Category Archives: Recipes

Sriracha Bacon Fried Rice

February 25, 2016

sriracha-bacon-fried-rice

A lot of the recipes I post here are more on the creative side or for those days where you want to try something new with ingredients that you either use all the time or maybe want to experiment with. Today though, I’m sharing a recipe that isn’t really either of those. Instead, this recipe (or something very similar to it) is something that I whip up every couple of weeks or so in our house when I want to keep it simple and relatively cheap – fried rice!

bacon-fried-rice

continue reading

Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Zucchini and Parmesan

February 2, 2016

15-minute-shrimp-linguine-recipe-valentines-dish-idea

It’s February now, guys, so you know what that means – Valentine’s Day is coming! I’m admittedly not one of those people who is anti-commercial holiday, because although I do absolutely agree with the argument that you don’t need to designate one day of the year to be romantic and show your love to your loved one(s), no one’s telling you that you can’t be romantic all year AND celebrate Valentine’s Day. It might not have as deep a historical significance as Christmas and Thanksgiving, but hey, why not have a little fun with it, right? 🙂 The main thing for me though, is to do it your own way. Flowers, hallmark cards, chocolates and grand gestures are nice, but the best Valentines are the ones where you convey your love in a sincere way that’s true to your relationship.

For Dave and I, we’ve almost always celebrated Valentine’s Day with an intimate meal at home to avoid the madness and to keep it laid back. In general, I’m the main (ahem, only) cook in the house, so in previous years Dave has transformed our living room into a little “bistro” and treated me to a fancy dinner that he makes from scratch, which have been so amazing especially considering he rarely ever cooks (he’s just not a huge fan of it!). Since this coming Valentine’s Day is the first time in a long time that me and Dave are actually going to celebrate with a dinner out at a nice restaurant, I wanted to re-make one of my favorite Valentine’s Day dishes he’s made for me for in the past – Shrimp Scampi Linguine.

Shrimp-scampi-linguine-valentines-day-dinner

The actual meal he made that inspired this dish was a traditional Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Baked Zucchini Chips as an appetizer, which were both SO GOOD. In remaking the linguine dish, I decided to mix it up by combining those two dishes to make this Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Zucchini and Parmesan. The big bonus about this dish is that it’s decadent and sophisticated enough for a special dinner, but yet comes together so fast – 15 minutes to be exact! Scampi typically has white wine in it, but since I don’t usually have white wine on hand (that I’m willing to spare for cooking… 😉 ), this recipe does not need it. This would be a perfect dish to serve for Valentine’s Day, or any at-home dinner date with friends or your sweetie!

Ingredients:

-1 zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
-1 pound fresh shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
-3/4 pound of linguine pasta
-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-4 tablespoons of butter
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
-1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1/4 cup shredded parmesan
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook linguine according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter and olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned and zucchini starts to become translucent.
  3. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes or just until the shrimp starts to turn pink. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice, chopped parsley, shredded parmesan and red pepper flakes, mixing it all together.
  4. Once the pasta is done, drain and toss it into the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

 

Shrimp-scampi-linguine-valentines-day-dish

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Are you going out or celebrating at home?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Hearty Winter Vegetable Salad with Sweet Dijon Shallot Dressing

January 15, 2016

winter-vegetables-salad

Happy Friday!!

I mentioned earlier this month that I was making a few small health resolutions for this year – which include drinking less coffee and more tea and eating more fruits and veggies – and I’m happy to say they haven’t been hard to keep at all! I knew from the start that these simple, straightforward resolutions would be way easier to keep than making one big, ambitious resolution but since they’re things that I’m truly committed to and that make me feel good, it’s just a nice feeling to have kept the promises I’ve made to myself. How have you been doing with your new year’s resolutions?

