This Week in the Kitchen

This week has been a week of “procrasti-baking”. I’m applying to medical school and I’ve been avoiding the essays like the plague. I’ve been getting my house in order – cleaning, organizing, and cooking. Mess and clutter adds to my stress, but I know it’s also a bit of a way to ignore my other work.

Recipes/Experiments

Mermaid Mimosa: My first sort-of cocktail. I really need to get a cocktail making kit so I know how much I’m actually putting in. Very blue, not bad tasting.

Pepper Lunch: A trend from TikTok. It seems to be a popular take-out lunch from a restaurant (possibly in Japan?) Needed more pepper.

Foodie Fails

I watched a TikTok video where someone took a mostly empty jar of Nutella, filled it with heavy cream, shook it, and froze it to make Nutella ice cream. Did not work for me. Maybe I should have melted the Nutella?

Around the World

Ramen “Bokumbap”: Bokumbap is fried rice. This recipe added Shin ramen (a Korean brand). Super tasty and easy to make!

Korean Corn Cheese: a cheesy corn dip that’s a popular bar food in Korea. I even got to use my new countertop oven.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: MasterChef (I’m on Season 11)

Currently Reading: Brew

I’m into the recipe part of this book. Hoping to try out some techniques and recipes soon.

Restaurants Tried

The Lola: Sunday brunch had a line out the door! Love their birthday celebration (Hint: it involves fireworks)

Chicken & Waffles

Steve’s Espresso: an eclectic coffee shop full of artsy types. They seem to be purists about certain coffees. I enjoyed iced French press coffee.

Recipe Notebook 2.0

I filled another notebook. There are two others floating around my house, but I thought I’d share the best and worst of the recipes scribbled among the to-do lists and wedding plans. Some of these may have been shared in m

Please note some recipes aren’t online so I can only share where I found them!

Recipes to Highlight:

Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies: I made these for a Christmas cookie box and they nearly rivaled my famous ginger molasses cookies.

Aquafaba Meringues from NYT Cooking: You would never guess these are vegan.

Two Vinegar Chicken from NYT Cooking: Served over polenta, this vinegary chicken has a bold, acidic flavor.

BBQ Chicken Legs: These chicken drums were super easy to cook in a slow cooker with a sweet and tangy bourbon barbeque sauce.

Tomato Soup Cake: I know it sounds weird but it doesn’t taste like tomato at all. I found this because of a TikTok and it did not disappoint.

Spicy Asparagus: This amazing Korean woman shares recipes from her Korean home-cooking. Her whole channel is amazing.

Costco Copycat Muffins: These use a package of jello pudding and boxed cake mix to make super moist and rich muffins (honestly they’re really like small cakes). They almost didn’t make it to the potluck.

Foodie Fails:

Churro Lava Cakes: Not sure if this was an issue with the recipe or just a simple failure of execution. I made four of these cakes for the Great British Bake Through. There was definitely no lava in these lava cakes.

Mint Julep Part One: Another Great British Bake Through challenge, only this time I failed this one and chose a different recipe. The crust was smooshy and awful and the filling never set. Never make this pie.

Pane di Pasqua: Though it made a pretty Easter centerpiece, I don’t think I kneaded it enough, which made the dough thick. Despite baking it longer than suggested it was still raw inside.

There is another notebook in my kitchen right now mixed with all sorts of things. Let’s see how long it takes before I fill it.

This Week in the Kitchen

I haven’t been as active in the kitchen lately. Between work and my school applications I’ve been unmotivated. The physician I work for will be gone for most of the month of July. I’m hoping that will help restore my routine. It’s time to start meal prepping again.

Recipes/Experiments

Sweet & Salty Rice Krispies: Rice krispies with crumbled potato chips. Next time I think I need a sturdier chip.

Copycat Costco Muffins: Tweaking a box of cake mix and adding jello was supposed to make muffins similar to the ones from Costco. They weren’t really like Costco’s but they were super moist and delicious.

Foodie Fails

The cold brew I tried to make using milk instead of water actually turned to be okay when I poured it into black cofffee. I’m excited to see what my coffee book can teach me about making better cold brew at home

Slutty Brownies: These 6 layer slutty brownies from TikTok were supposed to be made with cookie butter but I used peanut butter instead. Apparently peanut butter has a boiling point? They boiled over and made a mess. The brownies were edible and people like them. Maybe next time I’ll switch the PB and nutella layers.

