Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin

not my best pictures ever...
Nathan and I spent the majority of our weekend up at our alma mater for the big rivalry game. While you'd think that would mean I have some awesome tailgating recipe to share, I don't. In fact, I really didn't make anything for tailgates (except some delicious pulled pork... which of course I didn't take any pictures of).

On the way home on Sunday, we stopped at the grocery store because we weren't stocked to make anything for dinner. I hate grocery shopping without a plan, and I like for my plans to be in a list format. This is a two-fold hatred because I really hate being half way through making something only to discover I am missing a vital ingredient and I hate making multiple trips to the grocery store in the same week.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baked Parmesan Cups

This week I've been working on a lot of household projects. Christmas is around the corner and we're hosting my family, so we've been working hard to get things ready. I've been trying to finish drapes in our family room, staining a bookshelf so we can finally finish organizing our office, and creating some new holiday decorations. We also took an exciting trip to Ikea to get a sofa bed, drapes, towels etc.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Black Bean Tostadas

At Canadian Thanksgiving I intended to make an appetizer with sweet potato and black beans. I didn't end up making it and then I had a lot of extra sweet potatoes and black beans. I sort of made up a version of the same flavors but in a tostada form.

I would honestly just make these as a burrito filling. Super delicious, hearty, healthy and vegetarian. It would be easy to make these vegan by omitting the cheese and butter. I think that adding some avocados or guacamole would be a great addition as well.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Everyone sitting down for dinner
Canadian Thanksgiving is my big party of the year. It isn't necessarily the highest attended party or the most expensive party, but it's definitely the most work and the most rewarding.

Hosting Canadian Thanksgiving in our apartment was incredibly difficult. There wasn't quite enough room for everyone to sit, spread out, eat, enjoy, or clean up. Now that we're in our new home, Canadian Thanksgiving has become quite a bit easier.

Having more space is half the battle, but the other reason why each year seems to run smoother than the last is that I am now a prepared, cooking machine.

Lesson 1: Take at least one day off of work before Canadian Thanksgiving. Shopping, cleaning, and cooking will all go more smoothly if you have more time.

Lesson 2: Buy the turkey a week in advance. It is hard to find a large turkey in Mid October in the United States. I guess everyone is stock piling them for American Thanksgiving and Christmas. Frozen turkeys take about 4-5 days to defrost in the fridge, so I now give myself a lot of time to find the turkey and let it defrost.
Spinach Dip Bread Bowl and Bruschetta (both recipes are on the blog!

Lesson 3: Make things the night before. I make cranberry sauce, stuffing, and some of my appetizers the day before. It keeps the kitchen a little cleaner the day of and there's less to do once guests have arrived. Which leads to

Smores Cheesecake (and remains of the bread bowl in the background)
Lesson 4: Utilize your slow cookers. There's nothing worse than trying to juggle a dozen guests, the heating of their pot lucked side dishes, making gravy, carving the turkey AND trying to somehow cook and mash a giant pot of potatoes. You go to drain the potatoes only to find that your sink is already full and you end up burning yourself with scalding water. It's not fun. Save yourself and make them in the morning in the slow cooker. They will still be hot and creamy and you wont' have to worry about the chaos of mashing.
Yes that is a turkey hat

One of my guests this year remarked that when they arrived I was sitting with everyone enjoying a gin and tonic--apparently I wasn't my normal semi-frazzled self.

One of my guests is allergic to whey (a main component in most dairy). She can't consume milk, but she can consume butter. I also had a vegetarian guest, so I wanted to make sure that I had mashed potatoes that both people could eat. Most recipes I found for slow cooker mashed potatoes called for cream cheese, sour cream, or chicken stock. This is what I came up with!

I didn't take a picture of the potatoes, so enjoy some others
from my Canadian Thanksgiving
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes


5 lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes peeled and chopped into about 2 inch pieces.
2-3 Cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 stick (3/4 Cup) unsalted butter


In a large pot, just cover the potatoes with water. Salt the water liberally. Cook on the stove until potatoes are fork tender. When potatoes are cooked, remove 1 cup of potato water. Drain the remainder of the potatoes and return to the pot.

Mash in butter, 2 cups of stock, and potato water. Add salt if needed. Your potatoes should be a bit more liquidy than you would normally serve them. Add additional vegetable stock if needed.

