Peanut Butter Miso Cookies

Folks – it is a CRAZY world out there! I’ve been struggling to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions during this tumultuous time. COVID-19, such a short little name with a monumental impact. I saw it creep slowly throughout the world, talking with my family in Taiwan as they watched their country struggle to get the virus under control. It seemed as if we were safe for awhile, but now, even in my state of Minnesota, there are over a hundred cases (and that’s only the confirmed ones!).

I guess I say this not to add to the chaos, but as a gentle reminder that the best thing that we can be doing is to stay home. Trust me, as a twenty-five year old who loves to explore, that’s the last thing I want to be doing either, but staying home WILL save lives. It’ll help keep your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even your pets (!!) safe. Why, you ask? Well, diseases can only be transmitted if there are people to transmit it to. When contagious people stay home and don’t have anyone to spread it to, then we help prevent the spread of the disease. The scary thing about this is that you can totally be contagious and not know it… so bottom line- STAY HOME PLEASE!

And while I’m on this little public health rant (sorry, I can’t help it, in my other life, I work at the Department of Health!), can I just throw in a small plug for baking? It is absolutely wonderful for getting your mind off things just for a small while, and I find it helps with my anxiety. My favorite thing to bake right now is peanut butter miso cookies.

If you did a double take, don’t worry, most people are totally caught off guard by the combination! But if you love salty-sweet desserts, this one is totally for you. And if you don’t, well, give them a try anyway, you might be surprised! My only suggestion for this recipe is to let them sit overnight. Something magical happens in the refrigerator and the flavors blend so seamlessly after sitting for awhile. That being said, I’ve also baked them right after making the dough and they were terrific as well.

Bake well, stay well, and take care ❤

Peanut Butter Miso Cookies | Makes about a dozen

difficulty level – easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup (a.k.a. 2 tbsp) red miso paste (you can usually purchase at an Asian grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (this is super important for texture! If you only have smooth pb, it wil work, but the texture will be off)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*If you want a chewier peanut butter cookie, add in 1 full cup of brown sugar.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  2. Combine coconut oil, light brown sugar, white sugar, miso paste, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. It is important not to over mix, otherwise the cookie will be tough. I like to use a spatula for this part.
  5. Roll into walnut sized balls (think a little smaller than a golf ball)
  6. Bake at 350 (F) for 10-12 mins or until edges are just starting to brown.
  7. Cool on a cookie rack, or eat while hot!
  8. Cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and will keep for a couple months in the freezer (I like to roll the dough into individual balls and then freeze. When you’re ready to bake, no need to defrost, just bake them a little bit longer.)

Enjoy!

Bibimbap or not?

A story of rice bowls

The time was late – far past my bedtime, yet I was huddled under the covers watching food video after food video. A caption caught my eye — bibimbap. I clicked. I found myself watching a video of a man making bibimbap. Maybe it was the potatoes that set me off, maybe it was the lack of respect for a culture’s food, but I found myself reeling as fried potatoes were substituted for rice, cheese was mixed in and the typical egg was traded for a handful of salad greens, producing what he deemed, “an authentically delicious bibimbap”. This wasn’t the bibimbap I was familiar with — in fact, did it even count? I wasn’t sure.

Over the next few days, the question of authenticity teased me. Having grown up in an American town where the only Chinese restaurant was run by a White couple, I struggled with this idea of authenticity and fusion. Mostly:

  • What makes a food authentic, and is authentic food necessary for an authentic experience?
  • Does authentic food need to be cooked by a person of that specific culture?
  • And if not, who qualifies to cook the food of a culture that isn’t American?
  • What is fusion food?

No, I don’t have the answers (I do have thoughts, which I’ll explore in later posts) — and I really don’t think anyone has the “right answer”. These questions are meant to create a conversation around an action that we all have to do to survive (eat) and what we’re choosing to put in our mouths.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t help admitting that the sudden rise in popularity of Asian food leaves me disgruntled and with a sour taste in my mouth. Not because I don’t love not having to bring only a PB&J sandwich to lunch or that there are finally more Asian restaurants in my area than I have fingers and toes, but because it all feels like a fad. A fad of chasing “Instagrammable” bubble teas, or Snapchatting the making of hand-pulled noodles. And on the chef’s end, jumping on to the train of Gochujang this, or ube that, because those ingredients are the ones that are hip, even when the ingredients don’t necessarily belong. Am I afraid that one day America will wake up and we’ll be obsolete? Maybe a little bit, but I’m more afraid that this increased interest with Asian cuisine isn’t accompanied by the same increased interest in the people and culture of that cuisine.

It seems as if America has snatched up Asian food and left the people behind, left their stories, their hardships and their culture. And that breaks my heart. I really do believe that understanding the stories and history of a culture is key in accepting and understanding communities different than our own. So, let’s learn about the history of mooncakes and the legend and lore surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival. Let’s understand why many Asian dishes are braised and stewed instead of fried (or why the fried dishes are so prized). Let’s take a moment to talk to our friends about the history or story behind a dish. I promise you what you learn, will only make your meal richer.

And speaking of meal, let’s get to the star of the show – bibimbap. We’re making it today because it was the meal that sparked this conversation. And while I may not be Korean, it has come to be one of my favorite foods. Bibimbap wasn’t always called bibimbap, but it’s been around for thousands of years. The Royal family would often dine on bibimbap for lunch or dinner, and it wasn’t until much later that it transitioned to more of a humble everyday dish. I find that bibimbap, literally meaning “to mix” + “rice” reminds me of home, in a way that only a bowl of rice can do.

*What you choose to mix into your bibimbap can vary. I’ve followed a more traditional list of vegetables and proteins to mix in, but if you’re more familiar with Korean cuisine or have allergies, by all means, substitute away!

BIBIMBAP | Makes 2 bowls

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups rice (white, brown or purple is all fine)
  • 1 cup julienne carrots
  • 1 cup julienne zucchini
  • 2 cups spinach or Asian leafy greens
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup julienne burdock root
  • 1 block of firm/medium firm tofu – cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • White sesame seeds (for sprinkling)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Soy sauce (to taste)
  • Sesame oil (to taste)
  • Gochujang (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Over medium heat, saute carrots until soft to bite. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  2. Over high heat, repeat process sauteing zucchini, spinach and mushrooms individually until tender. Season each vegetable with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  3. Heat frying pan until very hot. Once pan is hot, saute burdock root for 1-2 minutes, then pour in 1/4 cup of water and place lid of saucepan on to steam burdock roots. Once water has evaporated, test burdock root for tenderness. If it is not soft enough, repeat the steaming process. If it is tender enough for your liking, season with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. In a frying pan, heat up 2 tbsp of oil until the pan is very hot. Add tofu and pan-fry until sides are golden. Season with salt and sesame oil to taste.
  5. In a fry pan, cook 2 eggs sunny-side up (I prefer my eggs fully cooked, in which case I was just cook eggs over-hard).
  6. Divide rice evenly into two bowls. Arrange vegetables and tofu on top of rice. Place one egg on each bibimbap bowl.
  7. At this point, you may add as much or as little gochujang as you prefer. I often top my bibimbap with an additional drizzle of sesame oil or soy sauce.

Enjoy!

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake

When I moved back to Minnesota, one of the things that I was dreading most was it long, long, long and COLD, COLD, COLD winters. I’m not sure how to articulate to you just how cold -30 Fahrenheit feels like, but maybe the best way to describe it would be to confess that I wore two pairs of pants, a long-sleeve, a sweatshirt and a vest, plus fuzzy socks — indoors (yep.).

But, you know, I am back, and for the most part, thrilled to be close to my family, literally down the street from some of my friends, and happily employed. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for the majority of my life, the transition back from New York hasn’t been easy. It’s sometimes a little lonely to look out the window and not see a single soul, and can we talk about how I’m pretty sure I forgot how to drive, period. Learning to get back on the road again when I’ve always been an anxious driver has definitely been a challenge. For now, I’m taking it slow and counting driving safely to my local Trader Joe’s a win.

One of the things that I have forgotten about Minnesota (and leaves me breathless every time), are the beautiful fall colors. The swirling leaves of red, pink, orange, gold and yellow surrounded by pockets of green are for me, one of the best parts of fall and best parts of living in Minnesota. The golden-y hue of fall color is what inspired this Almond Mango Chiffon Cake. What is chiffon cake you ask? Well, it’s probably the lightest, fluffiest cake you’ll ever taste and it’s got nothing but eggs helping it rise. In my recipe, there’s a slight hint of almond, and a fruity aftertaste. Basically, fall and summer all in one.

I like to make them in 6 oversized muffin tins, but there’s nothing stopping you from turning this into an 8″ or 9″ cake either. In fact, there’s definitely nothing stopping you from making this cake and a cream cheese frosting or whipped cream topping to finish it off. The best part of this cake is that it’s dairy-free and good for breakfast, dessert or a snack.

Mango Almond Chiffon Cake (adapted from Epicurious) | Makes 6-8 slices (depending on how you cut)

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried mango slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cold water mixed with 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated white sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cake flour*

*If you don’t have cake flour, you can always make your own using all-purpose flour and cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Just measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add in 2 tablespoons of your starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F) and line either cake tin or muffin tin with parchment paper.
  2. Combine honey water and chopped mango slices – let soak to re-hydrate the dried mango.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine egg whites and salt. Using a electric mixer, start on the lowest speed, beating for a minute on each speed until you have reached medium speed. Then, gradually add in 1/4 cup sugar and continue mixing. Once sugar has been fully added, beat on high speed until you get peaks that just barely hold their shape (not stiff, but not soft either).
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine your egg yolks and remaining sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp). Using an electric mixer, beat until mixture turns fluffy and pale yellow.
  5. With the electric mixer on medium speed, gradually pour olive oil into the egg yolk mixture and mix until incorporated thoroughly.
  6. Then mix in honey water+mangoes and almond extract.
  7. Sift cake flour into egg yolk mixture (the sifting is crucial! this will make sure your cake isn’t dense), and combine using a wooden spoon (not electric mixer).
  8. Fold whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture in three batches, make sure to using a folding motion so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
  9. Pour mixture into prepped muffin tins or cake tin. Sprinkle top with sugar.
  10. Place into oven and bake for 25 (if using muffin tins) or 45 minutes (if using cake tins), until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Enjoy!

Fluffy and Moist Dairy-Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones

Not going to lie, I’ve been on a Great British Baking binge – not the new show without Mary Berry, but like the old reruns with the original gang.  There is just something so absolutely stress-relieving and home-y about watching home bakers bake their hearts out.  I guess I should mention that I’ve been on a little bit of a baking kick lately as well, oops. I’m typing this as I have a banana bread going in the oven (I’m going to blame my overripe bananas) and a frozen loaf of zucchini bread in my fridge (I couldn’t let those go bad either, right?). 


Anyways, maybe you can guess, but I’m stressed.  It’s job hunting season and I swear there isn’t anything worse than pouring your heart into a cover letter and resume only to hear a big fat no.  Seriously, if anyone has any job hunting tips, please let me know!  I think that the transition from school to being a working full-time adult is always a little bit different.  Not only do you have loans, but the added stress of having to look for a job that pays a living wage and also the prospect of having to relocate and start making new friends kind of makes the whole deal a little bit of a downer.  Don’t get me wrong, I am suuupppperrr excited to be done with school (goodbye homework!), but transitions are hard, and I’m just acknowledging that.  


I guess for me, when things get hard, I always tend to gravitate towards ideas and things that remind me of home or warmth/hugs.  This was definitely the inspiration behind these cinnamon chocolate scones.  I happen to love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate.  Cinnamon provides warmth, while the melt-y pools of chocolate add lots of richness.  I definitely don’t recommend skipping out on the chocolate, especially since the chocolate I’m using here is dark chocolate and dairy-free (practically healthy!).  While I’m lecturing on what else not to leave out, I’ll take the time to mention, don’t leave out the cinnamon butter spread on top either! OMG it’s legitimately the most delicious thing ever.  Once its baked, it turns into this crackly, cinnamon-y, crunchy topping.  SO GOOD.  Growing up, my sisters and I always tried to make scones every weekend, so these goodies definitely hold a lot of nostalgia for me. 


Hey, if you’re having a hard week or day (and I’m sending hugs to you if you are) take some time for yourself tonight, or maybe this weekend and make these scones.  Or if cinnamon/chocolate isn’t your thing, check out these blueberry and cream ones, or raspberry white chocolate scones.  Hopefully the warmth and home-y-ness will remind you of good memories and the fact that good times are coming. And hey, I know for a fact that good times are coming, because who doesn’t love summer?

DAIRY-FREE CINNAMON CHOCOLATE SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

for the scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (omit if your dairy-free butter is salted)
  • 6 tbsp dairy-free butter – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 1 egg

for the cinnamon spread

  • 2 tbsp dairy-free butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in dairy-free butter and using hands a knife/pastry cutter incorporate butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand (butter should be pea-sized).
  4. Add in chocolate pieces making sure to coat each chocolate piece in flour (this will make sure they don’t sink to the bottom of the scone batter during baking)
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour three-fourths of wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together.  Continue adding in remaining wet ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.  uDO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. In a small bowl, mix room temperature butter, sugar and cinnamon until a paste forms.
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter paste on top of the scone, making sure to cover the whole circle (see picture above)
  11. Cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!!

Vegan Peanut Butter Apple Crumble Bites

 I can’t even begin to express how ridiculously excited about this recipe I am! First of all, it comes together SO easily (I would know, because I made this on a whim), but also, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to stop letting food go to waste.  I never try to waste food on purpose, but sometimes you just let the bag of spinach sit too long in your fridge, or forget about the bunch of sweet potatoes you bought cause they’re sitting in the cabinet…(yikes) and I always just feel so bad when I end up having to toss the food.  I know that I won’t be perfect with this resolution because sometimes things just happen, but I’m hoping that if I put my mind to it, I can change my lifestyle and the way I make purchases going forward. 


Coming back from my last grocery run, I realized that I had accidentally bought new apples when I already had some old ones, and then putting away my snacks, I noticed some slightly stale peanut butter cookies sitting in the bag of my pantry (you see what I mean when I say I need to change the way I make purchases? I’m always forgetting what I already have :p ).  I didn’t want to break my resolution 3 weeks into the new year, so I got creative.  My aunt and uncle happen to be a fan of vegan foods even though they’re not vegans themselves, so I figured that I could whip up a dessert from these things to bring over to them.  


Turns out, apples, peanut butter and cinnamon crumble make for a bomb flavor combination.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since as I kid, I always had Ritz crackers with peanut butter and apple slices.  Let’s just say biting into these sweet and salty cuties straight from the oven brought me intense waves of nostalgia haha.  The one (and might I add, only) bad thing about these bits is that they definitely do get soggy if you decide to store them overnight.  Because of this, I’ve only made this recipe to make one batch (a full muffin tin), and would not recommend doubling the recipe unless you know you’re going to have a big crowd. 


In other news, my last first day of school (of the second semester) officially started Tuesday! Can’t believe that I’m hitting 18 years of being in school…man I feel old.  I’m sure it’ll be surreal once everything comes to an end, but for now, I’m going to concentrate on enjoying my classes and making as many memories as I can make in Big Apple.  And maybe making more of these lil’ apple bites!

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER APPLE CRUMBLE BITES | Makes 12 bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 peanut butter cookies (the sweet kind, like Nutterbutters)
  • 2 medium sized apples – cored and sliced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (for the struesel)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp of vegan butter
  • 12 Muffin tin liners

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350(F).
  2. Line a regular sized muffin tin with liners.
  3. Crush peanut butter cookies until a fine crumble is formed. I will usually just do this in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush cookies.
  4. Divide crushed cookies evenly between the 12 muffin liners.  Pack the crumbs firmly into the bottom of the liners.  The bottom of a 1/4 cup works super well to pack down the crumbs.
  5. In a separate bowl, toss the cubed apples, granulated white sugar and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon together.  Let the apples sit while you make the streusel topping.
  6. In another separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon together.  Then cut vegan butter in with either a pastry cutter or two butter knives until a crumble forms.  It is SUPER important to keep the butter cold, cold, cold! If it starts to look soft/melty, just stick the bowl into the fridge for 5 or so minutes.
  7. Divide apples evenly between the 12 liners and place on top of cookie crumble base.
  8. Top with streusel.  Don’t be afraid to be generous!
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until streusel topping is golden. 
  10. Bites should be consumed immediately and not stored overnight for best texture (taste won’t be affected).

