No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

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We’re back to desserts!

My best friend, Terra Thompson (author of Terra Recycled) recently ruptured her appendix. She ended up staying in the hospital longer than we all thought to be monitored by the staff in case of infection. Thankfully she is okay now and is at home recovering.

Being the terrible friend I am, I could not visit her while she was sick and I felt horrible. Last Saturday, I finally went up and brought back peanut butter chocolate bars for her and her “domestic partner” Josh (the quotation marks are an inside joke for her, please ignore). We ate out twice, roamed around, watched Aziz Ansari, played with her adorable cat, Beverly, and were just general bums. Also known as the perfect day.

The night before that, I was super busy with work, a fitness class, and various other things so I wanted to make something for them but still be low maintenance so I didn’t have to suffer too much. I came across a recipe for peanut butter chocolate bars that I thought was rather perfect because it was a quick fix, I didn’t need to turn on my oven, and it involved only a few ingredients.

Pulverized graham cracker crumbs

butter and peanut butter

Peanut butter and sugar

addition of chips

The crust

The crust

peanut butter and chips

The melted chocolate chips and peanut butter

The melted chocolate chips and peanut butter

peanut butter casserole

 

 

The final product when cut

The final product when cut

I was very proud of it. But what a luxury!

 

Summer Vegetable and Lemon Risotto

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It seems that I will never make the lemon crinkle cookies. One day…one fine day. The truth of the matter is everyone I know is on a diet – myself included – so the pressure to make something lighter and healthier is on me! I stumbled upon when googling healthier alternatives for my lunch instead of eating tuna fish sandwiches all the time. I made some changes so it’s healthier than the healthy version :) For example, it called for butter and cheese. Since there was no real need for butter (in my eyes), I decided not to add it. The cheese would have added an extra layer but…I have high blood pressure and cheese is just TERRIBLE for those with hypertension. Since there is no addition of such bad fats, it also makes it the perfect recipe for my younger brother – Kurias – who is on a very restricted gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, chicken-and-egg-free diet (I know, poor guy). I also did not add the yellow squash – instead substituting that with mushrooms because me love me some ‘shrooms, hmmm!!

The recipe can be found here: Summer Vegetable Lemon Risotto

Prepping the veggies

Prepping the veggies

Sauteing the veggies

Sauteing the veggies

Sauteed onions

Sauteed onions

Sauteing arborio rice

Sauteing arborio rice

First addition of stock

First addition of stock

The rice just slurped the stock right up!

The rice just slurped the stock right up!

 

The addition of veggies

The addition of veggies

 

Final product

Final product

It was yummy! The only note I have to add is don’t forget to season as you go along. The continuous addition of stock can dilute the existing seasoning.

Have fun with the dish! If you don’t like squash, add something else. I figure sundried tomatoes will be super delicious in this dish. Next time I make it, it will be for the boyfriend. He loves butter and cheese so stay tuned for that version :)

Bon appetite!

Scallion Pancakes

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I know I said that I was going to make lemon crinkle cookies for this post…but I lied. Okay, technically, I didn’t lie. I will make it soon. It’s in my head constantly so the baking adventure for the cookies will start soon. However…while I was lounging around today, watching Food Network, I saw Guy Fieri making scallion pancakes (I do not know why I was even watching his show, I’m really not his biggest fan). But after seeing the pancakes, I had a craving for it. I have a lot of good memories associated with these “pancakes”. Surprisingly, when I told a few people I was going to make scallion pancakes, their reactions were either of the disgusted or confused variety. They pictured the typical sweet pancakes with the addition of scallions. These “pancakes” are not really pancakes – they’re similar to flat breads – with the addition of scallions.

Now I had no idea how to make it so obviously scoured the web for it. So this recipe has been followed: Scallion Pancakes.

It is very simple to make. It takes all of an hour at the most to make it.

This recipe was a little hard to follow so I watched the video attached the recipe and it made more sense so I suggest doing the same.

1. Added a cup and a half of flour to a large bowl:

flour

2. Add half a cup of warm water to the bowl of flour:

flour with water

3. Mix the dough and water together until it forms a dough. Additional water may be needed. If the dough is sticky, add some flour. The measurements are not exact – feel it as you go along. After forming a dough, flour a clean surface and knead the dough for five minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, roll it around so it shines with the oil, and leave it wrapped with saran wrap or a slightly damp paper towel for 30 minutes:

dough

4. After 30 minutes, flour the surface again and pull out a section of the dough, about the size of a golf ball, maybe a little bigger and roll it out. It has to be thin but not so thin, you can see through the dough.

flattened dough

5. Add some oil to the flattened dough, sprinkle some salt and some scallions:

dough with scallions

6. Roll it up tightly into a cylinder then take one end and roll it toward the other end so the end results resemble a snail:

rolled up cylinder

dough rolled up

7. Roll out the dough again to the same thinness. At this point, I couldn’t wait to add it to the pan already…but I had to wait until the whole dough was used up. It should yield about 4-5 pancakes. After you are done with the dough, grease up a flat pan, turn the fire to medium-high, and throw them on, one by one:

on the pan

8. Each side does not take long – 2-3 minutes per side. It is rather similar to making chapathis – a south Indian flat bread, similar to naan.

