August 20, 2019

Easy, Festive Krispies

For my niece's first birthday party a few weeks ago, Twin Sista was on the hunt for an easy, shareable treat to make to go with her balloon-themed party.
Inspired by this picture of rice krispies dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles and on a stick, we decided to put our own spin on this easy treat: balloon-shaped and topped with sprinkles. SUPER EASY but also pretty cute. We even got some of the older nieces to help make them!
Rice Krispies on a Stick
  • make a batch of rice krispies (you can go extra fancy and make a browned butter version)
  • after spreading rice krispies into a pan, top with sprinkles and press onto the treats to make them stick
  • cut out desired shape with cookie cutter
  • shove popsicle stick into bottom
  • place inside a treat bag and seal with washi tape

August 7, 2019

Summer Traveling Adventures: Barcelona and Bordeaux, Part 2

A vacation for me always involves thoroughly researching the best restaurants and types of specialty dishes to try. But to my surprise, my two favorite meals came from places that weren't planned in Bordeaux. Next time, I'll embrace spontaneity more in my meals since you never know where a great meal might pop up. 

Little bites helped us try an array of Catalan dishes. We sampled anchovies, Iberico jamón, croquettes, chorizo served with bread or bread topped with a smear of tomato

Being on the Mediterranean coast allows Barcelona to have a wealth of seafood available. While not primarily authentic to the region but mainstays in Spanish cuisine, I tried grilled octopus (pulpo), seafood paella and fried anchovies. 

Baked Goodies: 
croissant photo via  instagram
While cupcakes aren't that prevalent in Spain or France, that didn't hold me back from trying other popular treats. Cripsy xurros (churros) with thick, not-too-sweet chocolate were a pleasant afternoon pick-me-up. Savory and sweet cannelés were devoured in Bordeaux (with its origins in nearby suburban Bordeaux) as well as French macarons. And possibly the best croissant of my life was consumed in Barcelona (totally forgot to get one in France)--flaky, deliciously buttery and soft; I was in heaven. 
Petritxol-XocoaAuguste K. French Cannelé | Maison Georges Larnicol | Hofmann Pastelería

Best Meals: 
Being somewhat unfamiliar with French food, I fully embraced our chicken lunch at a restaurant recommended by our wine workshop instructor and our steak dinner at a restaurant that has only served that one entree for the past 50 years. Butter Sauces, the secret to both these dishes. Beyond amazing! 

Boozy Drinks: 
Wine was mostly consumed on this vacation since it was so cheap (about 2 euros a glass). We also sampled the Spanish bubbly Cava and a favorite Catalan drink vermouth. 

July 28, 2019

Summer Traveling Adventures: Barcelona and Bordeaux, Part 1

I just went on my first overseas vacation in three decades! Granted I've left the country a few times since then, but it was always with my instrument in tow. My friend Rebecca and I spent the last week in Barcelona (with a day excursion to Bordeaux) brushing up our high school Spanish, walking about a gazillion steps a day, sweating profusely through the extreme heat wave that hit Europe and taking in the breathtaking views and sites of cities rich in history and culture. 

Architectural Gems: 
We hit the touristy spots to catch the visual and whimsical wonders of Antoni Gaudí's moderisme buildings: La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell (with a walk by to admire Casa Batlló and La Perdrera from the street).

Soaking in the Culture:
Saw the colorful works of art of Joan Miró at the Joan Miró Museum, took in the sights and sounds of the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall and enriched our knowledge of wine at the Cité du Vin (wine museum) and with a wine workshop in Bordeaux.

Cathedrals and Basilicas: 
In addition to the ornate and dazzling La Sagrada Familia basilica, we admired the centuries old and awe-inspiring Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar and Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

Other Sites: 
Caught the colorful Magic Fountain of Montjuïc's light show, soaked in the rays and saw the Mediterranean for the first time at the Barceloneta Beach, explored the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter and enjoyed a walking audio tour from Rick Steves to help learn about the rich history of the city.

To be continued...but want to give a special shoutout to my memory foam, children's sized Skechers. I have horribly achy feet so with the 100,000+ steps I took in the last week, my feet felt like they were walking on pillows and were in much better shape than they would have been without them. 

July 16, 2019

Chinese Tomato and Eggs

When you think of tomato and eggs, you normally wouldn't automatically think Chinese food, right? I happened to discover this Chinese Stir-Fried Tomato and Eggs dish while out with an Italian-American friend at a Chinese restaurant years ago and fell in love immediately (she ordered the dish and said it was something that reminded her of an Italian dish from her childhood).

