Baking a Little Something in the Oven

Hi guys! Sorry for a 9 month lapse but I’ve been so very busy. Busy with what you may wonder? Well….what usually happens during a 9 month span? Hmm, I’m sure you’ve guessed it. Yes, I’ve been baking, baking a baby in the oven.  My oven that is.  I’m due next month and we’re expecting a baby boy! I’m so excited since my husband and I agree that we will be a family of 4, two kids and done. 

This pregnancy has been so different than with my daughter. First trimester was the roughest. Nausea, fatigue, and worse of all to me, food adversion. I wanted nothing to do with food, cooking or eating. It was such a terrible feeling that I couldn’t control. I knew I had to eat but it was so not enjoyable. Unfortunately, since I didn’t even want to look at food let alone cook, there wasn’t much to write about. I started to get better in my second trimester and then I found out I had gestational diabetes. Also very tough, since sweets and carbs were the only things I did enjoy. But now I had to really watch what I was eating and cut down on carbs….CARBS!?! As tough as it was, I’m now starting to get use to watching my carbs regularly and walking after every meal, and I feel even healthier than ever. 

With about a month and a half left to go, I’m feeling a bit more empowered to finish my pregnancy strong and welcome my baby into the world. So I just wanted to share this little tad-bit with you about my life. Now that I’ve had my energy and appetite back, I can get back to feeling inspired with my meals and I will post more regularly again. Well as regularly as a mom with a toddler and a newborn can! 😉 My next post, I PROMISE, will be a food post and it will post next week. Come back to see if I keep my promise! =)

Photo Albums, a little musing

IMG_6755Does any one still print photos and make photo albums? I remember when my siblings and I were younger it was such a tedious task that my parents made us do, having to sort through stacks and stacks of photos and then organizing them into a somewhat coherent photo album. 

Now my mom stores these precious albums up high in her dresser cabinet. When I’m spending some time at my parents’ house it’s actually really nice to take down one of these albums and peruse through the years of memories my family created when we were all so young just starting to figure out the world for ourselves.

Now that I have a family of my own, seeing the photo albums my mom kept inspired me to want my kid/kids to have the same experience and enjoyment of cherishing their childhood memories one day. I decided to start the task of sorting through thousands of photos saved in external hard drives and print the photos to organize albums.

What was once a tedious task as a child is now something I’m eager to start as an adult.

A nostalgic challenge I’m up for.

Moving Time

I know this is a cooking blog..but after about a 9-10 months hiatus (no, I didn’t have another baby…at least not yet), I think it’s ok diverge a bit from food. It’s going to be an interesting 2-4 weeks coming up. After 3 years of living in sunny San Diego. Our little family of 3 will be packing our belongings and making the trek back up to Northern California. We’ve lived in Southern California for about 10 years, so it’s hard to believe we’re moving back up north and will most likely be putting down roots there and maybe…MAYBE even expand our family of 3 to 4…..🤗 So with moving and settling down in our new place within the next few weeks, cooking will be very interesting as I start to clear out our fridge and refrain from buying any new groceries or pantry items (I’m already low on soy sauce!).

I’m pretty excited about our new place. We’re still renting for now but I’m finally getting a kitchen with stainless steel appliances! I know it sounds so trivial but I’ve wanted them since we’ve began renting 10 years ago and we have lived in 4 places! But… it was never in the cards for me…until now =) I also REALLLY wanted a back yard for my daughter to run around in and I was beginning to have concerns that I wouldn’t get it. But we found a great house with a back yard and it’s the perfect size. What’s even better is the yard comes with citrus trees! yay yay

So let’s get back to cooking, I asked my husband go to Costco on his way home from work yesterday to get some groceries (remember we’re functioning on 1 car at the moment). Once he got home, he commented that I gave him quite a list for only being here another two weeks. I didn’t realize how much groceries I asked for until I saw how full our fridge was. That’s the thing with having a toddler, I can’t risk her not having any fruits or vegetables right? Let’s just say I will be on my very own at-home version of Chopped everyday for the next couple of weeks!

