Southwestern Black Bean Salad

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A colorful recipe packed with antioxidants and fiber that you can make with one bowl. I love having this quick and easy recipe to make for potluck meals or as a side dish for dinners. This salad goes great with salmon or can be served alongside tortilla chips. With the refreshing summer months approaching us quickly, this will be a great dish to have in your back pocket!

So what kind of nutrients are inside this salad?

  • Avocados (not pictured)
    • contain vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium and are packed with 2 g of protein, 15 g of health fats (monounsaturated fatty acids similar to that found in olive oil), and 7 grams of fiber
    • they have more potassium than bananas!
  • Tomatoes
    • contain 95% water
    • lots of antioxidants especially lycopene which is mostly found in the tomato peel; lycopene has been linked to lowering cholesterol
    • contain vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium
  • Black Beans: great source of fiber, protein and folate
  • Onions
    • contain vitamin C, folate, and potassium
    • colored onions have more antioxidants than white onions and it is the antioxidants that give red onions their color
    • the main fiber, fructans, can be used by good bacteria in the gut

Sources: healthline.com 

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Southwestern Black Bean Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • one 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • one 15 ounce can corn (or frozen, thawed corn)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 medium avocados, chopped
  • Optional Additions: 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped), 1 bell pepper (chopped), diced jalapeno, quinoa (1/2 cup cooked), garbanzo beans

Directions

  1. Combine black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, and scallion in a large bowl.
  2. Mix together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder and stir into the salad.
  3. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lightly mix in the chopped avocado before serving.

Tips:

-Add salt/pepper and chili powder to taste. After you sprinkle a bit, mix the salad and then taste it to see if you need more or not

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Classic NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie seems to be never ending. Some of the best desserts though come with patience, persistence, and motivation. We can thank Ruth Wakefield for creating this national wonder by accident at her Toll House Inn back in the late 1930s.

Cookies

Making the cookie dough is the effortless and straightforward part. The challenge is waiting 24 to 36 hours while the dough rests in the fridge and you anticipate it’s completion. It’s just like marinating meat where it really makes a difference when you taste the juicy tender cuts. Don’t settle for the ready to bake “instant” cookies found in the refrigerated aisles of grocery stores. Rather, treat yourself to a quality freshly baked homemade dessert. One that you’d probably have to pay an exorbitant price if purchasing from the elite bakery with 1,000+ Yelp reviews around town. Pair your warm, irresistible cookie with some creamy ice cream and take it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness as you bask in the fruits of your efforts. Mind you, this product is far from actual fruits but there is a time and place for everything and occasionally it is the time for you.

Classic NY Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 1 ½ dozen cookies
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour (8 ½ ounces)
  • 1 2/3 cups bread flour (8 ½ ounces)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature (2 ½ sticks)
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed (10 ounces)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 ¼ lb good quality dark chocolate chips/discs (Ghirardelli or Guittard) (3 1/3 cups)

Directions

  1. Sift cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add in vanilla bean paste and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough just comes together. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  3. Press plastic wrap against the dough covering it completely, and refrigerate for at least 24-36 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Take 3 ½ ounces of dough and roll into a ball (about the size of a golf ball) and place 6 mounds of dough on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes. Rotate baking tray 180 degrees halfway through.
  6. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then move to a rack to finish cooling. Store in air tight container for up to 3 days or freeze for a few months.

Tips:

-Highly recommended to sprinkle the cookies with fleur de sel (sea salt) towards the end. It is part of the little touches that will make these cookies different than your average recipe.

-Resting the dough for 36 hours is hard! Most times we want instant cookies but the wait will be worth it. This allows for the gluten in the dough to loosen up and allows for the dough to absorb all the liquid leading to a firmer dough that will cook more evenly.

-Instead of dark chocolate you can split it up with half milk chocolate and half semi sweet chocolate for a different variation.

-If you don’t have cake or bread flour, you can substitute all purpose flour. Bread flour with its higher protein flour allows for a chewier cookie and cake flour with its lower protein flour allows for a softer cookie.

Adapted from NY Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe

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Salmon with Chriameh Sauce

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This may not be the most photogenic dish but it certainly makes up for that in taste. Salmon is one of my favorite foods but the last 20 times that I’ve made it, I’m pretty sure I made it the exact same way: topped with lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil. Don’t get me wrong, lemon-pepper is quick and easy and tastes delicious even on chicken but I was ready for a change.