Pour the mashed potato mixture into the ceramic of a large crock pot. Place a clean dish cloth over the ceramic and then place the lid on top. The cloth keeps the condensation from trickling back in and creating pools of water in the potatoes.

Place in the slow cooker on the "warm" or "low" setting. Stir periodically, and again just before serving.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Even though we've moved from summer to autumn, the tomato plants in our back garden are still producing at an incredible rate. Fresh, ripe tomatoes are a treat, and one of the best ways to highlight their flavor is with a delicious BLT. I wanted to make something with the same combination of flavors, but in more of an appetizer form.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ginger Turkey Meatballs with Soy Dipping Sauce

Meatballs! Turkey meatballs can sometimes be dry and gross, They don't have the moisture innate in a beef or pork meatball. If you make them right, however, they can be extra delicious. The key, to me, is to make them a little bit more like a tiny round meatloaf in consistency.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Asian Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce

Football season is here! That means chicken wings which are one of my favorite snacks. I love me a buffalo chicken wing, but when it comes to making them I always come back to these Asian inspired wings flavored with oyster sauce. They are salty and a little bit sweet and totally delicious.

I make these in a large wok, but you could also use a deep skillet. This will make enough wings to feed a crowd, so they're prefect for your game day party. Also, unlike a fried wig, these will reheat well without getting weird and soggy.

Chicken Wings with Oyster Sauce


4 Tbsp peanut oil
8 thin slices of ginger
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 whole green onion
1 package chicken wings, about 12 whole wings
2 Tbsp Mirin or dry Sherry
1/2 cup water
6 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar


In a small bowl, mix together water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.

Separate chicken wings into three pieces. Discard the tips or save and freeze to use to make chicken stock. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.

Heat the peanut oil over high heat in a large wok or large, deep skillet. Add in the ginger, garlic, and green onion to flavor the oil. Add in the chicken wings and cook until the wings are golden brown on all sides.

Sprinkle the wings with the Mirin. Add in the oyster sauce mixture  to cover about half the wings (add additional water if necessary). Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and let cook for 10-15 minute stirring occasionally.

Remove the cover and increase the heat back to high. Toss continually until no sauce remains in the pan. Remove the green onion, ginger, and garlic. Sprinkle with additional green onion as garnish.

I've found that this recipe really does work best with peanut oil. The peanut oil can cook at a higher heat, so it browns the chicken better without burning/smoking. Make sure to serve these along with a roll of paper towel!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apple Crisp

It's officially fall and that means apples. And apples mean apple crisp. Now you could go through tons of different crisp recipes until you find the perfect blend of sweet, crunchy, buttery topping or you could just make this one.

As with most of my best recipes, this one comes from my mom. One slight difference is that this recipe is for double crisp topping (so halve if you like a little less crisp to fruit ratio).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Steamed Pork Buns (Bao)

When I was in high school, I was fortunate to go on a three week long trip to China with my family. While my memory isn't perfect of the trip, one thing that stays fresh in my mind is the dim sum meal that we ate. Since then, my family has found a wonderful, authentic Chinese restaurant near my parents home (shout out to China Yuan in Tampa). They have a super delicious dim sum lunch that includes steamed roast pork buns. I'm not going to lie, I have not perfected the pork filling in mine, and so they are not the most delicious... yet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet Baby Bell Pepper Poppers

I couldn't help taking a bit out of this one!
I love the baby bell peppers that are popping up in grocery stores these days. They are so adorable and brightly colored! Our local store doesn't carry them all the time, but I tend to buy a bag when I do. I like to add bell pepper to scrambled eggs, sandwiches, and salads, but I'm never able to use a whole bell pepper before it goes limp and sad. The small ones are perfect!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Zucchini Fritters

It's zucchini time again! Over the weekend, Nathan and I seeded, shredded, bagged and froze what has to be 15lbs of zucchini. The frozen zucchini can be used in zucchini bread, fritters, soup, etc. I used some of the zucchini before we froze it to make fritters.

I attempted fritters once before, but I think that with my fear of frying, I sort of missed the mark. This batch was much better in large part due to my not being afraid of the hot oil. I also changed up the spice mixture so that they were more flavorful.