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup and I’m a Year Older 🤷🏻‍♀️

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I wanted to make butternut squash soup this Sunday. Usually I would use milk to make it more creamy but I remembered I had some coconut milk in the fridge. Hmm…intriguing I thought. Honestly, I was hesitant to use it because to me coconut milk doesn’t seem like a natural partner to butternut squash. But something inside me was whispering that it just might work. I did a quick search on the internet and came across this recipe. It looked similar to what I had in mind so I gave it a try.

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Yay for trying new recipes and it actually being delicious!

So, it’s squash time and if you guys are wanting to try a new soup recipe…try this one on NYT Cooking!

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Simple ingredients for a quick and delicious soup,
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If you don’t have an immersion blender, but you love making soups-get one! It’ll change your life.
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Enjoy with a glass of white wine (optional of course)😉

By the way my birthday was last week and my dad sent me this really nice basket.
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I mentioned to him a while back I wanted a shallow basket to harvest herbs in my patio. He sent me this beauty for my birthday. It’s a little too big for harvesting herbs, but I think it’s perfect for my garlic and onions! 👍 Thanks Dad!
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Asian Inspired Fish en Papillote, and an actual weekend (sort of)!

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Yay for weekends. Too be honest, weekends don’t always feel like weekends to me. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband’s schedule is never consistent often working on weekends and nights. So while I can appreciate weekends for their offerings of free time and a break from the work week for many, my own routine and life does not change much on weekends.

But this week, my husband had a rare three days off, no calls, no moonlighting, no presentations to work on… and it was nice. We were able to take our daughter for one last splash in the pool before the weather got too cold, we went to Balboa park and enjoyed the nice weather, had family relaxation time at home, and got dessert at a new restaurant we haven’t tried.

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Delicious Brownie Shake

On Friday, I made Fish en Papillote but I wanted to try something different with it and so I used ingredients for Asian Style Steam Fish. It was such a quick recipe, so easy to make and best of all it was tasty! I wasn’t going to make a blog post about this recipe so I didn’t take many pictures, but it was so good and easy I figured I should just share it now. I know I will definitely make this again.

And now friends, it is Sunday, and my husband is back at work, my daughter is napping, and I am back to the routine. 😌

Asian Inspired Fish en Papillote
For one fish packet
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/2 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 inch knob of ginger sliced into thin strips
1 scallion, sliced
a couple slices of chili pepper
1 white fish filet

1. Lay fish onto parchment paper.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
3. Add soy sauce and sesame oil on top of fish.
4. Lay on top ginger, scallions, and peppers.
5. Seal parchment paper.
6. Back at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
7. Garnish with cilantro.

Chicken Katsu and the Irony in Life

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I think the title of this post is more dramatic than my post really is…but it is still fitting. I didn’t plan to make dinner Friday night. My husband had a work related dinner he was going to attend and I had food in the fridge for my daughter and me. Before my husband went to the dinner, knowing that the drive would be about 30 minutes, I told him to take my car. It is newer, gas efficient, and more importantly, it is RELIABLE. I am also fairly confident in my intuition and decision making skills and for some reason I just had a feeling… I told him to take my car but he decided to take his. Let me tell you, we don’t have a great history when it comes to cars. To be more accurate, we (no he, despite my resistence) made one costly mistake that we’ve been living with for many years. Fortunately, lessons have been learned and we are on a wiser path when it comes to automobiles. The wiser path is for him to listen to me more and for me to be more unwavering! 😂

Anyways, to make a long story short, he took his car and leaves the house. A few minutes later as I was in the kitchen making Katsu sauce for tomorrow’s dinner, I get a call from him. What do you know….he’s pulled over in a parking lot with radiator issues. He isn’t able to make it to the work dinner and has to come home. Luckily, I already had Katsu sauce made and making Chicken Katsu doesn’t take too long. So instead off making it the next day, we had it for dinner that night. And despite the car troubles, my day was still good because my husband was not hurt and my last minute dinner couldn’t have turned out any better.

Ahhh my my reason for happiness despite car troubles and a stubborn husband 😉, making Chicken Katsu after watching Chef Hiro on YouTube was my happy moment yesterday (along with a glass of wine). It’s actually so easy to make. I have learned that to make crispy katsu, you need a good pan that retains heat well, and also use enough oil to cover the chicken or at least most of it. Instead of slicing it thin like the chef did, I used a meat pounder since I didn’t think I can cut as well as he can and that was a good decision on my part! Don’t worry about wasting oil, since I only used it once and it’s still clean to me, I just strained it and saved it in a jar for the next time I want to fry something.

