Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Acorn squash is stocked in markets this time of year and it is one of my favorite types of squash. I think most squash are my favorite though. Dark green skin and orange flesh, it is a beautiful-looking squash. I grew up eating squash often as my Dad grew them and still does. Summer squash, winter squash, all different types of squash. I get some nice free squash and pumpkins sometimes 🙂

Roasted acorn squash with wild rice stuffing is a vegetarian dish that I used to eat on Thanksgiving when I did not eat meat and wanted to have something besides tofurkey. I first cooked this dish about 4 years ago after I heard an interview on NPR about a vegetarian Thanksgiving and some veggie-friendly recipes. Continue reading

For the meat lovers: Flap Steak and Nachos

Flap Steak also called Flap Meat or Sirloin Tip is an affordable, yet pretty good cut of meat. There’s isn’t much fat on it too. I don’t eat meat much meat (usually one meal a day) or red meat for that matter, but when I do, I want a juicy, tender, and flavorful piece of meat. This flap steak fits the bill perfectly. I love the grooves on the meat itself, which helps flavor the meat if you use a dry rub or marinade. My husband’s uncle is a master griller and BBQ guy who knows how to make awesome flap meat. I need to ask him for his recipe, but here I’ve used a spice rub based on a recipe from Serious Eats. Continue reading

Pão de queijo (cheese buns), a cheesy gluten-free bread

Pão de queijo is a popular cheese bun in Brazil. It’s made from tapioca (cassava) flour so it is a gluten-free bread. Not that I am on a gluten-free diet, but I think it is good to know. My husband wants to eat healthier foods nowadays. I’ve had some tasty gluten-free foods and it’s fun to experiment with it. I’ll be posting my gluten-free recipe experiments pretty soon.

A couple of years ago, I encountered pão de queijo at Fogo de Chao, a Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) in Beverly Hills. We were celebrating my grandparents-in-law anniversary and their birthdays. For many of us in the family, it was our first time at a churrascaria. After discovering the cheese balls that were almost hidden in the cloth-lined basket, I ate quite of few of them. So did my mom. The parade of meat  and the sides were great, but I really enjoyed the cheese buns probably more than anything that I tasted there. Chewy, light and densely cheesy. So addictive! Continue reading

Baked Brains and Halloween Bread

Happy Halloween! How are you celebrating Halloween? I don’t normally celebrate it too much and haven’t pranced around in a costume to do some trick or treating since I was a teenager. Nowadays I go out to eat, or like this year, decided to cook something spooky and traditional. This year I made Irish Halloween Bread (Barm Brack) from WineBarrelGourmet and Baked Brie Brains from Macheesmo. Head to their blogs for the recipes.

I was hoping to get some trick-or-treaters at my place so that I could give away the candy I bought, but we are left with a bag of Hershey’s miniature mix and a bag of fun-size pretzel M&Ms. Do any of you want them?

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First Year Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was our first year wedding anniversary and we made a great dinner together! Pork chops with sauteed apples and white & wild rice with mushrooms. More on that later! Continue reading

Red Lentil Stew – a Remix of Filipino Mongo (mung bean stew)

Red lentils! I have never had them before, until very recently. Have you? Though lentils are a staple in many parts of the world, I didn’t grow up eating them. As an adult, I’ve had lentil stews a couple of times such as the canned soup variety or a lentil dish at an Indian restaurant. The taste and texture of lentils reminds me a lot of a mung beans, something I did grow up eating. We often ate mung beans in a savory Filipino stew called Mongo (Mongo Guisado or Ginisang Mongo) or in Hopia Mongo, a flaky pastry filled with sweet mung bean filling. Mongo is a comfort food that even kids with picky palates love. My dog Swift, a 17 year old Labrador mix, has loved Mongo stew with rice since she was a puppy! When she got sick and didn’t want to eat dog food, she would eat Mongo!

While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I saw a brightly orange and green colored package of Red Split Lentils. Somehow the bag of orange-red beans was calling me out and telling me that I needed to get it. I guess I have a penchant for buying colorful foods.

Don’t these look interesting? (traderjoes.com)

Using the red lentils, I decided to make a dish that reminded me of the Mongo stew that I grew up with and still love, but with an Italian and American twist. Remix time!

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte – Make it your way!

Fall is finally in full swing here in San Diego after that September heatwave where we had temperatures that went up to about 110 degrees. That was sweaty time, now it’s sweater time! …and time for some yummy hot beverages. I usually drink a variety of teas from our budding tea collection, but I miss coffee now and then, especially seasonal coffee drinks. At times, I like going to local coffee shops and sometimes even Starbucks to get my fix, but I don’t like all that sugar and having to spend too much $$$$ on a drink. Like one comedian said, “You think I want to stand in line at Starbucks and spend that much money everyday? I would rather learn how to make that **** myself!”

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Black Beauty – Kimbap

“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham – all a sham, James, and it won’t stand when things come to be turned inside out and put down for what they are.”
Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

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Black Beauty! Do you have memories reading this book as a child? I almost forgot about this great book until I stumbled upon a blog post on Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls aka Korean “sushi”).  Holly at beyondkimchee.com calls the rolls “black beauty.” At first I chuckled because those words sound sort of awkward to say out loud (try saying any color before the word “beauty” – it’s kind of funny to say), but then I remembered the book from my childhood. Continue reading

MasterChef Audition – What was it like?

https://i0.wp.com/www.masterchefcasting.com/templates/img/header-inner.jpg(Fox.com)

So what is it like to audition for the reality TV cooking competition MasterChef? A little over a week ago, I auditioned in downtown San Diego. I never thought that I would try out for a reality TV show! But with the urging of good friends and support from family, I thought, “Why not?” I know that I can cook well enough to impress the judges on the show: Chef Gordon Ramsay, Chef Graham Elliot, and Restauranteur & Wine Expert Joe Bastianich.

(Fox.com)

After registering online, filling out an 11-page application, and days of practicing a signature dish, I was ready to WOW everyone who tried my food at the casting call. Continue reading

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No-Knead Wheat Bread

Yay it’s bread! I love bread and I love baking it even more. You too can bake bread! This recipe is pretty simple as most of the work is done overnight while fermenting.

Sorry for the low quality pictures. Still using a cell phone camera.

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread is one of my favorite bread recipes and one of the better tasting no-knead breads out there. There are both  white flour and wheat flour versions. Here, I’ve used the wheat version. Continue reading

Hello and Welcome to my food world!

Hi there!

Finally I got the courage to start this food blog after wanting to do so for several years. After getting my food critiqued by notable chefs (that you might see on TV) at my MasterChef audition and getting very positive reviews, I thought I should do something to push myself to keep cooking, learning and exploring, thus this blog is born.

About Me

This picture makes me laugh, I am making a  funny face  😛

I am a 26 year old housewife living in the beautiful city of San Diego, CA.  When I’m not volunteering and itching to go back to school, I love to cook and have a passion for all things food-related. My husband and our Papillon-mix named Pipi are the executive taste testers in my kitchen. Yes, I even cook gourmet dog food per Pipi’s request. I’m a self-taught home cook who loves to experiment with different ethnic cuisines, but my most significant cooking lessons came from the family kitchen.

My approach to food is to keep it fun and fresh. Food nowadays has become so skewed towards being instant meals and chemical experiments. It is largely processed, packaged, and unhealthy. When I was a grad student and had a full-time job, I learned that I don’t need to succumb to convenience food. I can make food myself and make it healthier, economical and more convenient for me. Cooking for yourself and others can be fun, exciting, and can give you more nom-noms than takeout.

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