Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cobb Salad

Each time K's sister is in town, she orders a cobb salad wherever it's available, so I decided to make her one this time. I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe since it seemed to be the most authentic and I liked the addition of watercress. The only ingredient I substituted was the dry mustard—using Dijon instead because that's what we had. I don't think it made much of  a difference and it turned out really well. K kept telling me this was way better than my last attempt, which was missing several ingredients. 

Saeko's Appetizers

K's sister offered to make appetizers for Christmas. Since Saeko is a very good cook, I knew that whatever she'd make would be delicious. Bagna càuda and this canapé made of prosciutto and avocado are apparently her go-to party dishes. We were happy to have something different, especially my dad.

Bagna càuda is a warm dip from Piedmont, Italy. Saeko's version consists of: milk, garlic, anchovy sauce, olive oil, and butter. I don't have specific measurements, but will provide rough estimates and instructions for it and the canapé below.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More Snowmen...and Snowwomen

K's nephew really got carried away with making snowmen, we had a full assembly line to ensure he had enough to decorate. To use up the snowmen, Julian made a couple of pop-up cards based on the snowman pop-up card I made.

Snowman Coconut Cream Pie

For Christmas, I made the coconut cream pie again, but dressed it up by topping it with shredded coconut that was untoasted and placing a snowman topper. I simply cut out two snowmen out of cardstock and stapled them together at the top. (To disguise the staple, I colored it with a black permanent marker.) The snowman was drawn by K's sister and five year-old nephew. I love how he added the green to the carrot to make it extra clear that it's a carrot.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Decor

In anticipation of K's five year-old nephew, we purchased our first real Christmas tree this year—not the little rosemary bush we've been getting in the past. Since we didn't have much more than one set of gold ball ornaments, I decided to be resourceful and make them with origami paper and fishing wire. I've had a stash of origami paper for many years, along with origami books, so I was set. I made some teardrops and various animals. I'm enlisting the nephew to help with the rest over the weekend. The white globs are flowers made of tissue paper. I had them already on hand from last year's holiday wreath. And, the bow and ribbons on the tree are made of brown paper and a bit of Christmas wrapping paper mainly because we had plenty around.

To make the story of Santa Claus even more convincing for the little guy, I created a fake fireplace out of cardboard, brown paper, and masking tape. I was going to leave it bare, but decided to paint it with a sponge at the last minute. I'm not so sure I love the color (green), but it'll do. To save some paint, I wrapped a black garbage bag around a piece of cardboard for the the backdrop. The fake firelogs were made with scrap copy paper and black markers; the fire, made of tissue paper.

How to hang the stocking on a cardboard fireplace came to me while waiting for the train on a subway platform. The trick is to tie it to a heavy slim book, so that it can fit behind the fireplace and provide the proper weight to balance the weight of the stocking and any of its contents. To my surprise, it worked quite well. (Just writing this down here so I remember to do it again in the future.)

Well, I hope you all enjoy this long holiday weekend.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Tonight, I made these Christmas sugar cookies for K since he missed yesterday's cookie party. I've followed various sugar cookie recipes over the years, but Grandma Minnie's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies from is the best. The cookies come out soft and chewy. The only thing I changed was add a tad more of heavy cream to prevent the dough from being too dry.

For the frosting, I used Royal Icing I, also from Because I love the taste of lemons, I doubled the lemon extract. I highly recommend you do the same. It yields way more than you'll need, so you may want to halve the recipe. 

Read on for my adjustments after the jump.

Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping

This non-traditional Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping from America's Test Kitchen is totally worth making if you have the time. K made this for Valentine's Day 2011. Yes, it's not close to being the most romantic dish, but a way to this woman's heart is good food. 

Instead of the traditional pie crust, the folks at America's Test Kitchen came up with a deconstructed version that hints at the real thing. My favorite part of any pie is the crust, so being able to enjoy the crumble topping first was genius! I couldn't help myself from picking at the topping while K slaved away in the kitchen.

