I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centered around food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.

Marcus Samuelsson, Ethopian-born, Swedish-raised chef, restauranteur; head chef of Red Rooster (1971-present)

Image Credit: Bridges International
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I’ve always been known for bold flavors and rustic cooking, but there is another side to me.  As you evolve as a cook, you understand life and how serious it is.  There comes a point where there’s got to be a better balance.

Emeril John Lagasse III, simply known as Emeril Lagasse, American celebrity chef, restauranteur, television personality, cookbook author (1959-present)

+bread+

Before I started getting into the gym life grind, the first health “adult” decision that I made was dropping juice from my diet.  I noticed that I would feel indigestion after even a little bit of apple juice, and orange juice made my insides feel very acidic.  While there are various types of juice (cranberry, organic, etc.), I would always feel gross after drinking some juice.

 

Over a year ago, soda was added to that list of taboo food and drinks.  Personally, I never drank a lot of soda because I didn’t really like it.  Drinking Coke was a necessity in a sense that it was my last resort if my indigestion and the consequent indigestion-induced headache wouldn’t go away.  And honestly, it was easy to swap out the soda because bubbles in seltzer or sparkling water also get the job done.

During this past summer, because I was responsible for cooking a lot of my family’s meals, I began to be more conscious of food prices.  Grocery shopping made me aware of why that “cheap” meal at Wendy’s wasn’t that affordable.  $20 of groceries, if spent and used properly, can feed you for a few meals.  On the other hand, $20 of junk food only lasts one meal, two if you’re being real economical 😬.  And I get it, cooking take time and labor, things that are hard to sacrifice when you’re busy.  For me, one of the most important things is eating tasty foods, so I’m willing to sacrifice my personal and/or sleep just to make my taste buds happy and get the dopamine running.

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I ♥️ B R E A D

I would say that I’ve generally been pretty successful about living healthy, but recently, one this has really been irking me – bagels.  I’ve been craving a good bagel for a while now, good as in a NYC bagel because we all know that the bagels from home actually taste right.  Honestly, the only reason why I’ve staved off on eating bread is because of the promise that I’ll be home in a week.  Once that week is upon us, you’ll probably find me eating my way through the bakeries and bagel shops near me.

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I’m not a huge carbs person, and I’ve been on a low carb diet for a few years now.  I know that things should be eaten in a balance, but I feel like I get my carb filling through potatoes and Korean rice.  I love making home fries with a ton of garlic and onions, sprinkled with parsley, and when you eat Korean food, you need a bowl of steaming white rice to complete the meal.

People say that carbs (i.e. pasta) are a girl’s best friend, but I completely disagree.  I do eat pasta, but unlike most people, I like to load up on my vegetables.  Call me weird, but the bitter taste of vegetables has gotten quite sweet to me.  Salads are best enjoyed without dressing, especially when you have chicken breast cooked with a lot of garlic (garlic emoji).

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Honestly, I’m not quite sure where this post is going, but does anyone have some helpful tips on how to deal with carb withdrawal?  I feel like I’m struggling to make it to the end of next week to purge my soul with bagels.

IMAGE CREDIT: Diabetes UK

+drain+

Korean 101

Here are some helpful translations below.  As mentioned in a previous post, some words won’t have a perfect English translation.

  • 홍두깨살 – eye of round, part of the cow’s round
  • 아롱사태 – center heel, part of the cow’s shank
  • 생강 – ginger
  • 진간장 – Jin-ganjang, soy sauce
  • 청주 – Cheongju, traditional Korean rice wine
  • 미린 – Mirin, Japanese rice cooking wine
  • 미작 – Mijak, Korean cooking wine
  • 건고추 – red dried chili pepper
  • 청양고추 – Cheongyang chili pepper

♓️

Today I’ll be sharing my 장조림 recipe, pronounced jang-jorim, a Korean soy sauce braised beef dish.  I know that sharing this dish kind of goes against my whole health crusade, but Korean food is my comfort food, and we all need a little comfort food once in a while.

