Monday, March 30, 2015

Artichoke Polenta Tart

I came across this recipe from Ann Mah's blog. She lives in Paris (living the dream!) and she wrote a book about her life there. Her blog features all things Paris, recipes, and even more travel. This recipe is originally from a cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck. I liked it since the polenta crust is so original and I love polenta. The recipe is perfect for me since it has much less dairy than traditional quiche recipes. 

I actually had all the ingredients except for the artichoke hearts. Nick came back from the store with fresh artichokes, so on the plus side I learned how to prepare them.

For the polenta crust:
2 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1  1/4 cups medium grind polenta 
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the filling:
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (about 3)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14-ounce) jar of artichoke hearts (8 oz drained) drained and chopped
1 roasted red pepper, chopped 
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
To make the crust, bring water, salt, and cornmeal to a boil whisking occasionally in a large, heavy pot. Decrease heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. The polenta will be fairly stiff. Stir in the cheese, egg, and pepper. 
Grease a 10 inch tart pan (mine is pretty shallow so I added another smaller pan). Using a spatula or your fingers, press the polenta into the bottom and sides of the dish. Let sit for 15 minutes. Form a nicer crust if desired.
Meanwhile make the filling. Mix together the yogurt, eggs, and salt. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and pour into crust.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes until filling is golden brown in spots. Let cool for 20 minutes or so before cutting. Warm up in oven before serving if you make this in advance.


I thought it would be good to do a basic sushi post. My cousin, Kara, took a sushi making class years ago. She taught my family how to make sushi and we've been hooked ever since. My 18th birthday party was a sushi making party. We even made some of my not so adventurous friends try the nori. I just learned that all sushi fish is flash frozen at sea so it's still raw but not in the way I always thought. I always imagined ocean, boat, then sushi. 

I just had my parents over for dinner last week since they were coming up anyways to pick up the monkey. She shadowed me (and was super bored) but I like to think that I made up for it with awesome food. I made my miso soup (in the archives) and we had some appetizers from the Korean grocery store. Octopus, etc.

I get my fish fresh from Whole Foods. It is technically sushi grade but the fish people aren't allowed to condone making sushi. But I trust them. Also YOLO. There are no quantities included because it really depends on how many people you're serving and how much those people can eat. In the case of my family, we eat A LOT. Also sushi is meant to be eaten right away. Leftovers aren't as good but definitely edible.

You're going to need:

For the rice:
Sushi rice (short grain white rice)
Rice wine vinegar
Sea salt
White sugar

Nori sheets

Veggies + misc:
Carrots (I love the multicolored ones)
Cream cheese (for Philadelphia rolls, duh)
Black sesame seeds (to be fancy)

For the seafood:
Imitation crab
Salmon filet
Tuna steak

Dippings + sides:
Soy sauce
Pickled ginger

Bamboo sushi mats (found at Asian grocery store)
Plastic wrap

Ok to start wrap the plastic wrap around the bamboo mats to decrease the mess.

Then cook the rice. I cooked about 2 1/4 cups sushi to make enough rolls for 7 people. 1 cup uncooked rice makes 3 rolls.
Rinse the rice under running water until the water runs clear. Cook in a rice cooker or according to directions. So for 3 cups uncooked rice, you will need 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp white sugar, and 2 tsp sea salt. So I decreased each a bit since I had less rice.  My cousin just used rice wine vinegar, so you can do that too. Once the rice is cooked stir about half the vinegar mixture in with chopsticks or a wooden spoon in a ceramic bowl. Metal reacts with the acid so avoid metal utensils for the sushi. Then taste the rice and add more seasoning as needed. I like a lot of seasoning. Let rice cool at room temperature until it is easy to handle.
Source for rice instructions: Make My Sushi

Chop the vegetables and fish while the rice is cooking and cooling. I like to set them out on separate plates so it's easier for people to grab what they want.

Fill a bowl with warm water. Place a nori sheet on the mat. There will be subtle lines on the nori and you want them vertical on your mat. Then wet your hands and grab some rice (maybe a couple tablespoons) and press pretty firmly all over nori leaving a small strip at the top edge empty. Make sure not to use too much rice unless you want huge sushi rolls. A thin layer is enough. Rewet hands as necessary. Then line the fillings evenly one inch up from the bottom of the nori sheet. Roll from the bottom up pressing the roll into itself firmly as you roll. So roll, press, roll, press. This is how you get a nice looking roll!

Some favorites are:
Salmon, cream cheese, cucumber
Tuna, avocado, carrot
Carrot, cucumber, avocado
Tuna, salmon, cucumber
Imitation crab, cucumber, carrot

Then to slice the rolls, wet a large and sharp knife and slice in a quick downward motion. You may have to clean the knife as you go along. It helps to have one person be in charge of slicing. If it's your first time it may take a couple tries to get the rhythm down. It's easy though, I promise.

Eat right away with some wasabi swirled into soy or tamari sauce. You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of the sushi!

