Monday, October 21, 2013

Momma Sally's Brownies

This post is going to be short and sweet - just like Momma Sally, Gabe's wonderful grandmother!  She grew up in the Midwest meaning she's genetically predisposed to having the cooking gene.  She's also a fantastic gardener, brilliant storyteller, devout churchgoer and an all around amazing matriarch to this family.  
Isn't she adorable??

Don't let that sweet exterior fool you though, she's tough as nails and fiercely independent.  Even though we aren't related by blood, I think of her as my own grandmother - the last living grandparent I have.  Thanks for being such a wonderful person and example for the rest of us, Sal.  xoxoxo

These brownies are awesome.  Very simple ingredients and a great brownie comes out of the oven every time.  Excellent basic recipe that I like to throw lots of different things in to and see how badly I can annoy Gabe.

Probably Gabe's biggest annoyance factor - nuts!

Momma Sally's Famous Brownies

makes 1 8x8" or 9x9" pan - could be considered a single serving size if one tries hard enough

2 sq (2 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate (found in the baking aisle)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  Melt chocolate and butter together, either in the microwave (for 30 second intervals, stirring between) or over a double boiler until just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

First add the sugar to the chocolate mixture, then vanilla, salt, eggs, and finally the flour, stirring only enough to incorporate the flour.  Do not over beat.

Bake at 350, for 25-30 minutes. The edges should be pulling away, and the top of the center of the brownies be a little springy then you gently tap with your finger. You can also test by inserting a knife in the middle.


Of course I couldn't leave well enough alone.  Sometimes I knock down the sugar to about 1/2 c if I know I'll be adding in another sweet ingredient.  I've lessened the flour as well to make a more fudgy brownie.  Play with it and make it your own!

You can also try some different combinations of the below.  Most on this list would annoy Gabe.. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Super Simple One Hour Chicken Soup

Instead of beer, I need to invent some sort of chicken soup tap for my house.  But a beer tap would be nice too, esp. for football season.  

Go Hawks!
I didn't realize this before but now that I have a kid in daycare the beginning of Fall doesn't just mean I get to bust out the boots and sweaters, it also means the start of  cold/flu season complete with snotty-nosed hacking children (mine included, unfortunately).  When Kuen first started, I don't think she made it past her first week before she got her first cold.  Then she just kept getting back to back to back to back colds.  Four colds within the first 5 weeks I think.  

"Oh, their immune systems need it!"  

"They'll rarely get sick after that!!"

I know, but it still sucks.

Kuenie looooves her some chicken soup, especially when she's not feeling well.  With a little bit of prep, this soup takes about an hour from start to finish - like to the table.  I take some super easy shortcuts that allow you to trim some time out of the cooking and you don't even have to skimp on the flavor.  I feel like an infomercial - "it slices, it dices, it juliennes!" 

GENIUS Time Saving Notes (no, seriously): 

Make sure you start a separate pot of boiling water (or chicken stock if you're using it) to add to the soup so you can cut down on time in bringing everything to a boil before simmering.  I have an electric water boiler/warmer so I've always got boiling water on tap, amazing how much it accelerates cooking time.  Plus it's so nice to have when you want a quick cup of coffee in the a.m., tea before bed or whatever you'd need scalding hot water for.

De-bone rotisserie chicken when you get home and pour off the gravy that has accumulated into a separate container.  You can save some time and have the chicken already prepared and skim the fat off after it solidifies in the fridge.

Thyme: Fresh thyme sprigs can be a real pill to strip so if you're in a hurry, just tie a bundle very tightly with some kitchen twine and throw the whole thing into the soup pot to simmer.  Fish the bundle out when you're done simmering.  Or just use dried, jeez.

I use my Vitamix on the lowest setting for minced veggies.  Best thing I found is that if you mince raw cauliflower, it looks like rice in the soup so I can mentally fake myself out to save on the carbs.  Everyone needs a Vitamix.  And a Roomba.

Wash and pare your veggies when you get home from the store.  Makes cooking fresh so much easier than if you had to start from scratch.  I fill up my sink and add about 1 c of white vinegar to wash produce, then rinse w/ cold water.  

