Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mint Pesto Lamb with Ravioli

My first time cooking lamb, and I really didn't know what I was doing, but I loosely adapted this recipe and served it with a side of ravioli. Overall not bad, but bc the meat wasn't marinated in anything, it wasn't very flavorful. In the original recipe you're supposed to use rack of lamb, maybe that inherently has more flavor?

Mint Pesto Lamb Steaks with Ravioli

To prep the lamb:
- Large leg of lamb steak (~3/4 lbs)
- Olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat. When the oil is hot, sear each side of the lamb steak for ~3min each, until nicely browned. Then place the skillet (with oil and juices) into the oven and roast for ~30 min, or until the lamb is almost done to your liking (I roasted for 30 min because I like it well done and after 30 min, it was about medium-well done).

For the pesto:
- 1/2 c loosely packed mint leaves (but 1/2 c basil leaves would be way better)
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- a few dashes of salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil

While the lamb is roasting, in a food processor, blend together the mint, nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt. Then add olive oil and a little water if necessary to make a smooth creamy paste.

When the lamb steaks are almost ready, drain the juices from the skillet. Then spread the pesto over the meat and place back into the oven for ~5 min. Serve with ravioli, below.

For the ravioli:
- 1 pack Trader Joe's goat cheese and sun-dried tomato ravioli (from the refrigerated section)
- 1/2 jar of marinara sauce (my recipe for this amount is below)
- 3 medium mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)
- 1/4-1/2 c frozen spinach
- olive oil

Prepare the ravioli as instructed on the packaging. While the ravioli is boiling, coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Then add the mushrooms and spinach. When the mushrooms are cooked through, add the marinara sauce and drained ravioli and sautee until the sauce is heated.

Marinara Sauce:
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated, (preferable) or 1Tbsp dried, minced, garlic
- 3 small-medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 Tbsp dry Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sugar

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onions and sautee until the onions are translucent. If using fresh garlic, add it and sautee for another minute. Then add the tomatoes and other seasonings. Once the tomatoes are completely cooked (i.e., they've completely disintegrated except for the skins), allow the mixture to cool and then blend into a liquid in a blender.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Oh no. I typed up this recipe. And then accidentally ate all the pie before taking a picture!! Oooops. I feel bad stealing the picture from the blog the recipe is from, so, click the link below to see pictures!!


Like everyone else, I made a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. This pie turned out perfect--light and fluffy and not very sweet. Definitely a keeper recipe! (Adapted from here)

this pie crust, but with pecans instead of walnuts

2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup skim milk
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
dash of salt
2 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 10-inch pie pan (the deeper the better) with crust. Bake the empty crust for 10-15 min.

2. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl until they are blended. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt. When they are blended, stir in the melted butter and pour the filling into the pie shell.

3. Place the pie in the oven and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick poked into the center of the pie comes out clean. Set the pie on a rack to cool. This pie tastes great cold, room temp, or warm, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Climbing Cake

This one was for a rock climbing enthusiast. The base is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. We also baked a chocolate cake, which was cut to the shape of a rock and placed on top of the carrot cake.

Moose Cake!

No fancy recipes here. Just a quick cake I made for an Alsakan friend that I thought I'd share. This is just a yellow box cake with chocolate frosting. The piping is cream cheese frosting done by cutting a small hole in a ziplock bag. The inspiration was Bullwinkle!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Kale

I had something similar to this last year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and have been dying to recreate it ever since. It is the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. Here is my modified version:

Ingredients (serves 4):
Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Ravioli (2 packs)
Kale (1 big bunch, about 6 cups of leaves)
Garlic (3 cloves, minced)
Olive oil (1/4 cup)
Almonds (small handfull, chopped)
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Pull off the kale leaves from the stalks, and wash well
Chop into strips about a cm thick
Bring a pot of water (with salt) to a boil
Add the kale, and let kale sit in boiling water for 3 mins
Drain, but keep about 1/2 cup of drained water
Add the olive oil and garlic to the kale
Add the drained water and let steam for 3-5 mins

Cook the ravioli as per directions on the package

Serve the kale over the ravioli and top with the cheese and almonds

Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Filling

When I bake, there are three has to be eggless, quick, and delicious. Here is one of my favorite combinations that I have used in both cake and cupcake form.