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Ingredients: 4~5 servings

  • 500 g (~17.637 ounces) of beef, eye of round or center heel cut
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 onion, ½ for boiling, ½ cut into large pieces
  • ½ of a large green onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 15 grams (~.529 ounces) of ginger, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorn
  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup of cheongji, mirin, or mijak (whatever you have; either works!)
  • 2 red dried chili peppers, or 1 Cheongyang chili pepper (I used 2 long green hot peppers), sliced

♓️

Steps

  1. Cut up the beef into squares and soak in cold water for two hours. According to an old tradition, soaking the beef makes it softer, as the blood’s forced out of the meat.  Who knows if this is scientifically accurate, but hey, who am I to question tradition.
  2. In a large pot, add the uncut onion half, scallion, garlic, ginger, and black peppercorn in boiling water for 10 minutes. During that time, take the beef out of the cold water.
  3. Add the beef to the broth and cook that on high heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, let it cook to completion for an hour, with the lid on.
  4. Take out the beef after the hour’s up. Here, there are two options: to cool it completely, or to continue and cut.  With the latter, continuing without cooling will make it chewy, so if you don’t like that texture, I would advise you to cool it completely.  Personally, I like the chewy texture, so I just continued and cut the beef into long and thin strips.
  5. Heat the soy sauce, sugar, and cooking wine (and water) in a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer. While it’s simmering, add in the chopped onions and green pepper for two minutes before adding in the beef.
  6. Cook the beef for 3-4 minutes on medium heat before serving. Enjoy!

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Notes

  • In Step 3, this should be self-explanatory, but you should be checking the beef periodically. As it’s cooking, you’ll notice these weird opaque pieces come up to the surface of the water.  You should remove these pieces because they will somehow make the dish taste funky as it sticks to the side of the beef.
  • In Step 5, it is imperative that you dilute the marinate. Jin-ganjang is highly concentrated, so a little bit will go a long way.  It may seem like diluting the marinate will ruin the recipe, but that isn’t the case.  Considering the beef to soy sauce ratio, just having the extra liquid will help the soy sauce cover everything.  And since it’s water, it’ll evaporate, and you’ll be left with a great dish.

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If you have any questions regarding the broth, or anything else, please leave a question down below!  I’m also sorry that I don’t have pictures to show because when reviewing my pictures, I saw that they were all foggy pictures due to the steam 😭.

IMAGE CREDIT: Diagram Site

+beans+

 

Korean 101

Before I get into today’s recipe, I just wanted to have some helpful translations for anyone who wants to try out this recipe.  As this is a Korean dish, not every term will have an English counterpart.  Some words will just have romanced versions of the Korean word, but there are some rough translations that describe what each item is.

  • 뚝배기 – ttukbaegi, an earthenware bowl coated in a brown colored glaze
  • 멸치 – dried anchovies, Japanese variety
  • 다시마 – dashima, kombu, a type of seaweed used for flavoring
  • 된장 – doenjang paste, fermented soybean paste
  • 고추장 – gochujang paste, red chili paste
  • 고춧가루 – gochugaru, red chili powder
  • 진간장 – Jin-ganjang, soy sauce
  • 애호박 – Korean baby zucchini
  • 청양고추 – Cheongyang chili pepper

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So today, I’ll be making 된장찌개, pronounced doenjang-jjigae, which is a Korean fermented soybean paste stew.  Like kimchi, and many other Korean fermented foods, doenjang has numerous health benefits, like anti-aging nutrients, keeping your organs healthy, potentially lower blood pressure, etc.  Doenjang-jjigae is also packed with various vitamins and minerals, like iron, potassium, calcium, Vitamin C, and many more, thanks to the nutrients found in anchovies, tofu, and other vegetables.

Disclaimer: In this recipe, I will be using clams, though there are many recipes that use red meat.  This is more of a personal preference, as I like the cleaner flavor clams have in comparison to meat.  Not to mention, seafood is healthier than red meat!

