Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mini peanut butter cheesecakes

These mini cheesecakes whip up in no time and are delicious. They bake much faster than a full sized cheesecake and since they're small, you can eat two without guilt!


2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3   eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups of creamy peanut butter
24 Oreos
cupcake liners
muffin pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners into a muffin tin for 24 mini-cheesecakes. Put an Oreo in the bottom of each liner (for the crust). Beat all of the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and put about a 1/4 cup of filling in each cupcake liner until it's full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool and chill for 3 hours prior to serving.

You can also top them with whipped cream if you like!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Simple (non-authentic) pork wonton soup

Wonton packed soup!
If you haven’t visited your local Asian market, you really need to check it out! Though I sometimes find it a little overwhelming since I don’t know what 90% of the things they sell are for, let alone how to use them (packages are often not in English) if you look around a little you can find some really great stuff that is easy to use even if you don’t speak Chinese/Korean/Japanese J

My favorite aisle is the frozen dumpling aisle. In part because I know what they are and how to cook them but mostly because there are SO many different kinds of dumplings. I buy different ones every time I go there (hint: we never like the shrimp dumplings). However, I always make sure I pick up some pork wontons for making soup.

Full disclosure: my wonton soup is really, really not authentic. I have no idea how they make it in Asian restaurants but this tastes good.

This is an easy recipe and as such it’s not an exact science, I usually just throw it together and have put together the rough directions to share. If you aren’t a “throw it together” type of cook, power through, I promise you can do this one too.

1lb mild Italian Sausage (I use turkey sometimes and pork sometimes)
3 stalks diced celery
Optional: additional diced veggies if you are feeling healthy! Options include onions, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms
1 cube bullion (chicken or veggie is fine)
1 tb garlic
1 tb onion powder (you might omit if adding onions)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3 TB soy sauce
1 tb white vinegar
A few splashes of fish sauce

Remove sausage from casings and crumble in the bottom of a large soup pot (I use a 5 qt cast iron Dutch oven). Cook the sausage on med-high heat, crumbling it as it cooks (you might need to add a small bit of oil if the sausage is very lean). When the sausage is 50% cooked, add the diced celery and any additional veggies you’d like and all the spices. When the sausage is fully cooked, pour enough water in to fully cover the contents of the pot. Add the bouillon cube, soy sauce, vinegar and fish sauce. Boil 5-10 minutes.

Add your wontons and additional water so the contents are still covered and boil another 10-15 minutes until the wontons are fully cooked.

Makes approx. 8 bowl-sized servings of soup


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pad See Ewe - the best EVER Thai dish

If you have ever eaten take out with me, you know that I have a strong preference for Asian food, both Thai and Chinese. Normally, I don't see the appeal in getting take out that I could make myself at home and my common refrain is "yeah, but that is just as sandwich."

I used to get Thai almost weekly with one of my friends. When I lived in DC, I also had the "Pad See Ewe Summer" where myself and a few other Pad See Ewe (PSE) enthusiasts went to many, many Thai restaurants in the District to see which one made the best PSE.

This delectable dish, goes by many different spellings - Pad Si Ew & Pad See Ewe being the most common. If you haven't tried it yet, RUN do not WALK to your nearest Thai restaurant. When you are totally hooked, come back here and we will try to make it at home together.

A word of warning, PSE noodles are the great white whale of ingredients. At least they have been for me, I have literally gone to 3-4 Asian groceries and had an unsuccessful Amazon search before I finally found them at a massive Asian Market called Li Ming's in Durham, NC, that I had been meaning to visit for the last year, for the express purpose of finding PSE noodles. Now that I know they have have them I will definitely be back.

Li Ming's also carries what is definitely the largest selection of soy sauce I have ever seen. I am not even nearly culturally equipped enough to shop at this store; I can only identify uses for about a 1/2 of the items they carry.

But the point is, if you cannot find the fresh flat rice noodles, you can substitute dried rice noodles. Sometimes, you gotta make it work.

