Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chamchijun (참치전) Tuna Cakes

I'm excited to share my first post using my new camera! Just a little warning - I'm still trying to figure that thing out because there are so many settings that are manually adjustable so bear with me while I learn. So for the first high-quality photo post, I'm sharing chamchijun (cham-chee-jun 참치전) which are kind of like crab cakes except they're made with tuna and also have a bit of sesame oil mixed in to make it taste more Korean. They're great as a protein for a meal or as an appetizer.

Ingredients [makes 8 to 10 cakes]:
2 cans of tuna (chunk light or albacore)
1 egg
¼ cup + ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
+ oil for frying
First, dice up some onion, mince some garlic, and drain the liquid from the tuna and put it in a bowl.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Camera!

Sorry, no recipe today, but I do have an announcement. Obviously, based on the title of the post, I've gotten myself a brand new camera!

If you follow my other blog or my instagram, you'll already know this. I'm really excited, as I have some high hopes that this will greatly improve my blog (maybe not necessarily in the written content, but most definitely in the photography department).

YAY! If you want more details about my camera, head on over to my travels blog where I tell you what I got and how much it cost and all that jazz.

I expect there to be a bit of a learning curve with this fancy new cam so please be patient with me.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Spicy Baby Back Ribs

I might've explained this previously, but when I do my grocery shopping for the week, I usually try and plan out a general menu for each day of the week. However, if while I'm shopping I see certain proteins on sale, I will tweak my plans to work with the on-sale item. That's how I ended up with this recipe. I was at the store and saw half racks of baby back ribs were on sale (60% off or something) and decided that instead of making spicy chicken wings, I'd make spicy baby back ribs instead. This is different from my Korean-style ribs because I didn't take any help from store-bought barbecue sauce.

Ingredients [serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 for a full meal]:
1/2 rack baby back ribs
3 tablespoons hot pepper paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Start by mixing the sauce ingredients together and then set aside.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stir Fried Potato

Today, I'm being super lazy. I have no photo diary to share so I'm just posting a recipe page for an easy side dish (banchan) that my mama used to make for us when there wasn't much else to eat (besides the usual kimchi). It's just potatoes and spam and onion, stir fried together - that's it. Seriously, it's not much, but you could definitely jazz it up by adding in some kimchi too. It's nothing special and it's probably not really worth sharing BUT it makes me think about my childhood and that makes me happy.

1 large potato
1/2 onion
1/4 package spam
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skinny Asparagus & Steak

Yes, another skinny asparagus post! Today, it's how I make it into a nice side dish to accompany steak.
Just heat up a cast iron skillet with a lot of butter. Add the asparagus, add a little more butter, a bit of salt and pepper, and then toss together.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Skinny Asparagus (Soy)

Even though I just posted about asparagus yesterday, I'm posting another asparagus post today and then I have another one tomorrow.

I was at the market the other day and found these awesome young skinny asparagus. The thickness was comparable to green beans. What's delicious about this thin asparagus is that because it's so young, it's really tender and amazing.

1 bunch thin asparagus
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

To make this asparagus, I heated a bit of oil with crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Then I tossed in the asparagus, which I'd cut in half, and then added in a bit of oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil. I sauteed them until they were tender and then plated them up.
If you happen upon any skinny asparagus, I think you should pick some up!

Here's the recipe page:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stir-Fried Asparagus

Sometimes I'm trying to think about what to make for dinner using whatever ingredients I have on hand and sometimes it results in a dish that is surprisingly delicious. That's what happened a week or two ago. I had a bunch of asparagus in the crisper drawer that was on its way to being less-than-fresh and I decided that I needed to use it up (waste not, want not). I'd already flipped the switch on the rice cooker so I couldn't just roast it or saute it, the way you might prepare asparagus to go alongside a steak. I ended up taking inspiration from Chinese food - specifically two dishes: beef with broccoli and stir fried green beans - and decided to stir fry the asparagus. Because this was such an "on a whim" dish, I didn't get a chance to photograph the process in my usual style.

Also, this dish would work with broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, celery - there are many variations.

