Sunday, December 27, 2009

From 36,000 Ft above Oregon

Well, since my Virgin America Flight has free wifi and an electric outlet for our netbook, i figured I might as well be productive :)

The recipe for the christmas trees was a modificiation from this recipe on Bread & Honey.
The only difference is that I used whipping cream instead of milk, and I used ground cloves instead of nutmeg.

For the white chocolate ganache  simply bring 2 cups of heavy whipping cream to a simmer. As soon as it begins to bubble around the edge of the pot, pour it over 8-11 oz of white chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or so, then whisk together untilu all the chocolate has melted. Refrigerate until the sauce thickens and it ready to pipe onto the cookies.

Last post this year from Sunny Cali

But more posts to come from Seattle as i'll be there roaming and discovering the city for a week!

Meanwhile here are some pics of Almond Butter Christmas trees!  ( Recipe to come soon... kinda in a rush to get to the airport)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Parade of the Gingerbreadmen

Recipe from Thick and Chewy Gingerbreadmen. Its Amazing.


Mr. and Mrs. Gingerbread

I did make the three layer cake I told you about earlier... bit a little differently : one lawyer brownie w/ cocoa powder,  one layer brownie w/ melted semisweet chocolate, and one layer of vanilla cake.

The filling is one layer of white chocolate cream cheese peppermint ( Simply melt one bag of white chocolate chips, 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 tbsp of butter in the microwave at about 1 minute. Mix well, then fold in peppermint pieces.)  Repeat the same with semi sweet chocolate for second layer of filling.

Frost with freshly whipped vanilla cream. ... This cake has since been transported to my uncles since I have tons of other stuff to take today. I'll try to grab a picture tonight and post tomorrow.

Meanwhile my almond butter cookies are cooking down so i can decorate them with colored white chocolate ganache.

Be back soon!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Lunch Date with my Sister

My long awaited winter break has begun and it seems I have taken a slight hiatus from my computer and the blogging world.

There was a layered cake experiment yesterday... chocolate cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I think it was ok, but maybe too much frosting?  I think im going to alter the cake a bit -- use brownie batter instead, keep white chocolate cream cheese peppermint as the filling, but do a simle whipped cream to frost it with, and decorate with crushed peppermints. I'll probably bake this one up on Thursday for the Christmas Eve Dinner at my aunt's.  I am also planning on baking a few other items... cookies, but what kind? Gingerbread? Spice? Any ideas on other items I can make?

I'll be off tomorrow morning to do the remainder of the Christmas shopping and buy myself an electric hand held mixer because thus far I have been using a simple whisk--- and my arm gets tired (especially if the batter is really thick).

 I also made Palak Paneer yesterday and it was amazing. But I didnt make it at my house - hence no pictures  : (
It's ok, that just means I'll have to make it again sometime soon and post pictures and the recipe this time!

On another note, my sister and I decided to try out "FRIDA" at the Americana on Brand in Glendale. Not bad. Not amazing either. But the food was pretty, I can give them that much.  The tacos I got smelled amazing, like BBQ... but didnt really taste like it.  The refried beans were perfect. My sister got th Enchilada Suiza -- personally not a fan, but she loves it. She also indulged in a Strawberry Margarita -- they don't skimp on the alcohol. As my sister said, ":if you want a margarita done right, you have to go to a Mexican restaurant".

Here are the pics, enjoy:

The Tequila Laden Strawberry Margarita

Freshly made Tortilla Chips with two salsas

Simple Tomato Salsa, no crazy flavors, no crazy spices

Tomatillo Salsa, Light and Refreshing

The Enchilada Suiza (W/Chicken)

My Two Taco Combo Plate ( Each taco is made with a small corn tortilla - i prefer flour)

Notes: the dish does come with rice AND refried beans, but i requested to just have to spoons of beans instead 

Close up of the chicken taco 

Close up of the beef taco

C'est Tous! ( That's all)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Not so Healthy, but delicious Pasta Sauce

So, I wanted to be more creative and less health conscious than usual. I opened the fridge to find parmesan sitting on the door, heavy cream ( which i use for making the perfect scrambelled eggs/ omlettes) sitting all by it lonesome on the top shelf, and a huge tupperware full of freshly washed herbed..... Herbed Cheese Sauce !