My weekly Thai food eating friend, sent me a PSE recipe she made a few weeks ago which spurred on my desire to go to Li Ming's. I like to have "saucy" and "eggy" PSE, so I made a few alterations, I have put the recipe I used below with my alterations.

  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb Fresh Flat Rice Noodles
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 6 tablespoons regular Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sugar  
  • 1/2 lb, your protein of choice, sliced thin or extra veggies
  • 2 tablespoon olive or other cooking oil

If your fresh flat rice noodles are not pre-cut, cut them into strips of 1 inch wide. Chop your broccoli (Chinese or regular) into pieces. Heat a wok or large skillet to high heat and then add 2 tablespoons of oil. Drop in the chopped garlic and stir. Add your protein and saute to cook. While your protein cooks, mix your soy sauces and sugar together in a bowl on the side. When your protein is almost fully cooked, add your sliced rice noodles and pour you sauce over it, stir it together.

Push your noodles to the side, clearing a space to drop in your eggs. Put the eggs into the open space and scramble them until fully cooked, then mix them in with the noodles. Add broccoli and stir together. Let it heat in the pan for a few minutes to cook the broccoli and give yourself a little char on the noodles. PSE is not normally spicy, but if you want a little kick, add some cayenne pepper now.

The verdict:
Even with increasing the amount of sauce, I still felt it could have been saucier, so I'll need to work on that. I think this sauce isn't quite right also, it's good and it's close but it's not perfect. I might need a little fish sauce or oyster sauce, or something. I'm not quite sure yet, I'll keep trying! I also, did not include this in my recipe but I made mine vegetarian, so I added some cabbage and bean sprouts I had. Normally, I like my PSE with chicken but the veggies were good too! They soaked up the sauce nicely.

It was also surprisingly quick to make! I will definitely be making this again and keep fine tuning the sauce as I go.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Butter nut flavored whipped cream!

I have tried a new whipped cream flavor and I had to share because it is the BEST one thus far.

For my birthday I had a Harry Potter themed costume party (yes, I'm that friend) and I of course made butter beer and as a result I had some butter extract hanging around the kitchen. If you recall, I really, really like making fresh whipped cream with my whipped cream gizmo. I was mixing up some cream and the butter extract was there so I put it in. Wow is it good.

Butter whipped cream
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup (or 3-5 Tb of powdered sugar)
1 tsp of butter flavor extract

The extract gives it a nice off-white color that I found made it look more delicious. Does that sound weird? Well try it and see what you think.

This was an excellent "basic" whipped cream, almost like plain vanilla and can be used with a variety of other flavors. I was mostly eating in on berries and oranges and BF was putting it in his morning coffee. I expect this to be the new standard at our house instead of vanilla.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nutella Speckulas Cheesecake

Bf and I were supposed to go to a friend's place for dinner this week, so I made a cheesecake. Then it was cancelled, so oh well, we'll just eat the whole thing!

A few years back I was experimenting with nutella cookies, this time I wanted to make a nutella cheesecake. One of the really great things about cheesecake is you can add about a cup of anything and give it a different flavor without messing up the baking science too much. Experiment!

When I went to the grocery store, I was excited to see Speckulas cookies! If your not familiar with speckulas, they're a spiced German/Dutch cookie commonly eaten in the fall and around Christmas time. They are very thin and normally shaped like windmills.  My boyfriend has been steadily working his way through the leftover cookies for the last few days.

If you're trying to find speckulas, I found mine at Aldi but you can also try World Market or Trader Joe's, I have seen them at both. If it's not fall you might have a hard time, in which case you can use a graham cracker crust or try shortbread!

If you have a basic cheesecake recipe you like, you can use it and just mix in 1 cup of nutella. If you cannot find speckulas Or if you need a little more direction you can follow my recipe here:

25 speckulas cookies (about 1 cup crumbs)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon sugar (optional - I think the cookies already have enough, you might taste one first)

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3   eggs
1 heaping cup nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place speckulas cookies in a zip bag. Crush into fine crumbs using rolling pin. Combine crumbs, butter and sugar (optional); mix well. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of springform pan . Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.

