We’ve all been there.  Suddenly, you have a craving for something sweet, and you want it NOW!  The solution?  Mug cake!  You throw a bunch of ingredients together in a mug, stir it up, and microwave it for less than a minute….and TA DA!!  Let us eat cake!

And by using whole wheat flour instead of regular flour and applesauce instead of oil, you don’t have to feel too guilty about giving in to your sweet tooth!

Healthier Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake, adapted from Healthy with Heather

serves 1

ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp chocolate almond milk/regular almond milk/espresso/coffee
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Small handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Suggested Directions:

  1. In your mug, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in the applesauce, almond milk and vanilla. Keep mixing until your batter is smooth – no lumps.
  2. Pour into the mug and microwave on high for 55 seconds. This could vary slightly based on the strength of your microwave. It is done when the center looks soft and cooked, but the outside edge looks like melted chocolate.
  3. Optional: serve with a scoop of ice cream and/or top with frozen or fresh berries.

Note: If you’d like to cook 2 at once, just add an extra 10-20 seconds to the cook time.  

Also, note that if you want a less moist cake that will be able to stand-up on its own like in the first picture, use less applesauce (see photos).  


It’s finally summer and cherry season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Why the excessive amount of exclamation marks, you ask? Well, I’ve always loved cherries for their sweetness and tartness. In fact, my childhood favorite flavor of Thrifty’s ice cream was always Black Cherry.  But this year, I’m especially excited about cherries being in season because I’ve been wanting to try cooking with cherries!!  

And for my first attempt, this recipe turned out really spectacular!  The lemon really brings out the tartness of the cherries, while the agave nectar brings out the sweetness—and best of all, the thyme unexpectedly complements the salmon AND the cherries and ties it all together.  Win!!!

Salmon with Caramelized Cherries, adapted from a recipe from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

1 salmon fillet (approximately 1 pound)
salt and pepper
1 to 1.5 teaspoon(s) of olive oil
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
3 teaspoons lemon juice 
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon thyme (if fresh, chopped)

Suggested Directions:

Put a rack about 5 inches from the top of the oven, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the salmon skin-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, then bake for approximately 4 minutes.

Combine the last 4 ingredients in the measuring cup (or bowl) and toss to evenly distribute.

Carefully remove the salmon from the oven and change the oven setting to broil.  Scatter cherry mixture over and around salmon and broil until salmon is browned and just cooked through and cherries are juicy and caramelized, about 4 to 6 minutes (depending on thickness of the salmon).   Serve over a bed of greens or alongside a grain (e.g., quinoa salad).


I have a confession:  At 28 years old, I JUST figured out how the broiler works!!  Don’t laugh, but I used to think that the storage drawer under the oven was the broiler.  Not surprisingly, I thought the broiler was a really inefficient way of cooking things.  Today, thanks to google, I found out that the broiler is actually really strong heat from the TOP of the oven, and it’s great for charring things—like corn salsa!
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here’s a delicious recipe for fish tacos, topped with a delicious charred corn salsa, guacamole, and creme fraiche, served with lime-cilantro rice. This was a hit, and I would totally make this again!!!Quick tip: If you’ve got a slap-chop (and even better, a husband that loves using the slap-chop), it’s great for dicing the onions, and mincing the garlic quickly!!  Epic Fish Tacos adapted from The LondonerIngredients:4 filets of tilapia, washed and cut in half lengthwise (or any white fish, e.g., cod, mahi mahi, etc.)4 cloves of garlic, minced1/2 cup ciliantro, chopped finelyjuice and zest from 1 lime sea salt to taste2 tablespoons olive oilhandful of washed pea shoots or watercressfresh corn tortillas
Suggested Directions:1. In a large bowl, combine garlic, cilantro, lime juice and zest, sea salt, and olive oil. Mix well, and toss in fish to coat and let marinade for a bit.2. Heat a grill pan on high heat.  Without adding extra oil, throw the marinaded fish on the hot grill pan, and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.3.  Serve fish tacos by asking guests to add raw pea shoots to each tortilla, top with fish, then top with guacamole, corn salsa, and creme freche (recipes below).
GuacamoleIngredients:3 avocados, peeled, pit removed, and mashed a bit with a fork1 clove of garlic, minced1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely1/2 of a small red onion, diced1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halfjuice from 1 lime1 tablespoon cuminsea salt to tasteSuggested Directions:1. Combine all ingredients and serve within half an hour.  If not serving immediately, put avocado pits in the mix until serving and saran-wrap tightly.  Do not prepare too far in advance, otherwise the avocados will oxidate and turn brown.  
Creme Fraiche adapted from The LondonerIngredients:2 tablespoons mayonnaise3 tablespoons plain yogurt1-3 tablespoons of hot sauce, optionalSuggested Directions:  Combine well and enjoy!Charred Corn Salsa adapted from FoodessIngredients:1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen) 1/4 cup red onion, diced1 cup red, yellow, and green bell peppers, julienned (jalapeno pepper, optional)1 tbsp olive oilsea salt to tasteSuggested Directions:1. Preheat broiler and put oven rack in highest position. Toss corn, onion, and peppers with olive oil, adding salt to taste.
2. Transfer corn mixture to a shallow baking pan, lined with foil. Broil until corn is charred, about 6-9 minutes.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Ingredients:3 cups of cooked brown ricezest from 1 limejuice from 1 lime1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro sea salt to tasteSuggested Directions:Combine all ingredients and mix well. 


