Life at Warp Speed

life, faith, food, parenting, homeschooling and just about anything else that is on my mind

Pumpkin Cheesecake November 30, 2013

Filed under: American,Recipes,Sweet Eats — lifeatwarpspeed @ 9:47 pm

At the request of my sister in law and my friend, D, who were both visiting over Thanksgiving, I am sharing the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake I served. I have been making this cheesecake for the for well over a decade, and it has never failed me.
I really like the sour cream topping which offers a nice contrast to the silky texture of the cheesecake. So, I wouldn’t suggest skipping this step. Since this cheesecake is finished with a topping, you can skip the extra work of baking with a water bath which I highly recommend to avoid cracking when doing regular cheesecakes. Hope you enjoy this!




1 1/2      cups  graham cracker crumbs

1/4         cup  sugar

1/3         cup  butter — melted

Cheesecake filling:

3              packages  cream cheese — softened

1              cup  sugar

1/4         cup  light brown sugar — packed

1 3/4     cups  pumpkin, canned or pureed roasted pumpkin flesh

2              eggs — at room temperature

2/3         cup  evaporated milk

2              tablespoons  cornstarch

1 1/4      teaspoons  ground cinnamon

1/2          teaspoon  ground nutmeg


2               cups  sour cream — at room temperature

1/4          cup  sugar

1               teaspoon  vanilla extract

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up side of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar in large mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, and evaporated milk. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat well. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until edges is set.
Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over surface of warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Cool on wire rack. Run a thin knife around the cheesecake to loosen it from the side of the pan before removing the ring, and chill several hours or overnight.


Five Variations for the Humble Steamed Egg Custard September 30, 2013

Filed under: Asian (other than Chinese),Chinese,Recipes — lifeatwarpspeed @ 3:17 pm
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Today’s FB post by a friend (and the subsequent comments) inspired me to share my tested and true collection of savory steamed egg custard recipes. This is the epitome of comfort food that many of us recall from the kitchen table in many Asian households. It is a simple, protein-rich, budget-conscious dish that satisfies and feeds the family and the soul. I am sure that one or more of these recipes will remind you of something your mother, auntie or grandmother used to serve to you. I used to make egg custards for my mom during her fight with cancer since this was a good source of protein, but easy to eat and digest. None of these are hard to make, just remember to steam it over gently simmering water. A hard boil will render your steamed egg hard rather than silky smooth.

Note: If you do not own a steam rack, they are very inexpensive at your local Asian grocery. Or you can remove the top and bottom of a can of tuna or use two pairs of wooden chopsticks laid out in a square for your wok or stir fry pan.


 Steamed Egg Custard 

4 eggs — lightly beaten

1 green onion — thinly sliced

1  teaspoon  sesame oil

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/8  teaspoon  white pepper

1 1/2  cups chicken broth

1/2 cup  ham — diced, cooked crabmeat, shrimp (can be omitted)

Combine eggs, green onion, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir in broth until evenly blended, then stir in the ham, crab meat or shrimp.

Place a steam rack in a wok and add water to just below the level of the rack. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat so the water simmers gently. Pour egg mixture into a glass pie plate or pour into 4 individual custard cups. Set cups on rack and cover. Steam until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Steamed Egg Custard with Oyster Sauce

2 tablespoons  dried shrimp — soaked and drained (can be omitted)

4  large  eggs

1 tablespoon  light soy sauce — or oyster sauce

1  tablespoon  vegetable oil

1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro or green onions — minced for garnish

Bring 3/4 cup of water to boil and allow to cool. In a small bowl, soak dried shrimp in 3 T of cold water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Roughly chop the shrimp. (I often omit this because it can be difficult to find dried shrimp not sourced from China. However, there is something about the taste and flavor that can’t be replicated with substitutions.)

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in cooled water and soaking liquid. Transfer egg mixture to a 9-inch shallow bowl, add the dried shrimp, and stir to combine.

Bring water to a boil over high heat in a cover steamer larger enough to fit the dish. Carefully place the dish into steamer, cover, and lower heat to medium, and steam 10 to 13 minutes, or just until custard is set. Check the water level and replenish with boiling water. Carefully remove dish from steamer.

Pour soy sauce over the custard. In a small skillet, heat oil until hot but not smoking over high heat. Carefully pour hot oil over custard. The oil will make a cracking sound as it hits the sauce. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, and serve immediately.

Steamed Eggs with Clams

4   eggs

1   can  chopped clams

1 1/2  cups  water — boiled and cooled

1/4   teaspoon  salt

1 1/2    teaspoons  oyster sauce

1 green onion — thinly sliced

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well with a fork. Drain clams, reserving the clam liquid in measuring cup. Add enough of the cooled water to the clam liquid to make 1 3/4 cups. Add eggs with the clams and salt and stir until blended. Pour into heatproof dish.