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Ingredients: 3 servings

  • Broth
    • 2 ¼ cups of water
    • handful of dried anchovies (gutted if you dislike a slightly bitter taste)
    • palm sized piece of kombu, cut into strips
    • 3 tablespoons of doenjang paste**
    • ½ tablespoon of gochujang paste
    • 1 teaspoon of gochugaru flakes
    • a splash of soy sauce
  • Stew
    • ½ cup of Korean zucchini, though green zucchinis also work, cut into centimeter cubes
    • 2 ½ cups of shellfish, specifically clams
    • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
    • garlic powder
    • ½ pack of firm tofu, cut into centimeter cubes
    • ½ cup of a sweet onion, cut into centimeter pieces
    • ½ cup of potato, cut into centimeter cubes
    • 1 long hot green pepper, or a Cheongyang chili pepper, cut diagonally
    • 1 scallion, sliced
** Note: For extra flavor, I recommend using two different types of paste with a 2:1 ratio.

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Steps

  1. Inside the ttukbaegi, cook the anchovies and the kombu in the boiling water for ten minutes, on high heat. This is to get the base ready – the tastier the broth, the better the overall stew will be.
  2. Add in the doenjang in the boiling broth, along with the zucchini, clams, and garlic. To make the stew taste cleaner and more garlicky, sprinkle in the garlic powder.
  3. Stirring, add in the tofu, onion, and potato into the stew. Make sure that the doenjang is completely dissolved into the broth.
  4. Add in the gochujang, chili flakes, soy sauce, and green pepper into the stew. Stir to dissolve the gochujang, then let it simmer on low heat for a minute.
  5. Turn off the fire and sprinkle in the scallions on top. Enjoy!

♓️

Notes

  • Unlike other recipes for this dish, I prefer to use a long hot green pepper, a trick that my mom taught me. The reason for this is because unlike the preferred Cheongyang chili pepper, the green pepper has a thick skin and will not break apart when cooked.  Also, it’s just as flavorful, so it’s a great alternative!
  • In Step 2, I know this is self-explanatory, but for people who doesn’t wash their seafood, especially their shellfish: the clams must be washed thoroughly, or else you will be eating sand.
  • In Step 4, there were a lot of “spicy” ingredients added to the stew, so if you’re uncomfortable with spice, there are three ways to deal with this:
    • Skip this step entirely – it won’t be spicy, but it won’t be lacking either
    • Add these at the very end with the scallions, after the stove’s turned off
    • Add either the gochujang or the green pepper.
Note: I didn’t mention the chili flakes because they don’t make the dish as spicy as the other two – it’s more of a garnish to add some color to the dish.

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Pictures

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+farfalle+

I love cheese.  I find joy not only in eating it, but by seeing cheese melt.  It’s one of the greatest examples of food porn because I know I’m not the only one who salivates when they see gooey cheese.

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Since I’m not Italian (surprise!), I have had to learn how to make alfredo through online recipes and trial and error.  However, each recipe always seems to be lacking whenever I eat it – some are just greasy, while others are just boring to eat.  The alfredo recipe below is something that I’ve come up with, based off what I want to taste and eat in an alfredo dish.

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Ingredients: 3 servings, though it may serve 2 hungry individuals

  • 2~3 servings of farfalle pasta, aka “bowties”
  • 6 tablespoons of salted butter (little over 1/3 cup)
  • ¾ cups of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of grated Italian cheese blend – you can use just Parmesan if you don’t have)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • garlic powder
  • garlic & parsley
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • sliced tomatoes (e.g. cherry, Roma – a type of plum tomato)
  • OPTIONAL PROTEIN:
    • cooking oil (e.g. vegetable, sunflower, etc. but not olive)
    • 3 strips of chicken tenderloins (2 pieces of chicken breast)

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Steps

  1. In a pot, cook the farfalle according to the instructions on the back of the box. The pasta should be cooked on high heat for only 10 minutes, as it will cook to completion in the sauce.
  2. Melt the butter with the heavy cream in a large saucepan on low heat. Once the mixture moves around consistently, mix in the seasonings – minced garlic, garlic powder, garlic & parsley, Italian seasoning, and pepper.  Because we’re using salted butter, there really isn’t a need to add in extra salt.
  3. Gently stir in the grated cheese into the saucepan, raising the temperature to medium heat. Make sure to stir the alfredo sauce consistently because as it is thickening, you want to make sure that nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan and that there aren’t any chunks of cheese either.
  4. Fold the pasta into the sauce on low heat, adding is some fresh parsley leaves as well, for about a minute.
  5. Plate the pasta, sprinkling a little more parsley to the top, and add tomatoes for color. Enjoy!
  6. OPTIONAL PROTEIN: While the pasta’s cooking, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. If you wish to save time, you can cut the chicken into smaller, bite-sized pieces.  Oil a pan and cook the garlic for a minute, before adding in the chicken.  Cook to completion, flipping as needed.  Add on top of the pasta, with the parsley and tomatoes.

