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Quinoa Stuffed Jack O' Lantern Peppers


Time to get ready for Halloween!! I have so many memories of halloween, because all throughout college, my friends and I would dress up and go trick or treating. We were by far the oldest group of people asking for candy OoPs. Don't mean to steal candy from the kids! The neighborhoods near Rice University was the best though. So many ginormous houses that gave out FULL SIZED candy bars.
Now I don't even remember when the last time I dressed up for Halloween. Maybe in medical school during my peds rotation? I think I scared the kids more though. Oh well... This recipe is super adaptable. You can pretty much stuff the peppers with anything you enjoy like brown or white rice, spaghetti etc... I think it would make for a very cool kid's project. Or a poor man's pumpkin carving :P
It definitely makes less mess than pumpkin carving and doesn't take up space, since you'll eat it all up!

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers [Halloween Edition]

makes 4 Jack O' Lantern bell peppers

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/s tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup frozen vegetables (assorted)
1 cup mozzarella
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
pinch of dried parlsey, for garnish (optional)

4 medium yellow or orange bell peppers

  1. Cooking the filling. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, until softened. Add Italian seasoning and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in quinoa, 1 tsp salt and frozen vegetables, about 1 min. Add 2 cups of water. Let boil and then turn down heat to allow simmer for 15-25mins. Fluff quinoa when fully cooked through. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed
  2. Prepare the peppers. While the filling cooks, preheat oven to 375F. Use a tiny knife and cut the tops off the bell peppers to make lid. Remove seeds inside and season with salt and pepper. Cut out tiny Jack O' Lantern faces. Place peppers into a baking dish in one layer, set aside
  3. Stuff prepared peppers with quinoa. Sprinkle cheese over peppers. Place the lids on top of the cheese or between peppers. Pour about 3/4 cup between the peppers into the baking dish
  4. Cover w/ aluminium foil and bake until peppers are softened, but not mushy. About 30-45mins.
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Apple Pie Cheesecake


I went apple picking upstate with the bf's fam two weeks ago and hauled a bag of apples home. I've been eating one daily and now have BECOME SICK OF APPLES. Soooo, I decided to make apple pie filling and put it in a cheesecake! After moving to New York, I can't and won't stop eating cheesecakes. It did give new life to plain apples and they were tolerable again :P
The apples that we could only pick were the Shizuka variety, since we went late and everyone already picked all the fuji and honeycrisp apples. It was like a plague of locusts just swept through the apple trees. But it worked out for me because shizuka apples are sweet, slightly tart, firm and perfect for baking or cooking. Since we had to pay an entrance fee to enter the grounds, you bet your butt I ate a lot of apples to get my money's worth! I couldn't look at another apple for days. Except I'm stuck in the SICU for 5 weeks and my food tray always includes an apple :(
I wanted to make a lighter cheesecake and incorporated a lot of yogurt. It still tastes very much like a rich cheesecake, but so much better for my muffin tops ;)

Apple Pie Cheesecake

makes one 9" cake

Apple pie filling
2 large apples peeled and diced, use firm slightly tart apples like pink lady
1 tsp butter
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water
  1. On low medium heat, melt butter and spices. Add 1 tbsp water, diced apples and sugar
  2. Stir often and cook for about 6-8 mins until apples are slightly soft
  3. Make the cornstarch slurry by adding water and cornstarch together until no lumps. Drizzle into apple filling
  4. Cook for additional 3-5 minutes to thicken and until it bubble. Set aside to cool

Yogurt Cheesecake
Your favorite pie crust recipe (I use Ina Garten because she is a Food Goddess!)
2 8oz cream cheese
1 3/4 cup whole milk Siggi (I used) or greek yogurt
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
3 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. No need to roll out the pie dough. Just press into a 9" springform pan and up the sides a little. Poke holes with fork. Blind bake pie crust for 15 mins
  2. Reduce oven temp to 325F. In a mixer or large bowel beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice
  3. Beat in 1 egg at a time, making sure not to over beat as it can introduce bubbles
  4. Cover springform pan sides with foil and place in larger pan to make a water bath. Pour room temp water into the bath until half way up cheesecake pan
  5. Bake for 50-60 mins until middle is just set. Crack oven door open and cool in oven for 1 hour. Let cool completely at room temp afterwards
  6. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight to set
  7. Make the top pretty with dried apple slices and pie crust leaves!
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Pumpkin Cake w/ Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Pepita Brittle

YO YO YO, is it pumpkin time again?! I love pumpkin spiced latte (#PSL) like a basic white girl and I'm always super excited for the fall. Mostly because I can eat cans and cans of pumpkin and hide all the carb loading I'm doing all winter under a heavy jacket. I'm posting something I made two years ago, that I never got the chance post! I don't ever have an excuse for not posting often other than surgical residency life/  lack of sleep getting in the way. I just finished my transplant rotation and I kid you not...  I've only slept 6 hours in the past 4 days. Even though the surgeries and patients are amazing, the lifestyle is just not :\  And I pity the fellows, who must really be into suffering haha.
Anyhoo, back to pumpkin cake! This makes for a very moist cake due to the pumpkin puree and the cream cheese frosting with a hint of maple syrup really tops it off. The brittle adds some crunch and savory flavor. The brittle will melt into the frosting, so just stick it into the slices of cake or lay on top right before serving.