First, sautee a medium onion in some olive oil along with 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno and 5 garlic cloves .
Meanwhile, chop up fresh herbs( cilantro, parsley, basil) and set aside along with 2 more cloves of garlic.
Next slice 7 oz of crimini mushrooms and add to the onions, lightly salt to speed up the cooking process.
After the mushrooms hav become to shrink and soften, deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of white wine.
Once about 80% of the liquid/wine has evaporated away, pour mixture into a bowl and set aside

Now, place 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and add 1/3 -1/2 cup of whipping cream, slowly warm it up without letting it come to a boil. Once suffiiciently warm, add in 1/2 cup or so of grated parmesan ( you could easily put less, its mostly for flavor. If you put too much you'll just end up with globs of melted cheese)

Keep stirring the mixture until the cheese has melted thoroughly. Next add the mushroom onion mixture back in. Finally, stir in the fresh herbs and garlic along with a few grape tomatos.

Simmer and stir for two minutes or so and serve over fresh pasta.

Indulge once in a blue moon, its ok.  

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday Night- Date Night

In the midst of law books and Pandora Radio, the pressure to "succeed"... to have your entire being graded by one 3-4 hour exam, my other half took me out to a Saturday date-night dinner. Indian of course :)

We always order the same thing everytime we go to Flavor of India in Burank , CA

The Vegetarian Thali : "Two vegetables of your choice... comes with dal, rice, raita, and naan"

Everything comes in one nice package. ( plus we had a coupon for $10 of our meal... that always helps in this economy of course)

He opted for the ginger beer, aloo gobi and aloo mattar - likes his cauliflower and potatoes. I on the other hand ordered the Saag Paneer, and the Makhni Paneer ( yes, yes I like the Paneer).

While we were waiting for our meals to come out we munched on this ( Papadams) with  pumpkin chutney:

While he raved about his dish throughout the meal, like we always do when we visit this quaint restaurant... I can vouch for my choices. The Makhni Paneer was rich and flavorful, seemingly melting in my mouth. It was the perfect sauce to dip my freshly baked naan into. The Saag Paneer was equally amazing full of rich spices, it will make anyone love spinach.

 I almost forgot to take a picture! By the time I took out the camera I had already eaten my Raita and a few bites of the rice and Makhni Paneer.  You can see the Kachumber ( cucumber tomato salad) hiding in the back and the daal soup to the right.  Both of those items went to the Fiance and half the rice, naan and all the Saag Paneer came home with me!

Thats all for now folks... I'd love to write more... but I slept 2 hours last night studying for this mornings finals..... and looks like a repeat production tonight :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lentils & Quinoa

This well rounded vegetarian dish is sure to "hit the spot" on a cold winters day.


1 tsp olive oil
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 1/4 cup green lentils
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp granulated onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup pearl onions
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
3 cups stock/broth of choice
1/2 tsp seal salt
fresh cracked black pepper

  Sautee the onion, garlic, celery and jalapeno w/ the olive oil on low heat for about 5 minutes , stirring occasionally. Next, add the lentils and remaining spices/herbs along with 2 cups of the stock. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If you would like more of a "soup" use more broth.  Finally, when the lentils have cooked, stir in the cooked quinoa and let it warm through.

Tastes even better the second day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

" I need to feel better ASAP " Soup

Wow, I went an entire semester of not getting sick -- not even for half a day. But of course as soon as finals rolls around and I have to study like a madwoman WHAM , hello symptoms.... goodbye energy.

The symptoms like to come and go. It's like they are taking turns: sore throat one day, fever the next, then one day of only nausea and nothing else. Whats next, and when will it go away??? I have my first final on Friday, International Business Transactions Law. I would like to be conscious and coherent. That would be a plus -- considering its a three hour exam, closed book, covering oh... about 1000 pages of material.

::SIGH:: If you have a law student in your life, or used to be one, I'm sure this is all familiar banter. Either way,  thanks for listening.

Since today I wokeup nauseous, I survived mostly on tea throughout the day. When it came time for dinner, I wanted something simple, nutritious and full of magical ingredients that would boost my immune system and have me up and running.

