Egg and Chorizo Potato Bake

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Egg Chorizo Potato Bake

The past few months have been flying by, I mean, here we are, already half way through 2015. By the way, I’m not particularly looking forward to turning 28 next month. At 27, you’re teetering between mid-twenties and late twenties, but once you turn 28, let’s face it, you’re pretty much 30! No, I’m not obsessed with getting old, but I am half-expecting someone to hand me a congratulatory birthday package containing a bottle of Tums, some anti-wrinkle cream, a bottomless bag of butterscotch candies, and a complete beginner’s guide on how to knit. Of course, I’m being facetious! Sort of. Here’s hoping 30 is the new 20!

Egg Chorizo Potato Bake

GridPost_postcard

Top left: In the world of digital messaging, getting a post card in the mail is all the more special.
Top right: The porch needed something other than cobwebs to fill up it’s space.
Bottom left: More succulents from the nursery.
Bottom right: Enjoying a drink by the fire at Mix Downtown Sacramento.

GridPost_savory

Top left: Fish sauce chicken wings with fried garlic. My kitchen smelled of garlic for hours after.
Top right: I think my husband has mastered the art of grilling steaks.
Bottom left: Homemade lemongrass chicken noodle salad
Bottom right: Homemade fried green tomatillos

GridPost_sweets

Top left: Banofee cream pie I made for a house warming. Desserts require a delicate hand, I should know, I made 2 pie crusts but flopped one in the oven as I was taking it out. You need them delicate hands, I tell you!
Top right: Doughnuts for National Doughnut Day.
Bottom left: Homemade carrot cake cupcakes for a Birthday.
Bottom right: Homemade French toast.
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Chile Rellenos

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Chile Rellenos

Living in California, I am just surrounded by amazing Mexican food everywhere! Whether it’s a taqueria, a fancy cantina, or a push cart down the street, you don’t have look very far to find your favorite dishes.

In fact, one of my favorite dishes is, you guessed it, chile rellenos – peppers stuffed with cheese that’ve been battered and deep fried served with a tangy tomato salsa. The first time I had these were in Woodland, California at Maria’s Cantina. I was told their chile rellenos were amazing – the stuffed peppers I’ve had in the past were always just filled with bland barley and raisins, but I’m always down to try new foods, so I took chance and order it with a side of rice and beans. Needles to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The richness of the jack cheese, the smoky poblano flavor, and the zesty salsa…I had never had anything like it!

Fast-forward a few years, and here I am today, making my own chile rellenos at home. Not going to lie, these peppers are a lot more labor-intensive than I had expected, but it’ll be worth it once you take that first bite. Check out the recipe below! (modified and adapted from All Recipes.

Chile Rellenos

chile rellenos

Ingredients

Yields: 4 stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers:
4 poblano/pasilla peppers
4 oz of pepper jack cheese, cubed
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
⅓ cup flour, for batter
½ tsp salt
¼ cup flour, for dredging
1 ½-2 cups oil, for frying

Sauce:
3 tomatoes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
½ cup chicken broth
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce

Directions

Roasting and stuffing the peppers:
Using a gas burner or torch, carefully roast the peppers on all sides until crisp and blackened. After roasting each pepper, place them into a large bowl covered with a plate or lid allowing the peppers to steam in their own heat. (This part is crucial! The steaming process makes it easier for you to peel off the skin) After the peppers have sat in their own steam for about 15-20 minutes, use a paper towel to rub off the blackened skin. Using a paring knife, make a small T-shaped incision on one side of each pepper, just big enough for you to cut out the seeds and stuff in the cheese. Carefully remove the seeds. I like to leave in some seeds, but just know, the more seeds, the spicier your chile relleno will be. Stuff the pepper with 1 oz of cheese and set aside.

Making the sauce
Puree the tomatoes in a food processor. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, heat the oil, toss in diced onion and brown until slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic for about a minute. Then stir in tomato puree, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, pepper, vinegar, and hot sauce. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat and set aside.

Making the batter
With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Stir the egg yolks with a fork or whisk. Using a spatula, fold the yolks and ⅓ cup of flour into the whipped egg whites.

Heat the frying oil in a skillet on medium to medium-high, you want it to be in the range of 325 Fahrenheit.

Coating the peppers:
Dredge the peppers in ¼ cup of flour and dip into the egg batter; you may need to used a spoon to evenly cover the pepper.

Frying the peppers:
Place the peppers in the hot oil. (I placed 2 peppers in the pan at a time to prevent overcrowding.) After the first side has reached a golden brown color, about 2-4 minutes, flip the pepper allowing it to brown on the other side. When the peppers are done frying, place them on a few paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Preparing the plate:
Pour a few spoonfuls of the sauce onto a plate, lay the pepper on top and pour just a bit more sauce over the top. Voila! You’re finished!