1 bunch asparagus
1 long hot pepper
1/4 red onion
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Start by breaking off the tough ends of the asparagus and then slicing it on a bias. I don't know about you, but I'd never sliced asparagus like this before. I think it looks quite pretty to see the ring of lime green surrounding an oval of paler asparagus flesh (but that's just me).
Next, take some garlic and slice it. My garlic had sprouted (which happens when the bulbs are exposed to cold). I incorporated the sprouts too, because why not? The sprouts are actually less pungent than the cloves themselves, so for garlic non-enthusiasts, they're actually a good way to impart a bit of garlic flavor in a milder, more subtle way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stuffed Shells

I love stuffed shells, not only because it's delicious, but I love the shell shape because it's cute. I think this would be a lovely meal to make for guests and you could definitely prepare it ahead of time and just bake it when you're ready.

Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1/2 lb jumbo shell pasta (about 1/2 a box)
1/2 lb Italian sausage
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1/2 package mushrooms
1/2 onion
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
+ crushed red pepper flakes
+ olive oil
Start by dicing up the onion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mandarin Oranges

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a pleasant Valentine's Day and if not, at least you can be glad it's over. I'm feeling quite lazy today so all I'm sharing are some photos of mandarin oranges, which are so deliciously in season right now. If you have never tried them, I suggest you go and get some. We have a huge box of them at home, and what I love most about them is that they still have the stems with a few leaves on them! They look so darling.

They taste pretty similar to tangerines and clementines but they have a stronger citrus smell and flavor and they're really tart but sweet. The peels are a bit more difficult to get off compared to clementines (where the peels pop off with no effort at all) but that's fine with me because my hands smell delicious and orange-y afterwards.

Since it's cold and flu season, I recommend you get some Vitamin C! And what better way than with fresh fruits?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Strawberry Bread

Happy Valentine's Day! I always looked forward to Valentine's Day in grammar school because we'd always make little "mailboxes" (usually out of brown paper bags, doilies, foam hearts, and glitter) and then everyone in the class would bring in little cards and treats. It was fun and sweet and innocent - definitely miss those days. Valentine's Day isn't quite as cute anymore but it's still fun and an amazing excuse to load up on sweets (like those brownie batter donuts at Dunkin Donuts).

Like I said yesterday, I'm sharing a recipe with strawberries again today! This time, it's a strawberry bread. I love fruity breads (remember my blueberry bread?) and this one is particularly yummy because it's not overly sweet.

Ingredients [one 9" loaf or two 4" mini loaves]:
1 pint strawberries
3/4 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/3 cup water
*I know the photo shows 1/4 teaspoon of salt but my chocolate dipped strawberry measuring spoons actually hold way more than what's written on them!
Start by trimming the tops off of the strawberries and cutting them into quarters.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Strawberry Hand Pies

So today's recipe looks really cute (love hearts anyone?) and it uses the jam from yesterday's post.

Ingredients [makes six 3" heart hand pies]:
1 package puff pastry
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1/4 cup heavy cream
cookie cutters, fork, pastry brush, rolling pin
Start by thawing the dough according to the instructions. Be careful with the seams because they're likely to split if you're not gentle. Sprinkle flour over the dough and use a rolling pin, if necessary, to smooth out the seams.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Strawberry Jam

With Valentine's Day being just two days away and all, I thought I'd share a few recipes made with strawberries (today AND tomorrow AND the day after) because berries are romantic and sexy and red and delicious and fit the Valentine's Day spirit. Today I'll be sharing an easy strawberry jam recipe. I love making jams at home because I can control the amount of sugar and because I like to cook it a little less so that it tastes more like fresh mashed fruits rather than having that dull canned preserve taste.

Let me share a bit of jam science before we start. Pectin, which is a compound that's naturally found in many fruits, is what allows jams to thicken. Most professional jam-makers will add in a bit of pectin gel to thicken their jams and jellies to an almost solid consistency. I don't like to add pectin to my jams and jellies because I think it's unnecessary and the finished product is still thick enough to spread on a piece of toast. Though, you should be warned, strawberries don't contain much pectin (unlike most citrus fruits which contain a substantial amount) so if you like a super thick almost solid jam, then, I probably wouldn't use this recipe.

Ingredients [makes 1 pint of jam]:
2 pints strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Start by chopping off the green bits of the berries and then cutting them into small pieces (halves and quarters are good).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Farmer's Market Baskets

Hi, so I have another small haul to share today because I went shopping (again).