Set a rack in a pot and add water to a depth of 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Set the dish on the rack. Lower the heat to a simmer and steam for 25 minutes. The eggs are done when they don’t jiggle in the middle when the dish is taped or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Pour the oyster sauce over the eggs and spread evenly over the surface with the bottom of a spoon. If desired , sprinkle with chopped green onion.

Chawan-Mushi (Japanese Egg Custard)

1  cup  dashi — warm (preferably not the msg-laden granules as that will make this dish too salty)

1  egg

1  teaspoon  soy sauce

2  medium  shrimp — shelled and deveined

2  small  shiitake mushrooms

2  slices  kamoboko

Mic dashi, egg, and soy sauce in a small bowl and divide equally between two containers. Drop the shrimip, shiitake, and kamaboko into the cups. Cover the mouth of each cup with plastic wrap before steaming. Put cups in a wide-mouth pot. Add enough water to pot to reach halfway up the cups. Cover and bring water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and steam for 15 minutes. Don’t let water bubble too vigorously.

Steamed Savory Egg Custard with Tofu

4    eggs

4    tablespoons  chicken broth

1    tablespoon  soy sauce

salt and white pepper — to taste

1/4  pound  tofu — silken soft, cut in small cubes

2   teaspoons  sesame oil

1   green onion — minced

In a small bowl, combine eggs, broth, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir until egg yolks are completely broken and well blended. Lightly grease a shallow 8-inch bowl with a few drops of sesame oil. Gently pour in egg mixture, add tofu cubes and sprinkle with green onion. Place in wok with enough water to reach the bottom of the bowl. Bring water to a gentle simmer and steam custard for about 20 minutes or until just set, being sure to keep the heat very low so that the custard will stay smooth. Remove from heat and drizzle with remaining sesame oil and serve warm.


Split Pea Soup September 29, 2013

Filed under: American,Recipes — lifeatwarpspeed @ 8:50 pm
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Who doesn’t notice Andersen Pea Soup when making the trek up or down the 5? Our last road trip to the Bay Area made me think about split pea soup. Since there is no way I was going to pay that crazy tourist pricing for a bowl of soup, I decided to make a whole pot for less than the same price as one bowl. Even though it isn’t anywhere close to winter here in SD, I decided today to work on my next incarnation of split pea soup. Since this one turned out well, I will share it with all of you as the weather is getting a bit nippy for my friends in the northern states.
  • 1 pound dried split peas
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ham bone, smoked ham hocks or shanks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil (coconut, avocado or olive are preferred)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional topping ideas to serve: crumbled bacon, croutons, shredded cheese, curry powder or sour cream


  1. Pick over the peas to any debris or undesirable peas. In a large stock pot, cover peas with 2 quarts cold water and soak overnight. Soaking overnight removes naturally occurring toxins from the peas. I do not recommend skipping this step.
  2. Once peas are soaked, rinse and drain the peas. While the peas are draining, heat oil over medium heat in the pot, Add the onions and cook over medium low heat until they start to get soft, translucent and slightly browned.
  3. Return the peas to the pot, add ham bone, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Pour in the water and cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if you want a thinner soup. Continue to cook and reduce if you prefer a thicker soup consistency.
  4. Remove bone; cut off meat, dice or shred, and return meat to soup. If you want to have smooth soup, use an immersion blender before adding back the meat. Add diced celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper if desired to taste.

This recipe can be adapted for a slow cooker.



Southwestern Black Bean Salad August 19, 2013

Filed under: American — lifeatwarpspeed @ 5:20 pm

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Who wants to slave away in a hot kitchen when it is hot outside? I found this recipe during my nocturnal roaming online after M is in bed for the night. I altered the recipe to suit my taste and decided to add cucumbers and zucchini. This works well as a pot luck dish or a side dish. Even as extra filling for burritos or leftovers are pretty good over salad greens for a quick lunch.


  • 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 9 oz cooked corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen) or 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed (you can substitute garlic powder)
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, chopped (or 1/2 English cucumber chopped, Persian or English are preferred since they are drier), optional
  • 2 small zucchini (green, crookneck, etc., as long as they are young since they are not as fibrous or bitter), optional
  • 1 1/2 – 2 limes, juice of
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced cilantro (or more to taste, parsley may be substituted if you prefer)
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 medium Haas avocado, diced
  • 1 diced jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds to reduce heat, optional)

In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, cucumbers, zucchini, onion, garlic, scallion, cilantro,  salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lime juice to taste and stir in olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes. You can also make this ahead of time. It keeps well overnight as the flavor really develops. Add avocado just before serving.



