Friday, May 31, 2013

Caring for Basil Plants

Brown or Woodsy Stem

Yesterday,  I shared a fresh fish recipe and used chiffonaded basil as a garnish. The basil tasted and smelled bitter. 

This lead to my research on why basil turns bitter. I wondered if it had to do with my basil stems turning hard, some brown from the ground up. 

This post explains how to care for your basil plant and troubleshooting. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ginger Sea Bass over Wilted Greens

Oven-Roasted Sea Bass with Carrot & Yam Puree

My husband with White Sea Bass (35 lbs.)

My husband went on a fishing trip with some friends on Memorial Day and brought back White Sea Bass. You can't get fish this fresh from your local market!

I found a simple recipe where the oven would do all the work. Plus, I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.

Read on for recipe ideas:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Herbes de Provence Chicken

Herbs de Provence Chicken

Learn about Herbes de Provence and how to cook with it.

What is Herbes de Provence? 

It is a mixture of dried herbs that typically include fennelbasilthyme, lavender, and other herbs. 

To be honest, I didn't know Herbes de Provence existed until I saw Giada use it to season meat.

I bought my herbs at Mother's Market for $7, but you can buy a cheaper brand like McCormicks from your local grocery store. 

Read on for a simple chicken recipe utilizing this herb mix. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Paper Flowers

Nordstrom (Brea, CA)

I saw this paper hydrangea in a display at Nordstrom and it reminded me that paper flowers can be just as attractive as fresh flowers.  

When you think of paper flowers, tissue paper decorations are what typically comes to mind. These are pretty in their own right, but can risk looking crafty.

Paper flowers can look quite beautiful if you use high quality paper, mimic natural shapes, and use natural colors. 

This is how I discovered paper flowers:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Terrarium Containers

A terrarium is an enclosed transparent globe or similar container in which plants are grown. They are great for a mini succulent container garden.

Globes are commonly made for hanging, but they look just fine placed on a table, shelf, or window sill.

Here are some options for glass containers:


Z Gallerie $16 (includes plants)

Anthropologie Sale $25, also available full price at Uncommon Goods $38

Globe Alternatives

Michael's has a variety of vases, bubble bowls, and fish bowls

Mason Jars at Target

Etsy Succulent Container Market

Where do you like to buy your terrarium containers? Please share in Comments.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Bouquet

Bouquet of Flowers in Medium Round Vase
For Mother's Day, I decided to make my own flower arrangement. Luckily, my friend who is an industry professional was taking a trip to the Los Angeles Flower District the day prior and allowed me to tag along.

The LA Flower Mart provides wholesale or discounted prices for flowers, plants, and supplies. Sometimes, the costs are less than half of what is marked up at retail shops. The downside is, well, you have to trek to LA and deal with the traffic, parking, and crowds. 

To celebrate Spring, I decided to choose brightly-hued premium flowers that my mother-in-law would not be as familiar with.  


This arrangement cost me roughly $21 - $6 for ranunculus bunch, $10 for green hydrangeas, and $5 for the glass vase. Note: Pricing was slightly higher due to holiday.

My friend told me that my bouquet can go for $60+ if purchased at a retail establishment. Not only did I save money, my friend complimented me on my arrangement. Hurray!

Learn more about these flowers...

Slow-Cooked Pot Roast

For Mother's Day, my mother-in-law wanted "the kids" to cook for her. Since our time was limited, I decided to bring out the slow-cooker and make a pot roast. Read on for the recipe and my tips.

Slow-cooker vs. Crock Pot?
Crock Pot is to slow-cooker as Kleenex is to tissue. Slow-cooker is the name of the tool. Crock Pot is a popular brand. 

My slow cooker is relatively new. This is only my third time using it. I bought mine from Costco. It is by Hamilton Beach for $50+. 

One of the features that I like most is that you can pull out the "pot" and cook with it on the stove top. It's especially good for searing meat. Less dishes = happy cook.  

What a Crock!

I'm a slow-cooker newbie, but so far I haven't been enthused by the food produced from it. Texture and convenience is great. But, I feel that the flavors are not as exciting. 

Recipe and Tips

I found a recipe for a classic pot roast on the Whole Foods website. Pot roast is hearty and inexpensive to make. 

