Friday, May 31, 2013

NomNom: Double Chocolate and Espresso Cookies

After I started to recover from being sick a couple weeks ago, my food cravings started to slowly come back which was a sure sign that I was on the road to recovery. Thank God.

I don't usually get chocolate cravings (I'm more of a cheese craving kind of gal) but every once in a while, I will get a hankering for anything chocolate flavored and that happened around the time after I was feeling better. There's no rhyme or reason for the food I'm craving at that moment--only that it must be satisfied quickly. I just feel sorry for the boy I'm dating <insert batty eyelashes>.

I had this recipe bookmarked for awhile but I didn't feel compelled to make it just yet...until last week. These are not only chocolate cookies but double chocolate cookies...I mean....

This recipe involves chocolate covered espresso beans which I didn't have in my pantry but I did have espresso powder. After reading the reviews on this recipe, several people commented that they substituted the beans with espresso powder which worked out just as well. Win.

I used 1 tablespoon of espresso powder the first time around which unfortunately didn't do much to the flavor profile, so I decided to double the measurement the second time around. Bingo.

These cookies almost remind me of brownies because they come out so deliciously moist, chewy, and gooey when they're first out of the oven. The hardest part was waiting for these babies to I may have tried to eat one while it was still warm and may have made a chocolatey mess on my hands and mouth from the melted chips that are nestled into the cookies. Oops.

Have a great weekend. Xo.

Ingredients (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via food network) Yield 10-12 cookies
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup dark chocolate-covered espresso beans (I substituted with 2.5 tablespoons of espresso powder)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (recommend Ghirardelli)

1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmer water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. In a bowl of a food processor, finely chop the chocolate covered espresso beans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chopped espresso beans, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, water, and vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until thick and smooth. Fold in the melted chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop level 1/4 cupfuls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until slightly puffed and the tops begin to crack, 18-20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets and serve.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Sequins

Photos courtesy of Melanie Yu

Sequin top, necklace-J.Crew (buy here, here)
Faux leather skirt-Boundary & Co (buy here)
Shoes-Pour La Victoire (old)
Bracelets-David Yurman
Sunnies-Karen Walker (buy here)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I mentioned several weeks ago that I'd be putting myself on a month long shopping ban (successful so far!) which means recycling existing items in my closet, with this leather skirt being one of them;)

Have a great rest of the week. Xo.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend I...

1. Took a trip to NYC to visit my little sister. Since we both have a bit of an unconventional work schedule, our schedules don't always align. But, this holiday weekend we happened to be both off for the long weekend so I decided to visit.

2. Made an unplanned stop by Bouchon Bakery on the first day of exploring the city since it started to rain on and off during the afternoon. The very first time I tried macarons was from Bouchon several years ago and that pretty much set my standards for macarons. This and Maison Lauduree are probably my top favorite macaron places.

3. Went to eat dim sum at my usual go to place in Chinatown, Jing Fong. There's always a wait on the weekends even though the place is HUGE. It's basically an enormous banquet hall where you will most likely share a table with strangers but that's part of the experience. Trust me, the wait is worth it.

4. Finally went to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. It's been bookmarked for quite awhile now and since we were already in Chinatown to eat dim sum, we stopped by for dessert. I tried the lychee and almond cookie flavor which were absolutely mind blowing. I'm still thinking about the lychee flavor...

5. Walked the Brooklyn bridge for the first time since the weather finally turned around. Gorgeous views of the city--highly recommend.

6. Went to a new ramen place called Ramen Misoya located in East Village. The broth was good and savory but not sure if I would rank this high up on my favorite ramen places. My loyalty still lies with Totto Ramen in NYC;)

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 24, 2013

NomNom: Hawaiian Fried Rice

Food confession time. I'm in love with spam.

It all started when I was a young child when my mom would make us kimchi jjigae (a delicious kimchi stew) with spam in it or put it in gim bap (korean version of sushi rolls). I loved having it in my kimchi jjigae so much that I would refuse to eat it if she cooked it with another type of meat. Gosh, I was such a brat. Sorry mom.

Most people probably might find Spam to be gross and overtly salty but I love it anyway. Spam, rice, and roasted pieces of seaweed with a side of kimchi is one of the most simplest and satisfying meals to me. When I was on vacation in Hawaii during my childhood, I distinctly remember going into a 7 Eleven and seeing individiually wrapped musubi sold as snacks! It's basically spam sandwiched into rice, all wrapped in seaweed. So perfect. So great.