Enjoy!

Easy Palmier

 You’ve got guests coming over in an hour, you just got home and there’s no time to waste.  What do you do?
a) run around in circles and panic (perfectly acceptable answer, I do it all the time) b) check the freezer for some leftover cookie dough (highly encouraged to have frozen cookie dough at all times) c) decide to not make anything and hope tea will just do it d) scrounge up that puff pastry sitting in the corner of your freezer


Let’s be real, all answers are acceptable in this case and I’ve probably done them all one time or another, buuuuuttt if you happen to have frozen puff pastry on hand and are in a time crunch, this is your answer! Legitimately 20 minutes start to finish (in a pinch) and breathtakingly beautiful in addition to being absolutely delicious, your dad, mom, sisters, cousins, friends, or in-laws will think you’re a baking genius.


Don’t believe me? Give them a try, I’m serious! The key to perfect palmiers is to keep your puff pastry cold, which if you’re short on time, is actually better for you because then you won’t accidentally let it sit for too long on the counter.  If this happens, don’t panic, just pop it back into the freezer for a couple minutes until the butter solidifies again and you can be on your merry way.


I know a lot of other palmier recipes tend to be heavier on the sugar, this one uses just a third of what normal recipes call for, and I actually find that it gives a better bake, caramelizes faster and leaves the palmiers just flaky enough but not rock hard.  On the plus side, it’s less sugar, which means you can eat more 😀


I’m feeling pretty good at the moment because I’ve blogged two recipes after blogging NONE for the past 5 months, so yeah, I’m going to say that today has been a success.  I hope that all of you have been having a wonderful day.  The sun peeked out today for the first time in what seems like forever, so I’m pretty ecstatic about that.  I can’t believe that the week is half over, hang in there, the weekend is near! Much love and even more palmiers to everyone! 

EASY PALMIERS | Makes about 2 dozen palmiers depending on how you slice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. Roll out puff pastry until it lays flat
  3. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sugar evenly over the entire rectangle
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry, pressing just hard enough for the sugar to stick into the puff pastry.  You’ll want to roll the puff pastry out about an additional 1-2 inches on each side
  5. To make the palmier shape, start from one end of the puff pastry and roll until it reaches the middle.  Then roll the other end of the puff pastry until that reaches the middle.  It should look like two rolled circles right next to each other.
  6. At this stage, if you have time, I would refrigerate for about 30 minutes before cutting and baking.  If you don’t, throw it into the freezer for 5 minutes and then slice into 1/2″ pieces.
  7. Bake for about 5 minutes on the first side, the puff pastry should start to puff and turn a light golden brown.  Take palmiers out of oven and flip over.  Bake for an additional 2-3 minutes or until top of the flipped side is a golden brown.
  8. Cool before serving for crunchy flaky layers.
  9. Palmiers will keep for 3-4 days in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Purple Sweet Potato Pie

 I used to think that I was a cake person, but after this pie, I think I’ve been converted.  Pie allows you to bring in so many different textures that I think that cake just doesn’t allow for (not saying that cake isn’t amazing, cuz TRUST ME, it soooooo is). BUT in one bite of pie, you get flaky, buttery crust, smooth creamy filling, and crunchy sweet topping – it really doesn’t get much better than that!  I guess I should also preface by admitting that a huge part of why I didn’t used to like pie is because I’m lactose intolerant and pie just doesn’t taste as good without butter.  I pretty much believed that butter-less pie was not worth eating until this past Thanksgiving rolled around.  With my grandpa working on controlling his blood sugar level, and pretty much my whole family is lactose intolerant, dessert options had to be 1) low in sugar and 2) dairy-free.  This pie delivers both.  Not only are sweet potatoes naturally sweet, they are also perfect because the sugars in sweet potatoes digest slowly and won’t spike up your blood sugar.  


Turns out, with the right substitutions, you can make just as delicious a pie crust and filling without dairy.  For my pie crust, I use coconut oil, the filtered kind, so you can barely taste/can’t taste the coconut flavor at all.  It’s honestly pretty amazing.  Just make sure to pay extra attention when you’re buying you’re coconut oil to pick up the filtered kind, otherwise your crust will definitely taste of coconut (unless of course, you like coconut, then have at it).  The key to making sure you get a flaky crust is to keep the coconut oil cold.  Since it’s hard to scoop when its cold, I will usually pre-measure it out and then stick the amount into the fridge for maybe 10 minutes.  You can assemble the rest of the ingredients while you wait.  The same goes with the pie filling, I use coconut cream and it creates the most luscious and creamy filling – you won’t even remember that heavy cream wasn’t used.  The real secret though? Straining your pie filling ensures that all the lumps are broken up and your custard will end up smoother than silk. 


Now, I’m not a fan of walnuts, BUT, as it turns out, when they are candied, they become the perfect complement for a creamy filling.  Of course, you can choose to leave the nuts out, but they just provide the perfect crunch, so I would recommend simply substituting for a nut that you do like.  Seeds would probably work too! It’s just nice to have a trio of different textures 🙂
I’m getting hungry just thinking about this pie while I write!  Might have to do some night time baking….


I’m currently on winter break still, and I’m blissfully savoring the days I have left.  I’m still at work most days, but it’s just so nice to come home and not have a million pounds of homework to do.  Instead, I get a chance to cook, watch some netflix and catch up on my blogging.  The simple life pleasures are the best.  So here we go, pie recipe coming at you!

DAIRY-FREE PURPLE SWEET POTATO PIE | Makes one 4.5in x13.5in pie

INGREDIENTSfor the crust

  • 1/2 cup filtered coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • heaping 1/2 cup purple sweet potato mashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

for the candied nut topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add in coconut oil and use either a pastry cutter or a fork to break the oil into pea sized pieces.  DO NOT use your hands, this will melt the coconut oil!
  4. Once the oil pieces are thoroughly mixed into the flour, add in ice cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until a dough ball forms.  Try to add in as little water as possible, as adding too much water will encourage the formation of gluten which results in a tough pie crust.
  5. Form into a rectangle, wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. While the crust is chilling, combine sweet potato, brown sugar, eggs, coconut cream, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  7. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the filling mixture into a clean bowl to ensure a smooth filling.
  8. Once dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch in thickness and press into tart pan.  Place parchment paper on top of pie crust and fill with baking beans (I just use rice).
  9. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 (F).
  10. Take out crust, carefully remove baking beans and pour in filling (at this point, I usually place the pie pan on a baking sheet for easier maneuvering).
  11. Lower oven heat to 325 (F).
  12. Bake pie for 20-25 minutes until filling is just set. Let chill.
  13. While pie is chilling, melt 1/4 cup white sugar in a small sauce pan until it caramelizes (you are looking for a dark amber color).  When it reaches this color, throw in walnut pieces and mix thoroughly.  Pour out candied nuts onto waxed or parchment paper and let cool.
  14. When you are ready to serve the pie, break candied walnut pieces over pie.
  15. Pie keeps up to 3 days in the fridge (and tastes amazing straight from the fridge as well!).  Be sure to store candied walnuts separately, as the moisture from the pie will liquify the sugar.

Enjoy!

Flaky Apple Hand Pies

 Happy 2019! 2018 brought a whirlwind of changes – new moves, new jobs, new friends, in fact, it’s almost overwhelming to think of them all!  It’s simultaneously been the hardest year, but the happiest year.  Isn’t it funny that life can be like that sometimes (and it seems, almost all the time?). I hope that for you, 2019 brings all the happiness that was in 2018, and only keeps getting better 😊


On the topic of better, I’ve been aspiring to be better about staying home and cooking with what I have, instead of falling prey to the wonderful app that is Grubhub.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and being in the kitchen, but after 8 hours of school and a seemingly endless pile of homework, the thought of even sautéing some veggies makes my head spin.  So, creating the simplest and fastest recipes are always at the forefront of my mind when I’m creating something new.


The recipe is actually from awhile back, but I’m finally getting to blogging about it now (talk about being behind! Haha, I’m just a year late).  Anyway, one of my bestest friends from my work came over to my itty bitty apartment this past Thanksgiving to make some apple hand pies.  We had originally set out to make cherry almond croissants, but upon realizing the both of us had no tools and barely any ingredients, we had to quickly change plans.  She brought some honeycrisp apples (shoutout to Minnesota for creating them!), and I supplied the puff pastry, voila! We had all the ingredients necessary for apple hand pies.  It’s that easy, I promise!  And it will bring smiles to anyone you serve them to, cause really, who can resist some pipping hot, cinnamony sugar and buttery pastries? 


So let’s ring in 2019 with some flaky apple hand pies, maybe a glass of champagne, and if you’re me, some R&R with my faithful buddy, netflix (lol).  Back to reality though, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions, and I really only have two this year, okay, maybe three, but the first is the most important.  I want to be kinder to others, because you can always be kinder and you never, ever know another stranger’s full story.  So often I find myself quickly jumping to conclusions and judging others harshly before I even take a moment to put myself in their shoes.  What are the other two? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.  In the mean time, grab some apples, some puff pastry and sit down with a hand pie (or two). 

FLAKY APPLE HAND PIES | Makes 8-10 hand pies 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 honeycrisp apples (or any other baking apple) – cored and diced into small pieces 
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp butter – melted 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (I get mine from Trader Joes) 
  • 1 beaten egg (for egg wash) 
  • 1 tbsp milk*
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar*

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F)
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together diced apples, white sugar, melted butter and cinnamon.  Combine together and set aside. 
  3. Take thawed puff pastry and cut sheet into 8-10 rectangles, depending on how big you want your hand pies to be (remember, your hand pies will be half the size you cut your rectangles into, because you’ll be folding them in half to seal in the apple). 
  4. Take each piece of puff pastry and spoon in about 1-2 tablespoons of apple into the middle of the puff pastry. Make sure to leave out the juices that have pooled to the bottom of the bowl with the apples, this will make your hand pie extremely soggy. 
  5. Brush edges of the puff pastry with the beaten egg and seal together.  
  6. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you’ll want the parchment paper since the apples tend to leak their juices a little bit, it makes clean up easier). 
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove once the top is golden brown and puff pastry has puffed!
  8. Once cooled, create an icing by combining milk and powdered sugar together.  Drizzle over hand pies for just the slightest hint of sweetness to complement the apples.  
  9. Hand pies will stay fresh for just a couple of days.  To extend their shelf life, simply freeze and reheat in the toaster! 

Enjoy! 

Healthier Cherry, Almond and Cashew Bark

Let’s talk about two dreaded words “eating healthy”.  If you’re like any normal person, you probably cringe at the word and it sorta terrifies you (at least, it did for me!).  I think society these days has made the concept of eating healthy so much more difficult and confusing with changes in dietary recommendations every couple years and new research on diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease always coming out.  It’s hard to keep up with all of it!
A couple ways to make it easier to eat healthy is to remember these recommendations:

  • keep it simple – try to stay away from foods with a lot of ingredients and especially those that you don’t recognize.
  • keep it fresh – fresh foods, are always better than processed food! Fresh foods are lower in sodium, sugar, and free of preservatives.
  • homemade is best – when you eat out, or buy already packaged foods, you can’t control the ingredients that go in there.  By making things yourself at home, you can control the salt, sugar, and contact with other ingredients that aren’t good for you.

Now, I agree, homemade is not always the easiest, and sometimes you have to pick your battles. For me, if I’ve worked a 12 hour work day and the only thing I’m craving is Chinese takeout, I just go for it. But if I’m home on a Saturday and find free time on my hands, I love to meal prep and bulk make snacks.  Eating healthy is all about finding what works for you, whether it is home cooking everyday, or just starting a weekend meal prep that’ll last you a couple days. 


One of my favorite snacks to make is this dark chocolate, cherry, almond, and cashew bark.  It was born out of wanting a more even distribution of chocolate whenever I ate trail mix.  I hated having a handful of just dried fruit, or too many almond or just not enough chocolate.  This recipe is made with only 4 squares of chocolate (think like half a Hershey’s chocolate bar) and will last you the whole week! I grew up with people always telling me that chocolate was terrible for you and would give you acne and so on and so forth.  The truth is, it all depends on the type of chocolate! Dark chocolate is actually really good for you (in moderation, as everything is, haha), the key is just to choose a brand that is low in sugar. The cherries, or any dried fruit in general help give the bark some natural sweetness and are a good source of fiber; make sure to only buy dry fruit that hasn’t been sweetened (it will usually say if there’s been extra sugar added on the packing, so keep a look out for it!).  I know cherries and almonds are the classic combination, but I love the addition of cashews.  They’re heart healthy and help give a creaminess to the bark that makes it that much more delicious. I am addicted to the salty-sweet combination, so the final finishing touch to this bark is just a sprinkle of sea salt on top.  If you’re sensitive to salt, need to avoid it, or just don’t like salty snacks, leave it out!


This bark is perfect in every way.  It keeps well, it’s healthy for you with no refined sugars, and is pretty much as minimally processed as foods get.  It also takes only 20 minutes and is legitimately 3 steps. I’ve included photos to help guide you, I find that it’s always less daunting to try out a new recipe when you’ve got photos to compare your product to at every step!


First thing, gather up your nuts and dried fruit and roughly chop them.  I cut the cherries into quarters and the nuts in half.  You can go as large or as small as you want, but I find that these sized pieces are best to make sure you get at least a good amount of cherries, almonds and cashews in one bite.

 Then, melt your chocolate in the microwave and sprinkle your nuts on top.  It’s going to be a pretty densely packed bark, just because I’m trying to keep the chocolate at a minimum and make the majority of the bark nuts and dried fruit. Don’t forget that last sprinkle of sea salt!

Then, just pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.  When the chocolate has solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to devour. Seriously, it’s that simple!

HEALTHIER CHERRY, ALMOND, CASHEW BARK | Makes 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup pitted dried cherries (no added sugar)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (I look for the one with the lowest amount of sugar)
  • A pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Roughly chop up almond, cashews, and cherries. They should be chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat dark chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time and taking out before all the chocolate is melted.  Let the residual heat of the already melted chocolate melt the remaining chocolate.  This will ensure a smooth and luscious chocolate texture.
  3. Pour melted chocolate on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.  Spread the chocolate out as thin as you can get it (I picked up the sheet pan and tilted it side to side to help the chocolate spread, it’s the easiest way!). It should be spread out very thin (almost paper-thin).
  4. Sprinkle chopped nuts and cherries over the melted dark chocolate and then press the nuts and fruit into the chocolate.  This will make sure everything stays inside the melted chocolate and doesn’t fall out when you try and eat it. It should be pretty densely packed! Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Pop into the fridge for 15-20 minutes until bark is solidified. 
  6. Once bark is solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to eat!
  7. Store bark in an airtight container in the fridge and it will pretty much keep indefinitely.

*Recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled to meet your needs.

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Blueberry and Cream Scones

 I think scones are one of the funnest baked goods to make. When I first started out making scones, they were rock-hard, dry and as tough as nails.  Instead of getting discouraged, my inability to make a perfect scone challenged me to create a recipe that is essentially fail proof AND dairy-free.  Scones are one of those desserts where butter is pretty much a mandatory component for it to even be called a scone. I pretty much thought so as well until a craving for scones hit SO bad, it didn’t go away for weeks.  I’m usually one of those people with enough will-power to keep cravings that might kill my digestive system at bay since I’m lactose intolerant, but nope, this one just wouldn’t go away!


I’m not going to pretend that this recipe is healthier just because it doesn’t contain butter, but I can definitely promise you that it is extremely low-sugar (only 1 tablespoon!) and 100% dairy-free while still delicious and moist.  If dairy-free scones aren’t your thing, and you want the real deal, try out my raspberry almond and white chocolate scones, instead! Alright, if you’re still on board, here we go. 