Soups generally freeze very well so if you haven't found a way to put chicken soup on tap at your home either, just make a huge pot, portion out and stock your freezer.  You can even used gallon freezer bags - stack and freeze for quick thawing.  Don't forget to write the name and date on the bag BEFORE filling.  So you don't pull out what looks like a science experiment 6 mo. later w/ no idea what the contents are of the bag.

Unless you're planning on eating the entire pot in one meal, I don't recommend boiling pasta or rice directly in the soup.  After a few days, your soup is going to get gummy and thick..not my fave.  Instead, while the soup simmers, in a separate pot you can start rice, egg noodles, any type of short cut pasta, grilled cheese or heat up a baguette to serve alongside.  Mmmmmmmmmm. 

Best picture I could get - sorry the cheese looks gross.
They were pretty curls before melting, trust me.

One Hour Chicken Soup

Makes 4-6 servings, easily scalable

1 yellow onion, diced (baseball size, or 1/2 a large)
2-2 celery stalks
1-2 large carrots
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 rotisserie chicken (store bought)
1 tbsp light cooking oil (I like light olive or canola)
Salt, pepper

optional additions:
2 c minced kale (I throw my kale in the blender and mince it really fine so it just blends into the soup - no picking around that, ha!)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 - 14 oz. canned tomatoes
1 bell pepper, diced

1 c. cauliflower - minced (blender)
2 cans chicken stock
chicken bouillon cubes
fresh flat leaf parsley, garnish
grated parmigiana reggiano, garnish

Heat stock pot over medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add oil until it shimmers in the pan, add diced onion and sprinkle w/ 1/4 tsp salt - saute 5 min, until slightly wilted.  Add celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf and thyme, saute another 5-10 min.  While the veggies cook, remove half of the meat from the chicken and dice.  Stir in any other optional veggies at this point as well.  Make sure to stir occasionally so they don't burn.  If the pan is getting too hot, pull the heat back to med or med/low - all pans and stoves will vary.  

When the veggies are sauteed, add any of the juices in the bottom of the rotisserie tray to bump up the flavor.  Add diced chicken, (chicken stock and/or bouillon) and cover with liquid of your choice until it covers the veggies by about 2-3 inches.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes, salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Who's excited for fall?  

*raises hand*  

Let me start by thanking the weather gods because this summer has been absolutely amazing in terms of nice weather in Western Washington.  We kinda got robbed last year.  That being said, I may be the minority here but I'm entirely too excited to see the temperature drop so I can bust out the sweaters and boots.  Even for being a Florida native my entire life, I just cannot get enough cool weather. Of course, I could do with less rain but I'll take a cool rainy (entire) day over triple digit heat and still-wet-after-toweling-post-shower humidity. Yuck.  Don't miss that.  

Not only are the clothes cuter, in Seattle it signals the end of no-way-in-hell-am-I-turning-this-oven-on season.  

When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest and I was scoping out apartments, I was appalled to learn the thermostats didn't equal air conditioner - it controlled the heater.  Only.  I looked at the lady renting the apartment funny.  Huh? 

That means if it's 95 degrees out and you have a west facing window that isn't shaded by a beautiful greenbelt, you are sleeping in your skivvies with the windows wide open.  I just didn't grow up with open windows in the house.  We lived and died by whether or not our A/C was kickin'.  But that's the nice thing, if you DO end up trying to escape stifling heat by way of windows, you won't wake up having to worry about giant flying vermin (such as mosquitoes, horse flies or palmetto bugs..aka flying freaking cockroaches) flying in to your room at night.  

Spiders are more the NW pests.  Spiders and slugs.  Oh god, the slugs.  I find them gross but I should try to capture a video of my mom reacting to these slugs out there.  You'd think they were some sort of deadly spastic creature that can jump on your and suck your blood or something.  She literally convulses in disgust and scurries away like a crazy person.  Gabe and I find it both hilarious and ridiculous.  

Nature shock.  

My current obsession is anything w/ buffalo sauce and while the weather is starting to turn cooler, I had the pleasure of dreaming this up one night it was still warm enough to warrant not cooking anything over a hot stove.

