April 20, 2018

Savory Pancakes

Twin Sista is usually my consultant for all things food related (she actually should be the one with the food blog since she is more knowledgable with the latest recipes and hip restaurants). A couple months ago, she introduced me to a chickpea pancake/flatbread, socca, that's super easy to make and is a good way to eat a pancake that filled with protein and fiber.

Socca is made from chickpea flour, or garbanzo bean flour as it's usually labeled, and is a street food from France. It's suppose to have a nice charred flavor but on my stovetop, I'm assuming I'm not quite getting the authentic experience--I love it nonetheless. And if you're groaning at the idea of buying an expensive bag of flour you'll never use again from Whole Foods, I'm happy to report that a 16oz bag of garbanzo bean flour from Bob's Red Mill is a little over $2 at Whole Foods (definitely not like the $12 price tag on almond flour).
Lately, I've been using the flatbread as a vessel for my morning egg tacos or using Molly Yeh's recipe for yogurt topped socca. It's a quick, delicious, healthy meal.

AND I followed the Twin's lead and tried waffling socca in my waffler.
The Recipe: Molly's recipe for socca with yogurt and broccolini provides a complete meal using socca but one can just make the pancake/flatbread and serve it seasoned and topped with olive oil. The batter needs some time to rest (I read up to a few hours but 20-30 mins should be fine) but once the batter is ready, it comes together in no time.

April 11, 2018

Weekend Adventures: Back to Houston

During Easter Weekend, I made my first trip back to Houston since I moved from there 9 months ago. I was reunited with my favorite people, much-missed food and was also welcomed with the most perfect weather (which Twin Sista and I took advantage of by taking many walks to balance all the eating that was being done while I was visiting). And to my surprise, I even stumbled upon a new cupcake bakery! 

Tacos: 
Reunited with the tater tot taco from Tacos A Go Go and had my favorite queso and taco at Torchy's Tacos (the taco was sans tortilla so I could eat more later in the day but definitely missed the tortilla).

Brisket Ramen:
Every Thursday, Ramen Tatsuya serves their dipping ramen (tsukemen) topped with a piece of brisket--so very Texan of them. 

Crawfish: 
I was so excited to be in town during crawfish season to get my hands dirty eating these mudbugs. Crawfish and Noodles never disappoints and you can see the restaurant featured on the Netflix show Ugly Delicious.  

Indian Food:
Burned my face off eating spicy dishes from Himalaya (and also got my favorite: their Indian-spiced fried chicken). 

Sichuan Food:
One of the things I miss most are the Sichuan feasts I'd have with my Houston friends. Mala Sichuan Bistro has always been one of the best places to scarf down on numbingly spicy food. 

Kolaches:
Nothing says "Texas Breakfast" quite like a sausage, jalapeno and cheese kolache. I can actually get kolaches in KC but they're just better in Texas. 

Cupcakes: 
Friends got mini cupcakes from Crave Cupcakes one evening. Their chocolate cupcake is perfection! 
And finally the new cupcake bakery I patronized: the California-based chain, SusieCakes, setup shop in a few locations in Texas and one is nestled in the heart of Rice Village in Houston. It was Easter Sunday but I opted for a less festive chocolate peanut butter cupcake, which was $3.75. 

The cake was fluffy but a little dry. The frosting didn't seem too sweet until I hit the frosting filling inside the cake and it was a punch of sweetness that I didn't really welcome. Overall it wasn't a memorable cupcake but also was a nice afternoon snack. 

SusieCakes
Rice Village
2563 Amherst Street
Houston, Texas

April 7, 2018

Saturday Macaroons

Lately, my new favorite activity on Saturdays is baking. After sleeping in (of course) and avoiding normal daily responsibilities (ie. showering, exercising, practicing music for the next week at work), I like to spend the first half of my day with a baking project. Three weeks ago it was French macarons and since today is the last day of Passover, I thought I'd tackle the other macaroon: the coconut macaroon, which is the ubiquitous Passover treat.
My fascination with macaroons started in middle school when my friends would bring them to school during Passover. I then asked my mom to buy them at a local bakery and I even have a hazy memory of having her buy the canned version at the grocery store. But after all these years, I never tried to make my own and I honestly can't remember the last time I ate one.

I turned to Molly Yeh's Funfetti Macaroons, which aren't the traditional ones I ate in my youth but the funfetti flavor adds a little whimsy to these goodies. And one bite in, I was immediately taken back to the mid 90s with the punch of coconut and chocolate and the chewy yet crispy texture. But the almond extract and the sprinkles also reminded me of boxed Funfetti cake. Yum.
These are WAY less labor intensive than French macarons so I can almost dub this as a lazy Saturday baking project.
The Recipe: Funfetti Macaroons from My Name is Yeh. I kind of agree with Molly's husband---adding sprinkles to the chocolate bottoms yielded too many sprinkles. So I kept the majority of the chocolate coating sprinkle-free.

March 30, 2018

Face Scrubbies

Last week, my sista Melissa told me about the beauty bag at Whole Foods that's released once a year and is filled with samples of natural beauty products all for $20 (some of the products alone are valued at more than $20). Luckily when I got there in the afternoon on the day they were released, my local Whole Foods still had two bags. So next year, make sure you keep an eye out for when the bags go on sale and get there early on the first day since they sell out quickly.
I haven't sampled everything but it's a mix of skincare and makeup. I've been experimenting with face oils and learning how to wear bronzer. Some of my favorites are Dr. Hauschka's Lip Care Stick and Acure Brightening Facial Scrub.

I've only just gotten into using facial scrubs in the past few months and the Acure one is only one that has my face feel so smooth and soft. But when I told my sista Melissa this, she was like, oh I like my DIY scrub better.