Since coconut oil is similar to butter in terms of its consistency (solid at room-temperature), I figured that it would be a good substitute to use for scones.  However, as I quickly found out, coconut oil melts far more easily then butter and super quick at any temperatures over normal room temperature making for a gooey mess.  The key to successful scones in this case, is to keep your coconut oil cold (I ensure this by place measured out coconut oil in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before using) and keep your measuring bowl cool as well (if possible!).


I love scones because they’re super customizable.  Hate blueberries? Use raspberries! Don’t have white chocolate on hand? Use dark chocolate, chop up nuts, or just leave it out altogether! Super easy, right? As long as you don’t mess with the dry ingredient to wet ingredient ratio, the add-ins are pretty much up to you.  One thing that I will note, is that, all fruits that you want to incorporate into this recipe should be frozen fruit!  Frozen fruit maintains its shape, doesn’t make the scone too soggy when baked, and honestly helps keep the coconut oil cool when you’re mixing, ha!


While you can make your scones any shape you want, I would recommend patting the mixture into a large round circle and cutting into 8 triangles, much like you would a cake (cutting before baking the scones ensures that the scones are allowed to rise and get super fluffy!).  This is much faster than individually portioning out scone mounds, and makes sure that the scones themselves are virtually identical triangles after baking. When you bake them as a large circle, it also helps keep the scone moist inside and not dry out too quickly. If you prefer scones that are more crust than fluff, then maybe individually portioning out scones might be what you want to go with.


I don’t know about you, but I’m savoring up the last few weeks of summer like nobody’s business. These berry-licious scones are best eaten with tea and under the summer-y blue sky.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them! Let’s get to it!

DAIRY-FREE BLUEBERRY AND CREAM SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp more for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream + 2 tbsp more for brushing
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in coconut oil and using hands a fork incorporate coconut oil into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Add in frozen blueberries taking care to separate any blueberries in frozen chunks.
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together until a wet, shaggy dough forms.  DO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. Brush top with coconut cream and sprinkle with sugar. Then cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!

Healthy Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

 I love mangoes and I love sticky rice.  I’m not sure there’s a better combination than this Thai dessert.  I’ll be honest, even though I’ve had coconut sticky rice and mango separately countless times, I had never put the two together until I was developing this recipe.  One of my favorite childhood memories is eating freshly picked mango in Taiwan on the beach.  We were so lucky to be staying at a small bed & breakfast that also happened to grow mangoes in its backyard. The couple running the B&B sent us off to the beach with a giant basket full of mangoes for breakfast – it’s probably one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had to this day. Unfortunately, delicious mangoes are hard to come by in the United States. You really have to be on either the East Coast or West Coast to get good mangoes year round.  I would definitely recommend making this recipe during the summer months, for the sweetest mangoes, but if you’re hankering for mango sticky rice in the dead of winter, this recipe will definitely cure it.


Traditional mango sticky rice recipes are very high in sugar (and delicious, don’t get me wrong!) but sometimes, it’s just nice to have a decadent dessert that doesn’t fulfill your weekly sugar allowance. One of the best things about mango is that it generally has a high sugar content.  This is the reason why for my recipe, I can add so little sugar, and still have such a delicious dessert.  In order to take full advantage of the high sugar content, I’m going to recommend that you use Champange mangoes. These are a smaller, yellow-er variety than the typical mango you probably know. It’s much sweeter and less fibrous, making it perfect for mango sticky rice.


If you’ve ever tried to look up a recipe for sticky rice before, I’m sure you’ve seen that there are a bajillion different ways to make it.  This is the way my grandma taught me, and also the least time consuming method I’ve seen so far.  While a lot of recipes call for soaking the sweet rice overnight and then steaming, I’ve shortened the soaking to just a couple hours and then cooking just like traditional rice. Much faster!  Traditionally, coconut sticky rice relies on been drenched in sweetened coconut cream to impart its flavor, but I’ve cut down on the fat content and sugar content by cooking the sweet rice in coconut milk to give it the coconut flavor, and then just a few spoonfuls of coconut cream to top everything at the end.


For those who are making sticky rice for the first time, when you’re purchasing the rice to make sticky rice, it will actually be labeled as sweet rice, not sticky rice.  Deceiving, I know! I’m not sure why it’s labeled sweet rice, but now that you know, you’ll be a pro at navigating the rice section of a supermarket!


Alright, well let’s get too it!

COCONUT STICKY RICE WITH MANGO | Makes enough for 3-4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Champange mango – sliced into wedges and chilled
  • 1 cup sweet rice – uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp granulated white sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place sweet rice into a mixing bowl and cover with water (all the rice should be submerged). Let sweet rice soak for two hours.
  2. At the end of two hours, drain sweet rice and let sit in a strainer for 20 minutes.
  3. Place drained sweet rice into a rice cooker or medium-sized pot and add in 1 1/2 cup coconut milk. If you’re using a rice cooker, simply press the on button and wait for rice to cook.  If you’re cooking over the stove top, bring coconut milk to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. This should be around 20 minutes or so.
  4. Once rice is cooked, let cool (I usually spread it out on a plate so it cools faster).
  5. Combine coconut cream and sugar.  Microwave for 60 seconds so the cream is hot enough to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Once rice is cool, simply arrange a scoop of sticky rice and several slices of mango on a plate. Top with a couple spoonfuls of the coconut cream.

Enjoy!

Ramen Congee

 Ramen congee might sound like the weirdest thing, but actually is delicious and oddly addictive.  It is one childhood food that I still frequently eat, and the moment that hot broth enters my stomach I’m always hit with simultaneous waves of nostalgia and warm fuzzies. Ramen congee was always saved for when my dad was out of town, and when he was, that meant staying up late, watching movies, and eating ramen congee with my mom and two sisters.


I think I partly loved it so much because it mean that we got to go out for ramen either the day before, or earlier that week. Growing up in the suburbs there wasn’t always the largest choice of ethnic foods to choose from, and if there were, they probably weren’t the most authentic.  When I made ramen congee for the first time after eating at Totto Ramen (my absolute FAV ramen joint in NYC, check it out!), I was blown away by the intricate flavors that the broth held.


I don’t doctor up the broth much, just salt and white pepper to taste.  I really prefer using white pepper as opposed to black pepper, since it’s a milder flavor that complements Asian ingredients much better than black pepper. This recipe isn’t meant to be difficult, and it’s certainly not meant to be restricting. You’ll see that I’ve only included daikon (an Asian version of radish), eggs, and scallion. It’s completely up to you if you want to add in extra, or leave out something! The only thing this recipe is meant to do is to bring comfort on a day when you really need it.  That being said, in order to make this recipe fast and easy, I’m using cooked rice to bring down the cooking time.  You can absolutely use uncooked rice, I would just add in an extra 1/2 cup of broth, 1/2 cup of water and increase the cooking time by 30 minutes.  The only thing that you need to make sure of when you’re making congee, is that your rice is either sushi or jasmine rice.  Any sort of rice that is low in starch (think Indian Basmati rice) will not form into a porridge.  Rather, it will just stay as individual grains of rice, which is not what we want! 


Congee is a staple to Taiwanese cooking, and actually was once a sign as poverty.  It was used to stretch out meals, since so much water could be added to the rice to make it seem like there was a lot more food than actually available. Unfortunately, while poverty is still a rampant problem in many areas of Asia, congee is also wonderful to make when you’re feeling sick, or if you really need a soft meal (a.k.a. me, after my wisdom teeth removal).


So, the next time that you’re at a ramen shop, no matter how frequent it is, or if it’s your first time, don’t have the waiter throw away your leftover broth, bring it home! Not only does it prevent food waste, but it’s also a quick meal to throw together on a week day when you’re super tired and just want some hot food in your belly. From my stomach to yours, I hope you enjoy this ramen congee recipe!

RAMEN CONGEE | Makes 1 big pot (3-4 people)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups leftover ramen broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup cooked sushi or jasmine rice (leftover or fresh)
  • 1 stalk of green onion
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups daikon, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large cooking pot, mix ramen broth and water.  Add in rice and bring to a boil. 
  2. One rice is brought to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  3. At this point, add in sliced daikon and eggs, stir a couple times to mix eggs around. 
  4. Let congee simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning. 
  5. Once daikon slices become translucent and rice is cooked into a thin porridge (around 25 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Just before serving, sprinkle congee with green onion slices. 

Enjoy! 

Healthy Zucchini Bread

 Zucchini is one of those funny vegetables that either tastes amazing or super gross.  Unfortunately for me, growing up, I only ever had my share of yucky tasting zucchini.  This pretty much meant that I would try and feed my mom’s zucchini to my baby sister, or hide it under the rest of my food.  I did this for years until I went over to a friends house and they served zucchini bread for dinner. AND BOOM, just like that, my life was completely changed.  What made zucchini watery and gross, made the moist-est and sweet bread, and hey, it was a serving of vegetable too, technically.  
I went home and gushed to my mom about this amazing bread that I had eaten at my friend’s house, and how it was made from zucchini.  My mom, of course, was not impressed and wanted to actually taste this thing I was talking about for herself.  So, I went online and clicked on the first recipe I found (I’m pretty sure it was Allrecipes) and made my family some zucchini bread.   Needless to say, they fell in love with zucchini bread, just like me, and since then, it’s been one of our favorite after school snacks and the perfect dessert to complement a meal.


The zucchini bread recipe that I found that first day, has been modified and tweaked for over so many years, that I’m not even sure it resembles the same recipe that we started out with. I find that zucchini bread tends to be very sweet, and in some cases, just wayyy too sweet for my diabetic family.  During the period in which I was trying to create a healthier zucchini bread, my dad became lactose intolerant, and I figured that I should probably make a dairy-free zucchini bread recipe.  Luckily, oil based breads are actually more moist than breads made with butter since the oil is liquid and has an easier time encasing the flour particles (this is what prevents gluten formation, and tough baked goods).  So, this zucchini bread recipe is not only dairy-free, it is also low sugar, uses more zucchini than what would normally be called for a higher dose of veggies, and is still pretty much the most delicious bread ever.


I would recommend definitely keeping this recipe as a bread and baking it in a loaf pan, instead of a cake tin or muffin tins.  What makes this recipe over-the-top amazing is the delicious, golden crust that forms on top of the zucchini bread.  This crust only forms if its been baked for awhile, which wouldn’t be the case for cake layers or muffins. One thing that I can’t stress more than enough is DO NOT drain the shredded zucchini!  The water in the zucchini is what creates a moist and fluffy bread.  I made zucchini bread with my friend once and we were both curious as to what would happen if we squeezed all the water out of the zucchini before we put it into the batter.  Oh man, we were eating rock hard zucchini bread for days after. Haha, so please, learn from my mistake!

The key to good zucchini bread is all in the eggs.  You want to make sure to beat as much air as you can into the eggs before combining it with the rest of the wet ingredients!

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy TIME: 20 min prep + 1 hour cook time


HEALTHY ZUCCHINI BREAD | Makes 1 loaf (8-10 slices, depending on how thin you slice them)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (or any other neutral tasting oil)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup grated zucchini (do not drain!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 (F).
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  3. Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk until air bubbles appear on the surface and eggs are well beaten.
  4. Then, add in vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and sugar.  Mix well.
  5. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little bit at a time.  This mixture should be thick and hard to mix.
  6. Finally, add in grated zucchini and mix well.  At this point, the mixture should be much easier to mix because of the moisture from the zucchini.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and then check to see if bread is done.  If not, keep adding an extra 5 minutes of baking time.  In my experience, depending on humidity and oven circulation, bread can take between 60 minutes and 75 minutes to bake.
  8. Cool bread before slicing.
  9. Zucchini bread will keep fresh for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Taiwanese Cucumbers with Sesame Oil

“Pickled” cucumbers have always been one of my favorite summertime foods.  The moment it hits 80 degrees, I’m at the grocery store searching for the nearest display of cucumbers. When it comes to buying cucumbers, I prefer Persian cucumbers over English ones.  Persian ones tend to be less seedy and also less watery.  I also find them crunchier and overall just cuter, because who doesn’t like mini cucumbers? If English cucumbers are the only thing you have on hand, the recipe works just as well, but I’d definitely recommend trying to make them with Persian cucumbers one day!


These cucumbers were a staple of my household growing up.  My grandma used to grow them in her garden, and even after we moved away from her and her weekly cucumber ration, my mom continued to serve these every summer.  There’s just something so refreshing about cucumbers. When I started helping out in the kitchen, this dish was one of the first dishes I was allowed to help out with.  Looking back, I guess it makes sense cause these cucumbers are so soft, I was able to use a butter knife to slice through them, ha!


If the “pickles” title makes you think of sour, dill-flavored pickles, you’re in for a (nice) surprise! These ones are flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and topped with sesame seeds.  They also happen to be ready to eat in 15 minutes. The combination of these three ingredients, seriously make for the most umami-packed and crisp cucumbers.  If you’ve noticed that I’ve left garlic out from these cucumbers and are wondering why, the Taiwanese cucumbers that I’ve ever had, never included garlic, so I’m going with the taste that I know.  If you’re dying to include some chopped garlic, go for it! Just beware that raw garlic packs a more spicy and pungent flavor, so use sparingly. The best way to eat these “pickles” are chilled and marinated for about 30 minutes or so, but they’re delicious right off the bat as well. 


Alright, well let’s get straight to it! One platter of crisp, savory “pickles” coming right up.

QUICK NOTE: If you don’t have white pepper, simply leave it out! Do not try and substitute it with black pepper.  White pepper and black pepper have distinct tastes, and while white pepper is much milder, adding in black pepper into these “pickles” will make it overwhelmingly peppery.

TAIWANESE CUCUMBERS WITH SESAME OIL | Makes 1 large plate, feeds 3-4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 Persian cucumbers (generally how many that come in a pack)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice Persian cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices and toss in large bowl
  2. Add in soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated
  3. Place in fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Before serving sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top of “pickles”
  5. Consume immediately (and relish in the refreshing taste)

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Not quite sure that there’s anything better than chocolate in this world.  I mean, chocolate is up there along with surprise snow days, long walks on the beach and lazy Sundays. Anyone that said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend clearly never had these double chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate ganache.  Yep, I said it, the “g” word, gasp! Laden with butter, it used to be one of my favorite things to eat before I became lactose intolerant.  These days, I make do with dark chocolate squares after dinner, close my eyes and pretend like I’m licking the chocolate ganache off a spoon.

This chocolate cupcake and ganache recipe stems back to my bakery days, when I worked at one bakery in Minnesota. They served the best cupcakes, and this recipe is inspired by the light and fluffy, but still intensely chocolate-y cupcakes I would make. The key to these chocolate cupcakes is fresh baking soda.  I’m not even joking, one time, I had baking soda left over from who knows when, and my cupcakes ended up flatter than Flat Stanley. It was a sad day for all of us in the Chung household craving cupcakes. Lesson learned: always use fresh baking soda!


Okay, maybe I lied, the frosting is more of a buttercream frosting with an identity crisis.  It tastes just like a chocolate ganache, but way easier to make than ganache.  The problem with ganache is that you can so easily burn the chocolate, or overcook the cream, or even worse, the ganache might not even come together after all the effort you spent perfectly heating up that cream and chopping your chocolate into slivers. This one just requires room temperature butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and an arm looking for a good workout.


For my cupcakes, I chose to pipe the frosting on, but you can dip, whip, or spoon the frosting on in any way you would like.  Heck, you could probably skip the frosting altogether and just eat a bite of cupcake and lick the spoon you used to make the frosting.  This is really a whatever-you-want type of recipe.  Since baking is always such a precise measurement, I think that there’s a sort of beauty in decorating something that suits your taste and style.  There’s nothing better than taking a step back from your finished masterpiece and feeling utterly accomplished and satisfied.