I always have a rotisserie chicken from the store in my fridge to make sandwiches, quesadillas, whip up a quick dinner, etc.  I just use some of the meat mixed w/ Frank's for the chicken.  Comes together super quick and you're not withering away over a hot stove trying to bring life-giving sustenance to your family, man!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Serves 1 (but easily scaleable for more)

The measurements are intentionally loose so you can scale to your own taste.  Plus I didn't think it practical to direct you to put 1/2 a bottle of buffalo sauce on your chicken like I do.

1/2 - 1 c. cooked chicken
buffalo sauce to taste
2-3 c. butter lettuce
1 stalk organic celery (why organic?  read this about the dirty dozen)
4-6 grape tomatoes, sliced
1 scallion
chopped cilantro to taste
blue or gorganzola cheese (all I had was feta in the fridge)
blue cheese or ranch dressing

Slice or tear chicken into bite size pieces and toss with buffalo sauce.  Assemble salad layering lettuce, celery, tomatoes, chicken scallions, cilantro and dressing.

Bacon would obviously be awesome on here also.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

Sorry it's been so long since my last post - we've been busy around here!  I've had this damn draft going for about a month.  All my free time has been spent remodeling our condo, vacations and taking advantage of what little bit of summer there was left (and if anyone caught the AH-MAZING Seahawks game last night where we kicked San Francisco's bootie, you know that summer is way the hell over for us).  Enjoy!


I vividly remember Kuen's first month of life.  So vividly.  Like, a total blur but with streaks of very clear memories.  My thoughts went something like:

"Don't you ever do this again to yourselves."

"Oh my god, we don't know what the hell we're doing."

"What is this sleep people speak of?"

 - "Sleep when the baby sleeps."
HA.  Good one, Mom. - 
Luckily, the first month is the hardest part and things gradually get easier.  For all the parents-to-be, don't let me scare you.  Not only does this very crazy month go by quickly, nature does this cruel and hilarious thing that makes you get amnesia and you gradually forget about all the terrifying parts (or if you're like me, you don't forget, you just let the instinct take over and forge ahead undeterred).  Let me be clear: we are NOT pregnant again.


That's a big deal for me - I didn't think we'd be having one after Kuen.  But now, I'm not too sure we won't.  In fact, I'm pretty sure we want to if the powers that be allow us the chance.

I know I talk about her like she's some sort of nut (and she totally is), but if we didn't have my mom there to help us, I'm pretty sure we'd be one and done.  When I was all tapped out, she took care of the baby, Gabe took care of me.  I don't know why I thought it was that scary, maybe because it was our first time at the rodeo and everything we did seemed so unfamiliar.  

Now, I'll be the first to tell you it's her own damn fault she got roped in to helping us w/ Kuen for the first year.  She only started asking us about having kids a few WEEKS after we got married.  That being said..not sure we could've done it without her.  Well, ok, yes we would've found a way but having her there made things SO much less daunting.  She was there to make sure I gained back all the weight nursing helped me drop (and then some).  Love you, mom!

Anywho - those meals she cooked - total lifesaver.  Literally.  Being on the receiving end of such extraordinary help only makes bringing a meal to someone even less of a big deal.  We had it gooooooood.  I don't know how many times someone is in need of a home cooked meal.  Someone needs to start a meal train business.

This recipe is one of those super versatile ones that is a proverbial 'slam dunk'.  It's a crowd pleaser, comes together pretty quickly, stores well, reheats well, relatively inexpensive and very adaptable.   I love using ground turkey instead of beef to lighten it up and the no-bake pasta is like, the best invention ever.  Because who has time for boiling pasta?

 - Saute veggies & meat, combine - 

 - Layer sauce, noodles, cheese - 
 - Lather, rinse, repeat - 

 - I'm too much of an airhead to take a photo of the actual finished product that came out of the oven.
So there. -

Turkey Sausage Lasagna

Makes 9 x 13" pan (plus more for a few individual ones as well)

3 zucchini, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 box no-bake lasagna sheets (I use/love Trader Joe's)
1 tsp fennel seed
2-32 oz cans store bought spaghetti sauce
32 oz cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
2 c. shredded cheese (I use TJ's Swiss & Gruyere)
salt, pepper, oil

