Sunday, May 25, 2014

In: Easy wrap lunch

I had been packing sandwiches for lunch for a while and started wanting some more variety. But what could I do with all of the meat and cheese and other sandwich-y ingredients that I had already purchased? The solution: wraps.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients
-sauce (e.g., honey mustard, mustard, BBQ sauce, ranch, hot sauce)
-ham/turkey slices (optional and substitutable)
-cheese slices

Step 2: Add ingredients to tortilla
Spread your sauce on the tortilla, and then add your other ingredients to the middle of the tortilla. I put the ham and cheese on first and then added the vegetables.

Step 3: Fold the tortilla into a wrap
Fold the two sides of the tortilla (that are not covered with ingredients) into the middle and skewer in place with a toothpick. Cut diagonally in half and serve.

Easy peasy way to add some variety to your lunch! Bon apetit!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

In: Classic spaghetti and meatballs

Growing up as a Korean American, my family didn't really have spaghetti and meatballs all that often. In fact, I can't recall ever making meatballs... But the boy wanted to make meatballs so here I am, figuring out how to make a good meatball. I found a recipe, tried it once, and decided to provide my modified instructions. If you want to see the original recipe,click here.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

-1 lb lean ground beef
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 small onion (or about 1/2 cup), diced
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-3/4 tsp oregano
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 dash hot sauce
-1 1/2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
-1/3 c milk
-1/4 c grated Parmesan
-1/2 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or add 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning)
-1 egg

Step 2: Prep the oven
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Mix ingredients

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, salt, onion, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, and Worchestershire sauce.

Add and mix in the milk, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.

I also added in an egg to hold the meatballs together.

Step 4: Form the meatballs

Using your hands, two spoons, or an ice cream scooper (make sure to wash thoroughly if you use the scooper!), create your meatballs, mine ended up being about 2" in diameter, but make then whatever size you prefer.

Step 5: Bake

Put the meatballs on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. I chose to drench mine in some pasta sauce so those tomato juices would get absorbed into the meatballs. Bake the meatballs for approximately 20-25 minutes, checking to make sure they are not pink in the middle. 

Step 6: Serve

Serve atop a bed of spaghetti and pasta sauce or really any other type of pasta! You can also serve them with some mashed potatoes, mac 'n cheese, or polenta. Try it, and let me know if you have any suggestions!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

In: Minty ganachey brownies

After a two month hiatus (caused by a busy work schedule + 2 week vacation), I'm back on Blogger. And I'm back with a bang.

After reading this post, you'll either (1) love me for introducing you to a delicious dessert recipe, or (2) curse me for all the cavities you've gotten from baking and eating too many of these.

Minty ganachey brownies, or as MomOnTimeOut calls them "Mint Chocolate Brownies" are a quite heavenly dessert that will guarantee happy taste buds and aching teeth. I basically followed the recipe linked above, so feel free to check out the original site as well.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients
½ cup butter (unsalted, chopped)
4 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
¼ c Andes chocolate (chopped or baking chips)
1 ¼ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp peppermint extract
2 eggs (room temp)
½ c all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt 

Mint frosting:
½ cup butter (unsalted, softened)
2 c confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp water
½ tsp peppermint extract
3-4 drops green food coloring

Chocolate Ganache:
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 c semisweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
¼ c Andes chocolate (chopped) [optional]

Step 2: Prepare the brownie layer
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, line an 8x8 or 13x9 pan with aluminum foil. Then, start working on the brownie mix.

Use a double boiler (or metal bowl that sits on top of a pot of water) to melt the butter and chocolates.

Remove from the stove and mix in the extracts, sugar, and eggs. Then add the flour and salt, mixing until smooth.
Pour the mix into the lined pan and bake the brownies for about 25 minutes or until set. Set aside on a cooling rack or in the refrigerator until the brownies are cooled down.

Step 3: Prepare the mint layer
Put softened butter in a mixing bowl and whip (I hand-whipped with a spatula) until the butter is soft and airy.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until fully mixed in.

