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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes

Ya it's time for another cupcake recipe already...don't hate, I'm a girl obsessed. My entire family has a coconut addiction. It is so strong that I could probably do a study and prove that a love for coconut is somehow present in my gene pool. Well, when I was home for only 24 hours, I had to make a good impact on my family. I MISSED them and obviously they missed me *minus my Dad's new diet, I'm the worst enemy, the diet does not miss me, the diet FEARS me*. So, I wanted to show them just how much I missed them/wanted to make them mourn my absence once I left the next day by making them some cupcakes I knew they would do backflips for. These cupcakes get severely saturated by coconut in the best way possible. A dense cake is infused with coconut in two forms;  through shredded coconut flakes and creamy coconut milk. The coconut milk makes the cake intensely dense and deliciously smooth. Topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting and some more coconut flakes, these cupcakes had my family tearing as they sent me on my way. *i think*.

Coconut Cupcakes, makes 12

3 eggs 
8 tbs sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup coconut flakes

1 sticks butter, softened at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs heavy cream

coconut flakes for decor

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until well combined. Gradually whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make sure to scrape the sides and get all the dry bits on the side incorporated. Slowly mix in the milk and then fold in the coconut flakes by hand. Fill greased cupcake holders or cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 12 minutes until the top is golden brown or a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the frosting: In a bowl fitted with an electric cream the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and on slow speed mix it in. Once mixed, add the vanilla and heavy cream. Whip on high for 5 minutes until light, fluffy, and about double in size.

 want to hang out?
 loco for coco...nut

put a lime in the coconut...or don't and put it in a cupcake

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vegetable Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice

I'm proud of this one. Actually I reaaaalllly like this one. Like a lot. It's hard to beat a good bowl of fried rice taste-wise, but we all know it's easy to beat it on the health spectrum. Well, I'm here to change that. When my permanent sous chef Ali and I decided to whip up dinner for the girls, we wanted to provide a hearty yet healthy meal that would stand up to our evening activities...*lol you know what i'm talking bout*. So in our brainstorming, we decided to replace the rice in fried rice with some protein packed quinoa. We threw in all of our favorite vegetables and diced chicken breast, AND topped each portion with a lovely runny egg. The egg yolk acts as a rich sauce that oozes all over the quinoa and ties the whole dish together. This is the perfect substantial meal that will satisfy your tummy, taste buds, and conscience.
 Vegetable Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups quinoa, (rinse your quinoa in cold water before cooking to get rid of bitter bite)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can sweet peas, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 cup cut broccoli florets
1 cup snap peas

3 tbs less sodium soy sauce
garlic powder

olive oil
2 cooked chicken breast, (we used those of a rotisserie chicken)

Recipe: Add the chicken broth and quinoa to a pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for about 25 minutes, until all liquid is evaporated and quinoa is fluffy. Fluff with a fork, and keep covered until ready to use.
While the quinoa is cooking prepare the vegetables. Combine all of them in a large bowl, season with salt, garlic powder and soy sauce, and toss to coat.
Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the vegetables and cook them down until tender and until they have a nice sear, about 15 minutes. Once done, remove the vegetables from the stove and return them to the bowl. Add the chicken.
Mix all of the veg/chicken into the cooked quinoa. In batches, cook the quinoa in a skillet on the stove to lightly brown/sear it to give it a nice fry texture.
Fry an egg, keeping the center intact and runny. Spoon the quinoa into bowls and top with the egg. Serve with soy sauce on the side and eat up!
 its just so pretty
 my friends r so helpful<3
 hungree, happee, and full.

quinoa = quality

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken

All right. Let's get savory. This is about as simple as it gets, but this simplicity does not compromise the dish's deliciousness in the slightest. Whether your making this as a quick week night dinner for yourself, or having it as a special occasion with a friend (hi Janie-spice), you will be more then satisfied with its crispy skin, juicy meat, and delicate citrusy fresh flavor. Jane and I made this as part of our pre-fasting meal for Yom Kippur, and it certainly did our last meal *and our stomachs* justice. Served beside your favorite side dish, in our case roasted butternut squash, a green salad and brussel sprouts, and you are in the midst of a feast. Beyond easy, season these babies up and pop them in the oven for 40-45 minutes, and you are more then good to go. One for the books? I vote yes.
Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken

2 chicken breasts, skin on bone in
4 chicken thighs, skin on bone in
1 lemon
1 orange
2 tbs olive oil
3 strands fresh thyme
garlic powder

Recipe: Wash and clean the chicken. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange your chicken in a spacious baking dish. Squeeze the lemon and orange juices over the chicken. Drizzle the olive oil. Remove the thyme leaves from the stem and sprinkle them over the chicken along with a generous amount of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Using you hands, massage all of this into the chicken, making sure to cover both sides of each piece with all of the seasonings. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Turn on the broiler for 2 minutes at the end to ensure a crispy skin.
the whoooole plate. MMM.
Janie-spice SO excited about our last meal.