So there you have it, sometimes or often, life throws you surprises that are not always wanted. My husband planned to attend a nice work dinner but missed it because his car broke down, ironically when I told him to take my car but he didn’t listen. We now have to get by with one car from two. But despite this, the big picture is that at least my husband didn’t miss the dinner because of something worse like a car accident. At least we still have a car to drive rather than no car. And lastly, at least we were still able to have a pretty nice dinner last night. 😊

As for our car, we’ve put too much money into this car and it is too old to have any more money put into it. It’s been a plague in our house and we are finally, FINALLY getting rid of it. We decided to go on one car for now and when the time is right we will decide on another.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Custard Fruit Tart and Cooler Weather

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It’s finally cooling down a bit here. You’d think living in San Diego, I’d never have to turn on my air conditioning, but nope, it’s been on almost non-stop the past days and weeks 😖. While I can withstand a hotter environment a bit (more than I can say for my hubby), I also have my daughter to think about and I don’t want it getting too hot for her. So you can imagine our electric and gas bill has been a bit high lately. But thank goodness today is cool and overcast, our windows are open, and our ac is OFF.

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Yesterday I made a fruit tart! They’re actually pretty easy to make. I did have a little trouble with the tart crust and shrinking, so I’m looking forward to trying it again and getting it right. My waistline however, needs a little break right now from all the baking I’ve been doing. I also hope to make the custard a little thicker next time so I’ll have to work on that also. For now, please enjoy the picture of the tart! It was de-lish. 😋

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Rustic Fruit Galette (10 years later)

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September has me feeling a bit nostalgic. About 10 years ago I moved away from home and unbeknownst to me, I would find my love for cooking, baking, and all things in between. I remember the first (and only time) I made a fruit galette was in September. It wasn’t difficult per se, but I was definitely uncomfortable. While the galette both looked and tasted good, I never made it again. I’m not sure why, maybe I put so much effort into researching how to make it, I felt it was more difficult than it actually was. So I just never made it again

But I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately and I after browsing some of my past blogs, I came upon my post on making a rustic fruit galette and I was inspired to make it again. What a difference 10 years can make! The crust was surprisingly easy and quick to make. I felt comfortable working with the flour and the butter. Kneading the dough and rolling it to make a beautiful tasty crust took me only minutes. I didn’t use any egg or milk as a wash on the crust because I was impatient and just wanted to get it in the oven, but it was still beautiful in my eyes. =)

The portions that I used for the crust were 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, 3 Tbs cold water, and pinch of salt. The technique on the other hand needs to be more clear. I think I need to make it one more time so I can confidently write out the recipe for the crust, but I promise it will be posted as soon as I write it down!

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Making lunch for Little Sissy’s Bachelorette Weekend

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My little sister is getting married! Well both of them are, but one of them is only 2 months away! This weekend we celebrated her bachelorette in San Diego. It was a very nice laid back weekend. Nothing crazy…except during the pool at night… but I’ll respect the privacy of some people and not mention too much LOL.
IMG_4804During the planning of the bachelorette, my sister was going to have a private chef come and make us lunch but with expenses adding up, she decided to nix that idea. To my surprise and (initial horror) she asked me to make them lunch and maybe do a little cooking course for the girls. As fun as that idea sounded, aside from my family, I’ve never cooked for a large group before, let alone people I have never met! My first reaction and answer was a quick and horrified, NO! hahaha but it WAS for my little sister and how can I continue to write about cooking and food when I turn down such a good opportunity to cook and do something I love especially for someone that I love? And so…. I accepted.

Immediately, we finalized a menu.
Shrimp Summer rolls– Easy enough. I just needed to tweak my sauce.
Grilled Pork Vermicelli (Bun Thit Nuong)- This was going to take more time. I’ve made the marinade for this meat before but I didn’t have a recipe that I could confidently replicate.
Vietnamese Fruit Cocktail– Opening cans…easy.
Lychee Sangria– Never made it before but how can anything with lychee and elderberry extract to be bad right?