Chocolate Tahini Cupcakes

I started dreaming about all things chocolate tahini once I tried Soom's chocolate tahini butter. Cupcakes were the first thing that came to mind and while looking around the internets, I found My Name is Yeh's cake recipe. Molly makes a cake with rosemary buttercream which sounds to die for via Magnolia Bakery's recipe. I opted for chocolate tahini everything while I was baking in hopefully the last snowstorm of the year. It was actually pretty peaceful. My sister skipped school and we made smoothies and pancakes. Also 2 tbsp= 1/8 cup if that helps your measuring for this recipe.

Chocolate Tahini Cupcakes

2 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used half Hershey's special dark cocoa powder)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk (I used half almond milk and half buttermilk)
6 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water

Sesame seeds, for sprinkles! Toast them to be extra fancy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with liners. This recipe makes about 30 + cupcakes.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a small mixing bowl including the sugar. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together in a larger mixing bowl minus the boiling water. Add the dry to the wet ingredients, when stir in the water. Batter will be thin.
Fill the cupcake tins about halfway and bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely.
While cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. I just used the Hershey's chocolate frosting recipe and added 2 tbsp tahini. Next time I'll probably add up to 1/4 cup to get a stronger tahini taste. For an even stronger tahini taste, just use the Soom tahini. I was cooking for a crowd (my little twin cousins' birthday) so I wanted a milder flavor.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flourless Extra-Fudgy Brownies

For my sister's birthday a couple weeks ago I got her a cookbook called Flourless: Recipes for Naturally Gluten-free Desserts. This afternoon I made the first recipe from it, and so far I am very impressed - the Double Chocolate Brownies are probably my favorite brownies I've ever had, much less baked myself. For me, a perfect brownie = crisp on the outside + moist on the inside + lots of chocolate flavor. These ones fit the bill.

Double Chocolate Brownies
From Flourless: Recipes for Naturally Gluten-free Desserts by Nicole Spiridakis

5 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Baked Chicken Tenders

Even though it's definitely not a big, dramatic story, one of my family's most-mentioned vacation memories is from our first trip to Prince Edward Island, when my sister and I were both in elementary school.

My dad found out about a lobster supper going on at a nearby church, so we all went for dinner one night. He was all excited about it because he liked to hang out with locals and generally stick to "off the beaten path" experiences on our trips. When we got there and saw the menu, the only options were a big lobster supper, with lobsters fresh from the local fishermen, and dino-shaped chicken nuggets.. and my sister and I both opted for the nuggets.

Fortunately we went to the eastern coast of Canada almost every summer, and I had many more opportunities for great lobster suppers! Pretty much ever since that trip, I would always go for the lobster given the choice, especially when they're caught right by where I'm staying, no matter how dinosaur-shaped the other option might be.

(Another related vacation story from around the same age: the time when we were at a diner and I ordered a BLT without the bacon or lettuce...)

That said, I also love chicken tenders (although not nuggets so much anymore) and get cravings for them every once a while! This recipe is a good quick one when a craving comes around.

Baked Chicken Tenders
Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen

6-7 chicken tenderloins or about 3 breasts cut into 1" strips
salt & pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups panko (+ 1/2 cup if necessary)

Honey mustard sauce:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fig & Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

I've had my eye on this recipe for a few months - I usually have Trader Joe's fig butter and balsamic vinegar on hand but I hadn't bought the pork. Finally I had all of the ingredients on this nice, short ingredient list on hand so it was time to try it out. I really appreciate recipes like this that have a lot of flavor but include just a few interesting ingredients and are short on prep time. 

Fig & Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

From Skinnytaste

1 pork tenderloin
salt & seasoning to taste (a little garlic powder or a spice mix, nothing too strong)
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fig butter
(optional) chopped parsley for garnish

Monday, March 16, 2015

Salsa Verde Soup

This is the first recipe that I've ever posted with meat. I never thought I would go back to being a carnivore, but being a part of the farming community showed me there's a more sustainable way of consuming meat. In Philly there are a ton of sources for local, organic, free range meat options. I go to my local coop and in the summers, hit up the farmer's market. I am just dreaming of the farmer's market! There's nothing better. I still make the majority of my meals vegan and vegetarian, but I've been throwing in a few meat dishes. This is one of them. I stumbled on this recipe via Laura who recommended a spicy sausage gnocchi stew from Gimme Some Oven. I had never heard of the site before, but it's bright and full of really accessible recipes. This soup stood out to me some I always have salsa verde in the freezer waiting to be used up! Next time, I'm going to try a vegetarian version with peppers and hominy.

Salsa Verde Soup

4 small chicken breasts 
1 small onion, diced
2 jalapeƱos, diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 1/4 cups dried small white beans, soaked overnight
1 bottle light summer beer
4 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced

sliced avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips, sliced green onions, hot sauce

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add more water or broth to thin as you like. Shred chicken. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Add lemon juice. Add toppings. Enjoy!

Blood Orange Smoothie

I know, another smoothie post. But this is necessary, I promise. Also, it's from How Sweet Eats. So Laura and I are continuing on the trend of how we make everything she does. Also I super stalk her baby page. So much cute. And I'm writing incomplete sentences. What else is new? That's how excited I am about this smoothie. I made it like 5 times already. The best part? I can share the leftovers with Rex because it's vegan and delicious. I kept the recipe the same but sometimes I would add an extra blood orange or clementine depending on what I had. The ganache recipe makes a lot so when I doubled the recipe, I only made one batch.

