Monday, February 25, 2013

Therapy in Session: Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Life likes to work in mysterious ways, sometimes in our favor and other times mocks us in the cruelest ways. We’ve all lost something we’ve hold dear to us at one point or another, whether it be a person, pet, or something sentimental, whatever the case, I can only say the pain that hits us, the wave of emotions felt, it’s more powerful and sometimes more hurtful than physical pain. It may sound ridiculous but until it happens, you’ll never know. 

In the long run, we’ll be alright, we’ll move past this instant in time and soon, it’ll just be a memory of what once was. That doesn’t mean it hurts any less or that it won’t bring us a little prick in the future whenever the memory surfaces again, but there are bigger things in life than to waste energy on things we cannot control. Motivation to move on is never easy, we can give and receive all the advice and comfort in the world but actually being able to take those and turn it into inspiration to start anew and be happy again, that’s the challenge. Many people fall into the trap of never being able to come back out of that darkness, that depression but my way of seeing things: you have every right to be sad, to be depressed, to be heart broken, to express sorrow, and to be angry but it is not wise to dwell. Being all those things are normal, it is our way of coping but it is not our way of life. We live to love, to smile, to find joy, to form friendships, and to forgive. If we hold onto the bitterness, we ourselves will become bitter. We only have one life, we can live it being bitter, angry, or depressed, or we can take life’s cruel jokes and laugh right back. Just another speed bump on the road, you might have tripped me, but as long as I’m still living, I can still go forward.

Me? I’m swimming somewhere in between the first paragraph and the second. It’s no easy task to overcome, but there are ways. We just have to double on the things that make us happy and remember happiness feels so much greater than despair. Things that make us happy also helps keeps our minds out of trouble; it prevents the mind from wandering into thoughts that are best left alone for now. Therefore one of my distractions for now: Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas (Printable Recipe Here)

(Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas, sorry no link, the recipe came with pan I bought.)
Makes 5-6 servings
  • Approx 1lb of chicken breast tenders
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated/finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of chipotle powder
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from chipotle pepper in adobe sauce)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (or 2 pinches)
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ½ can of tomato paste (approx 4oz)
  • 1 cup of milk (for creamy texture) or 1 cup of chicken stock
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 6 large corn tortilla or 8 regular sized corn tortilla
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice
  • ¼ cup cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cream (optional)

1.       Cook chicken with olive oil, flavor with a little bit of salt and pepper. Once cooked, shred the chicken meat with 2 forks or with your fingers, set aside.
2.      Heat a medium sauce pan with olive oil and sauté the onions until soft, add in garlic and spices, and toast a few seconds until fragrant. Add in tomatoes. Cook until well marinated then add in milk or chicken stock along with tomato paste. Shimmer for about 10 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Stir in cilantro and lime juice, remove from heat.
3.      Add ladleful of sauce to the chicken and toss to combine. Reserve remaining sauce
4.      Heat tortillas by warming them in a dry skillet over medium heat or by layering moist paper towels in between each one and microwave for about a minute.
5.      Divide the chicken evenly among the tortillas and roll each one up. Add some of the reserve sauce on the bottom of a 9” square baking pan then line the pan with rolled enchiladas, seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over chicken enchiladas and top with cheese.
6.      Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes (or until cheese is melted, brown and bubbly) at 375 degrees.

Knowing cooking is a definite phase of the healing process, now even more so, when I went to the store, I didn’t care for pricing. I didn’t care whether I can or cannot do it, I bought ingredients to things I have always wanted to make/remake but have held back in the past. I can only handle so many negative things at a time. For now, logic will just have to play a smaller role when it comes to small indulgences such as food shopping. 