Here was the finished product:

batch

You can eat it like this. You can eat it with soy sauce or chili sauce. You can eat it rolled up with whatever you like: chicken, eggs, vegetables, etc. It’s pretty versatile! It is also less greasy than the ones you get from Chinese restaurants which is always a plus.

Next time I make it, I am going to experiment by using rice flour and maybe garlic instead of scallions. That way, my brother can eat to his heart’s content.

Happy days! Maybe my next post will be about lemon crinkle cookies…who knows? Stay tuned to find out on this riveting drama.

30 Before 30!

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Recently, I turned 25 years old. A quarter of a century old. Father Time is just playing with me. Oddly enough, I feel my life has been a combination of slow and fast moments but life is changing pretty rapidly. I graduated with a Master’s in HR management (whoohoo!), I’m getting married in a couple of years to the love of my life (double whoohoo!), I found an amazing job at a non-profit organization in the city (the exclamation would just sound too redundant at this point), and so on. Dare I say it? Life is pretty good.

Life has also been too busy. But NO EXCUSES!! I am an epic failure when it comes to keeping up this blog. I still love cooking and baking! Laziness should not be my downfall (although, it frequently is and the downfall of my many¬†social plans). Therefore…in an weirdly euphoric night with a dear friend of mine at a pub (NO, mom and dad, I was not drinking. We went for the odd choice of characters there because they thought we were foreigners and we quite enjoyed the presumptions), my friend and I sat down to make ourself the “30 Things to Do Before I Hit 30″.

My best friend, Terra (who is amazing because SHE keeps up her blog and has been doing so for a while now and is now my source of inspiration) gave me the idea to link this foodie amateur blog to another blog, which will (hopefully) highlight my achieved goals among the 30.

There have been a few things that I have made in the past year that I find I am quite proud of:

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Banana-Cashew Muffins – adapted from this recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_nut_muffins/

Except I didn’t use walnuts. We had an excess of cashew nuts and I wanted to use up some of them so I wouldn’t squirrel them away for some midnight snacking. It’s wreaking havoc on my thighs and my hips. The muffins were pretty moist! I enjoyed them. As did my fellow friends and my family and all who worship me (ahem).

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Molten Chocolate Lava Cake - I honestly don’t even know if I can find the recipe but it’s basically butter, baker’s chocolate, flour, and sugar. Pretty simple. I made it for Thanksgiving because SOME people do not like the traditional Thanksgiving dessert! That’s okay, I was happy with the substitute.

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Lime Coconut Ricotta Cookies - http://www.cookingclassy.com/2012/05/coconut-lime-ricotta-cookies/

I made this for Christmas – Oh my GOD! I normally am not a big fan of cookies unless they are chewy, chocolate chip (straight out of the oven of course) but I couldn’t stop snacking on them!

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Meatless Quiche – I just made up this recipe on my own! And no, I do not remember the ingredients (besides the obvious, tons of eggs!) nor do I remember the quantities. I know, I suck.

I’ve been such a huge fan of quiches ever since I gained about 20 pounds on them at Marist College. This was good…just a bit too salty.

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Meatless Eggs Benedict Sans English Muffin with Sundried Tomatoes – Again made up the recipe after dreaming about this for a long time.

It was good – just wasn’t perfect. I think it tasted too lemony.

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Sweet Potato Pie – adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-pie-i/

I didn’t use any of those fancy nuts. I mainly made this because mom loves sweet potato pie and I love sweet potatoes in general. It was surprisingly not as sweet as I thought it was going to be. What a deceitful name.

I don’t know if you noticed but I have a penchant for baking more than cooking these days. I find it more challenging, more exciting, more thrilling, more, more, more!!

I might be making Lemon Crinkle Cookies soon. Stay tuned!

Eggplant “Involtini”

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I’ve spent Sunday in – doing my homework and hanging out with my brother. While hanging out with him, I started to think about his diet. When you look at him, you would never think he has such a restricted diet. I’m not saying he’s fat. He’s not – well he’s got some tummy but really he’s a big guy. I always equate his body to that of a football player. What a guy. He would’ve been the attractive, popular, football jock at his high school.