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.  Heat a large stock pot on medium high heat.  Drizzle 2 tbsp light oil after the pan starts to smoke.  Add diced onions and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt to sweat onions.  After onions become translucent, add zucchini, carrots and garlic to saute - sprinkle with additional pinch of salt and add fresh ground black pepper to season.  Saute vegetables for 5-10 minutes, until a deep golden crust forms on the bottom of the pan and the veggies are soft.  Remove the veggies and return the pan on the burner.  Drizzle another tbsp of oil in the pan and brown the ground turkey.  Make sure the pan is hot enough and the turkey has enough room to brown otherwise steaming of the meat will occur (yuck).  If you must, brown the meat in batches.  While browning, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and fennel seed.  When fully cooked, add back the sauted veggies and cook for another 3-5 min.  Add spaghetti sauce and stir to combine.  Remove from heat.  

Note: Amounts of sauce and cheese are to your liking but I find the more sauce the better for the lasagna sheets.  Since you're not preboiling them, they need to hydrate from the sauce going in to the lasagna so I go super saucy on this one.  

Ladle about a cup of sauce on the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Layer on pasta sheet being careful not to overlap. Spoon over cottage or ricotta cheese and sprinkle the reggiano. Ladle on more sauce, repeat. You should end up with 3-4 layers.  Last layer sprinkle on shredded cheese and the rest of the parmigiano reggiano if you have any left. 

Let the pan sit for 10-15 min if you can to let those past sheets absorb some of the moisture.

Bake for 45 min until golden and bubbly.  Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.  


I use a heavy non-reactive stainless steel pot to make the sauce.  Great article about it at another blog I frequent here.

You can easily substitute the veggies for anything you like or have on hand.  Eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, yellow squash - the world is your oyster!

Sauce can be done ahead - several days in fact, the longer it sits the better it tastes.  I've even done in stages.  Saute veggies first, brown meat and stick in the fridge.  Or do both then add sauce and stick in the fridge, assemble with all cold ingredients.  So versatile!

I found disposable foil pans are very much appreciated by recipients.  There's no cleanup or guilt for keeping your pans for too long.  

This recipe is actually best if you can let it sit for a while after it gets out of the oven.  If you try to serve immediately, you'll have a hot mess on your plates (literally).  Best to let it come to room temp or serve reheated. 

 - Our sweet little munchkin at 5 weeks -

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oregon Trail

Our anniversary weekend was awesome!
- It bothers me greatly that I was born with water skis for feet and in case you can't tell,
mine are the ones without all the hair -
It was mostly an eating adventure with bits of sightseeing sprinkled in. Also, it was a constant rollercoaster of emotion ranging from the depths of depression:

I miss my babyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!

To moments of revelation (read: happiness, relief, etc.):

 This is what life was like before the babyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!! 

And then back to the first one. Gabe was pretty tired of my emotions by the end of the trip. Needless to say, we cannot wait to go back to the Oregon Coast. WITH Kuen next time, of course. She would've had lots of fun. I highly recommend the whole Pacific Northwest coast in general.

If you're looking for a recipe, check back next week.  I know, it's a food blog and all I'm posting is personal stuff but I'd feel remiss if I didn't recount all the places we stopped to eat.  So it's kinda food related.  That and by writing it I'm reliving the whole long weekend all over again.

First meal: Burgerville in Centralia, WA. If you're headed south from Seattle, don't bother stopping at these outlets - save yourself the sales tax by shopping in Oregon! Do come here instead and fuel up on your way to a Portland shopping bonanza. We split the Double Bacon Cheeseburger, an order of Walla Walla onion rings and a blackberry shake (SKH gets full credit for the suggestion - thx!). This way we could maximize the number of places to try instead of stuffing ourselves with huge meals. That's me, always thinking about more efficient ways to eat more food. Hence, the 20+ lbs Gabe and I have packed on after getting married. It's just a fact of life, people. Unless there's a wedding (other people's don't count) be prepared to pack on a spare tire a few years after those vows.

Dunch: Bowpicker in Astoria, OR. As if the very loooooooong line wasn't a dead giveaway, this place has the best fish & chips in town. Someone in town told us it was featured on Diners Drive-ins & Dives and regardless of whether it was or not, this place has some seriously good fish & chips! I almost got run over by a car, after leaving Gabe to wait in line, only to wander aimlessly around the humble boat they were selling this fish from (30 freaking minutes to get our damn fish) until we got an order but damn! Fish was awesome. They were serving albacore tuna that day. A little malt vinegar, tarter sauce..YUM. And $10 for an order of 5 pretty good sized pieces of fish and a bed of fries underneath. 2nd split meal, really good. 

