Blackberry Pancakes With Bourbon Maple Syrup & Fresh Mango

You know what my favorite day of the week is? Saturday! It's the beginning of the weekend. I usually can sleep in and then have an entire day of lazying around or fun things planned with friends. Occasionally I even manage to do something productive.

Last Saturday I woke up at 10:30 after a late night of salsa dancing. I got out of bed, moved over into the living room and planted myself on the couch to check all my social media {I'm an addict}, and see what was on Food Channel.

That's when I saw Nikki's tweet about wanting pancakes. Although typically I'm not a huge fan of sweet things for breakfast or brunch, the power of suggestion took a hold of me. I wanted, no I needed, pancakes.

Alas, I did not have milk or buttermilk. Nor did I have a pancake mix. Google to the rescue! I found a recipe for pancakes that used water and decided to give it a try.

Blackberry Pancakes With Bourbon Maple Syrup & Fresh Mango

All you do is make your pancake batter. I used a bit of butter in a nonstick pan and the poured some of the batter in individual puddles. Once the batter began to bubble on the surface, I added 2-3 blackberries to each pancake, and then turned each pancake after a minute and let it cook for another few minutes.

To make these pancakes extra special, I drizzled them with warm bourbon maple syrup, sprinkled them with powdered sugar (using oxo's baker's dusting wand) and served cubes of fresh mango on the side. The awesome mug that held a large amount of coffee was a birthday present from my twin who thinks I swear too much :0 And of course I love flowers and plants, so one was nearby.

This was such a successfully delicious Saturday late breakfast. I had some of the batter leftover even though I made only 1/2 of the recipe. Make sure to check the blog next week to see what I did with that leftover batter.

Have a great weekend!


Meatless Monday: Whipped Lemon Ricotta & Avocado Toasts

Raise your hand if you love avocado toasts! Do you have yours raised? I surely do. I love smashing avocado on toast or crackers or buns and sprinkling a bit of salt on top. Sometimes I also add a bit of sriracha or lemon juice or even chopped pistachios.

Yesterday for a light lunch I took the idea of avocado toast and elevated it to something even better by using a base of whipped lemon ricotta!! You have got to make this for breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner. This Whipped Lemon Ricotta & Avocado Toasts idea is perfect for Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday: Whipped Lemon Ricotta & Avocado Toasts
ricotta, drained in a sieve for a few hours {use full fat ricotta!}
lemon zest
olive oil
WASA crackers or toast 
avocado, halved, pit removed, sliced
radishes, sliced
chili oil 

1. Put ricotta, lemon zest, a bit of olive oil and salt to taste in a food processor and whip it up until ricotta is incredibly smooth.
2. Spread ricotta mixture on WASA crackers and top with avocado and radish slices. Season with salt and drizzle with chili oil.
3. Serve these with a simple salad of watercress and radishes dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

I'm back to using my tripod and think the photos are so much more in focus: agree?

Happy Monday!


Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad: Grilled Potato Salad With Black Beans And Goat Cheese

I love potatoes! Mashed. Fried. In soups. Roasted. Simply boiled.

I love potatoes in salads with mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs or with cucumbers and tomatoes and olives and fresh herbs. But sometimes even I know that not every dish requires mayonnaise.

Last weekend I decided to make a lighter version of a potato salad with grilled potatoes. Because I don't have a grill, I used my Panini maker. If you don't have either one, you can sauté or roast or broil your potatoes.

This salad is great for warm days, eating outside, and can be made for one or for a crowd.

Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad: Grilled Potato Salad With Black Beans And Goat Cheese

Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, sliced into 1/4" rounds
olive oil
black beans (I cooked mine from scratch, but you can use canned ones)
crumbled goat cheese
fresh basil

for the dressing
1 part lemon juice
1 part olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
lemon zest

1. Drizzle potato rounds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and sumac. "Grill" in a Panini maker for 15-20 minutes. Make sure your potatoes are completely cooked through!!
2. Layer potatoes on a plate with black beans, goat cheese and basil.
3. Whisk all ingredients for the dressing and drizzle on the salad.

It's best to eat this salad as soon as the potatoes come out of the Panini maker because the dressing gets absorbed better and you get a great contrast between hot potatoes and creamy cold goat cheese.

Happy almost weekend!!


Watermelon Salad With Goat Cheese And Pistachios Inspired By Crate & Barrel Towel

It's Monday! Are you ready for something sweet, savory, spicy and utterly delicious!? Then you must make my Watermelon Salad With Goat Cheese And Pistachios. This salad started with an adorable watermelon towel I bought at Crate & Barrel {no, this is not a sponsored post: I simply love that store and have too many of their items in my condo!}.

Once I purchased the towel yesterday, my typical watermelon craving kicked into a higher gear! So, I went to the store and picked up a wedge of watermelon {a large watermelon is too heavy to carry home} and a few other random items: pistachios and cilantro.

Once home, I was going to eat watermelon as is, but then decided to make a salad. This is similar to the popular watermelon, feta and basil salad, but I used goat cheese and cilantro and added a few other fun ingredients.