I was scrolling through some food blogger posts and came across this recipe on theMDChef that seemed very different compared to previous salmon recipes that I have seen. I’ve never tried making any Libyan foods but this Libyan recipe looked too good to pass up.

Being that salmon is not simply salmon in the grocery store but rather wild caught King or farm raised Atlantic, I decided to do a little more research to make it easier for you (and me) since you don’t want to spend a lifetime navigating through the fine print telling you everything from how the salmon was caught to where it was caught. We are a society that is always looking for answers. Unfortunately, there’s an unresolved debate on whether farmed or wild salmon is better. At the end of the day, it’s salmon and you’re getting the benefits either way just by eating the fish as compared to no fish. Both will be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice per week. If you have the time, you can check the Seafood Watch site/app and look up the salmon you wish to buy. Wild salmon is considered “healthier” than farmed salmon but it is significantly more expensive.

 Pointers when choosing salmon:

  • Pick salmon that looks moist and has no brown spots/bruised skin.
  • Avoid salmon if it has a “fishy” smell.
  • Fresh isn’t always the best. Frozen fish is put on ice right after caught to preserve freshness and can be frozen for 4 months.
  • Don’t make a choice based on words like “organic” and “fresh”. There is no FDA certification method for organic fish.
  • Two large categories of salmon based on which coast of the US they were caught in
    • Pacific: King/Chinook is the Cadillac of fish with a high oil content and lots of flavor, Sockeye comes from cold glacial waters and is known for its deep red color, Chum and Pink are usually used in canned fish, Coho is widely available and lighter in color
    • Atlantic = farmed raised

Salmonchriameh

Salmon with Chriameh Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of olive oil (will be divided throughout the recipe)
  • 1 lb salmon fillets (or 3-4 pieces)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: tablespoon chopped cilantro (garnish)
  • **Serve with rice, couscous, quinoa or other grains for a main meal or can have it as a side dish

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in a dutch oven or a large pan with a lid
  2. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Sear the fish for about 2 minutes on each side until it is lightly browned and cooked halfway. The middle of the fish will still look raw at this point but it will be added to the dutch oven later where it will continue cooking.
  3. Blend the garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of oil together in a food processor. Add more oil if needed.
  4. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the dutch oven and then add the spice paste. Stir and let the spices sizzle for just about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the water and tomato paste.
  6. Allow the sauce to simmer and add in the sugar, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  7. Place the fish in the sauce and allow to simmer while covered for about 10-11 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, take off the lid, and allow to cool before serving.
  9. Add a few lemon wedges and cilantro for garnish.

Tips:

  • The cooking time for the fish will vary based on how thick it is.
  • If you didn’t have cilantro on hand (like me), use any other fresh greens that you have on hand. I had some fresh thyme which worked well with the dish.
  • Other than salmon, white fish like sea bass, tilapia, snapper etc also work for this recipe

What is your favorite variation of salmon?

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Couscous

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After making my trip to the grocery store to get everything for this recipe, I had all the ingredients except one. Of course. It had to be the couscous that I just could not find. I made my way to an ethnic grocery store in hopes that they would carry the pearl couscous I was looking for. No luck. Third try was the charm. Without it, I don’t think this dish would have tasted quite the same. Persistence and motivation has never tasted so good!

This one pot Moroccan Spiced Chicken Couscous is a savory, flavor packed dish perfect for meal planning and it only takes 15 minutes to prep. The other hour is where you just wait for it to finish and can take care of other errands during that time!

Couscous Fun Fact:

-Couscous is a sugar free and fat free semolina wheat staple popular in North African cuisine. It is surprisingly not a whole grain like brown rice or bulgur. While similar to pasta, it is made from crushed semolina wheat while pasta is more refined and made from ground wheat.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Couscous

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Moroccan spice blend (recipe below)
  • 1 ½ pounds of chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 ounces canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounces fire roasted tomatoes (1 can)
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, dry
  • 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped

Moroccan Spice Blend

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Mix together the spice ingredients. Season the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of the spice blend.
  2. In a dutch oven or oven safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and sear each side until golden, for about 2 minutes. Set the chicken aside on a plate.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the dutch oven and saute for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the rest of the spice blend and mix.
  4. Mix in the chickpeas, chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes, couscous. Stir in the kale. Heat up to a boil and then add the chicken breasts on top.
  5. Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes covered then uncover the pot. Bake for an additional 30 minutes uncovered.