As I’m nearing the completion of my first month of work, I can tell you its been an uphill battle the whole way.  Some days, all I can do is relish in the small victories of the day, and secretly wish I had a time machine to make time pass faster. Once I’m in the kitchen though, the stress and worries of the day melt away.  I guess the whole point that I’m making is, don’t forget to take some time for yourself! And also, eat a chocolate cupcake or two 🙂

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES | Makes 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS
cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking soda (FRESH)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil, or any other neutral tasting oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot coffee (instant is fine)

frosting:

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk together.
  3. Add egg, sugar, vegetable oil and buttermilk together into another large mixing bowl and mix well.
  4. Alternate adding hot coffee and dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, starting first with the dry ingredients.
  5. Line cupcake tins with liners and fill each tin 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of a cupcake.
  7. Let cupcakes cool before frosting.

frosting:

  1. Beat butter until creamy (usually 5-8 minutes for me by hand).
  2. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Alternate adding in powdered sugar and milk and whisk until a fluffy frosting is achieved.  If mixture looks try, at additional milk 1/2 tsp at a time. If mixture looks wet, add additional 1 tbsp powdered sugar at a time.
  4. Either spoon chocolate frosting on, or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
  5. Frosted cupcakes will stay fresh for up to 5 days covered a room temperature.

Happy Eating!

Puppy Chow Ferrero Rocher Truffles

I say Ferrero, you say Rocher.  I say Puppy, you say chow! Now, imagine those two decadent treats fused together into one amazing, can’t contain myself, need to eat the whole bowl, chocolate truffle.  They’re addicting, they really are.  I brought them to work yesterday and they were gone before lunch time (who says dessert can’t come first?).


These “Ferrero Rocher” truffles were made with ingredients I have lying around in my pantry and I promise are in your pantry too. It comes together in less than 15 minutes, which basically means that if you’re in a pinch and need a sweet fix or a dessert to bring to that potluck, it’s your lucky day. I’m not sure if anything else can top a 15-minute dessert, but these babies are also vegan and gluten-free! No, you don’t have to make them vegan or gluten-free, mine just happened to be, and they were delicious.  No one complained, in fact, everyone was too busy trying to hide extras up their sleeves. 


I’ve been pretty busy lately, which I guess, when you’re working two jobs, that can happen, so I apologize for the lack of new posts!  I really can’t complain though because I get to learn about non-profits, and also write fun environmental health articles (check them out here!).  I am always so happy and humbled when I think about the field that I’m in, there really isn’t anything better than being able to improve public health. Sometimes it does get stressful and I always find myself running back to the kitchen.  There’s just something so calming about having flour up to your arms or fingers coated in melted chocolate (anyone else with me?). 


Speaking of stress, with all the awful stuff that’s happening right now about separating children from their families, it’s hard to remember the good.  But, we can’t forget that we each have a voice and there are things that we can do to help, starting from just a phone call.  I can’t imagine the pain that these families are feeling, and if you’re also needing a little sweetness to help get you through the day, these truffles will definitely help!  Make them tonight, you don’t regret it, and then share them tomorrow to help bring a smile to everyone  🙂 

A word about melting chocolate: Chocolate is finicky, especially when melted.  Here’s a pro-tip when it comes to melting chocolate, never zap it in the microwave for more than 30 seconds at a time. ALWAYS stop microwaving before all the chocolate has melted, otherwise you risk burning your chocolate and having to throw it all away. Instead, use the residual heat from the already melted chips to melt the rest of the chips just by stirring for a minute or so.

PUPPY CHOW FERRERO ROCHER TRUFFLES | Makes 12-15 truffles 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks*
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup rice Chex – roughly crushed*  
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate – melted*
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch reserved separately
  • 2 tbsp cashews – crushed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place peanut butter and chocolate pieces into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until chips are just beginning to melt. Mix together and let residual heat melt remaining chips
  2. Pour crushed rice Chex into melted peanut butter chocolate mixture and mix until evenly coated
  3. Add in powdered sugar and a dash or cinnamon into the Chex mixture.  Mix until mixture starts to clump
  4. Roll Chex pieces into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Freeze for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix 1/8 tsp cinnamon with melted chocolate
  6. Roll frozen balls into melted chocolate, place on parchment paper and sprinkle with crushed cashews
  7. Place in fridge until truffles are solidified, about 15-20 minutes
  8. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to a week (if they last that long!)

*Both the melted chocolate and chocolate pieces can easily be substituted for your chocolate of choice (milk, dark, vegan). While I used rice Chex, regular Chex will work just as well, but keep in mind that the treat will no longer be gluten-free without the rice Chex! 

Enjoy!

Summer-y Shrimp Wontons

I say “summer-y” because the addition of fresh corn makes these shrimp wontons absolutely pop with flavor and adds just a hint of sweetness to balance out the spice of the white pepper.  Being from Minnesota (a.k.a. the breadbasket of America), I’m pretty proud of the corn we grow. During the summer, there’s nothing better than roasting some fresh corn out on the grill and then my family will brush each piece with a soy dressing. SO incredibly good!


Since I’m currently in a 12×12 foot teeny, tiny, grill-less apartment, roasting summer corn is pretty much out of the question. Luckily, there are about a bajillion other ways to enjoy fresh corn. One of my favorite ways is in dumplings or wontons.  If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between dumplings and wontons are, your search ends here! Wontons are generally wrapped in the shape that is shown in the pictures above, the wrapper is square (unlike dumpling wrappers which are round) and thinner, for a faster cooking time than dumplings.  Wontons are also usually filled less, since they are often accompanied by noodles or some sort of soup and aren’t supposed to be a main dish (although I often eat them for an entire meal haha).


Though it may seem daunting, making wontons is actually the simplest process ever. I was able to make about 50 wontons in less than 1 hour, which is pretty great considering you can easily freeze wontons and reheat them later for a delicious snack or meal. I know that some people like to make their own wonton wrappers, but to be honest, store-bought ones are actually just as delicious and way more convenient. Growing up in a Taiwanese-American household, frozen wonton wrappers were a common sight in my fridge. You can easily get wonton wrappers at any sort of Asian grocery store that might be around you, or visit a store similar to Whole Foods that carries an ethnic food section.


This recipe does call for some ingredients that might be out of the ordinary if you aren’t a hoarder of Asian spices like me. You’ll need soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, shallots, white pepper, and green onion (a.k.a. scallions). The first two you might also need to visit a specialty store to find, but the rest should be carried by whatever local grocery store you like to go to. If you’ve got a food processor, amazing! You can go pour yourself a glass of celebratory wine or juice because your work just got cut in half. If you don’t, well, you can join the club. Luckily, there isn’t too much to chop 🙂
Let’s get started!

SUMMER-Y SHRIMP WONTONS | Makes 48 medium sized wontons

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 lb of raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 stalk of scallion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp of minced ginger
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 pack of 48 wonton wrappers (usually one package of those will do!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine scallion, ginger, corn and shallots together into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle in salt and mix thoroughly with the aromatics.
  3. Finely chop raw shrimp until pieces are small and begin to stick with each other (this is necessary so the filling will hold together and not break apart in the wontons).
  4. Add chopped shrimp in with the aromatics and mix well.
  5. Pour in soy sauce, sesame oil and sprinkle in white pepper, mix again.
  6. Fill a small bowl with cold water to use as “glue” to help the wonton wrappers stay closed
  7. Hold the wonton wrapper so that it looks like a diamond, and not a square in your hand.
  8. Add about 1/2-1 tsp of filling to the center of the wonton wrapper.
  9. Dip your finger into the cold water and dab water along the edges of the wrapper.
  10. Then, fold wrapper in half and press down on edges to seal. You should now have a shape that resembles some sort of triangle.
  11. Take the two corners that make up the base of the triangle and fold them towards you until they are able to meet in the middle, seal with more water.
  12. At this point, you can freeze all the wontons by placing them on a baking tray and freezing until solid before transferring them to a pyrex or gallon freezer bag.
  13. Alternately, you can bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook wontons for eating immediately. Since they are lightly filled, they should take only 8-10 minutes to cook, but every stove is different, so make sure to check if wontons are cooked fully before eating.

Enjoy!

The Best Vegan Salted Caramel Sauce

Think of all the possibilities! Salted caramel brownies (link to recipe for vegan brownies), salted caramel apple cake (link to recipe for apple cake), or even salted caramel ice cream! When I was small, my favorite flavor was vanilla, but everything changed when I was introduced to the salted caramel flavor *cue nostalgia*. Oh, the perfect combination of sweet, salty, rich and indulgent all at the same time. Anyone else agree with me??
Anyway, since I’m lactose intolerant now and is so pretty much 99.9% of my family, I figured it might be time to look for a dairy-free salted caramel replacement.  Not exactly the easiest thing on the planet unfortunately, since butter and cream make up pretty much the bulk of salted caramel. I do think that nothing really beats the luxurious taste of butter, but this recipe comes pretty darn near close. The consistency is a little bit different (I would say a little bit thicker and glossier), but still perfect to drizzle on ice cream, pies, or just to eat by the spoonful.


When I first started experimenting with creating the perfect vegan salted caramel, I was stumped. Yes, melting the sugar wasn’t any different, but what about the butter and cream? What was I supposed to do about that? The answer hit me as I was eating some coconut mango sticky rice (nope, I don’t do anything else except eat dessert haha) – coconut oil and milk!The key to this recipe is to make sure you buy a filtered coconut oil, that keeps the coconut taste to a minimum and ensures maximum caramel flavor. I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s (not sponsored, but seriously love that store and its reasonable prices in New York City).


When you start adding the coconut oil to the melted sugar, and it doesn’t look like the two are mixing, don’t panic! Once you add in the coconut milk, that’s were the magic happens. Not going to lie, the mixture will probably start bubbling and sizzling like crazy, but just stir away and when all of the hubbub dies down, you’ll have a creamy, deep golden salted caramel. Now, for a snack of salted caramel and apples…

IMPORTANT: When adding the cold coconut milk to the hot sugar and coconut oil mixture, make sure to add in the coconut milk SLOWLY, otherwise the caramel will harden and seize up.  If that happens, increase heat and whisk until the mixture loosens up.

VEGAN SALTED CARAMEL | Makes 1/2 cup of salted caramel

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 3 tbsp filtered coconut oil (Trader Joe’s has a great one!)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, melted granulated sugar over medium heat. This might take between 10-15 minutes, and the sugar can go quickly from golden brown to burnt, so keep a close eye on the sugar.
  2. Once all the sugar is melted (color should be a dark amber), lower heat and add in the coconut oil.
  3. Once coconut oil is completely melted, slowly pour in coconut milk (mixture will sizzle and might splatter a bit), but whisk coconut milk, oil and melted sugar together.
  4. When mixture comes together, sprinkle in salt and whisk well.
  5. Salted caramel will keep in an airtight container (I put mine in mason jars, as pictured above) for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Avocado Chickpea and Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

 Let’s talk sandwiches.  I’ll get straight to the point, I love them. There’s just something so satisfying about biting through two pieces of bread stuffed full of yummy deliciousness. During kindergarten, I would bring an fried-egg sandwich every day, doused in soy-sauce and nestled between two pieces of white bread.  Probably the first fusion cuisine I encountered, to be honest.  Obviously there was the classic peanut butter and jelly combo, which then quickly turned into peanut butter and Nutella (my mom put an end to that one after I came back from the dentist with too many cavities..oops). Pannini’s were the jam in college, so quick, so fast, and I could literally throw anything I had in the fridge on them (and I did). 


I’ll admit, I’m a little bit more health conscious now then I was a few years back, but I guess that happens when you become lactose intolerant.  Anyways, since I don’t eat meat anymore due to sustainability reasons, one of the things that I’ve really missed and sometimes do secretly crave is a meaty, satisfying sandwich. All the sandwiches that I’ve encountered without some sort of deli meat have been sad, limpy lettuce, wilty spinach, and dry bread.  And even if they are delicious (shout out dairy-free pesto!), they never really satisfy me.


This sandwich is my dream sandwich.  If I could eat it everyday, I probably would. It’s creamy, it’s meaty, it’s flavorful and the pretzel bun pretty much makes the cake. I found a majority of my ingredients at whole foods, but I’m pretty sure you could go to any specialty store and pick up the required items. My favorite mock deli meat is made from chickpeas, but I know from experience that there are many different varieties, so chose a flavor that calls out to you.  If you’re not sure where to start, Tofurkey and Lightlife are two brands that I usually purchase and love. So, if you’ve been hesitant to try out the meatless-Monday idea, this would be a great recipe to start off with! It comes together in under 30 minutes and will definitely keep you full for the night.


Let’s get to it!

AVOCADO CHICKPEA & ROASTED VEGGIE SANDWICH | Makes 2 full sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe avocado sliced thinly
  • 2 Pretzel buns (mine were vegan and about 6″)
  • 2 tbsp of olive tapenade
  • 6 slices of “deli meat”
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thick wedges (think potato wedges)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F)
  2. Toss sliced zucchini and red bell pepper with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (I do 1/4 tsp of each, but it’s really personal preference!)
  3. Roast vegetables for 20-25 minutes until golden
  4. Slice open your pretzel buns length-wise and place it on a baking tray so the inside of the bun is in direct contact with the pan.
  5. Toast buns for 5 minutes (I usually just stick it into the oven with the veggies)
  6. Once buns are toasted, spread each bun with 1 tbsp olive tapenade
  7. Place 3 slices of “deli meat” onto each bun and top with avocado slices (I usually just give each person half an avocado)
  8. Once your veggies are done roasting, top each sandwich off with roasted veggies
  9. Devour and wish you had more!

Enjoy!

Vegan Dark Chocolate Orange and Pistachio Cookies

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Yes, these cookies are vegan. No, I’m not joking. Promise (really!). I guess I should confess, I’ve been on a vegan kick lately.  Vegan savory dishes, vegan desserts, and for a hot second vegan purses (which turned out to be a scam -_- ) All else aside, these cookies are REALLY, REALLY good. I brought them to share with my friends at school and they were hooked onto the chocolate-y, nutty, orange-y flavor. In fact, none of them even noticed they were vegan until I casually mentioned that they didn’t have any eggs or butter.


I originally got the inspiration from my best friend, who happens to love the orange and pistachio combination.  She actually doesn’t like chocolate (I know, I was shocked too, but now I just make baked goods without chocolate in it for her, haha), but I LOVE chocolate, so I knew I had to incorporate dark chocolate as well.  This is just my personal opinion when it comes to chocolate, but I think that buying chocolate bars and chopping it up yourself just gives the best results. You get large melty pools of chocolate, but also tiny pieces that get all mixed into the dough and are like hidden gems when you bite into the cookie. So, it is really up to you whether or not you want to use chocolate chips, or buy a bar and chop it into pieces.  Just make sure that if you’re making these cookies for people who are strictly vegan to check your chocolate and make sure there is not dairy in it (believe it or not, some dark chocolate still have a lot of dairy in it!).


Don’t leave out the orange zest in this recipe.  I know that sometimes the combination of orange and chocolate can feel strange, but the zest doesn’t change the texture of the cookie at all and really helps brighten up the flavor of the cookie!  The best thing about this recipe is probably the fact that you SHOULD bake these cookies right away.  Yep, that’s right, no chilling ladies and gentlemen.  Normally chilling intensifies the flavor and I’m all for it, but in this case, it actually makes the pistachios soggy and not very nutty at all.  However, if you want to chill your cookies, or forget them in the fridge because you had to do laundry (this girl here), they will still taste really delicious 🙂


New York is finally starting to show signs of spring.  Today was the first sunny day in awhile and I’m BEYOND ecstatic.  It’s still too cold for dresses and sandals, but at least I didn’t have to wear a second jacket going outside. The flower beds outside of my apartment are starting to sprout tulips and the pop of color really just makes it feel that much more spring-y. My apartment itself doesn’t get much sunlight, so I’m headed out to soak in some vitamin D. Hopefully spring is just around the corner for everyone.  And in the mean time, if you’re craving something citrus-y, make these cookies!!!!!! They’re so good!!! PROMISE!

VEGAN ORANGE DARK CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO COOKIES | Makes 1.5 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cups of chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cups of shelled chopped pistachios
  • 1/3 granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F) and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine white sugar and orange zest.  Work together with hands until sugar takes on the fragrance on the orange zest.  Then add in dark brown sugar, vegetable oil, water, molasses and vanilla extract into the bowl and mix well. 
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  5. Mix in pistachios and dark chocolate pieces until well incorporated.
  6. Portion out golf-ball sized dough balls and place at least 2 inches apart from each other.
  7. Sprinkle tops of cookies with sea salt or kosher salt
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are just beginning to brown, and the center is just set.
  9. Let cool before storing in an air-tight container.
  10. Cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!

