Boozy Cherry Orange Cocktail: Memorial Day Weekend

Let the 3 day weekend begin! I have zero plans, so why not start day drinking?

Here's a quick boozy beverage that you can make in under a minute in a blender.

Boozy Cherry Orange Cocktail
Serves 1

Ingredients 2 cups ice 
1/2 cup 🍒 juice 
50 ml 🍊 vodka
1 orchid bloom

1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
2. Pour the cocktail into a pretty glass.
3. Garnish with an orchid bloom in matching or contrasting color.
4. Sip or use a straw.
5. Drink responsibly!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Hostess Gift: Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe

Need a hostess gift idea? Make my Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe!

This past weekend I took the train down to Williamsburg to visit my friend Evi and her husband and daughter. Being raised well (thanks parents!) I wasn't going to show up empty handed. Alas Evi wasn't very helpful in giving me ideas of what I could bring other than myself :/

That's when I had a brilliant idea of checking Evi's Pinterest boards to see if they'll give me ideas. And they did! I found a recipe Evi pinned for Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Bars and decided it'll be a fun treat to bring over.

My store was out of rhubarb unfortunately. Instead, I decided to use blueberries and then switch a few other ingredients and introduce fig balsamic vinegar, basil and black pepper to these bars to make this recipe my own. It was quite successful.

Strawberry & Blueberry Crisp Bars Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour, more if needed
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
optional: powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Line 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, butter and salt. If the texture feels too wet, add a bit more flour.
4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Dump the remaining mixture into the baking dish and press to form the bottom layer of the bars.
5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries and vinegar and let stand for about 15 minutes.
6. Strain the berries {you can use the vinegar to make a salad dressing} and mix them with cornstarch, basil and black pepper.
7. Add the berry mixture to the baking dish and top with the remaining half a cup of the crumble mixture.
8. Bake the bars for 35 minutes, allow to cool, then refrigerate before cutting. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

These were so easy to make. Think of all the different flavor combinations you can use! These are great for breakfast with coffee or as a mini dessert.

The flavors of fig balsamic vinegar, basil and black pepper did not overwhelm the fruit, but did leave a bit of lingering heat which I liked. These bars weren't too sweet and traveled well. You could eat them cold out of the refrigerator or reheat in the oven. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would not hurt.


Weekend Edition: Tulips And Chives

TGIF! Wishing you an awesome weekend! I'm taking a train south to Williamsburg to visit my friend Evi for the weekend! There'll be food, catching up, a bit of shopping and staying in HarmonAirBnB ;)

I leave you with a bit of flower arrangement I did with white tulips and blooming chives. Don't you love the combination?


Bon Appetit's Burmese Chickpea Tofu with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Sometime last week my friend Naomi tweeted a link to Bon Appetit's Burmese Chickpea Tofu with Spicy Dipping Sauce and told everyone to make it.

It took me a few minutes to understand why tofu wasn't on the list of ingredients. You make tofu!! In this case, you actually use chickpea flour to make tofu which is incredibly easy, flavorful, especially with the addition of turmeric, and the final result is basically chickpea fries.

This dish is vegan, if that's something you care about ;)

I followed the recipe from Bon Appetit to the t, and was very happy with the results. I added a side of broiled asparagus to make a full meal out of this. I'm sure I'll make it again.

What shall I do with the remaining chickpea flour?


Meatless Monday: Creamy Tomato & Fennel Soup With Cheesy Toasts

If your air conditioning is working, or if it's not too hot where you live, my Creamy Tomato & Fennel Soup With Cheesy Toasts would be perfect for a Meatless Monday dinner tonight. 

I love a creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese, but this time decided to switch things up a bit and add a few ingredients to the soup to elevate the flavors. I think you'll really like it.

Creamy Tomato & Fennel Soup With Cheesy Toasts
Serves 1-2 depends on how hungry you are

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, outer layer and core removed, sliced
1/4 white onion, sliced
14.5 oz can Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chile sauce {take a can of chiles in adobo and puree it to make the sauce}
salt & pepper to taste
a splash of half & half
optional: blooming chives
2 slices sourdough bread, toasted
1/3 cup shredded cheese {more or less as you wish}

1. Heat a soup pot and add olive oil. Saute fennel and onion for about 10 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, water, chile sauce, salt & pepper, and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
3. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a food processor carefully because it will be really hot. Add half & half and adjust the seasonings. Top with blooming chives.
4. Meanwhile, top toasted slices of bread with shredded cheese and melt the cheese under the broiler making sure not to burn it.