I have a confession:  At 28 years old, I JUST figured out how the broiler works!!  Don’t laugh, but I used to think that the storage drawer under the oven was the broiler.  Not surprisingly, I thought the broiler was a really inefficient way of cooking things.  Today, thanks to google, I found out that the broiler is actually really strong heat from the TOP of the oven, and it’s great for charring things—like corn salsa!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here’s a delicious recipe for fish tacos, topped with a delicious charred corn salsa, guacamole, and creme fraiche, served with lime-cilantro rice. This was a hit, and I would totally make this again!!!

Quick tip: If you’ve got a slap-chop (and even better, a husband that loves using the slap-chop), it’s great for dicing the onions, and mincing the garlic quickly!!  

Epic Fish Tacos adapted from The Londoner
Ingredients:
4 filets of tilapia, washed and cut in half lengthwise (or any white fish, e.g., cod, mahi mahi, etc.)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup ciliantro, chopped finely
juice and zest from 1 lime 
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of washed pea shoots or watercress
fresh corn tortillas

Suggested Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine garlic, cilantro, lime juice and zest, sea salt, and olive oil. Mix well, and toss in fish to coat and let marinade for a bit.
2. Heat a grill pan on high heat.  Without adding extra oil, throw the marinaded fish on the hot grill pan, and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
3.  Serve fish tacos by asking guests to add raw pea shoots to each tortilla, top with fish, then top with guacamole, corn salsa, and creme freche (recipes below).

Guacamole
Ingredients:

3 avocados, peeled, pit removed, and mashed a bit with a fork
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1/2 of a small red onion, diced
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon cumin
sea salt to taste

Suggested Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients and serve within half an hour.  If not serving immediately, put avocado pits in the mix until serving and saran-wrap tightly.  Do not prepare too far in advance, otherwise the avocados will oxidate and turn brown.  

Creme Fraiche adapted from The Londoner
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1-3 tablespoons of hot sauce, optional
Suggested Directions:  Combine well and enjoy!

Charred Corn Salsa adapted from
Foodess
Ingredients:
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen) 
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cup red, yellow, and green bell peppers, julienned (jalapeno pepper, optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste

Suggested Directions:
1. Preheat broiler and put oven rack in highest position. Toss corn, onion, and peppers with olive oil, adding salt to taste.

2. Transfer corn mixture to a shallow baking pan, lined with foil. Broil until corn is charred, about 6-9 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:
3 cups of cooked brown rice
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro 
sea salt to taste

Suggested Directions:
Combine all ingredients and mix well. 

I love egg salad, and experimented with several different ways to season it before deciding that the combination of salt, pepper, olive oil, basil, smoked paprika, and celery seed was the winning combination!  Enjoy!! :)

If you’d really like to play jazz with this egg salad, sometimes I like adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes and/or chopped black olives!  

Egg Salad

Ingredients:

8 eggs
1.5 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch of celery seed
1 pinch of dried basil
1 pinch of smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste 
2-5 stalks of spring onions, chopped finely.

Suggested Directions:
1.  Cook the eggs 8 minutes at a medium boil. Do not overcook.  The yolk will be soft and creamy.
2.  Run eggs under cold water, then crack and remove hard outer shells.
3.  Loosely dice up the eggs in large chunks and put in a medium-sized bowl.   
4.  Combine the rest of the ingredients with eggs and mix thoroughly.
5.  Serve either on top of greens with a little lemon juice or vinegar on top, or serve on top of whole wheat toast.  YUM!!

I <3 hearty soups.  This is definitely the most satisfying soup I’ve ever made, and it is so simple to make!  Bonus points for the fact that it’s super healthy (but doesn’t taste like it) and extra bonus points for Rod having two helpings!! 
I would recommend serving this hearty soup topped with grated cheese (we used a pre-shredded swiss/gruyere blend, but parmesan or asiago would be good too) and/or with crusty bread!
Kale, Sausage, and Cannellini SoupServes: 4-6 
Ingredients:4 chicken apple sausages, cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal1 onion, finely diced1 tablespoon vegetable oil2 thick carrots, peeled and diced (I like to cut into rounds, then quarter them)1 can of cannellini beans (or any white bean), including liquid1 small to medium sized bunch of kale, washed, stem and any tough-looking center parts removed,  remaining leafy parts cut up into 1 inch strips1 clove garlic minced1 teaspoon celery seedOptional: 4- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock. 
Suggested Directions:1. Heat large pot on medium-high heat, and add oil.2. Once oil is hot (about 1 minute), add garlic and saute until lightly browned.  Remove garlic quickly, set aside, and turn up the heat to high.3. In the same oil, saute the sausage over high heat, until nicely browned on both sides (about 5 minutes, stirring frequently)4. Add onion and saute with sausage for 1-2 minutes.5. Add carrots and kale and saute another 4-5 minutes, or until kale turns a brighter green.6. Add cannellini beans including liquid in the can, celery seed, and also add hot water to desired soup consistency (I added 4-6 cups of water—sorry I didnt measure—just kinda eyeballed it).  You can add chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water if you have it on hand. I found that it was not necessary. 7. Stir a little to blend everything and cover and bring to a boil, then let simmer on low heat for 15-45 minutes (I think the flavors blend together better and the kale is more wilted after 45 minutes, but it is perfectly edible earlier!)Enjoy!! 

I <3 hearty soups.  This is definitely the most satisfying soup I’ve ever made, and it is so simple to make!  Bonus points for the fact that it’s super healthy (but doesn’t taste like it) and extra bonus points for Rod having two helpings!! 

I would recommend serving this hearty soup topped with grated cheese (we used a pre-shredded swiss/gruyere blend, but parmesan or asiago would be good too) and/or with crusty bread!

Kale, Sausage, and Cannellini Soup
Serves: 4-6 

Ingredients:
4 chicken apple sausages, cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 thick carrots, peeled and diced (I like to cut into rounds, then quarter them)
1 can of cannellini beans (or any white bean), including liquid
1 small to medium sized bunch of kale, washed, stem and any tough-looking center parts removed,  remaining leafy parts cut up into 1 inch strips
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon celery seed
Optional: 4- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock. 

Suggested Directions:
1. Heat large pot on medium-high heat, and add oil.
2. Once oil is hot (about 1 minute), add garlic and saute until lightly browned.  Remove garlic quickly, set aside, and turn up the heat to high.
3. In the same oil, saute the sausage over high heat, until nicely browned on both sides (about 5 minutes, stirring frequently)
4. Add onion and saute with sausage for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add carrots and kale and saute another 4-5 minutes, or until kale turns a brighter green.
6. Add cannellini beans including liquid in the can, celery seed, and also add hot water to desired soup consistency (I added 4-6 cups of water—sorry I didnt measure—just kinda eyeballed it).  You can add chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water if you have it on hand. I found that it was not necessary. 
7. Stir a little to blend everything and cover and bring to a boil, then let simmer on low heat for 15-45 minutes (I think the flavors blend together better and the kale is more wilted after 45 minutes, but it is perfectly edible earlier!)

Enjoy!! 

I don’t usually bake much, and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  What made me dust off my baking pans and bake something after more than a year and half??  This heavenly, salty-spicy-sweet date and walnut bread.  

There’s something magical about the combination of dates and walnuts.  I don’t know what it is, but this bread definitely captures that magic.  

Since I altered the original recipe by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour, it came out tasting very healthy. I like that, but if I were to make it again, I would definitely add some applesauce to make it more moist and balance out the “wheatiness”.

Date and Walnut Bread Inspired by Joy of Cooking's tested recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped*
1 1/3 cups dried pitted dates, coarsely chopped (about 8 oz)*
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water 
2 cups whole wheat flour 
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tspns baking powder
1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt (depending on your taste)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cup cold salted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Suggested Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and place rack in center of oven.
2.  Grease (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) a bundt pan (or a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan).
3. Toast the chopped walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. 

*Here’s a trick: The easiest way to chop walnuts and dates is to put everything in a cup and use a sharp pair of kitchen shears to “chop” everything up (see photo)

4.  In a medium-sized heat-resistant bowl, mix the chopped dates with the baking soda and a pinch of salt.  
5. Pour hot water over dates, stir, and leave to cool.
6. Meanwhile, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, remaining salt, and ground cinnamon in either a food processor or a large bowl if you don’t have a food processor.
7.  Add sliced up butter and either process or use a fork to combine until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. If doing this by hand, the smaller the slices of butter, the easier.
8. Stir in chopped walnuts.
9.  Add an egg and vanilla extract to the date mixture (including water) and whisk.
10.  Fold in this mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
11. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
12. Place on wire rack to cool, then remove bread from the pan. 

I&#8217;ve heard before that the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is for you (guess I&#8217;ll be eating more Skittles!)  So I started buying sweet potatoes more often lately.  After experimenting with different ways of baking them, I found this recipe to be simple, healthy, and delicious&#8212; and not as sugary sweet as some recipes out there!  And it&#8217;s awesome that it all fit in my little toaster oven too!  

Quick and Healthy Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 medium- large sweet potatoes
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
Oregano
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Garlic powder

Suggested directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat the bottom of a foil-lined baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
2. Wash (and peel of you want) the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium size pieces (about 1 to 1.5 inch cubes). 
3. Place the cut sweet potatoes in the baking dish and turn them so that they are coated with the olive oil. 
4. Sprinkle moderately with fresh garlic, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and turn them so all sides are seasoned.
5. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 40 minutes or until soft.

I’ve heard before that the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is for you (guess I’ll be eating more Skittles!) So I started buying sweet potatoes more often lately. After experimenting with different ways of baking them, I found this recipe to be simple, healthy, and delicious— and not as sugary sweet as some recipes out there! And it’s awesome that it all fit in my little toaster oven too!

Quick and Healthy Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 medium- large sweet potatoes
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
Oregano
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Garlic powder

Suggested directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a foil-lined baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
2. Wash (and peel of you want) the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium size pieces (about 1 to 1.5 inch cubes).
3. Place the cut sweet potatoes in the baking dish and turn them so that they are coated with the olive oil.
4. Sprinkle moderately with fresh garlic, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and turn them so all sides are seasoned.
5. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 40 minutes or until soft.


I learned from a vendor at the Farmer’s Market that Cara Caras are a hybrid of a grapefruit and an orange. The world wide web and Wikipedia seem to disagree, but the consensus seems to be that though the exact origins are disputed, the Cara Cara is definitely a cousin of the grapefruit and navel orange.

I like them because they are exotic, rosy on the inside, and sweet with just the right amount of tartness. I thought they would go really well over a white fish, and I was right!  I served the fish with ravioli and broccoli, and it was fabulous!

Cara Cara Pan Fried Turbot  
(A few weeks ago, I would have thought this sounded like gibberish!)
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
2 Turbot filets, rinsed (or any white fish, such as cod or halibut)
2 tbsp. flour
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 Cara Cara, cut up with piths removed, preferably at room temperature
salt and pepper

Suggested Directions:
1. Dredge turbot filets in flour and shake off excess. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan on high heat, and add fish.
3. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until each side is brown, depending on thickness and size.
4. Place Cara Cara slices on top of fish before serving.

Broccoli rabe is one of my favorite vegetables, and since I found some fresh at the farmers market last weekend, I decided to make a simple meal that was comforting yet healthy.  Rod and I both love polenta, and we found this to be a great combination!  
Polenta is made from de-germinated yellow cornmeal, and on its own, polenta has hardly any fat (less than 1% of daily value per serving), none of the bad stuff (saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, or sodium), and lots of vitamins such as iron, folic acid, thiamin, and niacin. Not too shabby for something that tastes creamy and delicious, huh?
Garlic Broccoli Rabe over Parmesan PolentaServes: 2+ 
Ingredients:A handful of broccoli rabe, washed and drained2 cloves of garlic, diced1 tbsp. olive oil1 cup of polenta grits (I use Golden Pheasant Polenta)4 cups of water2 tbsp. buttersalt to taste
Suggested Directions:1. Bring 4 cups of water, salted, to boil in a medium sized pot.2. Gradually add polenta to boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened.3.  Cook for approximately 25 minutes.4.  Meanwhile, in a large pan or wok with lid, heat olive oil on high heat for about 30-45 seconds.5.  Add garlic and sautee for 1-2 minute(s).6.  Add broccoli rabe and sautee a little so stems are coated evenly. 7.  Continue to cook for a few minutes, then add about 2 tbsp. water and cook covered for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.  During the last minute of cooking, season to taste with salt.8. Once polenta is done, blend in butter, and serve immediately.9. Arrange broccoli rabe on top and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. 


Broccoli rabe is one of my favorite vegetables, and since I found some fresh at the farmers market last weekend, I decided to make a simple meal that was comforting yet healthy.  Rod and I both love polenta, and we found this to be a great combination!  

Polenta is made from de-germinated yellow cornmeal, and on its own, polenta has hardly any fat (less than 1% of daily value per serving), none of the bad stuff (saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, or sodium), and lots of vitamins such as iron, folic acid, thiamin, and niacin. Not too shabby for something that tastes creamy and delicious, huh?

Garlic Broccoli Rabe over Parmesan Polenta
Serves: 2+ 

Ingredients:
A handful of broccoli rabe, washed and drained
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of polenta grits (I use Golden Pheasant Polenta)
4 cups of water
2 tbsp. butter
salt to taste

Suggested Directions:
1. Bring 4 cups of water, salted, to boil in a medium sized pot.
2. Gradually add polenta to boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened.
3.  Cook for approximately 25 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, in a large pan or wok with lid, heat olive oil on high heat for about 30-45 seconds.
5.  Add garlic and sautee for 1-2 minute(s).
6.  Add broccoli rabe and sautee a little so stems are coated evenly. 
7.  Continue to cook for a few minutes, then add about 2 tbsp. water and cook covered for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.  During the last minute of cooking, season to taste with salt.
8. Once polenta is done, blend in butter, and serve immediately.
9. Arrange broccoli rabe on top and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
 

Today was a surprisingly warm day for March in San Francisco.  Earlier this week, it rained and was freezing cold.  I knew I had to take advantage of the warm weather, so I changed into shorts, a tube top, and flip flops, slathered on sunblock and tanning oil (does spf 70 become spf 35 if you layer oil on top?), grabbed a magazine and a towel, and laid out on my building’s rooftop.  It was gloriously warm and relaxing.  I was skimming through the April edition of Glamour Magazine when a recipe for Spring Vegetable Succotash with Poached Egg caught my eye. 

I’d never made a poached egg before in my life, and never even knew how it was made.  The recipe said you just stir boiling water into a whirlpool and drop an egg in.  I was intrigued (and slightly sunburnt), so I decided to head back downstairs and give it a whirl (pun intended).  I adapted the recipe to what I had in my kitchen (that means no fennel bulb, lemon, scallions, or fresh dill or thyme) and tweaked it a bit to my liking.  

I found it to be a hearty meal, yet perfect for a hot summer day—in spring.

Fresh Vegetable, Mushroom, and Poached Egg Salad
Serves 2
Time: 20 minutes 

Ingredients:
1-2 handfuls (about 1/4 lb.) of mushrooms (try hen-of-the woods, chanterelles, or shitakes), sliced into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sliver of butter 
4 handfuls of spinach leaves, rinsed
4 eggs
1 carrot, peeled and diced into rounds
4 handfuls of mixed salad greens, arugula, or watercress, rinsed 
4 radishes, cut into quarters
2 tbsp. olive oil
1.5 to 2 tbsp. rice vinegar to taste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Suggested Directions:
1. In a medium-sized pan with lid, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sautee minced garlic for 1-2 minutes on medium-high heat. It is okay if these brown a lot— they are even better crunchy!
2.  Then add cut-up mushroom (I used shitake mushrooms), and cook covered, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
3.  Season will salt.
4.  Toss in spinach with a sliver of butter, and cook until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes.  Cover, remove from heat, and set aside.
5.  Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water and a splash of vinegar to boil.
6.  Poach eggs one at a time by cracking an egg into a bowl, stirring the boiling water into a whirlpool and quickly tipping the egg into the pot.  For each egg, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon, and repeat for each egg.
7.  Toss carrots, salad greens, radishes, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar (to taste) together in large bowl.  Place half on one plate, and half on the other.  
8.  Sprinkle spinach-mushroom-garlic mixture on top.
9.  Place 2 eggs on top, and season the eggs with salt and pepper. 

Tofu and Blood Orange SaladServes 2
Ingredients:1 clove of crushed and minced garlic1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce1 tablespoon sesame oil 1/2 box of firm tofu1 cup of snow peas, trimmed and washed1 blood orange1 carrot, peeled and diced1&#160;1/2 cup of salad greens1/4 cup diced green onions a sprinkle of sesame seeds1/3 cup of Japanese dressing (you can make your own by mixing together lite mayo, soy sauce, sugar, and a bit of sesame oil to taste)
Suggested Directions:1. Mix first four ingredients together in a medium sized bowl2. Cut open tofu package and drain. Then cut up 1/2 of the package in cubes, and put into the mixture to marinate for at least 15 minutes.3. Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small to medium sized pot, and put the snow peas in the pot, covered, for 1-2 minutes.4. Remove, rinse in very cold water, then drain. This will keep the snow peas crunchy and green.  5. Cut and segment the blood orange, removing the peel.  Here&#8217;s a how-to article on this.In a nonstick, oil-coated pan, fry the tofu (without the marinade) on high heat for 5 minutes, then carefully turn the tofu cubes and fry for another 5 minutes. Repeat until you have at least two nice, golden-browned sides on each cube.6. Toss the salad greens with the carrots and the snow peas in the dressing.7. Top with tofu, blood orange segments, green onions and sesame seeds for added crunch (in that order).  

Tofu and Blood Orange Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 clove of crushed and minced garlic
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
1/2 box of firm tofu
1 cup of snow peas, trimmed and washed
1 blood orange
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cup of salad greens
1/4 cup diced green onions 
a sprinkle of sesame seeds
1/3 cup of Japanese dressing (you can make your own by mixing together lite mayo, soy sauce, sugar, and a bit of sesame oil to taste)

Suggested Directions:
1. Mix first four ingredients together in a medium sized bowl
2. Cut open tofu package and drain. Then cut up 1/2 of the package in cubes, and put into the mixture to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
3. Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small to medium sized pot, and put the snow peas in the pot, covered, for 1-2 minutes.
4. Remove, rinse in very cold water, then drain. This will keep the snow peas crunchy and green.  
5. Cut and segment the blood orange, removing the peel.  Here’s a how-to article on this.
In a nonstick, oil-coated pan, fry the tofu (without the marinade) on high heat for 5 minutes, then carefully turn the tofu cubes and fry for another 5 minutes. Repeat until you have at least two nice, golden-browned sides on each cube.
6. Toss the salad greens with the carrots and the snow peas in the dressing.
7. Top with tofu, blood orange segments, green onions and sesame seeds for added crunch (in that order).  