The first few that I made, I used WAY too much and ended up with big pancake sized fritters. The small size, about 2-3 inches across, were easier to flip and took less time to cook. They're also easier to eat as a finger food.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Orange Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad with Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberries, and Toasted Pecans

I wish I had an awesome name for this salad. Maybe a Madras Vinaigrette since it has cranberry and orange juices? Suggestions welcome...

Anywho... this is a delightful vinaigrette that I made mostly from memory. It's a salad that my mom makes sometimes and while the vinaigrette is pretty awesome, the toppings of the goat cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries sort of make it for me. It's the combination of flavors that makes it truly delicious. The creamy tangy goat cheese, crunchy buttery pecans, and the tart and chewy dried cranberries topping the crisp romaine dressed in a sweet and tart vinaigrette is nothing short of perfection. It's light and summery for a barbecue, but also pairs well with most fall foods.

I'm basically in love with it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Peach Cupcakes with Ginger Peach Buttercream

Using leftovers to create something new and wonderful is an art form (in my humble opinion). With an ear of cooked corn, half a grilled chicken breast, half a can of refried beans, part of a block of mozzarella, and some flour tortillas, I can make you a delicious Mexican dinner. It's a way not to waste food and also to not be eating the same meal for a week just because it made a ton.

Last week I showed you a delicious recipe for ginger brandy peaches. Those peaches (and their delicious syrup) play a role in this weeks recipe: Ginger Peach Cupcakes. I admit that these weren't so much leftovers as they were something I forbade Nathan from eating because I knew I wanted to make them into cupcakes. But that's not the point! The point is that I used one food on this blog to make another and that deserves recognition and, dare I say, praise.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ginger Brandied Peaches

Growing up, I was allergic to chocolate (and tomatoes). When people find this out, they react in one of two ways. 1. "I wish I was allergic, then I wouldn't eat so much!" or 2. "I would die". In reality, as with other allergies, I simply worked around it. I didn't miss chocolate (or tomatoes) because they weren't a part of my life. I discovered other foods that I liked that I could eat. My mom made carob-chip cookies and my brothers had to trade me all their non-chocolate Halloween candy for all of my chocolate candy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Classic Zucchini Bread

This summer in our new home, Nathan planted a garden. From the garden we got a lot of zucchini. More zucchini than two people can reasonably eat. Some of the zucchini have gotten very large with the largest I'm guessing at about 7lbs. Now some people will tell you that once the zucchini get too big that you should just chuck them or put them in the compost or whatever. If it's a REALLY large zucchini (like our 7 pounder) you can always skin, seed and then use the zucchini. It freezes well and can be used later in soups or shredded in bread.

If it's large, but not too large, just shred the sucker and use it in some zucchini bread! If you don't like zucchini, still make zucchini bread because it's mostly delicious.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Baked Beef Taquitos

Taquitos are a pretty great but as I've mentioned so many times, I have a fear of deep frying things. Thus, I have never tried to make them before despite the fact they are delicious. This baked version really isn't any healthier--it uses quite a bit of oil. The warm oil makes the corn tortillas flexible enough to roll tight and to make them crispy when they're baked.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bacon Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are one of those classic party foods. Whenever I see them, I think 50s housewife making appetizers with mayo. The fact of the matter is that they're super tasty, relatively easy, and inexpensive. I wanted to do a twist on the traditional deviled egg with the addition of bacon. It makes these eggs less healthy, but I think the bacony goodness makes up for the increase in calories.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Add caption
This is a recipe that Nathan has been asking me to make for a while. I didn't for a couple of reasons. The first is that while I generally enjoy peanut butter and other peanut flavored items, I have not generally enjoyed bottled peanut sauces and wasn't sure where to start with making my own (or if I would like it all). The second is that, until recently, we didn't own a grill.

Now that we've bought a new grill, I was able to try out making satays.  I based my recipe on the about.com recipe with modifications made based mostly on what I had available in my pantry. They turned out truly delicious! I think that there was more marinade than necessary for the chicken.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Asian Themed Bridal Shower

the main food table
I wrote this post a few months ago, but was waiting to get some photos back from the bride and other bridesmaids. Since then, my wonderful friend has gotten married, gone on her honeymoon and celebrated a month of marriage! Even so, please enjoy this non-recipe post of how I threw an Asian-themed bridal shower.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I need to start this off by saying that I don't understand why this is considered a "salad". It doesn't have any of the properties of a salad. It is 100% dessert.