its chicken thyme

Monday, September 24, 2012

Upside Down Apple Spice Cake

I know it seems far away, but Thanksgiving is actually right around the corner. Thinking about Thanksgiving already? am I crazy?! No. Just hungree for my favorite holiday of all time, duh. Well, this is a recipe that I'd like to have on my Thanksgiving dessert table. It captures the flavors of the fall harvest, warms your soul, and would be the perfect table companion for a pumpkin pie. So yes, we all love apple pie, but we love apple cake too, especially this one. A dense apple spice cake is baked on top of a layer of fresh apples and a brown sugar caramel sauce. When the pan is flipped, you are treated to the breathtaking view of a gentle layering of caramelized apples, dripping their brown sugar juiciness onto the sides of the cake. It's beyond. Especially the next day for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate/coffee/tea. Ya, I know, you want it.
5 apples, skins ON
3 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs molasses
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp each: ground nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger

Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice 3 of the apples into thing rings. Grease a springform pan. Arrange the rings in a a circular pattern, covering the bottom of the pan. In a saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Once melted, add 1 cup brown sugar. Stir over low heat for about 3 minutes, until it thickens and starts to bubble. Pour this caramel mixture over the apples on the bottom of the pan, set aside.

Chop the remaining 2 apples into 1/2 inch pieces. Melt the rest of the 1/2 stick of butter in the same caramel pan. Once melted, add the diced apples. Cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

 Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining 2 sticks butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, syrups, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, baking powder, salt, spices) and gradually add to wet mixture on low and mix until well combined. Stir in the diced softened apples by hand. Pour the batter over the caramel covered apples in the spring form pan, making sure the sides are well greased.
Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until center is set. Put a baking sheet under the pan in case the caramel leaks. Let rest for about 15 minutes before removing spring form. EAT a massive slice with a warm cup of coco/tea/coffee.
talk about fall perfection
 oh so you want to come to my Thanksgiving?
 i thought you might

fall away

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Price: $$
Forks: 8.1

918 S. 22nd St
Philadelphia, PA

My brother, our friend Ionso and I have officially started a supper club. Our goal is to try a new Philly restaurant once a week. Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Yes.
Our first adventure led us to a spot that I had written down on a sticky on my computer and randomly found. Nestled in a corner off of South Street, SoWe is a cool vibing bar/restaurant that recently opened this past April. When you walk in and take in the decor and smells, you immediately categorize it as a place you want to be. A dark wooden bar, a few TVs strung above it, and warm wooden tables tucked cozily around the restaurant made for a welcoming atmosphere. Once seated, we poured over the menu, struggling to choose what to order as each dish sounded more enticing then the next.  The menu featured upscale American bar food, with an appetizer, salads, sandwiches, and plates categories. To start we ordered the trio of local vegetables, the chopped salad, and the ginger coconut mussels. 
Today's vegetable trio consisted of pickled okra and onions, cumin spiced jalapeños and carrots, and pearl onions and cherry tomatoes. They were kicking, each vegetable mixture possessing a unique flavor that while potent, allowed the vegetable's natural flavor to shine. My favorite was the cherry tomato pearl onion one, as the pickling transformed the tomatoes into mauve colored gems that bursted with sweet juiciness. UGH so good. 
 The chopped salad was packed. Loaded with kalamata olives, hard-cooked eggs, haricot vert, cucumber, radish, red onion, tomato, crispy chickpeas, and a creamy honey-lime dressing, while it wasn't amazing, it was fun to eat as each bite offered a multitude of different tastes.

