Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Butternut squash & sausage hash

Last week, weather changed over night and it almost feels like winter some days. I know we only get to enjoy spring and fall for a very short period of time but it's really going too fast. Just like how babies grow so fast. *sniff*. 

So now, my mini started her solids. She is really growing too fast. Way too fast. Having a baby who needs to be introduced to new foods every couple of days is actually a good thing though. That means I have to plan. No more "throw whatever I have and make a meal literally 30 minutes before dinner HAS to be served". I was a better meal planner when my tot was just starting solids. Because I had to introduce different foods every 3-4 days, I had to shop accordingly. He would only eat about 2oz at a time, so I would have to use the same ingredients for our meal. Then as he started to eat with us and I sometimes got lazy. Actually let me rephrase it, I got busy and more spontaneous. Okay, that sounds much better. 

After my mini had rice cereal for the first few days, I wanted to let her taste some fall flavor. And we love butternut squash. Roasted, sautéed, wrapped in bacon, soup, you name it. Sure enough, my girl absolutely loved it! She finished the first serving of butternut squash with big smiles accompanied by some squeals. So proud of my big girl. 

And with leftover squash, we made yummy hash. I like to use chorizo instead of Italian sausage too. It gives a depth to the flavor. But my tot prefers Italian sausage as chorizo can be a little spicy for him. I made this for dinner at 4pm, thinking I'd heat it up and serve it at dinner time but I ended up snacking on the whole dinner portion and that was my dinner. And of course, I had to go ahead and grab a bottle of hard cider for this fall themed "snack time". I was so happy with the harmony of the flavors. Now this is my happy hour. 

I make this for one skillet dinner a lot but it's also great to serve it as a hearty snack or breakfast with some toasted baguette. Dip a slice of toasted baguette in the soft runny yolk and top it with some hash. Oh my gosh. Delicious!

Butternut squash & sausage hash

Ingredients :

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed(1/2" cubes)
8 oz Italian sausage(3-4 links, out of casing)
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste 
eggs to top the dish - optional

Directions :

1. On a heated skillet, brown the sausage on medium high heat and crumble it while stirring occasionally.

2. When it starts to brown and render the fat, add cubed butternut squash and onion. Sauté for a few minutes and add salt, pepper, paprika and apple cider vinegar and cover. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 6-7 minutes. 

3. Check if squash is done to your liking and add spinach. Cook just until wilted and make small wells for the eggs to stay. Crack an egg in each well, sprinkle salt and pepper, cover and cook just until the eggs are set. Serve immediately.

*Or you can scoop the hash into an individual serving vessel, crack an egg each and broil until eggs are set. This way, you get a little more browned hash which I love. 

*You can make ahead the hash, warm up and finish with the eggs before serving. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Crispy tofu with peanut sauce

Long time no post! Really really long time. For the last couple of months, I have been running around everywhere like a headless chicken. My garage door would open and close about ten times everyday. Here's a little update about my life. My tot started a new school which he goes everyday, then after school activities. Now that mini's old enough to take baby classes, I'm also taking her to classes. There's not a single day that I can just stay at home. I really have a full respect for moms with multiple kids. They're truly super moms! With just two I feel like my head is spinning. 

 A lot has happened in the last couple of months but my tot's love for tofu hasn't changed. He loves it grilled, pan fried, stir fried, even blanched and dip it in sauce. I make same exact thing with chicken instead of tofu for Steve as he can't stand tofu. It is delicious! I personally prefer it with tofu because I love the crispy outside and soft inside texture but Steve loves it with chicken. This sauce is so yummy, I sometimes make a little extra and make the dish very saucy so I can pour it over the rice. Pictures were taken a while ago but now that I look at them again, they look suitable for the fall with nice orange hue from the carrots. It's a nice and healthy weeknight meal that comes back over and over again on our family's dinner table. 