First thing are these adorable ceramic farmer's market baskets from Christmas Tree Shops. They were $3 for the smaller one and $4 for the larger one. I saw similar baskets at Anthropologie last summer for $14 and $20 (small and large) which are definitely better quality and somewhat prettier BUT the price at Christmas Tree Shops can't be beat.
I also picked up two packages of Valentine's Day themed cookie cutters. But, love hearts are one of my favorite shapes so I can see myself using this all year round, despite whatever holiday may be in the near future. And as you can see, each package was less than $2.
Have a good day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Banana Pudding

Hello! I'm really excited to share today's recipe. It's an old favorite of mine that I used to make in college all the time. That sentence should tell you two things: 1) since I used to make it in college all the time, it is a cheap and easy dish (6 ingredients total) and 2) since I used to make it in college all the time, it's definitely a comforting dish that makes you feel terrible about your jiggly bits afterwards but is too good to pass up.

So obviously, you can tell by the title that I'm sharing a recipe for banana pudding. Banana pudding is not like vanilla pudding or tapioca pudding because it's not banana-flavored pudding. It's a Southern dish which is similar to a trifle because it's made by layering cookies, custard, and bananas and topping it off with whipped cream. Once you make it, an amazing thing happens where the cookies start to absorb the moisture from the custard and the flavors all meld together and it's wonderful. Magnolia Bakery is pretty famous for its banana pudding but I think mine's better! But I can't take all the credit, as I take a LOT of store bought help. And by the way, this would be an awesome dessert to make for Valentine's Day because it looks fancier than it is. I don't know how romantic bananas are supposed to be (you gutter heads are probably putting some thoughts together after that statement) but making something yourself to give to your babe is definitely romantic, even if the ingredients are not "classics" like chocolate.

I shared at the beginning of this week that I bought a trifle dish and I thought that this would be the perfect first recipe to break in that sucker.

Ingredients [fills a 4 to 5 cup trifle dish]:
1 box Nilla Wafers
1 package instant vanilla pudding (Jello is my preferred brand)
2 cups milk (or however much is required by your preferred brand of instant pudding)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 bananas
*the amount of cookies and bananas can be adjusted to your preference
Start by making the instant pudding by following the instructions on the box. Jello brand just requires you to whisk the powder and milk together for 2 minutes until it thickens up to a soft-set texture.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gnocchi with Pink Vodka Sauce

Today, I'm sharing how I prepared my homemade gnocchi, and I think this would be kind of an amazing dish to prepare for Valentine's Day (which is just one week away). I think this dish is pretty impressive, since homemade gnocchi is kind of a show stopper (at least in my book). Plus, Italian food was voted most romantic cuisine (along with French food, according to Opentable), so you can totally set the mood with this meal.

I decided to keep it simple and just jazzed up my basic tomato sauce. I was inspired by a dish I had recently, which was fettuccine with a creamy and cheesy tomato sauce with prosciutto and peas. So, I basically grabbed the major elements of that dish - the creamy tomato sauce, prosciutto, and peas - added in a bit of vodka for flare and flavor, and grated the cheese on top for presentation. Shall we begin?

Ingredients [serves 4 - can easily be halved to serve 2]:
4 cups gnocchi (about 1 lb)
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup prosciutto (thinly sliced) - I know that giving a volume is a weird way to define prosciutto so I'll also say that 1/8 lb is probably a decent amount
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
+ freshly grated cheese (optional)
First things first, measure out the vodka and set it aside.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I have an updated gnocchi post, with nicer photos and an accompanying video, if you're interested.

I LOVE gnocchi (NYUH-kki => the 'kki' part is pronounced like the "cky" in "sticky," with a softer 'k' sound). If you've never had gnocchi, it's a pasta made with potatoes that are kind of like little baby dumplings (the balls of dough kind of dumplings, not the filled dumplings). They're pillowy and soft and make a delicious  alternative to just regular pasta.

They can be served with a red sauce, with a cream sauce, or they can be fried in some brown butter and sage. The dough can be made with basil or spinach or even sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. Seriously, you can let your creativity fly, once you've mastered the basics. Obviously, you could go for ready-made store bought gnocchi but I find that the pieces are usually way too large and resemble larvae (think: "slimy yet satisfying" grubs that Simba eats in The Lion King).

