Friday, August 30, 2013


Inari used to be sort of a special treat in my house growing up. It's just one of those kid-friendly foods - in both taste and packaging - and I would get so excited to see my mom making them for dinner. It's still kind of a special treat these days too.

You might not have eaten inari before, but I'm sure you've seen it. When you go to the pre-packaged sushi area of your market, you might've seen little brown pouches filled with rice. That's inari. The brown pouches are actually seasoned tofu with a slit cut into it to turn it into a pocket. They're available in most Asian markets. Some come pre-seasoned, some you have to season yourself.

12 to 15 seasoned aburage (available canned or vacuum packed)
3 cups sticky rice (dry)
1½ cups water
½ cup finely diced carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spicy Pickles

If you've been keeping up with my garden updates, you'll know that I've been blessed with a healthy cucumber crop. At one point, there were three GIANT cucumbers in my fridge that were just sitting around and I thought I'd make pickles instead of letting them go to waste.
There are a million ways to make pickles and a million different recipes. I'm not saying my way is best but I do think my way is delicious. It's also really easy.

2 lbs cucumbers
½ red onion
8 cups water
½ cup sea salt
5 sprigs dill
1 jalapeno
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cheese Ddukbokki

My ddukbokki/rabokki post is from 1.5 years ago. In that time, (I think) I've improved my photography - both skills and equipment - and posting style. So, though this recipe is practically the same as my first post (give or take a few details), it's a bit prettier, better organized, and the addition of the cheese is something new. That's why instead of making this a "What I Ate"-style post, this is a full-blown recipe post. Also, the old post is one of the most popular posts on my blog. Now people can come and look at this prettier version instead of that old, kind-of-hideous post.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 cups water (more or less depending on how saucy you like your dish)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, greens and whites chopped separately
3 to 4 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang; use more or less depending on spice tolerance)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru; use more or less depending on spice tolerance)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 lb. thawed rice cakes (preferably tubes, not ovals, though ovals still work)
1 cup seafood (I used little octopi but shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, etc. would be great)
½ cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella but American cheese is more common)
1 hard boiled egg
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What I Ate: Ssam (쌈)

What is ssam? If you've never had Korean barbecue, you need to try it. And if you have been to a Korean restaurant to enjoy Korean barbecue, you'll notice that along with marinated beef and/or pork and/or chicken, you'll also be given a basket of lettuce, a bowl of garlic slices, pepper slices, spicy sauce, and scallion salad. Ssam literally translated means "wrapped" and you just make bite-sized lettuce wraps.

I've shared a kalbi recipe on my blog before, but I don't think I've shared 'ssam,' which is a travesty!
In our house, we like to serve ssam with plenty of accompaniments: sliced long hot peppers, thinly sliced garlic, ssamjang (which is a spicy condiment made from gochujang, fermented bean paste, garlic, sesame oil, and brown sugar), sesame oil mixed with salt and pepper, and duh, lettuce. Usually we use red leaf lettuce but once in a while, we'll pick perilla leaves from our garden (which is what's shown in the photos above and below). Honestly, you can use any lettuce you prefer - even iceberg. Bigger pieces of lettuce should be torn up so that each lettuce wrap can be eaten in one bite.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Love Almond Milk

Like many people out there, I am lactose intolerant... kind of. I can enjoy a (small) scoop of ice cream or a cheesy pizza without feeling overly sick but the second I drink a glass of ice cold milk, I feel awful. My tummy aches and I start to feel nauseated.

Luckily, there's almond milk. A few weeks ago, I discovered a chocolate almond milk, made by the brand Silk, that is delicious but perhaps a tad too sweet. The solution? Mix my own, of course!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What I Ate: Green Smoothies

Last year, I posted about green smoothies. I stopped drinking them in the winter but once the weather warmed up, I got back into them. They're refreshing, filling, and healthy and make a great breakfast.
Lately, I've been making my smoothies with just three ingredients: greens (usually spinach), water, and frozen fruit (usually peach or mangoes). Last year's recipe included a banana but I've been omitting it lately because though it makes the smoothies taste too sugary. Also, if I have some on hand, I'll throw in a handful of chia seeds, which are amazing for you.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Imagine this scene, if you will: "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back..." sung by Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) and Lackawanna County School District Representative Christian (Tim Meadows). Do you know what I'm going on about or am I typing to an empty room? It's a reference to the show 'The Office' if you didn't know.

Hm, moving on: I grilled a half-rack of ribs last month, yeah, last month and I'm only posting about them now (all those Belize posts pushed my summer cooking adventures back about a few weeks). Well, anyway they came out awesome. I turned to my good friend, Google, for guidance on how I should go about cooking these ribs, knowing I wanted to involve the grill. There were a lot of different techniques out there so I did what I always do - I combined bits and pieces of what I read to create my own method.
I decided to do a dry spice rub because I thought it would be less messy than a wet marinade and because I knew it wouldn't burn as easily as using a liquid, sugar-filled barbecue sauce.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
½ rack baby back ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
+ barbecue sauce for dipping (optional; I like Kraft's Honey barbecue sauce)

I just picked a bunch of spices from my cabinet - ones I thought would make a flavorful rub and taste good on ribs. You can do the same - you don't necessarily have to use exactly what I did. But I would definitely recommend using brown sugar as a "base" to add sweetness and aid in caramelization.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Julienned Radish Kimchi (채장아찌)

I'm realizing that I haven't done a Korean post in a long time! I posted a photo of some grilled samgyupsal (pork belly) and I had a 'What I Ate' post back in May but I haven't done a proper recipe post since March. Whoa. That's not to say I haven't eaten plenty of Korean food, but I guess I haven't made anything new (or at least I haven't documented it) in a while.

A few weeks ago, I made julienned radish kimchi. It's probably the easiest kimchi to make and it can be eaten right away, unlike most kimchis that need some time to ferment. Because the radish is cut up so small, the seasonings penetrate quicker. And actually, this mixture is usually what is used to season whole cabbage kimchi, but that's a story for another day.
Ingredients [makes 2 to 3 cups of kimchi]
1 lb Korean radish (or daikon)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 chopped scallion
3 to 5 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 to 2 tablespoons Korean fish sauce (almost every Asian country has its own type of fish sauce)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
*you'll also need a mandolin and plastic gloves

Monday, August 19, 2013

Grilled Potato Packets

I love wrapping vegetables up in a little foil packet and throwing it on the grill. It's a great low-maintenance way to cook. This "recipe" is so simple, I feel a little silly even putting this post together, but my sister thought these potatoes were really good, so I feel like it's worth sharing. This is a perfect side dish for camping.

1 lb. baby red potatoes (or another firm potato of your choice)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Start by laying out a big piece of foil. Cut up larger potatoes, leave the small ones alone, and place on top of the foil. Add butter (cut up into small pieces), sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and drizzle on some olive oil.
Wrap up the foil to form a packet. I like to grab two sides together, roll them down, and then fold up the sides.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Watermelon & Feta Salad

What is salad? I define salad as a chilled dish made up of relatively uniformly sized ingredients mixed together. The majority of the ingredients are fruits or vegetables. Though most salads are chilled, they can also be served room temperature and a few are typically served warm. What else - most contain a flavor enhancing seasoning, e.g. spices, oils, or dressings. That's how I define a salad.

So when I throw a bunch of watermelon, feta, and cilantro into a bowl, I'd say it qualifies as a salad.
I was debating whether or not I should even post this because it's just three ingredients and it's so simple. However, I thought that for anyone who hasn't thought about watermelon in a more savory context, this would be an interesting post.

2 cups cubed watermelon (½" cubes)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (or basil or mint)

And now for the difficult instructions: add all of the ingredients to a bowl, toss together, and eat. I know, I know; that's it. Such a simple dish that's super delicious. The contrast of sugary watermelon to the salty cheese is awesome and of course, cilantro always brightens up a dish. If you're not a fan of cilantro, you can use basil.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I Ate: Grilled Pizza & Hot Wings

Like I said, I have a lot of grilling posts to share. Today, it's grilled pizza (and hot wings). This post is a 'What I Ate' so it's not a recipe post but I do share my technique for grilling pizzas. The trick is to pre-grill the crust.
I started by making some pizza dough. I made a double batch because I wanted double the pizzas.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cilantro Chimichurri

I posted a recipe for a cilantro and parsley chimichurri almost two years ago. It's a good recipe but it's not my favorite chimichurri recipe. My favorite chimichurri is made with just cilantro - no parsley - and with lots of jalapeño for a good kick of spice and freshness. You have to really love cilantro to make this.
Chimichurri isn't chimichurri unless it messes up your breath with a punch of garlic so I use plenty of that too.

Ingredients [makes about ½ cup chimichurri]:
1 bunch of cilantro (1 cup packed, stems removed)
2 cloves garlic
1 medium-sized jalapeño
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
¼ to ⅓ cup olive oil

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

After literally years of debating whether or not I should buy an ice cream maker, I finally caved. I bought one from Williams-Sonoma because it came with an extra freezer bowl and a $20 rebate and it had great reviews. It's by Cuisinart and it's easy to operate and I figured out how to set it up without even looking at the directions because it's pretty self-explanatory. I'd never made ice cream before (not counting the time I made it in summer camp inside of a jar inside of a coffee can with ice and salt) so I wanted to start with the most basic and crucial flavor: vanilla.
I know vanilla has this reputation for being plain because it's the most common ice cream, but when you eat something that's enhanced with vanilla bean and vanilla sugar and vanilla extract, it's other-worldly. Vanilla is delicious.

