Wild King Salmon Over Pasta with Caprese Salad and Margeritas

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It was so hot this past weekend in Palo Alto, I couldn’t even function. The temperature hit 90 and I simply went comatose for a few days. The only thing that saved me was a nice long swim on Saturday in the late afternoon that made me feel cool and invigorated. When I got out of the pool, I had a text from my friend, Lauren, asking if I wanted to make dinner. My first reaction was YES! but my second was oh wait… it’s too hot too cook.

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Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

 

 

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After a long day out of the house, I came home from babysitting around 8 pm, starving. My parents had made pasta with zucchini for dinner and even though there was still some left over, zucchini is probably my least favorite food so I was not about to have some of that. Thankfully, I was feeling inspired. 🙂

I forget where I saw lettuce wraps (definitely somewhere on the Internet some morning when I had nothing to do) but I bought romaine lettuce heads right after with the intention to make some this week. My favorite dish at P.F. Changs is the lettuce wrap with iceberg lettuce leaves, but I read somewhere (Internet again…) that romaine lettuce has more nutritional value than iceberg so I went with that instead. It worked well, they look more like lettuce tacos than neat little wraps and that leaf on the right was kind of squished but it was delicious all the same.

The best part by far was the sauce: I mixed peanut butter and soy sauce for a Thai flavor and cooked the chicken in it so it was all warm, mixed, and thick. Everything else was just whatever I had in the fridge/pantry and sounded good. The sweet corn, pecans, carrot, and fresh ginger each added their own unique textures and tastes to the dish that made every bite divine.

My parents were eyeing my lovely creations as they had seconds of the pasta, I think I know what to make for dinner next time!

My recipe: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Pesto Shrimp on Angel Hair Pasta

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I was watching Giada on the Cooking Channel this morning and her rendition of pesto shrimp over pasta had my mouth watering. When I asked my dad what he was planning for dinner he said “leftovers” and I said “Unacceptable, please pick up some shrimp when you come home, I’m making dinner.”

Sadly, he came home with cooked, frozen shrimp and I was so looking forward to grilling them myself. But that’s ok, I will specify next time. The only spaghetti-ish pasta we had in the house was white angel hair and I figured I should use it up before I go out and buy a whole new box of wheat. When I have my own apartment, there will never been white pasta in the cupboard.

We picked fresh basil from the planters to make a deliciously fresh basil and spinach pesto, yum yum.

My recipe: Pesto Shrimp on Angel Hair Pasta

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Summer Savory Chicken Quiche

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My grandparents were staying with us this week and after my parents had bragged to them about how I had been cooking dinners all summer, I had to follow up with something really great. Homemade quiche has never been served in my house but I recently discovered that I love it so I decided to be adventurous. I got inspired by this post by Veggiestyle With Daphne. The egg filling part of the dish turned out really great, but the crust was disappointing–dry and tasteless and crumbly. I used whole-wheat all purpose flour instead of spelt, is that where I went wrong? Anyway, I learned that pie crust usually contains lots of butter–I am now on the hunt for the perfect balance between a tasty and healthy pie crust.

My creative license:

  • no spelt flour –> used whole-wheat all purpose
  • not enough spinach –> added basil
  • only had 1 tomato
  • omitted the onions and thyme
  • added chicken
  • love eggs –> added an extra egg

My recipe: Summer Savory Chicken Quiche:

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Mexican Buffet in Tortilla Bowls

My parents told our family friend, Alice, that I have been cooking for them since I’ve been home this summer and she half-jokingly said:

“Will she come over and cook for us too?”

Hell yeah I will! I was inspired by this post from The Yummy Life. A Mexican buffet is super easy to throw together and an infallible crowd-pleaser–the only hard part was making the tortilla bowls. I made them 3 at a time in her regular dinner bowls. The bowls were a little too small for the tortillas and as a result, the sides of the tortillas caved in and gave the bowls a really small capacity. Oh well, it was one of my first attempts, I will get better.

My buffet consisted of:

  • whole-wheat and white flour tortilla bowls
  • fiesta-style chicken
  • white medium-grain rice with a pinch of salt and lime juice
  • buzzed cauliflower (as rice alternative)
  • canned black beans (rinsed)
  • canned yellow corn
  • mixed shredded cheese
  • guacamole
  • homemade mango-tomato salsa
  • and a spinach + peach + strawberry + balsamic vinegar salad as a side dish

and it was divine. Even if the bowls were too small to hold it all.

I didn’t take pictures because I was late and had to rush to make everything aaaaaand I didn’t want to look like a total weirdo snapping pics whilst cooking.

 

Pumpkin Vermicelli in Tortilla Bowl

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My family went out to dinner at Madame Tam Bistro in downtown Palo Alto last night and had scrumptious Vietnamese fusion. I ordered the shrimp vermicelli bowl, my mum got the pumpkin curry, and we shared the two dishes together. Even though I hadn’t eaten all day, I couldn’t finish the giant bowl of noodles so we poured the remaining pumpkin curry sauce over them and took them home.