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Testing out the peanut sauce was easy enough. It doesn’t require that many ingedients and I already had a base recipe that was good. Eventually I came up with a sauce that I was very happy with and the secret ingredient was coconut milk!

For the grilled pork- This was a bit more stressful and required more time. As good as it is, I didn’t want to give my family grilled pork too many times within a short period. In total, I made it twice and tweaked my recipe 3 times. By the bachelorette weekend, I still wasn’t sure how it would turn out…but it was the best marinade I’ve made and I’m saving the recipe for sure!
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All in all, it was a bit stressful planning and preparing for the lunch, but on the day of everything went just swimmingly…I might even say perfect, especially with help from my other sister and a few other people. The most important thing to me was the taste and flavors and I couldn’t have asked for all the dishes to come out better! My concern with the meat was undercooking or overcooking the meat, but it turned out great! It was my first time cooking at such an important event for people that weren’t my family. I gotta say…there’s a lot to be said for thoughtful preparation! I wish I had more pictures of the lunch but it was just too hectic. I hope you enjoyed the ones I did take!
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Now…my other sister is getting married next year…what will be on the menu then? =)IMG_4798
Congrats Sissy V! Looking forward to your big day!

life. not a food post

Has it really been three years since I’ve last posted? Actually, thinking on the events that has occurred in my life since my last post, it is actually pretty easy to believe that three years have passed. I feel it’s awkward to just jump back on here and start posting about food again after such a long break without saying a little something as to why I haven’t posted. Two major events happened which caused me to take a hiatus with blogging, one was the passing of my dog and two was the birth of my daughter.

My dog- It feels silly to say this since I actually have a baby now, but I really considered my dog my baby. My husband and I rescued her when we first moved away to keep me company in a new city. She was a huge part of our lives. She moved from apartment to apartment, city to city with us. She was the only one to be physically present in the moments as my husband and I went from dating to engaged to married. She was loving and spunky and was the joy of our lives, especially the joy of my life when my husband was often gone for work. The events that lead up to the night we had to say goodbye to her (aside from my actual labor) were the most stressful days of my life. I’ve been fortunate so far in that I’ve never had to deal with the lost of an actual human loved one and I dread the day when I will have to deal with it, but up to this point, losing my dog was the first time I felt the actual heart ache of loss. I was physically and emotionally down for a good amount of time. The things that usually bought me joy just didn’t seem to matter anymore…i.e cooking and blogging, and so I decided to take a break from writing.

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My daughter- A little more than a year later my husband’s career had us move again and we decided this new city was a good place to start a family. I did some research beforehand and read that it can sometimes take up to 6 months to be successful in conceiving. I mean it sounded like the stars had to align in order for an egg to become fertilized, so we decided we should start trying, thinking it wouldn’t happen right away….well, it did not take us 6 months, I got pregnant immediately. We had just moved to a new city, I just landed a pretty good job, but now I had to re-evaluate what direction I wanted my life to take, stay-at-home mom or continue to work? I always envisioned that when I had a baby I would stay at home and raise my child, but the thought of having a career was also appealing to me. It took me a while but I had to really think about what made me happy and what I saw my life as, and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom (at least for now).

It’s been quite an adventure adjusting to motherhood. For 10 years it’s just been my husband and me, and suddenly we were sharing it with this little baby. We had to learn how to adjust from a life of two people, a life of complete freedom and plenty of free time, to a life that now involved lots of crying, feeding, sleep deprivation, and figuring out this tiny human that we brought into the world.

She’s now almost 10 months and I still can’t believe I’m a mom and this lively, curious little baby girl is mine and I especially can’t believe she’ll be 1 year old in a few months!

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those feet 🙂

I feel my life is settling back down and I want to go back to what I have enjoyed doing and that is food, cooking, and writing about it. Some days (actually most days) it is hard for me to cook a meal while caring for a baby, let alone take pictures and write about it, but now I want and hope I can get back in the kitchen and do the thing I love again.

By the way, my small patio backyard is now an even smaller balcony, but I’m making it work …at least for some herbs, but that’s better than nothing I guess 🙂