When I first came across this recipe, I was intrigued about this take on non traditional fried rice. I loved the idea of using sweet and salty together for this dish, but the only problem I had with this recipe was that they used ham. I mean, the recipe is titled Hawaiian fried rice so it's only appropriate to use Spam. Le duh.

Leftover rice from the past week or even from your take out/delivery is the perfect excuse to whip this incredibly easy dish in about 30 minutes. But, let's face it. Do we need an excuse to make really good fried rice?

Hope you enjoy the long holiday weekend ahead. I'll be spending mine in NYC visiting my sister:) Xo.

Recipe (Adapted from Cook's Country) Yields: 4
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce (like Tapatio or Sriracha), more or less to taste (I used 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon vegetable, canola or peanut oil
2 cups cooked, chopped ham (I used Spam)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
6 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
5 cups cooked rice, white or brown, cold
3 large eggs
1-2 cups pineapple pieces

 1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil and hot sauce. Set aside. In a large nonstick skillet or electric frying pan heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil until rippling and hot. Add the ham, red bell pepper, and the chopped white parts of the green onions. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and the red pepper is tender (but not mushy), about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Scrape the mixture onto a plate and set aside.

2. Heat another teaspoon of oil in the skillet until hot. Add the cold rice and cook, breaking up large clumps, until the rice is heated through, 5-6 minutes.

3. Push the rice to one side of the skillet and heat the last teaspoon of oil on the empty side of the skillet. Crack the eggs into the hot oil and stir lightly with a spatula or wooden spoon, cooking until the eggs are lightly scrambled and set. Stir the eggs and the ham mixture into the rice. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the rice and cook, stirring, until thoroughly combined and hot.

4. Off the heat, stir in the pineapple and green parts of the onions. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Coral Crush

Photos courtesy of Melanie Yu

Blouse-H&M (old)
Faux leather skirt-Boundary & Co (buy here)
Clutch-Saint Laurent (buy here)
Shoes-Pour La Victoire (suede version here)
Bracelets, ring- David Yurman (buy here, here, here)
Sunglasses-Karen Walker (buy here)

Happy Wednesday everyone! It's no secret that I love practically anything leather when it comes to fashion, so when I first saw this skirt a couple of months ago, I instantly gravitated towards it. Leather is usually characterized as "tough" and "edgy" but when you include feminine pleats and soft colors to that, it gives that piece much more personality. 

Hope you're having a wonderful week so far and thanks for stopping by! Xo.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend I....

1. Wanted to keep it super low key so I can fully recover 100% from being sick the past week. I had lots of backed up email that needed to be responded to while I was away and also caught up on some of my favorite blogs.

2. Spent some much needed quality time with my favorite little guy, Mandu, after being away from him for so long while I was on vacation. Those big brown eyes. I mean..

3. Snacked on strawberries all weekend (finished two batches on my own!) while catching up on the latest issues of some of my favorite food magazines to get some recipe inspirations for upcoming meals to cook.

4. Decided to put myself on a serious shopping ban for a month after noticing that I have several unworn new clothes with price tags still attached. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted a pic of an unplanned purchase when I was in Berlin which is also another reason why I shouldn't spend more money. Sigh.

5. Used some of the mint leaves from the mint plant I've been growing for the past couple of months to freeze in ice cubes. I came home from my vacation to a thriving little plant, so I decided to use some of the leaves for future cold drinks. I got this idea from the Rachel Ray magazine: "Steep mint leaves in hot water for  5-7 minutes, then strain and let cool. Place fresh mint leaves in a tray and fill with the strained liquid." Perfect for hot summer days, no?

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Citrus Punch

Photos courtesy of Melanie Yu

Blazer-Alice&Olivia (buy here)
Long sleeved tee-J.Crew (buy here)
Pants-H&M (old)
Shoes-Pour La Victoire (love the suede version here)
Necklace-Neiman Marcus (old)
Sunglasses-Karen Walker (buy here)
      Bracelets-David Yurman (buy here, here)    

Hi everyone! I'm finally back from my vacation and back to reality. Germany was fantastic (haven't even begun sorting through all the pics yet) but the flight back home was another story. It was hellish to say the least with a major delay at JFK, and on top of that, I got severely ill when I returned home. I've been pretty much bed ridden with a fever and chills for the past couple of days and today's the first day I'm actually able to eat some food with out throwing it back up. Things are finally starting to look up, thank God.

Now that I've headed back to work, I wanted to incorporate some bright and soft, spring like colors into my outfit, especially after feeling crappy the past couple of days. 

Thanks so much for being patient with me while I was away, and a special thanks to Mel for taking today's photos!

