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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Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

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Yes, I made sweet potatoes into a dessert. Just as carrots can be magically transformed from unexciting root vegetable to scrumptious cake, a little butter, sugar, and lemon juice made the savory sweet potato live up to its name. The story goes like this: my parents came home late from playing hockey and I wanted to cook them sweet potatoes to go with their salads, but before the water had even boiled they were already inhaling their meal. We finished the salads long before the potatoes were ready so I had some half-cooked vegetables and I had to do something. Inspiration struck, and with a wave of my magic wooden spoon I made a warm, sugary dessert in almost no time and even fewer ingredients.

My recipe: Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

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Beignets: Deep-fried Ambrosia Made Healthier

One of my friends goes to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was shocked when I admitted that I’ve never been to Nola in downtown Palo Alto. So we made a dinner date for Friday night to sample this southern cuisine.

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My friend is all smiles before the feast

After several drinks (including the aptly-named The Hurricane), lots of chicken, mac ‘n cheese, bread, and carbs, my friend went ahead and ordered dessert I’d never heard of: beignets. Oh my god. I could have rolled out of there just after the first massive drink but when those little rectangles of heaven on a plate showed up I forgot all of my full-tummy woes.

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Dough. Covered in sugar. Deep-fried. Covered in powdered sugar. Served with caramel, chocolate, and raspberry sugar syrups. Holy shit.

As you can see, there were 6 beignets and 2 of us… not a problem. I put one in a box to take home to my dad and we split the rest. It was sinful. My favorite sauce was the raspberry because it added a tart edge to the otherwise sweet, sweet, sweet doughnut pastry. I had been eating healthy and working out all week so I didn’t hate myself after consuming too many of these sugar-coated temptations, but I resolved myself to find a healthier alternative that I could enjoy even more without a gnawing mixture of feelings of guilt and fuck-it-I’ll-get-fat excitement.

**I realize that my description of these beignets is saturated with religious undertones… I may have had a religious experience during my interaction with the dessert, I’m not sure.

So here is the healthier recipe for oven baked beignets, courtesy of Jenna from Eat, Live, Run.

Jenna’s recipe: Oven Baked Beignets:

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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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Chocolate Banana Mouthgasm

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I am now going to call this bowl of frozen goodness the Mouthgasm because it is that delicious. And you know how sex is good for you? So is this dessert.

I was walking through the San Francisco International Airport on my way home after a long day of traveling when I saw my favorite froyo place that had just opened a store in the United terminal. Ecstatic, I made a beeline for the register only to be told (not very nicely) that they had just closed and the machines were off. I tried to guilt trip her but that chick was not having it so I carried on, defeated. I was so disappointed.

BUT THEN, I remembered that I had frozen banana chunks in my freezer! As soon as I got home, I buzzed the banana with a little yoghurt* and cocoa powder to create an even better chocolatey frozen dessert. The best part: I got to pile on as many strawberries as I damned well pleased–I DO NOT SKIMP ON FRUIT. I also drizzled on a little magic shell just for shits and gigs.

*TIP: After the banana chunks have been in the freezer for a few days, they dry out significantly. The last time I made some Mouthgasm with some long-frozen bananas, I had to fake it because it was all lumpy and not creamy at all. This time, a large scoop of fat-free yoghurt solved that problem–just toss it in the food processor with the banana chunks and it creams them right up.

My recipe: The Mouthgasm

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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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Egg White Omelet with Sausage, Cheese, and Peas

20130607-202649.jpgSome people buy purses and nail polish and accessories while waiting in line at a store–I impulse-buy egg whites at Trader Joe’s. I went in for flour and came out with a basket-full of fresh fruits, mixed greens, and a carton of egg whites. So I cooked myself a delicious egg white omelet the next morning with whatever random crap I found in the fridge: shredded Mexican cheese, frozen peas, and a vegan soy sausage.

It was so good that I was half way through it before I remembered to take a photo. Oops.

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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Strawberry-Banana-Blueberry Smoothie

20130604-103923.jpgI GOT A MAGIC BULLET BLENDER. This was my first creation: a mixed fruit smoothie that was so deliciously thick I had to eat it with a spoon. I made it as a post-workout snack after my run. The cold beverage was so refreshing on this hot day.

I use frozen fruit instead of adding ice to make it smoother and thicker and goat-milk yoghurt to save the cows! Banana makes a creamy base, blueberries are high in anti-oxidants, and strawberries are just fucking awesome.

** If you are using fresh strawberries, here is a trick I learned from my Magic Bullet recipe book: leave the green tops on the strawberries, that is where a lot of the nutrients are!

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