“Superfood Power Smoothie” from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Start off 2016 right with a super healthy + no added sugar smoothie! Sally’s Baking Addiction is an amazing food blog, so I knew I had to give her Superfood Power Smoothie a try when I saw it! There’s something about the layered look that’s enticing, and I can confirm now that the layers were delicious (using spinach was also an added bonus)!

We made substitutions based on our preferences and what we had on hand. For example, we used pomegranate instead of strawberries for the pink layer and it turned out great! We also experimented with a third and even a fourth layer – using blueberries and then coconut.

If you’re making this smoothie, take your pictures fast since some of our layers ended up blending fairly quickly!

While smoothies may not seem fitting in the winter, they’re definitely a fun, healthy and easy way to pack in fruits, vegetables, and other items that we probably don’t eat enough of…which in my case, is probably kale. I’ve always felt like I need to pick sides between spinach and kale and clearly spinach wins…someone convince me otherwise? 🙂

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Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

Now that Santa has blessed us all with his presents and holiday cheer, it’s finally time to profile some fun holiday cookies. A close friend and I have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies together, and last year, we made these deliciously cute Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies:

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Since they were a huge hit, we knew we had to step up our game and try our hand at something even more complex: Roly-Poly Santa Cookies!

These were actually really hard to make…they tested our craftsmanship (ie. molding Santa hats out of dough, squishing dough pieces together to ensure that the cookies wouldn’t break after baking) and endurance (each cookie probably took 5-7 minutes just to shape). But I must say we prevailed and took home the gold for our cookies this year:

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Pre-baking. Protip: To ensure that the pieces all stay together after baking, try to connect the arms with the faces more before baking.

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This Santa won the “Best Looking” Award

Another protip: We made powdered sugar by blending regular sugar, but we may have needed to blend the sugar more since we didn’t really get a powdery texture in our frosting.

After we reveled in our glorious accomplishment, I took home the pound of extra frosting we made and decided to bake gingerbread cookies the day after at another friend’s place.

But this time, we couldn’t find gingerbread cookie cutters anywhere. It’s like all the stores said move over, Christmas, and cleared out everything for whatever else is coming. So we settled for “bunny” and “dog” cookie cutters which were the only options.

Shoutout to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for this awesome eggless recipe: Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies. WITH molasses :O

When we actually got to cutting the dough, we felt that our bunny and dog cookie cutters were too big so we ended up making circles, which created about 45 cookies! 45! I guess you could say we baked up a storm.

Anyway, we had lots of fun using the leftover chocolate chips, red hots, and frosting from the Santa cookies to decorate these gingerbread circles:

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Quite the baking adventure, but I’m already looking forward to what 2016 baking has in store. Get ready, Pinterest.

Big Girl Dinner #1

This post is long overdue, but I had the pleasure of hosting a few friends over at my apartment for dinner a few weeks ago…which meant lots of cooking! This was my first time throwing a dinner party on my own – I definitely underestimated how much time cooking would take and scrapped ambitious plans to bake a dessert, but hey, it was worth it.

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta

Modifications ~ Seasoned chickpeas with paprika and basil in addition salt / pepper, sauteed onions instead of using them raw, used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar, added walnuts, used “mixed greens” instead of arugula, didn’t use mint

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Simple Spinach

Heat up a pan with olive oil, and once hot, add minced garlic (as much or little as you’d like with the amount of spinach you use). Cook the spinach thoroughly, and continue to drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, red chili, and salt.

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Pesto Spaghetti with Zucchini

First step is the homemade pesto – so much easier than I thought it would be and, let’s be honest, to die for. You can never have enough pesto. I decided to make Parsley-Walnut Pesto since parsley was pretty cheap at the grocery store, but there’s a lot of different leaf – nut combos that work.  Make sure you add enough oil (and water!) to make blending easy! I learned the hard way by settling for some kind of puree first, then making my pasta, then realizing I needed more pesto, and then revisiting the blender one more time only to realize that I could have made this pesto in 2 minutes instead of 20 if I had used more water…

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(Fry the zucchini until it turns golden-brown)

And voila, we have a tasty home-cooked meal!

 

Muffins = Smart Cupcakes

As a farewell to fall and hello to winter, I made these yummy Pumpkin-Banana (eggless) Muffins the other day. When I make these next time, I’d probably add a bit more spice than what the recipe calls for for a stronger taste.

If you’re feeling like you really want to load up on the sweet, definitely consider topping these muffins with frosting (I just used store bought)! After all, muffins are healthier than cupcakes…right?

 

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

This Thanksgiving, I decided to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon (a bit late I know) and try my hand at some pumpkin desserts. If you ever need to whip up a dessert in less than hour, this is the recipe for you: Vegan (well except for the chocolate chips) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.

No eggs and no mess! I didn’t have pumpkin spice, so I just ground cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger into a powdered form – didn’t explicitly follow any proportions but used cinnamon more than the other spices.

The end result is a pie of chocolatey – pumpkin goodness, with the flavors of fall reminding you of your daily pumpkin-spiced latte. Definitely an easy recipe I’ll be keeping in my back pocket!

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Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Holy Crêpe…Or Should I Say “FRENCHiladas?”

This past weekend, R and I decided to have some fun and make crêpes! It of course helped that she’s a killer cook and Parisian, but the recipe actually turned out to be much easier that I thought it would be.

