code as well. It's well worth the extra time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spring Rolls

My number one requested recipe is none other than my spring rolls. Maybe I'm biased, but I really haven't tasted any other spring roll better than my mom's recipe. Since, she doesn't ever write anything down, the recipe below is what I have come up with through trial and error.

I usually plan a whole afternoon to roll these since it does take quite some time prepping all the ingredients. I tend to make dozens so that I can freeze the bulk of it. It keeps well after semi-frying it (fry it it until it is lightly brown, cool, and then freeze).

If you dare to take the plunge and make these spring rolls, you won't regret it. They are quite tasty and eating one is never enough.

Spring Rolls

1 1/2 lbs ground lean pork
1/2 cabbage shredded (like coleslaw)
2-3 carrots diced (tiny little cubes)
1 spoon of sugar
9 spoons of fish sauce (dinner spoons...I know a little archaic)
salt and pepper to season
2 eggs
2 pkgs of bean thread noodles (cut into 1/2 inch length)
1/2 yellow onion diced (tiny little cubes)
2 pkgs of spring roll wrappers


Chop up all the vegetables. Put them into a bowl an set aside. Soak the bean thread noodles in some water until softened. When softened, cut noodles to inch length and add to bowl. In a separate bowl, add the ground pork, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper Mix. Combine the vegetables to the meat mixture and add one egg. Mix with hands thoroughly. Take a soon of the meat mixture and cook for 45 seconds in the microwave. Taste. Season meat mixture to taste.

Crack an egg into a small bowl. Lay the square wrapper diamond shaped in front of you.

Add a little of the meat mixture onto the wrapper and shape into a little tube.

Roll tightly up, folding in the two sides towards the center.

Brush the top of the wrapper with the egg yolk.

This is the glue that will make the wrapper stick. Finish rolling the wrapper.

Bring oil to medium high heat. Carefully drop spring roll into hot oil and fry until golden brown and meat is cooked (approximately 10 minutes). Drain oil on paper towels. Serve hot.

The best way to eat it is to wrap it in a piece of green leaf lettuce, add a sliver of a cucumber and dip it into some dipping sauce.

I could definitely eat these for an entire meal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valentine's Day Cards

Are you ready for Valentine's Day? I was ready before Christmas. There were so many companies offering free greeting cards, that I thought I would make some Valentine cards and see how they turn out.

Last year, I made these Valentine Cards

This year, I found this really cute print and decided I would replicate it.

I went photo shopping away, drawing my circles. I also included my kids' names at the bottom. I'll add some kind of "orange" candy in the envelope and call it day.

Here's a great deal to get you into the Valentine spirit. Tiny Prints is offering a FREE Personalized Valentine's card through 1/25 and you get free shipping. Just use the code TPGFREE17A and select "send to me" for FREE shipping, or you can pay $.45 and have it shipped directly to the recipient. Get creating because the offer expires tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Free and Nearly Free Toys

Right after Black Friday, I was able to score so many free toys using coupons. Most of the time, I was able to make money by putting toys in my cart. It was great because we had such a surplus that I was able to donate nearly everything. We all went and picked out Angels off the tree and the kids got to go "shopping" in my toy closet for kids that were less fortunate.

This year, I plan on stocking up a little bit earlier. Here are my finds this week, which I must say are quite fabulous. Hasbro has a bunch of coupons on their site which make a lot of these toys nearly free.

Kre-o transformers Optimus Prime is $7.99, but use the $8.00 coupon and you get a penny. Hungry Hippos is 4.99, but use the $5.00 coupon and you score another penny. The pictionary game was $5.89, but use the coupon (on coupons.com) to get it down to only 89 cents. The Nerf guns were $9.99, but use the $8.00 coupon and bring it down to $1.99.

I should have spent $51.83 for all these toys, but after coupons, my total was only $4.83. I used my target visa to bring the total down to $4.59. That's basically the tax for the original amount. Since my kids don't need these toys, they will go into my stockpile for next year's toy drive.

I must say there are plenty of other coupons that in combination with this week's sale at Target, will bring the prices down to nearly half like BeyBlades were on sale for only $11.99.

Use the $5 coupon to make it only 6.99. It retails for $15.99 so that's more than half off.

Cookie Monster was also on sale for only $19.99 (at certain Targets). Use the $8 coupon to make it only $11.99. It retails for $24.99 so once again that makes it less than half off.

I'm sure you can also use the Connect Four $3 coupon for the travel game, making it only $1.99. Coupons are great, but when they are used with a sale, it makes the purchase even better. Happy buying!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Valentine's Decorating

I don't usually decorate for Valentine's, but I thought this year, I would. I moved the kids craft table into the living room because R. was coloring nearly every night for hours. I thought it would be a little lonely for him to be in the craft room all by himself so we moved the table out and now all the kids now sit at the table all the time. I added the Valentine Chair Backers I created a couple of years ago.

I bought some frames, removed the glass and covered a piece of styrofoam with linen fabric to make a board for the kids artwork.

Aren't you feeling the love?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Duck for Pictures

We live by a duck pond that I drive past everyday, but have never stopped to enjoy. This weekend, I decided to take the kids to the pond to feed the ducks and pigeons. It was a great opportunity for me to snap some pictures as well.

The ducks would come right up to you.

The kids absolutely loved it.

A. is wearing two different outfits because the kids loved going so much, we decided to take them again the following day. He's completely into his rain boots right now.

When we ran out of food for the ducks, it was time to take some photos. A little bit of bribery got me these photos.


Tripod, timer, waiting for bikers to pass by, and a lot of bribery got me family pics. I forgot my remote so it was a lot of me running back and forth for these shots.

I was exhausted after this shot. Enough running for me. Who needs a photographer? I can shoot my own pics and get a great work out at the same time!

It's a wrap. The sun is almost gone, and the weather is getting chilly.

Just one final shot of the my hubby and I. I thought the pictures turned out great for an impromptu photo shoot. Oh, and if you want to know what I bribed the kids with. I hinted that it would be a great early birthday present for me and that we'd go to their favorite restaurant for dinner. Win win for all. These were only some of the pics. There were so much more. Great day with the ducks, gave great pictures, making it a great birthday gift. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
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