Anyways, today I wanted to share this hearty winter vegetable salad with a sweet dijon shallot dressing that I made recently that really hit the spot. There was a stretch of time last year that I ate homemade salads (and dressings) everyday for lunch using whatever combination of things I had in the kitchen and this salad looks a lot like something I would throw together. This time though, I made it a point to use ingredients that are very winter appropriate like sweet potato, brussels sprouts, shallots, and cranberries. It’s rounded out with some nutty parmesan cheese, savory bacon, and an addictive shallot and dijon dressing that I seriously think would go well with any salad (it’s that good!). The end result is super delicious and satisfying, which is exactly what you strive for in a salad but don’t always get!

winter-vegetable-salad

Ingredients:
For the salad:
1-1.5 cups of baby spinach
1/2 cup brussel sprouts, shaved or finely sliced
1/2 cup sweet potato, finely sliced and sautéed in oil for 3-5 minutes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup bacon, chopped and cooked
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
For the dressing:
1 shallot, minced and sautéed in oil for 2-3 minutes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. As with any salad the first step is cutting and prepping your ingredients and, for this one, separately cooking first, your shallots, then bacon, and then sweet potato.
2. As you wait for your bacon and sweet potato to cool, make your dressing by combining your cooked shallots with the remaining dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mixing together.
3. Put all of your salad ingredients in a bowl, top with dressing and enjoy!

salad-with-winter-vegetables

Do you try to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your cooking these days?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tomato & Avocado Salad w/ Sweet Chile Lime Dressing

January 6, 2016

tomato-avocado-appetizer-salad-lime-dressing

For my new years resolutions this year, I purposely didn’t choose the typical health goals of losing weight and going to the gym, etc. Not because I’m not prioritizing my health (I totally am!), but because for one, I’ve long concluded that I will always ALWAYS prefer a varied and flexible at-home workout over a gym workout, and second, I feel that setting those particular goals at the beginning of the year is just SO expected and unless it comes from a genuine place of determination and desire, they never get done. I also realized that the more I hyper-focus on my weight, the more I would stress out and the more my body would mess with me. No thank you!

So what I did instead this year is I made smaller, more specific health-related resolutions that I started aiming for even before the new year arrived, which are: 1) Drink more tea instead of coffee, 2) Don’t hit the snooze button more than 2 times, and 3) Eat more fruits and veggies everyday – I’ve always been an enthusiastic vegetable and salad-eater, but obviously the holidays have thrown me off a bit! I fully believe that if you make very specific resolutions for yourself, you’re way more likely to stick to them and achieve that feeling of accomplishment that is so great when you’ve hit your goals.

tomato-and-avocado-salad-3

We’re less than a week into the new year and I’m already in the habit of drinking 2-3 cups of tea a day, so I’d say I’m off to a great start! I’m going to need a bit more practice for my 2nd resolution, but to help kick off my 3rd resolution I decided to put together a super easy, but super flavorful salad. Avocados make everything more delicious, in my opinion, so that’s what started this Tomato and Avocado salad with a Sweet Chile Lime Dressing. Learn how to make it down below!

tomato-avocado-salad

Ingredients:
– 2 tomatoes, diced
– 1 ripe avocado, diced
– 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
– 1 tablespoon of feta cheese crumbles
For the dressing:
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– a pinch of chile powder
– 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
– 2 teaspoons of honey
– 2 teaspoons of lime juice (about half a lime)

Directions:
Really the only steps to make this salad are cutting up your ingredients and making the dressing. To make the dressing, simply mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and adjust until it’s to your liking.

tomato-and-avocado-salad

Toss all together, top with additional chile powder if you’d like, and enjoy!

tomato-and-avocado-salad-2

This is a great low-carb, gluten-free, and vegetarian dish that is really refreshing, while still being satisfying from all the bold flavors. It would also go really well with some lean protein like chicken or fish (just omit the cheese) to make a nice healthy entree. If you like these flavors, you’d probably also love my avocado toast with lemon ricotta!

tomato-and-avocado-salad-1

What are your health resolutions for the new year? Are you making one or two big ones, or a few smaller ones like I did?

Thanks for stopping by!

Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

December 29, 2015

no-bake-homemade-chocolate-truffles

Hope you all had a great holiday week last week, whatever it is you celebrate! We celebrated a very nice Christmas over here with both of our families and also had a lot of relaxing post-Christmas family hang out time which is always so much fun. Aside from quality time with family, one of my favorite things that I look forward to during the holidays is lots of sweets! Both my sister and sister-in-law are always whipping up some amazing baked goodies (this year was cinnamon sugar nutella monkey bread and glazed pecan pumpkin bread!!!), and while the downside is having to try really hard not to overindulge, the benefit is that I always come home inspired to make something sweet and creative too! After some thought, I decided I was gonna make some sprinkled-bombed white chocolate truffles 🙂

no-bake-homemade-chocolate-peanut-butter-truffles

A while back when we were still dating, Dave and I took a chocolate making class that taught us the basics about chocolate like how it’s made, where it comes from, the difference between the different brands you find in stores, different states of chocolate, and also, my favorite part, making truffles! The class was led by a renowned chocolatier and had all sorts of proper professional tools and cooking vessels, but the great thing I took away from that class is you don’t necessarily need all that to make your own homemade truffles. You might not get a perfectly flawless truffle (who needs that anyways), but it’ll be just as delicious!

The two main things you need to know about making truffles is how to correctly temper your chocolate (slowly warming the chocolate from room temperature to a warmer, more workable temperature) and how to make ganache – that soft inside part of your truffle that is made with either just chocolate or sometimes with chocolate and other ingredients mixed in, like nuts, dried fruit or toffee. For these truffles, I chose the flavor combination of white chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and pretzels because those are some of my absolute favorite types of treats and I wanted a truffle that had a lot of crunch, sweet and saltiness, and a lot of depth in flavor. I also added a bit of butter to soften the bite and dryness of the pretzels since I added quite a bit of them, but you really don’t need any butter when making truffles.

Read on to learn how to make your own homemade truffles!:

white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles

Ingredients:
-1/2 cup dark (or milk) chocolate chips
-1 and 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
-1 cup crushed pretzel sticks
-1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter
-2 tablespoons light cream
-2 tablespoons melted butter
-sprinkles to decorate

Directions:
1. Place your pretzels in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles

Crush until you reach a pretty fine consistency overall but with some small pieces, to maintain texture.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-1

2. Make your ganache by placing your 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I used dark, but you can use any type) and 2 tablespoons of light cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heating it in the microwave for about 1 minute (add 15 second intervals if necessary). Check halfway through to check on consistency and to mix.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-2

You should end up with a smooth ganache. (This also goes great on cakes and cupcakes or as a filling, just add additional cream to adjust consistency)

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-3

3. Add your ganache and peanut butter to the crushed pretzels and mix thoroughly.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-4

4. (Optional) Mix in melted butter.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-5

5. Form small balls from your mixture about the size of 1 tablespoon each and lay them out on parchment paper. Use your spoon and the palm of your hand to gently roll the balls, but work quickly so that the warmth of your hand doesn’t melt them! Once finished, place these in the fridge while you make the white chocolate coating.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-6

6. Place your 1 and 1/2 cups of white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes total, checking on it every 30 seconds to mix and again, adding 15 second intervals of cook time if necessary. Once it’s melted, quickly take your chocolate pretzel balls from the fridge and start coating each one with white chocolate. I used a pair of chopsticks, which works better than a fork since you have more control over the truffle. If you wanted a dark or milk chocolate coating, the process would be the same.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-7

Lay each truffle out on your parchment paper to set.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-8

7. Take your remaining white chocolate and reheat for 30 seconds to 1 minute if it has hardened. Place a small dollop on each truffle (which acts as adhesive!) and add sprinkles for decoration.

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-9

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-11
And now you’re done!

no-bake-white-chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles-10
This is what it looks like on the inside. YUM!

no-bake-homemade-truffles-1

I love that these little guys are bite-sized and super party-friendly. They would also make a great gift for someone who loves chocolate and thoughtful homemade goodies!

no-bake-homemade-truffles-3
Look how pretty! 🙂

no-bake-homemade-truffles

Now that you know how easy it is, will you try making your own truffles? What other truffle flavors and combinations can you think of?

