Sunday, January 10, 2016

Peanut quinoa salad

Remember this Thai salad with chicken and cabbage I posted a while back? (Fun fact: it's still one of my favorite salads ever!) Or how about this veggie-packed quinoa salad I recently posted about?

Thai salad on left and quinoa salad on right
Wellllll, today's recipe is like those 2 recipes had a baby. A delicious, Thai-inspired quinoa baby! It's got the peanut-y and lime kick and cabbage from the salad on the left, with the quinoa and red peppers from the salad on the right.

Oh, and of course it has red quinoa instead of the white variety, because I love the hearty and nutty flavor of the red quinoa, which stands up really well to this thicker peanuty sauce.

Just like its mama and papa salads, this recipe is perfect to make on a Sunday and eat throughout the week. I've been obsessed these days with my weekly salad fix, so having different recipes to pull from keeps me from getting too bored.

Buen Provecho,

Thai-inspired quinoa salad with cabbage, adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

¾ to 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I recommend red quinoa, or a tri-color mix)
½ small head of red cabbage, sliced thin
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup shredded carrots or 3 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro (~1 bunch)
¼ cup diced green onions (I use the whole thing, green and white part)
½ cup cashew halves or peanuts, optional (I didn't use)
1 cup edamame or chickpeas, optional (I didn't use)

¼ cup peanut butter
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3-4 TBSP lime juice (~ 2 limes) 
3 TBSP soy sauce or tamari
1 TBSP honey (agave is another alternative)
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil, optional (if you like it, which I do not...)

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside until cool in a large bowl (the same one you'll eventually add all your ingredients to).
  2. Start chopping the rest of your salad ingredients and add to the quinoa bowl.
  3. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour dressing over the salad, stir, and refrigerate to let the flavors meld a bit.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cocktail Party

When I was in graduate school I was obsessed with building my own bar and making fun cocktails whenever I wanted. It took a few years, but once I moved back to Chicago I went all out and finally splurged on a bunch of liquors/liqueurs to make my dream a reality.

I miss the built-in bar at my old apartment. (tear)
Now the boy and I will do "cocktail night" every once in a while to end a long work week. Which is why when last year one of my close friends was leaving Chicago, I decided to get a few girlfriends together for a cocktail party!

It helped having the boy around, since he basically volunteered his services to be our bartender for the night. :) Since we had his services, I put all the recipes on 1 sheet of paper for him (in a sheet protector), and I made 1 pretty menu for the ladies. It allowed us girls to relax and just hang out without me worrying about keeping everyone's drinks full as the host. All we had to worry about was deciding what drink to have!

But don't worry if your significant other doesn't volunteer to be at your service for the night! A cocktail party also works well with a group of friends. In addition to creating a menu of your drink options, just print out little cards with the recipes on them and turn it into a DIY cocktail party. (Using sleeve protectors or laminating the paper will be essential, since cocktail making can get a bit messy at times).

There is a bit of prep work involved, as you need to make sure you (1) have all your recipes on hand and (2) get all the ingredients you need to make said cocktails (don't forget ice). And a menu of 6 cocktails for only 4 ladies was overkill. But it was so much fun putting together a menu that everyone could select a drink that would suit their taste!

Of the 6 cocktails on my menu, I've blogged about 3 of them before. The remaining ones you can find gorgeous photos of from Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Shutterbean, and I'll share the recipes below.

Basil gimlet         //         pisco sour         //         aviation    

Basil Gimlet, from my blog
Pisco Sour, from my blog
Aviation, from my blog
Springtime (see below), from Serious Eats
French Quarter (see below), from Shutterbean
Ward Eight (see below), from The Kitchn

Each recipe below is for a single cocktail:

  • 3/4 ounce whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce St. Germain 
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup    
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with a ton of ice, and shake for 10-15 seconds (your shaker should get so cold it's almost painful to hold). Then put into glasses of your choice (my preference is a coupe glass) and garnish with lemon peel and a cherry.

French quarter
  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1 oz spiced dark rum
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) orange juice
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) pineapple juice
  • 1 oz grenadine
Fill a cocktail shaker and 1 tall glass with ice. Pour 1 oz grenadine at the bottom of each glass. Pour the rums and the orange and pineapple juices into shaker; add the splash grenadine. Shake well.  Pour through a fine sieve the glass. Garnish each cocktail with a two maraschino cherries.

Ward eight
  • 2 ounces straight rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice 
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice 
  • 1/4 ounce grenadine 
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters or orange bitters
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain the contents into a chilled cocktail glass (I like using a coupe glass). Read more...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower with spicy lemongrass sauce

I've told you all about my love of roasted cabbage, so it's no surprise that today I share with you a recipe for its miniature cousin, the Brussels sprout. But unlike the simplicity of the cabbage recipe, this one will knock your face off with a flavor punch! In a good way, of course.

Pulling this dish together is still super simple though, you just need a few key ingredients, namely lemongrass, garlic, and fish sauce. Those flavors, in combination with the sweetness that comes from roasted these vegetables, is all you need for this incredible side dish.

I also had some cauliflower on hand, which roasts alongside the Brussels sprouts and goes really well with the mini cabbages.

It's hard to describe how good this dish is. Let's just say that I rarely make recipes more than once, but this will definitely go on regular rotation in my home.

Buen Provecho,

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage with Spicy Lemongrass Sauce, adapted from Season with Spice

I found the original amount of oil called for in the recipe (5 TBSP) was too much for the amount of veggies here. I can't remember exactly how much oil I used, so feel free to use more if the amount listed below isn't enough.

up to 1 lb brussels sprouts, outer leaves and tough ends removed, and sliced in half
half head cauliflower, cut into florets (optional)
Olive oil for coating

2 TBSP grape seed oil (or your choice of vegetable oil)
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only, smashed and finely chopped
1 tsp of red chili flakes
1 TBSP fish sauce (use soy sauce if you don't have fish sauce, or for a vegan option)
2 tsp brown sugar
squeeze of fresh lime juice

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 
  2. Lightly toss Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with olive oil and place cut-side down on the lined baking pan. Depending on your oven, the roasting process will take between 25 - 30 minutes.
  3. Toward the end of roasting, heat up a sauce pan. (Tip: make sure the pan is big enough to throw in your veggies after they're done roasting.) When heated, add in oil and garlic, and cook over medium-low heat. Stir and gently cook the garlic until fragrant and lightly browned. 
  4. Add in shallot, lemongrass, red chili flakes, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir and gently cook the sauce for about one minute. Turn heat off. 
  5. Once the vegetables are tender and start to brown, remove from the oven and toss them into the sauce pan. Coat the sprouts with the sauce with a quick stir, squeeze in lime juice, remove from heat and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Supermoon lunar eclipse

I'm just over a week late on this, but wanted to post some pictures of the supermoon lunar eclipse that happened last Sunday, September 27. It was an historic eventwhich hadn't occurred since I was 2 years oldwith the supermoon coinciding with a lunar eclipse. It was also pretty warm that day in Chicago, which for late September makes it another historic event. :)

Plus we live ~15 minute walk to the lakefront, so it was the perfect time to play around with my new toy tripod! Unfortunately a bunch of really dense clouds came through during the eclipse. But luckily they cleared away with enough time for us to see the blood moon, with the whole crowd of people at the lakefront cheering when the moon came back into view. Plus the clouds made for some really gorgeous photos, so it wasn't so bad after all.

Without further ado... let's check out some photos!

The moon rising above clouds while it was still bright outside

Nerding it up!

Moon appears yellow as it rises higher in the sky

Gorgeous reflections off the lake!

Giant moon!

And then the clouds started to roll in.

Moon is still visible at this point...

...but soon it begins to disappear.


Clouds finally cleared for a moment for us to see the eclipse!!

Hints of red begin as the crescent becomes smaller.

Red moon!

Brightest red I was able to capture, though my long exposure time resulted in a blurry picture
because of how quickly the earth and moon are moving

Red fading as the crescent begins again, this time on the opposite side of the moon

Last photo I took before packing up for home

Yours in appreciating the beauty around,


Cabbage 2 ways - roasted and grilled

Poor cabbage. Roasted and fried Brussels sprouts seem to be all the rage these days, but cabbage will always be its dopey, un-cool older cousin.

I've done what I can to change your views on cabbage in the past (case in point: Thai chicken salad, fish tacos, summertime coleslaw, and this incredible soup), but I'm hoping today will put you all over the edge.

The secret tip to transform your plain old cabbage head into something so tender, so mild and sweet, and so delicious that you'll be shouting its accolades from the rooftop: DRY HEAT. You could somewhat compare it to the difference between steamed and roasted Brussels sprouts. You know how roasting Brussels sprouts brings out this incredible, deep, earthy sweet flavor from the vegetable?!? That's exactly the same thing that happens to cabbage when you expose it to dry heat.

Below I'll share two recipes with you that you've probably never even heard of: the first is oven-roasted cabbage "steaks" and the second is grilled cabbage wedge "salad."

Roasted cabbage steak
So what exactly is cabbage steak? Well, apparently you just cut cabbage in thick rounds and roast it. And then you call it a cabbage steak.

It sounds totally dumb and not at all impressive, but it's incredible. Like I can't even describe how good it is, and how it is completely transformed from any cabbage that you've had before. And as an added bonus the outer leaves get all crispy and sweet. So it's like roasted and fried all at the same time!

Grilled cabbage wedge salad
For this recipe, you simply grill your cabbage until the edges are nice and crispy, and then top it with a simple Asian-inspired salad dressing. It's like a wedge salad. But instead of iceberg lettuce its cabbage, and instead of blue cheese dressing its a lime+fish sauce dressing, and instead of bacon it's sliced green onions. So yea, it's nothing like a wedge salad...except it's shaped like a wedge. :)

And while of course you could simply grill this cabbage and serve it as is, the dressing really took it to another level. You could even go crazy and use this dressing on the oven-roasted cabbage steaks recipe!

So yea, what else can I say except........ CABBAGE!!!!

Yours in hopefully convincing you that you need more cabbage in your life,

Cabbage steaks (aka roasted cabbage slices), from Martha Stewart

1 TBSP plus 2 more TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. 
  2. Place cabbage rounds in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons oil. 
  3. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds, if using.
  4. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes. 
Cabbage wedge salad, adapted from The Kitchn
So I was missing a bunch of the dressing ingredients, but I winged it and used random substitutes and it totally worked! I'll provide the original recipe below, and make notes on what I did differently in case you end up having similar issues.


1/4 cup lime juice (I used 2 TBSP of that fake lime juice [don't judge] and 2 TBSP red-wine vinegar)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced (I didn't have any, but next time I'm totally adding this!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (Didn't add it to my dressing, but if using add it a bit at a time, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 head green cabbage, tough outer leaves removed
Canola or grapeseed oil

Green onions, sliced (Since I didn't use cilantro I added green onions instead--best decision ever. Totally made the dressing.)
Lime wedges

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill. 
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients into a jar and shake to combine (alternatively, put them all in a small chopper and whiz until combined). 
  3. Cut the cabbage into 8 evenly sized wedges. Do not remove the stalk or inner core or else it will completely fall apart on the grill! Lightly brush the wedges with oil. Place the wedges on the grill and cover. 
  4. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the edges of each layer are blackened and the cabbage is beginning to soften. Flip each wedge over, cover the grill, and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes on the other side. 
  5. Remove the cabbage when it is beginning to wilt, but is still firm in the middle. (This will also be somewhat a matter of taste; cool longer over indirect heat if you prefer your cabbage more well done) But don't be afraid of those blackened edges; you want a lot of grill and char marks on the cabbage to give it smoky flavor. 
  6. Take the cabbage off the grill and arrange the wedges on a plate. Pour the dressing over top, sprinkle with green onions, and serve immediately, with wedges of lime to garnish.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Peach galette with roasted pecan crust

Though I've only posted 2 galette recipes on this blog (a savory butternut squash one and a sweet blood orange one), I have 7 more posted on Pinterest. Plus I pretty much squeal on the inside whenever I see a picture of one.

I'm kinda obsessed.

There's just something about the rustic nature of it that I love. And the buttery, flaky crust doesn't hurt either. So when I saw this recipe for a white peach galette, and realized that I hadn't eaten a peach ALL SUMMER, this recipe shot up to the top of my list. And then I noticed there were pecans in the crust and game over. I was making this recipe ASAP.

Luckily for you I'm actually sharing this recipe while peaches are still in season. Which means it's time for you to go to the market, buy a few peaches, and make this simple galette.

I won't lie, I had a few issues with the crust (added too much water). But even after "messing it up" the final product was so fabulous, so I'd say this recipe is pretty fool proof!

And you'll notice from the picture above that this galette oozed a bit of it's juices and burnt on my baking sheet. I'll be honest, I was worried while it was baking that the bottom crust would be a soggy mess. But again, no worries!! The galette itself was perfect, and the bottom of the crust was tender and flakyexactly what a pie should be.

Except it didn't taste exactly like pie (in a good way). The pecans in the dough were so unique and added an incredible depth of flavor. Definitely a win in my book, and a recipe I'll be coming back to when I want to add a little "oompf" to my pie game.

The other reason I like this recipe more than a traditional pie was the simplicity of the dish. There aren't a ridiculous amount of spices or sugar in this dessert. It's tender fruit in a flaky, nutty crust with just a touch of sugar. No crazy spices. No complicated techniques. But the final product is so much more than the sum of its parts. The boy felt like it could have used more sugar, but I liked it the way it was. I think a scoop of vanilla ice cream would give it juuuuuust enough sweetness to satisfy everyone.

Plus it comes together in very little time, which isn't true of many dessert recipes. It basically requires you to make dough, let the dough chill, roll it out, top with fruit, and bake!

Dough rolled out, fruit place on top. Make sure you leave a border!
Lovely sliced peaches
Edges sealed up and sprinkled with sugar

Ready for the oven!!

Instagram worthy!
Yours in holding onto summer for as long as she can,

Peach galette with roasted pecan crust, adapted from Apt 2B Baking Co (originally from Bon Appetit)

The dough needs enough time to rest in the fridge, so to make life easier I'd recommend making the dough one day before baking your galette. I've clarified the directions so you don't end up accidentally adding too much liquid to the dough like I did. But if you do accidentally add too much water, just add in more flour until the dough isn't wet anymore, and let it rest in the fridge. Mine was still too wet by the time I baked it, but it came out great! It really is a fool proof crust, so don't be scared!

1/2 cup pecans (I used the roasted & salted pecans from Trader Joes)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (I didn't add this as my pecans were already salted)
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
2-4 TBSP ice water (I needed just over 2 TBSP)

4 medium peaches
1 TBSP brown sugar + 2 TBSP brown sugar (or muscovado)
1 TBSP all purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
turbinado sugar, to finish

  1. If your pecans are already roasted, skip ahead to step #2. If not... preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, ~5-7 minutes (more if needed). Set aside to cool.
  2. Place a large sized bowl in the freezer to chill (this is what you will use to mix your dough).
  3. Prepare your dough: Pulse the pecans in a food processor until they are coarse meal. Add flour, sugar, salt, and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the butter is mostly worked into the dough, with a couple of lima bean and pea-sized pieces remaining. 
  4. Transfer the dough to your chilled bowl, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Mix gently, adding more liquid as needed. If your dough is very dry at this point, go ahead and add an extra 1 TBSP of water. Once it's starting to come together (but isn't quite there), add 1 tsp at a time to avoid adding too much liquid. Add just enough water so that the dough easily sticks together when squeezed.
  5. Gently pat the dough into a 6"-diameter disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days). 
  6. To assemble and bake: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. 
  7. Pit and slice the peaches into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.
  8. Roll the dough out to a roughly 12-inch circle, 1/8-1/4-inch thick, and transfer it to the baking sheet. Sprinkle the flour and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar over the top. Arrange the peach slices on top of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Squeeze the lemon over the top. 
  9. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit and chill the galette until the dough is firm, about 15 to 30 minutes. 
  10. Brush the chilled dough with egg wash, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake the galette until deep golden brown 30-40+ minutes. (I baked mine for over 50 minutes, but I think my oven wasn't quite getting up to 375. Just watch it and bake until the dough is a deep golden brown. Also, don't worry if your galette oozes liquid that ends up burning, it happened to me [see picture above] but my galette came out perfect.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Waffled hash browns

On a whim, while browsing Amazon, I bought a cookbook called Will it Waffle? Some of the recipes are a bit goofy (doubt I'll be making wontons in my waffle maker) but others are absolute genius, like these waffle hash browns.

You see, if you like things crispy, then the waffle iron just might be the perfect gadget for cooking! The high heat and extra surface area created by those wells means more crispy, crunchy, goodness.

You could practically break the hash browns in half and just eat them straight with your hands! And I loved how easy they were to portion out.

I have yet to try other recipes from this book (the fawaffle [falafel] has gotten incredible reviews, so it's next on my list) but after reading through all the recipes I have to admit that they seem more "legit" than a kitschy book on using your waffle maker. The ingredients and recipes all sound great, they just all use a unique way of cooking.

Yours in always having fun with her cooking,

Waffled Hash Browns, adapted from the book Will It Waffle?
Serves 2 (1 large waffle hash brown)

1 russet (baking) potato, about 10 ounces each, peeled and shredded
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted or baking spray

  1. Preheat waffle iron (Belgian or standard style will both work). If it has temperature controls, set it to medium. 
  2. Squeeze shredded potato with a towel until it’s as dry as possible (hot tip: if you have a potato ricer you can squeeze your shredded potato in that to save your towel).
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine shredded potato, rosemary, salt, and pepper. 
  4. Use baking spray or butter to grease both sides of the waffle iron. If using butter, carefully grease both sides using a silicone brush or paper towel. 
  5. Pile shredded potatoes into waffle iron, over-stuffing it a bit, and close lid. (The pressure of the lid will compress the potatoes and help them emerge as a cohesive, waffled unit.) 
  6. Cook for 2 minutes, then press down on lid to further compress potatoes (be careful: lid may be hot). 
  7. Continue cooking potatoes for 5 minutes longer, then begin checking them: the are ready when potatoes are golden brown all over, about 1 to 2 minutes longer.