Crispy tofu with peanut sauce


1 package tofu(12oz)
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1-2 Tbsp oil 
peanut sauce 
1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
2.5 Tbsp peanut butter 


1. Drain the tofu. Wrapped it with some paper towels and put something heavy on top to drain the water out. While preparing other ingredients.

2. Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside. Prepare the carrot with a vegetable peeler so you get carrot ribbons. Cut the tofu into small cubes.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and cook tofu, preferably cooking all sides for crispiness. 

4. When tofu's done, add carrot ribbons and saute them together for 2-3 minutes. Add sauce to it and stir. Cook for a few minutes until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve immediately. 
*sauce recipe by minimalist baker

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chili lime shrimp

As much as I love late summer nights, I am sad that summer's almost over. Seriously, next week is September?! Summer always goes so quickly but this summer was really a blink of an eye. With all the new adjustment with my mini, setting a new routine as she grows really kept everyone busy in my house. Time really flies and she turned 100th day old last weekend. And as Korean tradition goes, we celebrated it. It used to be a big deal but thesedays, it's just a small gathering between family members. So we decided to simply make a cake and no more than that. 

I've always wanted to make a pretty pink rosette cake and I was so happy I finally have an occasion to make one! All the things I've been dying to make, I can slowly go ahead and do it for my princess. =) Since it's an occasion to celebrate parents' hard work during the first few months and also the healthy growing of the baby , I needed something for the baby on the table. 

So there we go, the only thing she can have at the moment. A bottle. =) And of course I had some macaroons for my fancy little tot. For some reason he doesn't like cake so much thesedays. He's totally into macaroons. I should make some for him(or myself) some time soon. Not that it's healthy or anything but they're just so good!

Now, about this summery shrimp dish. I have cooked it three different ways so far. Baking in the oven and finishing up with broiling for the char, put a skewer and grilling on BBQ and sautéing. I like all three ways but when I eat it with some rice, I like to sauté because I pour the whole marinade to make it saucy, cut up some avocado and pour it over the rice. Little tang from the lime and a subtle sweetness with creamy avocado. YUM! It's very quick to make the marinade and it always has been a success for the crowds. If you haven't gone on a proper vacation this summer(like us), give your taste buds a trip to Thailand with some chili lime shrimp!

Chili lime shrimp

Ingredients :

1 lb cleaned shrimp(tail on or off)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
4 Tbsp Thai chili sauce
1 Tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 avocado, cubed(optional)

Directions :

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Heat up a skillet and saute the shrimp for 3-4 minutes on high heat(or until internal temperature reaches 145F). If you like it saucy like me, pour the whole marinade with the shrimp when cooking. Serve with rice and cubed avocado. 

* If you grill, soak the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes and put shrimps on them before grilling. You can bake them on 400F oven and broil at the end for the char. 

*Adapted from Rasa malaysia

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simple Tzatziki

The other day, Steve was flipping channels on TV and we naturally stopped when we saw my big fat Greek wedding on. It's such a great movie with super low budget and is loved by so many people. As we were watching that movie, I randomly saw someone's facebook post that they're making a sequel. WHAT?! That is awesome!

Steve has some Greek friends and they confirmed that a lot of the stereotypes of Greeks are true including windex. Haha. That's pretty funny. Maybe I am wrong but I find them very similar to Italians. Big families, like to have fun, lots of yummy food and so on. They're both mediterranean, so it's probably natural just like different asian countries share somewhat similar culture. 

Mediterranean food is so refreshing, Steve and I used to be obsessed. Now that the movie has brought us back to the memories, we should make more of Greek food. Steve used to make Greek salad for dinner every single day and not get tired of it, plus he lost a lot of weight. We have a new neighbor who are Greeks, we brought some cookies the day they moved in and met them. Maybe I should bake some more and knock on their door and learn to cook some real Greek food!

Tzatziki is not only great for gyro and simply grilled chicken, it makes a fabulous dip for crudites, baked pita, potato chips, you name it. Creamy, garlicky yet, refreshing with a whole lot of cucumber. When I want something simple for entertaining without making multiple dips for veggies and chips, I always go with this. Because it develops such yummy flavor as it sits in the fridge, you can make ahead the night before entertaining. Make ahead dishes are always the best when you entertain, aren't they? =) Here's how you bring your guests to Greece at a bite!