The cake is easy...I use Duncan Hines devil's food chocolate cake mix. Instead of egg, oil, and water, I add milk (to replace the quantity of water on the box). The cake rises very well even without the egg. You can make a sheet cake or cupcakes.

Filling: Fresh strawberries and sugar at a ratio of two-three table spoons of sugar per small basket of strawberries depending on sweetness of berries. Chop the strawberries up into very small pieces, and heat berries and sugar on the stove top at a high setting. Let the mixture boil, and the moisture evaporate, and stir often. Eventually, the mixture will start to resemble a jelly. You want to wait until this stage, as too much moisture in the filling with make your cake soggy.

For a cake, spread the filling between layers. If you will be storing the cake before consuming, a thin layer of frosting between each layer of cake and the filling will help keep the moisture in the filling out of the cake.

For cupcakes, use a deep bottle cap (one from a screwtop bottle of wine works well) to drill/scoop out a hole in each cupcake. Fill this hole with the filling, and then frost.

Frosting: I have used both cream cheese and chocolate frosting with this combo, and both taste great!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Turkey/Bean burgers

For a barbeque recently, I put together these turkey burgers filled with veggies. For the vegetarian guests, I made a few with beans instead of turkey. Both turned out great!

(photo courtesy of ruohuif)

Turkey Burgers and Bean Burgers
Yield: 4 bean burgers, 8 turkey burgers

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp garlic paste
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 can beans (try black beans, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans), strained
6oz ground turkey meat

Combine all ingredients except for beans and turkey in a large mixing bowl. Place the beans in another mixing bowl and gently mash them. Then combine them with 1/3 of the veggie mixture. Add the turkey meat to the original mixing bowl (2/3 of the veggie mixture) and combine.

Now that you have the turkey and bean mixtures, just form them into patties and place them on the grill. The bean mixture will probably be pretty liquidy, so you might have to cook the patties on aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.

Arroz Con Pollo

I got a slow cooker recently, and one of the first things I made was arroz con pollo, which is a very tasty Cuban dish consisting of saffron rice with shredded chicken, peas, and red peppers. Slow cookers are very easy to use, because you just put all the ingredients in the pot and cook it for a long time.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
about a cup of frozen peas
1 (14 oz) can of chicken broth
1/2 a red pepper, cut into strips and sauteed lightly
1 (5 oz) packet of saffron rice
shredded cheese, to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients in slow cooker (mine recommended using the 4-quart pot for this, but I found that the 2-quart pan was plenty big). Cook on high for 4 hours (I found that it only needed to be on high for about 3 hours and then I turned it down to low for an hour, although it was fully cooked after 3 hours on high. The most important thing is that the chicken be fully cooked.) Slow cookers naturally make the meat very tender, so after cooking you can easily shred the chicken using a fork or spoon, and then stir to combine before serving. If you like cheese, you can also stir in some shredded cheese before serving, and then you can season with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika to suit your tastes. Note: If you want to cook this all day while you're at work, you can cook it on low for eight hours, but set it to cook on high for 1 hour before it switches to low. For food safety reasons, raw chicken needs to be cooked on high at first to kill bacteria, because it grows too fast when its cooked on low.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Poker Face

Another simple out-of-the-box sheet cake from me. I think the theme of the party this cake is going to is obvious. I was trying to recreate her classic look when she tied her hair into a bow.
This was a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. I flipped the cake out of the silicon cake pan for a flat surface to work with. I first frosted the cake with the frosting, and then used a butter knife to cut out the shape. If you cut first and frost second, chocolate crumbs from your cake will mix with the frosting giving you a kind of 'oreo' look, which I didn't want for Miss Gaga's face. The colors were made by adding food coloring. I added the texture of hair using a fork. For the sunglasses and lips, I put the frosting into Ziplock bags, cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bags, and piped on the details. The end result: Ga-ga-ohh-la-la!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Spanakopita" "Caprese" "Quesadillas"

Lots of quotes because this dish had several multicultural influences. This recipe about spanakopita pesto inspired me because I had a ton of spinach sitting around, and what's better with pesto than tomato and fresh mozarella? That said, I didn't want to put it all in a grilled caprese sandwich because bread felt too heavy, so I decided to go with tortillas instead. Phew, that's a long chain of thought. Anyway, the whole meal turned out delicious! I'm happy to have lots of leftover ingredients so I can make these again!

