Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of 2015

I know, I know...where did I go? Well, I'll have to explain that another time. Things got crazy and I stopped keeping up with my blog is the short version. Now I have more time on my hands, so I'm back at it and hopefully here to stay! Somehow we've made it through another year of food, drinks, and other delightful things. I'll be posting in the next few days about what I'm looking forward to in 2016, with more focus on "bucket lists" rather than resolutions. This has been one of the most difficult years for me, so I've been doing a lot of self-reflection. 
Anyways, let's get to the food! It's been quite a while since I last posted, so some of these may not look familiar, but here are my 15 favorite things from 2015!

15 Favorite Recipes of 2015

1. Gluten-free Angel Food Cake served with vegan whipped cream & brandied strawberries

3. Tequila Lime Fish Tacos with pickled red onions & avocado

4. Roasted Banana Bourbon Ice Cream (vegan); pro tip: use Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon!

5. Portobello Pups served with a grilled potato, grilled squash & vegan jalapeno poppers. These tasted just like hot dogs, but even better!

6. Authentic Pad Thai - one of the best I've tasted!

10. Tortilla Soup - one of my new go-to quick recipes made with pantry ingredients!
11. Hot & Sour Soup with Mushrooms, Cabbage & Rice - new favorite sick soup and it takes no time to make! I loaded mine up with extra lime, soy sauce, sriracha, and kimchi.

14. Blackened Tofu & Butternut Coconut Rice served with steamed kale

15. Chocolate Chip Buckwheat Waffles - perfect for a snow storm!

Happy New Year Everyone! :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Almonds: The Incredibly Versatile Nut

I remember when I was a kid, my mom would take us to the local co-op where she would buy a bag of almonds from the bulk bin. I would open the brown paper bag on the way home and munch on a few in the car. Almonds were always one of my favorite snacks growing up, even just plain! Out of all of the nuts in my pantry, I can easily say that almonds are one of the most versatile, tastiest nuts around. With just a few different varieties, or even just whole almonds, you can make so many different recipes in your kitchen.

So why should you eat almonds, especially if you're vegetarian or vegan? Let's reference an amazing, all-inclusive site for Nuts: !

1) Almonds are an incredible source of protein, weighing in at 7 grams/ounce! They make a perfect workout snack and pack easily into a small baggie or tupperware container
2) Besides being a great source of protein, almonds also contain good sources of antioxidants, fiber, calcium, and more! Almonds are great for us to consume all around, and the fact that they are so versatile makes them even easier to consume on a regular basis!

So what type of almonds are there? Let's see: 

1) Raw almonds - used to make pantry staples such as almond butter
2) Roasted almonds - these make an amazing snack on their own, or add some dried fruit and chocolate to make your own trail mix
3) Sliced almonds - wonderful for sprinkling atop salads and smoothies for an extra protein boost, but also perfect in desserts
4) Blanched almonds - used for making almond flour and almond milk, which are surprisingly easy to make
5) Slivered almonds - also great in desserts or on top of salads! I also like to sprinkle these after I lightly toast them onto ice cream

Now that I'm positive that you are craving almonds, here are some great ways to use them:

1) These almond cherry oat bars play on one of my absolute favorite flavor pairings: cherries and almonds!
2) The combination of quinoa and almonds, with a hearty dose of fruit, makes for a hearty everyday breakfast
3) Now you can have your favorite candy bar in granola form with this almond joy granola recipe
4) Pack a spicy, healthy treat for yourself this week by making these honey chai spiced almonds
5) I can personally attest to just how tasty this green bean salad with fried almonds is! Perfect for summertime

This post was written for

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Favorites

  1. This Grand Budapest/The Shining mash-up is everything I want. I hope one day Wes Anderson will try a horror/suspense film!
  2. It's Negroni week! Check here to see if any bars around you are participating and to see which charity they'll be donating to! 
  3. If there's not a bar near you that's participating, not to fret: celebrate with these Negroni creamsicles. These are very high up on my to-make list.
  4. Can you believe it's already JUNE?! I'm still in denial. Here's a June produce list for your reference. What are you most excited about cooking this month?
  5. I promise I'm not totally obsessed with Negronis, it's really just Campari...but here is the history of the drink, Negroni week, and various International takes on this popular aperitif. 
  6. This video includes a side-by-side comparison of Quentin Tarantino scenes alongside the classic film scenes that inspired them. I absolutely love seeing these connections! 
  7. When was the last time you colored a picture or drew something? Tracy has the right idea with these coloring books for adults (plus some wine). I have my eye on the Jon Hamm coloring book.
  8. As soon as I purchase a proper popsicle mold set, I'm making these beautiful watermelon popsicles
  9. You had me at bourbon poached anything, and then again with peaches. All you need is some vegan vanilla ice cream to go with it!
  10. For your weekly dose of cute: here's a pet duck named Nibbles who gets so excited when his friend comes home from school. Enjoy!
A lovely pot of tea at my favorite tea room in Greensboro: Vida Pour Tea

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Let's Catch Up: February - April

For our first beach trip this year, we decided to opt for going to the fish market rather than eating fish at a restaurant. My favorite fish market in North Myrtle Beach is definitely Mr. Fish Market and I highly recommend it! Both times that we've been, the seafood has been well priced, delicious, and easy to cook. This is GF beer battered fish and chips with the best habanero spiced seafood dipping sauce. These fish and chips were perfect, although our chips turned a little too brown and our second batch of fish fell apart. We added Old Bay, Italian herbs, and paprika to the beer batter. I think I have decided that I am not a fan of deep frying, and would prefer to cook fish in a different way from now on.