Meanwhile, place cream cheese in large mixing bowl with sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla or almond; beat until smooth. Pour batter over slightly cooled crust. Return to oven. Bake 50-55 minutes until center is just set.

Remove from oven. Cool 20 minutes and carefully run sharp knife around edges of cheesecake. Allow to cool and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

fried "rice" quinoa

Over the past two years, quinoa has quickly become one of my favorite grains! If you haven't tried this super food yet, you are seriously missing out! Don't let the funny name intimidate you! It has a slightly nutty flavor in my opinion but you can use it basically as a substitute for rice.

It's definitely pricier than rice, if you have a Trader Joe's nearby I have found them to have the most competitive prices for quinoa.

Quinoa made like fried rice has become a favorite meal for boyfriend and I, especially during the busy work week. It's gluten free and can be made as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish.
Quinoa fried "rice" as a side for ginger chicken


1 cup quinoa
Chicken or vegetable bouillon (use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
1 Tb of olive oil 
1 Tb of minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1-2 large eggs

for sauce:
2 Tb of soy sauce
1 Tb of Teriyaki sauce
1 Tb of sesame oil (can substitute olive oil)

Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Cook quinoa in bouillon, refer to package directions for the amount of liquid needed to cook 1 cup of quinoa, typically 2 cups of liquid. Allow quinoa to cool, this step can be completed the day before.

Heat 1 Tb of olive oil in a a large skillet, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add peas and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are about half of your desired tenderness. If you are using frozen peas, you might need to cook slightly longer than 3 minutes. Add in carrots, mixing them with the other vegetables.

Add cooked quinoa to the skillet and mix with vegetables for a few minutes allowing the quinoa to heat up. While the quinoa is warming, mix all of the sauce ingredients together in small bowl. When the quinoa is warm, pour the sauce over the top and stir all ingredients together.

Push the quinoa and vegetables to one side of the pan, making a small pocket of empty space. Crack eggs in the small pocket of empty space and scramble them a few minutes until cooked fully. Note this can be done in a separate pan if you don't have enough room. When the eggs are fully cooked, mix them in with the quinoa and vegetables thoroughly. Serve hot.

Servings: 2 main dish or 4-5 as a side dish

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whipped cream explosion!

For my birthday last year, I asked for a whipped cream dispenser. What can I say? I'm a woman with limited interests and these days they primarily consist of food and sewing.

It started when I saw the one Boyfriend's parents have a few months beforehand, before then I had really only seen them at like Starbucks and it did not occur to me that this was something people had in their own kitchens. And it was amazing. You fill it with cream, snap in the little nitrous cartridge, shake it and bingo! Fresh whipped cream.

Yes, I know it's not that hard to make the old fashioned way. Be honest, how often do you do it? That's what I thought. Plus after the Thanksgiving when I made it alone with a whisk, not a mixer, I have become lazier than normal.

Since getting my new gizmo, there has kinda been fresh whipped cream on every dessert. And not just plain, flavored. Some of my best experiments are below. You can make this the "old-fashioned" way if you don't have the gizmo :-) or you can buy the gizmo from amazon for $30-100. I have this one from Amazon.

All of the recipes I have below call for Agave syrup because I have found it mixes in easily when using the dispenser, you can substitute 3-5 Tb of powdered sugar. The cream will keep in the dispenser for at least 3-4 days, I suspect up to a week but we always use it all before then.

1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup (really, I do three good squeezes of the bottle)
1 tsp of vanilla

Orange dream (I served this with at New York Style cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of orange extract*

*Do NOT use orange juice, the citric acid in the juice will curdle your cream.

Chocolate cream (I served this with a raspberry swirl cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
2-3 Tb of Agave syrup (Or 2 squeezes of the bottle)
3-5 Tb of Chocolate syrup (Or 3 good squeezes of the bottle)

I also made a chocolate with coco powder that was more a subtle chocolate, too subtle for my taste, but if you want something less chocolatey (I can't imagine why!), you could use 4 Tb of coco powder.

Peppermint (excellent on a chocolate cheesecake or in coffee)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of peppermint extract