Pesto Ingredients (makes enough pesto to generously layer in ~5 quesadillas)
2 c. baby spinach leaves, packed
1/2 c. mint leaves, packed
3 Tbsp walnuts
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until combined. It's that simple!

For the quesadillas, I just heated up a lightly greased griddle, placed one tortilla on, smothered it in the pesto, the chopped some tomato and mozarella slices on top, and put another tortilla on. I absolutely LOVE the griddle for this sort of this. It's basically a big pan with no sides to worry about! Anyway also, I tried trader joe's handmade whole wheat tortillas, and they were incredible! I love that place! Also, next time, to go with the spinach, I'm going to try making these quesadillas with feta...mmm!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Just a little shout out to all our moms! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Simple Guacamole & Hummus

Guacamole: California + avocados = awesome. For reals. The easiest way to entertain is to have a bowl of fresh, homemade guacamole and some chips, so that's just what I did. I forgot to take pictures that time, but decided to make another batch for a BBQ with friends - they spread it on the hamburgers to make guacamole hamburger - that was absolutely delicious. :)

3 ripe Hass avocados
2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced (I used white, but I'm thinking red would be better).
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper

1. Cut the avocados in half, slicing around the pit. Remove the pit. Make horizontal and vertical cuts into the avocado shell, making sure to not pierce the shell itself. With a spoon, scoop out the meat in cubes. Mash with the lemon juice to keep it from turning black. You could also keep 1/2 an avocado separate from the mash, cut it into smaller cubes, and mix it in to make the guac chunky.
2. Mix in the tomatoes and onions, adjusting the amount to your taste and based on the size of your tomatoes and onions.
3. Add the spices. Adjust amount to your taste. I personally prefer a little more cayenne pepper and sometimes also a dash of paprika. Serve with chips.

Hummus: Along with guacamole, I also like making a simple hummus. I thought about adding roasted peppers, but decided to leave that for next time. I don't like garlic, so I didn't add any of that. Turns out this is a very simple dip to make, and is both healthy and cheap. I don't know why store-bought hummus is always so expensive, when the ingredients are so cheap and the process so effortless. I forgot to bring cayenne pepper & paprika when I made the BBQ's hummus though, and that changed the flavor a lot - I recommend not skipping that.

2 cans 16oz chick peas, or garbanzo beans
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tahini (optional)

1. Drain the garbanzo beans. Reserve the liquid from 1 can.
2. Put the garbanzo beans and lemon juice in the food processor. Blend for a few minutes, using a spoon at intervals to mix it and make sure all the skins are being minced. Add the olive oil, spices, tahini. Add the reserved liquid a little at a time, blending in between, until you get the thickness and consistency you want. Adjust spices to taste.
3. That's it! So simple!

I keep talking about a BBQ, and thought it would be fitting to end this post with a picture of the BBQ, so here you go - open flame! (I'm starting to think I might have something of a pyro streak in me...)

Cream Puffs!

I originally considered making a whole croquembouche for my parents' anniversary, but then decided it'd be too hard to move and whatnot, so ended up just making the cream puffs instead. I also brought some to a BBQ with old friends, where it was very welcome. :) I like a richer filling than normal whipped cream, so I tried a cheese filling instead, and I gotta say, it worked out OK. After one bite, one of my friends declared I should start all dates by feeding the guy one of these.

1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp sugar
dash of salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Over high heat, bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil. Turn off heat and mix in the flour; it should pull away from the edges of the pot into a ball of dough. Wait a few minutes for it to cool slightly, then add one egg at a time, mixing to incorporate the whole egg before adding the next. The batter should be thick, but thin enough to slowly fall from a wooden spoon - add another egg if it's still too thick.
2. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip. Pipe 1" round, 1/2" high disks onto a foil or wax paper lined baking sheet, leaving some space in between each dollop. With a wet finger, knock down the tip of each dollop. Bake at 425F for 15min until puffy, then drop the temperature to 375F for another 10-15min, until golden brown.
3. Peel the puffs off the foil immediately; once the foil cools, it'll be hard to peel them off without peeling the bottom off the puff.