Instead, he’s a sweet, innocent boy whose life is his family and his repetitive YouTube videos. So I try to cater to his needs as much as I can. I started developing this idea for my version of the eggplant involtini yesterday when I was just craving some eggplant. Normally, they are stuffed with cheese but my brother cannot have cheese so I decided potatoes were probably the next best thing:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • A medium white onion, diced
  • 4-5 scallions
  • 5-6 yukon gold potatoes (or whichever ones you prefer)
  • Rice milk (you can use regular milk)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Basil
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Slice the eggplant into thin slices – lengthwise (not too thin – when they cook, they become too pliable which can make them hard to handle).
  2. Soak the eggplant slices in a bowl of water with some lemon juice in it. It prevents the eggplant slices from browning.
  3. Meanwhile, cut up about 5-6 potatoes and a couple of garlic cloves and drop them in a pot of water.
  4. Start up the heat under the pot and let it come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, salt the water and boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.
  5. When they are soft enough, drain the potatoes, place them back at the pot, and add in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, milk, and scallions. (Add cheese if no one has any diet restrictions).
  6. In a separate pan, heat up some oil and add in the garlic and onions. Add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. When it is warm enough, add pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, hot pepper flakes, and basil. Let the sauce warm through for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Take the eggplant slices and stuff each slice with a nice mound of the potatoes and roll it up. Add a layer of the marinara sauce at the bottom of a pyrex baking dish.
  8. Add the eggplant rolls and cover it with the sauce. Add cheese (mozzarella) on top and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and it’s golden.

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My brother cleaned his plate off. Today, there’s barely any leftovers. I don’t need to say anymore ;)

Happy Eatings!

A Catch-Up Blog Post

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A Catch-Up Blog Post

I’ve become what I have been dreading when I first started this blog…an abandoner. One of my biggest personality flaws is that once I get started on a “creative” project, I always allow life (like school and work) to get in the way of my hobbies. So what changed my mind? What motivated me to return to my blog? A couple of things – I never gave up baking and cooking. Instead of blogging about it, I just started posting the pictures on Facebook and Twitter. It was very well received (face it, we all need a little bit of validation). Another major reason was because an acquaintance of mine (I actually met her through Terra Recycled) runs her own blog about everything. She has a section on cooking and she wants me to be a regular contributor. Very flattering. The first post has gone up and if you’re interested in checking it out: http://senseualityblog.com/. Because my recipes have started to go on another blog, I was thinking, why not re-start my personal blog? It’s a part of me – food, cooking, blogging, reading other food blogs, etc.

This post is not going to be a singular recipe with a focus on one type of dish – it is, essentially, a snapshot of the food I have been making during my absence:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Crust – very well received at my company’s Thanksgiving Luncheon.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Chives, Asiago Cheese, and Heavy Cream – utter deliciousness. Made for a very picky friend of mine (he LOVED it).

Ground Chickpea & Sweet Potato Burger with Hoisin Mayo – a Lenten version of Meatless Sundays. It tasted almost like seasoned hummus!

Maple-Oat Bread – I wanted to be able to bake bread for the first time ever. One day, when I was particularly upset, I thought “hey, I need to take my frustrations out onto something”. I took it out on the dough (the recipe required 6 straight minute of kneading). The results? Warm, baked goodness.

Pumpkin Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – my co-workers LOVED it. I made this for no special reason. I just really love pumpkin around autumn season so I took advantage of my love (I’m such a boy).

Marbled White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake – made for my family’s annual Christmas get-together – they LOVED it!! Even the dieters went for thirds (yes, THIRDS! They wanted more but figured they had to leavesome for the others). And another person called it a work of art. Seeing that art is my weak point, I was feeling pretty darn tootin’ pleased with myself!

Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Chips – Made with Terra. It was pretty perfect! Made for no special reason – for the pure reason of being bakerallas one fine weekend in Malboro. Her boyfriend, the picky eater, loved it so I’d say it was a success.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie – made with a real pumpkin. I hacked the small pumpkin down to pieces, steamed it, pureed it, and proceeded to make the pie. It was easy as PIE and the taste was infinitely better than the store-brought ones. Let’s just say this…by the end of the day, more than half the pie was gone (and it wasn’t because of me!)

Cream of Coconut Pancakes with Sliced Bananas and Warm Maple Syrup Infused with Cinnamon – the perfect Sunday morning, one fine Sunday :)

Nutella Brownies with Butterscotch Chips – YUMMY!! YUMMY!!! I brought a tray of it to work one day, left it on the table for anyone to consume. By the time, I checked back around 2 pm, it was practically wiped clean. Hehe…he.

Warm, Spicy Bowl of Chili – It was a blisteringly, cold day, one winter’s evening. I wanted something to warm up my insides. I made slow-cooked chili with three kinds of beans, ground beef, and assorted vegetables and seasonings. The picture looks not-so-artistic, but it was a big bowl of comfort.

Chipotle Turkey Burger with Pepperjack Cheese – Hmmm. I love burgers. And it was something my little brother could eat (it had no eggs).