You know what’s another good healer? Exercise. Weird but somehow the physical pain in your lungs, your arms, your legs, will temporarily melt all that emotional nonsense away. It clears our heads, it makes us feel good. Natural endorphins, you can’t beat that. Not only will this make you feel good, but in the long run, it’ll make you better. You look better and in turn feel better. Be stronger, happier, and live longer. For me, its the best place to go. Exercising has never let me down which is more than I can say about anything else.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Caramelized Onions, Pastrami, with Creamy Spinach Artichoke Flat Bread

Instead of reproducing the exact same flat bread (which turned out to be very popular among my family members, asiago hummus flat bread) I decided to give it a little tweak, plus I needed to get rid of some of my pastrami. I go through phases with my menu selections. During the work week to keep things simple, I usually pick a meal and eat that for the week which by the end of the week, I’m pretty tired of what I’ve been eating all week hence always having to get “rid” of ingredients…

Spinach from my last post was from sandwich making as of course the pastrami. I’ve long ran out of bread and left with the contents of what you would put in your sandwich IF there was bread. Now I’m not exactly tired of eating sandwiches just yet…but if I bought another loaf I definitely would be and I didn’t want to get to that point. Therefore to avoid all that, I usually try to come up with things to make with my leftover ingredients.

This recipe will go into one of my not so healthy recipes so eat sparingly. The creamy spinach artichoke made a perfect base for the caramelized onions, and the mustard gives it a little bit of tang so that it’s not overwhelming in creaminess. Put all that together with peppery pastrami and its perfect! Another new favorite go to recipe for party appetizers. 

Makes approx 12”x 12” flatbread
  • 1 16oz bag of pizza dough (Trader Joe’s garlic & herb)
  • Approx 8 oz Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2-3 large slices of pastrami
  • Approx 1 -2 tbsp mustard (optional: I used sweet and spicy)
  • 1 -2 tbsp olive oil (for cooking onions)
  • Garlic salt (to flavor)
  • Approx 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • Cheese of choice (optional)
  • Flour (for when working with pizza dough)

    1. Prepare pizza dough via instructions on package if any. If not, sprinkle a little bit of flour onto work surface and hand knead/stretch pizza dough until it’s about 12” x 12” in size.
    2. Prepare “sauce” if needed (Trader Joe’s I had to heat up the dip) and then spread a thin layer onto the dough
    3. In a sauté pan, sauté onions with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and sugar until completely cooked and slightly brown.
    4. Layer on toppings: onions, mustard, and pastrami. Sprinkle on a little bit of cheese if you wish.
    5. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes
    6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Day Weekend: SF and Spinach Almond Pesto Pasta!

It’s amazing what a little rain can do. Being stuck inside also means I get a lot of stuff done. I was done making my lunches for the entire week before 1pm! Almost finish reading The Hobbit which I thought I’d never do, I swear it might have taken me longer to read it than for the filmmakers to film the darn thing.

It’s an odd day today; it actually feels like winter again. Heavy rains and even hail at one point, but I suppose a little rain is harmless, this winter is a bit dry compared to past winters and scary as it sounds spring is around the corner and soon enough it’ll be summer again… though I love warm weather, I despise the heat. As I always say, when its cold, you can put on the layers and curl up in a blanket but it doesn’t work the other way around. If it’s too hot, you can only shed so much before you need to stay in the privacy of your own home and even then it might not be enough.

Luckily, most of this long weekend was dry and sunny, enough so that my friends and I could venture into San Francisco once more. I love visiting the city when I’m not behind the wheel. I’ll be GPS any day! As a belated birthday event, I’ve requested a visit to the Walt Disney Museum located at the Presidio in San Francisco and ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. Okay ice cream was a request from the driver but after all that ice cream talk, I wanted some too. Some of my other friends were concerned it might be too cold for ice cream but we lucked out yet again for SF, it was a beautiful sunny day. By the time we did get ice cream though, I’d have to admit, it was a bit chilly but after driving thru SF (4 miles took almost 30 minutes!) and waiting in line for about 15 minutes, we were getting ice cream even if we were in the middle of a snow storm! It was worth every traffic light, every crazy angry driver, every honk, and every second in line! A happy belated birthday indeed! 