Around the World

Beef & Broccoli: I made my first recipe from Jet Tila’s cookbook “101 Asian Dishes to Make Before You Die”. With all these trips to the Asian markets have stocked my pantry with everything I need.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: MasterChef (I’m on Season 7)

Currently Reading: Brew

I’m almost done reading this! Currently debating on whether I should buy some different coffee makers like a Moka pot and Chemex.

Restaurants Tried

Kick Ass Coffee of Hawaii – I finally tried one of their signature lattes.

This Week in the Kitchen

A lot of my inspiration, cooking, and food lately has been focused on Asia. For those of you who don’t know me I lived in China for a year. My brother currently lives in Korea. My hobbies include listening to kpop and watching anime and other Asian dramas. I started experiencing Asian food modeling off the media I was consuming (snacks from T.V shows, recipes from celebrity’s favorites). Lately I’ve been visiting Asian markets and it has been supplying ingredients and new things to try.

Recipes/Experiments

Korean Soy-Sauce Eggs: These delicious soft-boiled eggs were marinated in several aromatics. Opening the lid when they were done marinating just smelled amazing. I took out the eggs and then marinated chicken in it!

I wanted to brag about the memorial day dinner I made. I made a Korean-inspired “cook out”. We grilled up some pre-marinated meat from H-mart (bulgogi and pork belly), made some Japanese mayo-based sauces, and made them into burgers. This was served with Kimchi potato salad from NY Times and blanched asparagus with a gochujang sauce.

I learned a new burger trick! Take store-bought burger buns, brush with egg white, sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Put into the oven at 375 for 5-8 minutes.

Foodie Fails

I saw someone on TikTok make their cold brew with milk. She had coffee pouches similar to a tea bag and a large mason jar. I tried using my standard cold brew maker from Amazon.

Around the World

The trips to Asian grocery stores continue! Last week I got an intense haul from H-Mart (a Korean market chain). Examples of snacks eaten include corn ice cream (it even looked like a little corn!), Takoyaki (fried octopus ball) puffs, and instant beef bone soup.

Foodie Media

Currently watching: MasterChef (I’m on Season 6)

Currently Reading: Brew

Restaurants Tried

Palette Collective Coffee Shop (Tempe)

Cajun Fries

I never understood the idea of buying certain spice mixes from a store. I have a perfectly good spice rack (with an extra cabinet full of other spices). A spice mix is just that – a mix of spices. The other night I made a Cajun spice mix to spice up some alfredo sauce. We’ve used the leftover spice mix on several other dishes. Boyfriend and I made French fries to go with some bratwurst. As big fans of Five Guys’ Cajun fries, we wanted to try and make our own.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1) Mix together the spices.

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2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

3) Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Slice thinly. Stack the slices on top of each other. Cut in half again lengthwise.

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Check out this video for a demonstration.

4) Prepare a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, or a baking pain with a cooling rack.

5) Toss the fries with olive oil.

6) Spread the fries onto the baking sheet or aluminum foil. From a height, sprinkle the Cajun spice mix over the fries.

7) Bake for 15 minutes. Flip halfway through the cooking time with a pair of tongs or a spatula.

8) Remove from the oven and let cool. Salt if desired.

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These were definitely spicy, but I’m not sure I liked baked fries as much as fried fries. The way they were cut may have contributed to a lack of crispiness, or perhaps I used too much oil. Regardless, keep the Cajun seasoning around to add a kick to any dish.

 

 

Chorizo Sweet Potato Hash

Pumpkin isn’t the only thing in season right now. Sweet potatoes are a diverse ingredient that pairs well with sweet and savory flavors, whether its sweet potato pie or whole roasted sweet potatoes. I found this recipe for chorizo sweet potatoes in Food Network magazine. I’ve never cooked chorizo, but I love to eat it!

The original recipe was stuffed whole sweet potatoes, but those are more difficult to take to work, so I cut them and roasted them instead.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spice (I’d never heard of it either! McCormick brand is in the spice aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (if you don’t like eating this usually, buy the single serve cups!)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 8 oz chorizo
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • chopped fresh mint (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450. For whole potatoes, pierce all over with a fork and microwave 20-25 min. For roasted sweet potatoes, slice into bite-sized cubes. You won’t need to microwave the cubes.

