Allison Day
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Weekly Wanderings {2016 week 2}

Started the week off with this excellent bò lúc lắc (Vietnamese shaking beef). Buttery, tender, and way more flavorful than any I’ve had elsewhere. So good, we got a second order to go!

Shaking beef

We got rain this week! Serious, drenching, holy-shit-I-am-not-going-outside-in-that-downpour rain!

I’m still not convinced El Niño is here yet (the rest of the week has been disappointingly dry), but I’m still pretty excited about the rain we did get.

The best part? Hot chocolate with colorful marshmallows, and homemade blueberry muffins from mom. My five-year-old self is quite pleased with how this whole “growing up” thing has turned out.

Hot chocolate and blueberry muffin

Two out of three kids visited mom on the same day and ate her soup and focaccia bread.

(Would have been three out of three, but my sister’s out of town.)

I definitely went back for a second helping… with mom’s permission, of course!

Beef and barley soup, homemade focaccia

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Links I’ve loved lately:

I just can’t help myself, I love a good pun

I keep watching this over and over, it’s just so cool.

Slightly obsessed with her ballet technique. I’ve watched a video of her that a friend posted on Facebook at least a couple dozen times in the last few days, and now I really want the DVD of the whole class!

I love author Delilah Dawson’s blog posts about depression and mindfulness – she isn’t afraid to be honest about real life, even when it really really sucks.

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Things I want to eat:

Definitely intrigued by this miso sesame gnocchi.

Chipotle beef and bechamel lasagna – talk about comfort food!

Chocolate + peanut butter + banana + muffins… yes, please!

Really love the idea of this baklava oatmeal.

Absolutely definitely need to make this apple fritter bread.

I always go for the Asian flavors, so obviously I’m all about this creamy kimchi and sausage pasta.

This no-churn ginger ice cream is absolutely happening as soon as temperatures warm up around here!

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Weekly Wanderings {2016 week 1}

Happy New Year!

My one resolution for blogging this year is to stop worrying so much. Stop worrying if people like the stuff I post. Stop worrying if I’m posting on the right day. Stop worrying that it’s already been two years since I traveled to Europe and I still haven’t posted about it because I just can’t quite get the posts to be perfect… just stop worrying. It’s all fine! Better to post imperfectly than not post at all, right?

And on that note, I’m starting up my Weekly Wanderings posts again! They faltered under the weight of perfectionism as well, which is silly because I love writing these, and even more than that I love having them to look back on what I was doing and thinking throughout the year. So onward, upward (and yes, there will be some back-posting as I catch up on the ones I missed…) and happy 2016!

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We’ve been taking a lot of long walks around our neighborhood lately, exploring the city (and getting plenty of exercise). On one such walk, I found a pig, and loved it so much I had to go back and get a photo of it.

Christmas piggy

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It’s New Year’s, and you know what that means… lots of sushi!

Ready to make sushi!

This year, I ended up with:

Vegan sushi

Of course, we always have to start off with ozoni, with my mom’s homemade mochi.

Ozoni

And don’t forget your lucky bean! I’ve been making kuromame every year, with this recipe from Rachael of La Fuji Mama.

Kuromame

As if I didn’t have enough to cook, I also decided to make furikake nori rice krispie treats, inspired by this recipe from Joy the Baker (I left out the instant ramen). Mine ended up lumpy (to no fault of the recipe… but possibly because I used vegan marshmallows? or just plain user error, also a possibility…), but they were SO good. My family loved them!

Furikake nori rice krispie treats

Hope you’re having a happy and delicious new year so far!

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Things I want to eat:

I haven’t gotten into oatmeal yet this winter, but when I do I definitely want to make this dulce de leche oatmeal with bananas foster.

Every single thing about this ginger tofu pudding with soy milk mochi and kinako black sesame puddef millet crumble sounds insanely good. A project, but I really want to make it!

I want this smoked paprika potatoes and egg bake for breakfast every morning, please.

I have pretty much all the ingredients for these whole wheat double chocolate avocado muffins in my kitchen… and the avocados need to be eaten… so that means I definitely need to make them, right?

Really, really want to try these chocolate coconut bliss balls.

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Black Sesame Shortbread

Black Sesame Shortbread

2015 marks the fourth year that I’ve participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! … and the first year that I couldn’t get the darn post written by the deadline. Oops.

Not to worry – I definitely got the cookies made and shipped with time to spare, and I’m happy to say that Rebecca of Displaced Housewife, Elizabeth of It’s Good to be the Cook, and Sara of Confectionary Tales of a Bakeaholic all received packages of cookies from me right on time.

It’s just that awesome things and crappy things and just plain life happened a bit more than usual, and then Lightroom broke so we couldn’t even process the photos until we figured out how to get that fixed, and the cookie swap posting deadline came and went and I decided that the posts will happen when they happen (because, yes, as usual I definitely made more than one type of cookie to send) and it’s not worth stressing like crazy about.

So.

Cookies!

These Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies were the first of four different types of cookies I sent. They’re nutty, and fragrant from the orange zest, and oh so snackable especially when you make them small (mine were quarter-sized). Of the four types of cookies I made, these were my mom’s favorite.