The museum was mainly about the life of Walt Disney who is such an amazing accomplished person. Going through his life, you’ll come to find, like everyone else, his life was not short of hardships and failures but one thing that differed was his will to dream and to make those dreams come true. He was daring and never gave up. Reading about his accomplishments makes me feel a little unaccomplished. By the time he was 16 (15 in reality) he was brave enough to volunteer to be a member of the Red Cross for the military. When he returned at the age of 20, he was able to get a job doing what he loved and was getting paid $50 a month. That may not sound like a lot but to put things into perspective, an entire meal back in those days only cost about 0.20-0.30 cents! I looked at a menu from then and couldn’t help but laugh because for a meal now, we’d need to move that decimal a couple of places back. His life is inspiring and proves that dreams do come true but not without hard work. So bottom line, dream big and don’t give up.

So a couple of weeks ago while I was at work comparing lunches with my manager, a small discussion of pesto came about and ever since then, I’ve been meaning to try something. Normally pesto is fresh basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil which is great but I wanted to have something that was slightly healthier than the normal version of pesto so I came up with my own version. 

The spinach has returned! It’s been a while since one of my recipes included spinach and plus I needed to find a way to use up my spinach. Sandwiches weren’t cutting it for me anymore. I didn’t have pine nuts handy at home and so instead of pine nuts I decided to use almonds instead. Again being naturally lazy when given the opportunity, I will always choose the lazy method. Instead of digging out a food processor to make my spinach pesto, I decided a blender was enough…not quite. I couldn’t get the pesto to the consistency that I want it to be, so that is why I decided to add a little bit of milk. It didn’t make much difference in flavor, just made it creamier if anything. Overall a success, tastes just like any old pesto sauce I’ve ever had and it has slightly more nutrients with the spinach and milk instead of just oil. 

Makes approximately 2-3 servings
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 2-3 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 1 cup of milk (low fat okay)
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 2 handfuls of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 7 oz of penne pasta (approx ½ box)
  • Garlic salt (for taste)
  • Ground pepper (for taste)
  1. Cook pasta via instructions on packaging, once cooked, set aside
  2. In a food processor (for better results) or blender (sufficient) blend/process together spinach, basil, cheese, almond, milk, olive oil until it reaches a thick paste like consistency.
  3. Mix in with cooked pasta along with cream and serve.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asiago Hummus Flatbread!

After a few weeks of working 4/10s, I realized the con ... after 10 hr work days you really don't want to do anything but pass out and wait for the next day. Trying to accomplish anything during the week is near impossible. So I had made this flatbread last weekend. I was one busy bee last weekend and didn't have enough time to post everything I wanted to so I thought, I'll just post it during the week. Sad as it sounds but it took me almost an entire week just to write the recipe and edit some of the pictures. Posting? Ha you can forget about that!

So now, one weekend later, here is my asiago hummus flatbread experiment! I like treating all my cooking experiences like a science experiment. Somewhere deep inside, the science part of me just loves the idea of being able to eat my experiments rather than disposing it in a hazardous waste container. I suppose there would be moments of needing a hazardous waste bins for when the recipes don't come out right... but I pride on that when it does work out, getting to eat it is the best part. 

A few years ago when I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle with making better food choices and exercising regularly, I decided I was going to take something unhealthy that I loved and cut it out of my diet completely... after much thought the final choices were pizza and sausages. Well my genius self back then decided my love for sausage was too great and that I rather give up pizza instead. Looking back now, that was a horrible choice but what is done is done. Until this day, I have not had a slice of pizza. You might think I'm crazy (I probably am) but it's not that bad once you get past wanting to eat every pizza in sight for the first few months. Now I can look at one and not have a problem...though because its such a default food for all occasions its quite disappointing when people say "lets get pizza" that I know I'm stuck with either bread sticks or salad for the meal but hey yay to healthy choices right?? I do have one exception though, if I am ever in New York, Chicago, or Italy and the pizza opportunity comes up, that will be the only time(s) I will have a slice. Love for food takes precedence on that one.

Though I no longer eat pizza, no one ever said anything about not eating its distant cousins such as naan, flat bread, and other similar breads with stuff on them. My personal loophole thank you very much! I win. 