I had to increase the portions, so I upped the meat portion and added more vegetables. But, you cannot necessarily double the rest of the ingredients; rules of slow-cooker cooking are different. 

Here is how I adjusted the recipe:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Specialty Produce

I have a friend who works at Frieda's Inc., a specialty product company. Their foods are available to you at select grocers like Sprouts and Vons.

From time to time her company has an employee sale where she can buy samples of products. These "samples" come in restaurant-size boxes for a whopping $3 per case. The only downside is that you they come in bulk and can spoil pretty quickly. 

Thanks to her, I've had the opportunity to try these amazing fresh fruits and vegetables:
(Special shout out to Joyce & Hanna)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cooking with Coriander Seeds

What is Coriander?

Coriander is the seed (dry fruit) from the cilantro plant. Did you know that outside of the U.S., cilantro leaves are commonly referred to as coriander?

I have not been exposed to coriander up until last year. Probably because it is not a common spice used in Korean cooking. Now that my eyes have been opened, I am going to try to incorporate this spice more.
You can buy coriander seeds whole or grounded. They are readily available at your local grocery store. 

I prefer the whole seeds since you can grind them fresh for maximum flavor. And, you have the flexibility of using them whole when a recipe calls for it.

I have read recommendations on toasting it before grinding for even more flavor.

You can grind the whole seeds with a coffee bean grinder. I use my Magic Bullet. You can also use a mortar and pestle.

What does it tastes like?

Sautéed Chicken With Coconut Oil, Ginger and Coriander

Sautéed Chicken with Lemon Parmesan Kale & Red Quinoa

My Recipe for Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • You can buy at Trader Joe's, Mother's Market, Whole Foods
  • Substitute chopped chives for scallions
    • Make use of my newest herbs in my garden
    • I recommend using the scallions
  • 1/2"-1" peeled ginger, finely chopped  
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3-4 chicken breasts
    • I used 3 breasts (1lb. total)
  • 1/4 lemon wedge 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the coriander and cook 30 seconds more.
2. Optional - Lightly pound out breasts with meat tenderizer (fancy kitchen hammer) just until you achieve even thickness to help even cooking. Don't go too thin, or it will overcook and become dry. 
3. Lightly salt and pepper breasts.
4. Add the chicken to pan. Cook, until you see bottom half of breast opaque, 5+ minutes. Flip to cook other side, another 5+ minutes. Sprinkle chives and cook until just wilted, 10 to 15 seconds. Squeeze lemon juice. 

Here is the original recipe from NY Times

Terrarium Kit

What is a terrarium?

Traditionally, it's a spherical glass (or other transparent material) container for plants. Nowadays, any mini garden in a glass container are called terrariums. It doesn't matter if the opening is big or small. But, the plants should truly be contained within the vessel. 

Terrarium Kit

Try this terrarium kit from Nordstrom. It's only $12. But, you'll have to grow the sedum succulents from seeds. And, it doesn't include the container.

Here are some options for glass vases from CB2:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sacre bleu, Retail Prices

Are Succulents Expensive?

After making my own container succulent garden, I understand now why retail arrangements are perceivably "expensive." It's a combination of the costs of plants + container + labor + profit.

Of course, it can be cheaper if you DIY. But, depending on the plants and container you choose, you might spend less doll-hairs if you buy. It all depends on what you want. 

Here are cute and relatively inexpensive mini succulent gardens from Trader Joe's going for $13+tax. 


Monday, May 6, 2013

I Suck at Succulents

My First Container Garden
Succulents are all the rage these days. While I was never interested in them before, seeing modern and eclectic arrangements pop up everywhere has piqued my intrigue. I especially adore the little ones. 
 Designs by Aggelige
With the encouragement of my friends, I finally decided to start "raising" them. 

These were my excuses for putting it off:

Hurray for Hobbies: Introduction

Welcome to my new blog. It's about my newfound hobbies--succulent cooking and succulent gardening. 

Sufferin' succotash! Can you believe I didn't have any hobbies before?  

Well, my OCD personality turned these little hobbies into quite the obsession, so I decided to document my journey. I hope it will bring a smile to your face and give you a little inspiration. 

Here's my story about cooking: