Thursday, March 26, 2009


I only think of my Bean stash when I'm craving Chili. And I wasn't really craving chili but I didn't have any kinda protein in my fridge so I decided on using up some good ol' pantry items!

Vegetarian Chili is SOOOOOO incredibly easy. And cheap. And so versatile.

I start off by sautéeing some veggies with garlic... in this one I added some Asparagus, Carrots, and Celery.

Then I add the can of drained Black Beans.

And then I bust out a can of Tomatoes (this one was whole plum tomatoes so I diced them). Depending on what consistency I want, I add Tomato Sauce.

SPICES! My favorite part because this is where I get to get creative :-)

The highlight of this pot o' chili was definitely the Cinnamon Stick. It added a nice depth and kinda sweetness that went well against the super spicy spices!

The Dark and Evil Chili


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Junking Food!

I really don't like to throw out food. Especially now since I'm realizing that I kind of have to budget my grocery shopping. I've been making it a goal to only go grocery shopping once a week. For me this means, planning when to use my vegetables (don't eat too much in one day cuz I won't have any left for the rest of the week, but use it enough so that they don't go bad) and opening packages (tofu, egg whites, canned stuff, etc.) only when I know that I will finish it before it goes bad. It's really difficult because I want to eat something new every day.

But I'm doing ok. It's actually quite a challenge and I love challenges haha!

So, like I posted a few days ago, I am loving pasta because it's cheap, I only have to cook what I want to eat, and it's versatile!

Here's what I used for tonight's dinner.
-leftover Asparagus with Bacon from the Curry/Hamburg Extravaganza at my mom's
-roasted cauliflower
-green olives and pepperoncini that my mom served (and made me take home) at the partay
-Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
-dried basil

So pretty :-)

Leftover Bananas

What do I do when I have no time and am completely stressed with school? I bake!

And I waste hours on Tastespotting looking for beautiful treats to bake. I knew I had frozen ripe banans so I wanted something banana-y...

I came across this Banana Cookie Bar recipe from Genesis of a Cook... the picture first got me, and then realizing it was like banana + cookie just totally got me!

The best part about my no-time baking story is that I totally was late to a doctors appointment because I miscalculated how much time I needed! I didn't read the directions thoroughly so I didn't know that I had to bake the crust by itself for 15 minutes first!!

Here's how it went.

2:39 Get ingredients out of pantry. Start mixing.

2:51 Stick dough in the oven. Make banana mixture.

3:00 Oh crap! I need to leave in 30 minutes for doctor's appointment.
3:02 Take out crust. Pour banana mixture onto crust. Top with chocolate chips and walnuts.
3:11 Stick it back in the oven. It says bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
3:35 Take it out of oven. Run out of the house for doctor's appointment!

But it was all good... they are AMAZING! I brought them to school today for my hardworking friends. Shoutout to Ferkauf!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hina Matsuri A.K.A. Girl's Day

Hina Matsuri is an official holiday in Japan to celebrate girls yay! But my mom always thought it was unfair for my brother, so on March 3rd, which is the holiday, she just calls is Children's Day. There is actually an official Children's Day, which is called Tango No Sekku, which is on May 5th, so I get to celebrate both!

Basically, on these days, my mom cooks an awesome meal. So last night, me, Ed, my bro Kyuta, his girlfriend Amanda, and their friend Jess went over to my mom's house for a... :: drum roll please!:: ...


Curry with Rice and Hamburg Steak=Japanese Comfort/Soul Food

But that wasn't the only thing on the menu... There were so many other old school favorites of mine!
1. Anchovy Cream Dip- New Item!

I got there before everyone and my mom says to me, try this dip. It's a new recipe. I want you to try and guess what's in it. I knew immediately that there were anchovies in it because I'm obsessed with them right now. She then proudly says, "There's only 4 ingredients!" I gave up and she told me.... Anchovies, Garlic, Olive Oil, Heavy Cream. It was so good! And of course she never measures anything so these were her directions:
1. Sautée the minced garlic in a generous amount of olive oil.
2. Add anchovies... I guess she used anchovy paste because there were no chunks.
3. When everything is mixed together, add heavy cream and stir constantly. Adjust texture and flavor to your liking. After the first taste test, my mom said she had put too much anchovy so she just kept adding the heavy cream.

2. Japanese Style Potato Salad

If you've never had Japanese style potato salad, you haven't lived! It's tangy and light. My mom confessed that the potatoes were overcooked and ended up getting mashed into the other veggies. She suggested that it might be good baked in a casserole topped with Panko and Cheese, like a potato gratin... I will have to try!

3. Green Beans and Asparagus with Bacon

Yumm... simple but delicious!

4. Hijiki No Nimono (Stewed Hijiki)

This is a very traditional, super-healthy Japanese dish that my mom makes for me because I just love it! She loads is with plenty of vegetables such as shiitake, renkon (lotus root), takenoko (bamboo shoot), gobo (burdock root), carrots, and konnyaku!

5. Hamburg Steak- Some with shrimp/cheese

OMG I LOVE HAMBURG! It is usually served in what the Japanese call "fami-resu" short for family restaurant (the Japanese version of a diner). Everyone loves hamburg. It's like a known fact. It's basically meatloaf in the shape of a steak (meaning it's more of an oval patty, rather than a loaf that is sliced). And wow, my mom makes the best hamburg! It's the perfect texture and flavor :-)

6. The Whole Plate with the Curry- I was a little greedy and piled up my plate!

My mom also makes the best curry :-) F.Y.I- Japanese curry is very different from Indian and Thai curry! It's a totally different experience! How could I not pile up my plate when I'm served all my favorite foods?!


My mom and I work well in the kitchen... I will forever be her sous chef!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back-up Desserts

Im such a neurotic freak. I have back up dessert stashed in the bottom of my freezer "just in case" I ever don't have a dessert. I usually have cookies and cakes on hand from Lulu's cuz i totally stock up. But last night, for some reason, I didn't have anything from Lulu's!

That's when I remembered... oh crap. I totally have some stuff.

Ok, I dunno if anyone else does this but sometimes when I can't decide on a dessert at a restaurant, I order one there, and then get one to go (assuming it's not ice cream or anything frozen). So like a few months ago, when I went to SOMA 107 in White Plains, I couldn't decide between the chocolate cake and a Passionfruit Cheesecake. So me and Ed got both. But I wasn't feeling cheesecake that night, so I wrapped it up tight in saran wrap and aluminum foil and put it in the freezer for "another time". Which just happened to be last night! OMG it was really good!

So, I'm really not a fan of spongey cake bases for cheesecakes. And I think I would've liked this cheesecake more if it was a graham cracker crust or some kinda cookie crust. But the actual cheesecake part was excellent! It was nice and creamy. Cheesecake is a dessert that if it's too heavy, I just can't eat that much. This one was pretty light and creamy. I think passionfruit is a flavor that gets abused a lot. Sometimes it just tastes really artificial-tropical and too sweet. But this was actually tasted like passionfruit! There was a thin layer of passionfruit gelatin on the top. It was actually very sweet but I think the base to cake ratio made it a really good combo. The sponge part was actually very thick, enough so that I could possibly consider it a sponge cake with "cheesecake frosting"... that's a little extreme, but the cake part was like one third of the cake!

And of course, as a back-up dessert, I usually have frozen homemade cookie dough. I busted out these awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I swear, the Molasses Brown Sugar gives it the best flavor and texture. And wait... look at how freakin' thick this cookie is. It's like 3 times the thickness of my fingertips!

I am very happy that I have hidden secrets in my freezer that I sometimes forget about! It's like a little surprise :-)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cooking For One

Cooking for one is really hard. Especially when you dislike eating the same things over and over again. A lot of times, I do eat the leftovers of some crazy concoction I came up with. But lately, I've been getting creative. Not only to make delicious food but also to save money!

I've discovered some foods that are great for cooking on a budget!
-Canned tomatoes
-Roasted vegetables

I used to hate that I could never finish a whole can of crushed/diced tomatoes... but only because I wasn't getting creative! For the first night, I would make a Fra Diavolo sauce. And then what?

A lot!!

Lately, I've been using a lot of canned tomatoes. I add them to pasta with some roasted vegetables and anchovies... OMG! Quick, delicious, super flavorful! And how about adding some spices and putting them in an omelette with cheddar? Yayyyy!!!

Here was tonight's concoction. It's such half-assed cooking. Is it even cooking? I consider it blending hahaha... But whatever. It was SOOOOO good! I looked in my fridge and had leftover brown rice, canned whole plum tomatoes, carmelized onions, and mushrooms.

I sauteed the sliced mushrooms with some garlic. I dumped the chopped up tomatoes in with some tomato sauce. I add the onions and let it simmer. I add my new favorite spice blend: Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. The ingredients-Onion, Black Pepper, Celery Seed, Cayenne Pepper, Parsley, Basil, Marjoram, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Thyme, Savory, Rosemary, Cumin, Mustard, Coriander, Garlic, Carrot, Orange Peel, Tomato Granules, Lemon Juice Powder, Oil of Lemon, and Citric Acid. Interesting right?! It's also delicious and goes with a lot of different dishes that I make. I've been adding this to everything!

And of course I like to make everything spicy so I added some red pepper flakes!
It was kinda like a rice soup/stew/ghetto risotto... really hearty and perfect for cold days!

P.S.- The key to eating delicious food on a budget is SPICES. Spices are my life. It turns rice into an unusual, ethnic dish, and it makes omelettes taste like you're eating at a cute little French bistro :-)