Pumpkin Cake w/ Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Pepita Brittle

makes a 8x8" cake

Pumpkin Cake
1-2/3 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1.5 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used lighter flavor olive oil)
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, separated

Maple cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
6 tbsp butter, room temp
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare pan with parchment paper and butter. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour to pumpkin puree). In a smaller bowl, mix oil, sugar, salt (I know these are dry too :P) and egg yolks in a smaller bowl.
  2. Whisk up egg whites until it is foamy and slightly bubbly. I added a tbsp of sugar to help it going
  3. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in egg whites until no whites remains (some streaking is fine!)
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-50mins or until a knife stuck in the middle just comes out clean (little moisture is fine!). It'll keep cooking outside so don't leave it in too long. Let it cool for 10 mins until taking it out to cool completely
  5. For the frosting, beat softened cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar and maple syrup until the brown sugar isn't grainy in it. Then beat in powdered sugar. 
  6. Spread on frosting to cooled cake. Serve immediately, or you can keep it in the fridge and let it sit on the counter for at least an hour before serving.
Pepita seed brittle
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp butter, room temp

  1. Prepare a pan with a silicone mat or that pan has to be real buttered up
  2. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, vanilla extract and then water. Bring to boil and cook WITHOUT stirring until lightly amber
  3. Stir in pumpkin seeds and once medium/dark amber, pour onto prepared baking sheet
  4. Cool completely and then break into pieces

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Matcha Strawberry Black Sesame Cookies


Aaand I'm back after a long break from blogging! Residency has a way of getting into... life :/ I just finished my pediatric surgery rotation and on transplant now. So between organ harvesting and transplanting, I found myself with some extra time!
I met a lot of awesome people during my peds surg rotation, so I baked a batch of these cookies for them. I've been itching to make something with freeze dried strawberries, since I bought a pack and didn't know what to do with them. So on a whim, I thought matcha, strawberries and black sesame would go so well together. The cookies have a more cake like texture in the middle from the extra yolk and a fruity and nutty taste. They were quickly gobbled up by the residents!

Matcha Strawberry Black Sesame Cookies

Makes ~30 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup freeze dried strawberries, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp black sesame

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, matcha powder, baking soda and salt
  3. In a medium bowl, melt butter and then beat in sugar (brown and white), vanilla, egg + egg yolk
  4. Mix dry and wet ingredients until everything is just incorporated
  5. Fold in freeze dried strawberries and black sesame. Use a heaping teaspoon and place dough on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. The cookies don't spread much
  6. Bake until edges are just golden brown. Cool on rack for at least 10 minutes
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Crab Green Tea Ochazuke - 녹차 오차즈케


The weather in NYC is messing with us. It was so hot the other day and today, when I stepped outside for coffee it was freaking freezing. I wanted to enjoy the sun and warmth since we have no windows in the resident's lounge :( I can't imagine how vitamin D deficient I am.
Let me tell you about ochazuke. It's this Japanese dish where you place rice, some salty topping and pour in hot tea. It really doesn't seem like much, but it's so soothing to eat and also easy to make. Sometimes when you're sick or want a quick meal, you can whip up this warm dish and enjoy it under blankets 😊
Here I added on top of the cooked rice, some thinly julienned leek, crab, roe and furikake. I also torched some seasoned nagaimo as a side dish.

Crab Green Tea Ochazuke - 녹차 오차즈케

makes 1 bowl

1 cup cooked white rice
thinly julienned leek
cooked crab meat
1 tbsp roe
Handful furikake
1 cup freshly brewed green tea

  1. Literally top all together in a bowl and pour hot tea over it

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Surgical Brownie Conversation Heart Cookies


Woot! I'm back after a few months of slaving away and studying for the in-training exam. I wish I had more time to bake, but I'll take what I can get! I'm writing this post on my last 27hr call on SICU and I thought I would go ahead and bake ahead for Valentine's day. So I made these brownie conversation heart cookies with some funny surgical pick up lines.
 My fave has probably got to be "You look post call", which I've been pretty much looking like daily :(. I don't usually wear anything than skin care on my face, which I thought was okay, but the nurses have been telling me I look sick today 😰😰... so I guess not??
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed making them! Happy Valentine's Day!


Surgical Brownie Conversation Heart Cookies

makes 15 three inch cookies and many small ones

1 stick butter, at room temp
3/4 cup white sugar
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
coloring of choice

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a stand mixer. On low speed, add egg and vanilla
  2. Place all dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the mixer and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Scrape down sides with a spatula if needed
  3. Wrap the cookie batter in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or 15 minutes in the freezer. I left mine in the fridge overnight
  4. Preheat oven to 375F. Let dough rest on the counter for 5-10mins. Roll out dough between baking paper or silicon mat for easy lifting. Otherwise, sprinkle a mix of flour and cocoa powder to prevent sticking while rolling. Roll to about 1/4" thick
  5. Cut out shapes and place on a pan prepared with a baking mat or paper. Bake for about 8-10 mins and let it rest on the pan for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack
  6. Once cookies are completely cooled, whisk frosting ingredients together. Place into a small piping bag and decorate cookies. Leave to dry for at least 2 hours


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