Now what to put on my flat bread? I drew inspiration, of course, from pizza. Tomato sauce, cheese, and perhaps a protein of some sort are the common ingredients to all pizzas, how and what can I change to make what I'm making different?.... then I remembered I use to make this tapenade hummus spread to put in my sandwiches that was to die for! Instantly I knew then what direction I wanted to go. Luckily I had both tapenade and hummus lying around (side note: because baby carrots with hummus are awesome!! Made that discovery a few years back, best snack ever!) so all I needed was some cheese and meats, in this case, I picked asiago and sopressata (a type of salami) and I was set!

 Just imagine, a fragrant flat bread hot out of the oven layered with a red bell pepper artichoke tapenade hummus spread, melted asiago cheese and warm sopressata garnshed with cubed avocados and parsley flasks. If I didn't portion control, I think my brother would've ate the whole thing... so I guess I'll be making that again in the future! 

Now you try:

Makes approx 12”x 12” flatbread
  • 1 16oz bag of Trader Joe’s raw pizza dough (garlic & herb)
  • 3-4 tbsp tapenade (pictured: Trader Joe’s Red Pepper & Artichoke)
  • 3-4 tbsp hummus (pictured: spicy)
  • 10-12 slices of astiago cheese (pictured: Trader Joe’s Asiago cheese + sopressata pack)
  • 10-12 slices of sopressata
  • Approx 1 tbsp parsley flakes (optional)
  • 1 avocado, cubed (optional)
  • Flour (for when working with pizza dough)

    1. Prepare pizza dough via instructions on package if any. If not, sprinkle a little bit of flour onto work surface and hand knead/stretch pizza dough until it’s about 12” x 12” in size.
    2. Prepare “sauce” by mixing together the tapenade and hummus then spread a thin layer onto the dough
    3. Layer on toppings, cheese and meat, and anything else you’d like to add. Sprinkle on parsley flakes. Do not add avocado at this time unless you like it baked with the flatbread.
    4. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes
    5. Enjoy with fresh avocado!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spicy Chipotle Pasta!

It's most disappointing to cook a good meal and not be able to share it through a decent point and shoot is great and I love it to death but it's starting to become a bit limited from time to time. Example, though it handles low light really well, once the sun sets or nearly sets, it becomes a hit and miss for photo moments. Either I get a great shot or a great blurry one. It's unfortunate today was not the day it provided me with a great shot, sufficient but not great.

I guess partly that should be my own fault. If I had just come home from my dentist appointment there would've been plenty of light... but no, I decided, let's grab some Thai food and stop by my friend's work to have lunch which was nice, that was a good decision. Now did I go home after that, nope! I decided to stop by TJMaxx to see if I can get my hands on some new fuzzy slippers...well a hour later and no slippers but I ended up with 2 new tanks (of which I can't even wear yet), a typical girl problem. We go somewhere to buy something we need and always come out with none of what we went there for but a bunch of other new shiny things, its like a dog at the park with loads of squirrels. Okay so now that my squirrel moment is over, its time to talk about food!

The day before work is always fun because the natural procrastinator in me will always wait until the last minute to make my lunch for the week, hence my mini shopping trip which resulted in lack of quality food pics. I originally wanted to try a different pasta recipe I had formulated in my head but given my time restraints, I decided I'm not going to play with that recipe yet, maybe next week. This week, we're just going on the fly. Dug around in the fridge and noticed I still had the chipotle peppers left from when I made my chipotle chicken chowder so my brain instantly went to the Cheesecake Factory Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta dish which if you ever look at the calories (something you should never do if you ever want to eat it again) it'll make your eyes pop out or your heart stop whichever wants to come first. Let's just say it use to my favorite dish. After I looked at the nutrition facts... I just couldn't eat it anymore. Well today I used that dish as inspiration and came up with my own healthier version of spicy chipotle pasta! It's not exact but I certainly think its up to par and certainly not as crazy high in calories. 

I just have a love for all things spicy, it gives everything such a good kick and it'll keep you wanting more and more (and some would say "yeah, more water")! Now enough nonsense, time to get to the core of the dish. Onions, mushrooms, red bell peppers, sauted in garlic olive oil with some oregano, thyme, and cumin then topped off with some chipotle peppers and that's a dish! If you want to keep it light, feel free to skip the cream and cheese. Add a little bit of whole milk and a little bit of corn starch/flour for a thicker/creamy texture and it'll be completely health friendly!