Simple Tzatziki

Printable recipe 

Ingredients :

1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt(fat free works just fine)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled
1 Tbsp olive oil plus to drizzle on top
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp dill, chopped

Directions :

1. Scrape the seeds from English cucumber and grate it through large holes of cheese grater. Squeeze grated cucumber to remove liquid and let it sit on a sieve.

2. Mix rest of the ingredients in a bowl and stir in cucumber. Drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving. 

*It's a perfect make ahead dip as the flavor develops as it sits in the fridge. Serve it with crudité of your choice or toasted pita.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sriracha cod with panko crust

Having a newborn after over 3 years of uninterrupted good night's sleep has been a challenge. Last couple of months, I am reminded a few things. One, grown ups can act just like a toddler - Über cranky. Two, you can totally feel hungover without a single drop of alcohol in your blood. After waking up a few times a night, my body would feel like someone just beat me up or I drank a whole bottle of vodka and danced all night.

She gives us hope some nights though. I rub my eyes and check my phone to see what time it is, and I realize it's been 5 plus hours since last feeding! Like I said though, some nights...

My tot was sleep trained very early. By this time, less than 3 months old, he slept through the night on most nights. I find my mini definitely has a lot calmer temperament than my tot(thank goodness!!)but night sleepwise, she's got some work to do. She'd better hurry up and give mama a break. All and all though, it's such a joy. I love her bright smile she gives me when I walk into the room, little kicks that go a mile a minute when she plays and even when she's just staring at the blank space. Everything about her makes me smile. 

I hate to admit, a day with a toddler sometimes goes so slow that I look at the time all day. But when a baby's around, a day goes by so quickly. By dinner time, I am always running out of time unless I am well planned. The other day, I realized I had cod in the fridge that I completely forgot about. I quickly whipped up one of our favorite fish recipes. This is so quick and seriously so delicious. 

 All things crispy is well accepted by my tot and cod is one of his favorite fishes. I usually make his without sriracha though. A tiny drop of mayo does the trick. Unless you drizzle sriracha all over like I did in this picture, it won't be spicy. You will feel just a little kick or not even. It gives nice flavor but not spicy if you just smear it on the fish. My au pair Lari said she has never eaten cod fish before and she loves it now. She said cod fish oil is made into health supplement for kids in Colombia but fish itself is not commonly consumed. Very interesting how different countries eat different fish. That reminded me of belt fish. In Korea, they're expensive but in FL, if belt fish came in the net when people are shrimp fishing, they just throw it back in the water I heard. Don't know if it's true. What I know for sure is this panko crusted cod is absolutely delicious! =)


Sriracha cod with panko crust

Ingredients :

4 cod fillets, about 12oz each
2 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp sriracha
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line and lightly grease a baking sheet. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix sriracha and mayo.

2. Pour the panko into a rimmed plate. Brush sriracha and mayo mixture on top of the fillet. Take each fillet, turn mayo side down and press it onto panko. 

3. Heat the butter in a pan and brown the crust of each fillet for 2-3 minutes.

4. Carefully transfer the fillets onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or so. Cooking time varies depending on the thickness of the fillet - when it reaches internal temperature 145F, it's done.

5. Place it on a plate and garnish as you prefer. I use sriracha and chopped scallion. 

*Adapted from Foodie with family

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chocolate peanut butter banana bread

My beloved Macbook has been acting up like a toddler. Start up disk problem. My gosh, it was so frustrating. I moved pretty much everything on my google drive and back up hard drive but same message keeps popping up. I temporarily fixed it somehow but I don't know when I'll see the message again and it will stop me from uploading pictures. Gotta see an expert. Well..that is why I haven't been able to post for the last couple of weeks. 