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I’ve noticed that people generally don’t add tomatoes in their recipes.  However, I feel like it’s important to have tomatoes in this dish, so that you don’t feel overpowered by the cheese, butter, and heavy cream combination.

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikipedia

+for two+

People who love to eat are always the best people.

Julia Child, American chef, author, television personality (1912-2004)

At this point, I would call myself a creative genius whenever it comes to making pasta dishes from the things I have in my kitchen.  I believe that you can always make a great dish using what you have in your pantry and fridge, so you can not only save money, but use the perishables before they expire.  I just thought I’d share it with you, though this time, it’s a dish catered for two!

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Ingredients

  • 2~3 servings of farfalle pasta, depending on how hungry you and your guest are
  • 1 hamburger patty, or 1/8 of a pack of ground beef (85% lean, 15% fat)
  • ½ cup of diced onions, white or red
  • 2 diced tomatoes, with seeds and skin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • cooking oil (e.g. vegetable, sunflower, etc. but not olive)
  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried basil leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic & parsley salt
  • Parmesan cheese, or 3 Italian cheese blend, depending on your preference

♓️

Steps

Cook the farfalle in a pot according to the instructions on the back of the box.  This should take about 11 minutes, though it can be cooked for longer if you like soft pasta.

While the pasta’s cooking, heat and oil a pan, and cook the ground beef, with the pan covered on medium high heat, until it’s ¾ of the way done.  If you have a patty, then break it apart into more manageable pieces; if not, just cook it all the way through.  Regardless, sprinkle a generous amount of garlic powder onto the beef and mix.

Once cooked, add in the garlic, tomatoes, and onions into a pan and mix.  Bring it to a simmer, to decrease the liquidity of the sauce.

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Mix the pasta in with the sauce, adding the various seasonings (i.e. Italian, basil leaves, garlic powder), as you see fit.  If it’s still lacking, throw in a little garlic & parsley sauce, though this isn’t necessary.

img_3634.jpgPlate and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Enjoy!

Food Porn Gallery

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xoxo,

the girl who makes her own ~edible~ pasta sauce

+Brussels sprouts+

Brussels sprouts are misunderstood – probably because most people don’t know how to cook them properly.

Todd English, American celebrity chef, restaurateur, author, television personality (1960-present)

In part 2 of the pasta series, I made another pasta dish.  It’s like my other pasta dish, though with the introduction of Brussels sprouts, one of my many vegetable addictions.  I feel like Brussel sprouts get a bad rep, but they’re quite delicious and anyone who doesn’t love them is missing out on life.

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Ingredients

  • 1~2 servings of farfalle pasta
  • 1 whole sweet basil Italian sausage
  • ¼ cup of diced onions, white or red
  • 2 diced tomatoes, with seeds and skin
  • 6 quartered Brussels sprouts (cut into four equal parts longitudinally, from the top)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • cooking oil (e.g. vegetable, sunflower, etc. but not olive)
  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried basil leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic & parsley salt
  • Parmesan cheese, or 3 Italian cheese blend, depending on your preference
  • RECOMMENDED: extra virgin olive oil

♓️

Steps

  1. Cook the farfalle in a pot according to the instructions on the back of the box. This should take about 11 minutes, though it can be cooked for a little longer if you like soft pasta.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in another pot, fill with water halfway and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cook the Brussels sprouts for about 3 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan and cook the sausage, with the pan covered, until it is fully cooked. Once cooked, remove the sausage into plate and add the garlic, tomatoes, onions, and Brussels sprouts to the pan, lowering the temperature to medium heat.  Add cooking oil as needed.
  4. Cut the sausage into smaller pieces and add it, along with the pasta into the pan, adding the various seasonings (i.e. Italian, basil leaves, garlic powder), as you see fit. If it’s lacking, throw in a little garlic & parsley salt, though this isn’t necessary.
  5. Fold in the cheese, lowering the temperature to low heat, for 2 minutes.
  6. RECOMMENDED: Plate it and drizzle a little extra olive virgin on the top. Enjoy!

