Breakfast, Crafts, DIY, Fashion, Knitting, lunch, Savoury

Ballet Wrap Sweater & Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying this cold weather! Now that I’m back in knitting mode, I’ve been caught up in my latest sweater, this mini ballet-style sweater/cardigan/what-have-you. While it’s definitely not ideal to wear only THIS sweater in the cold, I think the fit and size is just perfect to wear over a dress or tank top (while you’re indoors!) The pattern is free on Ravelry and is absolutely adorable, if I do say so myself. While it wasn’t nearly as quick a knit as my last sweater (it’s those damn tiny stitches!), I would still say it was fairly quick for any article of clothing.

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In terms of yardage, this particular sweater was perfect because I just used some yarn that I had left over from a project I had done ages ago. I love the ivory tone and that it has iridescent threads running through it; it really makes it more feminine and just a touch more festive for the holidays. I decided to sew in the pink satin ribbon instead of knitting the straps as well, just to keep with that ballet motif.

In addition to knitting, I’ve also been doing quite a bit of cooking lately; after roasting my turkey for Thanksgiving (which was graciously provided to us by my workplace), I decided to turn some of the leftover meat into Turkey and roasted garlic Rillettes!

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I don’t think that I’ve mentioned it here yet, but a few weeks ago I decided to turn down my job offer in LA. I know, sad story. But at this point in my life I feel like I need to focus more on my personal life rather than JUST my professional one, as I have in the past. I mean,  I just got married, I’m still really young, and I would love to enjoy all this time that I have while I still have it. Besides, if I’m talented enough, there will always be another opportunity for me in the future that is just as good as that one, or maybe even better. As always, patience is key.

Anyway, back to the rillettes! Rillettes happen to be one of my favorite forms of charcuterie; give me any kind of rillettes, some crusty bread, a few cornichons, and some stone ground mustard and I’m pretty much the happiest girl in the world. While this isn’t your traditional rillette (notice it’s missing the layer of fat on top for preservation), this was just my way of using up most of the leftover turkey we had in our fridge. Apparently a 14lb turkey was too much for two people. Who’da thunk? No recipe here, but basically what I did was I took the meat off of about half of our roasted turkey and put it in a big pot with some melted butter, a ton of roasted garlic (which I conveniently roasted alongside my turkey), sage leaves, fresh thyme, peppercorns, dry white wine, and red wine vinegar. I let the mixture simmer in the pot over very low heat for at least 2 hours (with the lid on), until meat was incredibly tender and the liquid was almost completely reduced. Once the mixture had cooled slightly, I removed the peppercorns and herb stems (the garlic had completely melted by then) and put the meat and juices in a food processor and blended it on low until it reached the consistency that I wanted: spreadable, but not pasty. I packed it into a couple of ramekins, and refrigerated it until I was ready to dig in (:

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Bread, Custard, Dinner, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

New Season, New Horizons, and (Adoreable!) Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

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So I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here, but I swear I have a good reason for that! For those of you who haven’t heard yet, I got a new job! Yayy!! Soon I will be a Pastry Chef de Partie for a new restaurant in Downtown LA. A lot of my time lately has been dedicated towards getting ready for that job and leaving my old one behind (sigh…) but I’m really eager to put all of my energy towards this new place and just grow as much as possible. Ever since I left LA county for the OC, I’ve always known I wanted to go back, AND for those of you who know me personally, you’d know that I happen to be named after the City of Angels, but that’s another story for another time! Basically what I’m saying is that it’s like, my DESTINY, haha.

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So as you can see, things have been kind of hectic lately. But let’s forget about all of that for a second! It is now Autumn, and while it doesn’t quite show here in SoCal (it was 83F today!!) just seeing all the new fall produce at the market gets me all warm and fuzzy inside and reminds me that the holidays are coming our way. Today for lunch I roasted some mini pumpkins and stuffed them with a savoury bread pudding of sorts, and then topped them with some grated parm. Just thinking about it now suddenly puts me in Thanksgiving mode. I happen to love roasted pumpkin, whether it be for a sweet or a savoury application.