-  Sweet sweet victory -

- I should've gotten a picture of the long line on the other side - don't let it discourage you! -
Late dinner: Pizza a Fetta in Cannon Beach, OR. After an hour long or so walk on the gorgeous beach (and some minor beach wrestling, more on that later), we worked up a pretty good appetite. Gabe somehow convinced me to get the crab pizza and it was actually pretty awesome. Don't bother ordering a salad from this place. It was $7 for a large styrafoam box with 2 pieces of lettuce a calamata olive and a ring of onion (essentially). We actually just stopped by the Costco in Warrenton (love you, Costco) for a supplemental bag of salad to account for the pittance of salad from Pizza a Fetta. 

- Dogfish Head for me. Some strange uber hoppy IPA for Gabe -

- Don't leave OR without some gas (which attendants pump for you) and a Roomba -

Breakfast: Blue Scorcher Bakery in Astoria, OR. Very tree hugging hippy bakery in town labeling themselves as an 'artisan cooperative' that is all employee owned. Decent bread and pastries but we couldn't eat too much because our hotel actually had a not-so-well marketed continental breakfast. 

I wonder if he looks as cool in his head
Lunch: Fort George Brewery in Astoria, OR. Unbeknownst to us, our anniversary weekend happen to be the same weekend they were having the Astoria Regatta so right outside our hotel room we grabbed some bbq salmon from a Fort George Brewery tent before heading to our room to eat and watch the parade. Salmon was delicious and tender as only the best kind of salmon can taste - wild caught Pacific salmon. Looked like Sockeye to me but I'm not 100% sure and Gabe and I inhaled it before I could take a photo. 

We decided to try to catch the boats after the 1+ hour parade but missed them and instead ended up wandering along the waterfront all the way to the Goonies House (in not so comfortable shoes). How many Goonies fans are out there? It was kinda cool until we walked up and saw there was a donations box. Really? Why does a homeowner need a freaking donation box? Maybe there was some upkeep because there's a gravel road leading to the house that they share with a few other houses and it takes money to keep that up with all the foot traffic (they don't allow cars up the driveway), but really? Tacky in my opinion but if I'm not considering something, please enlighten me on why a donation box is necessary.

- Maybe I should leave a donation box outside my condo -
Dinner: T Paul's Supper Club in Astoria, OR. Anyways, we ended up at T Paul's by default because I wasn't willing to walk anywhere other than across the street because my dogs were barkin'. T Pauls' got similar reviews to Clemente's where we were originally planning on grabbing our anniversary dinner (after a restaurant unceremoniously cancelled our reservations VIA EMAIL without any explanation or call - eff them, I wrote them a bad review on Yelp since they didn't bother calling to explain and I had even notified them that it was our anniversary, jerks), but I wasn't going unless a rickshaw was taking me there and Gabe wasn't offering a piggyback ride. Hell hath no fury like a foodie scorn.   

T Paul's prime rib special - "No bahd."

- Gabe's seafood pasta something or another - cheese w/ seafood still weirds me out a little bit.
Anyone else? -

After that, we decided to spend our last day of freedom baby-free vacation in Portland.  I hadn't ever been and with as many rumors about how hipster and weird Portland is, I had to see for myself.  I was pleasantly surprised!

- Mighty big flavor for such a little burger -
For lunch we found Little Big Burger and Blue Star Donuts. Little Big Burger had these adorable little burgers that were cooked to perfection. I just got a cheeseburger w/ Tillamook cheddar and a side of fries. Fries were amazing - tossed with white truffle oil. Hands down best thing I ate on the trip. 

- Delicious spicy catsup I had to buy a bottle of -

- Notice the glass partition to protect the helpless donuts from drooling customers -
Naturally, we had to chase it with dessert. Cinnamon vanilla sugar donut at Blue Star. I had no idea where Voodoo Donuts was and we only had a few hours. It was a pretty good donut but that isn't saying much. Donuts are like pizza, if it's bad, it's still kinda good. 

