Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto

Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto

Imagine this: You have one hour to buy groceries AND make an appetizer for a small dinner party. What would you make?

I love a good challenge, and this situation was my reality last weekend. I got a bit carried away with errands and random window shopping on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and completely lost track of time. I was on the hook for bringing an appetizer to my friend’s house for dinner, and hadn’t bought my ingredients, let alone decide on a recipe. And, the dinner started in roughly an hour…EEK!

One of my trusty go-to appetizers is Ina Garten’s Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola. It’s flavorful, simple to make, and plates gorgeously with the bright colors of the red and yellow peppers. Perfect for my dinner party, right? Unfortunately not this one. There’s significant prep time to julienne the peppers and cook them long enough so they caramelize. Absolutely no way I’d be able to pull this off in time!

However, I did like the idea of bringing a crostini or bruschetta to the party. They’re quick to assemble, simple to pack up, and easy to eat as finger foods. And, they can be topped with a variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables, etc.

So how did I come up with this recipe for Mushroom Crostini with Burrata and Prosciutto?

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cakes-8

As I write this post, I’m en route to New Orleans, a city I have been *dying* to visit for years now. It’s the one city I’ve booked flights to once twice but had to cancel at the last-minute. I suppose the third time’s a charm!

I’ll be spending the long weekend celebrating Mardi Gras and squeezing in some foodie sightseeing. Thanks to some friends who’ve gone before, I have a nice list of spots to check out: beignets at Cafe du Monde, freshly shucked oysters at Acme, tasty barbecue shrimp at Mr. B’s, and a muffuleta sandwich from Central Grocery. Am I missing anything? Oh, and did I mention how excited I am? :)

And, this weekend is also Valentine’s Day! It’ll definitely be memorable as I’ll be partying it up with my boyfriend and friends (+thousands of randoms) at a formal ball at the…Superdome. Crazy, right? There’s even a strict dress code: men in tuxedos and women in floor length gowns…this should be interesting!

Now if I wasn’t traveling, my absolute favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day would be in the kitchen. Is it just me, or is going out to dinner on V-Day always underwhelming? The food is never as great as a random Tuesday night and sometimes restaurants only offer a Prix Fixe menu. I’d much rather spend the evening cooking up a fun dinner with a special boy or close gal pals (Galentine’s Day anyone?!). Plus, if you’re struggling to come up with a thoughtful gift, why not show your love by cooking a special dinner? Worst case scenario, you botch it in the kitchen and end up ordering your favorite delivery pizza. Your Valentine will still appreciate the effort!

Chocolate Lava Cakes-4

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Baked Buffalo Wings

Baked Buffalo Wings

The big game is just one day away, and that means it’s time to get serious about Super Bowl food. Hosting a party or invited to one? Make these Baked Buffalo Wings, and it’ll keep your friends licking their fingers clean as they watch the Seahawks crush the Pats. Yep, I’m biased. Deal with it, Boston readers!

What’s great about these wings is that you don’t have to mess with frying them. I live in a small apartment, so whenever I fry any foods, my place smells like a fast food joint for the next day or two. Instead, these wings are baked at 500 degrees F for roughly 20 minutes, then finished off in the broiler to give them some extra color and crispness. Baked wings are so much easier to prepare and clean up, and they’re definitely healthier than fried Buffalo wings (although who really cares about that when it comes to the Super Bowl?). Note that I used  a specific kind of parchment paper that’s safe at high temps, but I recommend foil just to be safe.

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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Help! What does a die-hard pasta lover bring to a Whole30 potluck?

That’s my cooking challenge this weekend, friends. As some of you know, I love to take classes at Barry’s Bootcamp and have made some new friends through the grueling 7am workouts. This weekend, we’re having a potluck to celebrate the end of January’s Whole30 challenge, which consisted of 30 straight days of following the paleo-esque Whole30 program. To be clear, I didn’t participate in the challenge (have you seen what I cook on this blog?!), but I’m still planning to help my Barry’s #fitfam celebrate!