Vegan Lemon Orange Black Tea Cookies

 *Disclaimer: There are no “after” pictures on account of everyone eating them before I had a chance to take photos


What do you get when you give someone who doesn’t drink tea, tea bags?  They make cookies with them! Seriously, I’m not sure if it’s my Asian upbringing that prevented me from tossing these straight into the trash or the fact that I’m trying to live more sustainability, but either way, the end result was some pretty amazing cookies. These cookies are like having tea and cookies all in one bite.  Or like a drop of summer with the infused lemon-orange flavor. 


At first, I was a bit skeptical about trying to make tea infused cookies.  In my previous experience, they’re hard to do, even in regular cookies, much less vegan cookies.  Something always manages to go wrong, whether it’s the tea flavor being too strong, or too weak or too bitter after baking.  Luckily, by using lemon-orange tea, or any other sort of fruity lying tea you might have around, the citrus flavor is balanced perfectly with the black tea, so it doesn’t taste too bitter at all. 


I won’t lie, there’s a fair bit of time that goes into these cookies, mostly waiting around time, but still, time that you have to spend not having cookies in your stomach.  BUT, I can promise for being vegan, these are ENTIRELY worth it. The key to this recipe is giving your tea bag of choice enough time to steep in the water and oil, otherwise you’ll end up with tasteless cookies.  It took me about a million times to get the timing right, but lucky for you, it should only take one try 🙂


The vibrant color you see in the pictures are entirely natural. The lemony cream color is just from the black tea, while the more magenta colored ones are from being rolled in crushed freeze-dried raspberries before baking.  Again, the Asian part of me couldn’t bear to throw away too sour freeze-dried raspberries sitting in my pantry, and they turned out to be the perfect tartness needed for these cookies.


DO NOT OVER BAKE THESE COOKIES!!!!!! SO IMPORTANT, I can’t emphasize that enough.  Because there are vegan cookies, when you over bake them, instead of becoming golden brown with crunchy edges when you use butter, it ends up burning and hardening. If you’re unsure, err on the side of under baking.  I mean, their vegan, so technically no raw eggs = eat all the raw cookie dough you want!


As I’m writing this, I’ve got some beet (yes, beet) bread in the oven that I’m hoping will retain a nice, bright pretty color, so send me some good thoughts if you can spare them! I know it’s been awhile since I blogged my last post, but things have been busy around here! I’m finishing up my first year of grad school, which means doomsday (aka finals) is fast approaching.  Can you believe that they make people write 40 page papers? My hand is cramping up already as I think about it. After that I’ll be headed back to good ole’ MN for awhile before starting a environmental health summer internship.


What can I say? I’m excited for summer, the sunshine, and of course, more of these citrusy cookies! If you’e got a couple hours to spare, try this recipe out! Or add it to your meatless Monday dinner as dessert, I can promise no one will complain. 

VEGAN LEMON ORANGE BLACK TEA COOKIES | Makes 12-16 large cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tsp neutral tasting oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp hot water (basically as hot as you would normally make tea with)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tea bags of your choice (preferably a fruity tasting one)
  • 1/4 cup crushed freeze-dried raspberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Measure out water and oil into their own bowl.  Add one tea bag to each bowl and let steep for 10 minutes. Take tea bags out of each liquid, making sure to squeeze tea bag thoroughly so you don’t mess up measurements.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
  3. Combine steeped water and oil, vanilla and white sugar and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add flour into sugar mixture and just combine until no flour is visible.
  5. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour (this is crucial as the mixture will be too soft to handle otherwise!) and up to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 (F). Portion out golf-ball sized cookies and roll half in the crushed freeze-dried raspberries.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until centers of cookies start to look set/firm.
  8. Cookies stay fresh for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

10-minute Chocolate Rice Krispie (Gluten-free!)

Are you into rice krispies?? I am! The chewy, marshmallowlly, super buttery, decadent, stuff-your-face kind of rice krispies. All on board? Okay! This will literally take you 10 minutes (I timed it…). It’s truly the most un-glorious of all ingredients, chocolate rice krispies, marshmallows and white chocolate, but somehow, when you combine it all into one giant pot, it turns into liquid gold.


When my grandma used to make these for me as a child, they would be insanely delicious right out of the pot, but then after a few hours (luckily they never made it that far), it would turn rock hard.  This always puzzled me as a child, but it was nothing a zap in the microwave couldn’t fix.  Now, as a student, sometimes I get to the point where I’m either too busy, or too lazy to soften rice krispies in the microwave.  Lucky for me, there exists this wonderful thing called the internet and after hours of scouring the web (and I MEAN hours), I figured out the best way to keep rice krispies soft and chewy.


I’ll spare you the food science details, but basically the key to great rice krispies is to make sure that you’re not overheating the marshmallows.  You want them just melted, but anything beyond that will result in hard-not-so-yummy rice krispies.  Now, the great thing is that just melted = less cooking time = less work for you, yay!


Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t vegan or vegetarian, but, it can be made gluten-free! Just make sure you buy the rice krispie brands that have been certified to be gluten-free. I think that I used regular General Mills cereal which wasn’t gluten-free, but I definitely know that there are brands in the supermarket that certify their cereals.


I happen to think that a pop of color makes everything just that much more fun, which is why I crushed up some freeze-dried raspberries to sprinkle over the rice krispies.  Freeze-dried fruit also makes for an excellent alternative to sprinkles (if you’re out), or if you would rather just stick with naturally colored toppings 🙂

10 MINUTE COCCA RICE KRISPIES | Makes 12 large rice krispies

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • 6 cups cocca krispies
  • 1 cup white chocolate – melted
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries – crushed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Over low heat, melt butter. Add in marshmallows and gently stir until 90% of the marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir until all marshmallows have melted.
  2. Add in cocca krispies and mix well
  3. Press into an 8x8in pan and cool
  4. Once cool, cut into rectangles and dip into melted white chocolate
  5. Sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried raspberries for a pop of color
  6. Rice krispies will stay fresh for up to 3 days in an air-tight container

Enjoy!

The Best Vegan Brownies

 When I was young, my favorite part of grocery shopping would be right at the end, when my mom and I would scour the bakery aisle for boxes of brownie mix on sale for 99 cents (!!!!). My mom wasn’t a huge baker, but she knew that my older sister and I loved to make brownies with her.  We’d carefully cradle the small box of brownies in our arms and race home anxious to fill our stomachs with some ooey, gooey brownies fresh out of the oven. Oh man, that initial bite of warm brownie with a cold glass of milk? Probably one of my top ten favorite things to eat for the longest time. 
That was maybe ten, fifteen years ago? And now when I go home the baked goods get a little bit fancier than out of the box (mostly because my lovely mother will fund the ingredients for me to experiment a bit), but when I’m by myself and just have to bake, brownies are still my go to item. Now, I know there’s a lot of debate over what’s better, a cakey brownie or a fudgy brownie but personally, I think I’m a middle of the road not quite cakey, but not ridiculously fudgy with just the right amount of chewiness kind of brownie lover. 


I’ve been getting more and more into vegan baking since that’s what feels best for my stomach (and is also best for the planet! yay!), but never experimented with brownies before. Turns out, vegan brownies are hard to make. No eggs = no emulsifier = a rock hard chocolate flour layer with a giant puddle of oil over it (definitely not yummy). I’m not exactly a huge fan of the different types of vegan emulsifier out there since they all contain a myriad of ingredients that aren’t exactly the best for you.  But on the bajillionth time trying to create a success vegan brownie recipe, I stumbled across something in the back of my cabinet, lonely and forgotten: a can of chickpeas. Out came the chickpeas (later used for some delicious curry), and I decided to experiment with the water which is high in protein and I figured would have similar properties to egg. And it totally worked!!!!

These brownies are rich, a tiny bit cakey, a tiny bit fudgy and pretty much the perfect middle of the road brownie to satisfy both vegans and non-vegans.  I’ve added dark chocolate chips into this batter to keep it vegan, but you are more than welcome to substitute with semi-sweet, milk or even no chocolate. The first bite of it sent me into waves of nostalgia, and also a giant craving for some ice cream to top the brownies with.  They’re ridiculously easy to whip up and even easier to eat. I would recommend not doubling the recipe as the chickpea water generally doesn’t mimic an egg too well if you add in too much.  Seriously though, give them a try! They’re the perfect treat to bring or make if you know your guests have any dietary restrictions. They remind me of my childhood and I hope they also take you back to yours.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil or any neutral tasting oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp chickpea water (save those chickpeas!)
  • 1⁄4 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (vegan)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. Line an 8×8 brownie pan with parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl combine vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla and chickpea water. Whisk together for 1-2 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, all-purpose flour and chocolate chips. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  5. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into an 8×8 brownie pan
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until middle looks set
  8. Cool before cutting for optimal square pieces
  9. Brownies will keep for up 5 days in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Chewy and Soft Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I kid you not, these are hands-down, THE best vegan chocolate chip cookies you’re ever going to eat. Period. Slightly melty and soft in the center, chewy on the edges, and stuffed so full of chocolate pieces, they’re impossible not to love. I know, I know, hearing the word (or even reading the word) vegan, has probably sent you running to the nearest grocery store to frantically buy pounds of butter until no more will fit in your cart. And if you’re not as extreme as that, you’re probably skill a little skeptical about the word “vegan”.


To be completely honest, I definitely didn’t buy into vegan desserts for the longest time. I always imagined them to be tough, dry, tasteless and probably rock-hard. So I avoided them for the longest time, until I became, wait for it *drum roll* lactose intolerant. YUP, no joke, probably the saddest day of my life. But I guess it was coming, considering I’m Asian and 95% of all Asians are lactose intolerant.


I guess I moped about this for awhile, but then started to do some research on how to create a delicious cookie, without butter. Turns out, the recipe also ended up not needing eggs either, so voila! A vegan cookie, so delicious, that you don’t even miss the butter or eggs. Is it any healthier? I mean, just because something is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthier, but this recipe doesn’t contain all the saturated fats that butter carries, and also does use dark chocolate, which is good for you! I’m not saying should eat the whole batch in one sitting, buuuuttt, it probably wouldn’t kill if you wanted to (I say this from experience, haha).


This is the easiest recipe ever, it does require molasses, which I realize probably isn’t a pantry staple, but this recipe is worth investing in a bottle of molasses.  Plus, that stuff is hardy, so it’ll keep for awhile, AND molasses happens to be a great substitute for honey or sugar if you’re ever out. You only need two bowls, you could probably get away with one (I won’t tell), and you don’t even need to cream anything.


Complete aside, but still important: as someone studying environmental health sciences and sustainability, this kind of stuff matters to me. I know that change is difficult, but it’s the new year, and isn’t that for resolutions? Give eating more sustainably a go (I’d suggest this recipe, haha), and you might be surprised with what you find 🙂


Anyway, I’m typing this as it’s blizzard-ing away, so if you’re stuck inside like me in this east coast snow storm, still on holiday break, or are just in the mood for some chocolate chip cookies that are a little healthier, give these one a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | Makes 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (make sure their vegan)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and dark chocolate chips together.
  2. In a separate large bowl, mix brown and white sugars with molasses and knead with hands until well incorporated.
  3. Then add in vegetable oil, water and vanilla into sugars – whisk together until smooth.
  4. Then add flour into sugar mixture and just combine until no flour is visible.
  5. Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours, the longer you chill the dough for, the deeper golden brown it’ll get, and the crispier the edges get!
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 (F), portion out golf ball sized cookies and sprinkle each cookies with sea salt before baking.
  7. Bake 10-11 minutes
  8. Cookies will stay fresh in an air-tight for up to one week.

Enjoy!!! (and for me, a nice cold glass of soy milk!)

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

 PSA: THESE COOKIES CAN BE MADE IN ONE BOWL/POT/CONTAINER!


I will confess, these cookies were made quite awhile ago, but I simply haven’t had the time or energy to write up a post.  Last time, after a week of exams, papers and group projects, I collapsed on to the bed in a tired heap and asked myself what I was even doing here in New York, what I was doing at Columbia and if I even knew who I was anymore.  Of course, it didn’t help that daylight savings time means that by the time I come home from school, it’s completely dark out and it truly feels like I’m living in a cave. Not to be creating a pity-party, but I guess my point was that, I needed a break.  I needed time to take care of myself, to exercise, to spend time with friends, to bake, to BLOG! And it’s so easy to forget that humans need self-care time too.  We’re so easily caught up in taking care of other people, making sure our lives are in order, that sometimes, we can’t even remember the last time we were hungry for a homemade meal. 


SO, thank goodness for Election Day, giving me the time to take a break from school and reflect on life and rebuild my confidence in the decisions that I’ve made in life. And I hope that wherever you are, whoever you are, you make sure to create some space and time in your life to take care of yourself too.  Whether it’s the early morning cup of coffee, or the late night t.v. show, make sure you’re taking care of your mental health.  Which by the way…you could start by…making these cookies!


Whenever October and November roll around, I’m always addicted to the idea of cranberries, I have no idea why, but it’s probably got to do with Turkey Day. Anyways, these are inspired by Thanksgiving and everything Thanksgiving represents (besides the fact that it eventually lead to the conflict between Native Americans and Immigrants), BUT other than that, warmth, sweetness, a deep gratitude for life. 


Also, they use brown butter, which in my opinion, makes for an amazing flavor combination with the white chocolate and cranberries.  The white chocolate is just sweet and creamy enough to offset the tartness of the cranberries and the brown butter?? (Not a huge fan of white chocolate? Feel free to sub in dark chocolate as well!)That’s the real showstopper, tying the two flavors together and creating a deep, rich, caramel-y undertone. OH, and that pinch of cinnamon? Don’t leave it out, it seriously makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in creating a cookie that you just want to continue eating forever. 


Brown butter is great, it creates cookies that have chewy centers and crispy edges.  I will forewarn you though, that these cookies (as you can see) are more on the thinner side.  That doesn’t mean that they’re not soft, or chewy, but it does mean that they’re lite-versions (aka you can eat way more without feeling guilty). If you’re not quite sure how to brown butter properly, I have a step by step guide right here. 

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | A dozen large cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter browned and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium-large pot (needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients), melt and brown the butter.  Allow it to cool.
  2. Once cooled, add sugar, vanilla, and egg into mixture and whisk together until smooth
  3. Then add in flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour and up to 3 days (they only get better with time!)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  7. Let dough come back to room temperature (otherwise it will be SUPER hard to roll into balls)
  8. Roll into golf ball sized balls and place on lined baking sheet
  9. Sprinkle on a little bit of salt on top of each cookie before baking
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn a golden brown
  11. Cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an airtight container

Enjoy!

The Best Browned Butter Blondies

 I’m not going to lie, moving to a brand new city is hard.  While New York has been amazing, there are definitely things that I’m struggling with in my new home.  For instance, learning how to shop effectively cause groceries cost a million dollars, but also learning that I can’t just buy 5 bags of food at once because I only have 2 arms.  Or the fact that I realllllllllly have to work on my breathing exercises when the subway decides to evacuate because of police incidences, or even scarier when the subway breaks down underground and I’m stuck in the dark for half an hour.  I do think though, the hardest thing has been the nagging feeling of loneliness that occurs when you first move to a place where you don’t have many friends.


This past week and weekend, I was definitely feeling way more homesick just cause I felt like I wasn’t really fitting in at my school and also because even after budgeting, making ends meet was still the hardest thing in the world. BUT, I guess the world knew what I needed because the two loveliest new friends that I met came over for a baking and Great British Baking date. Sitting around the dining table and laughing about random things just brought me the greatest joy the world.  Also, we chose to make brown butter blondies, which legitimately are like GIANT, WARM HUGS (how can you get better than that).


These blondies, which are adapted from Food52’s recipe, have been my go to recipe since day one in terms of comfort dessert. They can be adapted so easily for whatever you’re in the mood for (nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, fruit, pretzels, chips, honestly everything but the kitchen sink), and when I need a pick me up, it’s dark chocolate chunks all the way. So, my friends are long gone, and it’s just me and the last piece of brown butter blondie, but it’s beautiful souls like them that truly make a place home.