Thanks for stopping by!

Mini Apple Pie Cheesecake Tarts

November 30, 2015

Mini-homemade-apple-pie-cheesecake-tarts

Since there are a lot of family and potluck dinners on the calendar this and next month, I’ve been thinking of interesting desserts to try and make. I love when desserts are mini and individually-sized and I’ve also always wanted to make my own pie dough, so the first thing I knew I wanted to do is a mini tart. But what would go into these itty bitty tart shells? Part of me wanted to do something decadent and festive, but another part of me just wanted something comforting and familiar, since that’s what holiday treats should be in my opinion. Beside fudgey, chocolatey desserts, two of my all time favorite types of desserts is cheesecake and apple pie, so naturally I thought – why not an apple pie cheesecake??

homemade-apple-pie-cheesecake-mini-tart

I’ve always kind of known that making pie dough from scratch isn’t too hard, but I couldn’t believe how easy it actually is! I found this pie crust recipe from Food.com and it came together so quickly and easily, and I actually didn’t even use a mixer and just mixed it all by hand. It’s going to be my go-to when I make anything pie-related since it bakes beautifully and has the perfect buttery, flakey consistency. Now I’m just wondering what pie I’m going to make next! 🙂

Ingredients:
Pie Crust (from Food.com):
-2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
-1 teaspoon salt
-2⁄3 cup butter or 2⁄3 cup shortening
-5-7 tablespoons cold water
Apple Topping:

-2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cheesecake Filling:
-1 package of cream cheese
-1/4 cup of sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 egg
Extra topping
-1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)
-1-2 tablespoons of butter
-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions:

Step 1 Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Make the pie crust: Put flour into a mixing bowl with the butter. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour. Add salt and water, and mix until dough is formed.

easy-pie-crust-recipe-0

easy-pie-crust-recipe-1

easy-pie-crust-recipe-2

easy-pie-crust-recipe-3

easy-pie-crust-recipe-4

Step 2 Roll out your dough on a flat surface and cut out even circles of about 4″-5″.

easy-pie-crust-recipe-5

Step 3 Place your pie dough rounds into a greased muffin pan. Press the dough into each tin so that they’re generally uniform in shape and thickness.

homemade-mini-pie-crust

Step 4 Make your apple mixture by combining apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl. Set aside. 

homemade-apple-cheesake-tart-0

Step 5 Make your cheesecake filling by mixing together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until fully combined and smooth.

homemade-apple-cheesake-tart

homemade-apple-cheesake-tart-1

Step 6 Fill each of your pie tarts about half way to 2/3 of the way with cheesecake filling.

homemade-apple-cheesake-tart-2

Step 7 Top each pie tart with sliced apples, pushing each apple into the cheesecake filling slightly so that there is no space between them. Make your tarts fancy by laying your apple slices gently in a fanned out design.

homemade-apple-cheesake-mini-tart

Step 8 Finally, sprinkle each pie tart with crushed walnuts, additional cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Bake in your 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until apples are softened.

homemade-apple-walnut-cheesake-tart-4

And now you can enjoy your mini tarts of holiday deliciousness!

apple-pie-cheesecake-tarts

The walnuts give a perfect extra little bit of crunch and flavor.

apple-pie-cheesecake-mini-tarts-1

And this is what it looks like in the middle. So. good.

apple-cheesecake-mini-tarts

What are some of your go-to holiday desserts to make?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Meatloaf

November 17, 2015

best-easy-meatloaf-recipe

Can you believe there’s less than 10 days until Thanksgiving? I’m definitely not ready for it just yet. But in honor of the holiday season I thought I’d share my spin on a comfort food favorite, my sweet and spicy honey sriracha meatloaf!