We followed the general gist of this recipe for the batter and let it sit in the fridge for 40 minutes before making the crêpes. Once you’ve heated the pan and spread some butter, take a scoop of the batter and pour on to the pan, quickly making sure to twist the pan right and left to ensure the batter covers the whole pan. You’ll notice that the edges will start to lift upwards after a minute or two, and then you can flip the crêpe. Once it’s fully cooked, lift out of the pan and make the next one!

If you want to add savory fillings to your crêpes, I suggest a spinach and cheese combo (I know this probably doesn’t come as a surprise). When you’ve flipped over the crêpe, add some shredded mozzarella (goat cheese works too) and spinach to the middle, and fold over the crêpe in half before lifting out of the pan. Sweet fillings are great too – add melted chocolate chips, sliced bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, nutella, apple, cranberries…you get the picture…

If you have extra crêpes, you can store them in the fridge and reheat later on with your fillings – the taste stays great for days! Special thanks to R and her Mama for the expert guidance 🙂

Savory fillings pictured below:

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If I Call You Darling, Will You Make Me Pancakes?

Who recognizes the page below? Saw this on Pinterest today as I was looking at pancakes (I know, it’s midnight here and I’m drooling at pancake recipes instead of going to bed) and suddenly third grade memories of reading Shel Silverstein poems came back…Am definitely going to pick up Where the Sidewalk Ends over the holidays and give it another read. Nothing better than revisiting childhood stories. 🙂

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So with that enormous stack of pancakes courtesy of Shel Silverstein above as inspiration…

I had the orange-chocolate chip pancakes at Summer House Santa Monica a few weeks ago and can definitely say they were the best pancakes I’ve ever had. The texture was just right – not too soggy – and the combination of citrus and sweet was to die for. Summer House Santa Monica is themed as a ~California chill~ restaurant, and I’ve got to say, the orange in these pancakes definitely adds to the vibe. Worth a try if you’re into sweet over savory brunch. Here’s a recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod for the DIY folks!

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It’s Brownie O’Clock

Watch out – some decadent brownies coming your way. These Browned Butter and Red Wine Brownies might just be the best you’ll ever see.

One thing I will admit though, is that I still don’t really understand “Browned Butter.” When we melted the butter in a saucepan and let it heat, it never really turned reddish brown like it was supposed to. The milk solids did separate from the fat (I think?), but that was kind of it… if the same thing happens to you, just make a judgment call after 10 minutes or so since our brownies still came out amazingly well.

Some other things to note:

We didn’t use walnuts, but we did use red wine. I didn’t know this before, but red wine apparently enhances the flavor of the chocolate and loses much of its alcohol content when heated (I guess it’s up to you how you feel about that! 🙂 )

We also doubled the proportions here so that our brownies would come out thicker – with our standard pan, following the proportions suggested by the recipe would have yielded very thin brownies. Definitely a fun recipe to try and I can promise you’ll be in for a real treat!

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Fried is the New Fun

Who ever thought that making funnel cakes at home would actually be easy? Edit: APPLE CIDER funnel cakes. Quite a fall treat.

When I moved into my apartment, I noticed my roommate had bought a red plastic funnel. And I remember wondering when we would actually use it. Well, the day came when K and I decided to experiment and make our carnival dreams a reality using this Dine & Dish recipe.

First hurdle: making a substitute for Allspice. We ground up cinnamon and cloves (didn’t have nutmeg unfortunately) which seemed to work.

Once you’ve got the batter ready and the oil heated comes the fun part: making your funnel cakes. Using the funnel / makeshift funnel, create cool shapes in the pan and flip with tongs. You can make several small cakes or one big one (note that bigger ones are harder to flip). We went all out and probably made over 20 (see the mountain of cakes below). The apple cider and cinnamon added a really nice touch, though the taste isn’t as strong as you’d expect it to be. It’s also recommended that you eat the funnel cakes soon after they’re done so that they’re still hot and don’t become soggy. Topping the cakes with ice cream is also the power move here.

Final tip: Don’t try substituting apple cider for anything else without seeing if it’s been done before…we tried that and let’s just say it didn’t come out so splendid.

This calls for a carnival party, right?

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The Belly Rules the Mind

It’s been a while…but I’m well, alive, and sharing with you my discovery of shishito peppers!

Sunday morning produce store trip with dad and he suddenly gets really excited about these oversized jalapeno-like peppers…

I watch him as he sautees these peppers for a pre-lunch snack and I’m skeptical – rightfully so, since my dad usually underestimates things like the time it’ll take to get somewhere or how spicy something is.

Well, I didn’t try the peppers that time but I decided to give it a go the next time we made them. And I was amazed. Once they blister, add salt and wait for them to cool before taking a bite. Sweet, but not too sweet, the perfect summertime snack.

Things I’ve since learned about the shisito pepper include:

  1. When allowed to fully ripen on the plant Shishitos will turn a vibrant red and their walls will be thicker fleshed.
  2. Originating in Japan the Shishito pepper is believed to have gotten its name from its tip end which to some resembles the head of a lion or in Japanese, shishi.
  3. They can apparently burst when being cooked so its advised to cut a small hole in each pepper beforehand (didn’t do that but am still fine?)
  4. Approximately 1 in 10 Shishito peppers are spicy, and there’s no way of knowing until you try it

Now I’ve got to find restaurants that serve this…

[On a totally different note, shoutout to my non-believer friend Kevin for the time he’s invested in trying to prove this blog isn’t mine. Sorry K, you might want to just give up now.]

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