Sesame Soba Noodles

Well somehow it’s been three months since I last posted… But it’s now halfway through spring quarter and I have three midterms this week, so this is as good a time as any, right?

In any case, the sun does indeed exist in Seattle! Who knew? But it’s poked it’s head out pretty consistently for the past week (minus a couple thunderstorms here and there) and I think that spring has finally sprung. I went on a hike a couple weeks ago with some classmates after our Friday afternoon class and the mountain was out! It was a beautiful day in Issaquah, and here’s the view we got on the way up the Chirico Trail to Poo Poo Point. Ā DSCN7762.jpg

My backyard is also blooming! Our tulips opened up to welcome the sun šŸ™‚

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But now to more important things: the food. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I feel less of a need to make soups and hearty, warm comfort food. So I tried these sesame noodles, and made up a sauce and added whatever vegetables looked good and were on sale. So this is what I came up with! I personally like my vegetables a little bit cooked so they’re tender, but you could also just slice them thin and leave them raw. It’s a versatile recipe, so feel free to adjust the sauce to your taste, and use whatever veggies you desire! ThisĀ tastes great when served chilled, so it’s a great one to make as the weather warms up, and it would be a great addition to an outdoor barbecue or potluck. Also, I just noticed that this recipe happens to be vegan, so it’s great for people with dietary restrictions šŸ™‚

Sesame Soba Noodles

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

Ā¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

14oz soba noodles

2 tsp olive oil

6-8 green onions, sliced

1 cup carrots, sliced into matchsticks

1 bell pepper, sliced

2 cups shelled edamame

1 large cucumber, sliced into matchsticks

Sesame seeds

Directions

In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Add in the minced garlic and minced ginger. Allow to refrigerate overnight if you have time, but this is not necessary.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain and run cold water over the noodles, toss with half of the sesame sauce, then set aside to cool, or put in the fridge to chill.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and cook a minute or two, then add the carrots. Cover and allow the carrots to soften for a couple minutes. Add the bell pepper and edamame, then add the remainder of the sesame sauce to the vegetables. Cook until vegetables are your desired tenderness.

Toss together the noodle, cooked vegetables, and cucumber. Serve warm or chilled, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Chao Mian (Chow Mein) and Gai Lan

I’ve been craving a lot of Chinese food recently. I think it’s because I miss home and my mom’s delicious home-cooking. However, Chinese New Year just happened, so I took advantage of some of the sales at the Asian market and picked up some ingredients for some of my favorite comfort foods. Then I got a coupon for a discount off my next purchase so obviously I had to go back… Anyway, this is one of the meals I cooked for myself recently, and it’s been the perfect comfort food for the dreary and drizzly week we’ve been having here in Seattle.

I decided to make chao mian, then add a side of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) to have a little more green on my plate.Ā I’ve never made gai lan, but it turns out, it’s super easy and fast! You just boil some water, drop the gai lan in, cook for a few minutes, and then remove it and you’re done! Drizzle a little oyster sauce on top and it’s just like off a dim sum cart.

As for the chao mian, I prefer the thicker noodles, so that’s what I used, but you can use whatever kind of stir fry noodles you’d like. You can also change up the vegetables to be whatever you’d like, this is just the combination I had on hand. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for the sauce, this is just the blend of flavors I always use and like, and it’s a combination of the Chinese sauces we keep in the fridge at home. I also don’t really use exact measurements, I just add sauces, mix it up, and taste it until I like what I taste.

So here’s my version of Chinese comfort food!

Chao Mian

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

Ā½ block of high protein tofu, sliced into thin rectangles

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, sliced

8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or about Ā¾ cup baby carrots, sliced thin

2 tsp canola oil

32 oz package noodles (I used miki noodles, a thick Shanghai stir fry noodle)

Ā½ head of napa cabbage, sliced

Sauce (approximate measurements, I just pour sauces in and mix until the flavor is good)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 slices of ginger

1 tbsp marsala wine/cooking sherry

Directions

Mix up the sauce ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup. Slice the tofu and add to the sauce to allow it to marinate.