In other news, I’m loving Columbia’s public health program! I was so worried that public health wasn’t the right choice, but I’ve loved everything from learning about the history of public health to discussing the economics of public health (more on that later). OH and can we talk about how New York City is literally dessert heaven?? Where else are you going to find a doughnut store next to a cookie shop next door to a cupcake bakery??
And for those of you who can’t, try out these brown butter blondies, they’re not a perfect substitute, but do come darn near close! They’re chewy, caramel-y, marbled in chocolate and oh, so delicious that you might even want to hide your pan.

*PRO TIP ON HOW TO BROWN BUTTER: Browning butter is hard! The best way to brown butter is to use a small or medium sized sauce pan and cut the butter into smaller sized cubes before placing in pan and melting to help the butter melt evenly.  You’ll start to hear small crackles and pops when the butter begins to brown and it’ll look like the white “foam” layer on the top of the melted butter is slowly “boiling” off.  After awhile, the crackling sounds will begin to die down and you’ll be able to see light golden specks on the bottom of the pan, remove the saucepan immediately from heat and the residual heat will bring the brown butter to a perfect dark golden color.

BROWN BUTTER BLONDIES | Adapted from Food52 | Makes one 10″ cake tin

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or bars chopped into bite-sized pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (F).
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, brown butter* (refer to note above) and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Then add in both brown sugar and white sugar into sauce pan and mix browned butter and sugars together thoroughly. Let cool for 10-15 minutes (this is an important step, otherwise your eggs will curdle!)
  4. Add in vanilla and salt into pan and again mix thoroughly.
  5. Crack both eggs into the pan and whisk or beat mixture together until it takes on a shiny consistency (that will mean that the eggs have properly emulsified the mixture, basically, it means when you bake it, the butter won’t leak out of your blondies and be a gross mess).
  6. Then stir in flour and once flour is thoroughly incorporated, fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Pour into pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. Blondies are done when surface looks golden and flaky (depending on how much chocolate you put in the blondie, a toothpick will not come out clean no matter what).
  8. Let cool before attempting to cut into it otherwise blondie pieces will come out gooey and uneven.
  9. Blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Summer Strawberry Pavlova

 Pavolva is a f***ing beautiful dessert and I spent 22 years of my life not knowing it existed.  In addition to being gluten-free and dairy-free, the crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth exterior gives way to a fluffy, marshmallow-y filling that manages to be both life and fluffy by decadently rich.  To be one hundred percent honest, I only tried my hand at making pavlova because I had way (and i mean wayyyy) to many leftover egg whites from making tiramisu for a going–away party and because I needed another dessert to bring to the bf’s parents’ house since they were throwing me a going-away party as well (sssssssssshh!)


With two hours to spare until the party, I was literally peeing in my pants because I still hadn’t put  together a dessert and the house was covered in a layer of flour and cocoa dust.  I was seriously contemplating my dad’s suggestion of of getting a Whole Foods cake and then just putting in onto a nice plate to make it look “homemade”, when I had a #greatbritishbaking moment.  For those of you that don’t know, Great British Baking is literally my jam (pun intended).  I love it.  I’ve seen every episode, having favorite bakers and follow them on Instagram.  Needless to say, I’m pretty much devastated that the show isn’t going to be the same anymore.


Anyway, months ago, I stumbled along Mary Berry’s (one of the hosts of GBB) pavlova recipe.  I bookmarked it on my laptop intending to return to it, but never got a chance.  This pavlova recipe was inspired by her recipe, but I’ve made a couple tweaks here and there to customize it to what I needed (mainly making a smaller and more easily manageable pavlova).
I’m not kidding you, if you have a electric mixer of any kind, this dessert will come together in under 10 minutes and you’ll be free to go about your day like the amazing pastry chef you are. Since I’m a nerdy food scientist at heart, I’m always astounded that egg whites and sugar will whip up into such an amazing dessert with multiple different textures. What you should be careful with (and what I forgot) is that egg whites brown super easily! That’s why they say to brush pastries or pies with egg white so you get that nice brown color.  But for a pavlova, you want it to be as white as snow….SO, don’t forget to monitor the oven temperature and turn it down if it’s starting to brown you pavlova. Don’t worry, if it turns golden, it’ll still be just as delicious (same with if the pavlova cracks…in my opinion, the cracks just mean better nooks and crannies for additional whipped cream!)
So here’s to the end of summer, when you’re left wanting the days to go a little slower and the weather to stay a little warmer.  This strawberry pavlova is just what you need for a perfect end to summer (and just what I need to help jump start my school year).

SUMMER STRAWBERRY PAVLOVA | Serves 8-10 depending on how generous you’re feeling

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs whites – room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 tsp vinegar -any kind, you won’t be able to taste it!
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract or 2 tsp vanilla extract (almond extract is stronger so you need less)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries – hulled and halved

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 (F).
  2. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on low speed until they begin to get frothy. Then add in salt.
  3. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer while you add in a tablespoon of sugar at a time until egg whites have been beaten into stiff shiny peaks. You’ll know if it’s done by holding the whisk upside down.  If the tip of the peaks don’t fold over, you’re good to go.
  4. Add in cornstarch, vinegar and extract, then gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
  5. On a piece of parchment paper, draw out an 8″ circle with a pencil.  Then turn the parchment paper over onto baking sheet (so the pencil won’t touch the pavlova mixture) and spoon mixture into the circle, trying not to let the mixture spill outside of the drawn circle. Try to flatten the top and smooth the sides, but it’s okay if it’s a little messy, as the swirls will make it look elegant and beautiful once baked.
  6. Place pavlova in oven and immediately reduce temperature down to 300 (F).
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, but keep pavlova inside oven with the door open until pavlova is fully cooled before handling.
  8. While pavlova is cooling, beat heavy whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks form.  Keep an eye on the whipped cream as it can quickly turn from light and fluffy to curdled.
  9. To assemble, gently tap the top of the pavlova a couple times to create an indentation for the whipped cream.  Top pavlova with whipped cream and sprinkle strawberries on top.
  10. Pavlova can be make 1-2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container, but once you assemble, it must be eaten within the day otherwise the crunch exterior will soften.

Enjoy!

Authentic Italian Tiramisu

 Can we talk about tiramisu? So I’ve never actually been to Italy, but I love tiramisu.  It was basically love at first bite.  The coffee-soaked sponge, the Marsala spiked cream, mmmmm I could eat it for days. The thing about tiramisu is that finding a good tiramisu place is SO hard! Some places are wayyyy too alcoholy, some have way too much cream and not enough sponge, and I was basically at my wits end, so I decided to come up with my own recipe.


Most tiramisu recipes use lady fingers, which I happen to think are way too crumbly and dry, even when soaked with coffee. Even though they are easy to buy in bulk, I promise you that making this sponge is almost just as quick and painless. This sponge is so light and airy and elevates this tiramisu up to the next level. There’s no separating of egg yolks and egg whites or having to fold beaten egg whites into the egg yolks, it’s really as simple as it gets!


As for the creamy filling, I’m not going to lie, as a microbiology major, the thought of food poisoning freaks me out.  Tiramisu is traditionally made with raw egg yolks, but instead of going that route, the egg yolks are slowly cooked over a simmering water bath which still results in a rich and creamy consistency. My favorite part though?? Probably the mix of Marsala and mascarpone. I know, I know, mascarpone costs like a million dollars for a tiny tub, but it’s so darn good!!!! If you’re going to make this recipe, please, please don’t try and substitute the mascarpone with cream cheese, it just won’t be the same. I promise you, splurge on mascarpone just this once, and you won’t be disappointed.


In other news, I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN NEW YORK!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, these past few weeks were filled with SO MUCH STRESS and chaos. The housing market here is insane, houses come on and off the market in as little as 12 hours. I toured 5 apartments one day, and by the end of the day, 4 of them were already taken. Talk about feeling defeated.  I seriously felt like I needed a whole pan of this tiramisu and probably the rest of that Marsala just to make me feel human again. Anyway, this new place is just lovely, it’s got beautiful bay windows and a brand new kitchen (my own criteria really for a place was for it have an oven….go figure) that’s just a couple stops away from lots of restaurants and stores.  Now let’s just hope that we can get all my furniture through the door!


If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my past 22 years is that life is truly too short to not live it to the fullest and celebrate all the wonderful things that have happened to you. So I’ll make some tiramisu here in my grandma’s closet sized kitchen, and you make some in yours, okay? Let’s all celebrate life with some tiramisu 🙂

NOTE: for the sponge, I have included measurements in both weight and volume.  However, I would strongly recommend using the weighted measurements as that results in a more accurate and delicious sponge as measurements by volume can sometimes differ slightly person to person depending on how the ingredients are measured.

 AUTHENTIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU | Makes one 9×13 inch pan
(cream adapted from Anna Maria Vipoli)

INGREDIENTS
for sponge

  • 6 eggs
  • 180 grams or 1 1/2 cup cake flour*
  • 160 grams or 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 25×15 inch sheet pan (also known as a 3/4 sheet pan) lined with parchment paper

*To make cake flour from AP flour, simply replace 2tbsp of AP flour with 2 tbsp of cornstarch for every cup of AP flour

for cream

  • 4 egg yolks (make my pavlova recipe if you don’t know what to do with extra egg whites!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 lb mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups strong coffee + 2 tsp sugar for dipping sponge
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder for dusting

DIRECTIONS

for sponge

  1. Preheat oven to 340 (F).
  2. Crack eggs into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and slowly begin to beat eggs. Beat eggs for 2 minutes on low speed and then 2 minutes on medium speed before gradually adding in the sugar.  Once sugar has all been added, increase mixer to the highest speed setting.  Beat eggs until mixture has turned a pale yellow color and has more than doubled in size (~10 min).
  3. Add flour to egg mixture in three batches, taking care to GENTLY fold the flour into the egg mixture.  When folding make sure to use a spatula and move spatula in large circular movements so you do not deflate the air that has been beaten into the eggs.
  4. Once flour has been incorporated, pour batter onto sheet pan and smooth out.
  5. Bake cake for 10-15 minutes or until sponge springs back when touched.
  6. Once sponge has cooled, cut sponge into thin rectangles ~ 1×4.5 inches.

for cream

  1. In a heat proof bowl or top bowl of double-boiler, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes pale yellow and creamy. Then add in Marsala wine.
  2. Place mixture over a simmering pot of water and cook until cream has thickened, whisking constantly.  The cream will be ready to remove from heat just before it boils (small little bubbles will appear on the surface of the cream when you stop mixing it for a moment).
  3. Add mascarpone into a large mixing bowl and beat with spatula until is it a smooth and soft consistency.  Then add in cooked cream and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Place mixture into fridge to chill while you beat the whipped cream.
  5. Using stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat whipped cream until it is just beginning to form soft peaks. Do not over whip!
  6. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture and then place back in fridge to chill.

to assemble

  1. Gather together ingredients: sponge cake rectangles, mascarpone mixture, 9x13in pan and cooled coffee.
  2. Quickly dip both sides of sponge into coffee mixture and line pan to form bottom layer. 
  3. Pour half of mascarpone mixture over sponge layer and smooth out.
  4. Repeat with remaining sponge rectangles to form second layer.
  5. Pour remaining mascarpone mixture on top of second layer and smooth out.
  6. Dust top of mascarpone mixture with cocoa powder.
  7. Refrigerate until firm (~ 2 hours).
  8. Tiramisu will stay fresh up to 3 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!!!

Mini Homemade Strawberry Poptarts

 I don’t know about you, but for me, childhood screams poptarts. Those shortcrust filled pastries that at the time seemed filled with delicious jams and topped with insane amounts of icing. There’s no way they could have ever been good for you, but bless my mom’s heart, she still bought it for us EVERY time that my two sisters and I would ask for them when at the grocery store. I swear, my mom has THE biggest heart in the whole wide world. I’m sure everyone thinks that their mom is the best, but I’m pretty sure that my mom is the best. As a child, she would spend hours upon hours everyday in the library reading to me as my older sister when to kindergarten the street over. My dad was gone a lot for my childhood, so she effectively raised three rambunctious children on her own, amazing, right?


Even now, she still never fails to love the three of us with all her heart – like, she’s coming to New York with me to help me find an apartment and get settled in before grad school AFTER spending 2.5 months in Taiwan accompanying my sister as she teaches English in a remote Taiwanese village!!! Anyway, these poptarts are officially dedicated to her. But not the store-bought, come in an aluminum package, warm up in the microwave type.  More like the melt-in-your-mouth, crammed too full of berries, and topped with just the right amount of royal icing kind.


Speaking of moving to New York, I have put off finishing this post 2,752 times because I’ve been so busy packing and saying goodbye to all my friends.  Never in my mind did I imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye to everyone that I love.  I mean yes, I will be back to visit, but it’s crazy that in less than two days, I’ll be in the Big Apple and all my friends will be back at home.  WAAHHHH I’m tearing up just thinking about it now. Before I start getting really sappy, I’m just going to continue with this poptart recipe. They’re perfect, they really are….BUT, maybe you should make them just to be sure 🙂

PRO TIP: If you have plastic wrap, the easiest way to roll the dough out is to sandwich the dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap and roll out the dough on top of the plastic wrap.  That way it doesn’t stick to the counter, the rolling pin and is easy to remove!

 MINI STRAWBERRY POPTARTS | Makes 16-18 depending on size
INGREDIENTS
for crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 egg + 2 tbsp water for egg wash

for icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt – mix well.
  2. Add in butter cubes and using hands or pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together egg and milk.
  4. Create a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour egg and milk mixture into well. 
  5. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.  Knead the dough a couple of times until dough is smooth.
  6. Refrigerate dough until firm (~ 1 hour).
  7. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  8. Flour surface and roll dough to 1/8″ thick rectangle (see note above for easy way to do this!).
  9. Cut dough into 2×4″ rectangles making sure that you end up with an even number of rectangles so each will have a top and bottom piece.
  10. Place about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jelly on half the dough pieces. 
  11. Place a dough piece on top of the rectangle already filled with jam and seal edges by using a fork to press down along the edge.
  12. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to help keep the poptarts from losing their shape in the oven. Just before placing in oven, brush tops of poptarts with egg wash to give it a nice golden color. 
  13. Bake poptarts for 15-20 minutes and cool completely before icing.
  14. Mix powdered sugar and milk together until a smooth icing is formed. Spoon your desired amount of icing over each poptart and wait until icing solidifies before storing in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Frangipane Buttermilk Cake

 A layer of juicy and sweet raspberries, a layer of almond-y frangipane filling and a layer of oh-so-moist and light buttermilk cake. It is basically the best one-bowl cake (aka lazy summer dessert) that you could make with fresh berries that is still so elegant.  If you look closely, you can see that the layers separate into 3 different layers and it makes it extremely beautiful when you slice into the cake. The thing that makes this cake is that it truly highlights the flavor of the raspberries. During the summer, I try and use fresh raspberries since they are in season, and it really brings the flavor to a whole other level, but using frozen raspberries works just as well!


Because you are baking this cake upside down and then flipping it right side up, the raspberries sort of become jammy and acts like a glaze for the cake, meaning that it does not need anything to top it! No frosting, no icing, no glaze, not even whipped cream.  It’s actually perfect just by itself, which I love since I’m not a huge fan of heavy frostings.  That being said, I think that this cake would also be delicious with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sprinkle of berries.


Not going to lie, the idea for this cake actually came from a dream.  I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for this cake in my mind and frantically scrambled around in the dark looking for a piece of paper and pen to jot down the idea before it slipped from my mind. 


So the bf works at a clinic in St. Paul and since I’ve been shoveling all my excess baked goods at the nurses and doctors that work at the clinic, I figured I should probably bake one last cake to say thank you to them for putting up with all my testing of baked goods before moving to New York City for graduate school.  Since I’ve been so busy packing, I wanted to make a cake that was a breeze to make but also looked stunning. GUYS, this is IT! I swear, it took me like 15 minutes to put everything together and then I threw it into the oven and got back to attempting to shovel my 20 pairs of shoes into one suitcase (it’s harder than it looks…). When the timer buzzed, all it took was a nice cake stand and a little cooling time to put it all together.  Did I mention that every bite feels like you’re eating summer?