The basis of this recipe is from one on allrecipes.com. One of the reviewers rated it as one star because it was so unhealthy. For serious? She even admits in the review that it's delicious! I need to point out that the original version of this about the same health level as many other desserts that involve a buttery crust with cheesy filling. Cheesecake comes to mind. Well, my version is for her. I used low fat cream cheese, fat free cool whip, and sugar free jello. I wouldn't say that it's healthy, but it has fewer calories than the original recipe.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bacon Asparagus Mini Quiche

IMG_1272Today is mother's day, so I want to start by saying that while everyone out there is filling up my facebook feed with how their moms are the best, they are all incorrect. Because my mom is.
Anyway, on to food! Today I made mini-quiche which are one of the classiest hors d'oeuvres in existence. The best part of quiche in general is that it tastes good both warm and at room temperature, so it's something that can be made in advance and sit out without serious consequences to flavor. They also freeze extremely well for future use, and the kind that you can buy in the freezer section at the grocery store are generally pretty decent.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Moscow Mule

Warm weather has come to Delaware and with it, a desire to drink in the sunshine. One of my current favorite drinks is the Moscow Mule. It's light and refreshing and not too sweet (which is something I take issue with in many mixed beverages). If you're a fan of delicious lime flavor, you'll enjoy this drink!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bulgogi Beef

I always feel like I have to yell bulgogi beef. It's almost as fun to say as it is delicious. Sweet, salty, beefy and amazing. If you've ever been to a Korean Barbecue, I hope you tried it. If you haven't, it's time to find one near you. Korean food is delicious. Try everything on the menu, especially if you get to cook it on a grill at your table.

Anyway, I can't always go out for Korean food, but with the magic of making my own bulgogi beef, I can get a darn good approximation at home.

Bulgogi beef is made with some special Asian pear that is not regularly available in the states. Some recipes replace it with sugar, but it's really not the same. It also doesn't have the acidic properties of juice. I make mine with apple and pear and I think that it gives a similar flavor. Also natural sugar hooray!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mexican Chorizo Monkey Bread

I love the color the avocado gives this!

Thanks to the folks on pinterest, I've recently been exposed to images of monkey bread. For those of you who have not been sucked into the addictive world of pinterest, let me explain.

Traditional monkey bread can be described as a cinnamon roll cake. Little balls of dough are covered in cinnamon sugar and baked inside of a loaf pan, cake pan, or bundt pan. When it comes out, the little balls stick together, but can be pulled apart easily instead of slicing. I've never eaten traditional monkey bread, but it sounds pretty delicious.

The variety that I've seen on pinterest most often is pizza monkey bread. In this incarnation, the dough balls are stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni and then dipped in marinara sauce. This seemed like an excellent ideas, but  I didn't have pepperoni and I did have some pretty tasty Mexican ingredients. My variation is a little bit different, stuffed with Mexican chorizo, corn, onion, tomato, cream cheese, avocado, and mozzarella. I made some cumin sour cream to dip it in.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip with Homemade Pita Chips

so much yum!
When I was little, I remember my parents having people over for dinner, drinks, maybe some bridge. I know I mention my mom a lot here, and I feel like I should mention my dad. He would make these pita chips for parties that were just delicious.

These weren't made for me you understand, they were made for guests. So when I was given one, hot from the oven or the next morning when they'd loss a bit of their crispiness, it was a treat. I'm honestly not sure what my parents served with these. I think it might have been hummus... I didn't really care about that. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow Cookies

gooey marshmallows
Some days, you just want a cookie. Today was like that for me. It started when the grocery store had fresh baked cookies and the entire store smelled amazing. It was hard, but I resisted buying a bag while I was there.

I got home and did some work around the house (I really need to do one load of laundry every week instead of four loads of laundry once a month...). But as we got into evening, I still REALLY wanted a cookie. I went upstairs to look in my baking supplies and see what I had. It wasn't awesome. Not enough chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies, not enough peanut butter for peanut butter cookies, no raisins or oats for oatmeal raisin. I had less than a quarter cup of chocolate chips, part of a bag of shredded coconut and a quarter bag of stale mini marshmallows.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Whenever I go to a party at a friends house, regardless of the occasion, I tend to bring cupcakes. I'm good at making them, they are delicious, and with my cupcake courier, they are easy to transport as well. Plus, cupcakes can be made in such a variety of flavors they easily suit any occasion. This weekend is not only St Patty's, it's also Shamrock Fest down in the DC area. Nathan and I have gone a couple of times and it's great fun.