Chop the garlic, green onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Heat a deep skillet or wok over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Cook the garlic and green onions until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook until slightly tender the mushrooms start to release their juices. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high. Heat the canola oil. Add the tofu to the skillet in the canola oil and allow to brown, stirring every couple minutes. Reserve the marinating sauce to add later.

Once the tofu is browned to your liking, add the noodles and the remaining sauce. Cover and allow to steam-cook for a few minutes to warm and soften the noodles. While you are waiting for the noodles to cook, chop the napa cabbage crosswise. Add the cabbage to the skillet and stir to incorporate the sauce. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and cook until the cabbage is as soft as you prefer. Stir the noodles to distribute the toppings, and serve warm. Enjoy!

Gai Lan

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 bunches gai lan

Oyster sauce

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the gai lan and blanch for 2-3 minutes, longer if you want it softer. Remove from the water and drain.

In a small saucepan, thin the oyster sauce with a little water and cook over medium heat for a minute or so. Drizzle over the gai lan. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Molasses Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Well, I’m 23 years old and just experienced my first snow day. Yes I’m from California, and cannot wait to go back, but my grad school experience up here in Seattle is definitely giving me a taste of what winter would be like if I lived in a place with seasons. I woke up this morning to a few inches of snow blanketing the ground, and everything looked pristine and sparkling white. It was quite beautiful. I walked down the street to a park and saw lots of families sledding and building snowmen and enjoying their day off of school/work. Here’s a little taste of the winter wonderland that is Seattle right now!

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Anyway, onto the cookies! I actually made these last year, when there were sales on pumpkin-related items after Thanksgiving, but haven’t gotten around to posting it till now. I got pumpkin chips for half off at QFC in the clearance section, and was inspired to make cookies! So I looked up some cookie recipes, and found this one at My Baking Addiction, increased the spices and added the chips, and these cookies were born! Sorry for the blurry pictures, I took them in low light and didn’t really look at them before the cookies were demolished, but the cookies were wonderful! The pumpkin and molasses keep this cookies soft and chewy, and the pumpkin chips at little bursts of melty pumpkin spice sweetness. Perfect for a snowy day like today, but alas, I used up the chips long ago. Perhaps I’ll just have to make something else. But in any case, here’s the recipe!

Pumpkin Molasses Pumpkin Chip Cookies

adapted from My Baking Addiction

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin spice chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ĖšF.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then beat in the molasses, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined.

Use a small cookie scoop, or scoop about 1 tbsp balls of cookie dough onto the baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking sheets. Enjoy!

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The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a couple months since my last post, but as one of my classmates put it, “grad school has no chill.” I just got back to a freezing cold Seattle after two weeks of basking in warm, sunny California weather. During my winter break, I had some fun baking projects with my sister, one of which was making two birthday cakes for one of my mom’s friends. We made a chocolate layer cake and a gingerbread bundt cake, and both were amazing! This is the first chocolate cake I’ve ever made that I actually thoroughly enjoyed. It was wonderfully moist, rich, and brimming with chocolate. I used the cake recipe from The Stay at Home ChefĀ , but I made a few adjustments, including reducing the sugar and replacing the warm water with hot coffee, since I’ve been told time and time again thatĀ coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate. Despite the large amount of coffee, you can’t taste it, so if you’re not a coffee person (like me), don’t worry!

We also ran into the problem of not having enough 9 inch cake pans. Instead, we used 2 9-inch springform pans and one 9 inch tart pan. The tart pan was shallower and had a wavy edge, but I just made sure to grease and flour it, and the cake slid right out! I was worried about the wavy edges, but we just covered it with frosting šŸ™‚ I tried to divide the batter equally between the three pans, but one of my springform pan layers turned out taller, so we just cut the top off. This also meant we got to taste-test, which made us even more excited for the final product. Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to get creative with your pans, as long as they have the same diameter!