Kappa – It’s a South Indian dish made with yucca, tumeric, coconut, and a variety of other things. I’ve always shied away from Indian dishes because that was my mother’s domain and I always felt that I would bring her shame if I ever attempted anything. But I gathered up the courage and made it. What do you know? It was spicy scrumptiousness. My father couldn’t even tell that it was made by me, not my mother. That’s a pretty high compliment, if I do say so myself :)

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Chips and a Chocolate Glaze – Made for a special friend of mine and he needed a glass of milk afterward. I’m not a fan of pure chocolate cakes but even I have to say, I couldn’t stop eating it – hence me gaining some awesome holiday weight.

Coconut Rum Cake with a Toasted Coconut Topping and Cream of Coconut Glaze – made for my mother for New Year’s. Completely consumed by my cousins and me while watching Bradley Cooper get hyped on drugs. What a night.

That’s all for now. I might end up making something tomorrow. Meanwhile, stay tuned! I promise not to be an abandoner again!

Happy Eating!

Finally – Quinoa!

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I wonder if you recall my past post on my desire to cook the now-popular quinoa. My only trouble with cooking it was the high prices it displayed every time I sauntered their way in the grocery store. Luckily for me, while I was on my lunch break from my job the other day, I stopped by Jack’s, a store that sold bargain…well everything. I believe it had been a 99 cent store in its previous life but it flourished into branches of 99 cent stores and bargain centers.

While I was scouring the goods for something worth my money, my eyes caught an aisle, filled with white and red quinoa. Apprehensively, I checked the price – $4.99! I grabbed it and paid for it before I could change my mind. Deciding against the white, I went for the red – thinking it would create more of a visual appeal. It is gluten-free and obviously wheat-free – thus deeming it safe for my little love to consume.

This past Monday was Memorial Day (a Happy Belated Memorial Day by the way). I was sitting in my room, my very air-conditioned room, when I was stricken with hunger. Even though I was craving some hearty burgers, I was lazy (once again) to go out and buy the ingredients for them. Instead, I seized the opportunity to make my quinoa.

Seeing that it was a hot and humid day, my quinoa would be transformed into a cold salad of some type that would not sit heavy in my stomach but still be hearty enough to keep us full. So…

Ingredients (this is purely based on what I had at home):

  • A box of red quinoa
  • 3/4 of a medium red onion – diced
  • 1 carrot – peeled and diced
  • 1 large tomato – diced
  • Oil (olive oil is preferable but I ran out and used vegetable oil)
  • A head of garlic
  • Garlic powder
  • Half of a lime
  • A tiny splash of red wine vinegar
  • A tiny splash of red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Capers
  • Parmesan cheese.

Procedure:

  • First off, I wanted to make garlic-infused oil. I poured maybe a cup of oil into a sauce pan and gently heated it for about five minutes.
  • I took it off the heat, allowing it to cool down slightly while I roughly chopped up most of a head of garlic.
  • I slowly added the garlic into the oil. I added the red wine and the vinegar and covered it, allowing time for the garlic to steep into the oil.
  • Meanwhile, I brought water to a boil. Follow the instructions in the box. Mine was a cup of water per serving. After the water came to a boil, I added some salt then added my quinoa.
  • I lowered the heat to a simmer and covered it, allowing it to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until “the spiral germs appear” (as it says in the box). I will admit something, it looks…odd, almost like worms squirreling its way to the top or like roots germinating but it is what it is.
  • When it was cooked, I strained it and left it there to cool.
  • Meanwhile, after chopping up the onions, carrots, and tomatoes, I added some oil into the same pot used to cook the quinoa and sauteed the trio until they were softened. I also added some of the garlic that had been soaking in the oil.
  • I added the quinoa in slowly and incorporated everything nicely until it looked evenly distributed. I strained the oil and added the oil into the quinoa, making it shine brilliantly. An strong aroma of garlic spread throughout the kitchen. It was mouth-watering.
  • I added salt and pepper to taste, as well as some garlic powder, to further emphasize the garlic flavor.
  • To my plate of quinoa, I added the Parmesan cheese (since my brother cannot have cheese).

It was an interesting flavor – tasted like familiar seeds. The texture and taste of quinoa is something, I believe, would probably be something of an acquired taste but to me, it tasted wonderful – fresh, healthy, and definitely unique.

Red Quinoa!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I think the only changes I would make (had I not been so lazy to go shopping) would be instead of adding Parmesan cheese, I would add chunks of goat cheese – it would add a new dimension of flavor, cut through the garlic and onions with a sharp tang of a taste. I think I would want to add something crunchy too, like barely boiled asparagus – it would create a better mouth feel. However, quinoa is my blank canvas and I can hardly wait to continue my journey with it.

Here’s to trying something new everyday :) Enjoy!