2/3 cup mascarpone
2/3 cup ricotta
3 Tbsp sugar (more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together. I couldn't figure out a way to pipe it into the puffs, so just slice the puffs halfway in the center and spoon a dollop of the filling inside, then close.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I made another great recipe from Lovin From the Oven, her Grandma's Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies (I cut her recipe in 1/4th since it makes an obscene amount of cookies).

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 and 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
15 oz dark chocolate chips
3 oz white chocolate chips
3 oz milk chocolate chips

Directions: Combine butter, shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until well mixed. Separately mix flour, baking soda, and salt and add to butter-sugar mixture until mixed. Add chocolate chips. Drop in spoonfuls on cookie sheet, bake at 375 for 11 minutes or until lightly brown.
The recipe claims to make 3 dozen, although I've found it makes about 4 dozen (unless you like your cookies giant).

You might notice that this looks almost exactly like the Nestle Tollhouse Recipe. In fact, there are only two differences: 1) subbing out half the butter for shortening, and 2) using different varieties, and a larger total amount, of chocolate chips. Shortening is apparently really ridiculously bad for you (something or other about trans fats...psh) but I think it makes cookies so excellent, because it has a higher melting point than butter or margarine, so the cookies don't spread out very much! They stay nice and fat, just the way I like them :P I also like my cookies loaded with chips, but if you don't, you could cut that down a little.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies

I couldn't decide if I wanted butterscotch brownies (like these) or just plain old chocolate brownies, so i thought, why not mix them?? The result was pretty ridiculous--incredibly chocolatey and rich and gooey with a crispy crust on top and amazing and probably all eaten in the next two hours hahaha

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c oil
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8x8 baking dish.

Melt butter in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Stir in oil, instant coffee, and sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Sift the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix to combine. Pour and spread into prepared pan. The batter will be really thick and sticky, so carefully spread it out in the pan.

Bake for ~30 min and then test with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to make cutting them easier.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Simple Turkey Chili

I had one pound of ground turkey in the freezer all winter and kept thinking I'd make chili someday, but didn't get around to it until today. It's been cold and rainy here lately, so I decided to warm myself up with a hot bowl of chili.

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1lb ground turkey
3 Roma tomatoes, finely diced (puree for a paste-like consistency if you'd like, but I thought a fine chop was good enough)
1 can (15oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

Seasonings to taste
cayenne pepper

1. Mix in some amount of the seasonings with the ground turkey. I'd say, 1 tsp salt and oregano, 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper and paprika. You'll def have to do more adjusting, but it's nice to give the meat some flavor as well.

2. In a medium stockpot over medium-high flame, saute the onions until slightly browned. Stir in the ground turkey, making sure to break up clumps. When there's only a little bit of pink left, stir in the beans and tomato. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for a few minutes; stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

3. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with a dash of chives, a sprinkle of grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream, a handful of tortilla chips... whatever you desire. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rosemary Flatbread

I considered making focaccia, but I'd already made the dough for Light Whole Wheat Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Oops. I went through with the remainder of the instructions anyway, and the result turned out pretty well, though with a harder crust than I expected, so I'm not comfortable calling it focaccia. Taking 1lb of your typical bread dough, preheat the oven to 425F. Grease the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil. Make a round dough, then roll it out to about 3/4in thickness. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and 1 Tbsp dried rosemary on top. You can also add some lightly sauteed onions, or in my case, sliced olives (I love olives). Drizzle the top with some olive oil. Pop into oven and pour 1 cup hot water into a broiler tray, then quickly close the oven to seal in the steam. Bake for 25min, adjusting for thickness of dough.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Banana Carrot Oatmeal Pancakes

Adapted from this recipe, these pancakes are superhealthy, and reheat incredibly well. I've been making them over the weekend and enjoying them all week long, topped with various fruits, like apples, bananas, and strawberries instead of syrup.