2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pickling spice and cook about 1 minute, until toasted.

 

3. Transfer the spiced oil to a mini food processor or spice grinder. Grind or pulse until the pickling spice is finely ground for 1 minute.

4. Transfer the oil into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and some pepper. Set aside.

5. Soak the raisins in 1/2 cup warm water for about 10 minutes.

Does anyone know what this does? I think it’s to rehydrate them? Maybe it makes them softer…

6. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes. The meat should be brown and crisp.

 

Be careful when cooking this. It’s difficult to tell when the meat is fully cooked, because it has been spiced red.

7. Add the pine nuts to the meat. Cook for 30 seconds until the nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from heat.

8. Drain the raisins and stir them into the chorizo.

9. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then either rub the whole sweet potatoes with salt and pepper, or sprinkle evenly over the pieces.

Roast the whole potatoes for 10 minutes OR Roast the cubes for 35-40 minutes.

10. Top the sweet potatoes with the chorizo mixture. Serve with yogurt sauce on top or on the side!

Final Thoughts: I could eat this every day! Sweet potatoes and chorizo go so well together; the sweet and spicy flavors match perfectly. And the spiced yogurt sauce brings down a little bit of the heat. The pine nuts added some much needed crunch, though I probably could have cooked them longer.

A few weeks after I made this, I had a sweet potato and chorizo breakfast skillet. I like this better.

Korean Beef Meal Prep

In my junior year of college, my best friend announced she was moving to South Korea. She didn’t speak the language and knew a little about the culture, but it was still quite sudden. When she came back, she could fluently speak Korean. She also came back with an extensive knowledge of Korean food. She started taking me with her to local places, ordering food that I hadn’t heard of in a language I can’t understand. Needless to say she helped develop a love of Korean food.

Every week I make a recipe to bring to lunch for work. When I found that one of my favorite bloggers had a recipe for Korean beef, I knew I had to try it. It’s a mock-bulgogi that has quickly become one of my favorite recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped spinach (I bought 2 bunches, but 3 might have been better.)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha (I actually used gochujang- a Korean fermented chili paste.)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I always use venison of course)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp sesame seeds

You’ll need more spinach than you think.

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan, cook rice according to the package. Set aside.

2. Boil the eggs to desired consistency. I prefer medium-hard boiled eggs.

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach until wilted.

 

 

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and Sriracha (or gochujang).

This sauce is super sticky. It will congeal if you don’t stir it every now and then.

5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Make sure it crumbles, then drain the fat.

 

Basically up until you add the meat, the steps are the same as how you prepare the spinach.

6. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and green onions, allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.

I stirred the sauce prior to adding it into the meat.

7. Place the rice, eggs, spinach, and ground beef mixture into meal prep containers. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

I left the garnish off of the food, but added a little extra gochujang to the meat. It was the perfect meal.

Final Thoughts: My dad said this was his favorite lunch I’ve ever made. I was disappointed that I didn’t make enough spinach, but since I doubled the recipe, we had plenty of food. I could eat this every week for lunch. Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, all delicious.

Hearty Beef or Venison Stew

Fall is around the corner, which gives me an excuse to start fall recipes. Stews and soups are one of my favorite types of dishes, because they’re simple to make. There’s also an incredible variety of flavors for the same basic idea. Throw a bunch of food and spices into a pot and you’ve made something tasty! I tend to eat lots of gnocchi so this beef stew recipe looked to good to pass up!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 lbs. chuck roast, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 3/5 cup frozen peas
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 2 carrots

Instructions:

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Coat with the olive oil. Brown the meat in a pan over medium heat. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

 

 

2. Add 2 Tbsp butter and some olive oil to the pot. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes, until they’re translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute.

3. Stir in the flour and paprika. Cook about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the flour burn!

4. Pour the water into the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. (This is called deglazing the pan.)

5. Add the beef cubes, bay leaf, cloves, and thyme. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer 2.5 hours.

6. Add the potatoes and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium low. Simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the gnocchi 5 minutes before the end of the cook-time, then remove the pot from the heat.

You can test the potatoes by pushing a fork through them. If they’re relatively soft and easy to puncture, they’re ready.