I never ate meatloaf growing up and though I’d see and hear about the dish all the time, we just never had it at home. It was also rare for me to have dinner at any friends’ houses when I was young, so meatloaf was always that one traditional American food item that was very unfamiliar to me.

easy-asian-meatloaf-recipe

However, when I finally tried a couple updated versions of it sometime after college, I finally understood that meatloaf is just a loaf version of one of the most delicious meaty items you can have – meatballs! I know how to make a pretty good meatball, so there had to be a way to make my own meatloaf. After a few tries at making my own meatloaf, I finally came up with this recipe which is now my go-to when I want to make something hearty, meaty, and different than rice or pasta. I love that there are veggies in it, which lightens it up and also keeps it super moist. I will say that there are definitely asian influences in the sauce due to the ingredients, but the dish definitely doesn’t taste asian – just sweet, spicy, and tender meatiness! 🙂

Meatloaf
– 1 lb lean ground turkey
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
– 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
– 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
– salt and pepper
Sauce:
– 1/4 cup ketchup
– 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
– 2 tablespoons of honey OR brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon of sriracha

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place olive oil in a pan turned to medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and sauté until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • In a mixing bowl, add ground turkey, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and bread crumbs and mix to combine. Gently mix in the cooked onion and bell peppers.
  • Make sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a separate small bowl.
  • Put meatloaf in a loaf pan and cover with sauce, reserving half of the sauce for later. If you prefer a thinner sauce or want more of it, add a tablespoon of any stock.
  • Place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes. (this is a great time to make your sides)
  • Serve along with your favorite side(s), top with remaining sauce and enjoy!

sweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipe-2 sweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipe-3 sweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipe-4 sweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipe-5 sweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipesweet-spicy-meatloaf-recipe-1

Just as with any meatloaf recipe, this meatloaf makes a good 4-6 hearty servings. I usually serve mine with garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable side (like my simple glazed carrots), but you could also make this into a sandwich if you’d like! The sauce gives it a sloppy-joe feeling 🙂

sweet-and-spicy-meatloaf-recipe

best-easy-meatloaf-recipe

What are some of your favorite comfort meals?

Thanks for stopping by!

One Pot Kielbasa Mushroom Farfalle Pasta

November 3, 2015

one-pot-kielbasa-mushroom-farfalle-pasta

What’s the whole appeal of one-pot meals? The first and most obvious benefit I can think of is, of course, the fewer pots used = fewer pots to clean! I have to say that that is my favorite part of one-pot dinners, since washing dishes is the bane of my existence!!! Okay okay, that might be a bit over-dramatic, but I grew up in a pretty traditional Asian household and, as far as I know, it’s quite common to find that many Asian families that aren’t the first-generation born in the U.S. don’t use a dishwasher. And yes, though its been years since I’ve lived with my parents, the habit has passed on to me and my dishwasher serves as an additional storage rack for tupperware and dishes. 🙂 It’s really only after dinner parties and lazy weeks that I truly wonder why I don’t reconsider this kitchen arrangement, but I guess I can just continue to argue practicality and water-efficiency? 🙂

one-pot-kielbasa-pasta

Anyways, to me, there’s more to one-pot meals than just “less to clean” argument, especially when you think about your typical pasta dishes where the majority of the flavor is in the sauce. With one-pot pasta dishes, you’re cooking your dry pasta IN the sauce so that every single bite, even the less saucy forkfuls, have flavor packed right into them. To me, that’s the key!  I always wonder when I’m boiling pasta in a big pot of salted water if the pasta is really going to absorb all that savory goodness, or is most of it (except for the ladleful or so that I put in the sauce) being dumped out when I strain it ? That’s one thing I don’t have to think about with this dish.

The highlight of this one-pot meal is kielbasa, which is a household favorite for me and Dave. We both love it (in moderation) and it already is so seasoned and flavorful that any dish you put it in doesn’t need much added to it. It also goes well in so many different types of dishes from rice dishes, casseroles, and of course, pasta! Mushroom is the other star of this dish, since it’s earthy and smooth in flavor enough to hold up nicely against the kielbasa.