Yield: 8-10 pancakes

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2 packets (~1/2 c) instant oatmeal (any flavor will do, but I prefer plain or something NONfruity)
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
1 1/2-2 c soymilk (i've been using the sweetened soy milk and omitting sugar in the recipe)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 ripe banana, mashed

Combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, and spices (if using) in a large mixing bowl. If using sweetened instant oatmeal, I like to sieve it first to get rid of all the excess sugar. Measure out 1 1/2 c soymilk and mix together with eggs, oil, carrots, and banana. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just moist. Depending on how thick you like your pancakes, add more soymilk (I end up adding at least 1/2 c more). Heat a griddle or nonstick frying pan over medium high to high heat and lightly coat with oil. When the pan is ready (a few drops of water should spatter around when dropped on a ready griddle), pour about 1/4-1/2 c of batter onto the pan. Use the back of a spoon to quickly spread it out a bit to the desired thickness. Cook for a couple minutes, until the top of the pancake changes color slightly and bubbles form. Flip the pancake over and cook for another few minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Enjoy right away, or refrigerate and pop in the microwave for 30 seconds. These taste great with a little syrup, some butter and cinnamon, warmed jelly, or simply sliced fruit!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Grilled asparagus with a twist

1.5 lbs asparagus
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Zest of 1 orange
Small handful of finely chopped almonds

Remove fibrous ends of the asparagus, and the cut stems in half. Heat olive oil in a stir fry pan. Keep at medium heat. Add in asparagus. Roll each stem around in the oil so it is coated. Sprinkle the salt and pepper. Once asparagus has been in for a couple minutes, add the garlic, and 3/4 of the lemon zest. Mix in. After another couple minutes, add the butter (in thin slices). Total cook time is 5-7 minutes, but keep taste checking to make sure the asparagus doesn't get over cooked. Once cooked, immediately transfer to a cool serving bowl. Pour the excess oil/butter from the stir fry pan over the asparagus. Top with the remaining orange zest and almonds.

Breakfast, Desi Style: Akoori

Yield: 2-3 breakfast servings

6 green onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger paste
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper or 1 green chili, sliced lengthwise
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin-corriendar powder
2 small roma tomatoes, finely chopped
4 eggs
salt to taste
vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Sautee the onions for 1-2 min until slightly softened. Add the garlic, ginger paste, and green chili (if using), and sautee for another minute. Add the remaining spices and the tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes have released their water and the water has evaporated. Add the eggs and scramble. Cook to desired done-ness. Add salt to taste. I love to eat this with toasted english muffins with a light layer of mayo, or fresh hot rotis. mmm

Salmon Cakes with Papaya Salsa

I was craving crab cakes (but I only had salmon), and I found an incredibly cheap papaya from the Milk Pail Market, so I came up with a tasty way to combine them!

For the salmon cakes:
1 pound salmon
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 slice of bread, toasted and crumbled
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
5-10 stalks of parsley, minced
1 egg
1 carrot, peeled and grated

For the salsa:
1/2 papaya, cut into small cubes
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
10-15 stalks parsley, minced

Heat the salmon in the microwave until half cooked, until it is easy to flake (2 min or so). Place it into a large mixing bowl with the other ingredients for the salmon cakes and combine everything together. Heat a griddle or nonstick frying pan and lightly coat with olive oil. Take a small amount of the salmon and form a patty with your hands (as large or as small as you'd like). Place on the hot griddle and cook for a few minutes until golden brown (~4 min). Turn the patty over and cook on the other side for a similar amount of time. To make the salsa, combine all ingredients. Place the salsa on top of the cooked fish and enjoy!

Dosa: South Indian Crepes

Dosa is a thin crepe made from a paste made of soaked rice and beans. They're filled with all sorts of (savory) things, most often potatoes and peas. Sometimes, they are made really large (up to 18in). Here's a picture of a couple of smaller ones cooking on the can tell how thin they are because you can see the griddle itself through them!

And here's a terrible-no-good picture of a typical potato and pea filling (I got too busy eating to remember to take another pic! oooops)

New Year's Cake

My mom made one of her signature cakes for new year's eve (oh right, that was months ago...oops!). Chocolate, with cream cheese buttercream frosting, and topped with homemade blueberry syrup. Scrumptious! I wanted to eat it allllll

The Cheesiest Pizza Ever in other words, the most delicious food in the world (aside from burritos, perhaps, but that's a discussion for another day...)

Spinach-Pesto pizza from Paxti's in Palo Alto:

This place is fabulous! You have to wait just about 12 years for your pizza, but it's well worth it!