Spread the mint frosting on the cooled brownies. Place pan back in the refrigerator to cool.

Step 4: Prepare the ganache layer
Simmer the whipping cream (this may take a while, but make sure to keep an eye on it to avoid boiling or burning the cream!).

Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Add the whipping cream and mix until smooth.

Let the ganache cool down for about 15 minutes. Then pour the ganache on top of the mint frosting + brownies.
Let the ganache set for about 5 minutes. Then feel free to sprinkle the extra Andes mint chocolate on your minty ganachey brownies.

Enjoy! And don't share too much, or else you'll be sorry when they're all gone!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

In: Butter Chicken Curry with Rice and Spinach

The boyfriend and I made this low-FODMAP butter chicken curry recipe, and it was quite good. We made a couple of modifications by just tasting and adding things, but the recipe was a good base. A few notes:

(1) We didn't have cardamom pods, so we substituted the 1tsp of cardamom with 1/2tsp of cinnamon and 1/2tsp of nutmeg.
(2) Our dish turned out looking redder than in the linked recipe, so you may want to play around with the amount of tomato you put in
(3) The linked recipe suggests marinating the chicken overnight--we weren't patient enough so we just let it marinate for 20 minutes.

Check out the original recipe here.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients
2 chicken breasts (or 4 tenders)
5 roma tomatoes (or 500g of any other tomato, fresh or canned)
5cm ginger
1 jalapeño
160ml coconut milk (we used the whole can instead)
1/2tsp nutmeg
3Tbsp lemon juice
1tsp cinnamon (1/2tsp for the marinade, 1/2tsp for the curry)
1/2tsp cumin
1tsp chili powder
3tsp coriander
3Tbsp olive oil (1Tbsp for the marinade, 2Tbsp for the curry)
1tsp black pepper
2tsp salt (we used 2tsp but thought it tasted too salty--I suggest putting in less and maybe adding more later)

Step 2: Prepare the chicken
Combine the the marinade spices (lemon juice, 1/2tsp cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, coriander, 1Tbsp olive oil, black pepper, salt) in a medium-sized bowl.

Then, cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the marinade.
Marinate for as long as you can/want, but either way, make sure to cover and put in the fridge.

Step 3: Begin preparing the curry sauce
Note: The instructions in the linked recipe were a little unclear about the order of these steps. I've laid it out a bit more clearly.

Before you start preparing the curry sauce, set the oven to 200degrees. You'll be using it soon.
So first things first, chop up the tomatoes, jalapeño, and ginger (Note: you may want to remove the seeds from the jalapeño before chopping it up, but if you like it super spicy, you may dare to leave them in!) The vegetables don't need to be chopped finely--the blender will do that for you later.
Cook the vegetables down in a large saucepan using the remaining 2Tbsp olive oil. Here I fudged the recipe a bit--I accidentally added the coconut milk before blending the cooked vegetables. Either way, you basically need to cook down the vegetables (in olive oil only or in the coconut milk) until they are pulpy. 

Step 4: Bake the chicken
While the vegetables are cooking on the stove, you should put your chicken in the oven. It only needs to cook for about 12-15 minutes.

Step 5: Finish cooking the curry sauce
Once the vegetables are cooked down, let it cool down a little and then throw them in the blender until there are few to no chunky pieces. Return the blended vegetable mixture to the saucepan.
At this point, if you haven't added the coconut milk, please do so. Also add the remaining 1/2tsp nutmeg and 1/2tsp cinnamon to the saucepan.

If you've timed it right, the chicken will have cooked for about 12-15 minutes at this point, so you can add that to the sauce now as well.
Let everything simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Step 6: Enjoy!
Serve with some rice or other sides. We quickly made some spinach with almonds and dried cranberries.
This is a quick and easy side: just wilt a bunch of spinach in some olive oil, and add chopped almonds and some dried cranberries (or raisins). That's all there is to it.