Watermelon Salad With Goat Cheese And Pistachios Salad

Ingredients {decide on your own quantities!}
watermelon cubes
crumbled goat cheese
pistachios {I used these and they are incredibly addictive!}
olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients. Eat. {For the sake of photos, I made a composed salad by layering ingredients.}

The sweetness of the watermelon was a great contrast to the creamy slightly salty goat cheese, crunchy pistachios and the lemony notes of sumac. This would be incredible on a hot summer day!

By the way, did you notice my photos becoming blurry? I recently stopped using a tripod and it appears that it was a mistake ;(


What To Do With Extra Matza Crackers: Matza Brei Meets Fried Rice

Passover is over. Did you celebrate? My friend Cindy brought over a box of matza and a container of harosetz for me, so that was basically the extent of my celebration. That, and matzo ball soup.

For days I was thinking about what to make with leftover matza crackers. In the past I've made matza brei, and it was really good, but I did not want to make the same thing again. That's when a crazy idea came to me: what if I make fried rice, but use matza crackers instead of rice?

Crazy or brilliant!?

DISCLAIMER: this recipe is not Kosher

What To Do With Extra Matza Crackers: Matza Brei Meets Fried Rice
Ingredients for 1-2 portions

1 Chinese pork sausage, diced
olive oil as needed
2 matza crackers, broken into pieces
2 eggs, whisked with a bit of salt
1/3 cup defrosted peas
1/3 cup kimchi
soy sauce to taste
sriracha to taste
black sesame seeds to garnish

1. Heat a skillet. Saute Chinese sausage till it is cooked through. Remove from the skillet.
2. If needed, add a drizzle of oil to the skillet.
3. Add matza crackers to whisked eggs and then add to the skillet. Saute, breaking into pieces, until matza pieces are cooked through and crispy.
4. Add back the Chinese sausage, peas and kimchi and heat through.
5. Season with soy sauce and sriracha and serve topped with sesame seeds.

This was pretty awesome! If you have fresh herbs, add them in the end. This is definitely a messy dish, but who cares!? Life is messy.

Eat this dish immediately.


Meatless Monday: Pinch Of Yum's Soba Noodles In Black Pepper Sauce With Tofu & Vegetables

If you are following the Meatless Monday movement, I have your dinner tonight planned out for you. You can get the Soba Noodles in Pepper Sauce With Tofu and Vegetables done in about 30 minutes and have plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

My friend at work told me about the soba noodles she made from Pinch Of Yum, and I thought the recipe sounded flavorful and easy to make and printed it out a few weeks ago. I finally made the dish yesterday with a few changes. THIS is the original recipe. I'm not going to retype it because I followed it pretty closely. Instead, I'll tell you the changes I made and my thoughts on the final product.

Instead of using spinach, I sautéed sliced red pepper and pencil-thin asparagus to add to the dish once the soba noodles were cooked.

The sauce is made with ginger, garlic, honey, mirin, soy sauce, ground black peppercorns, and cornstarch. If I were to make it again, I'd add less honey and mirin. Also, my friend who made the recipe said she skipped the cornstarch and the result wasn't as sticky and gloopy as mine. This may be a good idea!

You basically sauté cubed firm tofu in a bit of sesame oil and then add a spoon full of the sauce. Then you sauté the barely cooked soba noodles in a bit more oil and add the rest of the sauce to cook the noodles until they are soft.

That's when you add back the tofu and the vegetables and garnish the whole dish with sesame seeds: I used black and white.

My thoughts: this dish definitely gets better after a night in the fridge. I ate the leftovers cold for lunch today and liked them better that way. If you are going to make it, I recommend mincing garlic and ginger and adding them to the sauce that way instead of adding all the sauce ingredients to a food processor.

Also, fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro would brighten up this dish as would fresh lime juice.

Have you cooked with soba noodles? How do you use them?

Also, I mistakenly bought a bottle of mirin because I did not realize I already had a bottle at home: what other dishes can I make that will use mirin?


Too Much Food, Not Enough Time! Best Bites: San Francisco Trip Highlights

Hi, all! It's almost the weekend! Do you have any fun plans? I am planning to maybe finally unpack from my birthday trip to San Francisco. Yes, it's been two weeks already...I'm a slacker. Above is a photo of me (on the left) and Anna.

If you haven't yet, make sure to read my recap of Muir Woods & Wine Country day trip and all the other things we did/saw while in San Francisco.

Today I'd like to mention some of my favorite bites from the trip. Let me just say that there wasn't enough time to eat everywhere we wanted.

Anna and I met at the airport at 1 pm, took BART to our hotel room, checked in, fixed our make up and headed out to the Ferry Building in search of food. Amazingly (for us!) we agreed on a place for our late lunch within a few minutes: Hog Island Oyster Company. It was the perfect start to our birthday getaway: sitting outside, eating fresh oysters, thinly sliced halibut and a big pot of mussels with fries!

We then strolled through the Ferry Building and shared two flavors of Humphrey Slocombe ice cream. Thanks for this recommendation Sangeetha and Naomi!

The next night we took MUNI to the Mission district to meet our friend Laura for dinner at Pizzeria Delfina. The place was packed and we had to wait outside in the cool evening, but it was worth it.