The quotes are in the title because i'm sure this is far from authentic, but it's still amazing!

Yield: 3-4 full-meal servings

10 no-boil lasagna sheets (better if they're flat, but the frilly kind should work too)
2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
1 zucchini, julienned (is that the right verb form??)
3 gloves of garlic, grated
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 jar creamy marinara sauce
shredded mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken breasts, zucchini, garlic, cream cheese, and egg, plus a little salt and pepper, if desired.

Boil the lasagna sheets briefly, until they are just softened. Then place 1/10 of the chicken mixture onto the short side of one of the sheets, and roll the sheet into a tube. Place into an 8x8 pan greased lightly with olive oil. Roll up all of the lasagna sheets this way and arrange them in the baking pan. Pour the sauce over the tubes. Wriggle the tubes around a bit to make sure the sauce gets in between the tubes. Sprinkle as much cheese as desired on top, cover with foil, and bake until the cheese is melted, the noodles are softened, and the sauce is bubbling.

Goan style shrimp curry

Adapted this recipe for a DELICIOUS and simple curry that i've made several times now. a few comments:
- tastes great with other proteins too, like chicken or tofu
- the spice proportions in this recipe make it INCREDIBLY can cut the dry spices in half and it would still taste delicious
- i put in twice as much coconut milk...because it comes in 1/2 cup cans so it's easier to just use up the whole it tempers the spice...and of's so amazing(ly bad for you, but let's not think about that!)
- i like to put in about twice as many curry leaves too
- tasted delicious with some red wine

eggs, mexican style!

photo progression of huevos rancheros i made a while ago...corn tortillas layered with homemade guacamole (avocado, tomatoes, onions, lime juice, slivers of lettuce), black beans, a poached egg (instructions here) and "ranchero sauce" (quotes because it was totally improvised--just tomatoes and onions cooked with garlic, cumin, corriendar, chili power)...delicious!!! not quite as good as the fresh version at the sunnyvale farmer's market, but it'll do if it's not saturday morning :)

ps, something else i did with the ranchero sauce and avocado and beans...fajita pumpkin crepes...made some simple pumpkin crepes, filled with sauteed onions and bell peppers and cojita cheese, and topped with ranchero sauce and mashed avocado...yum!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles (vegan!)

My boyfriend LOVES raw cookie dough, but I don't like to eat it, because I am very paranoid about raw and undercooked eggs and poultry. Also, while I like it, its not SO good that it really tempts me to stray from my no-raw egg policy (brownie batter, on the other hand...). Anyway, when I saw this recipe for chocolate cookie dough truffles, I absolutely had to make them. I knew my boyfriend would love them, they're egg-free, and the added chocolate coating made them really exciting to me. They definitely did not disappoint...the recipe made at least 40 truffles and we gobbled them up in...oh, I don't know...three or four days?

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk or soy milk (I used regular skim milk)
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 12-oz package chocolate chips or dark candy coating (for dipping).

Beat butter and sugars and in large bowl with until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and stir until incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour. (I think I actually omitted this step when I did it...oops)

When dough is firm enough to handle (it may help to lightly flour your hands), form dough into 1″ balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Place sheets in the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate candy coating or chips in a double boiler or in microwave (I used the microwave - I zapped about half the chips at a time, for 30 seconds or until glossy and then stirred for awhile until they were completely melted.) Using forks or a dipping tool, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. (I actually used my hands because the cookie dough kept falling off the fork. Hands was VERY messy, but seemed to work well for the truffles). Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container. MMMMMM so good!

Coconut Chocolate Cookie

I like chocolate. I like coconut. I like cookies. So I combined them, and the result was very well-received. I mostly just modified a standard cookie recipe by adding flaked coconut and chocolate chips. I made some cookies without the chocolate chips because I thought there was too much chocolate, but my roommate's boyfriend convinced me that there's really no such things as too much chocolate. Sorry about the coldness of the picture though; I haven't quite worked out how to take good food pictures with my new camera.

1.25 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup minus 1 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.25 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheet(s).

2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until well blended. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients until well mixed. With a wooden spoon, mix in the coconut and chocolate chips last.