My mornings has been going so fast lately as my tot has two weeks break from his camp and we haven't been on a strict routine. Which means, our usual consumption of banana with yogurt for breakfast has slowed down. While I'm being lazy in bed with my mini, tot would go downstairs and get some cereal for breakfast. I felt like a terrible mother for not giving him proper breakfast but gosh, these two weeks of growth spurt period of my mini was pretty rough. She would eat every 2hours or so all over again and by the time my tot wants his breakfast, I'd be like a zombie. So that left us with some overripe bananas. 

As always, my solution to overripe bananas was banana bread. But I didn't want the same old banana bread, plus I craved something chocolatey. This chocolatey, peanut buttery goodness is so moist and yummy. Steve is not a huge fan of banana bread and even he loved it. 

I warmed up some peanut butter in the microwave and drizzled when I served it. Oh's heavenly. And the fact that it's healthier and I used up the bananas before they go bad made me feel good. Usually a loaf of banana bread lasts for many days in this house as it's just me and my tot who eat it. But this loaf disappeared very quickly. So yummy. 

When you want chocolatey treat but feeling a little too guilty, this is perfect. A slice or two of this with a glass of cold almond milk. YUM! Trust me, this totally converted a non banana bread fan to the banana bread side! =)

Chocolate peanut butter banana bread

Ingredients :

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup peanut butter, slightly melted in the microwave
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas(about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut butter to drizzle(optional)

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, add peanut butter, sugar, mashed bananas, oil and eggs. Stir well to mix.

3. Add rest of the ingredients, adding flour the last.

4. Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

5. Cool the loaf. Melt the peanut butter and drizzle before serving. 

*Recipe adapted from Broma bakery.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Savory French toast

If you know me or have read my previous posts, you'd know my love for French toast. And I love sweet and savory together. This savory French toast is the perfect combination for that sweet and savory cravings. Custard itself doesn't contain anything sweet, so if you like savory toast alone, you don't have to add maple syrup to it. It's probably nice with some smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce too. Soft and eggy brioche bread with cheesy custard. Yum!

Thanks to my mini going back to sleep in the morning, I got to catch up my lost sleep due to night feedings. Meanwhile my tot nagged Steve, daddy I'm hungry! Breakfast please!! That's my boy. He chose daddy to go downstairs with him. By the time I went downstairs, they were done with their breakfast and playing with playdoh, Steve looking like a zombie. I, on the other hand, luxuriously slept a few more hours in the morning and made myself some delicious savory French toast. I felt so bad. But then Steve has been away on a business trip which means he got to enjoy undisturbed good night's sleep for days while I'm on night shift all by myself! 

Anyway, it was especially delicious after a sweet nap. If you're a French toast lover, this is definitely something you'd want to try some time. Something different yet familiar. =)

Savory French toast

Ingredients :

4 slices day old bread(I used Brioche)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
butter for greasing the pan

Directions :

1. Whisk together eggs, milk and Parmesan. Add parsley, salt and pepper. 

2. Coat the bread with the egg mixture and cook on a heated and greased griddle. 

3. Serve with maple syrup(if you like sweet and savory together).

Friday, June 26, 2015

Slow cooker spinach artichoke dip

With my tot's camp and busy schedule, this week has gone by so fast. It's been almost a week since we celebrated Steve's 4th father's day. How was everybody's father's day? It was supposed to be a wash-out where we live. So the whole exciting BBQ idea was out the door. We had to go a different way and made Italian father's day. Steve's family's Italian, so it suits anyway. Since there was a huge chance everything would be inside, we changed the appetizer menu entirely too. We ended up getting lucky and had a few hours of beautiful sun, which means kids stayed in the pool, no craziness in the house! Yay!