7. Add the peas and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and let sit for a few minutes.

8. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Final Thoughts: This was such a hearty and delicious stew. I looked forward to eating leftovers every day. This recipe may be more suited for wintertime, but I truly enjoyed the mix of textures and the strong flavors. The cloves in particular were a nice surprise! Give it a try and comment with your results!

Venison Pohya

When I was living with my father, the majority of the meat in our fridge was wild game, hunted by my father, brother, or brother-in-law. As an avid hunter, my father subscribes to multiple hunting magazines, including one called Field & Stream. Sometimes they publish recipes. Recently we found a traditional Native American recipe called “poyha,” a venison and corn dish.

You’ll need a cast iron pan and a food processor or blender for this recipe, so it should be considered an intermediate or advanced recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. venison
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped with white parts separated from the green
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ears corn or 2 cups frozen corn (you should only need to buy one bag)
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 eggs
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

Instructions:

1)  Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high heat. Add venison and cook. Stir to break up until the pink is mostly gone.

2) Add the white parts from the scallions, red onion, and garlic. Cook until fragrant and the onions are softened. Transfer the mix to a large bowl.

 

3) Add 1/3 of corn to bowl with venison.

4) Combine the remaining corn with the cranberries. Pulse in a food processor until roughly chopped but not pulverized. Transfer this to the bowl of venison, including any juice.

 

 

5) Add the eggs, green scallion, salt, and pepper. Stir. Add cornmeal and blend.

Try not to work the meat too much.

6) Wipe out the skillet. Add 1 Tbsp oil to coat the sides and the bottom. Scoop the venison mix into the skillet. Flatten with a spatula. Cover tightly with foil.

7) Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes or more.

Please don’t burn yourselves on the pan. Cast iron will retain heat as much as possible.

Final Thoughts: This was an absolutely amazing recipe! My father and I were stunned by the savory flavor with just a slight tangy sweetness from the cranberries. We both ate seconds; leftovers were gone by the next day. Well done Field & Stream. I may look for more recipes from them to try.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Pieced Together Lemon Cake

Though this recipe is for a simply delicious lemon cake, I felt it was important to bring it from my old blog. Mistakes happen. I have shared my “foodie fails” on my blog in the past. I can be a perfectionist, who gets frustrated about the slightest problems.

Learning to cook and bake means that I have to embrace the mistakes. The great part about food is that it can often be forgiving. No one cares if your cake is a little messy as long as it tastes good. If it doesn’t taste very good or it’s rendered inedible, you’ll know for the next time you try. The important part is that you don’t give up!

 

 

Would you have guessed that one of the layers of this cake fell apart? This isn’t an episode of Chopped. While you may disappointed, no one is going to kick you out of the kitchen. My coworkers enjoyed the tasty cake even with its flaws.

Ingredients:

THE CAKE

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 2 9-inch baking pans.

To “grease” pans you can use sprays like Pam. I prefer to use butter, then lightly coat the pan with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. Beat together the butter and 2 cups of the sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon zest.

 

3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 

4. Add the dry ingredients, 1/4 cup lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla to the mixer. Mix well.

5. Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

6. While the cake is baking, make the simple syrup. Over medium-high heat, mix 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Syrups and reductions seem to be one of my weak points. They never seem to get quite thick enough. Fortunately, this will brushed onto the cake so it doesn’t need to be thick like maple syrup.

7. Make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Mix in vanilla and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

 

8. When the cake has finished baking, poke holes in the top. Divide the simple syrup between the two layers and pour over the top.

 

I kept the cakes in the pans to avoid making a mess. I also brushed the syrup over top to avoid saturating one part of the cake more than another.

9. Once the cakes have cooled COMPLETELY, assemble the cake and frost. Keep refrigerated 1 hour prior to serving.

Okay here’s where the fail happened. Do not rush the cooling process. The simple syrup makes the cake much softer. If it doesn’t cool, well then you end up with this…

 

With a little magic…

 

Final Thoughts: See what I was talking about? The first layer came out fine, but the simple syrup moistened the cake and my second layer fell apart. I placed the broken layer on the bottom, piecing it as flat as I could (aided by a layer of frosting to pull everything together). The whole layer went on top. By the time I finished, you couldn’t tell it had broken unless you cut inside! Even better, the cake was delicious. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. This cake had sweet lemon-y goodness in every bite.