Tips:

-If you don’t have pearl couscous, you can also try making this with quinoa

-You can add sautéed almonds after it is done cooking for some extra crunch

-Raisins, chopped apricots, or chopped prunes can be added in step 4 for some sweetness

-Chicken with skin can be used for extra flavor

Recipe adapted from JoCooks

 

Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen

2302 Texas Av.  Lubbock, TX 79411

Thai Kitchen is the true epitope of a hole in the wall restaurant that you discover through friends. Sure, the first impression may be that you put the wrong address in Google Maps after you pull in the isolated outskirts of Downtown Lubbock. It isn’t hard to miss though, because it is surrounded by covered parking, which is a rare find at restaurants and a nice perk here.

Once we walked in, we were seated immediately and served a free appetizer of shrimp puffs aka prawn crackers, a popular snack food in Southeast Asia. The interior of the restaurant was clean and they had a clear display near the register with purses and other merchandise they were selling. A quick look at the menu showed all the traditional Thai dishes for reasonable prices around $7. I ended up ordering the Panange Curry ( Panange Curry Paste with Coconut Milk, Peppers and Chicken). Panange gets its name from the city island off the west coast of Malaysia bordering southern Thailand. It’s a salty and sweet curry with a hint of a peanut flavor. My first few bites had a little kick of spiciness after I swallowed, but after that it was fine and tasted mildly spicy.

I’d definitely come back here for a second visit and look forward to trying another Curry or the Drunken Noodles with some Thai Tea! Thai Kitchen

What’s you favorite meal at Thai restaurants?

Mini Pumpkin Bread Loaves

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After quite the long pause, I’m excited to be back! Studying got the best of me and hopefully with better time management you’ll be seeing more posts here.

We’re in the midst of a fall frenzy once again that just always seems to start and end too early. If you’ve been to World Market then you know that they have all their winter stock already on shelves ready to be sold. I even read an article about people who protest pumpkin spice lattes being sold “too early” and they’ve even started a #stopprematurepumpkinspicing hashtag trend. This is one of my favorite seasons so I try to take advantage and enjoy the pumpkin spice flavored everything- I’ve seen it in cereals, coffee, tortilla chips, salsa, hummus, etc. The best thus far has been the pumpkin spice chocolate covered almonds; so good that I may even have to hunt them down in other stores and stock up!

Ok onto more important topics such as what this blog post is really about- mini pumpkin bread loaves. Personal sized of course and perfect for sharing or storing in the freezer for a later dessert or coffee pairing. These are everything you love about that Starbuck’s pumpkin bread- moist, dense and truly satisfying. They’ll stir up childhood memories or create new ones of sweet autumn spices.

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Mini Pumpkin Bread Loaves

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

pumpkin bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (or homemade recipe- in tips)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups canned/homemade pumpkin puree
  • optional: pecans, chopped

Maple Syrup Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

Preheat: 350 F

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and oil together.
  3. Beat in the flour mixture alternating with the pumpkin puree until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter in a greased pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  6. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and maple syrup together. Drizzle over the cooled mini loaves.

Tips:

-Homemade pumpkin spice mix: 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

-Add more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze or more syrup for a thinner glaze.

 

 

 

Naan (Flatbread)

 

 

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Everyone has at least one food obsession- something that you can’t say no to no matter how full you are. For me, it’s bread. Soft, fluffy, and fresh from the oven. While trying to think of words to describe the satisfaction that comes with making this bread, I suddenly had a craving for it. Considering all the ingredients are kitchen staples, making a decision has never been so easy. As I type away now, there is a bowl of dough rising  in the corner that will soon become steaming fresh naan.

This flatbread is versatile because you can eat it bare in its simplicity or pair it with some tikka masala or other saucy dish to scoop up the flavors as pictured above. You can also add a spread on it like za’atar (oregano thyme spice blend) with some olive oil and toast it for a few minutes for a fulfilling breakfast or midday snack as shown below.