So, we served homemade Italian plus costco lasagna. I know it's cheating but their lasagna is just so darn good! But their spinach artichoke dip, I didn't find very good. So I decided to make yummy and super easy spinach artichoke dip. You just need to dump everything in the slow cooker and "fugetaboutit"! How easy is that. Even though it's very cheesy, it's got vegetables, and I made it with Greek yogurt and low fat cream cheese to lower the calories. Our au pair Lari doesn't like vegetables but even she said it's delicious! Since she's not familiar with this dip, I didn't tell her what it was in detail. =P 

Thinking we were totally lucked out with the weather, after a huge meal, we put out all sorts of desserts outdoor. Half way through dessert, it started to pour like the end of the world. Lucky everything was served in the covered patio but it was so crazy that everything was still getting wet. CHAOS. We managed to save all of our delicious desserts though. Phew! In that chaos, our mini slept through. Actually she pretty much slept through all afternoon. Everyone wanted a chance to hold her, moving from one person to another, it didn't even wake her. She totally gets spoiled when the family's over. =) 

Hope your father's day was a dry and fun one. 

Slow cooker spinach artichoke dip

Printable recipe

Ingredients :

1 (14oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 fresh ground black pepper
1 (8oz) block reduced fat cream cheese

Directions :

1. Squeeze the thawed spinach and drain most of the liquid. In a slow cooker insert, add all the ingredients except cream cheese.

2. Cube the cream cheese and place on top of everything else. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.

3. Stir to mix everything. Serve warm. 

*Adapted from some the wiser.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ground beef stroganoff

While my mom's staying here, she helped me with everything. Her being here alone gave a lot of support but on top of that, she wouldn't just sit down and rest. She cleaned out my totally stuffed fridge/freezer to sort things perfectly - the way my mom organize things is just awesome. I guess moms will always be moms. No matter how old I am, she would always want to take care of me and help me. 

So she found this organic grass-fed ground beef we had in the freezer. We recently had Korean taco and meatballs. I wanted to use this meat but do something different. Then I remembered I had mushrooms in the fridge. That's it, beef stroganoff! All three of us love beef stroganoff but my tot doesn't like big chunk of beef. So whenever we make it, he would just eat mushrooms and noodles or I have to cut the beef into tiny pieces. With ground beef, I knew he would definitely devour it.  

And yes, I was right. He said, "Mommy, you make really yummy meals". Adding noodles to the sauce and tossing it, rather than pouring sauce over it worked like pasta with meat sauce. Using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream makes you feel less guilty. I thought Steve would complain because it's not strips of beef but he loved it too. I love it when I have all the ingredients for a meal when I didn't plan it, especially if it means I'm cleaning out the fridge too!
if you like creamy sauce or traditional beef stroganoff, try this shortcut/ground beef for a change. 

Ground beef stroganoff

Ingredients :

1 lbs ground beef
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 cup beef broth
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups egg noodles 
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Directions :

1. In a skillet heat the olive oil and saute onion and garlic.

2. Add ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is brown. 

3. Add broth, flour and mushrooms. Stir and bring it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or reduced a little. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to package directions.

4. Stir in Greek yogurt and cook until just heated. Add cooked egg noodles and parsley. Toss well and serve.

* Adapted from my mommy style

Monday, June 8, 2015

French toast cups

Long time no post! It has been a busy and exciting month for us. Our tot is promoted to a big bro as we welcomed our new baby daughter. It has been pretty hectic but good hectic. =) Foodwise, I have been consuming a whole lot of seaweed soup thanks to my Korean custom. In Korean culture, we eat/drink seaweed soup after giving birth as they believe seaweed soup cleanses your body and helps you recover. Good thing I actually love seaweed soup.

Anyway, now I guess we are two foodies and a tot plus one! She is so precious. My tot has always been big for his age but I still thought he's like a baby. Now that we have a wee one, he looks so big. He totally adores his baby sister and my heart just melts when I see the way he looks at his sister and cares for her. He's such a great big brother to her. Our mini's lucky and has nothing to worry about since her bro's got her back! =)

With a newborn at home, I haven't really cooked anything. Luckily, my mom stayed with us for a while so that was a big help. Cooking, caring for the baby and all the support. Now that everything's back to normal, I started to cook. My favorite breakfast of all time, French toast. But I wanted something different. A, I didn't feel like standing by the stove flipping french toast. B, I felt like making something cute. So there you go, french toast cups. 