For the frosting, I used a chocolate ganache recipe, waited for it to chill, then whipped it into oblivion, which yielded a wonderfully thick, chocolate-y ganache frosting. You can use whatever frosting you’d like, but this was just the one I chose. My sister whipped up some white buttercream icing for decoration, but you can decorate however you please! This cake was a huge hit at our family friend’s gathering, and I was incredibly pleased with how this cake turned out. Here’s the recipeĀ for the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made!

The Best Chocolate Cake

adapted from The Stay At Home ChefĀ and Food Network

Ingredients

Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch-processed)

1 tbsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups hot freshly brewed coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

16 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips (we used 4 oz chopped semisweet chocolate and 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips)

Directions

Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350ĖšF. Grease and flour 3 9-inch round pans.

In a medium bowl, siftĀ together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt, using a fork or whisk. Make sure to break up any large clumps of cocoa powder.

In the bowl of stand mixer or by hand in a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, coffee, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before inverting. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Ganache frosting:

This can be done in advance, since it takes a while for the ganache to cool.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the heavy cream on high for 3-4 minutes, until bubbles start to form at the edges, but the cream is not boiling. Add the chocolate and stir continuously as the chocolate melts, until it become smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature (we left it for 2 hours), then whip with a stand mixer until it reaches a spreadable consistency. If it’s still dripping off the beaters, whip it some more until it doesn’t, since you don’t want your frosting running off the cake.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread the ganache frosting over the top, then add the second layer. Spread another layer of ganache frosting over the top of the second layer, then add the third layer. Spread the remainder of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake, then smooth it over. Decorate as you desire. Enjoy!

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Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m taking a study break, and I wanted to share a recipe for a soup I made earlier this week that turned out better than I expected. I was making some pumpkin cookies, and I was going to have some pumpkin puree left over, so I started thinking of way to use it, and settled on making some soup. I added the lentils to give it some protein and make it hearty enough for a full meal, and roasted a bunch of vegetables to add to the pumpkin. This is a recipe where an immersion blender comes in extremely handy, since once I had all the ingredients in my pot, rather than blending it in shifts, I was able to just whir my immersion blender through it all and it became wonderfully smooth. It’s a great recipe for a chilly fall evening, and I’ve been having it with some toasted baguette on the side for the last few days. Here’s the recipe!

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil (approximately)

1 acorn squash

1 sweet onion

4-6 oz carrots (I used baby carrots I had in the fridge)

1 1/2 cups split red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

2-3 cups water (more or less depending your desired consistency)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (this is what I had left in the can, you could do more or less, or omit if you don’t have it on hand)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425ĖšF and line a couple baking sheets with foil.Ā Cut the acorn squash in half, drizzle with olive oil, and place cut side down on one of theĀ baking sheets. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.

Chop the onion and carrots, toss with olive oil, and spread out on the other baking sheet sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until fork-tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the lentils, vegetable broth, and 2 cups of the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the lentils to cook until soft, then add the pumpkin puree.

Once the vegetables are roasted, add them to the pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add more water if you want a thinner consistency. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette and enjoy!

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Molasses Ginger Cookies and a Swim Workout

Hello! I just saw that my last post was several months ago so… I’m alive! I have also relocated to Seattle, to start physical therapy school at the University of Washington! We had our first three days of school this week, and, as it turns out, grad school is not a joke.Ā These cookies were the result of some Friday night stress baking after getting a little bit overwhelmed by all the work we have for all of our classes already. It seems a little surreal to me that I’m actually starting PT school, after working towards it for so many years, but I’m sure the workload will soon bring me back into reality.Ā One of my favorite things about being in Seattle is the views of Mount Rainier that pop up everywhere! Here’s just one of the views we have fromĀ campus (on a clear day).

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Anyway, onto more important things: cookies! It’s officially falltime, the leaves are starting to change color (I’m living in a place that actually has some weather now!), and, the clearest indicator, Trader Joe’s has started to carry pumpkin products! My plan is to do a review of all the TJ’s pumpkin products that I’ve tried, so hopefully that will come soonish.