Chile Rellenos

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NOLA + Gulfport + Beignets Galore!

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cafe du monde new orleans

Last Month, Jonah and I took a vacay down South to Gulfport, MS and one of America’s biggest food capitals: New Orleans! Above are some shots from Cafe Du Monde, THE said place to get beignets. When we got there, there was line of about 200 people or so, and that’s just the sit down line (yes, there’s a separate line for take-out). But don’t let the lines scare you too much – we ended up only having to wait 15-20 minutes or so. The table turnaround is pretty quick, because really, how long does it take to scarf down doughnuts and coffee?

We ended up trying a few more beignet places and I found it interesting how much they vary in both flavor and texture depending on where you go and if they fry with cottonseed oil or vegetable oil. One block down from Cafe du Monde on Decatur St. is New Orleans Famous Beignets And Coffee. This is where people go for the French pastry after being overcome with the lines at Cafe du Monde. Jonah and I tried it out and saw that it was flaky and hollow, almost puff pastry-like, whereas Cafe du Monde’s dough is a bit denser and slightly spongy. West Beignet (in the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport), however, serve their doughnuts fluffy and pillowy which reminded me of these Vietnamese doughnuts I grew up eating called Banh Tieu. Although each place we visited made their pastries differently, they were all delicious and it’s to hard say which is superior. If anyone ever makes a blind taste test to compare beignets, please sign me up!

Here are some more shots from our trip!

frenchmen st new orleans

Top left: Frenchmen art market by day.
Top right: Frenchmen art market by night.
Bottom left: Frenchmen st. by night, surrounded by lots of music and the smell of NOLA’s best cuisine.
Bottom right: Frenchmen st. by day. This street is completely dead before 4pm, so don’t even think about brunching on this section of Frenchmen.

commanders palace

Top left: Lunched at the Commander’s Palace. Don’t let the circus tent fool you, this is one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been to.
Top right: The Sazerac, a cocktail made of rye whiskey, absinthe, and bitters.
Bottom left: Craw fish tartine. The waitress asked if I needed help cracking open the craw fish. Pffft, please.
Bottom right: Louisiana Shrimp and Grits

commanders palace

Top left: The husband ordered the Blackened Sirloin
Top right: Bread pudding souffle. Does this pic make you think dirty thoughts? It does? Good! Let’s be friends.
Bottom left: Paying our respects to those laying in Lafayette Cemetery
Bottom right: Beautiful mausoleums of Lafayette Cemetery. You don’t see many structures like these on the West Coast.

nola buildings

NOLA’s charming and beautiful architecture.

new orleans jackson square decatur

Top left: Roses from Jackson Square
Top right: Jazz musician by the water
Bottom left: Decatur st.
Bottom right: More Jackson Square

LA MS food

Top left: Hurricane cocktail
Top right: Shrimp and fried green tomato po boy
Bottom left: Shrimp Creole and hush puppies
Bottom right: Gumbo and hush puppies

gulfport

Top left: Fishing in the bayou in Gulfport, MS.
Top right: Not one fish was caught :(
Bottom left: Jerry the cat, he goes from one vacation home to another asking for treats and love, and people are happy to give him both :)
Bottom right: White sandy beaches of Gulfport, MS

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Enchiladas Made Easy

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Enchiladas

I love seeing color in my food. You know, they say you eat with your eyes first. I mean, just look at those vibrant green avocado slices, or that rich red sauce covered under that bed of pale yellow and white cheeses! It’s like a kaleidoscope of color, textures, and flavors! And believe me, these enchiladas are both bursting with color and flavor!

Enchiladas2 copy1_small

Ok, so these enchiladas are by no means authentic, but they’re still tasty none the less. If you’re just looking for a quick and dirty fix to satisfy your enchilada craving, then look no further. I made these in less than an hour with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

GridPost_sushi

Top left: Homemade sushi. Made my and my husbands favorite sushi dishes/rolls.
Top right: Napoleon from Rick’s dessert diner in Midtown Sac. My first time there – will be going back for sure!
Bottom left: Took a pic of the Sac bridge while walking Bailey
Bottom right: Had lunch in San Jose with the family and ordered the com tam.
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Classic Waffles

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waffles

I’m going to be honest and admit I was never a morning person, and neither are any members of my family. Growing up, if my family ever woke up early enough to have breakfast (which was rare), you can bet it was savory and slathered in soy sauce. I’m talking about rice porridge, fried eggs on toast, dim sum, and yes, all covered in soy sauce! Not that I’m complaining. Just trying to paint a mental picture so you can understand why the rare but occasional sweet breakfast was always such a treat growing up (I’m of course excluding box cereals from this list). It was a nice break from the typical savory meals I was so used to.