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No recipe here just because I only made 2 portions and it was such a small amount that I kind of winged it, but basically what I did was I mixed together 1 egg yolk with a scant half a cup of heavy cream, then I diced 1 slice of potato bread and tossed it in the custard with some fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, salt, pepper, and chopped walnuts. I cut the tops off of each mini pumpkin and scooped out all the seeds, then placed them on a lined sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil and gave a little sprinkle of salt and pepper (I roasted the tops of the pumpkins too, so don’t leave those out of the picture!!). I then filled each pumpkin with the bread pudding mixture, and baked them at 350F for 45 minutes. Once the pumpkins were fork tender, I topped each of them with a good amount of grated Parmesan cheese, and then let them bake for another 6 minutes until the cheese was nice and melted and just barely golden brown.

I’m definitely keeping this recipe in mind for when I can start throwing my own Thanksgiving dinners, especially as a great option for vegetarian friends. As always, thanks to all of my readers for keeping up with me even though I sometimes can barely keep up with this blog! Happy eating!

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Breakfast, Custard, Dinner, fruit, lunch, Recipes, Savoury

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart

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So I know that apples are more of an autumn thing, but Southern California has been ridiculously cold lately. I mean like, freezing. Usually in the morning I like to go for a jog at the beach, but with all the crazy winds and icy temperatures, I decided to just stay home and bake something to warm me up a bit.

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Almonds, gorgonzola, honey, and apples. It’s like an entire cheese platter mixed together to make an amazingly sweet and savory breakfast tart or tea time snack.

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For a quick and flavorful tart, I’d definitely say try it. The marzipan crust lends a crumbly, crunchy texture, while the gorgonzola custard filling adds a nice creamy touch.

Marzipan and Gorgonzola Apple Tart

Makes 1 (10″) tart

For Marzipan tart shell:

112 g unsalted butter, soft

120 g marzipan, soft

160 g All Purpose flour

60 g granulated sugar

3 g salt

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a bowl of a stand mixer, paddle together butter and marzipan until smooth. Add your flour, sugar, and salt, and paddle until combined and dough forms large crumbles. Press dough firmly into a greased tart pan, and parbake shell for 12-15 minutes, until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For filling:

90 g crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus more as needed

70 g heavy cream

50 g egg (1 large egg)

cracked black pepper, as needed

2 apples, cored and sliced thinly (I used Red Romes)

honey, as needed

Whisk together gorgonzola, heavy cream, egg, and black pepper, leaving some large pieces of gorgonzola in tact. Pour custard over cooled tart shell. Arrange apple slices along the inside of the tart, fanning them out as you go. Lightly drizzle honey over apples.  Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes until filling is set.

Pull out tart from oven and set your oven to broil. Sprinkle some more gorgonzola crumbles over the top of the apples, and broil 2-3 minutes, until cheese starts to brown and bubble. Let cool slightly before digging in!

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Dinner, fruit, lunch, Recipes

Pork Chops with Figs and Pomegranate Wine

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Today I wanted to surprise Robert with a nice lunch, so this morning I perused the market looking for some inspiration. Until today I’ve never had a fresh fig before, so when I saw them on sale I was immediately intrigued.

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Aaaand I’m hooked. I’ve never been a fan of dried figs (or any dried fruit, really) but fresh figs are so much more tender and juicy, without the chewy, gritty texture that dried figs can have. The market also had pomegranate wine on sale, so I took advantage of that as well. I added some caramelized shallots, garlic, and mushrooms too, and served it all on a bed of parmesan and chive polenta.

Pork Chops with Figs and Pomegranate Wine

Serves 2

2 boneless pork chops

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium shallots, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 each fresh figs, quartered

1 1/2 cup pomegranate wine

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper (I also used a bit of smoked paprika and dried thyme, rosemary would’ve been awesome too). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan, then add pork chops and cook 3 to 5 minutes, flip, and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until cooked through and well-caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add 1 more tablespoon of oil, then add sliced shallots. Saute shallots until they turn a deep amber color. Add mushrooms and garlic, sauteing until tender, then add figs. Season with salt and pepper, then deglaze pan with pomegranate wine. Let wine reduce for 3 or so minutes, then return pork chops to pan to reheat. Add salt and pepper as needed.

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Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Shrimp Rolls

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Yesterday I decided to surprise Robert with a nice lunch, so I made us some shrimp rolls with oven-baked herb fries and a creamy balsamic dipping sauce. Needless to say it was devoured in seconds!

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This was my take on the southern lobster roll, and just happened to be a lot more wallet-friendly! The shrimp were tender and sweet, and the paprika gave it a nice smokey flavor and some heat.

Shrimp Rolls

makes 2 large sandwiches

3/4 lb peeled, uncooked shrimp, cleaned

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper, to taste

lettuce/greens/etc.