Naan

Naan

  • Servings: 6
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Chicken Tikka

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will see a thin layer of foam develop.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar together and set aside.
  3. Add the yogurt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Pour this into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork initially till most of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
  4. Knead the dough with your hands for a minute or two forming it into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky and soft. If you feel that it is too sticky, add flour as needed (I added about an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
  5. Lightly oil a medium sized bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm area for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. Warm a large cast iron pan or a nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot. Dust a clean surface with flour and separate the dough into 6 pieces. Roll out each piece into an oval shape, taking care to dust the dough with flour so that it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.
  7. Put the dough into the dry heated skillet and cook until you see the top bubble up, which should take a few minutes. Flip the dough and cook the other side for another minute or two until you see the browned spots.
  8. Remove the naan from the pan and brush generously with the melted butter on both sides. Place the naan in a towel lined basket or dish to keep it warm.

Adapted from OnceUponAChef

 

Step By Step Photos

Naan

Yeast mixed in with the warm water and sugar, notice how it is starting to foam up

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Dough ready to rise in an oiled bowl

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After dough is done rising, cut it up into 6 pieces

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Roll each piece out into an oval shape to your desired thickness

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Place the rolled dough into a heated cast iron or nonstick skillet and you’ll see it bubble up

 

Naan

Flip it over to cook the other side

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After a minute or two, flip it and you’ll see these beautiful brown spots

Naan

Be creative, eat your naan in its simplicity or spread some za’atar on it

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I recently went to a local Indian restaurant that opened up in town where I ended up ordering Chicken Tikka Masala which came with some basmati rice and naan. It turned out to be a little on the sweet side and the naan was an embarrassment- a thin and small piece of pita bread that supposedly passed for naan. No pictures survived the incident haha. If I ever go back, I’ll have to order another dish to see if another menu item will be able to redeem themselves.

A few weeks later, I decided to recreate the meal and take a shot at making homemade naan too. The meal was a success. The Tikka Masala was rich and silky with an acceptable spice level. The creamy tomato sauce was perfect for scooping up with naan. Sooo the naan. The joy I felt was indescribable after seeing the naan rise on my cast iron pan and that first fluffy soft bite sealed the deal. The best part about it was that I was able to use it in other dishes even breakfast. The naan recipe will be coming soon so keep posted this weekend!

Chicken TikkaChicken Tikka Masala

Printable Recipe Here

Servings: 2

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients: the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Mix in the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for an hour. If you are patient or have some extra time, you can refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Cook the chicken on a grill or in an oven or pan and set aside. I used an indoor grill and it took about 15-20 minutes to cook it because of the heavy marinade. Timing will vary based on the size of cuts and cooking method.
  3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and garlic until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Season with the  garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens over low heat. Add cooked chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice and chopped cilantro.

Tips

-If you do not have garam masala I suggest checking the ethnic foods aisle at your grocery store or going to your local Indian grocery store. I ended up making my own garam masala and I found it to be a good substitute for me. Recipe can be found here. You can click on the serving size and change it to 5  otherwise you will have some extra garam masala.

-One of the key parts to making a sauce is taste, taste, taste! Always taste it after adding spices and adjust it to your own liking.

-Double the recipe for a larger serving size since this recipe is only for two. Be careful with spices though because the ratio does not apply to them. Best option would be to add spices slowly and taste as you go.

Chicken Tikka

Loaded Nachos

Taco salad

This is one of my guilty favorite meals/snacks/whatever you wanna call it. It is very customizable so you can make it with anything you have laying around in your fridge or pantry. I’ll give a rough breakdown of ways you can develop this dish to make it your own. I’ll also have the recipe I used towards the end if you are the type that needs to have a step by step guide rather than a general outline.

Rough Outline

  • Tortilla Chips
  • Meat
    • I used ground beef, but you can also use sausage, ground turkey, etc (saute some diced onions, mix in the meat, then season the meat to taste with chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper)
  • Cheese
    • Use your favorite type, I like the sharp intense flavor from sharp cheddar cheese and grated an 8 oz. block of it
  • Greens
    • Diced avocados, chopped cilantro, chopped romaine lettuce, chopped jalapeno
  • Reds
    • Diced tomatoes, if you don’t have tomatoes you can also use red bell pepper, the contrast of the red is a nice pop with the other colors in these loaded nachos
  • Additional optional garnishes
    • Sliced black olives
    • Dollop of sour cream ( a must for me- not optional!)
    • Lime juice
    • Beans

Loaded Nachos

Printable Recipe Here

Makes:  8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • tortilla chips
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 /4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft and then add the ground beef. Cook until browned, stirring to crumble the beef. Drain the fat and then add the seasonings: chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  2. Layer the tortilla chips with the meat and cheese. Warm it in the microwave for 30 second increments until the cheese has melted. Add on the tomatoes and avocados. You can make as many layers as you wish.
  3. Top with some chopped cilantro and sour cream before serving. 

