October 23, 2016

Chicago-Style Weenies

OH MY GOSH!!! It's happening--the Cubs are going to the World Series!!!! I've been a lifelong Cubs fan (probably because my mom watched Cubs baseball all summer long while preggers with Twin Sista and me) and I couldn't be happier. 
And in honor of the Cubs, I made a little baseball snack, filled with hometown pride: Mini Chicago-Style Weenies.
They have the essentials: celery salt, mustard, onions (jazzed up, caramelized style), relish and tomatoes and never any ketchup. Sport peppers are lacking since they're harder to find outside of Chicago. 
And they're bite-sized, wrapped in puff pastry dough so they're perfect to enjoy while perhaps watching the Cubs play in the World Series! 
Chicago-Style Weenies adapted from Martha Stewart 
1 package of mini hot dogs
1 package of frozen puff pastry dough
1 egg, beaten
poppy seeds
diced fresh tomatoes
dill relish
yellow mustard
celery salt
1. Prepare caramelized onions--this can take up to 50 minutes, or you can opt for an easier option of using diced raw onion as a topping. Also thaw pastry dough while getting onions prepared. 
2. Once dough is thawed, on a floured surface, roll out pastry dough until it's pretty thin. Cut dough into 3 inch long triangles or rectangles. 
3. Place mini hot dog onto dough strip and add 1/2 teaspoon of caramelized onions. Roll to wrap dough around hot dog. Repeat with remaining hot dogs and puff pastry strips. 
4. Brush beaten egg onto tops of wraps. Then sprinkle poppy seeds. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 
5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
6. After weenies have chilled, bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack for 5 minutes. 
7. Top each weenie with mustard, tomatoes, relish and a pinch of celery salt. 
8. Enjoy! 

October 16, 2016

It's Maple Season

It's mid October and last year's can of pumpkin still resides unopened in my pantry. But in honor of other Fall flavors, I remembered I baked this super delicious Bacon Maple Mochi Cake at a less season-appropriate time this year: summer.

Now that I think about it, why is maple considered a fall flavor? Is it because it's comforting in the way maple syrupy pancakes are? 
I digress, back to mochi cake. My previous obsessions (pumpkin, chocolate mint, brownies) with mochi flour have yielded some tasty results, and this cake also doesn't disappoint. It's springy, smoky from the bacon and maple-y delicious but not too sweet. 
The Recipe: Bacon Maple Mochi Cake from Week of Menus. It calls for basically a whole freaking bottle of maple syrup. I used the real stuff and it ended up being an expensive baked good. So I would suggest cheating a little bit with the imitation stuff and then topping the finished product with the real deal. 

October 12, 2016

Miracle Noodles

I can't believe it's already the second week of October. Down here in Houston, it's hard to keep track of fall since it's still balls hot out (although Houstonians are bundled in sweaters now that temperatures have gone down to the 80s instead of the 90s). 

While I should be knee-deep in pumpkin baking, I have yet to crack open a can of pumpkin (however, one is waiting for me in my pantry from last year). Nonetheless, I wanted to introduce you something I have been enjoying for several months now: Shirataki Noodles
What are Shirataki noodles, you ask? 

They are very low calorie (20 calories per package) "noodles" made from a yam (konjac yam). They are chewy and gelatinous so they're not quite like real noodles made from flour but they're a suitable substitute (they're great in stir-fry, cold noodle dishes, soups, etc). And they're gluten free and contain no carbs and have a mild flavor so they work great in saucy dishes. They're basically miracle noodles. 
They can be found in the grocery store near the tofu section. They come packaged in water (like tofu) and should be drained and rinsed or even boiled. 

I found the best pairing for shirataki noodles in a cold Korean noodle dish: Bibim Noodles. It's a spicy, kimchi-filled dish that's great any time of year. And you can enjoy this dish mostly guilt-free with the addition of shirataki Noodles. 
Bibim Shirataki Noodles adapted from Simply Recipes
1 package of Shirataki Noodles (found at Whole Foods, Kroger, Asian Markets near refrigerated tofu)

1 tbs gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
1 tbs rice vinegar
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tbs sesame oil
1/4 cup kimchi, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tbs kimchi juice

Toppings (optional---mix 'n match):
hard boiled egg, cut in half
tofu, cubed
cucumber, julienned
carrot, julienned
green onion, thinly sliced
toasted sesame seeds

1. Drain and rinse shirataki noodles in colander. Set aside.
2. Mix gochujang, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, kimchi and kimchi in a large bowl until well combined.
3. Mix in noodles into sauce until well coated with sauce. Then add toppings of choice and mix until well combined.
4. Enjoy!