Last night, I wanted to make some cookies, and I had just bought some molasses, but I realized I had no eggs. Whammy. Well, as it turns out molasses is a pretty great substitute for eggs, and gives the cookies structure and chewiness! I found this recipeĀ from Spice Up The Curry, and doubled it, upping the spices a little bit, as is my habit. The results were an amazingly chewy, spicy cookie with a crackly sugar crusted top. Delicious! Here’s the recipe I used:

Molasses Ginger Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus a little more for rolling

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp water

Directions:

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Cream together the butter and sugar until a smooth paste forms. Add the molasses, vanilla, and water, and beat until well-combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together until a thick, slightly crumbly dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 min to help the dough hold together.

When ready to start rolling the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ĖšF and pour a little granulated sugar into a shallow dish.

Scoop out about 2 tsp of dough, roll into a ball (you may have to smush it a little with your hands to help it stay together), then flatten and lightly press one side into the sugar. Place the cookie, sugar side up, on a baking sheet. Place them a couple inches apart, as they will spread a bit. Repeat until your baking sheets are full. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the tops are crackly. Remove and allow to cool before removing and eating. Enjoy!

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Now for the second part of this post, a swim workout! This is mostly for my sister’s benefit and my own use for inspiration for future workouts, but perhaps someone else can find these of use. One thing that’s very sad about moving out of California is the lack of outdoor pools here. Sigh. But it hasn’t stopped me from swimming! Here’s a workout I did earlier this week:

4400 yard Energy System Monday

200 free, non free, pull

6×50 kick/swim, 100 pull

4×50 kick/swim, 200 pull

2×50 kick/swim, 300 pull

2×50 fly/free, 300 pull

4×50 fly/free, 200 pull

6×50 fly/free, 100 pull

4x(150 IM, double odd strokes on odd 150s, double even strokes on even 150s, 3×50 fast free)

200 easy

4400 yds

Napoleon’s Hat Cookies

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a while since my last post, but on a dreary gray day like this I figure some people might need a sweet treat. I love anything and everything almond, so when my mom picked up a couple Napoleon’s Hat cookies from a bakery for us to try, I knew I just had to make them at home. These cookies are buttery, soft, with an almond marzipan filling bursting with almond flavor. Delicious. I adapted thisĀ recipe from Scandinavian Today based on the ingredients I had, and they turned out great!

Anyway, my adaptations included using 7oz almond paste instead of the 6oz marzipan called for in the recipe, since it comes in a 7oz tube. I also added a little almond extract to the cookie dough to get a little extra almond flavor, since you can never have enough. The cookies turned out soft and flavorful, and filling was deliciously chewy, and the chocolate added the perfectĀ final touch. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how many cookies they made, but my guess is around 20. Maybe I should count next time. Here’s the recipe!

Napoleon’s Hat Cookies

Adapted from Scandinavian Today

Ingredients

Cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 1/2 oz (7 tbsp) unsalted butter

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp ice water

Filling:

7 oz almond paste

3 ozĀ granulated sugar

1 egg white

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, or 6oz chopped chocolate

Directions

To make the cookie dough, cut the butter into the flour until soft crumbs form. Add the powdered sugar, almond extract, egg yolk, and ice water. Mix until just combined. Form a disk with the dough, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for half an hour.

To make the filling, cream together the almond paste, sugar, and egg white until a smooth paste forms.

Preheat the oven to 400ĖšF. Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a glass or cookie cutter about 3 inches in diameter and cut circles. Place on a baking sheet. Scoop ball of the filling, 2 tsp each, into the center of each cut circle. Lifting the circle of dough with the filling in the middle, gently pinchĀ together three corners of each cookie, making the triangular hat shape.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a shallow dish, then dip the bottom of each cookie in chocolate. Place on wax paper to cool and allow the chocolate to harden. Enjoy!

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