Makes 3-4 servings
  • 7 oz of penne pasta (approx ½ box, use whole wheat/grain for better nutrients)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 10-15 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • ½ tbsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers, crushed/diced (from can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce)
  • 2-3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp crème fraiche (optional, cut out a tablespoon of cream if using this)
  • 2 tbsp of milk (optional, can replace with broth or water)
  • A handful of parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Cook pasta via instructions on packaging, drain noodles, and coat with some olive oil and give it a quick sauté (in the same pot with some salt and pepper) once cooked, set aside
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat up approx 1 tbsp of olive oil and add in bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms with oregano, thyme, and cumin. Toss/stir the mixture until nearly done then add in half the amount of chipotle peppers, let it continue to cook on low.
  3. Take the other half of chipotle peppers and mix it in with the heavy cream until well incorporated, set aside.
  4. Add pasta into bell pepper mix then stir in chipotle cream and crème fraiche, and milk.
  5. Top with a handful of parmesan cheese.

Chinese New Years 2013! Year of the Snake

Wishing all who celebrate the lunar calendar a very Happy New Year! May it be prosperous and full of good fortune! Good food, family, friends, and of course red envelops to kick off the good fortunes, have a wonderful new year!

I didn't realize this until recently but not many people outside the Asian community know about the lunar calendar. Because the lunar calendar is essentially a different calendar system than the Gregorian calendar, the new year falls on a different date each year (usually between mid Jan to mid Feb). There are 12 months but the amount of days per month are different and usually the moon (hence lunar) has a lot of influence on how this calendar works. Even I'm not quite sure how this calendar came about, I only know how to read and figure out what day I'm on.

Random Interesting Fact: Every person who celebrates the lunar new year typically believe in their lunar birthdays. To determine your lunar birthday, you'd have to see what day it was on the lunar calendar on the day you were born on the Gregorian calendar. Though like following the Gregorian, your birthday is on the same day every year, but since the lunar calendar is slightly different than the Gregorian calendar, it would appear your lunar birthday lands on a different day every year on the Gregorian calendar. Also the zodiac sign is based on the lunar calendar which is why some who may be born in 1986 is still considered the year of the Ox and not Tiger if they were born before Feb 8th....technically up until Feb 7th, it was still 1985 on the lunar calendar.
The lunar new year is one of the biggest holidays in Asia. Equivalently, its like our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years combined. People in Asia (at least people in China, which include my relatives) typically get almost a whole month off from school or work for this special holiday. Streets are filled with festivities, music, dance, and loads of food. RED, so much red and gold which represents good fortune are everywhere on everything. That is why it is tradition to hand out red envelops filled with money or candies. Lots and lots of symbolic traditions and a huge deal.

Its still a huge deal to the Asian communities in the US but nothing compared to what its like in China or other Asian countries. 

Anyways thought I'd share some my own cultural background for this day. Hope this was something new and interesting to whoever reads this,  you learn something new everyday right?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Baking Therapy: Dark Chocolate Almond Mocha Geo Cookies!

Well yesterday’s game was not the ending I would’ve hoped for. Was it upsetting, disappointing, frustrating, and down right gut wrenching, yah! It was! A game we’ve comeback from at one point a 22 point deficit, one touchdown away, and should’ve won but we didn’t, there are no words for this. I can probably go on for a while about this but I’ll stop myself there. Despite my unstable state of emotions right now, we cannot deny that we had a great season. We’ve come far in the last 2 seasons, it’s only going to get better, and I have faith this is only the beginning of greatness. I know next season we’ll be better, stronger, and prepared, and we will make history again! My Niners will be back – have no doubt – the drive to win it will be that much greater. I am, of course, by no means accepting this lost, it will continue to sting for A WHILE...even words of encouragement won’t take that away, it’s too soon.