Bon appétit!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Out: Dinner and a movie ("Her" and Absolute Noodle)

This post is a bit late, but I wanted to share about my dinner and a movie night with the boyfriend.

We caught the 3pm showing of the movie "Her" at E Street Cinema (cool theatre in downtown DC that shows indie films and serves beer!). The movie was quite entertaining, albeit awkward and inappropriate for kids. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it's basically about a guy and his unconventional girlfriend in futuristic Los Angeles. Something I noticed in the movie that I thought was funny is that all of the men's pants are worn really high...

Anyways, after the movie, we went to Absolute Noodle, a Thai noodle place in Chinatown. We checked in on Yelp and got free veggie spring rolls:
which were delicious. The outer layer was super crispy and not greasy, and the inside filling was piping hot and flavorful. I got the Pad Thai with beef (recommended by the waiter):
and the boyfriend got the lemongrass soup with chicken:

I usually don't feel too strongly about Pad Thai, but I would go back there just for the dish! I won't profess that it's the best thing in the world, but it's great to find a decent low-/average-cost restaurant that serves pretty decent food, especially in "Chinatown," which is full of chain restaurants (e.g., McDonald's, Chipotle, Nando's, Chop't, California Tortilla).

Overall, it was a successful date night (that ended with a trip to the grocery store--another one of my favorite places)! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

In: DIY summer rolls

Tonight I made one of my favorite "DIY" meals--summer rolls. If you don't know what a summer roll, it is like a lettuce wrap but with a rice paper wrap. I'll show you what I mean.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients (Note: yields 2 servings).
You can really put whatever you want in these summer rolls. If you're lacking the inspiration for your first attempt, here is my list.

2 chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced or julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1/2 bell pepper, julienned
1 avocado
1 cup spinach
Rice paper
Rice noodles
Sweet chili sauce (or ponzu sauce, if you prefer salty over sweet & spicy)

I sometimes add some other interesting ingredients, like apple, mango, crab meat, cooked shrimp, bean sprouts, and cilantro. I also prefer getting rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken, but the store didn't have any so I had to improvise.

Step 2: Prepare your ingredients.
The boyfriend cooked the chicken with some soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. These aren't absolutely necessary since you'll have the chili sauce, but it does give the chicken more flavor!

I also started soaking the rice noodles. I typically soak them for 10 minutes, but you can soak for as long or little as you'd like, based on how al dente you like your noodles.

In the meantime, I chopped the vegetables. If you don't know how to cut an avocado, please read on. If you do, skip ahead to Step 3!

I decided to include a quick avocado cutting tutorial. I was inspired to do so after seeing my mom try to cut one. She peeled the skin and tried to scrape off as much of the meat as possible. Don't do that! Instead, cut the avocado (skin on) in half longways.
Then, twist the two halves apart. (Yes, I know. My avocado wasn't super fresh, but it was still good!)
Now, stick the knife in the avocado seed. The easiest way to do this is do an axe-like chop into the seed.
Twist the seed out with the knife.
Now, all that's left is to get the meat out. I like to cut longways for, essentially, avocado strips. But you can also cube the avocado or just scoop it all out with a spoon if you want a big piece of avocado!

Step 3: Serve and eat!
After preparing all of the ingredients, I set them out in separate little bowls.

You'll only want to prepare your rice paper immediately before preparing each individual roll. Don't prepare them in advance, or they'll get too sticky and rip apart. Preparing them is easy. Just have a large bowl of warm water set aside, and immerse the rice paper for 5 seconds. The paper may seem too stiff, but it will have softened by the time you fill the roll.

Fill the roll with whatever ingredients you'd like, placing everything in a line from one end of the rice paper to the other. Don't put too much in, or else it may not wrap!
Then, close up the roll by taking one side of the paper (where you don't have a pile of ingredients) and pull it up over the ingredients in the center. Repeat with the opposite side, sticking the two sides together. Then just fold up the open ends.

There you have it! A DIY summer roll. Enjoy!