Ingredients:

-2 Kielbasa links (14 oz. package), chopped into half circles
-2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
-1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoon brown sugar
-2.5 cups of beef stock
-1.5 cups of water
-1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta
-1 cup of baby spinach
-1/3 cup of chives, chopped
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Add kielbasa, onions and mushrooms to your pot, season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Once onions start to become translucent add balsamic and half of the brown sugar (1 tablespoon) and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add beef stock and water to the pot, season with salt (as you would any pasta boiling liquid), cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta, lower to a medium simmer and let cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until pasta is cooked.
  • In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add remaining tablespoon of brown sugar, baby spinach and chives and mix thoroughly. Serve and enjoy!

one-pot-pasta-dinner-kielbasa-and-mushrooms-4

one-pot-pasta-dinner-kielbasa-and-mushrooms-3

one-pot-pasta-dinner-kielbasa-and-mushrooms-2

one-pot-pasta-dinner-kielbasa-and-mushrooms-1

one-pot-pasta-dinner-kielbasa-and-mushrooms

Since we used a whole 1b. of pasta (basically a standard box of dry pasta from the store), this dish can heartily serve 4-6 people as a main dish, and even more as a side. It kind of reminds me of beef stroganoff since there’s a lot of warm, beefy flavor from the beef stock, and also, the starch that comes out of cooking the pasta makes the dish very creamy without having added any cream!

one-pot-kielbasa-and-mushroom-pasta

Do you like one-pot meals? What are some of your faves?

Thanks for stopping by!

Avocado Toast with Lemon, Ricotta, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Sea Salt

October 23, 2015

easy-avocado-toast-vegetarian-lunch-idea

Happy Friday! How was your week? Mine went by pretty quickly and uneventfully, except for work, a few errands here and there, and getting a few packages in the mail that I’ve been waiting for – woohoo! As much as I love and appreciate technology and the internet, nothing beats the feeling of getting real letters and packages via snail mail, don’t you think? A few of the things I got include a casual dress from Lulu’s, a peasant style blouse for fall from AE, and some beautiful paper samples for an upcoming DIY (yay!). If all goes well I’ll post that up sometime next week.

Anyways, here’s a quick avocado toast recipe that I’ve been loving, and it’s an interesting and very hearty dish for a vegetarian snack, lunch, or brunch.

avocado-toast-recipe-with-ricotta-and-sea-salt

Here’s how it went from just avocado and toast to this deliciousness you see here: I had ricotta left over from making lasagna earlier in the week one week, so I did what I always do and that is try to find a new way to use up that ingredient. I’d already tried ricotta on another toast recipe which I LOVED, so why not right? It adds a faint sweetness that compliments the avocado’s subtle flavor. Added the lemon since it’s always good with avocado – it cuts through the heaviness and it also helps the avocado from browning too fast (not that that was needed here, I ate this with a quickness! lol). And finally, the toasted pine nuts came in because I felt like this needed a bit of crunch to offset the soft avocado, soft ricotta, and (sorta) soft bread. Here are the details:

Ingredients:
-2 slices of toast
-1 ripe avocado, cored and sliced
-1/2 cup of pine nuts
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
-Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:
– While your bread is toasting, put pine nuts in a dry non-stick pan over medium heat and toast until the nuts start to brown and give off a toasted smell, about 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook or it will burn. Remove from heat and let cool.
– Mix lemon and ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and season with a pinch of salt.
– Spread lemon ricotta evenly onto toast, top with avocado slices and toasted pine nuts, and then season with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
– Enjoy!

avocado-toast-with-lemon-sea-salt-ricotta

This has become a fast favorite of mine since it lets me indulge in my avocado obsession while also being super cheap (it’s basically a sandwich that you eat one slice at a time!).

easy-avocado-toast-recipe-pine-nuts-ricotta

If you like meatless meals or vegetarian snack ideas, check out my other light recipes like my simple honey garlic roasted carrotssweet potato and ricotta toast or zucchini noodles with peanut sauce.

Thanks for stopping by!