2 large rolls/buns

In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and toss together raw shrimp, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil. Saute shrimp until fully cooked, then toss in mayonnaise mixture.

Slice open your buns and lightly toast. Line one side of buns with lettuce, then fill with your shrimp. Serve while shrimp is still warm, and enjoy!

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Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Guava and Chipotle BBQ Chicken and White Bean Salad

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Today I decided to surprise Robert with a nice little lunch to go with this amazing weather we’ve been having. One of the things my grandma likes to add to any of her barbeque is a fruit jam or jelly; I know it sounds odd but she makes some amazing BBQ, so my hat’s off to her!

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I also wanted to add a simple, fresh salad to go along with the chicken, so I opted for a white bean salad with a red wine vinaigrette. Robert and I are (or were supposed to be) competing against each other to lose weight before summertime, and so far he’s winning. Sigh! Guess i better get my credit card ready…

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Both these recipes are fairly simple, and you can add or subtract anything to your own tastes.

Guava and Chipotle BBQ Chicken

4 boneless chicken thighs (skinless, if that’s your thing)

1/2 cup guava jam

2 heaping Tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1 tsp dried ground chipotle

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your broiler or grill.

Whisk together your guava jam, teriyaki sauce, chipotle, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper until there are no more lumps. Keep one ounce of this mixture separate, then toss your chicken thighs in the rest. Let sit 5 minutes.

If using the broiler, cover a sheet pan with foil and (very lightly) grease it. Drain the excess marinade from the chicken and place flat on sheet pan, and broil 7 minutes on each side. Coat chicken with reserved marinade after turning, and when done, turn the chicken and coat again. Let rest at least 5 minutes before enjoying!

If using a grill, oil your grill and cook chicken 7 minutes on each side, basting with reserved marinade until fully cooked. Let chicken rest at least 5 minutes before eating.

Simple White Bean Salad

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, medium dice

1 oz shallots, sliced thinly

1 medium can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 oz fresh basil, chiffonade

2 oz red wine vinegar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 oz olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Make your vinaigrette: whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and spices, then stream in olive oil and whisk until completely emulsified. Toss in your mushrooms, bell pepper, tomato, shallot, white beans, and basil, toss until everything is coated in vinaigrette. Taste to check for proper seasoning, then chill until ready to eat.

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Breakfast, Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Japchae, Another Korean Post

Why another post about Korean food, you ask? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. And when I need my fix for Asian food, Korean is right on the top there (although not surpassing Dim Sum, because that stuff is like crack).

Today Robert and I made Japchae (or our version of it). Japchae is Korean glass noodles tossed with stir-fried vegetables and meat, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil.

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Preparing some of the ingredients

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After boiling the noodles and blanching the spinach. Once the noodles were cooked I found out we bought the wrong noodles! I bought rice noodles, although it should have been potato starch noodles. BUT, since we’re not the type to waste, we happily used what we had!

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Stir-frying the veggies. Traditionally Japchae is made by stir-frying each individual vegetable separately, one after the other, but a hungry tummy means finding a short cut!

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Tossing it all together. It got a little messy…

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The finished dish. We decided to top it off with some seasoned wakame (not really Korean, but delicious nonetheless).

Japchae

adapted from Maangchi

Makes 6 servings

1 (14oz) pkg. starch noodles

8 oz beef, sliced thin

1 bunch of spinach, washed & stems removed

1 medium carrot, julienned

1/4 yellow onion, sliced thin

1 cup mushrooms (I used oyster, but it’s your choice)

4 cloves garlic, minced

5 green onions, cut into 1″ pieces

4-6 Tablespoons soy sauce (depending on your taste)

4 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

Korean BBQ sauce (optional)

sesame oil

salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, let beef marinate with Korean BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.

In a large pot with boiling water, boil noodles as per instructions on package. Remove noodles from water when cooked and place into a large bowl. Use the same boiling water to quickly blanch your spinach, then drain spinach and add to noodles.

In a wok or large saute pan, heat up 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat and coat pan. Add marinated beef to pan and saute until cooked through, then drain the pan of liquid and add your beef to the bowl with the noodles.

Heat up pan again and heat up 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. When pan is hot, add carrots and onions, and saute until almost translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan, saute until soft. Add green onions to pan, saute until wilted, then add all vegetables to noodles.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, red chili flakes, and 3 tablespoons sesame oil. Pour sauce over noodles and toss everything to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with wakame seaweed, if desired.

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