4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12min. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

PIstachio PIneapple cream PIe

I made a couple pi-stachio pi-neapple cream pi-es last weekend for pi day.
As usual the recipe is super simple and quick, and the fun was in the decorating.
I took these to a pi day party and my dance class.

Ingredients (makes 2 pies):
2 ready made crusts (graham or oreo)
1.5 packets of instant pistachio pudding powder (5.1oz)
1 can of unsweetened pineapple chunks (20oz)
2 cups of milk
8oz vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup of chocolate shavings
1/4 cup of very finely chopped almonds
chocolate frosting (optional)

Mix the pudding powder, ice cream, and milk and refrigerate for 5 mins to set.
Then mix in the chocolate, almonds, and pineapples.
Pour into crusts. Keep refrigerated or frozen until serving time.
Use frosting to decorate (optional) or top with the chocolate shavings and almonds.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Mom's Blueberry Crumb Cake

This cake has been a hit with anyone I have ever made it for.

3/4 C Sugar
1/4 C Soft Shortening (butter ok)
1 egg
1/2 C Milk
2 C Flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C Blueberries (use wild Maine blueberries, because, lets face it...all other blueberries are wannabes)

1/2 C Sugar
1/3 C Flour
1/4 C Butter (out of refrigerator for awhile but not really soft yet)
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
Blend with pastry blender

Grease and flour a 9x9 or 7x11 pan. Mix sugar, shortening and egg thoroughly. Stir in milk. Blend dry ingredients. Stir in. Carefully blend in blueberries. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Avocado Corn Quesadillas

This barely even counts as a recipe, but I love to make quesadillas - they are quick, easy, tasty and involve almost no clean-up. However just using cheese and some kind of meat gets boring quickly. The other day I had some frozen corn and an avocado on hand and I decided to make an avocado-corn quesadilla.

about 1/3 cup of corn (I used frozen corn but I'm sure fresh would be even yummier)
1 avocado
handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 flour tortilla
olive oil

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Chop up avocado and prepare corn according to package directions. Cook the tortilla until it is brown and crispy on one side. Top half of it with mozzarella cheese. As cheese is starting to melt, add the avocado and corn on top of the cheese. Fold over the half without filling and serve!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pecan Sandies

My grandpa liked the chocolate chip cookies I once made, so I thought for Chinese New Years, I could make him some other cookies he liked. Looking around, I stumbled across some very yummy looking recipes for pecan sandies, and finally settled on using the one from Smitten Kitchen. Let's just say, the result was melt-in-your mouth delicious, and made the whole house smell amazing while baking, to boot. As part of my standard operating procedure, I reduced the amount of sugar - for this recipe, I'm not sure that was the best of ideas. At least if something's not sweet enough, you can always sweeten it by dipping it in chocolate, or spreading some Nutella on before eating! :)


slightly over 1 cup pecans
2 cups flour
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the pecans for about 12min, until they are browned and nutty. They will be delicious at this point, so feel free to bake a few extra to munch on. After they cool, grind the nuts with 1/4 cup of flour in the food processor (depending on the seal of your food processor, it might make a mess, so clear the area around it). Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla. Sift together the remaining flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the nut mixture. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 2hrs.

3. Preheat the oven to 325F. I cut the dough into four quarters, then rolled each quarter between two sheets of wax paper until they were the thickness I wanted my cookies (it doesn't rise much in the oven). Cut into squares of desired size. The recipe said to not reroll scraps - I'm not sure why, but I just baked them as was and munched on them myself. Maybe that's why?

4. Put on baking sheet with a little space in between (they don't spread, so you don't need that much space in between). Bake at 325F until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack; repeat for remaining dough.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Third Time's the Charm? Brownies #3

Adrienne's post on how brownies from scratch were always inferior to brownies from mix read to me like a challenge. So I started with a base recipe and started making adjustments, making sure to take careful notes after each batch. I also started making half-batches because y'know, trial brownies... Upon hearing my quest for the perfect brownie recipe, my friends started giving comments, which have helped a lot, so thanks guys! While I was making this batch, my roommate's boyfriend suggested I incorporate Nutella and hazelnuts into my next experiment - that suggestion was very well-received and will happen next time. I keep meaning to get walnuts to add as well, but I never get around to actually getting walnuts... Anyway, this batch was my third and I think the first one good enough to make a post about, so here we go.

