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Vegetable Lasagna

10 Apr

Who says lasagnas must be meaty and cheesy? While lasagnas are undoubtedly delicious meaty and cheesy, I wanted to make a healthier option. You know, spring is here, summer is approaching, I know you are also watching your waistline. Don’t lie.

So I roasted some vegetables- onions, zucchini, and eggplant, layer on whole wheat lasagna, top with a little mozzarella, ricotta, and homemade marinara sauce. Of course it tastes delicious. Warm, gooey, a little cheesy but light. With this recipe, I don’t think I want to go back to meaty lasagna if I have to.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil

salt & pepper

2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 medium eggplant, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

Lasagna Pasta

3 cups marinara sauce- homemade or store bought

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1.5 cup ricotta- skim, whole, your choice.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sliced onion, zucchini , and eggplant on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and toss. Once all the veggies are evenly coated, place the sheet into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

2. In a 9 x 12 baking sheet, layer 1 cup of marinara sauce . Layer a layer of lasagna pasta, then vegetables on top, then dot some ricotta, then a thin layer of mozzarella. Repeat this rotation until all the ingredients run out. It should be enough for 3 thick layers.

3. Bake in the oven with aluminum foil on top for 30 minutes. Take off the top and bake for another 15 minutes, until top is golden brown.

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Enjoy!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

19 Mar

So crumb cakes, eh?

I love crumb cakes. They are light yet scrumptious, fluffy yet buttery. Do you know what I mean?

For some reason, crumb cakes always remind me of summer days down the shore. It makes the best breakfast, summer or winter, paired with coffee or hot tea. Oh, and it’s also a dessert, and snack, I guess.

I found this Ina Garten recipe for blueberry crumb cake. I had to make it. I love the role blueberries play in this delicious good. Sweet yet tart, combined with the heavenly crumbs with a hint of cinnamon. It’s quite perfect.

IMG_6194Ina Garten’s Blueberry Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

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Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

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Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

7 Feb

Do you like goat cheese?

If you do, you’ve got to try this recipe. It takes less than ten minutes and it’s absolutely delicious! Creamy, cheesy, thick, garlicky, yet not too heavy. If you are a goat cheese lover, it doesn’t get much better than this dish!

This recipe is an adaptation of Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce. I’ve made Giada’s recipe a few times, it’s amazing, but I decided to use what I had on hand to make this dish work!

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Ingredients:

1.5 cloves garlic

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 ounce goat cheese

3 ounces of spinach (I used a spinach mix since I didn’t have full spinach)

1/2 pound pasta (to make it healthier, I used organic brown rice pasta)

Grated parmesan to finish

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to its directions. Save pasta water!

2. In a blender/food processor, blend in all the ingredients together with 1/3 cup of pasta water.

3. Mix in the pasta and sauce. Top the dish with grated parmesan on top. THAT’S ALL!

It’s THAT easy! You try it now!

Smoothies!

4 Feb

I noticed that I gain about 3-5 pounds throughout winter every year. It’s cold outside and despite my busy schedule, I still eat constantly and often don’t have the motivation or energy to work out like I do during other seasons of the year. Even when I do work out, I don’t see the results in terms of losing weight. It’s a struggle.

Another problem I’ve been encountering is that I don’t eat enough veggies. This is an all-year round problem.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make smoothies to lose a few pounds, and also to enhance my veggie intake. It’s not extreme. I make a green smoothie for breakfast and have it throughout the morning to keep myself full, I may occasionally have an additional smoothie at night or in the late afternoon when I am hungry for a snack. I have been consuming so much veggies and with working out, I have lost a few pounds!

The smoothie experience has been positive. I go to the local farm/grocery store and buy any veggies/fruit they have, preferably organic. I also bought ground flaxseed to add in extra fiber (be careful though, they add extra calories if you put in too much!). Blend with some almond milk, add a little agave nectar extra sweetness, and the smoothie is done! Veggies that I like to buy are- kale, spinach, mache, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers. In addition, I sometimes also add in frozen blueberries, banana, orange, or whatever fruit I have on hand. The fruits add sweetness so the smoothies are extra yummy!  I even add a few leaves of mint or parsley in the smoothies sometimes to brighten up the taste a bit.

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There really isn’t a recipe for these smoothies. The only problem I can envision people have is getting used to drinking the veggie smoothies. Someone I worked with said to me the other day, “it smells like a garden…” and I thought it was so funny because I absolutely have no problem consuming the green smoothie, but it may be something to get used to for other people who don’t like vegetables.