I made this tonight based on a congee, also known as rice porridge, we had at Commonwealth a few weeks ago.  That one had dungeness crab, sea urchin, and kaffir lime—and it was incredible!  I’ve never made congee before, but seeing that we had leftover rotisserie chicken and leftover brown rice, it was a perfect opportunity to try making this!  And plus it’s such good comfort food!!

I was really happy with how my little experiment turned out.  I found that the lemongrass really adds a bright note to this congee, and balances out the fishy flavors well.  Also, I’ve found that something about making your own chicken stock/broth always makes the dish taste better!!  If you have fresh crab rather than canned, I’m sure it would taste even better!  Enjoy!


(Leftover) Chicken Rice Porridge (Congee) with Crab and Lemongrass
Serves: 4 

Ingredients:
4 cups pre-cooked brown rice (typically about 2 cups uncooked rice)
At least half of a rotisserie chicken including bones (or alternatively, 4 cups chicken broth and 2 shredded, cooked chicken breasts)
5 pieces of 4” long lemongrass
3 - 4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
4 sliced, hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup chopped scallions/ green onions 
1 6oz. can of crab meat (or fresh crab if available)

 Suggested directions:
1. In a medium sized pot, put in 4 and a half cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile separate chicken meat from the skin and bones.
3. Throw the meat into the boiling water in the pot, and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Use a small sieve to scoop up the chicken meat while draining liquid back into pot.
5. Put chicken meat in a bowl and set aside.
6. Now throw the chicken bones and skin into the pot, cover, and reduce heat to simmer.
7.  Simultaneously, in a different, large pot, bring the lemongrass, 2 cups of water and two cups of the broth from the chicken to boil, and add the pre-cooked brown rice.  
8. Cook covered on low heat for 25 minutes, using a whisk to stir frequently (the whisk really breaks up the rice and helps it create a thick, creamy, consistency.
9. If at any time the porridge gets too thick, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth from the other pot to achieve desired consistency, while reserving 1/2 cup of broth at the end.
10.  In the meantime, shred the chicken you set aside earlier.
11. Add the fish sauce and the ginger to the porridge during the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Season to taste, and keep in mind a little fish sauce can go a long way.
12. Right before serving, add remaining 1/2 cup broth and stir with whisk.
13.  Serve immediately (removing the lemongrass stems), and top with sliced egg, shredded chicken, shredded crab meat and green onions.

Strawberry Smoothie 
After coming back from volunteer dog-walking for P.A.W.S. this morning, I was thirsty and hot.  So I made myself a refreshing and healthy strawberry smoothie with pear and apple. It really hit the spot!!  I like to cut up fresh fruit and freeze them for future smoothies.  This is convenient for me since frozen fruit keeps longer than fresh fruit and it helps my smoothies achieve a creamy, frozen consistency without having to dilute with ice!
Ingredients:8 strawberries1 cup of soy milk (or milk)1 bartlett pear (pre-frozen slices) 1 small apple (pre-frozen slices)1/2 tablespoon vanilla protein powderSuggested directions:1. Put all ingredients in a blender and add a bit of water if necessary.2. Drink immediately :)

Strawberry Smoothie 

After coming back from volunteer dog-walking for P.A.W.S. this morning, I was thirsty and hot.  So I made myself a refreshing and healthy strawberry smoothie with pear and apple. It really hit the spot!!  I like to cut up fresh fruit and freeze them for future smoothies.  This is convenient for me since frozen fruit keeps longer than fresh fruit and it helps my smoothies achieve a creamy, frozen consistency without having to dilute with ice!

