Tuesday, July 19, 2016

We live here now

It's been a month since I was able to make a post to this blog. We moved cross country a week and a half ago and life has been absolutely crazed. With finding jobs, buying furniture, moving, getting settled in our new apartment and (thankfully) getting the rest of our stuff in 3 days, life has been insane. Things are finally getting a sense of normalcy now. I finally made dinner in our house for the first time since arriving. It wasn't anything impressive...just pork chops with asparagus and brown rice. It was the best I could do with one pan, one knife, a cutting board and a rice cooker. No baking dishes, no pots... just the bare bones until the rest of our stuff.

Life in LA is....different. I'm from California but LA is its own beast. Traffic sucks, the weather is beautiful, the people are no more beautiful than normal people and "preventative botox" is a thing (botox before you get wrinkles). I think I hate it and then there are things that I love about it. It makes me wonder how the next two years are going to go, but I know we'll be able to come out okay in the end.

I mean, I get to play here...

And here....

Most importantly, I get to eat here...

And this was all just week 1. Wish me luck on the rest of my exploration!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Cocoa Spiced Almonds

It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. This month has been absolutely insane for me. In just two weeks (after this post) I'll be moving from Virginia to California. As I write this, we've already packed 14 boxes of books and other things. Our dressers are gone and hopefully some random craigslist folks will get our bookshelves and table soon. I won't be posting much in July (and I'm taking a break from SRC for that month also). It's an exciting wonderful adventure and I'm looking forward to posting some new recipes from Los Angeles. I'm glad to be moving back to California (not so glad that it's to LA, but I'm sure things will get better). It's scary and wonderful and I know things are going to be a great adventure. The only part that sucks is that my husband is going back to school, so we will be poor....very very poor...

This month, my blog was The Heritage Cook by Jane. I decided to make her Spicy Cocoa Pecans which I opted to substitute for almonds instead (you know, moving and using your non-perishable goods and all). I knew I wanted to make one of her "Chocolate Mondays" recipes (it is Monday after all) and these sounded not too sweet. These almonds really were wonderful. They were the perfect combination of salty and sweet. They satisfy every craving and are a great snack. 

I made a 1/3 recipe because I only had 2 pounds of almonds, but 6 lbs wouldn't be too many, especially for a family. These are that addictive.

Jane, thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I will surely make it again and again


  • 2 lbs almonds
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 1/4 oz cocoa powder
  • .75 oz salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 oz egg white
  • .5 oz water


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix almonds with all other ingredients and pour onto a silpat mat
  2. Cook almonds for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or as needed until sugar has hardened. Let cool completely before separating and packing in airtight container.

One year ago: Almond Biscotti
Two years ago: Tofu Chocolate Pudding
Three years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago: Mushroom Risotto

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cuban Sandwiches

Life has been utterly insane these past few weeks. I apologize for my lack of posts on this blog. My husband and I are moving to California in the very near future and all of our free time has been spent seeing friends, packing boxes, eating the food in our freezer and worrying about where we will live and what job I will have.

It will be a wonderful, scary experience. My last day of work is coming up in one week (I can't believe it) and then it's time to go into panic mode.

At least this recipe used up a pork shoulder and the rest of a jar of pickles. Slow and steady!

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dry oregano
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 arbol chilies 
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Cuban or Vietnamese sandwich rolls
  • ham
  • Swiss cheese
  • dill pickles
  • yellow mustard
  • butter for toasting
  1. Season pork well with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in a large, heavy bottomed pot. 
  2. Place pork in crockpot with cumin, oregano, garlic, chilies, onion, chicken stock, orange uice, lime juice and bay leaves. Cook on low for 8 hours or until pork can be pulled apart
  3. Slice open your sandwich bread and spread both sides with yellow mustard. Add thin sliced deli ham, swiss cheese, thinly sliced dill pickles and your roast pork to the sandwich.
  4. Butter your panini press and grill sandwich until crunchy on the outside. Slice on a bias and serve.
Three years ago Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago Sourdough Danishes

Monday, June 6, 2016

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi

These are some sweets that I remember from my childhood. My aunt used to make these great strawberry and red bean mochi (or sometimes peanut butter mochi) for special occasions. There was also a bakery near my house that would make excellent versions of these sweets too.

These are easy to make a very impressive looking. They're not for everyone, but if you like mochi you will surely like these. 

  • 8 oz sweet rice flour (like Mochiko)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • red bean paste
  • small strawberries
  • kinako flour or cornstarch
  1. Mix sugar, rice flour and water together in a heatproof glass bowl that will fit in your steamer. This should be liquid.
  2. Place bowl in steamer and steam until entire mixture is translucent and sticky. Stir every 5 minutes or so until done.
  3. Remove bowl from steamer and pour mixture out onto a cutting board or butcher paper dusted with cornstarch. Let cool a few minutes
  4. While mochi is cooling (or before), flatten some sweet read bean paste and wrap around strawberries.
  5. Cut small pieces of the mochi, flatten sightly with well dusted hands and wrap around strawberry and red bean paste. Let cool completely before eating.

