7 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Cranberries and seedsFALL IS HERE.

Well, it’s BEEN here. But now that it’s already Halloween I feel even more guilty that I haven’t posted a single pumpkin recipe yet this fall.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Granola baking sheet

Fall is my favorite season because everything about it just breeds nostalgia. Walking through the chilly San Francisco winds makes me just want to get home as soon as possible, so that I can put on my warm fluffy socks and cuddle up to a cup of hot cocoa. The leaves changing, falling into splashes of reds and golds on the cement sidewalks take me back to the large backyard of my childhood home, where I used to rake up the giant leaves of the Live Oaks watching over me.

Pumpkin Spice Granola TablescapePumpkinSeedGranola

This nostalgia makes us crave comfort foods. Which is why I feel that around this time of year, the baking scene is filled with overly sweet and decadent treats. This is why I have yet to post a pumpkin recipe. With my trip to Miami coming up soon, maybe I don’t want to eat something that will go straight to my thighs.

So I thought of a way to incorporate all the flavors of fall into a baked treat that makes a healthier alternative to the overly decadent pumpkin cakes, pies, cookies and cheesecakes that seem to be closing in on us from every bakery, grocery store and food blog. Continue reading

Kimchi Tofu Dumplings

Pleated Kimchi Tofu Dumplings

I’ve been feeling rather stuck lately…

Career going nowhere. Check.

Relationship woes. Check.

Feeling lost. Check.

Feeling bloated. Check.

Questioning the point of my existence. Check.

Fried Kimchi Tofu Dumpling

Okay I may have exaggerated on that last part. But whenever I’m feeling like this, what does the mature, independent woman inside of me want to do?

 I just wanna go home :(

 

Of course it is not possible to simply go home to mommy, whenever I’m feeling emotionally unstable. At 24 years old, I think it’s safe to say that I am a grown-up. Therefore, I usually satisfy my nostalgia for home in the form of food…such as dumplings. Back at home, my mom always keeps the freezer stocked with plump little handmade dumplings that she gets from the dumpling lady who makes them out of her house somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley (where the best dumplings come from).

Kimchi Tofu Dumpling Wrapping StationFreshly wrapped kimchi tofu dumplings

So I decided to satisfy my yearning for some much-needed comfort food by making dumplings for myself. Geez, it’s been years since I’ve wrapped a dumpling. How do are you supposed to do it again? Whatever… maybe my muscle memory will come into play.Kimchi Tofu Dumpling Filling

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Soft Hokkaido Milk Bread

Soft Raisin Hokkaido Milk Bread

I grew up eating this stuff.

Utterly soft, pillowy, white, glutinous, and deliciously CARB-y.

Despite my recent efforts to eat healthy and semi-carb free, I could not resist making this recipe when I saw it on Food52.

Hokkaido Milk Bread

Raisin Hokkaido Milk BreadDon’t worry, I was intimidated too. I mean look at it, it looks beautiful, and is probably the softest bread on the face of the earth. About a year ago, during my novice pastry days, I’d perused the web looking for Hokkaido Milk Bread recipes to simply just entertain the thought of taking on such a project.

Fresh Baked Hokkaido Milk Bread LoafFrom cooking the “tangzhong” (I still don’t know the right way to pronounce it in Chinese), to converting metric measures to American cups and teaspoons, you could imagine how intimidated I’d felt to try and recreate my childhood favorite comfort bread.

Tangzhong RouxSo what the heck is tangzhong?

Invented in Taiwan, the use of tangzhong is quite prevalent in many Asian style breads. It is a water roux that is cooked and added to the dough. Because this roux holds a lot of water, it gives the bread the moistness and thus, softness that is so characteristic of Hokkaido Milk Bread.

Hokkaido Milk Bread ToastAnother reason why Hokkaido Milk Bread is so soft, is because of it’s higher fat content. As the name entails, milk is added to the dough instead of water, as well as a good amount of heavy cream.

Let’s just say if you’re trying to get your body in shape for a trip to Miami soon (like I am…) this probably isn’t the best thing to be eating. But who cares, life’s too short to skimp on carbs.

#YOLO

Hokkaido Milk Bread Stretchy Continue reading

Wild Blackberry Galette

Wild Blackberry Galette Slice with honey yogurt

This past weekend I made my first galette, a wild blackberry galette to be exact.  What prompted me to take on such an endeavor was a recent camping trip this past weekend. From breathing in the fresh crisp forest air, to being surrounded by giant trees (and wild blackberries) and hearing the gentle ocean waves crashing against the sea cliffs, it sure was nice to be immersed in mother nature’s embrace. 

Okay okay…the trip was more like “GLAM-ping” (a clever term coined by my friend Carline).  Yes, there were tents involved…but there was also a Safeway located less than 15 minutes away, showers with hot water onsite, portable stove, and enough food to feed a small army. Oh and of course copious amounts of s’mores. It was indeed quite the glamorous camping trip. But hey, what do you expect from someone who’s never camped before? 

Wild Blackberries Mendocino CountyNonetheless, I still had the opportunity to get rugged and get some dirt under my nails. While “hiking” along a rather tame trail towards the beautiful Mendocino beach, I discovered a few ladies doing something amongst the thorny bushes. Upon closer examination, I noticed that these thorny bushes were actually wild blackberry vines! Apparently, the locals around here conduct an annual harvest of these sweet and juicy blackberries. Immediately, I got down and dirty and joined them in the harvest. After clumsily pricking myself on the thorns way too many times, I decided to call it quits. I’d only managed to pick a few blackberries, most of which I immediately just threw into my mouth. “Tomorrow will be a new day,” I said to myself. 