The mussels were steamed and served in a ginger coconut broth and crispy grilled bread. It was a bowl of soul-warming deliciousness, and while the broth was a little too much on the sweet side, our completely empty bowl proved to show we didn't mind.
Then came our entrees. First we tackled the Seared Ahi Tuna, with an olive tapenade, a warm quinoa salad, and drizzles of aged balsamic. The tuna was cooked expertly, with a nice outside sear and a lovely pink inside. It was a beautiful piece of fish, and was a nicely executed dish, but it wasn't anything special.
The next two entrées were actually out of control. Each component of the dishes were unbelievably thought out and were harmonious to a tee. The first of these dishes was the Berkshire Pork Belly Pastrami Sandwich. It was absolutely out of control in the best way possible. Served on marble rye, huge pieces of slow roasted and crisped pork belly got topped with chipotle Russian dressing, and coleslaw. This sandwich is in my top 5 sandwiches of all time hands down. The pork is smokey and salty, just fatty enough, and melts on your tongue. The coleslaw on the sandwich adds the perfect touch of needed crunch and it's juices soak into the sandwich, adding a welcome sweet note that contrast with the saltiness of the pork. It came with a side of fries that were also bomb, and had the necessary fry balance of crispy to tenderness. Typing this makes me want this sandwich NOW. 
 nom city
Dun dun dun dunnnn. Last but certainly not least came the Wednesday night special, the Fried Chicken. A half chicken was fried and came served with collard greens and potato salad. The chicken was crazy good. An intensely thick and crispy crunchy skin literally crackled in your mouth. And while a crispy outside and juicy inside is hard to achieve, SoWe did it, and OH they did it so lovely. The greens were lovingly cooked, rendered down perfectly, and had great flavor. And then came the potato salad. Creamy yet textured, sweet yet salty and tangy, it was a picnic's dream partner. Divinity.
Then there was dessert. How does one choose among a seasonal bread pudding, a cupcake of the day, a special shortcake, beignets, and more? It's not easy, let me tell you. We went with the beignets and the triple berry shortcake. The beignets were light, fluffy, and when dunked in their accompanying rich caramel sauce, will have you reaching for more as fast as you can so you can get them before the rest of the table does. 
Classic shortcakes were filled with whipped cream and loads of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. It was clean, elegant, and held on to the leftover bits of summer in the utmost respectful way. 
We loved this place. LOVED. Discovering this spot was like winning a treasure hunt. This is a place I want to casually drink a brew and watch "the" game. *The means any important game and when you say it it's obvious which one you are talking about because people just know*. Come, now, specifically on a Wednesday if you want any of that fried chicken goodness. ALSO, they do brunch. jus saying.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

S'mores Fudge

This is a funny story. I'm probably the only person on the planet that goes to eat dinner at a friend's house and comes back to my own house with a 5 lb. bag of chocolate chips. Welcome to my life. I promised my girls who gave me the chocolate chips that I would make some magic with them. It also happened to be pouring cats and dogs outside, so there was not a chance I was making it to the grocery store. I was stuck with what I had in my kitchen. I guess "stuck" isn't the exact word, because I like to be fully stocked with baking ingredients 24/7 so I can be ready to whip up some cupcakes or what not at all times. I scanned my selection, happened upon some marshmallows, and decided to make some S'mores fudge. A layer of buttery graham crackers topped with a layer of dense chocoaltey goodness swirled with some mallows? How can you go wrong? You can't. This is what dark rainy nights are about. If the sun's not gonna come out and the rain won't stop, the only thing you can do is make the night seem a little sweeter by making these.
S'mores Fudge

10 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
4 tbs melted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz.
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs vanilla
1 cup mini marshmallows

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 casserole dish. Combine the graham crackers with the melted butter and pat into an even layer in the casserole dish. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, baking soda, salt, and vanilla in a heatproof bowl. Use the double boiler method, melting the mixture over a boiling pan of water. Stir frequently as not to burn the chocolate. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the marshmallows. Spoon the chocolate marshmallow layer atop the graham cracker layer. Ensure that it is even and then and put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
Once chilled, cut into squares and enjoy!
 ef the rain. we got this.

fudge trumps rain

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lemon Swordfish

Sometimes I'm just so sick of chicken. Sometimes I just have those days where I'm craving something substantial and filling, and chicken or steak just won't cut it. Sometimes, you need a hearty fish to step in, take control of the meal and show all how it's done. For me, swordfish is this hearty fish I crave when I'm in one of these types of moods. A flaky white swordfish steak fits this job perfectly, offering a   robust dish, while having a lighter effect then poultry or meat. When I cook fish I'm all about keeping it simple. In this case, a delicate lemon marinade is made that doubles as the sauce as well, creating a light lemony fish that's flavorful, simple, and clean. If you're scared of cooking fish, don't be. This is not only one of the easiest things in the world, but is also is healthee and is beyond tastee. SO, let's mix it up with some fish yo.
Lemon Swordfish, serves 6

3 large swordfish steaks, (1/2 a steak per person)
3 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 sprigs fresh oregano leaves
garlic powder