For lunch today, I put the leftovers plus some extra goodies in a practice tortilla bowl (I’m making a tortilla bowl Mexican buffet for dinner for our family friends tomorrow) and ate it sitting on the kitchen floor with my cat, Socks. I think she liked the smell of the chicken.

The bowl had a smaller capacity than I had anticipated, I would recommend using the largest tortilla you can find!

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Sriracha Thai-ish Chicken Quinoa

I made WAY too much quinoa the night before during my sweet potato burger adventure (measured out 1 cup quinoa UNcooked and then cooked it, realizing only after that they are NOT equal) so I had to come up with another quinoa recipe to use it up.

Ta da! Thai Chicken Quinoa from a fellow wordpress user (holla!) Milk & Cereal.

She makes it look so beautiful

I made a lot of adjustments to this recipe so bear with me. I only bought chicken and improvised everything else with what I had in the kitchen

  • no sweet and sour sauce –> Sriracha sauce
  • no rice vinegar –> balsamic
  • no almond milk –> soy
  • no veggies required –> chopped green beans
  • already cooked quinoa (using water) –> whatever supposed blandness existed was overpowered by the Sriracha

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Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burger

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I made Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burgers using this recipe the other day and they were more delicious than I could have hoped for.

My creative license:

  • whole-wheat hamburger buns and ate mine open-faced
  • topped with mustard, sliced fresh tomatoes, sliced avocado, and mixed greens (instead of onions and cheese)
  • I just realized that I forgot to put an egg in the patty mixture. I guess its a good sign that I didn’t even notice! I accidentally made it vegan!

But for the most part I followed the recipe exactly. It turned out great, and I served the patties warm fresh off the stove.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower as a substitute for grains has become a recent health phenomenon. I decided to try my hand at healthy cauliflower crust pizza after pouring obsessively over this buzzfeed post.

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I used the crust recipe the post provides, with a few tweaks. I put oregano and basil in the processor with the cauliflower instead of adding it after, my mush came out a lovely green color. I should have put the mozzarella in there too, I had a block of it (not shredded) and roughly chopped it myself but it looked ridiculous on the the sheet with chunks of cheese sticking out everywhere. Whatever, I didn’t even notice the cheese after it was baked.

Like the salmon a few days ago, it came out surprisingly well! It took me almost 2 hours start to finish, however. I’m sure my timing will get better with practice—I want this to be a college staple. I miscalculated how much cauliflower I needed to make enough crust for 3 people (a lot) so I had to do two batches and this slowed me down a little. I used two bags of pre-chopped flowerets from Trader Joe’s.

Definitely the most labor intensive part of this recipe is draining the water from the cooked cauliflower. I tried wringing out the pulsed veggie by wrapping it in cheese cloth but the hot water was burning my hands and the mush was seeping out through the holes so I put a dish towel over it (which is what the recipe recommends anyway). Sorry Mum, for messing up a towel. I got like two cups of water out but I probably could have gotten more. I was just sick of squeezing a hot ball of mush… twice.

The finished product! From left to right:

  • chicken, artichoke, and mozzarella
  • margherita (mozzarella and basil)
  • goat cheese and arugula

I used this super simple tomato basil pizza sauce recipe that is basically just canned tomatoes and seasoning. It was the perfect quantity to cover my three pizzas!

The mozzarella, diced chicken, jarred artichoke hearts, arugula, and hard goat cheese were store-bought. I grated the goat cheese from the block and sprinkled it on top of the arugula to keep the leaves from drying out. The basil was fresh from planters outside of our kitchen window. Classic Palo Alto farm.

Yes, that is my wine glass next to the cutting board.

I finished off the peach and blueberry upside down cake with some vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Veggies

The first meal I made for my family was a fancy glazed salmon dish with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed mixed vegetables that turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. It was a bit ambitious for my first cooking attempt in months but somehow was delicious.

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So that is not my photo but its pretty close to what I served.

I got the recipe for the salmon from

http://mangeratrois.net

and then just improvised the rest. My mum made the mashed sweet potatoes. The glaze was a little improvised as well because we used what we already had. We chose a pomegranate glaze because my dad had bought pomegranate-açai juice—for a sparkling wine spritzer drink that was his contribution to the dinner party—and we used dark cherry balsamic vinegar from the cupboard. So the glaze was all kinds of fruity.

ImageThe assorted veggies I presented were steamed green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower. I made the executive decision to simply steam them with some salt rather than doing anything fancy because I was using a lot of oil and sugar for the salmon.

I served this meal to my parents and my best friend Cam and her mum, who we had over for dinner that night. Michelle brought a bottle of red wine by a winery called Hendry.

It was delicious (and expensive), of course.