September 28, 2016

Baby, So I Can Feed You Cookies

Now I can report that Labor Inducing Cookies did not work as we had hoped. Regardless of the cookie's effectiveness, Erin gave birth to a cute bundle of joy. Welcome, Baby Camilla!

And so to help Erin ease into motherhood, I baked some Lactation Cookies
The key ingredient to help any new mama produce milk is rolled oats. And what better way to consume oats than inside a delicious cookie--and they help fuel a nursing mom.
I followed the advice of the recipe and baked a few and froze the rest into dough balls to be baked whenever Erin has a craving for the cookies. This ensures a whole baked batch doesn't dry out and they stay fresh and delicious. 
Of course I had a sample of the cookie. They're basically super tasty oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. So after baking Labor Inducing Cookies, don't take off those oven mitts yet---whip up a batch of these lactation cookies too!

The Recipe: How Sweet Eats's Lactation Cookies. It calls for lots of organic ingredients but if you don't have them, you can substitute non-organic variations. And I found brewer's yeast in my local grocery store's bulk section.

September 22, 2016

The Summer of Ice Cream

Since today marks the first day of autumn, it's made me reflect on all the ice cream I've consumed over the summer. Looking back on the last season, I've eaten more ice cream/frozen goodies than I think I have in a long time. It was a nice departure from the ubiquitous cupcakes in my life and I officially declare 2016: The Summer of Ice Cream.

The Childhood Favorite: I'll always have a soft-spot for Baskin Robbins's Rainbow Sherbet.

Asian-Style: Green tea and red bean ice cream served with Korean-style doughnuts compliments of one of my favorite Korean restaurants, Ttowa.

Ice Cream with the Nieces: Kids + ice cream= a natural pairing 

The Prettiest Gelato: The gourmet, artisanal gelato that comes in flower form just opened its doors in Houston---love you already, Amorino.

The Neighborhood Ice Cream Shop: Just a short drive from my apartment is a cute ice cream shop (also next door to my new favorite doughnut shop) that serves unique flavors. And on weekends, you can go next door to Hugs And Donuts and grab a donut to add to a shake.

September 20, 2016

Baby, Please Come Out Cookies

My friend Erin is at the end of her pregnancy, and although it's been a pretty smooth one, she's ready for baby to make her appearance into the world.

So as a way to coax her out of the womb, I was forwarded a recipe for Labor Inducing Cookies. The post for the cookies states that ginger and spicy foods are ways to induce labor. One woman supposedly went into labor after eating the Extra-Spicy Gingersnaps (the link to that story is broken). Well, I'll do anything to help out a friend, especially if it involves baking.
Maybe we were a little premature with the cookies (I baked them almost a week before baby's due date) and also maybe baby isn't ready to come out (I also baked them one day after her due date) because Erin is still with child and well fed with cookies.

Regardless of the cookie's lack of magical labor inducing powers, these are pretty delicious cookies. Tastes like Christmas---just a little spicier. I couldn't stop eating them and I joked that I was also going to go in labor (with a food baby).
The Recipe: Gale Gand's Extra-Spicy Gingersnaps---to be baked when you want to see if they'll help a pregnant friend go into labor or when you're in the mood for a spicy baked good.

September 11, 2016

Basil x 2

I moved into new dwellings back in June but after taking a 5 week trip to Chicago in the middle of summer, I'm finally feeling like I'm settling down in my new digs. To spruce up the place, I decided to welcome a basil plant into my home (my first plant, ever).
The Mr. Basil plant was courtesy of Trader Joe's and he had such large leaves that provided some delicious meals, including a new summer favorite: Smitten Kitchen's One Pan Farro with Tomatoes.
A week after Mr. Basil's arrival, I adopted a young, feline friend who I named Basil (but the naming was completely unrelated to the Mr. Basil plant).
And now three weeks later, due to lacking a green thumb, I only have Basil Cat as a roomie. Maybe there will be another Mr. Basil plant but for now, it's just Basil and me.