Ingredients:
8 strawberries
1 cup of soy milk (or milk)
1 bartlett pear (pre-frozen slices) 
1 small apple (pre-frozen slices)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla protein powder

Suggested directions:
1. Put all ingredients in a blender and add a bit of water if necessary.
2. Drink immediately :)

Arugula and watercress are my two new obsessions in salad (not together, silly!).  I heart arugula and watercress&#8230;but I didn&#8217;t always.  You know how they say your tastes change as you grow older?  It seems that growing up has made me trade my love of sweets for my new love of bitter, earthy, fresh greens.  
I made myself an arugula salad for lunch the other day with some fresh ingredients and a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  It was divine!!
Fresh Arugula, Avocado, Asiago and Prosciutto SaladServes: 1
Ingredients:2 handfuls of arugula2 sliced radishes6 cherry tomatoes, halved1/2 ripe avocado, cut up in cubes2 slices of prosciutto, cut into smaller pieces1 tbsp. shaved asiago cheese1 tbsp. olive oil1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 
Suggested Directions:1. Combine first 6 ingredients2. Combine last two ingredients separately, and toss with salad when ready. 

Arugula and watercress are my two new obsessions in salad (not together, silly!).  I heart arugula and watercress…but I didn’t always.  You know how they say your tastes change as you grow older?  It seems that growing up has made me trade my love of sweets for my new love of bitter, earthy, fresh greens.  

I made myself an arugula salad for lunch the other day with some fresh ingredients and a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  It was divine!!

Fresh Arugula, Avocado, Asiago and Prosciutto Salad
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
2 handfuls of arugula
2 sliced radishes
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 ripe avocado, cut up in cubes
2 slices of prosciutto, cut into smaller pieces
1 tbsp. shaved asiago cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 

Suggested Directions:
1. Combine first 6 ingredients
2. Combine last two ingredients separately, and toss with salad when ready. 

Sriracha and Wasabi Deviled Eggs + Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe

We went to an awesome food party today at Tim and Anna’s new place (oh, and there may have been some Superbowl football action going on at the party, but I hardly noticed since there was so much good food and good company!)

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I brought these Sriracha and Wasabi Deviled Eggs (these were a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner so I decided to make them again):

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Sriracha and Wasabi Deviled Eggs
Adapted from Joanne Chang of Food & Wine
Serves 12 

Ingredients:

1 dozen large eggs

2 cups low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup sake

8 star anise pods

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions/green onions 

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Sriracha

2 1/4 teaspoons wasabi paste

a pinch of Chinese five-spice powder

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Suggested Directions:

  1. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped scallions for topping later (keep in fridge if not serving right away), and reserve 2 tablespoons for combining with yolk.
  2. In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute. Cover the saucepan, remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce with the sake, star anise, chopped scallions, sugar and grated ginger. 
  4. Bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and let cool completely.
  5. Drain the water from the large saucepan and shake the pan gently to crack the eggs. Cool the eggs slightly under cold running water, then peel them under running water. Add the eggs to the soy mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the eggs for at least 4 hours.
  6. Drain the eggs and rinse lightly to remove any bits of scallion or ginger; pat dry. Using a slightly moistened thin, sharp knife, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently pry the egg yolks into a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the mayonnaise, Sriracha, wasabi and 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallions into the mashed yolks. 
  7. Just prior to serving, spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg whites on a serving platter.  Or, for fancy occasions, you can transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, then set the egg whites on a serving platter and pipe in the filling. 
  8. Sprinkle the deviled eggs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chives and the Chinese five-spice powder and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The deviled eggs can be refrigerated overnight. Garnish with the snipped chives and Chinese five-spice powder just before serving.

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I also put together a simple but delicious Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe appetizer to take to the party:

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Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe
Serves lots of people

Ingredients:
1 package of thinly-sliced proscuitto (the best kind is separated by layers of plastic)
1 small, ripe cantaloupe

Suggested Directions:
1. Cut up cantaloupe into wedges without the rind, and then cut to desired length
2. Just before serving, tear apart proscuitto into long strips and wrap it around cantaloupe pieces
3. Place on platter and serve immediately.  If desired, you can add a fresh mint leaf or a halved fig as a decoration.  Also, depending on size and shape of the pieces, you may want to hold them in place with toothpicks.