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!