What better way to celebrate snow days than with chocolate chip buckwheat waffles? I always look forward to making decadent breakfasts when it snows, so these were perfect for a lazy day of reading and no class! These waffles were super quick and easy to make, but if you're cooking for more than 1 person, be sure to double this recipe. These would be lovely topped with whipped coconut cream, strawberries, or simply powdered sugar and maple syrup.

The invention of one-pot stir-fries, noodles, and other dishes is a truly wonderful thing. It's as simple as throwing things in a pot, turning it to a boil, and letting it cook until everything is soft. One-pot meals are my favorite meals for weekdays or when I'm simply not feeling up to cooking, but when I also can't justify going out. These one-pot Thai stir-fry noodles fit the bill and are so easy to make, you'll be amazed at how delicious they are! The short ingredient list also makes it a pantry and budget friendly meal. Next time I'd like to add some chopped sesame tofu!

This past semester, I did a research project on Senegal, which I have always been interested in since my first French professor was from there. After learning briefly about their food and popular crops, I remembered this recipe for Senegalese red lentil soup in one of my favorite cookbooks: One Dish Vegan. This belly warming soup was absolutely perfect for cold winter days, especially when topped with sriracha and chopped peanuts. I think cooked rice would also be a great addition. I love making connections between my global interests and cuisine! This is why I love international cuisine cookbooks because it is a great way to learn more about a culture through their food.

I almost always have a package of soy chorizo in my freezer as a "just in case" ingredient. Why? Because you can do so much with soy chorizo! You can make burgers, enchiladas, tofu scramble, etc. This time, I decided to go with a soyrizo sweet potato hash served over rice with chipotle Cholula hot sauce and lime. This recipe comes together quickly but is hearty enough to tide you over for more than a few days! I'm sure these would also make some amazing tacos or a lovely breakfast if you added tofu scramble/eggs. Have you ever tried soy chorizo?

When I used to eat at Mexican restaurants as a kid, fajitas were my favorite things to order. I loved the blackened, spiced peppers and onions, and piling them onto tortillas with a bunch of toppings was the best part. I would even insist upon assembling them for my entire family! Now that Mexican restaurants are pretty much off limits to me, I love making fajitas at home. I've tried oven-roasted fajitas before, but these quick black bean fajitas are possibly my new favorite! They come together in a flash and were seriously the most delicious fajitas! Making your own fajita seasoning blend is so worth it too. We added sliced mushrooms to the fajitas and topped them with sliced cabbage, guacamole, lime and our favorite hot sauces!

I have always daydreamed about baking a huge, fluffy angel food cake, but I always thought it was too difficult or impossible to make gluten-free. Wrong! You totally can make it GF and even dairy-free as well. I was shocked at how easy this recipe is. I will say that yes, separating and beating all of those egg whites to stiff peaks takes a little time, but it is well worth the effort. I didn't have a batch of Sarah's GF baking blend at hand, so I adjusted it to fit this recipe: 1/2 C brown rice flour, 1/4 C tapioca starch, 2 TBS sorghum flour, 2 TBS cornstarch and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum. I topped my cake with a little vegan whipped cream and these brandied strawberries!

Now that the weather is warmer, I have been craving colder items like this salmon macaroni salad. This is a great dish to make the night before so that it can chill overnight in the fridge for meals the following day. I used Frank's red hot sauce in this dish, which paired perfectly with the onions, shallots, dill and salmon. Feel free to use vegan mayo or whatever you prefer!

After a few failed attempts, I pretty much gave up on the idea of creating a perfect brownie. But when I found this recipe for tofu chocolate brownies, I knew I had to try them, and I was not disappointed. These are the BEST brownies I've ever tasted and they were so simple to make. The best part? Because they're made with silken tofu, they even have protein in them. These brownies are chewy, fudgy, with a nice kick of cinnamon in every bite. I highly recommend making these and I'm positive that if you brought them to a party, they'd be gone in 5 minutes. Need I say more?