Tips:

-You can adapt this recipe for smaller servings by changing the ratios to your needs. Using 1/4 pounds of ground beef for example for a 2 person serving along with 1/2 cup cheese, 1 tomato, 1/2 avocado, and 2 dollops of sour cream.Taco salad

Asian Shrimp Salad

Asian Shrimp SaladThe new dish of this week is: Asian Shrimp Salad with a Creamy Peanut Dressing! On the side is a Japanese Hokkaido Milk Roll (recipe coming soon for those). I decided to cook with seafood this week and got a bag of jumbo frozen shrimp and some ahi tuna steaks. I used the jumbo shrimp first and made a delicious salad with them. I was a little doubtful about how the peanut sauce would turn out because I’ve never made a dressing like that but I actually loved it and look forward to making it again in the future. The peanut taste is not too strong due to the variety of sauces and honey that you add to it. This dish would also look great in a mason jar- if you wanted a quick to-go lunch for work or school.

I first added the chopsticks as a prop just for the picture, but I ended up eating with them and it made for a complete experience. You’d think that lettuce leaves would be hard to pick up with chopsticks, but it was easy and worked out nicely. The cilantro-lime shrimp balances out the peanut dressing and the lime juice drizzled over the salad adds the perfect hint of acidity. Enjoy this dish and add your own special twist to it!

Asian Shrimp Salad w/ Creamy Peanut Dressing

Serves: 2

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

-For The Cilantro-Lime Shrimp

  • 1 lb tail-on jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

-For The Peanut Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

-For the Salad

  • 3 cups mixed leafy greens
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Other optional additions: sesame seeds, cashews, bean sprouts, sliced onion

Directions

  1. If frozen, place the shrimp in a colander or sieve and thaw by running cold water over them for about 5 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt, black pepper, and chili powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet and add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes and then stir in the shrimp.
  3. After 2 minutes, add in the cilantro, butter, and lime juice. The shrimp will be done when they turn pink and opaque and you no longer see any grey. Keep in mind that if using smaller shrimp, they will cook faster.
  4. Remove the shrimp from heat and prepare the creamy peanut butter dressing.
  5. To make the dressing, mix together all the ingredients until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the leafy greens to a bowl and top with the shrimp and optional sliced mango and diced avocado. Drizzle the dressing and lime juice over the salad and serve.

Adapted from Rasamalaysia and FoodsofOurLives

Tips

-Jumbo shrimp means that a 1 pound bag will have 16-20 shrimp. Choose another size based on your preference but keep in mind that the cooking time will change. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp as they cook rather quickly, 4-5 minutes for the jumbo shrimp and less if they are smaller.

-If you don’t live near water, I would suggest not to buy “fresh” shrimp because it would have already been frozen and thawed at least once. In this case, it’s better to buy frozen shrimp and thaw it yourself.

-What type of shrimp to buy? Wild is better than farmed as majority (94%) of our farmed shrimp supply comes from India, Indonesia, and Thailand and these suppliers are not regulated in the antibiotics/harmful chemicals that they add (prohibited in the US). If buying farmed US shrimp, make sure it says no antibiotics on the package.

-Have fun with the salad. I made it with mango/avocado because that’s what I had on hand at the time. Other nice additions could be red bell peppers for that nice pop of color or even bean sprouts for that slight crunch.

-You can also blend the peanut dressing instead of mixing it with a fork. Mix it quickly and you will notice the texture of the dressing change as it all starts to combine and take on a smooth texture.

Nutritional Content of Shrimp

-low in fat and carbohydrates

-low in calories (7 calories per shrimp) and high in protein (3 grams per shrimp)

-contain selenium, B12, and phosphorus

-have antioxidants- selenium (fights damaging particles) and astaxanthin (color pigment in shrimp that reduces inflammation)

Asian Shrimp Salad

 

What twists on the everyday salad have you made?

