Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

While I still have one blueberry recipe left up my sleeve, I figured it was time for a little change of pace, or change of ingredient in this case. As January draws to an end, we are once month closer to the end of winter and therefore the end of pumpkin spice everything, at least until next year. Trader Joe's is the absolute king of pumpkin spice. Starting in late September every year, they begin to stock their shelves with pumpkin spice flavored granola, pumpkin spice chai lattes, pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds, and honestly anything you can think of probably comes in pumpkin spice flavor around this season at TJ's. While we are already two months into winter, I realized I hadn't made anything in that category this year. So for my last and final call on MOD (inpatient ward month) I figured it was the perfect time to whip out the spice and make something nice. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blueberry Grilled Cheese

So I found some french loaf bread and remade the sandwiches (pictured above) - so much better with thick bread! 

I'm going to say, I'll probably be sick of blueberries soon,  as much as you will be sick of hearing about blueberries.... but not yet! Here's another blueberry inspired dish, in sandwich form. And once again, a guest appearance by Goat Cheese (one of my favorites :D). I saw a picture of a blueberry grilled cheese on Pinterest and was dying to make one. With that giant flat of blueberries I got from Trader Joe's, there was plenty of berries to go around. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Blueberries and Cream Cookies

I've been on a bit of a blueberry craze recently if you couldn't tell already. And while the blueberry lemon muffins were quite delightful, I was looking for something more along the lines of a cookie -- a blueberries and cream cookie to be more exact. I fell in love with this cookie the first time I went to Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. It easily became my favorite cookie of all time, to the point where my sister and my friends were bringing me dozens of frozen cookies all the way back from NY as bridal shower and christmas gifts. One of my friends had recently been making batches of these cookies so I figured I'd give it a go myself. I'd have to admit that these aren't exactly like the bakery's own cookies but they come pretty close and are pretty darn good regardless. Although they turned out a little flatter than I would have liked they are mighty chewy and delicious - a nice quick fix as opposed to spending $600 on a flight to NYC. Recipe adapted from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar. Note I have tried this recipe using cups vs grams and using a kitchen scale definitely made better cookies so I have listed the recipe in grams below (with US measurements next to it). 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

It's not exactly spring yet, but I couldn't resist picking up a beautiful box of blueberries at Trader Joe's last week. Outside of making a blueberry grilled cheese sandwich, what better use for them than for some call day blueberry lemon muffins. Moist yet crispy on top, these will melt in your mouth. I also had a few lemons left in the fridge that needed to be used up hence the blueberry lemon muffins. Not to mention it was the perfect excuse to use these absolutely adorable silicon baking cups by "Fred and Friends" that have been sitting in the cabinet for months now. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Which ever wonderful soul came up with nutella should get some major props for such an ingenious combination of chocolate and hazelnut. You can seriously eat this stuff out of the jar, it's that good. So why not mix it into a cookie? Toss in some chocolate chips and chopped up hazelnuts and you will have the ultimate nutella cookie. But beware, you won't be able to stop at one so by all means, please share! I would be willing to taste test :D.  This reminds me of a magnet I once saw at a small little gift shop in Solvang: "God, if you can't make me skinny, please make my friends fat."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rose Apple Pie

I'm running about 2 weeks behind on all of my blog posts and here is yet another late post on my end of the year baking and cooking adventures. This recipe is a twist on your classic homemade apple pie combined with a touch of pecan pie and a bit of flare to top it all off. The pie itself is not hard to make, but will take some time to assemble all the roses. I like to call this the "mother-in-law" pie, a dessert that's dressed to impress even the toughest critics. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Feast for the Holidays

Last month around Christmas weekend, we celebrated my parents' 28th anniversary. My mom had wanted me to make reservations at a nice restaurant for dinner, but the holidays just would not be the same without a home cooked meal. And what better way to spend time with family than by bonding in the kitchen over pots, pans, and pasta. It was a perfect excuse to try out my new Le Creuset dutch oven that the boy got me for Christmas! Recipes included - click on links below for recipes and more pics.  (Too many recipes to fit in one post!)

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle Pasta

Pappardelle pasta is my FAVORITE pasta of all time, which explains why I always order it when we get Italian. While in Del Mar a few times last year, we stopped by Cucina Enoteca and tried their short rib ragu over pappardelle pasta -- it was love at first bite. I usually shy away from red meats, but after going to Spain for our honeymoon last year, I've learned to make a few exceptions for special occasions or when we eat out; we can call those "cheat" days. And of course, when eating something so delicious, what more reasonable thing to do than to try to create it ourselves? I'm sure the boy is excited I've started venturing into the red meats realm since for the last six years he has been stuck with chicken or fish when I'm ambitious but for the most part vegetarian on the day to day basis. This was my second attempt at cooking red meat (the first was an absolute flop). But this time, I had a weapon - my brand new Le Creuset dutch oven the boy got me for Christmas, and oh do I love it so.  
Recipe adapted from OC Weekly 

Winter Pomegranate Salad

It's the end of pomegranate season and boy am I glad I did not miss it entirely. I stopped by the local San Jacinto Farms fruit and vegetable stand and picked up a few very ripe end of the season pomegranates. As dried up as they looked on the outside, the inside could not have been more beautiful with plump red seeds that were much more sweet and didn't have a bitter after taste that you can get with pomegranates that have not ripened enough. 

Rosemary Onion Focaccia Bread

Nhan gets all the credit for this beautiful loaf of focaccia bread. It has just the right amount of herbs to give it a beautiful scent and delicate flavor. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are a wonderful accompaniment. What's most impressive is this was his first time baking bread! Hooray! The boy is now the baker.... well, for a day at least. 

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates

Prosciutto and basil wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 20 pieces

20 dried pitted dates
3oz goat cheese
20 basil leaves
5 slices of prosciutto
20 toothpicks

1. Open each date up lengthwise (usually pitted dates will already have a lengthwise incision down the middle
2. Stuff each date with a small amount of goat cheese distributed evenly amongst the dates
3. Wrap each date up with a basil leaf
4. Cut each slice of prosciutto lengthwise into 4 pieces. Wrap each basil wrapped date in prosciutto.
5. Place on a baking sheet and broil on high for 7 minutes until prosciutto starts to bubble.
6. Insert a toothpick into each date and serve warm

The Boy Bakes: Butternut Squash Empanadas

Despite living in Philadelphia for 4 years, we unfortunately were never able to make it out to Vedge, one of Philly's vegan fine dining restaurants. We did, however, buy their cookbook as we have friends who will swear by it. The boy decided he wanted to try making squash empanadas from one of the recipes in the Vedge cookbook. The first try was edible but far from perfect, mainly because the dough was just too thick and salty and whether that was due to the recipe itself or the baker, we just can't say >.<. The second, however, was delicate, light, and just down right delightful -- taste testers approved! We made a few alterations to the original recipe and actually ended up using a different crust recipe we found online the second time around, courtesy of Epicurious and listed below.