Wild Blackberry Galette Slices

The next day, we all decided to go down to the river. Mr. Williams (a gentleman, formerly known as “Boo”) and I decided to do some exploring while our friends did their thing kayaking down the river. Walking along the river, we stumbled upon MORE wild blackberries. These things just grow everywhere! What started out as just having fun picking a few berries here and there to snack on, quickly became a deliberate plan to pick every single ripened berry in our path. 

The motive: to make a blackberry pie. Continue reading

A Pintxo This, A Pintxo That…

San Sebastian Pintxos

Whilst in San Sebastian, I experienced a heavenly sight. Bars filled with rows and rows of delectable tapas. Well at least that’s what I thought they were. Here in San Sebastian, the use of the word “tapas” is actually sacrilegious, and instead they are referred to as “pintxos.” Pronounced “peen-chos.”

Chevre Pistachio PintxoAnchovy Pickled Pepper Pintxo

According to a bar owner I met, pintxos are traditionally pinched with a toothpick and attached to a piece of bread. However, nowadays, all bar snacks are referred to as pintxos regardless of the toothpick. Mini sandwiches and slices of Spanish tortilla also fit in the pintxos category.

Variety of seafood Pintxos Continue reading

Foreign Comfort Food

What exactly is comfort food? According to Wikipedia, it is food that offers sentimental value and evokes feelings of nostalgia. For me, it’s the homemade chicken curry my mom used to make every time I’d come home from college. We crave these comfort foods when we feel vulnerable or alone.

Casseroles et Vielles Gamelles ExteriorI’ve been away from home for a month so far, and the homesickness is kicking in full gear. I find myself craving the flavors of home: the Sriracha sauce that I put on everything, the juicy cheeseburger from In-n-out covered in secret sauce, the late-night California burrito after a night on the town, and most of all, Hot Cheetos, my guilty pleasure.

Casseroles signOf course, these are not foods that I can find easily here in Europe. However, I’ve recently experienced a phenomenon at a restaurant in Lyon, France. Casseroles et Vieilles Gamelles is a place that offers traditional home-style French fare, recipes that, if you had one, your French grandmother would make.

Casseroles vintage tools decor  Walking in, you feel as if you’ve just been transported to grandma’s humble cottage in the French countryside. The “casseroles,” copper pots and pans, that the place is named after, hang from the ceiling. Handcrafted wooden shelves line the walls, decorated with various vintage kitchen gadgets and tools. Rustic wooden chairs and tables fill the dining room, each table topped with small jar filled with fresh flowers picked from the garden.

Casseroles et Vielles Gamelles Dining Room

The place feels quite intimate and very unassuming. The snobby atmosphere of the Parisian bistros and cafés do not exist here. After the first sip of wine, I feel warm, and my insecurities of being in a foreign country simply fade away.

Of course, the menu was completely in French. However, our server was kind enough to translate everything for us. The ingredients and combinations sounded so foreign. Rouget and tapenade tartine? Fish mousse? Boeuf…I know that means beef…with champignons? Uh oh, what was I getting myself into?

Red Snapper Rouget Tartine Tapenade

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Tarte aux pralines

Tart aux praline slice red

Tart aux pralines assembly

When in Lyon, France, one must try the regional specialty: Tarte aux pralines. These fluorescent red tarts may seem scary at first, but they are actually delicious. The color is actually derived from rose pralines, a Lyonnaise specialty, which are bright pink in color.

Cup of red Rose Pralines

In fact, every patisserie I walked into, specialized in incorporating these pralines into numerous pastries, giving them the characteristic red hue. It’s funny how the color red finds it’s way into traditional recipes, for example: Red Velvet cake, my ultimate comfort food.

Rose Praline Pastries in Lyon

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Brussels Sprouts Veggie Tacos

It’s almost time. In less than one week I will finally be in Paris! Over the course of the next two months, I will be backpacking throughout Europe. I can already taste the warm flaky croissants and fresh baguettes from Paris, paired with the world’s most sublime cheeses. I can already smell the smoky porchetta in Rome, slowly roasting over a spitfire for hours. I can hear the clanking of wine glasses filled with spicy Tempranillo from the vineyards of Spain. In order to prepare for the onslaught and debauchery of pure carbs, rich fatty meats and lots of alcohol over the next two months, I am amping up the veggie content in my diet here at home.

Brussels Sprout Veggie Tacos

One of my favorite veggies are brussels sprouts. Often times, eating only veggies for a meal leaves me feeling hungry too quickly. However, because brussels sprouts are so hearty and  packed with fiber, I end up feeling full and satisfied. Not to mention, they are packed with potassium and B-vitamins, which are essential for veggie-lovers. I also used some portabello mushrooms, which I love for their meaty texture.

Brussel Sprout Veggie TacosBrussels Sprout Veggie Tacos

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Avocado Protein Breakfast Pita

I’m back! I apologize for being MIA this past month. Planning this Euro-trip has been at the top of my priority list, as I will be taking off in just a few short weeks! Recently, my life has been a whirlwind, from giving my 3-week notice at work, to dealing with my apartment, to starting a new workout regiment (Sean T, you  never fail to impress me), to freaking out about my lack of career options when I return (especially since I anticipate being broke, and my “inner-independent-womanly” self absolutely refuses to ask mommy and daddy for help), and figuring out how to pack my apartment into a few boxes. However, I think I’m handling things pretty well. Consequently, breakfast has taken a backseat in my morning ritual. What used to be my favorite meal of the day, is now nothing but a fleeting obligation of stale raisin bran cereal flakes, and a bitter cup of gasoline coffee. So today, I decided to remind myself of what breakfast is supposed to be.

Protein Breakfast Whole Wheat Pita with Avocado Continue reading