Other places to see:

Astoria Column – Buy a wooden airplane for $1 and climb up an ungodly amount of stairs and hope they have an AED at the top to bring you out of cardiac arrest as you launch your plane off the top. It can be super windy here so it’s crazy the distance the planes can cover. Amazing view of the water and territory.

- That's a nice column you have there -

Ocean Park, WA – kinda cool drive on a thin peninsula in WA. When you get there, you can drive right on the hard packed sand on the beach (4WD is best, obviously). Drive a few minutes east to the Willapa Bay side of the peninsula too – very cool and lots of oysters there. 

- You can definitely hear the banjo from "Deliverance" playing on your drive there -
Cape Disappointment State Park – don’t be fooled by the name. We only drove around for a few minutes but I was sorry we hadn’t gone as we were running out of daylight. There’s an absolutely beautiful view of the water from several viewpoints. Can’t wait to come back and explore this place. It should be called 
Cape Not A Disappointment State Park. I’ll drop that off in their suggestion box when we go back.

- Cape Disappointment State Park -

Seaside, OR – reminded me of the my hometown in the DAB! T-shirts 2 for $10! Saltwater taffy! Cheesy arcades! We drove by when they were having a huge volleyball tournament going on there. 

- Complete with tourist trap shops and cheesy beach decor - 

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, OR – kinda obvious but don’t miss it. It’s probably a little more touristy than we were looking for but so pretty nonetheless. The beach is pretty but the houses are just as amazing.

- Just like Florida except for the big fat rock in the middle of the cold-as-hell water - 

- Make sure you stare longingly at the rich people's homes - it's what they live for -

Mind Gabe's shoulder in the last photo - we got in to an all out wrestling match on the beach after he 'ruined' my picture.  That sounded waaay more sexual than it was.

Happy 5 years, Boo!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Life Goes On

As this posts, I'll be driving south to the Oregon Coast to have a lovely little anniversary weekend w/ my gaw-geous hubby. That's right. The period ended that sentence right there. It’s our first sans kid anniversary weekend since having a baby. WOOT! Meanwhile our beautiful little girl is going to be at home (not missing us) playing with one of her favorite people on the planet, my crazy ass mom. It's a little ridiculous how much fun they have together and honestly if it weren't so stinkin' cute I'd probably be a leettle bit jealous. 

Milestones like this always make me nostalgic. Five years of marriage, eight years in Washington, ten years since graduating college (eek!), and a baby? Amazing to think this is where life has taken me. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family surrounding me and I'm trying to be better about slowing things down and enjoying life because it's beautiful, fragile and sometimes way too short.

Kuen was born a few weeks earlier than expected in late January of 2012. She was a perfectly healthy 5 lbs. 7 oz. munchkin stretching out at a petite 17". Have you people seen Gabe and I? We are not small people. Gabe's 6' and I'm a respectable (certainly for an Asian) 5'7" which is so interesting because both Gabe and my parents are on the shorter end of things (parents are 5’3” to 5’6” max between the 4 of them). Even with that, the doctor is expecting she'll be about my height. I actually didn't get a chance to see her until a few minutes after she was born but I got some pretty interesting looks from the doctors and nurses when they announced she was a redhead with dark blue eyes. Weirdest look by far was from Gabe. 

When we both saw her we knew her name would fit.

Kuen Alexandra Bell

Has a nice riiing to it, no? 

I like to pun.

More weird looks ensue. 



"Is that a boy or girl??" 

You're probably more used to seeing it "Quinn" but the spelling is unique for a very special reason, she's named after my late father. Sigh - over six years ago already..he wasn't even 60. 

Eff you cancer, a big ol' EFF YOU. 

Not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination but a great dad to my brothers and me. That’s how he spelled it and no, I don't regret saddling her with a unique moniker. (Booya, hon! We have contests to see who can sound more pretentious.) She will have to take over for her parents when she's old enough to correct people on how to pronounce her beautiful name and I already know she won’t have a problem setting people straight. Aside from it being a family name, my dad’s name in Cantonese, it means power and if nothing else, she is definitely that.

Gabe and I agree that as she's growing out of the baby phase she is - hands down - the funniest person we know. Parents can attest to this as children have an amazing knack for being ridiculously adorable and hilarious at the same time.