 Mmm...Soft center and crusty top. Cinnamony sweet bites with fresh fruits. It is a very cute variation for french toast. I am a sucker for any kind of french toast so I am kind of bias but this is great if you like a little bit of bite. When I'm not using challah, I like using stale baguette for french toast because of its crust. And this muffin pan cup version definitely showcases the crust. 

Kids will love these and it'd be great to serve a crowd for a snack or part of a brunch menu since you don't have to stand by the stove. Another happy morning with yummy breakfast! =) 

French toast cups

* Makes about 10 individual cups.
Printable recipe 

Ingredients :

4 cups cubed bread(a day old bread is the best)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

powder sugar- optional

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a muffin pan. You can line it with cupcake liners too.

2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Soak the cubed bread in the mixture for a few minutes.

3. Scoop the bread and fill each cup of muffin pan. Drizzle leftover custard over the bread. Bake for 25 minutes.

4. Plate them and dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spiced candied nuts

I usually crave spiced nuts during cold weather. But recently I visited my friend and she had some spiced nuts on the table and I completely emptied it. Then that craving didn't go away. I had to make some and have some in my house! We like candied nuts for salad and because I bake a lot, we usually have some kind of nuts at home and I could start right away. 

I've always done cinnamon version but never added cayenne before until I found this recipe. This is so yummy! A little hint of spiciness. I actually made two versions. One batch with cayenne and another version with paprika so my tot can enjoy it too. I was sending a big care package for my sister who just had my new niece and this was a great add on too. She loves whatever I make and on top of that, she loves spiced nuts. Anything with cinnamon. 

This is so addictive that I have to really control myself. No more than a small bowl at a time. Otherwise I would just empty a jar without knowing. Since it's warm and nice out now, we will be entertaining a lot. And even though it's not the weather you crave warm spices, I think it's a great snack to put out with the "welcome drinks" when the guests arrive. Okay, I have been staring at these pictures long enough. Time to sneak into the pantry and get some before my tot finds me. =)

Spiced candied nuts

Ingredients :

3 cups nuts of your choice(I used equal parts of pecans,almonds and cashews)
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
1/3 cup brown sugar(light or dark)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika for mild version

Directions :

1. Preheat the oven to 300F. 

2. Whisk egg white and water together until frothy. Pour over nuts and toss. 

3. Mix both sugars, cinnamon, salt and cayenne or paprika and pour it over the egg white and nuts mixture and toss well. 

4. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread out evenly. Bake for 28-30 minutes and let it cool. When cooled, break the clusters if desired. Keep in airtight container. 

*Recipe from Avery cooks

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Balsamic skirt steak & polenta bites

Wasn't last weekend just perfect? Oh we needed it so badly. It was so nice I was in such a great mood even though I was so busy and exhausted. And what comes naturally with this great weather? BBQ! YES! BBQ season is back! We scrubbed the bbq inside and out and was ready to go! Well..Okay, I have to be honest, Steve scrubbed the bbq. I supervised. =P

Nutty yet crispy grilled polenta with slightly spicy baby arugula and tender steak with sticky balsamic glaze. OMG, so yummy. I just LOVE polenta. It's so simple to make polenta at home but yet, it's even easier to buy a cooked polenta log so I always go the lazy way. I always have to grill extra polenta as my tot devours these.

With skirt steak, I am sure you all know it but you have to be really careful not to overcook it, otherwise it's not edible. Once time I was talking to Steve while cooking it, got distracted and I completely overcooked it and ruined his dinner. =( 

If you prepare it in advance, like marinating ahead, this is a great, quick appetizer(takes just less than 10 minutes to cook) to please guests or a fabulous small portion lunch. 