Waffles are one of those foods that just make you happy…deep down-to-the-core happy. It’s crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside. To quote my all time favorite comedian:
“A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.” – Mitch Hedberg

waffles copy2

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Said bon voyage to my little sister last week. She’s currently in France studying abroad, but before leaving, we enjoyed Bo 7 Mon (a 7 beef course dinner) alongside a whole deep-fried peanut-crusted fish.

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More insta pics from the holidays. Top Left: Mi Quang from Ban Cuon Bac Ninh Top Right: Macarons from Bouchon bakery given to me by some lovely friends. Bottom Left: Saying goodbye to 2014 with some bubbly. Bottom Right: Prepared a hot pot dinner with my dad.

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Pumpkin Scones

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starbucks, copycat, pumpkin, scone, starbucks

So a few weeks back, when Autumn started, I was craving all things pumpkin, which is of course the natural reaction when leaves start to fall. I went to Starbucks to get their infamous pumpkin scone, and wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t have any! The kind employee explained that the company was working on improving the recipe. Behold, the great Starbucks pumpkin scone famine! My first thought was bummer, my second thought was shouldn’t they have tried finishing perfecting the recipe in say, I don’t know, the Summer? And my last thought was how the heck am I going to get my pumpkin scone fix now? And of course, the obvious answer was “Make them yourself”.

pumpkin pie spice that shit

A little thing I drew up. Some hate the fact there’s pumpkin spice everything this time of year, but i for one, love it!

I found this post on Reddit later. Rumor has it that the so called “recipe evaluation” may have been nothing more than a coverup for a recall due to cross contamination. Others say there may have been broken shards of glass or plastic in the scones. Yikes!

Whatever the case may be, if it had not been for the recall, I’d have never learned to make these babies on my own. And I can say from experience, these copycat scones tastes just as good as their legit originals.

pumpkin scone starbucks
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Creme Brulee

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Creme Brulee The noshing Bride

This fine torched dessert is the absolute epitome of decadence. I mean, you’re literally just eating sugar and cream, but oh what nirvana it is to crack into that thin caramelized shell and dig your way into the creamy velvety goodness! Yeah, you may need to skimp on the whole fat milk in your morning coffee to offset the richness in this dessert, but I promise, it’s worth it!

I used a creme brulee recipe from the great food genius, Alton Brown. It’s your run-of-the-mill vanilla creme brulee recipe but what I love about cream-based desserts is that it’s essentially a blank canvas for flavors, creme brulee is no different – add your own little twist on the classic dessert. Change it up by adding Cointreau or Grand Marnier if you want to add a little zesty hint of orange. Make a raspberry nutella brulee by incorporating Chambord, Frangelico, and cocoa powder. The possibilities are endless!

Creme Brulee The noshing bride
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16 Tips to Save Money on Your Wedding
- Wedding Post #5

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16 Tips to Save Money on Your wedding

The wedding is coming along slowly but surely. Let’s go through the wedding items I’ve accomplished in the past few months, shall we?

-Set the date
-Booked the venue
-Found a food supplier
-Found a decorator
-Found a photographer
-Found a videographer
-Found a party rental store
-Purchased a few wedding essentials

Check, check, and check! But oh wait, there’s still tons more to do.

And did I mention our wedding budget is $8k-9K. Considering the average American wedding costs $25,000 according to Google, I’ve got pennies to work with! Here are a few tactics I used to cut down costs:

1. Rent a community center for the reception and ceremony
I know what you’re thinking, some community centers can be…run down, but some centers can be absolutely gorgeous, it just takes time to find the right one that meets your standards, and luckily I did! By going this route, you’re also supporting your local community, good stuff right? right! The only thing about community center is that you’ll have to provide most things on your own. i.e. tablecloths, chair covers, dinnerware, speakers, etc.

2. Buy, don’t rent
If you’re going to go the community center route like I am, you’ll likely have to rent quite a few items. Do your research and find out if it’s more cost effective to rent or buy certain items. In my case, I found out that buying tablecloths and cloth napkins only costs a little more than if I were to rent them. After the wedding, I can then try to sell them to get a portion of my money back. So yes, you’ll be spending more money initially, but you have the opportunity to get some of that money back after the wedding.

3. Send out the save-the-dates electronically
The message in the every save-the-date is simple – “This is when we’re getting married – make sure you’re available. Oh, and here’s a pretty photo of us leaning on a tree”. When the info is this minimalistic, I say emailing is the way to go. In this day and age, everyone has an email address, even grandma, so save some cash and email those suckas out.