She babbles, dances, plays and exudes this infectious joy that only a child can do. She love baths and swimming – total water baby like her dad. She’s changed our lives. She’s made us stronger, better. She has opened up my eyes and helped me to experience life through a child’s eyes because I experience things from her perspective now. Full circle. Life is amazing.

Her facial expressions = pure comedic genius.

Happy anniversary to my crazy hubby as 8/8 marked our 5 years of marriage.  We did good.  Love you more than ever.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Last Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need For the Rest of Your Life

I know. I have a flair for the dramatic when it comes to food.  Before I get in to the recipe, let me qualify this by saying I've eating and made a LOT of chocolate chip cookies in my day.  This is by far THE best chocolate chip cookie I've ever made and I use it for everything.  It's got the chewy texture, loads of chocolate chips and that addictive salty edge that makes everything taste just a tiny bit better. 

Seems like the salt-in-desserts kick has definitely taken the food world these last few years by storm (salted caramel ice cream, cake pops, Seattle's own oh-so-famous salted caramel chocolates even the President can't get enough of, etc.). I get the finely ground stuff from my faaaaavorite wholesale store which works really well. I made these cookies for a few years and while amazing, I was always finding I'd eat the cookies top-side down so I could get that salty kick first - but nobody eats cookies like that. So I decided to sprinkle a little salt underneath the cookie dough and on top.

Mind.  Blown.

And now I don't have to get those weird semi-polite looks from people when I tell them they should eat the cookie upside down which invariably had people thinking I was asking them to head stand or find some damn monkey bars so they could hang upside down to eat this cookie. 

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

heavily adapted from this recipe

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies

2 sticks butter, unsalted & room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

1½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

3½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ c. chocolate chips

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cream butter and sugars together until the butter is light and fluffy - pale yellow, scrape down the bowl and mix a few more times.  One ingredient at a time, add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt, scrape down bowl and keep mixing.  If you're using a stand mixer, turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the flour in a cup at a time until just combined.  Don't over mix the dough or you'll get a tough cookie.  After all the flour is incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips.  Sometimes it's helpful to switch to the dough hook so you don't break up all the chips while they're mixing - or just fold in with a spatula by hand and count it as your workout for the day.  Remember though, don't over mix!

Dough is done. 

Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt where you plan on placing your cookies on the baking sheet.  I do this step all at once, just make a little grid on the baking sheet in a 4 x 5 pattern leaving about 3" between each sprinkling of salt.  Scoop mounds of cookie dough on each pinch of salt.  The recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies if you use the small version of this scoop - leave them mounded, they will spread and flatten during baking. 

Place the dough about 2" apart and you can usually get about 20 cookies per half sheet pan.  Depending on your oven, bake for approximately 11-13 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack for at least 20-30 minutes if you can wait that long. 


They may seem slightly under done when you take them out and maybe just the slightest bit golden on a few edges but definitely not browned.  This way, when they cool they'll have that yummy chewy texture.

These cookies are also a great do-ahead recipe.  I almost always have these cookies ready to bake from a frozen state so if you're going that route, use a 1½" cookie scoop to dish out on to a parchment sheet lined baking sheet and freeze them.  They pop off the sheet and go in to a ziplock bag and store for weeks in the freezer.  You can just take however many you need and bake off.  I usually set the oven at 360ºF and bake for an extra minute or two from a frozen state.

"Sometimes you feel like a nut."  And when you do, add in a cup of chopped walnuts when you're mixing in the chocolate chips.  I'm married to a no-nut-in-desserts person.  Grrr.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Other People's Food

I follow several food blogs.  Made this for dinner last week (with a few minor tweaks) and it was AH-MA-ZING.

Yes, this post is definitely 'phone-it-in' level effort but hey, that's the life of a working mom!

Can totally be vegetarian if you took the bacon out.

The end.

PS: Working on more posts that are a tick above phone-it-in level.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lemon Thyme Garlic

Ok, where do I start.. Lets start with the basics: garlic is awesome.  I don't know how many times I've seen articles about the various health benefits of garlic but they are many.  We've been on a huge shrimp kick lately after I discovered how much we all love beer boiled shrimp and I decided to make garlic, lemon thyme butter as a dipping sauce. It didn't dawn on me I could/should make an entire dish out of it until I made the shrimp for my mom and we ended up fighting over the garlic which Gabe definitely doesn't care for.