This calls for comfort. Whether I need to run a mile, watch Finding Nemo three times over or go make a mess in the kitchen, something needs to happen. Since this is no small wound, I’ll probably end up doing all three. Okay so maybe not watch Finding Nemo three times, we’ll throw in Up and Toy Story 3 or something like that, but you get the point.

Therefore I’d like to deem this baking experiment a kitchen therapy session. I’m not one for eating comfort foods as much as comfort in cooking and baking the foods themselves. It’s the motion of being able to feel accomplished and watching other people find joy in my cooking that I like. I believe the best form of comfort is being able to enjoy the joys of life through others from something you have done and of course laughter (hence the feel good Disney movies marathon).

This recipe is a play and adaptation from a recipe I had found online (Mexican Chocolate Earthquake Cookies by SpoonForkBacon) and is perfect because it’ll help me use up the leftover ingredients I had from when I played with making my ChocolateRaspberry Torte. Though the original recipe is intriguing, I’m afraid I’m not quite bold enough to try it out yet. Mostly because I give away most of my baked goods and I know there are a lot of people out there that can’t handle their spice…ahem** so I decided to cut those out and only keep the cinnamon part. Since I’m also trying to use up ingredients and not buy more, I decided to cut out the Mexican chocolate part as well and just replace that with the regular stuff. Of course, I thought I had baking powder…in which I did not but a quick Google search solved that problem (2 part cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda i.e. 2tsp cream of tarter + 1 tsp baking soda). In addition I’ve put my own slight twist in that I’m dipping the cookies in chocolate and then coating that with sliced almonds for an added crunch. I love a good crunch. 
With all those changes, a new name is in order. I liked the idea of “earthquake” but the name I came up with is long enough already so I decided on Geo Cookies instead, catchy no?


Makes Approximately 3 dozens
  • 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips (68% or higher)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup black coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
Sugar coating:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3cup powdered sugar
Chocolate coating:
  • 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  •  ½ cup sliced almonds

    1. In a double boiler over medium heat melt chocolates and butter together until smooth. Stir in coffee and cinnamon and stir until fully incorporated. Set aside and allow chocolate mixture to cool slightly.
Side note: I used a blender for steps 2 and 3 which for the most part works fine until its get a bit too thick and then I just hand mixed the rest of it.
    1. While chocolate mixture melts, combine almond meal, flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
      Place the eggs and sugar into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer and mix until the mixture has thickened and become a pale yellow color, 5 to 6 minutes.
    2. With the motor running, begin pouring the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, in a slow and steady stream (to prevent curdling) until fully incorporated.
    3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap
    4. Allow mixture to chill for at least 3 hours before using.
      Once mixture has chilled, use a cookie scooper to scoop out 1 tablespoon sized balls.
    5. Quickly roll them in the granulated sugar, followed by the powdered sugar until fully covered and place the on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart, the cookies will spread (Tip: try to handle the “cookie dough” as little as possible and with cold hands, as they have a similar consistency to ganache and will melt in your hands quickly)
    6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
    7. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the cookies have spread, leaving a fun “earthquake” effect on the tops of the cookies. Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. They should be slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. 
For Chocolate coating:
1.       In a double boiler over medium heat melt chocolates until smooth. Spoon warm chocolate over cookies and let it drip off the edges and sprinkle on almonds. Place on a flat surface for chocolate to hard. Putting it in freezer for a few minutes will speed up the process.

Slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, this cookie is just what I needed to bring my spirits up. It bares just a hint of cinnamon and the crunch from the almonds is a perfect addition to the soft center. Dark chocolate paired with light powder sugar to oppose the rich chocolate with a bit of sweetness that's not overpowering. A chocolate lover's must have!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

SuperBowl XLVII! Game Time with Baked Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings!

It’s game time! Super Bowl XLVII is finally here! Let’s go Niners! What am I doing to play a part in all of the madness?? Besides prepping my heart for the big game, I came up with this recipe…well to be more accurate, I came up with an adaptation to the many recipes I came across for making jerk chicken.