Pumpkin Crepe Cake with Cinnamon Mascarpone and Cranberry Syrup

October 13, 2015

pumpkin-crepe-layer-cake

I have a major sweet tooth so every now and then I get the itch to bake, and that feeling naturally comes much more frequently after the summer is over and I’m spending more time at home. So the other day I attempted my first ever batch of pumpkin donuts with my donut pan, which I’m sad to say didn’t turn out as good as I’d like :/. It’s not that they were bad at all (in fact most of the donuts were happily eaten!), but they weren’t all that the recipe comments made them out to be. Don’t you hate when that happens? Anyways, I had some leftover pumpkin puree from that recipe and I was determined to make something AMAZING from it – for redemption and for my own satisfaction, really lol. This time I wanted to try something more fancy and, again, something I’ve never tried before, and so I decided to make a crepe layer cake!  This cake totally met and exceeded my expectations, and the best part is there is no baking involved.

pumpkin-holiday-dessert-crepe-cake

A crepe cake, also known as mille crepe cake, is a decedent and classic French cake made of many layers of paper thin crepes. (The word mille means “a thousand”, implying the many layers). This type of cake is well known in other parts of the world, but it has only really gained popularity stateside in recent years due to the success of Lady M in New York City, which makes their own version of the French dessert. I’ve never been to Lady M, and in fact, the first time I had a crepe layer cake was at a coffee shop in Hiroshima, Japan earlier this year. It was strawberry flavored, light, creamy and SO good, especially with a good cup of iced coffee on the side 🙂

strawberry-mille-crepe-cake-japan-doutor-coffeePhoto of that cake, taken from my instagram. From Doutor Coffee in the Hondori Shopping Arcade, Hiroshima, Japan. 

I absolutely loved that trip and that memory is what gave me the idea to make this pumpkin crepe layer cake. My favorite part of the strawberry crepe cake I tried in Japan was the tart strawberry syrup which complimented the fluffy crepes and cream filling so well, so the homemade cranberry syrup serves that same purpose here. And besides, crepes are basically pancakes – you can’t have pancakes without syrup!

fall-pumpkin-cake-dessert

Ingredients
Pumpkin crepes:
3 eggs
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup water
(OR, you can substitute 1 cup of milk for the cream and water)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
3-4 tablespoons of butter
Cinnamon Mascarpone:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipped cream topping (i.e. Cool Whip)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cranberry syrup:
1 cup frozen cranberries
3/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:
-Combine all crepe ingredients (except for the butter) in a mixing bowl and mix well. Place crepe batter aside for 15-30 mins in refrigerator.
-While you wait, make cranberry syrup: combine cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until cranberries soften, 6-8 minutes. Stir in orange juice. Strain well through a sieve or mesh strainer.
-When ready to make your crepes, heat a pan / skillet to medium heat. Place a small pad of butter in the pan and tilt pan so that the melted butter coats the bottom of the pan.
-For each crepe, pour about 1/3-1/2 cup of crepe batter in the center of the buttered pan and quickly tilt and turn the pan in a circular motion so that the crepe mix spreads out evenly to form a very flat, thin pancake shape. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the edges of the crepe start to turn golden and turn upwards. Flip, let cook for another minute on the other side, and then remove from heat and place onto a sheet of parchment paper. Repeat 8-12 times, or until you run out of crepe batter.

pumpkin-mascarpone-crepe-layer-cake

As you can see here, my crepes were of varying sizes from large to small, partly so that you could see each individual crepe more easily from the sides, and partly because I wanted a more cozy / rustic look rather than a perfect mille crepe. And of course, I’m no French baker so I wasn’t going for perfect! You can do the same as I did, or make all of your layers uniform 🙂

And finally, to make the crepe layered cake, stack crepes one at a time with a layer of cinnamon mascarpone in between each (which is simply the cinnamon mascarpone ingredients mixed together). Top with additional whipped cream topping (if you’d like) and cranberry syrup. 

fall-pumpkin-dessert-crepe-layer-cake

Enjoy! This cake can serve 2-4 people, depending on how hungry you are!

pumpkin-cake-cranberry-sauce

Do your travel memories inspire your cooking?

Thanks for stopping by!