This year, I'll be in Chicago for the weekend. Nathan is still going, so I made him a St Patty's day cupcake to help everyone celebrate. The Irish Coffee Cupcake is made with the same basic principles as an Irish Coffee. Coffee and whiskey in the batter with the "cream" floating on top as frosting. I also make these with brown sugar as a true Irish Coffee needs the brown sugar to help the cream float.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baked Parmesan Panko Chicken Bites

mmm panko

There aren't many foods that bring back the nostalgia of childhood like the chicken tender. While I did eat the kind from fast food restaurants growing up, it was much more common for my mom to make a breaded chicken tenders in the oven at home. I've made her recipe a number of times and my only complaint was that it wasn't quite crispy enough.

The obvious solution which I have used in the past, is to pan fry them instead of bake them. This is not only more time consuming, it is less healthy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baked Samosas

I think that one of the reasons that I love ethnic food (Mexican, Asian, Indian etc.) is that is so well spiced. I'm not talking hot spicy, I'm talking well seasoned and delicious. Even "bland" foods are made delicious with all sorts of magical spice combinations and cooking techniques.

Samosas have always been a favorite Indian food of mine because the the insides are made primarily of potatoes and they just have a really wonderful texture. Normally, they are fried. At this point, I've established my dislike/fear of frying things and my love of attempting to bake them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Catalina Buffalo Chicken Dip

Every year our friend Jeremy hosts an event called Rake at the Lake up in the Poconos at his family's cabin. Friends and family get the cabin ready for winter--cut wood, rake leaves, etc. and in the evenings, the family feeds and provides beer for everyone. One of the foods that they always make is called Mike Wazowski Chicken, named after someone who used to eat a lot of it.

Basically, Mike Wazowski chicken is chicken breasts cooked in a mixture of buffalo sauce and catalina dressing. I know it sounds a little weird, but it is amazingly tasty. It's spicy like buffalo chicken, but the catalina dressing mellows out the heat and adds in a delightful tangy flavor. It's hard to describe, so you'll have to make it yourself.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


As we enter the coldest part of winter where the high temperatures in Delaware cease to rise above freezing, Nathan came up with the brilliant idea to have milkshakes for snack. A couple notes on this: while a single milkshake is delicious, two or three milkshakes create a terrible dairy-fullness that is pretty terrible. Therefore, I recommend choosing one flavor and enjoying others on another day.

That said, milkshakes are pretty tasty, and also pretty easy to make as long as you have a decent blender. I have a Food Ninja which I admittedly bought for the super sweet name. Also, it comes with a large and small version and is much easier to clean than a traditionally shaped blender.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The BEST Taco Filling

it's not the prettiest, but it is the tastiest
I don't like to brag, but this is seriously one of the best taco fillings that I've ever had. The fact that it's super easy and relatively healthy are just two of the amazing perks! When I'm feeling like Mexican (and I make no claims that this is in any way authentic Mexican food) this is pretty much my go to recipe. Any toppings you have on hand are delicious--I particularly like lettuce, salsa, avocado, sour cream, and cheese (chopped tomoatoes, guacamole, rice, mexican corn, etc. are also super tasty!). I like to wrap mine in a flour tortilla, but it's also super tasty on a bed of lettuce or scooped up on a corn chip. I'm not a fan of hard shells, but it works well in them too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baked Southwestern Eggrolls

So I've been majorly failing at updating the past two months. Things have been a little bit crazy what with the holidays, gaining and losing family members, and lots of traveling.

About a month ago, I made some southwestern egg rolls and homemade baked corn chips (which were pretty tasty with the leftover egg roll stuffing). I originally purchased the corn tortillas thinking that I might be able to roll the stuffing up in them. Corn tortillas are a lot more breakable than their flour counterparts, and this idea did not work. Then I had a bunch of corn tortillas to use, the the chips were pretty improvised. Luckily, they turned out quite tasty with very little additional effort.