So.... my soup  


1/2 a medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
Mushrooms, sliced thinly for garnish
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp or less of rice vinegar ( optional)
1 tsp brown sugar
4 cups of beef broth

Sautee the onions in Pam first, then add the jalapeno, garlic and ginger. "Deglaze" with the soy sauce/rice vinegar combo. Quickly thereafter, add the broth and brown sugar and let it simmer.  ( If you have scallions, they would be a great garnish as well)

Garnish with sliced mushrooms.... and pray for a miracle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good Food

Good food doesn't have to be complicated -- neither does great food for that matter.

On the side, I served up some mixed frozen vegetables warmed up using 1/8 cup of broth.

I also made a nice batch of oven baked fries. While you are slicing the potoates, keep them in a bowl of water. This will prevent them from oxidizing. Once all the potatoes are sliced, drain them and pat them dry. Add some olive oil ( just enogh to coat the potatoes, not enough to pool on the bottom of the bowl), some fresh craked pepper, sea salt, and a garlic salt. Toss well, and place evenly on a baking pan. Bake at 450F for 30 minutes, then Broil for an additional 5 minutes to make them crispy.

In a large pan, sautee 1 medium onion in about 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of butter, and some red chilli flakes.
Once the onions become translucent and begin to caramelize add 3 diced Roma Tomatoes, and 5 chopped garlic cloves.  Season with a pinch of garlic salt, fresh cracked pepper 1/2 tsp paprika and about 1/8 cup of ketchup ( secret ingredient). Simmer for a few minutes, then add 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts ( diced).   Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked. ( If the sauce gets to thick and you fear it will burn, simply add some chicken stock to thin it out)

So... since neither of us had lunch today.... this one disappeared before the camera made it to the scene.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The " I need a break from studying " Pie

Have you ever studied so much it started to get to your nerves? So you turn to cooking... and the sound you make when slicing the apples with a sense of determination slowly gives you a sense of calm?

Well, meet apple pie with a twist.

1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat floor
1 cup white flour
1/4 ice cold lime mineral water ( yes lime)
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Combine until the  crumbly dough barely sticks together, press it into the pie pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling

2 small granny smith apples
3 pink lady apples
1/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1 tsp vanilla
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 pinch cinnamon
2 tbsp orange juice

See the bears eying the pie. You know they want some.
( Sadly, I had to take a picture of the pie after it was refrigerated, so it doesnt look as amazing )

EDIT: As one of my readers kindly pointed out, I didn't specify the cooking temperature etc on the original post. It can now be found in my comments suggestion. Though my advice remains: you know your kitchen appliances the best and can probably determine the ideal temperature/time based on the other goodies you have made. What worked for me, may not work for you. Either way, the aroma of a baked item wafting through the home is usually a good sign ;)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis the Season...

...To be stressed with finals, catch a cold, and deal with it all by drinking a plethora of ginger tea and baking of course!

My insipiration for my "brownie pie" came from Sook's recipe for Cocoa brownie's.  You don't need to bother with melting chocolate and all that mess, really!  I have to admit, I did modify the recipe a bit. For example, instead of 1 cup of sugar i used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup regular sugar. The biggest difference is that I added the leftover filling from my Gooey Pumpkin Cupcakes to the batter. I figured it would only add more flavor and moistness, though I am sure the recipe would have turned out just fine without it.


1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Ghiradelli cocoa
( I had some white chocolate chips laying around so those were folded in at the end, along with 1.5 handfulls of chopped walnuts)


In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Then in a smaller bowl combine the baking powder, flour, and cocoa. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Finally, fold in any additional surprises (walnuts, white chocolate etc).

  Bake for 30 minutes at 350F in a pie pan.... Psssst... the topping isnt whipped cream. Do you know what it is?

It's Fage 0% Greek Yogurt !!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holidays in full swing

The Christmas tree is officially up and dazzling... Our ornament from 2007 graces the top of the tree and the bow holds the spot for a future star.

With finals looming in the weeks ahead my cooking schedule and diet have changed considerable – for better or worse.  The passion to create edible creations is going to have to be on the backburner for a couple weeks.