We started our dinner with a bottle of wine, roasted olives and a super creamy burrata with grilled bread. There were hardly any crumbs left on the plate.

Because the pizza we chose was vegetarian, I had a huge craving for meatballs when I saw them listed on the menu. And let me tell you: those were some huge and tasty meatballs ;)

The pizza was plenty big for the three of us and had a great amount of mushrooms and cheese. There was definitely no room for dessert.

Brunch on Saturday was an accident. A happy accident. Anna and I went back to Mission to check out one of the places on my list, but Anna deemed it more of a café and not a brunch place. She was right. Luckily, her friend Laura texted and suggested we go to Foreign Cinema. As luck had it, we were within a 10 minute walk and stood in line for another 10 minutes before the place opened for brunch.

It was GORGEOUS inside. High ceilings, exposed walls, tall flower arrangements. And they had the exact dish that I wanted and described to Anna while standing in line.

First, drinks! This was a spicy Bloody Mary with pickled vegetables. A healthy way to start the day, yes?

This was pretty much the dish I described waiting in line as my dreamy brunch entrée without even seeing the menu: poached eggs, slow-cooked pork, plantain chips and salsa. And watermelon radishes! We devoured this.

For dinner that night we met two friends: one was our classmate from Russia who I haven't seen in 23 (!!!!!) years. Another was my friend Sara with whom I've been friends for 6 years but this was the first time we met in person. We had a fabulous time at Kin Khao. Apologies for no food photos, but please get their beef cheek curry with potatoes and their incredibly spicy squid dish. Again, great recommendation from Sangeetha and Naomi.

with Sara

with Anna and Lena

Sunday was our birthday! We turned 27!!! {well, maybe that's a lie} We met up with our two friends: Laura and Laura for dim sum at Lai Hong Lounge. If you go, be ready for a wait of over an hour!!! Good thing Anna and I had an earlier breakfast or I would have fainted.

Waiting with my friend Laura whom I've known for 14 years!!!

No photos of the actual food because we were too busy eating. Although this place did not have the typical dim sum carts, the food was spot on. We had several orders of shu mai, shrimp and onion dumplings, pork buns, eggplant and broccolini. It was a feast!

After a walk, ice cream, and a boat cruise and before taking a night bus tour of San Francisco, I forced Anna to stop at In-N-Out. I don't think either one of us regretted that decision! Animal style, baby!

For a super late dinner (after drink at The View) we went to Bluestem Brasserie. The highlight was a chocolate dessert with ice cream and cherries. I had to stop myself from licking the bowl!

If you are planning on traveling to San Francisco any time soon, I highly recommend you check out these places!


Things To Do and See: San Francisco Trip Highlights

If you read my post from last week on Muir Woods & Wine Country, you know that I spent my birthday with my twin in San Francisco. No, it was not a press trip (I know some of you have wondered about this). We paid for our airfare, hotel and all the food. Luckily, however, we got a few awesome freebies from San Francisco Travel which enabled us to take Muni, Trolley Car, a night tour of the city and do a few more fun things free of charge!

Whenever I travel, I always gather information of where to go, what to eat, etc on twitter, various blogs and also visit the tourism board for that city. This can be sometimes overwhelming as there's so much information, but that's the only way to make sure you don't miss out on something fun.

Thank you San Francisco Travel for these gifts! I wish we had more time to take full advantage of them.

            San Francisco CityPASS ticket booklets (www.citypass.com)

·         7-Day, unlimited-use Cable Car and Muni transportation passport www.sfmuni.com
·         California Academy of Sciences www.calacademy.org
·         Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure www.blueandgoldfleet.com
·         Aquarium of the Bay www.aquariumofthebay.com OR Monterey Bay Aquarium                 www.montereybayaquarium.org
·         Exploratorium www.exploratorium.edu OR de Young Museum and Legion of Honor                 www.famsf.org/legion/index.asp 
Go San Francisco Cards (valued at $57.99): your admission ticket to more than 30 top Bay Area attractions. This pass is valid for one full day of sightseeing from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm. Visit as many attractions as you like during this time. For more information, check out www.SmartDestinations.com/sanfrancisco
City Sightseeing Press Passes (valued at $49.99), which offers four different open-top routes showcasing the city’s most popular attractions www.city-sightseeing.us
Below are the highlights of what Anna and I did:
Conservatory of Flowers: you know there was no way I was going to miss that! I was in an orchid bliss!

De Young Museum: time for a coffee break before all the art!


These are the views from the top of the museum: we got incredibly lucky with the weather.

On our actual birthday Anna and I took a boat ride on AdventureCat with my friend Laura. We had such a fun time! It's always great to see a city from a new perspective and to be on the water.

One of the highlights for me was taking a night tour of San Francisco. Of course at 6 pm it was still pretty light out, but I loved hearing the stories about San Francisco and seeing the city from the top of the double-decker bus! I also had to buy a sweatshirt because I was freezing!

On our last day, Anna and I took a quick ride on the trolley, just to check it off our list of things to do ;)

Stay tuned for one more post about all the food we ate!

Disclosure: I received free passes as described above but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.