French Macarons

Macarons

I recently bought some edible rose buds from Chinatown and love using them every chance I get. We had a Valentine’s Day bake sale coming up and I figured, why not make some macarons? It was a good opportunity to make them considering we just had an exam aka post exam stress-relief. Macarons themselves are not difficult to make. It definitely takes practice though to become familiar with all of the steps required and getting used to using the scale for measurements. With practice you’ll be on your way to success. Bake these macarons whether it’s for Valentine’s or even just to treat yourself (because you know you deserve it).

For ideas on other flavors of macarons to make check out my previous posts on Chocolate, Green Tea, Lemon, Pineapple, or Pistachio macarons. You can also go the extra step and make a Macaron Tree if you’re having any special events!

Macarons

Printable Recipe

Makes: 35 macarons (1 ½″)

Ingredients:

  • 110 grams almonds or almond flour (~ 1 cup)
  • 200 grams confectioner’s sugar (~ 1 2/3 cup)
  • 100 grams egg whites (3-3 1/2 eggs- no need to age)
  • 50 grams granulated sugar (~1/4 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • food coloring (optional)

**Highly recommend to invest in a scale (cheap on Amazon) and measure out the ingredients in grams- I have used both methods and my success rate is always higher using grams**

Directions:

  1. Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw your desired circle size. You can use a bottle cap or print out a template and trace it.
  2. If you don’t have almond flour, blend the almonds in a food processor until very fine. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and pulse until incorporated. Sift the mixture using a sieve into a medium bowl and set aside. Add any large pieces that don’t go through the sieve back to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whip at medium speed, until foamy.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar and salt and whip for 3-6 minutes until stiff peaks form. If you lift the whisk, the peaks should remain standing and will look shiny and smooth.
  5. Add any food coloring at this point (I took a toothpick, dipped it in the pink gel food coloring, and wiped it into the mix). Blend until the color is distributed.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to fold your almond-sugar mixture into the stiffened egg whites. You won’t expect it to come together at first but after 40-50 strokes (it’s really important to keep track!), the macaron mixture should look like the consistency of lava. If you spoon up the batter and drop it back into the bowl, it will take about 10 seconds to incorporate itself back in. Watch this 1-minute video here if you are unsure of how to complete this step; it will be well worth it.
  7. Spoon your batter into a large piping bag (18″) fitted with a large circle tip (1/2″). Don’t overfill your bag or it will be harder when piping the macarons.
  8. Pipe the macarons onto your templates. Don’t fill the whole circle because the macaron batter will spread by a small amount.
  9. Pick up the pan and drop it onto the counter about 2-3 times to get rid of any air bubbles which can cause your macarons to crack.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300 F°. Let the macarons dry for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in an undisturbed area before baking them. You will know when they are ready when you touch the top of the macaron and it doesn’t stick to your finger.
  11. Bake the macarons for about 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tips:

-I use a macaron silicon mat that I place underneath the parchment paper and use as a template when piping. After I pipe one sheet of macarons, I quickly slide the silicon mat out so I can use it for the next sheet.

-Sprinkle some crushed edible rose on top and color the batter with pink gel food coloring to make the macarons pictured.

-For more tips check out the Ten Commandments on Macarons here

Macarons

Chocolate Ganache

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over the saucepan (should not be touching the water).
  2. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
  3. Set aside until cooled and thickened while mixing occasionally.

Tips:

-The ganache can take about 30 minutes to thicken at room temperature. It is important to stir it frequently so that no clumps form. You can refrigerate it for a few minutes so that it can thicken faster.

Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Mango Coconut Smoothie

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen” -John Steinbeck

After reading this quote in a cookbook earlier, it just stuck. I love the versatility of it in that it can apply to any realm that you are inquisitive about. Well, I’ll have to assume you’re at least passionate about food-related subjects if you’re reading my blog post. Whatever it is that you are craving and cooking now or even experimenting with, it takes a few tries to know the ins and outs of your dish before you are comfortable enough to help others with troubleshooting. If ideas really were like rabbits, then I’m sure many of us would be hoarders haha.