I was home alone when I started peeling three heads of garlic but I couldn't help but hear Gabe in the back of my head warning (maybe pleading?) that I should perhaps rethink what I was doing. True to self, I forged ahead undeterred.  Yes, subjecting one's loved ones to the effects of garlic over consumption can be cruel.  I, however, shop at Costco and in order to use up the warehouse size portions, I resort to drastic measures to avoid waste at all cost.

Doesn't it just make you wanna swim in it?

I ended up making this sauce and spooning it over toasted English muffin rounds, arugula and two soft boiled eggs for lunch.  AH-MAZING!  I didn't even remember to take a photo I inhaled it so quickly.

Lemon Thyme Garlic
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 c. Unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 heads of garlic, cloves peeled (roughly 40 cloves)
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
1/4 c. Lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt (or adjust to your taste)

In a saucepan, melt butter on low to medium low heat. Add garlic cloves and slowly cook until butter is foaming slightly, should take about 3-5 minutes.  Add salt and thyme sprigs (you can either leave whole or take the leaves off the stems and mince for a stronger thyme flavor).  Once garlic is slightly golden, test a larger clove for doneness by inserting a fork - they should be tender like potatoes).  Take the pan off the heat and add the juice of a lemon.

* if you don't have fresh, try 1/4 tsp dried and let me know how it works out - dried thyme can be pretty strong

I used this sauce when sautéing zucchini one night, tossed with pasta another night, melted over steaks and as already mentioned, as a dressing on soft eggs over arugula salad.  It's great with shrimp or a mild fish would be awesome too.

The garlic gets nice and sweet, super mellow compared to when they're fresh.  Just make everyone else in the house eat it and then nobody can single anyone else out for garlic breath or that infamous  garlic coming through the pores phenomenon.


Monday, July 15, 2013

For REAL I'm back (I hope)

So. After a 2+ year hiatus, I had the most amazing lunch at home that put me right. over. the. edge. As I took bite after glorious bite, I said to myself, "That's it! No more excuses! Amytacular is back!" To myself of course..while standing in my kitchen. Talking to my dogs. 

If you have been living under a rock (or just aren't a FB friend), the last 2 years have been filled with some pretty big life events. Ok, event. Singular, really. I had a little baby and she's now 1.5 years old. That was weird just typing that. She's a year and a half (technically not until the end of the month) but those people who would always speak about their children in months always annoyed me. It was like, I know you think b/c I'm Asian I like doing math, and honestly, I do but don't MAKE me do the math, mkay? But if you are one of those people that refers to their children's age in months, I get it now. My b for being so annoyed. And for all you people who find it annoying too that don't have kids - the true reason is b/c they change SO quick during those first few years that you HAVE to say what month b/c so much happens from month to month. One month they're rolling around, next they're crawling, then they're walking, then running, talking, talking back, driving, going to prom, running for Congress etc. Parents, can I get an Amen? (Amen) She's totally awesome by the way. More about her later.

Anyhow, I just wanted to get it out there that I'm dippin' the toe back in the bloggy pool. IDK how well I'll actually keep up but I have realistic hopes. I'm thinking it'll be pretty consistent for a little bit b/c of all the backed up material I've had swimming in my head for the last few years then I'll relapse into a monthly deal. That's life w/ a kid, man, deal w/ it! 

Oh, and I logged back on for the first time in a while and I noticed not ONE follower anymore. I leave for 2 years and you people abandon me? Not that it's THAT hard to believe but one of the TWO followers I had was my own freaking husband. Really, hon? Really? You blog reading people are a fickle bunch, I tell you. There are blogs out there that I've followed for YEARS after their authors have ceased to post. That's my commitment, people! That and I'm too lazy to really go in to my subscriptions and manage them. So does that mean you guys (hon, this is directed at you) went in and UNSUBSCRIBED? Or does it just kick you off as a Follower if you haven't posted anything in say, ohh, 2+ years? Gah. 

First (food) post back will be a good one, working on it now. It'll change your life as it has mine. LITERALLY. Stay tuned!