Yesterday, while I was studying at Starbuck’s the barista was kind enough to give the customers a sample of their new Caramel Brulee Frappacino which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Today I found myself at Starbuck’s again. Something about the environment makes me productive. Reminiscing about the sample from yesterday, I chose to order the warm version -- the Caramel Brulee Latte.  Unfortunately, it was not as pleasant of an experience. I think it was a little too much brulee and not enough caramel.  I think I will be sticking to the tried and true peppermint mocha for now.

Have you tried any new drinks at Starbucks lately? What do you think?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pasta to the Rescue

When you are in a rush, but need a quick home-made meal.... its pasta to the rescue.

Today, I created this beauty in between International Business Transactions and Evidence.  I didn't have enough whole wheat pasta for two people, but I didn't let that stop me, I just tossed in some cappelini and ended up with a two-toned creation.

For the sauce/topping I caramelized about 1 cup of onion with 4 cloves of garlic and about 2 oz of Italian Seasoned ground turkey. I then deglazed it with 1/8 cup of white wine. Next came the three diced Roma tomatoes, some frozen artichoke hearts, and 1/2 box of sliced crimini mushrooms. I finished it off with some freshly cracked pepper, sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil. Let it simmer until all the flavors marry, but before the tomatoes completely disintigrate.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Wow... I just made an amazing and healthy lunch if I do say so my self.... So good in fact, that it was gone before I could take a picture of it.

First, I saute ( in olive oil) some sliced onions with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of jalapeno and 1 small box of sliced crimini mushrooms.  Meanwhile microwave 3 small potatoes and 1 medium sweet potato.
Once the veggies in the sautee pan are soft, deglaze with aboug 1/4 of white wine. Continue cooking it on "low" while u peel and dice the sweet potato and dice the potatoes ( i leave the skin on). Add the sweet/potatoes and stir. Finally, add some french cut green beans, salt and pepper and 1/8 cup of chicken broth. This should be just enough liquid for the beans to warm through. Cover and let it sit for a few minutes on low. Lastly, toss in about 1/4-1/3 cup of french's onions. Mix thoroughly and enjoy.

I served this with some quinoa. This meal is not only full of nutrients and vitamins but it is filling and comforting as well. Perfect for an autumn day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gooey Pumpkin Cupcakes

This one is sure to please the belly, maybe not the diet.

I took the famous "gooey bar" recipe which can be found everywhere online and tweaked it a little. The first change is putting the crust and filling in muffin tins, creating cute single servings.

Crust: One box yellow cake mix, 1 tsp pumpkin spice,  1 egg, 1 stick of butter
     - Melt the butter, when it is room temperature whisk in the egg without scrambling it and finally stir in the cake mix and spice . It should be dense like a cookie dough.

Filling:  8 oz cream cheese, 3 eggs, 2 cups pumpkin, 1 tbsp pumpkin spice , 1/2 tbsp vanilla , 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar , 3 stevia packets ( the original recipe calls for an entire box of powdered sugar :: gasp::)
      - Whisk ingredients together. I  soften and wisk the cream cheese separately before whisking it into the eggs and butter to prevent lumpiness

Preheat oven to 335, line muffin pan and put a golf ball size of the dough into each muffin holder. This will make about 15 muffins or so so I made the extra three in aluminum muffin holders which create a mini-pie looking cupcake.

Next using a round spoon press the dough along the bottom and up the sides creating a crust. Finally spoon the filling on top and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The topping should get browned and cake but it should be soft and gooey to the touch.

Serve after refrigerating for best results. Top with freshly whipped vanilla cream.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Simply rinse a bag of fresh cranberries, place it in a saucepan along with once cup or orange juice, the zest of one orange and just enough minced ginger to give a bite. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer until most of the cranberries have popped and the sauce develops a nice bright red color and thick consistency

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quinoa and Black bean stuffed Butternut Squash

This is as simple as healthy recipes get. Simply save the bottom round portion of the butternut squash, take out all the seed and sprinkle it with a little bit of raw sugar. Broil it on low while you make the stuffing.