Anyways, for the past few weeks, I was on a smoothie roll. I kept it to the basics- frozen fruit, milk, honey- and it was satisfying for both breakfasts and study snacks. It got a little boring though and I figured I would change it up, while still keeping it simple. No one wants to make a 20 ingredient smoothie in the morning.

The mango in this smoothie is complimented by the creaminess of the coconut milk and the slight acidity of the lemon juice. It’s a guilt-free smoothie and perfect for those who are dairy free or vegans. Of course, you can adjust it to your like. If you like smoothies that are thicker, add more frozen mango chunks or if you like it on the watery side, you can reduce the amount of mango. This is a great base for any smoothie and if you want to highlight a distinct fruit then simply switch out the mangos for something like pomegranate or raspberries.

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Adapted from KitchenConfidante

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie For One (Or Two)

Chocolate Chip CookieHave you ever craved a cookie but didn’t want 20 extra cookies staring at you after you’ve satisfied your stomach’s needs? Or maybe you just want a quick treat after studying all day long? And above all, a dessert that doesn’t turn your whole kitchen upside down. Finally, a soft and chewy cookie recipe for one! Or two…. If you’re really feeling generous and kind that is. It took some self control to take a picture of this cookie without tasting it first, but it survived haha.

You can be creative with this cookie and put M&Ms inside instead. You can also bake it in a mini cast iron skillet and serve it with a scoop (or a few scoops) of ice cream on top. Make it your own & enjoy this personal cookie for one!

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (Or Two)

Printable Recipe

Makes: 1 large 7-inch cookie

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whisked egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons chocolate chips, divided

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, 1 tbsp egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined.
  3. Fold in 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a disk and place onto the prepped baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of chocolate chips over the dough and push them in on top. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 Fº. You want it slightly undercooked which is the secret to a soft and chewy cookie.
  5. Remove the cookie and place on a wire rack to finish cooling or eat it warm with a cold glass of milk.

Tips:

-For the tablespoon of eggs, you can also just whisk a whole egg and use a tablespoon from that if preferred. I just happened to have egg whites left over and used those in the cookie.

-Use a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for more variety. You can even sprinkle some sea salt on the cookie before baking it.

Adapted from Cooking Classy

 

Spanakopita

IMG_2183

You know your study break is going great when it includes the word food. I recently had some authentic spanakopita from Niko Niko’s (featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives!) and since then have been wanting to recreate it at home. I figured I would attempt it today and decided to make extra to freeze as a quick snack or perfect addition to any meal. Before I knew it, my meal cooking expanded and I ended up making beef and bean burritos to add to my freezer meal haul. Overall my freezer meals were a success so I wanted to share the spanakopita with you all.

IMG_2180

the spinach mixture cooking over the stove

Freezing them will stave off any future spanakopita cravings you may have . Hope you enjoy these flaky, buttery bites of satisfaction as much as I did!

Printable Recipe Here

Spanakopita

Makes around 25 spanakopita triangles

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed**
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 sheets frozen phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

**Place the spinach in a strainer and drain well. Use your hands or a paper towel to squeeze all the excess water out

Directions

Preheat: 375 Fº

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened . Stir in the spinach and cook for a few minutes to evaporate any extra moisture. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add in the feta cheese, salt, and spinach mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Remove 2 phyllo sheets and place on a large clean surface. Cover the remaining phyllo dough sheets with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
  4. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each sheet with melted butter. Cut the phyllo dough lengthwise into 3 strips.
  5. Place a teaspoon of filling in one corner and fold it diagonally. Hold the corner and fold up to make a second triangle. Keep folding until you have reached the end and fold the edge over. **
  6. Place the triangles on a parchment covered baking sheet. Repeat the same process with another 2 sheets and continue till you have used all the filling. Brush the tops of the triangles with any butter left over.
  7. Bake in a single layer at 375 Fº until golden brown, about 15 minutes. You can also freeze them and bake them while frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time.

Tips:

**Here’s a great visual below from the MommiesNetwork blog on how to fold spanakopita:

Photobucket

-You can make these as small or as large as you want depending on how you cut the phyllo dough. I cut the sheets into 3 strips, but you can cut them into 2 (for larger spanakopita) or 4 (for mini spanakopita). Just be sure to adjust the filling.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

HolidayCookies6

I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies