Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sandwich Thins

Yes, still in T&C and v. happy about it. Today, I just wanted to share one of my new favorite carbs: whole wheat Sandwich Thins. These thin, but hearty flatbread sandwich thins are perfect for anyone who is counting calories and/or carbs but still looking for a convenient lunch (like a sandwich). They're only 100 calories and have lots of whole grain and fiber and though they're pretty thin, they are sturdy so you don't have to worry about a floppy sandwich.

Lately, I've been making my sandwich by spreading a bit of hummus on each side of the flatbread, then adding some thinly sliced cheese, thinly sliced turkey, and a few slices of cucumber. YUM.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Key West

Greetings from Turks and Caicos! Yes, the post is titled "Key West" but currently I'm on holiday in Turks & Caicos so the blog posts for this week are going to pretty low key and casual to match the theme of being on vacation.
giant lobster on Islamorada
I drove down to Key West a couple weeks ago and stopped at Caroline's for lunch (yelp review here) and had their most popular dish, the fish sandwich. It was HUGE and delicious.
After lunch, I wandered down Duval to do a bit of window shopping on my way to the Southernmost Point.
On my way back, I stopped at Flamingo Crossing (yelp review here) for some frozen treats to cool off, since it was an extremely hot, muggy, sweaty day. I tried the orange sorbet (their most popular flavor) and the coconut ice cream. The coconut ice cream tasted really tropical and sweet and the sorbet was perfectly hydrating. I need to buy myself an ice cream maker so that I can make this for myself at home.

Afterwards, it started raining like crazy! Look at my evidence below - that's how much water collected after a ten minute rainstorm. So that was the wet end to my day in Key West.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ava's Cupcakes

What's a better pick-me-up than cupcakes? There's a cupcake place near my office called Ava's Cupcake Shoppe (click for my yelp review) and I got myself a beautiful pink sparkly cupcake and it immediately cheered me up. It made me feel girly and giddy and gave me the sugar rush I needed to finish up my work day.

This is a pink champagne cupcake with edible glitter.
... filled with delicious strawberry goo.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jungol (전골) Stew

I have an updated jeongol post with step-by-step recipe directions, if you're interested.

Jungol is one of those special dishes that my family likes to order in restaurants once in a while. Usually, they'll either set up a little portable gas stove or set you up at a table with a barbecue and bring out a huge pot with a spicy soup filled with vegetables, tofu, noodles, dduk (rice cakes), and meat or seafood. SO GOOD.

Here are some photos of a seafood jungol we ordered at a restaurant (Poong Lim BBQ in Fort Lee). They bring it out cold and then light the range so that it starts bubbling and cooking right in front of you. So showy, right?

Making jungol at home is easy too. You just have to pick a theme, e.g. kimchi, beef, seafood, vegetarian, etc. and then add in ingredients that you love. I don't have a step-by-step photo log for this recipe but here's what I did.

Start by making a soup base (like in my soondooboo recipe) in a wide and shallow pan - I'd say 1 tablespoon oil (canola, vegetable, what have you) and 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes. Let them sizzle and then add in enough broth (or water) to come about halfway up the pan. Then add in your "theme" flavoring agent, e.g. kimchi, beef, seafood, vegetarian, etc. (I added a handful of frozen seafood, 4 medium sized shrimp, zucchini, onion, garlic, and tofu).
Just before you're ready to serve, add in the quick-cooking stuff like udon noodles, rice cakes, and watercress.
And then enjoy but be careful, it's hot!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

I love baby bell peppers because they're so sweet and get even sweeter when they're cooked. I thought that these tiny peppers would make a great appetizer when stuffed with a sausage mixture and the bright colors would make a pretty summery presentation.

Ingredients [serves 6 to 8 people]:
12 to 16 baby bell peppers - as many as you need to use up the stuffing
1/2 lb of sausage - I used sweet basil but use what you like
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cooked rice
1 egg (not pictured)
drizzle of olive oil
Start by grating some parmesan cheese in a large bowl and then add the rice and finely diced onion.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Watermelon!

Watermelon; what a melon! Sorry, that was so corny. I love watermelon in the summer because it's so refreshing and hydrating. Plus, it's good for you. It's got this amino acid, arginine, and rumor has it that it is supposed to help with weight loss. And it's got lycopene (even more than tomatoes) and beta-carotene which is awesome for your skin.

How to pick the best watermelon:
Pick out a watermelon that is "normal" looking - meaning symmetrical and without any major blemishes. Check to see if it has a yellow-ish side (which means that the watermelon was able to ripen in the field and just didn't get enough of a "tan" on that one side). Knock on it and listen for a dull, hollow, thumpy sound. Even if it's ugly on the outside, that thumpy sound lets you know that it's going to be yummy and awesome on the inside. Keep the watermelon in the fridge until you're ready to eat it (up to a week or so, no longer).

Cutting watermelon safely:
Slice off a piece of the melon to create a flat base so it doesn't roll around while you are trying to man-handle it. Cut into 2" slices to make manageable pieces. Cut into triangles for self-serve pieces or do like I do - cut out all the "meat" into bite-sized cubes and place in a huge bowl. Serve with forks and everyone can dig in.
Other serving suggestions:
  1. Freeze the pieces for a lovely frozen treat - you can use them as ice cubes in your lemonade - or take it a step further and blend the frozen pieces to make a quick sorbet.
  2. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt - trust me and just try it. There's a good chance you'll love it because it really is delicious. Try it with other melons too (honeydew, cantaloupe). The salt just enhances the flavor.
  3. Put some watermelon in your salad. Tastes awesome with farmers cheese or feta or gorgonzola. Pile it on top of some peppery arugula for a nice contrast or with mild spinach for something less bitter.
  4. Toss the chunks in a blender along with some rum or tequila for a grown up smoothie; garnish with a lime wedge and mint leaves if you're feeling fancy.
  5. Soak the watermelon with your favorite liquor or white wine for an intoxicating snack.
  6. Send some watermelon through a juicer (or blend and strain) and then mix with a little sparkling water for a fresh watermelon agua fresca
  7. Chop it up with some cilantro, onions, tomato, and jalapeno for a fresh and spicy salsa.
  8. Wrap up watermelon chunks with pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto - perfect easy appetizer on a hot summer night where you refuse to fire up the stove.
  9. Blend watermelon chunks with cucumbers and your favorite fresh herbs (cilantro or basil would be great) and make a lovely watermelon gazpacho.
  10. Put a spin on the traditional caprese salad and use watermelon in lieu of the tomato and mint instead of basil - keep the fresh mozzarella - serve on skewers/toothpicks or tossed together in a big bowl.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Fruit Salad

Fresh summer salads are so delicious and easy and healthy. Start with all of your favorite fruits, cut up into bite-sized pieces (if necessary). Then add in a chiffonade of mint, a squeeze of lime juice, and toss until glossy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Breakers

Recently, I went to lunch with my coworker at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. It's a really fancy luxe hotel with impeccable staff and service. We ate at the Seafood Bar and I loved it.

Heading up the driveway. Beautiful, right? Feels kind of like you're driving up to a palace or something.
This is how lovely and blue the water is. There was an entrance to the beach right next to the restaurant so I went and got some fresh ocean air before lunch.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

It's easy to make "embellished" pancakes - just alter my buttermilk pancakes recipe and add a few blueberries or strawberries or banana or chocolate chips or almonds or sprinkles (funfetti pancakes!) or chunks of cheese and ham (savory pancakes!), the sky is the limit.

I made blueberry pancakes because I wanted to.
+blueberries

Don't add blueberries (or other confetti) directly to the batter. The best technique is to pour the batter onto the pan and then dot the cake with blueberries.
It's the best when the blueberries explode and leave behind a purplish pink stain. Pretty and festive.
The breakfast of champions?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mascarpone Pasta

This is a fake-out macaroni and cheese. It's quick, simple (just boil some water), delicious, and makes a great accompaniment to fried chicken.

Ingredients:
2 cups short cut pasta (I used ditalini)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 to 8 basil leaves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 slices of Serrano ham
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
salt for the pasta water
I'm growing basil in my garden - look how lovely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jjolmyun (쫄면 Chewy Noodles)

I love jjolmyun. It's a Korean noodle dish with a spicy sauce and it can be customized to your preference - with plenty of vegetables or without. Like bibim naengmyun, it's a perfect summer dish because it doesn't require much cooking (just boiling water) and it's a lovely fresh dish that's cooling and refreshing. The noodles, again like naengmyun, are chewy, but they're thicker. I believe that the origin of jjolmyun is that a factory that was making naengmyun messed up because the noodles came out too thick and so they gave them away to a restaurant where the owner mixed them up with gochujang.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 package of jjolmyun noodles (sold in Asian markets - each packet usually comes with two servings but once you add lots of vegetables, it will serve at least four)
1 head of romaine lettuce (or half a head of cabbage if you prefer a different type of crunch)
1/4 red onion
3 or 4 baby bell peppers or 1/2 a regular bell pepper
1 or 2 hard boiled eggs
1 avocado

**If you buy just the noodles in a package without sauce, just make the sauce: mix 1/4 cup gochujang, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons apple juice (or Coca Cola), 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil and stir
Cut the romaine (or cabbage), slice the onion (thinly since no one likes a huge bite of onion), and cut the baby bell peppers into strips.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fried Chicken

"You is kind, you is smart, you is important." Recognize the phrase? It's from 'The Help' which recently premiered on Showtime (and has been playing a LOT). I'd read the book but missed the movie when it was in theaters so I was delighted to be able to veg out one night and watch it with my sister. The scene where Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) teaches Miss Celia (Jessica Chastain) how to make fried chicken immediately gave both of us a huge craving for some.

Ingredients [serves 4 to 6 people]:
1.5 lbs of chicken drumsticks (that's the piece that everyone in my family would fight over in a mixed bucket from KFC so I decided to use all drumsticks but you could use a fryer chicken or just wings or whatever you like)
2 cups buttermilk (estimate)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon baking powder
lots of vegetable shortening - like Minny says, Crisco can do pretty much everything but it's best for frying chicken
Step One is to dress the part. Put on your best flower print frock and slap on an apron because you can't cook southern food without the look. Just kidding. But it does make me happy and it definitely put me in the mood to fry.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Happy Friday the 13th! If you're superstitious and you're freaked out today, then you deserve a treat. How about a cookie? One of my most favorite cookies are oatmeal cookies, whether they have raisins, chocolate chips, or nuts in them, I love them. They are chewy, soft, and "healthy" (minus the sugar, butter, and white flour). This recipe comes straight from the container of Quaker oats, except I use a little less sugar.
Ingredients [yields about 2 dozen]:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats (old fashioned)
handful of raisins (I like golden raisins)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beef with Garlic Sauce

One of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes is shredded beef with garlic sauce. It's beef with celery and a deliciously garlicky sauce that goes so well with rice. It's relatively easy to make in your own kitchen and I'm sure it's much healthier when it's homemade. Like the eggplant with garlic sauce, I'd serve this with a heaping bowl of jasmine rice.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb beef (I used sirloin tips)
1/2 bulb of garlic - 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil, any neutral oil is fine)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup water
Start by making the marinade. Roughly chop up the garlic (lots and lots of garlic!) and then add in the soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, and stir.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

This is a dish inspired by an eggplant dish my family and I had at a Szechuan restaurant once. It's slightly spicy, super garlicky, and really delicious with a bowl of jasmine rice.

Ingredients:
1 baby eggplant (I find that the smaller eggplants have less seeds and they're more tender)
2 scallions
1 hot pepper (I used a Korean long hot pepper but jalapeno would work)
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
oil (I used olive oil but any mildly flavored oil of your choice is great)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce**
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes OR 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 cup water

**Oyster sauce is a salty sweet condiment made by cooking down oysters and it's a staple in Chinese cooking. I've seen it in most grocery stores but you might need to venture to an Asian market to find it. However, if you can't find it, you could just use a 2:1 ratio of soy sauce and sugar instead. In this recipe, I would say use 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
Start by roughly chopping the garlic, slicing the pepper, cutting the eggplant (I made little quarter circles but you could do strips or chunks), and chopping the scallions.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shrimp Kebabs

Here's the recipe for the shrimp kebabs I ate on the 4th of July.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1/2 lb shrimp (I used medium size shrimp - plan for about 4 or 5 shrimp per person)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of half a lime
black lava salt - or regular coarse salt
cilantro (to taste)
Start by marinating the shrimp in olive oil, cayenne pepper, and lime juice. The acid in the lime juice helps tenderize the shrimp and you'll see it almost "cook" the shrimp - it'll turn opaque around the edges.

Monday, July 9, 2012

BBQ

The 4th of July = barbecue, right? Here's what I ate:
put all of the same vegetable on the same skewer - makes sure everything cooks well and evenly

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hakkasan

Hakassan was lovely and delicious and maybe my favorite meal of the weekend - mainly because of the hot sauce. A girl can never have enough hot sauce.

Hakassan is located at the Fountainbleau hotel, v. well known, namely a party hotel, and you have to take an elevator to get to the restaurant. The food was delicious, albeit expensive, but worth it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vesper

Another Miami restaurant we ventured to - Vesper (which is James Bond's drink of choice) - was delicious but had terrible service, which I reviewed on yelp. But since the food was yummy, I'm photo-blogging it here. Forgive the later photos - the lighting got weirder and weirder as the night progressed.
bread

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

It is Independence Day and since we're midway through summer already (or at least the 100 degree weather sure makes it feel that way) I've decided to share a three of my current favorite summertime treats:

When I'm on the road (for example, currently I'm working in Florida) and don't have a blender to make my own green smoothies, I'll pick up a bottle of Naked Green Machine juice smoothie. Loads of fruits and veggies and so delicious. Plus, their advertising line makes me laugh: "looks weird, tastes amazing."
And though I'm not big on ice cream (it's just too cold and creamy for me), I do love the occasional frozen treat, especially on a scorching hot day. Since I can't handle a huge portion (and to save on calories) I love these new Magnum Mini ice cream bars with almonds. Karl Lagerfeld directed the commercial with Rachel Bilson, who I love.
And lastly, my sister made these pinata cookies (filled with m&ms) and I think they look amazing and summery and make a great treat for a Fourth of July party. The blog I found these on say they're Cinco de Mayo, but I think adding in a few more colors and giving them a rainbow twist turns them into anytime-of-summer cookies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Alma Mexicana

Continuing the Florida posts, my sister and I also spent a weekend in Miami at the lovely Eden Roc Renaissance Resort and Spa. For lunch on our first day there, we did a quick yelp search and ended up at Alma Mexicana. We ordered the fish tacos and chile relleno and both were so yummy.

The chile rellenos were stuffed with oozy gooey cheese - heaven.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cafe Boulud

My sister came to visit me in Palm Beach and I wanted to take her to a fancy dinner so we headed to Cafe Boulud, which is owned by renowned Chef Daniel Boulud.

Lovely, fancy restaurant with delicious food and superb service which I highly recommend you visit, though if you're never in the Palm Beach area, Chef Daniel also has restaurants in New York City, Miami, London, Beijing, and Singapore.

For something more comprehensive, take a look at my yelp review.
place setting

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