Fun food science facts: The frangipane helps keep this cake extremely moist because it is mainly ground almonds which do an awesome job retaining moisture and keeps the cake from getting to dry.  Ever make volcanic eruptions in elementary school? Believe it or not, that’s what makes your cake light and fluffy! The acid in this case is the buttermilk, and just like in elementary school, the base is the baking soda. These two ingredients in the cake batter help produce lots of air to keep the cake from getting too dense.

RASPBERRY FRANGIPANE BUTTERMILK CAKE | Makes 10-12 slices
INGREDIENTS


for frangipane

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for cake

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • one 8″ cake pan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. For the frangipane, mix together almond flour, all-purpose flour and sugar in a small bowl. Then work softened butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles a soft dough.
  3. Add in eggs and vanilla extract before mixing well.  Set mixture aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together.
  5. Add in egg and whisk to combine.
  6. Add in buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  7. Then add in flour, salt and baking soda and whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well-incorporated.
  8. Grease and line cake pan bottom and edges in parchment paper for easy removal.
  9. To assemble the cake, spread raspberries evenly on bottom of cake pan. Pour frangipane over berries and spread  it evenly. Finally pour cake mixture on top and smooth top.
  10. Bake cake for 70-75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  If cake top looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover in aluminum foil.
  11. Let cake cool for 15 minutes before inverting cake and cooling fully.

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

 Flaky buttery crust, creamy and eggy filling, it can only be a quiche. To be honest, I really love quiche, it can basically be customized depending on your mood and the custard that forms from milk and eggs cooking is just heavenly.  I’m mostly given up on eating dairy when I can cause I’m lactose intolerant, but quiche is one of those things that I haven’t been able to let go.


This recipe has been in use since my high school days of helping my mom host brunch parties, and believe it or not, it can be customized to be completely dairy-free.  Hooray!! Yes, I’ll admit that it’s not as good without the buttery crust, but heck, the quiche filling is still as creamy and glorious when made with soy milk or almond milk…just make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored…trust me, vanilla flavored quiche is just NOT good.
I would not try and tweak the egg to liquid ratio – I’ve tested so many ratios and found that 1 egg to 1/2 cup of liquid produces the best results. With this ratio, the egg proteins hold just the right amount of liquid and you get a really creamy and soft, but not liquid-y custard.


You can make the quiche in either a sloped pie pan or a straight-edged cake pan, really it doesn’t matter! If you want to be fancy, traditional quiches were made with straight-edged pans, but I always find that the crust tends to shrink away from the edges while the sloped-edges of the pie pan holds the crust in place better. It really is up to personal preference though!
This recipe calls for spinach and mushroom, but you can fill it with anything you want: peppers, bacon pieces, cheese, the list goes on and on. With vegetables that exude a lot of liquid, just make sure to cook most of that liquid out first. I made this quiche for my food science lab friends and if it means anything, it was gone in less than 10 minutes. The most important thing is to make sure you chill the crust so that the gluten proteins have time to relax and you don’t end up with a tough and doughy crust. Other than that, it really is a fool-proof recipe! Seriously, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE | Makes 8-10 slices
INGREDIENTS


for filling

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk/cream (any type works, the lower the fat content, the less creamy, soy or almond milk works too! Just make sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

for crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted COLD butter – in 1/2″ cubes
  • 3-5 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms on high heat until golden brown.  Salt and pepper to taste then remove from pan.  Cook spinach until wilted on medium heat.  Salt and pepper to taste as well. Set mushrooms and spinach mixture aside.
  2. In a separate large bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, baking powder and butter.  Pulse until butter is in small pea-sized pieces.  Then, with food processor running, drizzle in water a tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms.  Pat dough into a flat circle to make rolling out the dough easier and refrigerate until firm (~1hr).***If using hands, cut cold butter into flour until mixture resembles fine sand.  Then add water a tablespoon at a time until mixture forms dough.  DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  5. Once dough is firm , roll out into circular crust about 1/8in thick and 12-14 inches depending on size of your pan. Place crust over pan and crimp edges to form a raised crust.
  6. Spread mushroom and spinach mixture evenly on top of crust before pouring egg mixture on top (make sure to whisk again before mixing to make sure salt and pepper is evenly distributed).
  7. Bake quiche at 425 (F) for 10 minutes to prevent crust from getting soggy before reducing temperature down to 350 (F) and baking an additional 15-20 minutes until quiche is set.  Quiche will be done when it wobbles ever so slightly when shaken gently.
  8. Cool before slicing. Quiche will stay fresh up to 2 days in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Almond White Chocolate Scones

I’m biased, but in my opinion, these are the best raspberry almond white chocolate scones.


My current obsession of watching Great British Baking has spilled over into all aspects of my life, especially the food part. I’ve had a hankering for fish & chips, bangers & mash and Scotch eggs AND I DON’T EVEN EAT MEAT!!!!!  Some please help me. And if you’re going to come over, you might as well come and help me eat the dozens of scones piled up in my kitchen.
As far as desserts go, scones are pretty healthy…I mean only one tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe AND fruit? You gotta be kidding me! On the other hand, a scone might just fill your entire saturated fat quota for the day. I guess it’s all about balance, right? Scones seem pretty easy to make, but if you’re not careful, they can quickly become tough and dry. This was the exact reason why I hated scones for so long…until I discovered the key to perfectly fluffy, buttery and flavorful scones.


For the perfect scones, make sure that you really work the butter pieces into your dry ingredients. Butter coats the flour particles and prevents gluten formation which keeps the scones moist and soft. The second part to delicious scones is to make sure you don’t overwork the dough.  It is so easy to want to add more flour because the dough will be very sticky, but work the dough just until a ball forms – I find it easiest to use a rubber spatula and fold the ingredients together until a dough ball forms and then gently pat it into a circle.


So, what are you waiting for? Get your scone game on!

IMPORTANT: Using frozen raspberries will ensure that the raspberries don’t make your dough too wet and bleed all over the place. As for white chocolate chunks, that’s a personal preference, but chunks generally melt easier than chips, so if you like pockets of molten chocolate in your scones versus solid pieces, use white chocolate chunks

RASPBERRY ALMOND WHITE CHOCOLATE SCONES | Makes 8 scones
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp more for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter – cut in 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chunks
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream + 2 tbsp more for brushing
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in butter pieces and using hands or pastry cutter, incorporate butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Add in white chocolate chunks and frozen raspberries taking care to separate any raspberries in frozen chunks
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine heavy cream, almond extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together until a wet, shaggy dough forms.  DO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. Brush top with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Then cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!

Bourbon Apricot Frangipane Galette

Ahhhh summer: long nights, s’mores and campfires, the reign of mosquitoes, and fruit, bucket loads of fresh fruit.  If you’re like me, you go to the grocery store and “accidentally” buy all the fruit available (helloooo strawberries, blueberries, apricots, watermelon and mangoes), only to realize that your stomach can’t actually eat all that fruit before it spoils. I think the phrase of having eyes bigger than your stomach definitely applies to me.


I hate throwing away food, I truly do, especially when there are so many people around the world who struggle on a daily basis just to eat one good meal. I guess that’s why I love baking so much. With just some simple ingredients and heat, you’re able to transform quickly ripening fruit into something that will stay fresh that much longer.


I love galettes for two reasons: simplicity and rustic elegance.  I can’t think of another way to haphazardly throw fruit onto the middle of a jaggedly rolled pastry crust and have it turn out looking as if it were ready to be served to the queen. Well, except maybe if you added frangipane.  Frangipane is a concoction of ground almond, butter, sugar and eggs, that is SO good it’s almost a crime to eat. It also happens to be a great absorber of liquid. Which, if you’ve ever made a galette before, know that if there’s too much fruit liquid, it ends up absorbing into the crust and results in a soggy bottom. Add frangipane to the bottom of your pastry crust and it will absorb any excess liquid from the fruit as it cooks and you will get a perfectly crisp crust every time. 


Also, as long as we’re adding ground almonds, why don’t we just jazz it up a little more? Enter bourbon and brown butter, a match made in heaven. It’s good. Seriously, this galette is AMAZING. Serve it for dessert, make it for breakfast, but whatever you do, a hide a small piece away for yourself before everyone else can gobble it up and shower you in complements. 

BOURBON APRICOT FRANGIPANE GALETTE | Serves 8-10 depending on slice size


INGREDIENTS
for crust

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter in 1/4″ cubes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water for egg wash
  • Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

for frangipane

  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (aka almond flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter – 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

for fruit filling

  • 8 apricots – peeled and halved
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp bourbon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet. Once butter is completely melted, place apricot halves flat side down and cook until surface is golden brown. At this point, toss in bourbon and give it a few seconds over high heat to cook the alcohol off.
  3. Remove apricots from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, combine almond four and sugar.  Then add in butter cubes and using hands work butter, sugar and almond flour together until there are no more chunks of butter and mixture is crumbly.
  5. Add in egg and almond extract into almond mixture and mix with spatula or spoon until a smooth, but thick paste forms.  Set aside.
  6. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, butter and salt.  Knead ingredients together until dough forms (~10 minutes). Alternatively, you can place ingredients into a mixer with the paddle attachment until dough ball forms (~ 5 minutes on medium high speed)
  7. To assemble, roll dough about 1/8″ thick and into a circle of 12-14 inches in diameter.  Spread frangipane filling onto dough keeping a 2-3 inch gap along the circle for the galette to be folded.
  8. Place apricots charred side up on top of the frangipane before folding sides of dough up to encase fruit.
  9. Brush crust with egg and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  10. Chill galette for 20 minutes in fridge or 10 minutes in freezer for filling to solidify.
  11. Bake galette for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Cool completely before cutting into slices.

Enjoy!

Stars and Stripes Sugar Cookies

I’ve struggled for weeks trying to figure out what to write about this recipe.  Why has it been so hard for me? I’m not sure, perhaps because these cookies were made for July 4th, a holiday to celebrate America.  Every 4th of July, I am reminded of the wonderful opportunities that America has given me and my family, but there are still things that are happening in America that make my heart cry.


America has always been a diverse country, but these days, it is the diversity that seems to be our greatest enemy.  I’m not exactly the most eloquent writer, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope these cookies will help you set aside your differences, if only for one day, and enjoy America, the home of the brave and the land of the free.

IMPORTANT: The more you knead the butter together with the dry ingredients, the softer and less tough your cookies will be, because the butter will surround the individual flour particles and prevent too much gluten from forming.  The key to getting nicely shaped cookies is to cut them on the prepared cookie sheet or parchment paper to make transporting the cookies into the oven easier

STARS & STRIPES SUGAR COOKIES | Makes 2.5 dozen large cookies
INGREDIENTS

For cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 11 tbsp cold butter – in 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

For icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • Blue and red food coloring

DIRECTIONS
For the cookies

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add butter cubes into dry mixture and use hands to incorporate butter and flour until mixture resembles fine sand.  The more you knead, the better!
  3. In a small bowl, beat egg and almond extract together. Then pour into dry mixture.
  4. Using wooden spoon or spatula, mix egg in until a dough forms.  Then work dough with hands to form a ball.  Chill dough until firm (~2 hours or up to 3 days).
  5. Flour surface generously before placing dough on parchment paper or cookie sheet. Roll dough to 1/8″ thick.
  6. Using star cookie cutters (I used a 2″ cookie cutter and a 5″ cookie cutter) cut out shapes leaving ~ 1″ in between each cookie.  Remove scraps and chill cookies in fridge for 10 minutes. This will ensure that cookie do not spread in oven.
  7. Preheat oven to 300 (F).  Since cookies are already on parchment paper or cookie sheet, simply place in oven and bake 12-14 minutes for smaller cookies and 16-18 for larger ones. Tops should be an even golden brown color.

For the icing

  1. Mix powdered sugar and milk together in a small bowl. Icing should be thick and not runny. Add more powdered sugar if the mixture seems too runny and more milk if the mixture seems too thick. The icing should be able to stay in one place and not spread everywhere when placed on a surface.
  2. Divide white frosting among 3 bowls. Keep one bowl for white frosting and color the other two bowls red and white, following the instructions on the food dye (mine are all natural colors from Whole Foods)
  3. Using an off-set spatula, frost cookies first with white frosting and let icing dry.
  4. Then drizzle with red and blue icing. Icing can be thinned with milk if consistency becomes too thick to drizzle.
  5. Cookies will stay fresh in air-tight container for up to a week (if they last that long).

Enjoy!

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Bread

 Double chocolate banana bread:
Yesterday was July 4th, and today I’m wishing that it was the weekend again. Not just because I spent the weekend soaking in the sun, baking up the storm, and eating as much food as humanly possible, but also because there is a lovely construction crew outside of my window.  They start promptly at 7am every day, and the construction workers are NEVER late. Seriously…like not even 7:02 am…please give me those extra 120 seconds of sleep. All that aside, I’ve seriously got some weekday blues.


I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down, or when things suck, I can always find comfort in chocolate and some mindful meditation. But, I don’t always want to eat an entire bar (or two) of chocolate myself, and some times, I want to wallow in pity while still eating healthy.  This is the genius creation that I came up with, vegetarian, low in sugar, high in chocolate, and packed with lots of fruit – I give you double chocolate banana bread! It’s super chocolatey without being overwhelmingly sweet, and just a hint of banana comes through.  It’s basically the best way to show Monday (or any day) who’s the boss. You will be the envy of everyone at the office, eating your double chocolate banana bread, sipping your tea/coffee and basically kicking ass. You got this.


DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | Makes 8-10 servings
INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ripe bananas mashed (~ 2 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F) and grease a 9x5x3 inch bread pan
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and bananas. Whisk everything together until creamy.
  3. Add baking soda and salt to wet mixture and incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Add in cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and flour and mix in until there are no more streaks of flour in the mixture
  5. Pour mixture into bread pan and sprinkle top with more chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Run a knife around the edges of the bread pan so the loaf will come out clean when it’s cool.
  7. Bread will keep for 5 days in an air tight container or up to a week in the fridge.  Baked bread can also be sliced and frozen. Simply pull slices out a couple hours in advance and you’ll have a nice chocolatey treat waiting for you 🙂

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Streusel

NERD ALERT: Did you know that pie has roots all the way back to ancient Egyptian times, and the first recipe for pie was published by the Romans?  Also, apparently there’s an American Pie Counsel that might just be the coolest thing ever (thank you, Google).  With July 4th coming up, I really don’t think that there’s really anything more American than pie…except maybe pie in cake form?


My boyfriend’s older brother and girlfriend are headed up from St. Louis for the weekend to meet the fam (gasp!) and also celebrate Fourth of July.  As with any Korean get together, there will be lots of grilled meats, watermelon and if I have any say, cake (specifically, this cake).


I kid you not, this cake is SO good. It’s a soft and fluffy cake base loaded with apple, topped with buttery streusel and then drizzled with homemade caramel sauce.  What part of that sounds bad? And the best part? If you just make the cake portion, it’s dairy-free!! Also it can be made with or without a mixer (hooray!).  So, when you’re scratching your head at what you make for that Fourth of July party you’re going to, I hope you make this one! I promise you there won’t be a single crumb left.

IMPORTANT: When making the caramel, if you add in the heavy cream too quickly, the cold heavy cream will cause the caramel mixture to seize up and harden.

SALTED CARAMEL APPLE CAKE WITH STREUSEL | Makes one 10″ cake

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar until it beings to melt.  Constantly mix sugar with spatula to evenly distribute heat. The chunks of sugar should slowly dissolve into liquid and the sugar should begin to turn an amber color. If it looks like mixture is turning dark too quickly, remove from heat  fro 10-15 seconds while stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Once sugar is melted, immediately add in butter and swirl it in. Once butter is melted, turn heat to low and slowly (thin drizzle) add in heavy cream while constantly stirring.
  3. Toss in salt and mix thoroughly.
  4. Extra caramel will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 month.