You may find the recipe at or below. There's no need to alter the recipe as it is perfect.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup and Curly Endive Salad

Last week, I made a Roasted Pumpkin Soup and a Chicory and Garlic Crouton Salad. I chose this meal for several reasons. First, my mom gave me an Asian pumpkin. Second, I needed to use up more of the leftover toast from Thanksgiving, which has been sitting in the freezer since. And lastly, I wanted to utilize the onion jam I made a couple of weeks ago.

The Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe was adapted from from I substituted the sugar baby pumpkin with the Asian pumpkin, which is apparently much sweeter. To cut the sweetness, I added onion jam to the soup. I got the idea from a delicious butternut squash soup we had in the neighborhood. The newly opened restaurant, Hunter's, added some kind of pickled fruit (maybe apple?) to their soup and I was blown away.

The Curly Endive and Garlic Crouton Salad was inspired by the recipe with the same name in Veggie Food, by Kay Scarlett. It's a great vegetarian cookbook with beautiful photos accompanying each recipe. I took the liberty to swap some of the ingredients, simply to use what we had on hand. FYI, chicory is synonymous with curly endive, here in the States. I didn't know this until earlier this year. And, I masked any freezer burn from the toast by rubbing it with garlic first and then olive oil. This method also transfers the garlic flavor better than cooking or baking the bread with it. I've only included the ingredients below because there isn't too much to explain with a salad and the recipe doesn't seem to be available online.

The onion jam recipe will come in a later post. For now, see my adaptations to the soup and salad after the jump.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowman Pop-Up Card

Here is the second Christmas pop-up card from Takami Suzuki's book, Playful Pop-Up Cards. Without the proper craft punches for the snow, eyes, and buttons, I made do with my regular hole puncher and markers. I also made a few other changes like giving the snowman a top hat instead of the fez in the book. What can I say, I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my snowman.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tree Pop-Up Card

Getting into the holiday spirit by making this pop-up card from Takami Suzuki's book, Playful Pop-Up Cards. I didn't have any gel pens for the snow, so made pinholes instead. And, without any star (craft) punches, I used metallic star stickers that I've had for almost a decade.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes with "Remoulade"

A couple of months ago, my sister Becca and I made fried green tomatoes with a remoulade-type sauce for brunch. It was our first time making them, but thought they came out pretty well. We followed a fantastic recipe from Simply Recipes, complete with a remoulade. I'm sure they would have been even better had we followed it exactly. (We didn't have any Cajun seasoning nor Creole mustard.) Nonetheless, they were as good or better than what I've sampled in my life thus far.

See our adaptation of the recipe after the jump. 

Mushroom-Leek Bread Stuffing with Herbs

With the left over bread from Thanksgiving, I asked K to make this Mushroom-Leek Bread Stuffing with Herbs. It's an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that he made a couple of years ago. I like it because it's simple. Unfortunately he didn't save the recipe, so we had to look it up. We found most of it on Tastebook, but filled in the blank after step 7.  To see those steps and K's tweaks, read on after the jump.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust

I made these Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust last Thanksgiving. They're not as pretty as the ones on The Kitchn, but they sure tasted good. If you like lemon bars, you'll gobble these up.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Glara and Rick, this recipe is for you. It was borrowed from Simply Recipes.

K used chicken sausage only because I requested it. With hot dogs and Spam on the menu, it only seemed right to have another protein. You're more than welcome to follow the original recipe. What follows is just how K made it for our camping trip. 