Isn't the color stunning? I ate most of the soup in one sitting and used leftovers the next day for breakfast in a shakshuka.


Meatless Monday: Vegan Red Lentils With Carrots & Tomatoes

Red lentils come to the rescue for those evenings you need a quick healthy meal and have barely any time or groceries!

Meatless Monday: Vegan Red Lentils With Carrots & Tomatoes 

This is more of a guide than a recipe. If you've read my blog for a while, you must be accustomed to this by now ;)

olive oil for sauteing 
2 carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1-2 teaspoons turmeric
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups red lentils
4 cups water
salt & pepper to taste
diced fresh tomato
sliced scallions

1. Heat a shallow pan and add olive oil. Add diced carrot and onion and saute for about 7 minutes.
2. Add garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric and curry powder and saute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn anything.
3. Add lentils and coat with the ingredients already in the pan.
4. Add water, bring to a boil, season with salt & pepper, lower the heat, and simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender and falling apart.
5. Adjust the seasonings as needed and serve topped with diced tomato and sliced scallions.

This is a great meal on its own or can be served on top of rice or with steamed vegetables or with a poached egg (although that will no longer count as vegan). The recipe keeps well for several days in the refrigerator.


Carrot Oat Muffins With Dates, Crystallized Ginger & Walnuts

Who wants a bite of my Carrot Oat Muffins with Dates, Crystallized Ginger & Walnuts? They are oil free, quick to make, and are chewy, sweet and have a bit of heat from the crystallized ginger. Pull up a chair and let me tell you how these came about.

Monday I saw a tweet from my friend Liren with a link to her Carrot Oat Muffins. The photos were gorgeous, and having made a few of Liren's recipes before, I knew these would be solid.

And then I went ahead and changed about a zillion things about her original recipe ;)

First, I'm not a fan of cinnamon or nutmeg, so I took those out. I used unsweetened apple sauce instead of canola oil. And then I added some of my favorite ingredients: dates (because god know I'm lacking in the real ones!), orange zest, crystallized ginger and walnuts. 

Ta da!

Carrot Oat Muffins with Dates, Crystallized Ginger & Walnuts
Inspired and adapted from KitchenConfidante
Makes 12

2.5 cups grated carrots
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (plus more for the optional topping)
zest of one orange
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
10 dates, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 muffin liners

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. In a large bowl combine the first ten ingredients.
3. In a smaller bowl whisk together the egg with apple sauce, two types of sugar and vanilla.
4. Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry and using a scoop divide equally among twelve lined compartments of a muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with extra oats.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.

These aren't the ginormous muffins you'll find in Costco, but they don't need to be because they have so much flavor and sweetness and texture! Don't chop dates or walnuts or crystallized ginger too small: you want to be able to know what you are eating. 

With the oats and the dates and the apple sauce, these are basically a health food ;)

Have one or two of these for breakfast or dessert or a snack. I bet they'll freeze well too!

Thanks Liren for the inspiration!

PS Loving my henna drawing I got at work ;)


Meatless Monday: Spiralized Zucchini With Asparagus, Soy Sauce Egg & Avocado

Are you looking for a quick meal that's satisfying and good for you? Then you need to make my Spiralized Zucchini With Asparagus, Soy Sauce Egg & Avocado.

You don't need a spiralizer for this recipe, although it makes for a fun kitchen tool. You can use a peeler to make ribbons of zucchini or simply dice it. This dish is perfect for a light Meatless Monday lunch or dinner and is a good way to use in season asparagus. Mine came from my weekly Washington's Green Grocer order. 

The soy sauce egg makes an appearance once again...because I'm addicted to it.

Spiralized Zucchini With Asparagus, Soy Sauce Egg & Avocado
Serves 1

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 zucchini, spiralized
3 asparagus spears, sliced on a diagonal
1 garlic clove, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
1 soy sauce egg
1/2 avocado (or just go ahead and use the whole one!)

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Quickly saute zucchini, asparagus and garlic, seasoning with salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. Don't cook the vegetables to death and don't burn the garlic.
2. Serve the vegetables in a bowl {I made this one in a pottery class!} with a halved egg and avocado slices seasoned with Kosher salt.

Have a twirl of a Monday ;)