I knew I wanted to make wings of some sort but I’m not really a huge fan of Buffalo wings and only sometimes do I prefer them, today is not that day. Then I remembered back in May, my friend’s sister was baking chicken wings for a family event and immediately I wanted some. Though I had no idea what type of chicken wings she was making (I think she told me…but it’s been a while since last May, I have clearly forgotten), it reminded me of jerk chicken and so that is what I decided to settle on. 

When I got to the store to pick up the chicken wings, I thought, well since it’s the Super Bowl I definitely don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen so maybe I’ll just be lazy this time and get wings, a bottle of sauce, and throw some spices I have at home on it and be done with it. When I got down to the sauce/rubs aisle and picked up a potential mate for my wings, turn it over to read the ingredients/nutrition label – because I have that habit – I realized “man there is a lot of sodium and high fructose corn syrup in this”… pick up another bottle, same thing…this is looking grim. Finally I decided to just do a quick search on my phone to see what the long method for making jerk chicken is, turns out not so difficult and I have all the spices at home already. Well problem solved, now I don’t have to worry about all those mysterious ingredients in the bottled sauces, I can make my own.

I suggest making the rub the night before you plan to bake it so it can marinate overnight but if not, then at least let it marinate for 1-2 hours.

Baked Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings
 printable recipe here

  • Package of chicken wings (mine had about 20 wings)
For spice rub:
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (or salt)
  • 1 tsp ground all spice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp Yoshida sauce (or soy sauce)

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl to create the jerk rub, even coat chicken wings in rub, transfer to a zip lock bag and refrigerate overnight (or 1-2 hours) to let it marinate.
  2. Before baking, coat pan with a little bit of oil, place chicken in, and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  3.  Enjoy!
Like all new recipes, there was not without fault, my original recipe was a little heavy on the cumin, which in this version I’ve already cut back on. If you are a cumin lover, this isn’t even an issue. Aside from the cumin mini mishap, these wings came out phenomenal! Slightly sweet and savory and a power punch when it came to the spices. Perfectly marinated, perfectly baked, a perfect appetizer to any party/event. Did I mention it was super easy? Marinate and forget then bake and celebrate!

  Now that food is set, it’s time to play! Go Niners!!! Bring home that sixth Super Bowl win!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha (w/Cinnamon & Marshmallows)!

Yup I was craving a cup of hot chocolate this afternoon. Was it cold and gloomy outside to promote this random crave? Not even close, in fact, the day could not have been more perfect. It almost felt like spring (in the beginning of Feb, I love California!), I swear even if it wasn't 70 degrees, I'm sure it was close enough.

Truth is, I wasn't just craving a cup of hot chocolate, I was craving a very specific kind of hot chocolate. No, not what you think, I'm not a cocoa powder snob (as you will soon find out), nope I just wanted a cup of hot cocoa with little floating marshmallows. Call me silly but I've been wanting to make a cup of these since Christmas time... I just keep forgetting to buy marshmallows every time I go to the store and I've been to the store A LOT. I guess that says a lot about my lack of memory, sorry brain, I'm trying!

Okay so finally I remembered to pick up a bag of marshmallows and crave is finally satisfied however, when handed an opportunity to make things more interesting, why settle right?

This may look like an ordinary cup of instant hot chocolate, it is not. Today is a day where I am going to ignore the inner health nut and gorge, instant everything! Touch of hazelnut coffee, cinnamon, Swiss hot cocoa powder swirled together in a cup of steaming hot milk, doesn't that sound mouth watering?!Who cares if its warm outside, as long as its not 100 degrees.

How to make you own:
  • 1 packet of instant hot chocolate (or make your own--- 2-3 tbsp of special dark cocoa powder with sugar---and then add the other things on the list)
  • 1 tbsp of instant hazelnut coffee
  • 1-2 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • a small handful of mini marshmallows
  • 1 mug of milk (approx 8-10oz depending on mug size) 
  • *** 1 tbsp of Baileys Hazelnut Irish Cream (drink responsibly!**) Optional for responsible adults***
  1. Heat milk in microwave for 2 minutes
  2. Mix in dry ingredients, stir, top with mini marshmallows, and sprinkle more cinnamon on top for garnish.
  3. Enjoy.