Makes 2 smoothies

1 can coconut milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 frozen banana
6 clementines, peeled
1 blood orange, peeled
Ice cubes

Take out 4 tablespoons coconut cream at top of the can and place into bowl of chopped chocolate. Microwave on low for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until melted. Place the rest of the ingredients in blender and go crazy!! Then spoon the ganache into sides of glasses and pour smoothie up to the top.

Tahini Date Smoothie- 2 ways

Lately I've been into smoothies and doing yoga. They kind of go together. I also just biked to work for the first time since August since the weather is now only somewhat chilly. My bike route takes me on a bike trail right next to the Schuylkill river. It is actually a pleasant commute minus the fact that I'm completely out of bike shape! Anyways, I've been making this shake from Cookie+Kate continuously. In fact, I'm drinking it for breakfast right now. I use Soom tahini in the smoothie. It's super smooth and made of Ethiopian sesame seeds. My cousin turned me onto this brand which is Philly based. In fact, one of the best restaurants here (Zahav) uses it in their hummus. Soom also makes a chocolate tahini which is the second way I make this smoothie!! I know a tahini smoothie sounds strange but I promise it's delicious.

Tahini Date Smoothie
Makes one large smoothie 

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 frozen ripe bananas
1/4 cup tahini 
4 Medjool dates
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cardamom
Ice cubes, if desired

Soak the dates in some warm water for a couple hours if they seem tough. Then drain and throw everything (minus Ice cubes) in a blender. Blend until really smooth! Then add ice cubes (maybe like 3) and blend again. Top with more cinnamon and black sesame seeds.

Chocolate Tahini Smoothie
Makes 2 medium smoothies

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 frozen ripe bananas
1/4 cup chocolate tahini 
2 dates
1 blood orange, peeled
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
1 pinch cardamom

Place everything in blender and blend until completely smooth. Alternatively you could make the smoothie above and add cocoa powder if you don't want to buy chocolate tahini paste. But then you wouldn't have a whole jar to eat out of!! If you choose to go this route, I would taste once blended and see if some maple syrup is needed.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Since it is still freezing (does anyone else want to move to Hawaii forever?), I'm making all of the cozy breakfasts. Seriously super cereal from My New Roots, baked oatmeal from our archives, and lemon poppyseed pancakes (coming up). I'm also (obviously) making granola. I like to start with a basic recipe and then change it up. My friend Kate introduced me to making granola. Before her, I didn't know it was possible to make granola at home. We both like to consume this granola with plain yogurt and some honey. Best breakfast on the go ever. I got this recipe from

3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat up the olive oil, honey, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and little bubbles form at the sides.

In a large mixing bowl, throw together the oats, flax, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in the liquid ingredients and stir to mix. Spread an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 30-45 minutes, stirring mixture every 15 minutes. Add the pecans in the last 10 minutes or so. I like my oats a little more toasty but the beauty of making your own granola is that you can do whatever you want. Once the granola is cooked, cool completely and add raisins. Store in an airtight container. 

Mochi Cake!

In the spirit of Lunar New Year (which was 2 weeks ago but who's counting?), I want to share an awesome cake with you all- mochi cake! I love mochi, especially with ice cream. Check out the mochi sold in the Trader Joe's freezer section. It's gooey and has a great crust. My mom makes a similar version but with yams somehow. I found the recipe on A Periodic Table's blog and she has a warning on eating the cake. I'm not going to post it here since this is a New Year's post and should only be positive! By the way, I am really sad to live in Pennsylvania right now (so much snow). I'm looking up flights to anywhere everyday and hopefully Laura and I will cement some exciting plans to share with everyone...

But first, the recipe:

2 cups sweet rice flour (found at your local Asian food store)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted at room temperature 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (9x5) and a mini loaf pan (or some cupcake tins). Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl including sugar. Whisk together liquid ingredients in a larger bowl. Stir ingredients together. 

Pour into loaf pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Check smaller one for readiness. A toothpick removed should just have a few crumbs stuck to it. Rotate larger pan and bake for another 30 minutes, checking after 15 to see if the cake is baked.

Let cool completely and serve with some vanilla ice cream. Also my cake collapsed just a bit but was still delicious.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mote Pillo (Hominy Scramble)

Michelle's Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe, which includes hominy, reminded of this Ecuadorian dish, mote pillo, so the next time I was at Giant Eagle, I picked up a big can of hominy. I've made the mote pillo, now I've got to make the tortilla soup.

Twilly's dreaming of Ecuador
Mote Pillo
Adapted to serve 2 for a small breakfast or side

1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp ground achiote (you could probably sub paprika (normal, not smoked)?)
1/2 onion (or leek), diced
salt & pepper
1/2 lb hominy (I used canned)
2 tbsp milk
2 eggs, whisked
1 tbsp chopped green onions or chives


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