Let me introduce you to your new favorite breakfast: the ramlet. The ramlet consists of an omelet made with ramen seasoning, from the little packet that comes with your noodles. If you ever make a stir-fry or soup recipe that doesn't require your ramen seasoning, hang on to it for this omelet! I topped mine with a little sriracha and it was perfect. Also, you don't have to stuff your omelet with scrambled eggs, but you can if you have a little more time! I know what you're thinking: isn't ramen incredibly sodium-laden and unhealthy? Yes, some are, but they also make vegan, GF and low-sodium ramen. My favorite brand is from Lotus Foods, which I can find at Whole Foods. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Let's Catch Up: November - January

Hi there! It's been quite a while since I've posted about my weekly eats. As we all know, life happens. Near the middle of last Fall, school became out of control and lots of other things got in the way of me blogging. But because I will never not be cooking, I still kept perfect track of all of the recipes that I tried! I have planned for two catch up posts spanning last November up until the end of this May. I will be sharing 3-4 recipes that were my favorites from each month. I hope that you all are doing well and I can't wait to begin blogging more regularly now that I HAVE GRADUATED! Sorry, still a little excited about that :) 

I've had this crazy heirloom bean and acorn squash chili recipe saved for years, but I finally tried it out! I call it crazy because it involves things I would never think to put together like beer, herbes de Provence, jalapeno and acorn squash. The combination is probably the most delicious chili I've ever tasted! I used GF beer and it worked just fine. I also finally made Kara's turmeric chili corn muffins and they went perfectly with the chili. Next time I think I'll use a little less chili flakes, but the vegan butter helped to cut the heat down and also made them extra tasty!

For Thanksgiving last year, I made this grain-free maple bourbon pecan tart. This was also a perfect excuse to finally buy that tart pan with a removable bottom! The tart came out wonderfully and it reminded me a lot of Kentucky bourbon pie, minus the chocolate. It would be perfect with some vegan ice cream on top!

Quesadillas are not a regular meal for me, but when I saw these Italian ones in Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, I knew I had to make them! Instead of cheese there is a wonderful, cheezy white bean spread alongside avocado, fresh parsley, and lots of sundried tomatoes. These made great dinners but were also quick enough to fry up for lunch in between classes. I'm sure a marinara would also make a great dipping sauce for these!

I absolutely love making different types of curries, and this is my first time making a Jamaican style one! This recipe from Bryant Terry's latest book was incredibly flavorful, complex, yet simple to pull together. I loved the addition of mustard greens, which I rarely cook with, but I definitely did after this recipe! They have a slight bitterness to them which really worked in this spicy, peanutty curry. I served mine with jasmine rice and cilantro for a complete meal.

Sometimes there's nothing quite like coming home to a big bowl of pasta. This pasta de Los Angeles definitely hit the spot and I'm still drooling over it months later! It's a simple Mexican twist on pasta but it's packed with nutrition from black beans, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado. Luckily it comes together quickly which makes it perfect for weeknights!

Last Christmas, I finally made homemade gifts for everyone, in addition to a few purchased ones. One of my favorite things that I made was this apple cinnamon bourbon. Sadly, I didn't get to drink much of it since I gifted it to many people, but what I did have was so flavorful, spicy, and perfect for winter! I can only imagine how wonderful this would be in a hot toddy!

I've had my eye on these black-eyed pea cakes with collards for quite some time now, so I decided to make them with my mom for a traditional New Year's Eve dinner! These cakes were so delicious and crispy, especially with some Franks on top! I loved using black-eyed peas in a new way for this holiday. The collards were also delicious, but when are they not?

Listen up: here's your new favorite weeknight dinner and it's called tortilla soup. I always shied away from this recipe because I thought it would be boring, but oh how wrong I was. This is a dead simple soup that comes together in a flash and packs a ton of flavor. Do not skip the tortilla chips or cilantro, trust me. I'm also positive that without the tortilla chips, you could also freeze this for later dinners!

I usually just top my morning eggs with kimchi or throw it into ramen, but I love using it in different ways for dinner as well. This warm kimchi sesame rice bowl with broccoli was amazing! The spicy broccoli pairs wonderfully with the umami flavors of the dressed wild rice and probiotic-packed kimchi. As always, I paired this with my go-to sesame baked tofu recipe from Isa's latest book, but you could also use steamed edamame or eggs! I used my favorite Japanese miso horseradish kimchi.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

La Rue Monge

Hey guys! Long time no post, I know, trust me. Things have been crazy around here and I'm graduating in a little over a week! But here I am, drinking a cocktail mid exam cram time, and I just had to share. I've been drinking this for a couple of years now, but have learned the best ways to tweak it. This is a riff on a boulevardier, which is typically made with rye whiskey or bourbon. A while ago, someone recommended that I try a negroni with smoked maple bourbon. I KNOW. It is as amazing as it sounds. 

Over time, I tweaked a few things though. I stopped doing a typical negroni 1:1:1 ratio, I started using Lillet Rouge (a fortified wine) instead of sweet vermouth, or when I have access, I love Carpano Antica Formula, an amazingly flavorful vermouth that's worth every penny. So if you're tired of the typical negroni and want something new, give this a whirl! I could drink it 24/7. Play around with your sweet vermouths too! There's nothing like variety. Also, no one would judge you if you added an orange popsicle to your cocktail...

La Rue Monge
  • 1 - 1.5 oz Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth/Lillet Rouge/Carpano Antica Formula
  • dash of blood orange bitters
  • ice
  • burnt orange/blood orange peel, for garnish
  1. Place 3-4 ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, Campari, vermouth/Lillet, and blood orange bitters. 
  2. Stir until well combined.
  3. Strain into a glass.
  4. Add fresh ice if desired and garnish with an orange peel!