Gift Pop-Up Card

Another card based on one of the templates from Playful Pop-Up Cards, by Takami Suzuki. This card was for my old friend Heather's birthday. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday

Looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. The above photos were taken last year by K and the food prepared by my dad. I'm lucky to have a dad who not only loves to cook, but does it well. He is the one who taught me how to make an omelette when I could barely see over the stove. He also influenced my taste buds—explaining my affinity for condiments, stinky cheese, and tamales, to name a few. Thank you, dad, for teaching me to appreciate good food and how to recreate it at home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apple Pie

With some apples still leftover from apple picking and unexpected leisure time, I had the perfect conditions to make my first apple pie. I followed the Double-Crust Apple Pie recipe in How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. Unfortunately, my lack of experience with pie dough made for a rather crumbly crust. It was flaky and tasted fine, but had the texture of shortbread. K didn't mind, but I wanted it to be a little more doughy. Another reason why it was drier than expected may be because I extracted the juice from the filling before it was baked. The author warned that Granny Smiths have a lot of moisture, so they need to be cooked first. Half of the apples were Granny Smiths and the rest were some non-baking apples from the farm. I will remember to leave more of the juice for the filling next time and add more water or vodka to the pie dough. I'm not going to post the recipe here since it wasn't successful, but will include an ingredient list with amendments for future reference.

Chicken Breasts with Mustard-Cider Sauce

According to JS Online, the site where K found the Chicken Breasts with Mustard-Cider Sauce, this recipe hails from America's Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking. It's good as is. Frankly, I don't know how you can go wrong with a sauce containing: apple cider, apple cider vinegar, whole-grain mustard, butter, and shallots. K served it with some angel hair pasta with olive oil and cheese, which complemented the vinegary sauce. 

To see the chicken recipe in outline form, click on the link below.


K made this Basic Congee Recipe from Chinese Food yesterday, when we decided to make some extra rice in case of a power outage. I forgot how much I love this simple dish. It was the only food I could stomach when I was sick, so my mom used to prepare it for me then. I had no idea that it's a breakfast food in China growing up. Either way, it's a one bowl meal that we can eat at any hour. It's especially good with cilantro, scallions, sesame oil, chile oil with fried garlic, and dried seaweed. 

Braised Greens

Both K and I appreciate slow-cooked foods, so it's pretty common for us to have braised vegetables as a side. It began with leeks and then we moved onto kale, and then celery when we had some sitting in the fridge for weeks. You can pretty much do the same for most bitter green vegetables such as Swiss Chard and collard greens. They're all prepared in a similar fashion, so I'm just posting one recipe for all. K uses this Swiss Chard Recipe from Simply Recipes, but substitutes chicken broth for water and adds much more garlic. If you want it to be strictly vegetarian, feel free to stick to the original. If you want to see his version, click on the link below.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Celery Root Purée "Soup"

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I can finally catch up on the blog and post some old recipes. This celery root purée soup is comforting and provides a nice break from the typical cream of __ soups. The recipe from Epicurious is actually for a purée, but K added an extra cup of milk so that it'd be more like a soup. For those of you with little ones, you may want to stick to the original recipe and serve it as baby food. Find the recipe with K's modifications after the jump.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lasagna with Turkey Sausage

Our friend Aaron prepared the Barefoot Contessa's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage for us several years ago, but we were so impressed with the recipe, that K has only made this version since. We can't find any flaws with the recipe. It has the perfect balance of cheese and sauce, not to mention four different types of cheeses to satisfy your taste buds.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

K attempted beer can chicken last year, using a Cook's Illustrated recipe for Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime found on the blog, Salt and Serenity. He had the good sense to test this particular recipe as it has garlic, lime, and spicy mayonnaise. Ingredients that always make me salivate. All I can say is that it was super moist and flavorful. Click on the following link for the chicken and spicy mayonnaise recipes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chicken Cutlets with Warm Green Olive and Shallot Vinaigrette

These Chicken Cutlets with Warm Green Olive and Shallot Vinaigrette from Epicurious are perfect for those who want a rather simple and healthy meal without spending much time in the kitchen. I forgot how easy and good it was! Read on for the recipe.