I'm not a gnocchi master (yet) but I've gotten pretty good at knowing when the dough has enough flour incorporated into it, which is really important. If you don't add enough flour, it'll be like trying to boil little balls of mashed potato in water and they'll just fall apart and get really mushy. If you add too much flour, they'll be really dense and have a terrible texture. Let's get started!

Ingredients [makes about 1 lb of gnocchi]:
2 potatoes (about 1 lb)
1 cup flour (+/- 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup asiago cheese (or parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
Start by peeling the potatoes and boiling them until they're tender. Let them cool at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes until they're cool enough to handle. You can also roast the potatoes if you prefer (which I think is the classic method but it takes longer and I just don't have that kind of time!).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Basic Tomato Sauce

I'm not going to be pretentious and write-off jarred sauces as sacrilegious and terrible because jarred sauces are pretty delicious and an easy shortcut. However, I will say that if you have the time and ingredients to make your own, you should. My recipe is rather quick and simple (less than 10 ingredients) and only takes about 1 hour from prep to completion. It's not super authentically Italian by any means, but it tastes good and that's all that matters.

Ingredients [yields between 3 to 4 cups of sauce]:
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes*
1 cup diced onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
+ baking soda (optional)

*I'm going to repeat what I said about San Marzano tomatoes in my Pasta Puttanesca post: San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato and it's the best tomato for making sauce. Why? Let me list the reasons: 1) it has a hearty flesh 2) and few seeds and 3) lots of natural sweetness 4) and it's more expensive so you know it's good. If you've never had them, just give them a try and there's a really good chance you'll be converted.
First, start by dicing the onion. I like to just lop off a piece (since I'm not using the whole thing), slice it, and then cut in perpendicular to the slices.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tea Towels

Last weekend, I did a little shopping and picked up a few things for the kitchen so I want to share them with you. I went to Target and Christmas Tree Shops, which are both wallet-friendly destinations.

First, in the spirit of Valentine's Day: heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons (plastic, $3.00, Target). I already own a few measuring cup/spoon sets but they are all either metal or ceramic so I thought it would be good to toss a plastic set in the mix.
Next up are these plastic sandwich bags ($1.00, Target) which have little owls on them. I thought they'd be nice for storing homemade treats to hand out. Cute, right?
From Christmas Tree Shops, I picked up four tea towels (Paula Deen Collection, $1.99 to $3.99). I fell in love with these at the store because they were so cheap but also because they have little recipes on them. I think they're going to look really sweet in the kitchen and I'm excited to use them (but they need to be washed first).
Last thing I got was this trifle dish (Xmas Tree Shops, $2.99). It's on the smaller side - probably holds about 5 cups of liquid - but it's perfect for a recipe I'll be sharing later this week (Friday).
So that's it for my little haul of kitchen goodies! (I always feel a little awkward trying to end posts gracefully and this is a good example of how I usually fail at it).

Friday, February 1, 2013

Contact Me!

Hello and Happy Groundhog's Day Eve! So no recipe today, sorry. I just wanted to pop on and share my new blog-devoted email address,, for anyone who would like to contact me for any reason, be it criticism or praise or random ranting. Also, at the suggestion of one of my friends (and former roommates), I have set up a store on Zazzle. Zazzle instead of Etsy because it's just easier and I am lazy. There's not much there yet, but I plan on drawing more graphics in the future so I expect the store will grow (much like this blog has). By the way, there is a tab up top that says "shop!" which will also take you to the store, should you want to visit in the future.

Thanks to anyone who reads my blog regularly and irregularly. It's been quite a treat to see the daily site visits grow from zero, when I first started, to the triple digits! I don't think that's a v. impressive number for any of those famous bloggers out there (I'm looking at you, Pioneer Woman) but the real purpose behind this blog was so that I could catalog my recipes for my sister and me. I wanted either of us to be able to access from anywhere (since she's away at college now) so the growing viewership is just an added plus.

And because this post looks so empty and boring without a photo, I have attached a shot of my dog in my bike basket, mid-blink, looking a little foolish but still adorable.

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