She makes a scrub with brown sugar, raw honey and a touch of lemon juice. I decided to try it out since I already had those ingredients in my pantry.
She warned me that I might get a little queasy if I looked at my skin with it on (Chungs suffer from trypophobia) but honestly, it didn't look bad at all. You can barely see it on my skin in the pic above; it's just a little extra glisten-y on my face.

While I do think her brown sugar honey scrub had some good results (a smooth and moisturized face), I still prefer the Acure one. But this is a good one to have on hand and heaps a cheaper option.

DIY Brown Sugar Honey Facial Scrub adapted from the kitchen mccabe
Ingredients:
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs raw honey (make sure it's raw since it has healing benefits that are taken away in regular honey)
lemon wedge
Directions:
1. Mix brown sugar and honey together and squeeze in lemon juice from wedge and mix.
2. Use a small amount on a freshly washed, wet face and massage gently on skin in a circular motion. Rinse and dry.
3. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

March 28, 2018

Green Mornings,The Sequel

I've been drinking green smoothies almost every morning for about 3 years. It makes me feel all healthy and filled with vitamins. My recipe of choice these days: kale, frozen berries, banana, almond butter, ground ginger, cinnamon, chia seeds, apple cider vinegar and water.  I'm a creature of habit but I was intrigued when I found a recipe that included zucchini in a green smoothie.

The recipe is for a smoothie that helps kids get their veggies, which are lurking underneath bananas, chocolate milk and peanut butter. While I love the idea of chocolate milk, this 30-something can get by without the extra sugary goodness.
Anyway, luckily I had some neglected zucchini in my fridge so I could experiment with this new smoothie. And I was pleasantly surprised with this new addition to my morning. Plus banana and peanut butter is always a winning combo in my book. I also tried a version of it that subbed in almond butter--it wasn't as tasty but still pretty good.

Change is good! I'm excited to alternate between my old green smoothie and this peanut buttery one now.

The Recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Green Smoothie from The Kitchn. Feel free to put in any kind of power greens, nut butter/milk of choice and chia seeds.

March 20, 2018

It's Not Easy Being Green

Even though I wrote a post about French macarons in the early months of the blog's life, I can't say I actually participated in the actually making of the macarons. I sifted the almond flour but other sistas did all the heavy lifting for that wedding project. I did attempt to make macarons as prep for the wedding project and even tried to make my own almond flour in my mini chop. Needless to say, they were hideously ugly and maybe one meringue almost looked like a macaron. Total. Disaster.
what a difference 7 years makes
Fast forward 6.5 years later, I decided try to make macarons as a St. Paddy's Day project. All I hoped for was for proper "feet" or ruffles on the edges of the meringues. 

Most macaron recipes will advise that you weigh out all your ingredients in order to achieve the best results. However, against my better judgement, I decided to use this Food 52 recipe that just had cup measurements for the ingredients (I was in a lazy mood and didn't feel like using my scale). I was hoping to just cross my fingers and hope for the best.
And for a festive green ingredient? Matcha, of course. But I used only matcha powder instead of adding in green food coloring.

The final result: caramel-colored macarons (so strange) but also perfectly domed and footed meringues! I may need to do some further research on how to make sure there aren't any air pockets but I'd say my second "first" attempt was pretty successful!
The Recipe: Matcha macarons from Food 52 with a vanilla buttercream filling based off of this one from Oh Sweet Day.

Warning: You probably already know this but macarons are pretty labor intensive. Weighing out ingredients, making sure you have "aged" egg whites (egg whites sitting out for a few hours or even a day) and the folding of the flour into the egg whites (about 50 turns!), then filling piping bags, then piping, then waiting for macarons to set---but the end result looks impressive and is super delicious.

It might be a while until I make my next batch but glad I redeemed myself from my macaron adventures almost 7 years ago.

March 8, 2018

Lately.

I found myself with a couple weeks off from work so for the first week I stayed in KC, giving myself time to do things I needed to get done (ie. taxes, doctor appointments, etc). But with this extra time, I also did a little exploring around the city. 

Authentic tacos at Carniceria San Antonio:
Since moving from Texas 8 months ago, I terribly miss eating authentic, Mexican street tacos. But after seeing these tacos on the Ulterior Epicure's instagram (he's the ultimate foodie and a KC resident), I knew these would be a good substitute to hold me over until I can visit Houston again. They were pretty delicious but go easy on the salsas, they look harmless but are quite spicy. Cheap, flavorful and tasty---what more could you ask for?

Dumplings at Chewology Gyoza & Kushiyaki:
I made a trip out to the burbs to the new Lenexa Public Market just for these plump, chewy dumplings. They were delicious but slow to arrive and also a bit on the pricey side ($12 for 6).

Tamales at Red Kitchen Tamales:
Luckily I went to the Lenexa Public Market on a Tuesday when tamales are available at Red Kitchen Tamale (they're only available on Tuesdays and Saturdays. These were simply delicious! Next time, I should sample their breakfast burritos and tortas.

Healthy Eating at The Mixx

I've been on the hunt for a healthy fast food option here in KC, reminiscent of Local Foods in Houston. Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I found the spot! You can create your own salads and sandwiches or build a quinoa bowl, while noshing on their super tasty sweet potato fries with curry dipping sauce.

A Scenic Drive on Cliff Drive

A Cookie Semi-Fail:
My sista Melissa gushed about these salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies and I couldn't wait to bake them. I must have done something wrong because I ended up with the crumbliest dough but managed to bake a few good cookies and they were so delicious! I just need to figure out what went wrong. 

And finally I enjoyed a Mediterranean lunch at Holy Land Cafe in Lenexa. Their pillowy pitas, smokey baba ganoush and flavorful gyro meat were all winners. Sorry no picture but I'll definitely try to make it out there again.