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

If you've been following this blog, you've probably noticed that there aren't too many seafood dishes. I've slowly been incorporating seafood back into my diet, so when I do eat it, it has to either be bland or smothered in a sauce like the Garlicky Shrimp Pasta. Thanks to blogger, Jackie Reeve at The Orange Room, K made this America's Test Kitchen recipe about a year ago. He finally made it again for his friends this past weekend, but am thinking it should become a staple in our home.

Beef, Mushroom, and Barley Soup

This hearty Beef, Mushroom, and Barley Soup from Epicurious is exactly what you'll want for dinner now that it is fall. K used some dried porcini mushrooms we had onhand and swapped in some beef broth to add more flavor. Needless to say, this soup was delicious! The short ribs were also a nice touch. Find the recipe with K's modifications after the jump.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

My dad turned us onto this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from America's Test Kitchen. Someone posted it on the site, Group Recipes, which is where I found the text. The recipe is solid, but had to make some minor tweaks to make it taste less like Penne a la Vodka. Continue reading after the jump for my adaptation.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sour Cream Buttermilk Biscuits

I don't know where my obsession with biscuits stemmed from because I didn't grow up eating them. Nonetheless, I was making them constantly a couple of years ago. These Sour Cream Buttermilk Biscuits from the blog, No Ordinary Homestead, are probably my favorite biscuits ever. After years of making just buttermilk biscuits, I learned that by adding sour cream, they become even more moist. You won't be disappointed by this recipe.

Apple-Oat Crisp

K would have this dessert year-round if he had his way. He has a weakness for warm apple desserts and since I haven't mastered pies yet, I make this Apple-Oat Crisp from for him every autumn. The recipe is super simple, sans spices. You may sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg if you wish, but I don't think they're necessary. I do recommend doubling the topping though.

The original recipe seems to have changed since I copied it, so please follow my version after the jump. Also, to make it easier for you, topping measurements have been doubled.

*Revised October 21, 2012.

Sweet Potato and Cheddar Bread Pudding

Fulfilling my promise to post our favorite recipes, here is the Sweet Potato and Cheddar Bread Pudding I made two years ago. It's perfect as is, so I have no changes to the recipe from the blog, Dixie Caviar. It's actually an adaptation of a Butternut Squash and Kale Bread Pudding by Molly Wizenberg. I chose to stick with Dixie Caviar's version as peeling sweet potatoes is easier for me than peeling butternut squash. However, I'm sure the original recipe is just as good. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bouquet Pop-Up Card

Here's the other card I made from the pop-up book. For this, I used some craft punches I happened to find at work. They were giving them away for free, so I happily took them home as I was considering buying some.

Tulip Pop-Up Card

A variation of the tulip card found in Playful Pop-Up Cards, by Takami Suzuki. I finally made a real cover for the card. The book doesn't have any templates for covers, so you have to create your own. Honestly, I didn't have the energy or willpower to cut more paper after working on this and the other card (to come in the next post), so went with a very simple design.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

On a crisp night like tonight, I crave comfort food. One of my favorite dishes even though I didn't grow up on it is Chicken and Dumplings. K found this recipe a couple of years ago from the blog, Culinary Adventures, but it originates from Cooks Illustrated. What I love about this version is that the dumplings are fluffy and substantial and the broth is creamy. I have never tasted Chicken and Dumplings like this before, but only want this kind.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Perfect Turkey Burgers

For whatever reason, we don't eat hamburgers at home. However, we do have these 'Perfect Turkey Burgers' on occasion. The self-proclaimed burgers, found on, are indeed perfect. They're moist, flavorful, and lighter than a beef burger. They taste even better with garlic mayo, which is just garlic and Japanese mayonnaise. The latter is more acidic than Hellman's, for example. So, if you're using any American brand of mayonnaise, I'd recommend adding some lemon juice to it.