2.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tbsp butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2.5oz dark chocolate, chips or chip-sized chunks
slightly under 1/2 cup flour

For the flour, I use the scoop-and-sweep method. Using a 1/2 cup measuring spoon, scoop out the flour, then sweep your hand across the top, brushing off the excess flour without packing the flour in. Someday I'll get a scale and actually measure flour correctly, but this method suffices for now. I then shook out a little of the flour, about 1 Tbsp, to make it just that little bit fudgier.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8x8-inch baking pan.
2. Microwave chocolate and butter together until butter is melted (add 30 sec at a time so you don't overheat). Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar.
3. Let the mixture cool down a little, then stir in eggs and vanilla (the first time I did this, I think the chocolate mixture was still too warm and it looked like the eggs were cooking as soon as I stirred them in...). Sift in flour and salt and mix until just incorporated; don't overmix. Stir in chocolate chunks (or chips if you like). Scoop into prepared pan (the mixture was dry enough that I couldn't really pour it, but a spatula scooped it out well enough).
4. Bake at 350 for 25-30min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Do not overbake - check it at 25min, and add time as needed.
5. Leave it in the pan to cool. I put a plate over the pan while cooling also; I don't know if that affected it at all. Makes about 16 brownies. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I love baked mac and cheese, and am always trying new recipes to find the perfect one. I think I finally may have found a winner in this one, which is apparently originally from Fannie Farmer.

1 8-oz package of macaroni (I actually used rigatoni, which makes it a bit more like Boston Market's mac and cheese which is my fave ever)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
dash of salt
dash of pepper
2 cups chedder cheese, shredded (The recipe said to use good quality cheese - I used grocery store brand cheese, because that was what I had available. I can't even imagine how good it would be with really high quality cheese!)
1/2 cup buttered breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. While
pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the flour mixed with salt and pepper, whisk until blended. Pour milk and cream in slowly, stirring constantly. Bring to a boiling point and boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Turn heat down, simmer for 10 minutes stirring constantly. Add cheese, simmer until cheese melts. Add pasta to the saucepan and stir until coated. Transfer the pasta to a glass baking dish, top with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes until top is golden brown. Delicious!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

年糕/New Year Steamed Rice Cake, Version 1

That time of year's coming upon us again, when family visit and lots of food are made/consumed. My family makes a certain kind of steamed rice cake for Chinese New Year that I think might be specialized to the Shanghai region. In any case, I grew up with it and think it's utterly amazing. (I know, the picture failed b/c of the patterned food on top of a patterned plate, but just pretend the plate's white, mmk?) There are a couple other versions, but this was the first kind we made this year.

2lb glutinous rice flour
1lb rice flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
650mL water
red bean paste and dried fruits to taste
In 9" rounds, makes about 4-5.

1. Mix the two flours, sugar, and water thoroughly. The mixture should be dry enough to still be like flour, but wet enough that when you grasp a handful and squeeze lightly, it should hold the shape. We have a large sieve with large holes that we use to sift the flour mixture; if you don't have one, just keep mixing and breaking the large pieces with your fingers until you get a somewhat fine flour. I wouldn't recommend a normal sized sieve, since the grains will be larger than the holes.

2. Ideally, you'll have a good-sized steamer. We have a 9in set that works perfectly. Bring a pot of water to boil. Coat the steamer with shortening. When the water's boiling, lightly distribute an even layer of the flour mixture on the steamer basket and immediately put over the boiling water. Do not cover. Wait until the flour mixture cooks thoroughly - it should be firm to the touch. Drop the red bean paste onto the mixture by small spoonfuls (the picture shown has 5 scoops of about 1.5Tbsp, but I think 6 scoops of 1Tbsp each is better).

3. Slowly distribute more of the flour mixture around the round of red bean paste. Don't add too much at once or it won't cook properly. The top layer should be just enough to cover the red bean paste; don't make it too thick. Add the dried fruit on top in any pattern you like. Once the top is firm, take it off the pot and flip onto a clean cheesecloth. The shortening should ensure it slips off easily. Cut into rectangular pieces and serve steamed (if you prefer to microwave it, add some water to the plate before popping it in).