It isn't spicy or heavy on the ginger and garlic (two ubiquitous Chinese ingredients); nothing really screams Chinese flavors but it is a dish that is simple and brings people back to their childhoods.
While I did not consume this dish in my Korean-American childhood, I can see how this dish can be nostalgic--it's comfort food at its finest: no frills and simply delicious.

I've seen different variations of this recipe online but my favorite comes from Serious Eats because it's a little tangy and sweet, which might be because of the ketchup added (not Chinese but tasty nonetheless).

Quick and easy, simple yet delicious; whip up some Chinese Tomato and Eggs the next time you want to cook a quick and tasty meal.

The Recipe: Chinese Stir-Fried Tomato and Eggs from Serious Eats. Eat over a bowl of rice.

July 9, 2019

All the Meatballs

After Twin Sista shared this recipe for Butter Chicken Meatballs with me two months ago, I felt inspired to cook more meatball recipes, especially dishes you wouldn't normally expect the protein to be in meatball form. Plus it helped that I learned to finally make tender meatballs: mix all the non-meat ingredients first before incorporating the ground meat. Easy Peasy!

Butter Chicken Meatballs:
Butter chicken in all its glory (and definitely an ugly delicious meal) but in meatball form. Easy to put together and super tasty. Stephanie recommends using Mutti Brand Chopped Tomatoes but any canned tomato will work.

Braised Ginger Meatballs in Coconut Broth:
I couldn't get enough of these flavor-packed meatballs nestled in this comforting broth. This is definitely forever repeat meal---I loved it that much!

General Tso's Chicken Meatballs:
These meatballs are a healthier option if you love General Tso's but feel guilty about the fried-ness of the original. I'd put these in the category of just okay since I was actually missing the crispiness of General Tso's fried goodness.

Skillet Chicken Parmasean Meatballs:
These tender meatballs were punched with flavor in this Italian comfort food classic. Delicious when eaten on top of spaghetti or even zucchini noodles.

Sheet Pan Chicken Meatballs:
These Japanese sweet and sour inspired meatballs were a little tangy and sweet. And it came together quickly by cooking the meatballs on a sheet pan.

June 20, 2019

THE Coffee Cake

Since my sistas and I love baking, we often find ourselves telling each other about great recipes we've recently tried. I can't remember which sista initially sung the praises of Bravetart's Coffee Cake but I do know that two sistas couldn't stop talking about how good it was.
I'm glad I remembered to finally make this coffee cake when I was in search of a baking project to bring treats to work earlier this week. It is as good as my sistas say it is: fluffy, moist, flavorful and a good alternative to when I don't want to get out my bundt pan and make my other favorite coffee cake recipe from King Arthur Flour.

The Recipe: Easy One-Bowl Coffee Cake from Bravetart. This recipe works well if you want to decrease the amount of sugar to have a less sweet cake. I lowered it by a 1/4 cup (or about 2 ounces).

June 8, 2019

Chocolate Chip Test No. 9-Whole Grain Cookies

To be honest, the idea of chocolate chip cookies made with whole grains doesn't sound that appetizing. But after stumbling across this instagram post of a mouth-watering cookie made with spelt, I thought I could be persuaded otherwise.
I turned to my friend with the grain mill to grind some spelt for me (also the one who helped me procure some rye flour for these brownies). Googling has showed me that you can purchase spelt flour from King Arthur Flour or other health stores online. But you can find spelt in its whole grain form in health food stores. (I've never actually consumed spelt in its whole grain form).

The Recipe: Spelt Dark Chocolate Cookies from Butter and Brioche
Recipe Highlights: 
  • requires a food scale since all her measurements are in grams
  • no need to wait for butter to come to room temp--this uses melted butter
  • uses equal amounts of all purpose and spelt flour
  • requires chill time of 30-60 mins for dough before baking
  • rippled edges are created by dropping the pan on the cooking rack in the oven just before the cookies are done baking. (done 3 times)
Overall: I could barely tell that these cookies were made with whole grains. There might have been the tiniest hint of a grittiness in the texture but the flavor was that of a non-whole grain cookie. I particularly loved the strong vanilla flavor in these cookies. Soft and totally delicious! 🍪🍪🍪🍪