STREUSEL

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
  2. Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces and combine with dry ingredients.  With hands, work butter into dry mixture until large, moist clumps form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

CAKE

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 egg & 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 apple (ambrosia, fuji, or any other crisp apple)
  • Either one 10 inch cake pan, or one 10 inch oven-safe skillet
  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F). Oil and line cake pan with parchment paper  If using skillet, simply oil pan.
  2. Beat oil and sugar together in a large bowl until well-mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture is thick and creamy.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Then add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until well-incorporated. The batter should be very thick.
  4. Add in apple cubes and mix until pieces are distributed thoroughly. Then pour batter into cake pan, drizzle with 1/4 cup caramel sauce and top with streusel.
  5. Bake cake for 50-60 minutes until top is brown and cake tester comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Brown Butter Madeleines

 The first time I ate a madeleine, it was neither in France nor a fancy bakeshop, it was at Starbucks with my best friend, and it tasted like heaven. My best friend is, by the way, the person that made this blog all possible. She worked so hard to be able to get a nice camera for my birthday and has taste tested about a million pounds of dessert for me.  Madeleines happen to be one of my best friend’s favorite desserts and since finding that out five years ago, I’ve been on a quest to perfect the madeleine.
Madeleine’s are hard to get right. Over bake them and you end up with a crusty and dry product.  Under bake them, and the characteristics hump of a madeleine is actually a secret hangout spot for raw dough (don’t ask me how I know…). Now that I’ve probably scared you away from making madeleines, let me add that, with a few tips and tricks, you’ll have the most delicious madeleines in town.


One of the reasons why madeleines are so special are because they require fancy-ass pans.  Mine are mooched from my boyfriend’s mom, but you can pick up madeleine pans from stores like Sur la Table or Home Goods. I recommend getting two pans, because most recipes will make 2 dozen and you don’t want to be caught between trying to grease and flour a previously used madeleine pan and having to deal with slowly softening batter.


RASPBERRY BROWN BUTTER MADELEINES | Makes 16-18 large madeleines or 24 small ones
INGREDIENTS

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries – chopped

IMPORTANT: Browning butter gives the butter a nutty and caramel flavor. When you brown butter, it will seem as if you are burning the butter because caramel colored bits will start appearing at the bottom of the pot.  These pieces are what carry the flavor, so you want to make sure to scrap all this off the bottom of the pot! Sifting flour make sure that you don’t incorporate clumps of flour into the batter, which will result in dense and tough madeleines, not the light, buttery goodness that you want. 

DIRECTIONS

  1. To brown butter, melt butter on medium heat in a small sauce pan.  When butter begins to brown, you will start hearing bubbling and start seeing bubbles appear on the surface of the liquid. The bubbling should intensify and you should begin to see copper-colored flecks appear on the bottom of the sauce pan.  The butter should start turning a light golden color. Once the bubbling begins to die off, remove from heat source and stir mixture with spoon to scrap dark bits off the bottom of the pan.  Set butter mixture aside to cool.
  2. Either with an electric mixer or by hand, beat eggs for 2 minutes in a large bowl.  Then gradually add in sugar and then beat until mixture is frothy (meaning lots of white bubbles on the surface!)
  3. Add vanilla and salt into mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Sift in flour and using a spatula, gently fold in flour until it is fully incorporated – mixture will be quite thick.
  5. Add browned butter into the mixture in 3 batches. With a spatula, mix the butter fully into the batter with each addition. Stop mixing when the last batch of butter has been just blended in.
  6. Refrigerate batter for at least 4 hours so that the dough has a chance to rest and you will be able to achieve the traditional hump that madeleines are known for having.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 (F).
  8. Butter and flour the madeleine pans by melting 1-2 tbsp of butter and brush butter on pans.  Dust pans with flour and shake the pans over the sink or trash can to get rid of excess flour.
  9. Spoon batter into a sandwich bag or pipping bag.  If using a pipping bag, fit with a 1″-tip, otherwise snip corner off a sandwich bag.
  10. Fill each indent 3/4 of the way full (it will spread and puff during cooking)
  11. Take about 1 teaspoon of chopped raspberries and press gently into each dough mound to make sure raspberries stay put during baking.
  12. Bake for 10-12 minutes until madeleines are gold brown and puffy. Invert pans immediately after removing from oven so madeleines will not stick in pan.

Enjoy!

Old-fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits

As a kid, did you ever pretend rocks were “cookies” or “cakes” while playing outside in the yard? I remember that my sisters and I would always throw extravagant tea parties full of “mud pies” and “rock cakes”, and then come home covered in mud and pebbles, much to my mom’s annoyance (sorry, mom!). Well, I’m not sure if it was because I missed these tea parties so much, or if I was just a terrible baker, but for the longest time, my biscuits were truly as hard and tough as rocks.
I recently tried my hand out at making biscuits again because I’ve had a hankering for some biscuits and homemade jam (more to come on the jam!). After scouring the internet, I came across Bon Appetit’s buttermilk biscuits but then realized that I didn’t actually own a food processor… which you know, like any good cook does, I proceeded anyway. Turning this food processor needing recipe into one that doesn’t has been quite the adventure (picture 3 butter knives in each hand whirring in circles in an attempt to simulate a food processor, among other hilarious ideas).
I promise you the final recipe does not require 6 arms and it definitely can be done in under 20 minutes.  Pair them with jam, butter, honey, gravy or honestly just plain, everyone will be happy. Trust me, give them a go!

IMPORTANT: Do NOT over work this dough, otherwise biscuits will turn out like my childhood rock cakes. Also, frozen butter is MUCH easier to grate and will not melt into the dough while you are working with it. Cold butter is essential for creating pockets of steam while baking ==> soft and fluffy biscuits.

OLD-FASHIONED BUTTERMILK BISCUITS | Modified from Bon Appetit | Makes 12
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter – frozen
  • 1 tbsp butter – melted (for brushing on top of biscuits)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Using grater, grate 2 sticks of butter on the coarser setting. If you don’t have a grater, simply take a knife and chop the butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Put butter back into freezer if it is starting to melt.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. Place grated butter into flour mixture. With hands, gently work butter pieces into flour until mixture looks like coarse sand and the largest pieces of butter are smaller than peas.
  4. Make a well in the mixture and pour buttermilk in well. Use spatula to incorporate dry and wet ingredients until a shaggy dough as formed.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface and pat into a 1″- thick square. Using a knife or bench scraper, slice dough into four equal pieces and place on top of each other (this creates more flaky layers!). Gently press to flatten the layers.
  6. Roll dough into a rectangle 1″-thick. Take knife or bench scraper and cut into 12 equal slices – there should be no leftover scraps.
  7. Place dough pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in freezer for 15 min.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  9. Right before baking the biscuits, liberally brush the top of each biscuit with melted butter
  10. Place biscuits in oven and reduce heat to 400 (F). Bake for 20-25 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

Enjoy!

the best chewy chocolate chip cookies

 I’m pretty sure I have a chocolate chip cookie obsession. Not just the “I love to eat chocolate chip cookies” obsession, but the full-blown, “make ten batches of chocolate chip cookies and then proceed to frantically give them away otherwise I’ll eat them all” obsession. Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I’ve ever baked, and I still think they’re the best cookie. You can’t go wrong with them, yes, there are a lot of different types of chocolate chip cookies out there (crunchy and thin, thick and chewy, lots of chocolate, no chocolate at all), but I’m positive that there is a type out there for everyone.


To avoid doing homework during college (oops…), I’d always try out new chocolate chip recipes and test them out on my roommates. They were THE best taste testers since some of them really liked a lot of chocolate chunks, one of them didn’t like any chocolate, and they were always willing to gobble up cookies coming straight out of the oven. This recipe is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, thin and chewy, but with still soft centers studded in large pools of molten chocolate…a hint of vanilla and just a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Ugh, I am guilty of eating way too many of these in one sitting.


These are super simple to make, and the addition of molasses is a game-changer, I promise you! If you just DYING to have chocolate chip cookies as soon as possible, you can go ahead and bake them after a 30 minute chill in the fridge, but I would definitely recommend not going less than 2 hours of chilling.  The chilling allows the gluten in the dough to relax and the flavors to emulsify, which leads to a softer cookie and has some serious caramel flavor.


MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | Makes approximately 1.5 dozen


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (make sure it’s fresh or your cookies will end up flat and sad)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chopped pieces from a chocolate bar
  • Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium-sized bowl
  2. In separate bowl, combine dark brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses. Use hands to rub sugars and molasses together until well mixed (mixture should look uniformly like light brown sugar)
  3. In large bowl, cream butter either in stand mixer (medium-high speed) or by hand until it is the consistency of mayonnaise
  4. Then add in sugar mixture and beat together until butter is light and fluffy (3-4 min with mixer, 8-10 by hand)
  5. Add in egg and vanilla and then mix until just combined – do NOT over mix!
  6. Add in dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing well after every addition (put mixer on low speed for this)
  7. Add in chocolate and mix in pieces by hand, over-mixing the dough will cause the cookies to be tough
  8. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days
  9. Pull out dough 30 minutes prior to baking to bring it to room temperature and preheat oven to 350 (F)
  10. Roll dough into a little bigger than golf-ball sized balls and place on lined cookie sheets, giving them at least 3 inches apart to spread out in oven
  11. Gently flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with sea salt
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden and the center still looks a little soft. Cool the cookies (if you can!) on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Spring pea + carrot frittata

 I don’t know about you, but even as a morning person, mornings suck. Part of the job as a baker means that I’m up before the crack of dawn and covered up to my knees in flour and sugar before most of the population has hit rush hour traffic. Did I mention I also get hangry every two seconds if I don’t eat breakfast? I try and prep food the night before so that when I roll out of bed in the morning, I can dump things into a pan, pop it into the oven and forget about it for the next 10 minutes while I get ready. This one pan wonder has easily become my go-to breakfast, and makes a spectacular lunch (no reheating required!), or dinner.


It’s not only super duper easy to make, but also extremely versatile.  If I’m feeling something light, mushrooms and spinach make a delicious combo, and if I want something more hearty, I will throw in some smoked salmon (mine is courtesy of Trader Joe’s), you really can’t go wrong! I make mine in a cast iron, but basically anything that is oven-safe and non-stick will work perfectly fine (think cake or pie pan, if you want to get creative!). Having company over for brunch? This recipe can be doubled or tripled or even quadrupled to keep everyone happy.


SPRING PEA & CARROT FRITTATA | Serves 2


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup unflavored soymilk, almond milk, or regular milk (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unflavored oil
  • 1 large (or 2 small) carrot shaved (a vegetable peeler works really well to make shavings)
  • 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Non-stick, oven-safe pan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 ° F
  2. Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk thoroughly until air bubbles form on the surface
  3. Add in salt, pepper, and milk (optional) and mix well
  4. Once pan is heated, add oil to the pan along with the carrots and peas. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until carrots are softened and peas are cooked through.
  5. Spread vegetables out on pan and pour egg mixture over.
  6. Let the pan sit over medium heat for 2 minutes before transferring into the oven for an additional 6-8 minutes (if you like your eggs on the soft side, take them out closer to 4-5 minutes)

Enjoy!

Pumpkin + Sweet Potato Gnocchi

As a child, I used to hate sweet potatoes, I thought it was this gooey oooey vegetable the color of radioactive material that only the craziest of villains would eat. Looking back, the reason why I probably hated eating sweet potatoes was most likely due to the fact that my mom’s method of boiling cubed sweet potatoes to death was quite frankly, not the most appetizing dinner meal to ever exist.


Once I moved out of the house for college, sweet potatoes immediately became one of my favorite things to eat. Chock full of vitamins and fiber, easy to prepare and cheap (read: college student budget), I was pretty much hooked on this root veggie. The first time I made gnocchi was a Wednesday night after I discovered with horror that the only things left in my kitchen were a bag of sweet potatoes, eggs, and flour (in my defense, I had just returned from a weekend visit out of town and hadn’t had the opportunity to grocery shop…). It turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever made (probably because I was dying of hunger), but it’s been my go-to gnocchi recipe since then.

Three ingredients, 30 minutes and a pot of bowling water is all you need for these delicious, fluffy and satisfying little pockets of joy. This recipe is actually THE best because you can use sweet potato and pumpkin interchangeably (!!) and if you’re in a time crunch, you can use canned sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin and end up with the same delicious result!

PUMPKIN or SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree (fresh or canned both work)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


DIRECTIONS

  1. Place pumpkin or sweet potato puree in a large mixing bowl, add egg and mix until egg is incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  2. Add in salt, garlic powder, cayenne and pepper, mix well.
  3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time into pumpkin/sweet potato mixture until a sticky dough has formed (at this point, you should be able to touch it and only have a little bit stick to your fingers).
  4. Place dough onto a floured surface and dust top of dough with more flour until the entire outside of the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Divide dough out into portions and roll into long ropes about 1 inch in diameter taking care to keep exterior of dough always covered in flour.
  6. Use either a knife of a bench scraper to cut dough into 1 inch pieces (if you would like traditional gnocchi, take a fork and gently press indentations into dough pieces).
  7. Once pot of water is boiling, add in gnocchi pieces and cook until they float to the surface (about 5 minutes or so).
  8. Remove gnocchi pieces once cooled and toss in some oil to prevent sticking.

* *At this point, you can either devour them (which is what I usually do), or take the time to crisp them on the pan which truly brings it to the next level of cooking. In the photos I’ve included, I’ve simply sauteed the gnocchi with garlic, mushrooms and spinach, or topped gnocchi with some roasted veggies and shrimp.


Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Tres Leches Cake

If you know someone who is gluten-free, then you probably know all the pains that accompany a gluten-free lifestyle (including how difficult it is to find a decent cake that is gluten-free!). At a friend’s house the other week, I learned that it was going to be her little sister’s birthday soon and that she so dearly wanted a tres leches cake from Cafe Latte (a neighborhood bakery). Unfortunately, Cafe Latte’s tres leches cake wasn’t gluten-free. I jumped at the chance to bake her a birthday cake and try my hand at some gluten-free baking. I wanted to bake her the perfect birthday cake – exactly identical to Cafe Latte’s, but just gluten-free!


Well, ladies and gents, here is the final product taken by her wonderful father! He was so kind and wonderful to take some professional photos for me 🙂 While I never got to taste it, her family ended up loving it. The recipe is fairly simple and can be adapted to fit any sort of sponge cake that you may want to bake for your gluten-free friends (or just ALL your friends!). I stumbled upon this recipe from one of my favorite websites, Food 52 and I’ve adapted it for my own uses.


The key to light and fluffy sponge cake is to make sure your eggs are at room-temperature. Room-temperature eggs end up holding more air when you beat it, leading to a lighter and fluffier cake. I hope your adventures in gluten-free baking bring you as much joy as mind did!


TRES LECHES CAKE (SPONGE ADAPTED FROM EMIKO’S FOOD 52 RECIPE)
INGREDIENTSfor the Cake (makes two 8inch cake layers)

  • 150g (~1 cup) Potato starch
  • 150g (~2/3 cup) Sugar
  • 6 Eggs (at room temperature)

for the Tres leches syrup

  • 1 can Evaporated milk
  • 1 can Condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup Heavy cream

for the Whipped cream

  • 3 cups Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 cup Powdered sugar
  • Box of raspberries
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS for the Cake 

  1. Sift potato starch in a bowl and set aside
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and mix 1/3cup of the sugar in with the egg yolks
  3. Using an electric mixer, mix all 6 egg whites on low speed for 2 minutes, medium speed for 2 minutes and then add in the remaining sugar. Then beat on high until the peaks formed are stiff (check by taking the whisk off the mixer and inverting. If the point on the egg whites don’t droop or fold over, then stiff peaks have formed).
  4. Beat the yolks and the sugar together for about 10 minutes, or until the yolks are lightened in color and the mixture has become creamy
  5. Alternate folding in the potato starch and the egg whites into the egg yolks until you have a well-combined batter (do not over mix!)
  6. Pour batter into lined cake pans and bake at 350 ºF for 20 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Invert and cool cakes

for the Tres leches syrup

  1. Mix together entire can of evaporated milk, entire can of condensed milk and 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I find it is easiest pouring this all into a large water bottle and shaking well)
  2. Once cakes are cooled, divide syrup mixture evenly between cake layers and soak (the cakes will absorb more liquid than you think they will!)

for the whipped cream

  1. Mix heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer
  2. Beat until cream has reached your desired consistency (I usually beat it for about 4-5 minutes, or until cream is medium-stiff).
  3. When cake layers have soaked in all the syrup, assemble the cake layers and outline the edge of the cake in raspberries cut a big slice and enjoy!