One year ago: Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Two years ago: Pita Bread
Three years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago: Sourdough Danishes
Five years ago: Almond Rochers

Monday, May 30, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. Ya'll know what Secret Recipe Club is and how it works. All the members make another blogger's recipe (in secret) and reveal on a particular day. Normally we split into 3 groups, but sometimes we do special weeks where you can get matched with folks from other groups. This month has 5 Mondays so we get to have an extra fun themed reveal day. Since today is Memorial Day, we were all charged with making something you could bring to a picnic or BBQ.

This week, I had the pleasure of browsing Adventures in All Things Food by Andrea. She has a great blog with plenty of recipes and crafts that fit in with her wonderful farm life. I wanted to go with something a little different for this week so I opted to make her Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. I absolutely love rhubarb and I saw it at the store for the first time this season. As much as I like traditional bbq or grilled items, this sounded far more delicious and something totally different to bring to my friend's potluck.

Thanks Andrea for this wonderful recipe!


  • 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 5 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Mix together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice and cornstarch in a large bowl. Place into a large baking dish
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Quickly cut in butter and spread topping over fruit
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until lightly browned and bubbly. Enjoy plain or with ice cream or really, any way you'd like. 

One Year Ago Dutch Baby
Two Years Ago Orange Olive Oil Cake
Three Years Ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years Ago: Kaleidoscope Cookies

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Jian Dui (Red Bean Stuffed Sesame Balls)

One of my husband's favorite things whenever we go to dim sum is the sesame balls that end the meal. I always preferred the egg tarts to end the meal, bu this is his favorite. That's one of the things I miss most about California...the dim sum (and the Mexican food). Ever since I moved to the East Coast, I miss little things from back home like this. We tried getting dim sum here one time and we arrived at 11:30am on Sunday and the restaurant wasn't even half full. That's how we knew it wasn't going to be good. If you don't have to arrive by 1030 to wait half an hour for your table (and you're so hungry that you go to the Russian bakery across the street) then it isn't a real legit Sunday morning. At least, this is how we always did it when we went to dim sum. I used this Recipe and it was absolutely fantastic. Just how I remembered

I'm going to miss Virginia when we leave in about a month, but we're also in for our next great adventure. I can't wait to be close to our families, close to a place that really feels like home, close to our Cal Bears and close to all the foods I've missed. It will be good to get home.

Until then, you can all make some Sesame Red Bean Balls.

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet glutinous rice flour
  • 70 grams sugar
  • 100 mL water (more as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • red bean paste
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • oil for frying
  1. In a small bowl, mix together 2 large Tbsp of the rice flour with 10 mL of your water to form a smooth, stiff dough. Drop dough in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, moving as needed. Remove to a bowl of cold water to cool
  2. In a different bowl, mix together remaining rice flour, sugar, baking powder and water. Break up the pre-cooked dough into small pieces and mix that in as well, kneading until everything comes together in a smooth mass. You can add more flour or water as needed.
  3. Divide dough into 20 pieces. Fill each piece with 1 tsp red bean paste, roll into balls and set aside.
  4. Dip each ball in fresh water and roll in sesame seeds. 
  5. Heat oil to 300 degrees Fahrenheit in a small deep pot. Deep fry sesame balls until well browned on all sides. Remove and let drain on paper towels.
One year ago: Dutch Baby
Two Years Ago Orange Olive Oil Cake
Three Years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years ago: Kaleidoscope Cookies

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Swedish meatballs

I've always loved Swedish meatballs as a great main dish with potatoes (as seen here) or as a fun party appetizer. I never liked spaghetti and meatballs when i was growing up, but perhaps that's just because I only had bad quality meatballs that were always dry and spongy.

These meatballs aren't dry at all. They are very moist, delicate and easy to make. They're better than the ones at IKEA (although I do love the IKEA meatballs for how cheap they are... and the cinnamon rolls too). They are perfect with a little veloute and some lingonberry jam (though if you can't find lingonberry, a tart cranberry sauce or cherry sauce will work too).

This recipe was adapted from Serious Eats, because when I have very little reference on how to make something, I feel like they are an amazing jumping off point. That's how I always got a great recipe for ultra crispy roast potatoes, but I will save that for another post.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork shoulder
  • 3 slices soft wheat bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, minced (half raw and half sauteed)
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, nutmeg and allspices
  • 3 Tbps unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a few drops of fish sauce
  • roasted potatoes and lingonberry jam for serving
  1. Mix bread with milk and allow to sit for 10 minutes until bread is well soaked
  2. Sautee half a minced onion in a little butter until soft. Leave the other half raw.
  3. Add onion, bread, eggs, meat, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice to a bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Cook a small amount of the meat to adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Shape meatballs and fly until well browned on all sides. Finish in the oven if needed.
  5. In a large skillet, melt butter and cook flour in it until it smells nutty. While whisking, add chicken stock and simmer until chickened. Add a splash of fish sauce and vinegar just to add depth.
  6. Toss meatballs in sauce and serve with jam and potatoes.
One year ago: Kiwi Sorbet
Three Years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four Years ago: Whole Wheat Spinach Bread