If you are one of those people who don’t like the smell of vegetables, you can certainly put a scoop of peanut butter or cocoa powder in your smoothie to get a creamier taste. Or if you want to go all fruit, they can’t go wrong either, you can still get good nutrition from an all-natural smoothie.

You see, I am not a nutritionist. I don’t fully know what makes a green smoothie good in terms of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, etc. All I know is that veggies are good for my body, and I feel great after drinking the smoothies. That’s enough for me! I hope to keep this good habit up for a while. You should try it too!

Peking Duck House- Chinatown, NYC

11 Jan

I have always wanted to visit Peking Duck House since my cousin raved about it all the time. Though I am of Chinese decent, I have probably only had Peking duck once, maybe twice, when I was little. My mom wasn’t a big fan of it since it is not all that healthy- fat, oily, but delicious!

Anyway, I finally made a trip to the Peking Duck House in Chinatown the other day. What a surprise for me it was. I am so used to the dirtier, dingier (but delicious) places in Chinatown, I definitely didn’t see this fancier, trying-to-be-upscale restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.

Of course, for the three of us, we ordered one duck. The head chef came to the table with a roasted duck and sliced it in front of us.

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Then we have a plate of juicy, greasy, delicious smelling duck meat, WITH SKIN!

IMG_5980Here we have a bowl of Hoisin sauce.

IMG_5976A plate of sliced scallions and cucumber to refresh the wraps!

IMG_5978And the wraps itself.

IMG_5979And this is how you assemble your Peking duck- Hoisin sauce on the bottom, duck meat, then greens.

IMG_5981And we wrap it together. Ta-Da!IMG_5982Since I am not a Peking duck connoisseur, this Peking duck to me was DELICIOUS! The duck is tender, hoisin sauce adds a nice sweetness and a little tang to it, cucumber is refreshing, and the scallions add a layer of depth to the “sandwich”. It was so good! One thing I will say is that it can get overwhelmingly greasy after a certain point. This is when moderation is key. Unless you love grease. Then you should probably watch your cholesterols because eating like this can be dangerous to your health!

Sorry, I got carried away. Anyway, there are a few locations for Peking Duck House in New York City, If you are in town and am feeling it, I would definitely recommend it!

Please let me know if you also have suggestions of other Peking duck places! I would love to try more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Fancy) S’mores

30 Dec

I love making treats for people around me. I am not an affectionate person, so making and giving treats is really my way of showing my appreciation for the people around me. For the holidays, I decided to make these cute S’mores that I discovered from Pinterest.

They were incredibly easy and fast to make, if you were to make a small batch. However, I literally made over four dozens of these treats. Needless to say they took me a couple of hours. Other than making them as holiday gifts, they are also great for host gifts, party favors, etc.

To make 12 S’mores sandwiches:

24 squares of graham crackers

1.55 oz Hershey bar, break up into squares

12 large marshmallows

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay graham crackers onto baking sheet, top half with 2 squares of chocolate, and half with large marshmallows.

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2. Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes, until marshmallows start turning brown. Take out the sheet and sandwich together two crackers, one with chocolate and one with marshmallow.

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3. Pop these sandwiches into the freezer for at least 5 minutes to harden and cool down. In the mean time, melt chocolate chip with double boiler or in microwave.

4. Take out the sandwiches from the freezer and dip one side with melted chocolate. Add sprinkles, and lay to let cool.

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5. Once the sandwiches are cooled, place them in small plastic bags, attach a card, and they are ready to  be delivered!

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How cute! Try them next time on your own!

Nutella Banana Brioche Bread Pudding

5 Dec

photo

This, is the only picture I have.

I am sorry.

I was in such a hurry when I made it that I only took a picture with my phone. On Instagram.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it though. Because you are going to love this scrumptious dish. For breakfast, for brunch, for dessert. Hell, you can even eat this for lunch and dinner. Make sure you refrain yourself because you might indulge in a lot of pieces. Then you wouldn’t feel too good about it afterwards. I am sorry.

This Nutella banana brioche bread pudding will make you very happy about life. It will make you forget all the sorrow from your past and make you think everything will be a-okay in the future. Cloudy, sweet, creamy, custardy, warm. It’s the best day-after holiday brunch.

I must say, though, that the budget can be a bit high when you add things up. Between the egg challah($6), bottle of hazelnut liqueur($20), cream, whole milk, 8 eggs. You might have to be mentally prepared yourself to spend a bit with this dish. But it will be worth it. You will make your family very happy on Christmas day, indulging this goodness while opening presents in the morning.

So, what more can I say? Just make it. The recipe is here.

Liv Hambrett

An Australian in Germany

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