♓️

The Final Product

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xoxo,

the girl who is addicted to the taste of vegetables

+shrimp+

There has never been a shrimp that I’ve eaten that I haven’t been like, “I’m so lucky that I get to eat this.”  I would eat a shrimp enchilada, shrimp burrito, shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, shrimp po boy, shrimp gumbo.

Isabel Gillies, American author, former actress (1970-present)

As a foodie, I’m always grateful for my friends.  While I don’t have a boyfriend 😭, I do have amazing friends who embark on food adventures with me, and introduce me to their favorite haunts.  There are times when the eatery sucks, but being in the company of your friends make everything (almost) alright.

Extra people may agree with me on this, but birthdays can never be celebrated on just one day.  You need at least a month to celebrate it, especially if it’s your 21st.  As such my friend treated me out to Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant, just 15 minutes away from campus.  Being from NYC, I had no clue what to expect because we don’t have a Bahama Breeze – well, there’s one in Long Island, but who has the time to drive all the way out there?

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Food Porn Gallery

IMG_2787The appetizer: Smothered Pork Goodness – “a hearty pile of pulled pork, chorizo, and cheese stuffed yuca topped with caramelized onions, guava BBQ sauce and more cheese.”
IMG_2789Look how perfect everything looks.
IMG_2791Another close up – I literally cannot get enough of this dish.
IMG_2792My friend’s entrée: Coconut Shrimp Tacos – “flour tortillas filled with crispy coconut shrimp, tomato salsa, Sriracha aioli and cabbage-jicama slaw.”
IMG_2797A close up – thank god my friend shared one with me because that was just delicious.
IMG_2795My entrée: Key West Shrimp & Grits – “tender shrimp sautéed with bacon and mushrooms, served with lemon butter sauce and fresh green beans over cheesy grits.”
IMG_2796A close up – I don’t think I’ve ever had grits that tasted this good in my life.

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I know it may seem weird that for a 21st birthday, it sure is lacking in drinks.  My friend did suggest that I should grab a margarita at least, even though she couldn’t partake in that part of the festivities with me, as she wasn’t 21 yet.  If that isn’t a testament to a true friend, I don’t know what is.

It felt wrong to accept, so I didn’t take up on her offer.  To accept is like to ask a starving child if they’re hungry, and then eating in front of them, without offering any of it to them.  We did promise each other to get drinks during our first weekend back at school in the fall, once she was safely in the ~adult~ zone.

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Ending Comments

Honestly, I’m kind of sad that there isn’t a Bahama Breeze in NYC because the food was great.  There are probably great Caribbean restaurants here as well, but I don’t know of any.  If you do, please leave a comment, so I can check it out!  And, don’t forget to support your local eateries!!

xoxo,

the girl who loves celebrating her birthday

IMAGE CREDIT: Philly.com

+craft+

They who drink beer will think beer.

Washington Irving, American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, diplomat (1783-1859)

To me, the taste of beer is akin to old seltzer water gone bad.  To my surprise, I recently found out that craft beer is best enjoyed with fried chicken.  I finally understood why people are such craft beer snobs – it’s different (?) from your regular cheap beer.  However, I wouldn’t say that it’s as pleasant as filet mignon and Merlot, but hey, to each his own.

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I tried craft beer for the first time at Mad for Chicken, a fried chicken place, that I’ve loved going to since I was in high school.  They take a while to bring out the chicken, but it’s worth it because everything’s freshly made and piping hot for your enjoyment.   Usually when my friends and I don’t have anywhere special in mind, we usually just eat out there because it’s so worth repeating.

♓️

I can’t remember the name of the beer, but I think it was pale ale?  Regardless, the main attraction was that curry flaked popcorn.
Kimchi fried rice, apparently always a good choice with beer too.
The main attraction – fried chicken with red onion and green onions.
Look how great that looks.

♓️

xoxo,

the girl who discovered curry sprinkled popcorn