Chinese Stoke Writing App – Free limited time! March 13, 2012

Filed under: Apps,Chinese,Kids — lifeatwarpspeed @ 1:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

App Store – Chinese1.

M and I have been playing with i Learn to Write’s Chinese Stroke Writing app designed for the iPhone and iPad this week. It is a pretty good app designed for English speaking children learning to write Chinese. The app covers the 20 basic strokes and 20 common radicals which is more than enough to get your child started in learning the correct stroke forms.

I am particularly fond of the pictorial examples that are used to demonstrate each stroke and the proper direction. For example, the right falling stoke for 捺 (na4) is pictured as a playground slide as a memory tool. This makes this app very child friendly and visually appealing. Out of all the Chinese stroke apps that I have tried with M, this one has captured his interest and engaged him the longest. This is far more fun and engaging way to introduce writing than tedious practice on character practice paper especially for young children who struggle with fine motor skills.

The app interface is a bit on the sensitive side, so your child will have to be somewhat precise when tracing the stroke which is rather important in Chinese writing anyways. If you don’t follow the stroke correctly, the pencil will not move to the next stroke in sequence until you redo the stroke. There is no need to wonder where to start since the pencil always marks where the proper place to start the stroke. There are audio as well as pin yin with tone markings so that your child can learn how to pronounce the character.

Currently, this app is available for free download for a limited time. It is normally $0.99 which is well worth the price. There is also a free lite version available to try out in case you miss out on the free download.

Highly recommended for children age 3  and up.



Panzanella – Italian Bread Salad February 25, 2012

Filed under: European (French, Italian, etc.) — lifeatwarpspeed @ 8:00 pm
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Summer equals juicy, sweet tomatoes which means it is the perfect time for Panzanella. Please make this with home grown or farmer’s market tomatoes. It makes all the difference in this dish. With all the warm weather, I am dreaming of the day that I can make this yummy bread salad. This is the version I developed after testing out a few different versions.


Serves 6 to 8

  • 6 cups of bread cubes (or use bread that is slightly old and skip the toasting step)
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into chunks.
  • 3 to 5  slices of red onion, quartered (depends on your tastes)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into chunks (seeded if needed)
  • 1/4 cup of basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T of red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place bread cubes on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Transfer bread to a large bowl.

Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, garlic and vinegar and toss to mix well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil and basil and mix. Allow salad to sit at room temperature for up to one hour to allow the flavors to develop and the bread to absorb the juices. Taste and add more vinegar, olive oil, salt or pepper as desired.


For a gluten free version, toast cubes of Udi’s white sandwich bread instead.


5-4-3-2-1 Chinese Spareribs February 24, 2012

Filed under: Chinese — lifeatwarpspeed @ 10:08 pm
Tags: ,

People often think Chinese cooking just takes too much prep work and cutting. This is a pretty simple, tasty recipe to make. There are plenty of variations out there of this quick Taiwanese recipe.

Here is my version:

5-4-3-2-1 Chinese Spareribs

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 lbs pork ribs (cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks)*
  • 5 T water
  • 4 T soy sauce (can sub light soy or use less to taste)
  • 3 T of rice wine
  • 2 T of sugar (or brown sugar or use Chinese rock sugar)
  • 1 T vinegar (or rice vinegar or black vinegar)
  • 1 T of vegetable oil.

Note: you can switch sugar and vinegar measurements if you like a more tart, tangy flavor.

In a large wide-mouthed heavy-bottomed pot or wok, heat oil. When hot, add spareribs and cook until browned. Add the water, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and vinegar. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to prevent the ribs from drying out. The ribs are ready when the meat is tender and glossed with a sticky, reddish-brown glaze. Serve with freshly steamed rice and some Chinese greens.


*Asian markets will cut spareribs across the bone into strips. If you are unable to get ribs cut like this, you can substitute country style ribs.


Ham Hocks and Beans Recipe February 18, 2012

Filed under: American — lifeatwarpspeed @ 7:03 pm

This is Emeril Lagasse’s recipe that I started making this winter. Since P decided to start eating according the Four Hour Body Diet (similar to the paleo diet that a lot of people are following these days), I have started cooking a lot more beans and lentils to accommodate his diet.  It is super easy to make and delicious. I actually opt to only use half the ham hocks, and it turns out fine. I also substitute cannellini beans if I can’t find navy white beans. Also, try adding some creole seasonings to add some more flavor. This is a very satisfying dish when it is cold out.



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 medium smoked ham hocks, about 4 ounces each
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound dried navy white beans
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt


In a medium Dutch oven with a lid, over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, sear the ham hocks in batches, until brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the ham hock and set aside. Add the onions. Season with pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the beans and bay leaves. Season with pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Add the reserved ham hocks and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat falls of the bone and the beans are creamy. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.


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