4. Design and print your own invitations

Unlike the save-the-date, the actual wedding invitation makes more sense to be printed out as it has more information about the wedding – it may be more beneficial for your wedding guests to have certain details directly in hand (directions, instructions, etc). Rather than spending loads of money on wedding invitation design services, ask someone you know who’s a graphic designer, or a digital artist, or someone who’s just really savvy in Photoshop to design your invitation. This way you save money AND have more control over what goes in your invite; it beats using an overused template off a random website that’ll overcharge you. You can then take your design and print at affordable print shops i.e. Kinkos, Office Depot, etc. If you need them to be cut to a specific size, these print shops will often provide those services for an additional fee, OR you can utilize their cutting machines and hand-cut each invite yourself. They’re free to use, but be forewarned, you will be there for a while. Note, if you design your invite to be 5.5”x8.5” or smaller, you can squeeze 2 invites on 1 letter size page, meaning you can get 2 invites from 1 print.

5. Have your guests RSVP via email or phone
Again, it’s 2014, everyone has an email nowadays. You’ll save money on stamps and envelopes. It’s more convenient for your guests. Bam, everyone wins.

6. Buy online
Buying items online may be a bit of a gamble as you won’t be able to see, touch, or evaluate what you’re buying upfront, but if you plan ahead, it’ll give you enough time to receive the item and return it if you’re not satisfied with your item(s). Also, you’ll want to look into online retailers with rewards programs like Amazon Prime; if you’re a frequent Target shopper, sign up for a RED card and get 5% off your purchases (don’t I sound like a commercial).

7. Sign up for email newsletters
If you know you’re going to purchase a large amount from certain companies, sign up for their email newsletters. Retailers will often send out coupons with special offers i.e Free Shipping, 20% Off, etc.

8. Buy from the Dollar Tree
Yes, the Dollar Tree – they actually have a lot of neat stuff in between the cheap crap if you look hard enough. I’m buying my centerpiece vases there, along with some decorative river rocks, sternos for the buffet, and a few other essentials.

9. Ask friends and family for help
This is probably a given, but it’s nice to be reminded that your family and friends are there for you if you need help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

10. Ask “Can I borrow that?”
Renting items can get costly quick and if it’s something household you need like a cake stand or a platter, ask your friends if they could lend you their items. I’m borrowing my future sister-in-law’s and mother-in-law’s pastry stands to hold some yummy cookies.

11. Find aspiring future professionals (cake decorator, photographer, videographer)
Hiring amateurs comes with it’s risks for sure, but as they’re just breaking into their industry, it’s likely they’ll give you a nice low rate, just be sure to ask to view their professional portfolios before you make a decision.

12. Buy the food and hire the servers
Hiring a caterer is always going to be one of the top expenses in any wedding. To cut down costs, I’m ordering the wedding food in party trays from a Chinese banquet hall, I’ll be hiring 2-3 servers (off Craiglist or temp agency) to pick up the party trays, set up the food buffet-style, and just maintain the service throughout the reception.

13. Set up a drink station
Drink stations are becoming quite trendy so jump on the band wagon and save some bucks! Here’s a neat drink station found on Pinterest. Rather than hiring a bartender and/or server to go around replenishing drinks, set up a few drink dispensers with different flavored beverages for the guest to choose from. If you want to booze it up, add a liquor basket on the side filled with the essential hard alcohols i.e. vodka, whiskey, rum, etc. Invite your guests to turn their virgin drinks into a slutty cocktails!

14. Make a music playlist
86 the DJ and create your own wedding playlist. You’ll have one less service to pay for (and one less meal to serve) and YOU get to control the music.

15. Ask musician friends and family to play at your wedding

If you insist on having live music but don’t want to shell out for a full-on wedding band, ask your musician friends and family to play a song or 2 at your wedding. They’ll be happy to be part of your special day and you’ll be glad to see them onstage doing what they love.

16. Buy flowers wholesale and arrange them 2 nights before the wedding
I realize this may be super stressful to do right before the wedding, but I’m willing to do it if it’ll save me a couple hundred bucks. Plus, I’ll be recruiting my bridesmaids and a few good friends to assist. It’ll be like a party!

I hope these tips prove to be useful to anyone out there looking to have a beautiful but inexpensive wedding!

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Cream Puffs with Chocolate Pastry Cream

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Cream Puffs copy

Cream puffs and I have deep and long history. For most kids in the U.S., the cupcake is the go-to for sweet comfort food snacks, but that wasn’t the case for me. No, the cream puff was my childhood indulgence. My parent’s had a shop next door to a Vietnamese and French bakery. Growing up, I was taught to be frugal at a young age, and at 35 cents each, the cream puff was the perfect answer to my cheap sweet tooth.

In this recipe, I’m using a classic chocolate pastry cream for the filling. The pate choux pastry recipe is from Edible Memories, who I believe references Williams-Sonoma.

Cream Puffs 2 Continue reading

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Holiday Sugar Cookies – Vote for My Photo!

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Please vote for my photo in the Nugget Markets’ Cookie Decorating Photo Contest! No login required!

cookies

Yep, I entered yet another photo contest. Please vote for my photo and share with your friends on your social media accounts. Any help would be very much appreciated!

Thanks,
Jenn

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