September 27, 2019

Celebrating Fall with...Popsicles

Happy Fall everyone! I enjoyed my first run of the season yesterday since it wasn't steamy hot out here in KC. While everyone might be embracing pumpkin spiced everything, I'm still clinging on to to summer over here. After a very brutal winter last year, I'm not quite ready to give up on summer dresses and sandal-wearing days...and what better way to do that than by bringing out the popsicle mold I've forgotten about for a few years!

And since I've been obsessed with rosé, especially during the summer months, I thought I'd make a frosé popsicle. Boozy popsicles...mmmm...
The Recipe: Frosé Popsicles from Epicurious. Delightfully fruity, a little boozy and very refreshing, on a hot, summer day or even when wanting a reminder of warmer days in the dead of winter.

September 19, 2019

Halal Guys at Home

It was love at first bite for me at the Halal Guys cart in NYC: the flavorful meat on top of a bed of addictive rice and topped with that oh-so-delicious tangy white sauce. While I was fortunate enough to live in a city with a Halal Guys when I lived in Houston, I am sadly without one in Kansas City. But you can imagine my excitement when I saw this copycat recipe for Chicken and Rice with White Sauce.
These days, I'm trying to find ways to eat healthier when I cook for myself so I nixed the rice and swapped out the iceberg for mixed salad greens and then added radishes, cucumber and pickled onions. And to make it even easier to eat, I used ground chicken so I didn't have to worry about chopping any meat (I always thought the chicken pieces were a little on the dry side at Halal Guys so this prevents that!).
The Recipe: Chicken and Rice with White Sauce from Serious Eats. 
And I'm happy to report that it's almost as tasty as the real thing and honestly, I didn't miss the rice...too much.

September 9, 2019

My Favorite Noodles

Jjajangmyeon: a popular Chinese/Korean noodle dish served with thick, hand cut noodles and a thick, black bean, pork and veggie-filled sauce. It's a favorite amongst most Koreans but its origins are in China (it's a variation of the Northern Chinese zhajiangmian noodle dish).

It's usually served at Chinese restaurants that serve Chinese-Korean cuisine. However, it's hard not knowing which restaurants serve Chinese-Korean cuisine since not-your-average Chinese restaurants will serve these dishes (according to Wikipedia, they say Mandarin-Chinese restaurants may serve jjajangmyeon). My parents know all the good spots in the greater Chicagoland area but without insider's knowledge, it's tricky to find jjangmyeon in smaller cities throughout the U.S., which doesn't help me if I'm craving it. I've tried to make it in the past to very poor results.
It's been six years since I last tried to cook jjajangmyeon but after seeing this recipe calling for roasted black bean paste, I thought maybe that was the missing ingredient in my failed/disastrous attempts. But after this most recent attempt, I've realized that it's also very important to use pork belly (something I'm sure I've omitted in the past since I didn't know where to purchase it) and tons of onions.
This recent batch of jjangmyeon is the closest I've been to getting the flavors I crave when I'm missing this dish. Pork belly and lots of onions are a must and the roasted black bean paste did aid in the improved flavor. I'll call this my first attempt and look forward to trying other variations in the future to see which is the best.

The Recipe: Maangchi's Jjajangmyeon. I omitted daikon and potatoes and used peas instead of cucumber but would be curious to try daikon next time to see if it adds more flavor as she suggests.

Also the sauce is wonderful with rice instead of noodles.

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.