Have a great weekend. Xo

Friday, May 3, 2013

NomNom: Shrimp Pad Thai

Happiness is knowing that you're officially on vacation and leaving for Germany early tomorrow...and this delicious recipe of shrimp pad thai I'm sharing with you today. You're welcome.

Right now I'm feeling a happy kind of stress because I haven't even started to pack yet for this trip (I'm a last minute packer for reals) but thankful that my last day of work before my vacation was yesterday so I have all day today to take care of last minute errands for the trip. The to do list seems to keep on growing though. Why is that?

I've been thinking about the wonderful German food that I'll be indulging in such as schnitzel, pretzels, sauerkraut, beer, etc. which truly makes my mouth water as I type and am beyond excited to happily welcome those foods into my diet tarting tomorrow. Since food has been on my mind, per usual, I figure it would be appropriate to leave you with a food post before I leave....and trust and believe this is a good one.

I've talked about my food cravings on my blog and this pad thai meal was born from just that. For some reason I really wanted to eat pad thai a couple of weeks ago, so I quickly went through my bookmarks from my cookbooks and came across this recipe that's been bookmarked for awhile. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in my kitchen minus the rice noodles which I find ironic since I'm Asian, because instead I had fettuccine noodles in the pantry. Go figure.

There are so many vibrant and balanced flavors in this dish that it kinda awakens your senses and knowing that it's cooked at home makes it even better because of the leftovers. I totally had it the next day eating it straight up cold because there are days I prefer to eat my leftover noodles cold. Such is life.

Knowing that I can successfully make pad thai at home makes it almost embarrassing to order it at a restaurant now. If that happens, just know that it was a do or die craving situation.

Since I will be out of the country for the next couple of weeks my blog will be on vacation as well. My focus is going to be on enjoying and fully embracing a new country but I hope to meet you back here in a about 2 weeks. Thanks for reading:)

Have a great weekend. Xo.

Ingredients (Adapated from America's Test Kitchen) Yields: 4 servings
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (You can replace tamarind with 1/3 cup of lime juice and 1/3 cup of water, use light brown sugar instead of granulated sugar to give the noodles some color and a faint molasses flavor)
3/4 cup boiling water
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons chili paste, sambal oelek or sriracha (optional but highly recommended)

8 ounces (1/4 inch wide) rice noodles
12 ounces medium shrimp (41 to 50 per pound), peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
pinch sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 larges eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces (3 cups) bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts, plus extra for garnish
3 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
Lime wedges

1. FOR THE SAUCE: Soak tamarind paste in boiling water until softened, about 10 minutes. Push tamarin mixture through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl to remove seeds and fibers and extract as much pulp as possible. Stir fish sauce, sugar, oil, rice vinegar, and cayenne into tamarind liquid and set aside.

2. FOR THE NOODLES AND SHRIMP: Bring 4 quarters water to boil in large pot, Remove water from heat, add noodles, and let stand off heat, stirring occasionally, until noodles are softened, pliable and just tender about 10 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside

3.  Toss shrimp, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and sugar together in medium bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12 inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add shrimp in single layer and cook without stirring until beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Stir shrimp and cook until light pink and just opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to bowl, cover to keep warm and set aside.

4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, shallot, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to skillet, return to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown about 1.5 minutes. Stir in eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until scrambled and barley moist, about 20 seconds.

5. Add drained noodles and toss to combine. Add sauce, increase heat to high and cook, tossing constantly until noodles are evenly coated, about 1 minute. Add bean sprouts, peanuts and all but 1/4 cup scallions and continue to cook, tossing constantly until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes.

6. Return shrimp, along with any accumulated juices to skillet and cook until heated through, about 30 seconds. Transfer noodles to serving platter and sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup scallions; cilantro if using and extra peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

*Tofu is a good and common addition to pad thai. Add 4 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, to skillet with cooked shrimp in step 6.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gold Accents

Photos courtesy of Sung Shin

Jacket-Tbags Los Angeles (buy here)
Jeans-Rag and Bone (buy here)
Shoes-Sam Edelman (buy here)
Sunnies-Celine (buy here)

One of my favorite color combinations is gold and black. There's something very sexy and chic about this color pairing that's visually stimulating, especially on accessories. My next jewelry piece I want comes in several colors but I am eyeing it in black and gold, which is really hard to find on this piece so I'm waiting patiently until my SA calls me to tell me it has popped up in the store. 

The gold accents on the jacket make it a fun evening piece, which is why this outfit is something you'll find me wearing on date night or a girls night out. What can I say? I'm most comfortable when wearing a great pair of jeans and top versus a dress;)

Have a great week. Xo.