Black Sesame Shortbread with Orange Zest

Recipe from SugarHero!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1 cup) powdered sugar
  • zest from 1 large orange
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 oz (1/4 cup) black sesame seeds

Cooking Directions

  1. Cream together the butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl on medium-low speed just until the sugar is incorporated and the butter is smooth. Add the cardamom, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until only a few flour streaks remain. Mix in the black sesame seeds with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl and making sure the seeds are well-distributed.
  2. Scrape the cookie dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disc, and wrap it tightly. Put the dough on a flat tray then refrigerate it until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once firm, preheat the oven to 350°F, and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and keep the half you’re not working with well-wrapped in the refrigerator. Roll out the remaining half between two sheets of lightly floured parchment or waxed paper, until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Cut shapes out of the dough, or cut it into squares with a sharp knife. Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets. The cookies won’t spread very much while baking, so you don’t need to leave too much room between them. When you’ve cut out all the cookies you can, press the dough together, re-roll it, and return it to the refrigerator to chill while the first batch bakes.
  4. Bake the cookies at 350°F for about 12 minutes, until the edges are very slightly colored. Remove the tray from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Repeat for the second half of the dough. Let cool completely.
  6. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Flourless Brownie-Bottom Cheesecake

Triple Chocolate Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Death by chocolate… very appropriate for Halloween, don’t you think?

I made this a few years ago, when my grandmother had to go gluten-free so we planned an entire gluten-free Thanksgiving for her. This cheesecake is rich, decadent, and oh so chocolatey… and completely flourless! Highly recommended for all the chocolate-lovers in your life.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Recipe originally found on Fridgg, but sadly the original link to the recipe no longer works.

Ingredients

For the brownie bottom:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
For the cheesecake:
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a pie tin with a bit of coconut oil.
  2. Combine the first 5 brownie ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Combine 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips with 3/4 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Melt the chocolate chips by microwaving on low and stirring every 20 seconds until the chocolate is melted. Make sure not to overcook the chocolate chips!
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the existing brownie batter stirring the batter as your pour. Once incorporated, pour the brownie batter into the prepared pie dish and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F.
  5. After 15 minutes, remove the pie plate from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the cheesecake part. The brownies will be very underdone at this point, but that’s ok. Reduce the oven heat to 325°F.
  6. Combine the 1/3 cup of milk chocolate chips and the 1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips and melt them in the oven using the technique described above.
  7. Once chocolate is melted, combine the mascarpone, ricotta, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, cocoa powder, honey and melted chocolate in a large bowl and beat with a hand held mixer until smooth.
  8. Pour the cheesecake filling onto the partially baked brownie bottom. Bake in a 325°F oven for 40-50 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake springs back when touched.
  9. Let cool, and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Vietnamese Chicken and Bok Choy

Vietnamese slow cooker chicken and bok choy

I’ve got a persistent cough, the kind where you always get an itch in your throat at exactly the wrong time (such as, right at the moment when someone asks you a question in the middle of a conference call), and leaves you sounding like a chain smoker.

Son’s getting over an ear infection, which, as he put in an uncharacteristically poetic manner earlier tonight, “I feel like there’s a tiny hummingbird in my ear, making love to my eardrum.”

I’ve spent the last week staying up working until 4am every night, trying to meet crazy deadlines. (The glamorous life of a freelancer!)

The dishes are piling up, and there are boxes and boxes of miscellaneous kitchenware all over my living room floor, because they’re cleaning out grandma’s house and I couldn’t bear to let them just get rid of it all.

This is real life.

Which means, well, there couldn’t possibly be a better time to break out the slow cooker. What a lifesaver it is. Just toss the ingredients in a pot, turn it on, and don’t think about it again until it’s time to eat. It doesn’t get better than this.

I originally wrote the above back in May (yes, it takes me five months to finish a blog post), and liked it so much I decided to post it anyways. It’s finally cooling off in LA right now, after a summer and fall filled with heat waves, so it feels like slow cooker season again. I’ve already made this again this season just a couple of weeks ago, and I’m already craving it again. It’s that sort of hearty, comfort food-delicious sort of meal that fills you, warms you, and makes you feel good about yourself because it manages to be pretty healthy, too.

Slow cooker Vietnamese chicken and bok choy

Recipe adapted from Yankee Kitchen Ninja. We like to make lots and have leftovers all week, and the bok choy is our favorite part so we make quite a bit extra. However if you have a smaller slow cooker or just want enough for a meal, you can refer to the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup shoyu
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (I usually add more because we really love garlic)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • lots of bok choy (I usually go with 5lbs or so; other greens can also be used)

Cooking Directions

  1. Put everything except the bok choy in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
  2. Wash the bok choy, discard the last inch of the base. When the chicken is finished cooking, carefully transfer it to another bowl. Place the bok choy in the slow cooker, stirring to make sure it is coated with the sauce. Replace the lid, and cook on high for another half hour or so, until the bok choy is wilted and soft.
  3. Serve over white or brown rice. Enjoy!