Balsamic skirt steak & polenta bites

*Makes about 2 appetizer portions

Ingredients :

steak marinade
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dark or light brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb skirt steak(or flank steak)
1/2 log ready to grill polenta, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups baby arugula, washed
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions :

1. Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl and marinate skirt steak for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a sauce pan,add balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. As soon as it start boiling, turn the heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes or until it reaches syrupy consistency to make balsamic glaze.
3. Heat oil in a grill pan and grill polenta until golden brown on both sides. I grill about 3 minutes each side.

4. Grill the steak about 3 minutes each side and remove from the grill pan or grill. Tent it with a foil and let it rest for 8-10 minutes. Slice thinly.

5. Arrange grilled polenta on a plate and top with baby arugula and skirt steak and drizzle balsamic glaze.
* Marinade recipe by Pointless meals.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Peanut butter espresso cookies

This is probably the first time I mention on this blog that my tot will be a big brother. It is just weeks away! I can't believe how fast time goes. Unlike the first time, I have my tot to keep me busy every second. First time around, by now, my tot already had a wardrobe full of clothes and accessories. Not to mention the nursery was done long time ago. This time, just a few weeks away, we have bought just enough clothes, bedding's still on the way, nursery's ALMOST done. be fair, we lived in an apartment in Manhattan when I was getting the nursery done for my tot and this time, it's a proper sized nursery which gives me more visions than I could handle!! Haha. 

Even though I am usually very decisive, I could see the room going to a couple of different directions which I liked all, it took a long time for me to actually come to the final decision. Not to mention the process of finding a painter who can give me the perfect look I was going for. I was lucky enough to find the perfect person and now we're filling up the room. 

Espresso...I love espresso but not espresso furniture for a nursery. The color of my tot's furniture set was that and it was never my cup of tea from day one- surprisingly I let Steve win at that time. So recently we donated my tot's old set to a family who could appreciate and need it more than us and got a beautiful new furniture set we both like. Now he probably learned that if we don't want to spend double, we are better off going with what I like. =P

So now that we spilled the beans, I can talk about my cravings. Pregnant or not, I often have strong cravings for savory stuff but this third trimester, I started to crave more sweets. Can't eat a lot of sweets but variety of sweets at different times. A little taste of chocolate at one point, a little taste of coffee at another. And strangely for a coffee lover like me, I do not crave actual coffee. Instead I drink lots and lots of tea. Of course I have to control the caffeine level so I start my day with a cup of earl grey and rest of the day is herbal tea. One thing I learned this pregnancy is that you have to be careful even with herbal tea. With my tot, I still craved coffee, not tea so I just drank decaf most of the times but this time, I wanted chamomile which I never ever craved(in fact I couldn't stand it before pregnancy)and all kinds of stuff. Then I learned that chamomile tea is not good for pregnant women! Anyway, I drink hot water with a slice of lemon or peppermint tea a lot. Definitely different cravings. 

I am sure occasional treat of these little guys isn't going to do anything and these are so enjoyable. I halved the cream filling recipe when I made it. For some reason, even half the recipe made more than enough for mine. Makes about two dozen sandwiched cookies.

Peanut butter espresso cookies

Ingredients :

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tsp instant espresso powder(or instant coffee)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut butter filling

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2Tbsp confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp fine sea salt 

Chocolate to drizzle and cocoa nibs or chopped chocolate to garnish(optional)

Directions :

1. In a bowl cream the butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth.

2. In another bowl, combine rest of the dry ingredients and whisk. Mix it into creamed butter. When combined, add vanilla extract. 

3. Wrap it in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. While chilling, preheat the oven to 350F.

4. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out circles. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

5. While cooling, make the filling. I halved the recipe and it was enough. Cream butter and peanut butter until smooth and add confectioner's sugar and sea salt. Mix until smooth. 

6. Place about 1 Tbsp filling on a cookie and top with another. Assemble rest of the cookies the same way. If desired, melt some chocolate and drizzle on top and sprinkle chopped chocolate or cocoa nibs.