For the potluck, I’m whipping up a Whole30-approved dish. Some of the people who completed the challenge are bringing in food they’ve been craving over the last 30 days – pizza, candy, diet coke, you name it. But since I didn’t participate, I decided to cook a dish within the Whole30 rules. Completely unaware of what that meant (or didn’t mean), I jumped over to Google and quickly discovered that I’m not allowed to cook anything with dairy, sugar, or grains. Argh. That basically rules out my go-to potluck recipes. But then I remembered one of my favorite “pasta cheats” that I discovered a few years ago…spaghetti squash!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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One Year Later

Plate to PixelAround this time last year, I felt the need to push myself and learn something new. I had fallen into a fairly comfortable routine with my job, social life, etc. and wanted to mix it up with a creative interest. So, exactly one year ago today I bought my first DSLR camera and decided to learn photography, an art I had always found too intimidating to try and written it off as “not my thing”. The truth is that I’ve always been interested in photography, but simply got in my own way through these excuses. Thankfully, I decided to ignore those voices and take the plunge.

Why Food Photography?

My desire to learn food photography was inspired by my return to food blogging. As some of you may know, I used to have a cooking blog back in the day (’08!) called The Midnight Cook. All of my photos were taken with a Konica Minolta point and shoot, which at the time seemed perfectly fine. Fast forward 6 years, and so much has changed with amateur food photography, thanks to the popularity of DSLR cameras. It became obvious that having legit, good pictures of my cooking was a must-have for the blog. So, I’d need to invest some serious time learning how to use my camera before even thinking of writing my first post. After all, people eat with their eyes first.

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Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken

As I wrote in my on Roast Chicken 101, my kitchen hasn’t seen much action since I was traveling over the holidays. To kick off the week (and get my kitchen smelling delicious!) I spent Sunday afternoon making this deliciously simple Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken. It only takes about 10 minutes to prep the chicken and ingredients, then it slowly roasts in the oven for 90 minutes. You basically can just forget about it…although the the amazing scent of garlic and thyme will remind you of what’s cooking.

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

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Roast Chicken 101

Roast Chicken 101

I absolutely love vacation. But then again, who doesn’t? I totally believe that taking time off from work makes you more energized and productive when you return to the office, and fortunately my company agrees! I was lucky enough to spend the Christmas week in Seattle with family, then the following week in Puerto Rico with my boyfriend. During both trips, I got to do a little cooking here and there too. It was just wonderful.

Perhaps the only bad part about vacation is when it inevitably comes to an end. I made it back to SF after a long day and night of travel which included sleeping in Chicago O’Hare airport (it was 3 degrees outside, and maybe only 40 degrees in the airport!) On Tuesday morning, probably still half-asleep, I stumbled into my apartment and quickly got ready to head into the office. I opened my fridge to grab a quick snack and — uh oh, it was completely empty. And I mean, empty. A few sticks of butter, a block of Parm, and half a dozen of eggs. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t make it to the grocery store until the end of the week. (Lots of catchup at the office – there’s a price to pay for two weeks of vacation, right?) I kicked off the weekend with a long Saturday morning visit to Whole Foods. And now, my fridge is full and we’re back in business!

One of my go-to purchases is a whole chicken that I can roast at home. Sure, there are rotisserie chickens that are cheaper, already cooked, and pretty tasty. But, what I like about roasting my own is that I can control every ingredient that goes into it, whether it’s salt, oil, or certain herbs. I usually eat some of the chicken the night I roast it, and then use the leftover chicken throughout the week. It’s a huge timesaver!

So, why isn’t everyone buying up whole chickens and roasting them at home? Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

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Challah French Toast

Challah French Toast

This post has been brought to you by a 2 hour flight delay on the runway in Miami. Yes, I completely recognize that there are far worse things in the world to deal with, and after all, I’m on my way to beach vacation in Vieques. But after a 6 hour red-eye flight from Seattle, and perhaps the bigger issue – no breakfast – I was definitely a bit hangry this morning. Ok, end rant.

So, what do you do to pass the time while you’re starving on a parked airplane? Well, if you’re me, you immediately scan for power outlets. Bingo! Two right below my seat. With my laptop in tow, wifi hotspot, and endless charging cables, I know exactly what I’ll be doing. I have an amazing brunch recipe that I just have to share with you all…Challah French Toast!

Challah French Toast-

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