Ingredients [makes 2 to 3 pints]:
2 cups half & half
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup + ½ cup vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Monday, August 12, 2013

Garden Update 5

Those Belize posts really slowed down my garden update posts. Some of these photos were taken a month ago. But despite their age, I had to share these photos because of how awesomely well the garden is doing.

Look at these huge cucumbers! We've probably "harvested" at least a dozen cucumbers by now. This plant has been v. generous to us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Grilled Nectarines with Gelato

Our grill is getting a serious workout and that makes me happy. Summer is all about grilling and easy desserts that do not require ovens to be turned on. Because when an oven goes on the house heats up and you start to sweat and then the air conditioning has to blast harder and then your energy bills go up and then Mother Earth cries herself to sleep and then baby polar bears knock on your door and ask you why you didn't just grill outdoors and then you cry yourself to sleep. Okay, that is a really weird exaggeration and a horrid run-on sentence but you get the picture, right?
But seriously, why would you turn on your oven in the summer when you can just fire up the grill and pump out this effortless dessert that takes 10 minutes max and only 3 ingredients?

ripe nectarines or any other stone fruit that grills well (peaches, plums, apricots,)
brown sugar
gelato or ice cream - the flavor is up to you; I chose vanilla bean, a classic (you can certainly use homemade and I actually have an ice cream recipe coming next Tuesday so stay tuned!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I Ate: BBQ Chicken

Just before I started posting about Belize, I wrote a post about our new grill. I wanted to share how we used it that first day, immediately after setting it up. So yeah, this meal is from several weeks ago - actually quite literally one month ago - but it's still summer so it's still appropriate.
While the grill was heating up, I made a little potato salad. It was kind of like the salad from one of my early posts (from back in 2011) but a lot simpler. I just used cute baby red potatoes (boiled until just tender), diced onion, diced celery, minced garlic, chopped parsley, plain Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Yesterday's post was the last 'dining out' post but today is the final post related to Belize. I promise (I think). I just wanted to share these mini bottles of hot sauce that we saw at the airport, of which we bought three.
Marie Sharp's is a brand we saw everywhere and it's a hot sauce made locally in Belize. This particular bottle is called "Beware" and it has quite an interesting warning on the back. Click the photo enlarge and read for yourself. We've actually used this a few times already. I took a miniscule amount on my fingertip and tasted it and my mouth was on fire. Thus, we use this v. v. sparingly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Manelly's Homemade Ice Cream

Okay, this is my final Belize-related dining out post, for this year at least. I wanted to save the best for last. One morning, it was raining pretty hard so my sister and I worked on a puzzle and watched a lot of television and hung out waiting for the weather to let up. When it finally did, we decided we wanted to get out of our hotel and do something so we decided to take the bikes out. We didn't want to leave without a destination in mind so we looked at the free map we got from the airport and saw an ice cream shop.
We biked over to this colorful little shop, locked up our bikes, and went inside. Manelly's makes all of their ice cream and they roll their own waffle cones. They have traditional flavors like chocolate and strawberry but they also have flavors that will remind you of the beach and tropical location like coconut and banana and Belizean fudge.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Casa Pan Dulce Bakery

So you thought that because I shared our last meal in Belize that I was done with my holiday posts but you were mistaken, my friend! I have a couple more things to share. On our last day on the island, we biked up north and on our way back to the hotel, we spotted a bakery and we popped in to grab some goodies that we could eat for breakfast on the airplane.
They had a lot of amazing baked goods to choose from, as you can see.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Caroline's Cookin'

For our final dinner in Belize, we went to Caroline's because it was rated #4 on Trip Advisor and it was just a short walk from our hotel.

It's not on the beach and the seating is indoors, so it's a great spot for rainy days or for avoiding mosquitoes.
To start, we were given a plate of chips and salsa (free). The salsa was bright and fresh and the chips were super crunchy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wild Mango's (2)

We took a second trip to Wild Mango's because we enjoyed it so much the first time. I had been apprehensive about eating any meat that wasn't seafood just because what we'd seen in the grocery stores had made me really nervous. However, 4.5 days into our trip, I was craving red meat. The first time we went, I saw that they had a steak with chimichurri and I'm a huge fan so we went back to order it.

We each got a smoothie again, and this time, they were all different colors so I'm sharing a photograph of each. My dad got a papaya smoothie and my sister got an orange and mango smoothie.
I got a strawberry and coconut smoothie which was so delicious.
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