The stuffing consisted of one can of Trader Joe's Cuban Black beans poured into a pan ( drain at least half the liquid), 1/3 cup of quinoa, a pinch of turmeric, and a pinch of granulated onion. Add about 1/4 cup of chicken broth to this and let it simmer until the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked ( it should be partly translucent)

By this time the Butternut should be cooked and nicely caramelized along the top. Portion some of the filling into the center of the squash, top with fat free feta and garnish with cilantro.

Post Note:  Some freshly chopped cilantro folded into the filling at the end would be a perfect addition

Friday, November 20, 2009

Breakfast Soup

Mmm.... while part of the nation wakes up in the morning to frost covered windows and bundles up for a chilly day, we southern californians are still enjoying 80 degree weather. This alternative to morning oatmeal was a perfect way to start the day.

Simply put 1 fresh mango ( peeled and cored) 2/3 cup fat free plain yogurt ( I like Trader Joes  Organic European Style) 1 packet Stevia, 1 splash vanilla  and 1/3 of a frozen banana. It should result in a smooth consistency.

When serving, I topped it with a tiny bit of milk and some frozen rasperries. Not only is it a pretty addition, but it adds a fresh flavor. Plus, I'm sure little children will love the swirls of pink that magically appear in their breakfast!!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Struesel Topping


Dry Ingredients:

1 cup white flour;1 cup whole wheat flour; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1 tsp baking powder; 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs; 1/2 cup packed brown sugar;
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce;1/2  cup nonfat plain yogurt;1 cup pumpkin puree;2 Tbsp butter; 2 tsp vanilla

Topping Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup raw sugar
pinch of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Honey to drizzle

Preheat oven to 375

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix the wet ingredients together one by one in a larger mixing bowl. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. It should have a fluffy, mousse texture when incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients and set aside. Evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tin, top with the oat topping and drizzle with honey.

Bake for 30 minutes

The apartment smelled amazing while these were baking.... 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Choco-nana Oats

It's getting cold again so I thought it was time to bring the breakfast oats back.  This particular version has no sugar, but gets its sweetness from a ripe banana whipped into the oatmeal at the very end.

Simply make regular oats ( I used 1/4 cup of oats and 1/2 cup of skim milk with a splash of vanilla). When the oats begin to thicken, add a very ripe banana and mix/whip it in. This will not only give it a creamy smooth consistency but also provide the sweetness. Finally, I mixed in 1 tsp of Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder.

The oats are garnshied with more cocoa, white choco chips and a tsp of peanut butter

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moist Chocolate Loaf ( Low fat, thank you pumpkin)

This super moist, just sweet enough chocolate loaf only has 1/8 cup of olive oil as its source of "fat" and attributes its moist texture to pumpkin puree


3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unweetened Ghiradelli cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinmamon
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup backed  brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/s tsp vanilla
1/8  cup olive oil
1 serving each of 60% cocoa chocolate chips, semisweet chips, classic white chips
Cream cheese ( optional)

Preheat oven to 315 degrees and spray loaf pan

In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients ( flours, baking powder/soda and spices, cocoa)
In a larger bowl combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugars, vanilla and olive oil
Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into loaf pan. I chose to add a strip of cream cheese along the top because it looked pretty.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a tooth pick ( or stick of pasta) comes out fairly dry/clean when you poke it into the thickest part of the loaf.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Butternut Squash Naopoleon


Saute the diced butternut squashed  in some olive oil with 1/2 a diced white onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Once the onions become translucent add about 1/8 cup of white wine to deglaze. Then add 1/4 cup of brown jasmine rice and saute for about 1 minute. Finally, add about 1 cup of chicken broth and let it simmer until the rice has cooked. ( It should smell and taste amazing at this point).
Optional: add diced water chesnuts for some extra crunch and 1 tbsp of grated Parmesan for flavor and garlic

The Butternut Squash " layers":

Slice 3 slices of butternut squash from the neck where it is still solid. Either spray with Pam or coat with some olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt on both sides. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes ( depending on your ovens strength). Flip the squash and bake for another 5 minutes.  Then sprinkle some raw sugar and paprika on the top side of the squash and broil on low for 5 minutes until an nice golden color develops.

Layer as depicted and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.