Recipe: Clean your swordfish steaks and place in a large plastic bag. In a bowl combine the juice of 3 lemons, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Whisk until well combined. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Be generous with the salt. Pour 2/3 of the marinade into the plastic bag with the fish, shake the bag to ensure that the marinade coats each steak. Seal the bag and marinate for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours, in the fridge. Set the remaining 1/3 of the sauce in the fridge.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour the contents of the plastic bag into a casserole dish, juices and all. Arrange the steaks so they are not overlapping. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn heat to broil, and cook for an additional 5, until the tops begin to brown. Remove from oven.
While the fish is cooking, heat the remaining 1/3 sauce in a skillet on the stove until warm.
Serve the fish with the sauce on the side.
Lemon Sauce
 mmmm look how pretty
 put some extra sauce on dat filet
 and hellooooo heaven

fishin 4 success

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vietnam Café

Vietnam Café
forks: 7.9
price: $$

816 S. 47th St.
Philadelphia, PA

While this used to be a favorite hidden gem of mine, people are slowly beginning to discover the concealed treasure that is Vietnam Café.  I used to think I could avoid sharing this spot, keep it to myself and bring the occasional friend for a delicious dinner, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that its unearthing is inevitable and now I’m ready to share. Vietnam Café is serving up clean and flavorful classic Vietnamese dishes that are mouthwateringly divine. This is good, quality food, full of rich and bold flavors that are sure to convert you to a Vietnamese food lover on the spot. Unlike Chinese or other Asian cuisine, Vietnamese food is light and delicate, yet has an intense flavor profile that makes it interesting and different. This particular outing to VC was a special occasion as my pack was FINALLY all together in one place after a lengthy distanced summer. What better way to celebrate then to chat and catch up over deliciously comforting food? No better way.
To start, Morgs and I split the tofu rolls. Two rolls wrapped in thin rice paper are filled with tofu, rice noodles, and some vegetables, and are served alongside a deeply concentrated peanut dipping sauce. The rolls are fresh tasting and springy, combining a multitude of textures that your palette will welcome. ALSO, this sauce is BOMB, and you will find yourself heaping tablespoons of it on even the smallest bite of the roll….or licking it plain if you’re us.
For my entrée I got the Clay Pot Chicken; tender pieces of chicken simmered in a traditional Vietnamese sauce that sings of garlic, ginger and scallions, all served in a smoldering clay pot with a side of fluffy white rice. The sauce is potent and intoxicatingly addictive. It’s hard to pinpoint all the tasty notes as it has a deep complexity that informs you that this sauce is built upon layers and layers of flavors.
The soups at Vietnam Café are actually heaven-sent. If you’re feeling even the slightest bit sick and you lap down one of these cauldrons, I can say with almost 99% positivity that you will be feeling better. Powerfully spiced broths somehow have the ability to carry a delicious intensity while still remaining gentle and not too pungent. How they do it, I don’t know, but as long as I get to enjoy it I don’t really care about cracking the ancient Vietnamese culinary codes.
 Vegetable Seafood Soup...Sea all that food?!
The broken rice dishes features soft meats and vegetables, broken rice, and an exquisite balance of flavors. While each component is perfectly flavored and can solidly stand on it’s own, when eaten together a match along the lines of Posh Spice and D-Becks *aka magnificently harmonious* is achieved.
The beef curry was good, not great. While it had a strong distinct taste, the texture wasn’t my favorite and seemed a bit grainy, as if it needed to be strained one more time.
The shrimp dish Neesh got was excellent. The shrimp were plump and plentiful, beautifully cooked, and were lovingly married perfectly to the sauce they came simmered in.
If you’re in the mood for an interesting dessert try the Coconut Taro Rice Pudding. Sticky rice gets topped with thick coconut milk and chunks of warm taro root are tucked inside each bite. Possessing a unique balance of textures, and an even more unique balance of flavors, this dessert, while not appealing to everyone, will certainly strike that subtle sweet note in many, and it did so with my table.
So, the once my secret hole in the wall-pre-renovation spot of Vietnam Café is not so secret anymore. And now that it’s big enough to seat us all, I don’t mind so much. Once you try it’s clean, simply delicious dishes, you’ll develop my ardent love for the Café as well. My next hope? PLEASE start delivery, I will singlehandedly keep your delivery business running happily. 

Vietnamese Voucher #1

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Blondies

You know something is good when you make it and then you decide to remake it the next day simply because people liked it so much. It's a good feeling. I had finished class and was looking for something to do when it came to me, blondies. Blondies are a brown sugar butterscotch "brownie" which you can tweak and add things too like its your job. I found that if you add chocolate chips, you get a brownie that tastes like cookie dough and absolutely melts in your mouth. Who says undercooking brownies is a crime? Not only is it not a crime, it's the essential move. Cook these just until their set in the center for a treat that is gushing chocolate and gooey brown sugary goodness. These are Sinful with a capital S, and lez be honest, thats one of our favorite words.
 Chocolate Chip Blondies, recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix the melted butter and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well incorporated. Add salt and using a wooden spoon stir in flour. Once the flour is absorbed, stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the middle is set. DON'T overcook! keep 'em gooey!
 i just can't..
 look at that top. golden goodness
 ya i can work with that
 how do you make 45 blondies disappear?
call dan, nick and cole

blondies have more fun