Find the recipe after the jump.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zucchini Tomato Tart with Potato Crust

Thanks to our friends Glara and Rick, we were given a giant zucchini from their garden. K made zucchini fries in the oven with the first half last week. They didn't look as great as they tasted, so we'll attempt them again. With the second half, I decided on a savory tart. It's an adaptation of Jaime's (our old cooking club companion) Zucchini Tomato Eggplant Tart with Potato Crust. Since K is allergic to eggplant, I simply omitted the eggplant and added some more tomatoes. I also used a casserole dish instead of pie pan because the potatoes yielded so much. If you wish to use a pie pan, I'd recommend cutting the recipe in half or by one third. With the egg filling and hash brown crust, it makes a great breakfast.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cupcake Pop-Up Card

For our little friend Maya, I deviated from the pop-up card book... It took me several tries to get the scale of the cupcake just right. And it took even longer to figure out how to incorporate the birthday candle. Yes, it seems like it should have been a no brainer, but K was the one to offer the ingenious solution to make it pop up as well. Next time, I'll stick to the templates just to save some time :)

Sea Pop-Up Card

This is the second pop-up card I made from Playful Pop-Up Cards, by Takami Suzuki. I chose a sea-themed birthday card for K since we went to the Amalfi Coast this summer. K liked the card for the same reason I do: the boat is on an angle.

Paper Wallets

Paper wallets made with Japanese silk-screened paper. The paper is a little more durable than origami paper, but will  most likely wrinkle after a few the dollar bill. However, they're perfect for giving money as a gift.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lemon Curd Tartlets

Over the weekend, I made lemon curd tartlets for our friend Tomomi's birthday. In an effort to make lemon bars look a little more elegant, I baked them in mini cupcake liners. Not knowing that shortbread puffs up while baking, it left little room for the lemon curd. Hence, 'tartlets' that resemble thumbprint cookies. Anyhow, everyone seemed to enjoy them. The shortbread was light and buttery; the lemon curd—tart and sweet, not to mention super lemony.

The Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar recipe hails from Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, Rose's Christmas Cookies via Epicurious. She gives extensive instructions on how to make the shortbread, including how to make it with a food processor. I chose to make it by hand as recommended. If you wish to see the other method as well as how to make bars, you may find those instructions on the Epicurious link. I have edited the recipe to explain how to make my version. See those edits after the jump.

Banana Bread

I don't think I've ever had bad banana bread. It seems to be one of those foolproof foods. But, you have to try the following recipe that K found on the Food Network website. It makes the moistest banana bread we've ever had. It'll stay spongey for several days just covered in aluminum foil! No need to store it in a sealed container. The recipe originates from Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston.

See K's slight changes to the recipe after the jump.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Japanese Style Dry Curry

K made this Japanese Style Dry Curry last week, but haven't had a chance to post it yet until now. If you like curry and fried rice, you'll certainly like this dish. He followed Just Hungry's recipe, also copied below. The only modification he made was omitting the raisins as we both can live without them.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gino Sorbillo

Remember how disappointed we were by the first pizza we had on our very first day in Italy? Well, Gino Sorbillo delivered. Their pizzas have the char from the wood-fired oven, the chewy crust, and the right amount of tomato sauce and cheese. They also have a distinct flavor that made them unlike any other pizza I've had. K's sister's Italian friend (who is lucky to live across the street from this pizzeria) ordered pies with various toppings for us, but K and I favored the Margherita and the one with spicy sausage and ricotta.


As soon as you step off the ferry at Positano, this is what you see—colorful buildings neatly stacked along the cliffs, all facing the sea. We were fortunate to hold our gaze at the cityscape until sunset at Ristorante Bruno. Perched above the city center, you get one of the best views an eatery can offer. In return, you share the sidewalk with pedestrians, as the tables outside are across the street from the restaurant.

The food here was solid; it was definitely not compromised and the prices were fair. We had scialatielli with seafood, gnocchi with eggplant and seafood, ravioli filled with rocket and local cheese, grilled cheese on a bed of lemon leaves, grilled shrimp and squid, raw seabass and boiled potatoes, and marinated filet of fish with oranges. The latter was like an Italian ceviche, perfect for a summery day. I couldn't stop picking at it.