ten-minute stir fry

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ingredients: garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, cooked rice, brown mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, eggs, sesame seeds, fresh basil, ginger, sea salt, and black pepper.

chop up the garlic and sauté in sesame oil. crack the eggs into the pan (season with salt and pepper) and chop up the mushrooms and eggplant while the garlic and eggs are cooking in the pan. add the mushrooms and eggplant into the pan, then add the cooked riced, and cover in soy sauce (and a little more sesame oil). chop up some ginger and fresh basil, and add into the pan. add the spinach in and watch it shrink down. season with salt and pepper, take off the heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

i’m pretty sure this post took me longer to write up than making this dish for dinner tonight.

spaghetti squash with sausage and kale

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ingredients: spaghetti squash (get them to cut it in half for you at the grocery store – if they’ll do it, it will save you a lot of hassle), sausages, kale, garlic, onion, pine nuts, fresh parsley, sea-salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

pre-heat oven to 400°, scoop out the spaghetti squash seeds, place the pieces of spaghetti squash on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes.

while the spaghetti squash is in the oven, chop up the garlic, onion, sausages, kale, and parsley. put the garlic and onion in a pan first with olive oil – eventually add the sausage pieces to the mix, then the kale, pine nuts, and parsley.

once the spaghetti squash is ready, fork it out into a bowl and then add the sausage and kale mixture to it. season with salt and pepper.

make your leftovers taste different the next day by adding different spices to it – i recommend rubbed sage.

homemade almond milk

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i’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time now, but just haven’t gotten around to it. i even put it on my bucket-list, not because my life would be incomplete and i’d be unfulfilled if i never got around to it, but because it might have a higher probability of actually happening if it was written down somewhere on a list. i kind of treat my bucket-list like a life-long to-do list anyway. and guess what? it worked – i made almond milk.

when it comes to making almond milk, i’ve found that there are so many different ways to go about it. how do you know which one is the right way and will produce the best tasting almond milk?! well, you don’t (especially if it’s your first time) so you just have to pick one and stick with it… or wing it and combine a bunch of different methods, based on what you feel will produce the best results… which is what i ended up doing.

ingredients: almonds, a strainer or a nut milk bag (after trying the strainer method, i strongly suggest a nut milk bag, and i will definitely be getting one for next time), water, vanilla extract, honey, and a blender.

soak one cup of almonds in a bowl of water overnight in your fridge – i let them soak for over 12 hours, as i read that the longer they soaked, the creamier the milk would be. once they’ve been soaked, take the almonds and peel the skin off if you have the patience – according to my friend chloe, “with skins on, the milk will have a different texture and won’t resemble conventional milk.” she is probably right, but after squeezing a few off and realizing i still had like 100 almonds to go, i wanted to shoot myself – i don’t do well with mundane, repetitive, mind-numbing tasks. i consulted the other recipes i was following and none of them said anything about taking the skins off, so i made the executive decision to throw it all into the blender. put two cups of water in with the almonds (for “the consistency of 2% milk“) – i figured if i wanted it thinner, i could always add more water, but wouldn’t be able to subtract water if i wanted it thicker. blend it around for a couple of minutes (add honey and vanilla extract somewhere along the way) and then strain the mixture – i used a strainer and a spoon (because i saw it on a youtube video that i can’t seem to find again now) but BIG MISTAKE! i now see why people use a nut milk bag to do this, and i would highly recommend it, even though i’ve never used one. using a strainer and a spoon to squeeze out the almond milk was time consuming and painful, and i’m never making that mistake again. taste the almond milk – add more honey and/or vanilla until you like what it tastes like. store in a jar and refrigerate.

and there you have it… almond milk!

next time, i will definitely use a nut milk bag. also, i might try peeling all the skins off the almonds… but with a substantially smaller test-batch. through a little trial and error, i have no doubt that i will have my perfect homemade almond milk in no time.

kabocha “ravioli” with a hazelnut cream sauce

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ever find a recipe online and think to yourself, “oh nice, that looks awesome and super easy to make” because of how flawlessly it’s presented?

making assumptions is the worst thing you can do in life… especially with recipes like this.

here’s what i learned the hard way:

  • cutting a squash/pumpkin is difficult (although if you pierce it all over with a knife and microwave it for a couple of minutes, it does ease the process).
  • steaming a squash/pumpkin takes way too long and doesn’t really work – you’re better off by just sticking it in the microwave until it becomes soft.
  • little tools like “circle ravioli cutters” are often omitted from the ingredients list of recipes – luckily, resourcefulness with a hint of creativity quickly figured out that a wine glass would achieve the same results.
  • to make ravioli that sticks together, you probably need specific types of pasta sheets, or to make fresh ones from scratch.
  • spring roll wrappers that happened to be sitting in my fridge worked a little better than the pasta sheets that we picked up, but still weren’t the best choice.
  • your “ravioli” will look more like a first-grader’s art project, rather than a martha stuart magazine spread.

although our ravioli was far from aesthetically pleasing, the overall dish still tasted incredible, and we had a ton of fun making it – i don’t think i’ve ever laughed that hard trying to cook pasta before. next time though, i’m definitely making the filling, the sauce, and just piling it all on top of cooked (gluten-free) pasta.

ingredients for the filling: kabocha pumpkin, parmesan cheese, thyme, minced garlic, sea-salt, and pepper.

mix ingredients together – i recommend a potato masher for the job.

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ingredients for the sauce: butter, chopped shallots, minced garlic, thyme, white wine, cream, and crushed hazelnuts.

sauté shallots and garlic in the butter over high-heat for a few minutes. reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients in. stir until ready to serve.

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authentic thai food: gai pad krapow, moo ping, and khao neaw (sticky rice)

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trying to recreate authentic-tasting food at home can always be a bit of a challenge and it doesn’t always work out (aka this). but when it does work out… oh man, it is just incredible and so satisfying. in my experience, the key to recreating the authenticity of food is having the right recipe, the right ingredients, and the ability to improvise. luckily, we had all those things on the night that gary, yukiko, allan, and i decided to make a few thai dishes.

gai pad krapow

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the pictures and text from gary’s awesome thai cookbook says it all.

moo ping

yukiko found this recipe online.

ingredients: pork, garlic, cilantro, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, coconut milk and skewers.

apparently the measurements for the sauce are important, so here they are:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce

guesstimate everything else.

mix all the ingredients together (minus the coconut milk) and let it sit. the original recipe says you have to marinate it for 3-4 hours, but we didn’t read that until we were already in the process of making it (oops); it did get to sit there for a little bit since gary had to run home to grab his fish sauce. thread it onto the skewers, brush the coconut milk onto it, and grill.

khao neaw (sticky rice)

surprisingly easy to make. yukiko found this recipe, we used the microwave method, and it actually turned out like legit sticky rice!

“Soak the sticky rice for 10 minutes in warm water in a bowl. Soaking the rice is very important. I have tried this method without soaking the rice first and it was disastrous. The rice was undercooked and inedible. The water level should be just above the rice, which comes out to be 1 cup of rice and a little over 1 cup of water (about 10% more). I recommend using a non-plastic container because you may melt the plastic in the microwave. Cover the bowl with a dish and cook in microwave for at full power 3 minutes. Stir the ricearound to move the rice from the top to the bottom. You will notice that some of the rice is translucent or cooked and some still has white center or the uncooked portion.

Heat it up again for another 3 minutes. Check and see if it is done. When cooked, all the rice should be translucent. If it needs more cooking, I recommend heating up and checking every 3 minutes or so. How long it takes to cook really depends on your microwave.” – http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/sticky-rice

we also found that the reheated sticky rice from the night before actually turned out better than freshly made sticky rice.

combine all of the above, eat on an incredible rooftop patio, serve with bottles of heineken, and pretend you’re in bangkok.

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tired from work and want a quick and easy dinner?

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honestly, as much as i LOVE cooking, when i’m tired after work, the last thing i want to do is a lot of prep work and wait a few hours for my food to cook. and as tempting as eating out all the time is, it adds up pretty quickly (in terms of money and calories). so it’s great when i can find recipes that are already pretty simple, work with the ingredients i already have so i don’t have to spend money on getting random, obscure ingredients that i will never use again, especially if i can substitute them for something else (or just omit them completely), and modify the recipe to save my time and energy, without compromising the taste.

original recipe found here. my modified recipe below.

ingredients: cauliflower, quinoa wild-rice mix (i actually would have preferred just quinoa, but i was just working with what i had at the time), veggie broth, spinach, minced garlic, mushrooms, goat cheese, olive oil, sea-salt, black pepper, and thyme.

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut up mushrooms and cauliflower – place on baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. sprinkle sea-salt, black pepper, and thyme over top, while mixing the veggies around. place in oven (i tend to place things in the oven even before it’s preheated, since it saves time – just keep your eye on it and it should turn out fine). make the quinoa in a pot with veggie broth over the stove, while the veggies are roasting. meanwhile in another pan, sautée spinach with olive oil and garlic. once it’s all done, mix everything together in a huge bowl or serving dish, and add an abundance of goat cheese. goat cheese overload = no dressing needed.

prep time: 2 minutes
cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes (depending on how roasted you want your cauliflower and mushrooms to be)
total time: 17 – 22 minutes
time saved from original recipe: 13 – 18 minutes

pan fried eggplant with pork via remcooks

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original recipe found here. in making this dish, a few modifications were made: i didn’t know what a filipino eggplant was exactly, so i just grabbed the first random eggplant i saw at the grocery store; black pepper was used instead of white pepper, no cornstarch was used, green onion was used instead of garlic chives, and white sugar was used instead of brown sugar. actually, i don’t even remember if we used sugar, since yukiko and i made this quite some time ago.

ingredients (that were used): eggplant, ground pork, white onion (sliced), garlic (minced), soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion (sliced), sugar (optional), and cooking oil.

slice the eggplant and set aside in a bowl. mix the ground pork in another bowl with the sesame oil, pepper, and soy sauce. fry the eggplant in a pan, until it looks grilled. place the eggplant back in its bowl and set it aside. sautée the onions and garlic in a pan, and add the meat mixture in. once the meat is pretty cooked, add the eggplant back in the pan. add more soy sauce in, (potentially) add the sugar in, and throw the chives in there too. serve with red wine and devour on an amazing apartment rooftop patio, while catching up with a good friend.

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