Chai Cupcakes

It amazes me that I haven’t seen a blue sky in over 2 weeks. I wish I was exaggerating but honestly, it’s been nothing but clouds, rain, and low temperatures day after gloomy day. I’m going nuts! I’m craving sunshine! I want it to hot and humid! I want to be sweaty and miserable, darnit!

With rain pouring nonstop outside, there’s really nothing to do. Except bake moist, delicious chai cupcakes and then slather it with honey ginger swiss meringue buttercream. (Yep, this was the ONLY option)

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Asian Carrot Slaw

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of raw carrots. There’s something about its crunchiness that isn’t satisfying to me. But ironically enough, this slaw features carrots as its main ingredient. Following my train of thought yet? …Me neither.

There is no real recipe for this. Just grate up some (or a lot) of carrots, slice up some cabbage, dress with a little scallion, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper and then drown it in rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and and a touch of honey. Let the veggies soak up the goodness and enjoy.

Fruit Tart

What I love about summer is the over-abundance of fruit – gloriously sweet, deliriously delicious fruit. A trip to the farmer’s markets turns into a trip to the candy store with aisles of bright colored produce, and of course, I revert back into my five-year old self, squealing with glee as I run up and down the aisles and grab everything I can get my grubby paws on. My over-excitement often translates into overbuying fruit, which is bad most of the time. But if a fruit tart is on the menu, it’s a beautiful bad habit to have.

First thing’s first – you need to make the sweet tart dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Once that’s ready to go, roll it out into your trusty tart pan and then freeze it for at least 30 minutes (needless to say, the longer, the better!). Bake it off, make some vanilla pastry cream, throw on a few pounds of fruit and voi la! Instant fruit tart! (Okay… so maybe it’s not that simple…)

Decorating the fruit tart is like making that macaroni picture frame from second grade.

Prettifying with a little smackling of glaze.

Hello, wondrous tart of goodness.

I cannot wait until you get in my belly.

Rich, buttery crush. Smooth, decadent vanilla cream. Fresh and sweet but slightly tart berries. In one bite? Yes, please.
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cleaning out the fridge

I’d like to think of cleaning out the refrigerator as an adventure. You dive headfirst into a great unknown, digging through oodles of mysterious containers and bags. Once in awhile, you’ll stumble across an unknown specimen that’s sprouting some delightful gray fuzz. But those other times, you’ll rummage through bins and discover that you have some vegetables just waiting to be used. Lucky for me, today was one of the latter occasions. I found a bit of baby spinach here, some cherry tomatoes there, and a mountain of garlic (there is no such thing as too much garlic). With my mom and sister en route and hungry from long hours of work, I slapped together this simple and hearty pasta.

There are still some kinks to be worked out with this recipe (read as: I have a bad tendency to not use measurements when cooking) but the end result was tasty! I should horde food more often and see what else I can scrounge up next.

Sausage and Friends Pasta (I lack creativity.)
measurements are really rough — experiment with it!
Serves 4 (or 3 ravenous people)

2 links of sausages (I used sweet Italian chicken sausage)
½ cup cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 zucchini, medium
1 onion, medium
3 cloves garlic
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to sauté and to finish
your choice of pasta

1.) Cook your choice of pasta according to the directions on the box, but make sure to under cook it a little bit because it’ll be cooked a little more once it’s mixed with the vegetables.
2.) Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Slice sausages into ½ inch disks and when the oil is heated, place the sausages face down into the skillet. Let them brown, about a minute to a minute and a half, and then flip over. Let them brown for about a minute and set the sausages aside in a separate bowl. Pour ¼ cup of water into the bottom of the pan and gently scrape to de-glaze the goodies stuck to the bottom and then switch off heat.
3.) Roughly chop the garlic and onion into ¼ inch pieces and set aside. Then, slice the zucchini into ¼ inch thick discs. Heat the pan that you used to cook the sausage on medium low and add the garlic and onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and give it a stir and let the onions cook for a few minutes before adding the zucchini. Cook until all the vegetables are tender (around 5 minutes).
4.) Add al dente pasta and return sausage to the vegetables in the pan. Slice cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise and that and spinach to the pasta. Mix well.
5.) On low heat, season the dish with basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Grate lemon zest and squeeze lemon juice in as well. Toss, mix, and most importantly, taste!
6.) Turn off the heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil to finish off the pasta. If you have some parmesan cheese, be sure to grate some over the pasta.

honey wheat bread

Carbohydrates. The mere sound of this word makes me feel warm and tingly inside. My eyes dart around the room looking for this delicious item, my mouth watering in anticipation. I’m a fiend for carbs, an addict for its soft and chewy texture, a worshipper of its perfection. One of the only things that can make bread any better is when it’s fresh from the oven. That and a generous slathering of butter.

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Five Guys Burgers

There are few things to do in New Jersey. There are strip malls — lots and lots of strip malls — and beaches, slightly terrifying drivers and miles of parkway and turnpikes. So what are twelve bored college kids to do? Hit the road and get some grub! After our White Castle fiasco four years ago (think many, many hungry high school kids, twenty crave cases, and three days of regret), fast food was definitely out of the question. One of my friends, since coming home from Pittsburgh, has been craving a burger from Five Guys and the complimentary peanuts they offer.

Five Guys is a burger chain that makes, get this, burgers and fries, and apparently, it’s won some rave reviews from critics and hungry college students alike. And boy, did this pretty mundane burger joint (in, of course, a shopping plaza) have some delicious burgers and fries that whooped fast food’s butt. Juicy, savory, and satisfying, and all the toppings you could want. Mmm. A note for visitors though — their regular burgers have two patties, their little ones have one, something I wish they put on their menu.

Their cajun fries are also pretty darn tasty — crispy, thick-cut potato wedges dredged in paprika and stuffed into a styrofoam cup. I could munch on these for hours!

My friend had led me to believe that the floors would be covered in oodles of peanut shells; that I would hear nothing but the sound of crunching. But alas, the floors were spick & span. Oh well, there was an endless amount of free peanuts so who am I to complain?

Five Guys Burgers
561 US Highway 1 # A7
Edison, NJ 08817

happy dragon boat festival!

I love Chinese holidays because there’s always some sticky, glutenous food associated with it, and lots of it! The Dragon Boat Festival is no exception as we eat zong zi, packets of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with various goodies.

According to legend, a poet named Qu Yuan also served as a loyal adviser to the emperor. But because the emperor was a big butt and refused to listen to Qu Yuan’s advice, he exiled Qu Yuan and went ahead with his plans of conquest. Eventually, his kingdom crumbled and in despair, Qu Yuan threw himself into the river. The local people admired the poet and threw these rice packets into the river so the fish would eat these instead of his body.

Mine is the savory kind, graciously wrapped and given to me by a Chinese “auntie”, filled with pork belly, peanuts, shiitake mushroom, and some unidentifiable grain of some kind? If it’s tasty, I don’t question it.

Apparently, this year is lunar leap year, meaning the lunar equivalent of May is happening again, also meaning that there’s a second Dragon Boat Festival, meaning more zongzi for me to eat. Yay!